"Searchin' For a Hero"
A John/Ashley fanfic

Thanks to Andrea019, jash4ever, GraffitiArtist INC, Prince of Punk, dibiaselover and Ashleymassrophan1 for reviewing last chapter, you all rock!

Can't believe it's been 4 years the other day since I've starter this fic!
Anyways, after this there will be probably be just ONE OR TWO chapters left… so stay tuned for the big finale!


Chapter 85 "Nothing's Lost"

Eventually having reached the much longed for destination after around three hours of pleasant trip (after all it looked like being on the verge of competing in a possibly career defining match had its advantages, John letting her choose whatever cd's she wanted to burst in his car one of them), Ashley was soon left to consider how proceeding their journey actually inside the building wasn't destined to go as smoothly as if she was accompanied by a generic boyfriend or any other superstar, for that matter.

Instead, when the boyfriend in question was basically the face of the company, and the injured one visiting after months of inactivity at that, it was only a matter of time until he was bound to be whisked away from her side for some reason or the other.

Therefore left on her own while John was trapped in Vince's office probably discussing about his arm-status and the consequent plans for the future, the Dirty Diva struggled in meanwhile through the corridors with the insane amount of luggage she had bought with herself and, not being there unfortunately any staircases on the route to the women's locker room to use the same method she had successfully experimented that morning at home, Ashley kept pushing and pulling the bags that seemed glued to the floor with evident effort, throwing curses at the responsible items at any chance she got to catch her breath from that forced exercising.

Of course, usually being there a knight in shining armor for every damsel in distress, apparently even for the punk ones, her personal Lancelot in disguise didn't take long into arriving to her rescue, ready to size his moment of glory.

"God, what have you hidden in these, stones?"

Having witnessed the scene in mild amusement from the distance for a couple of minutes and having eventually approached the diva from behind –not without startling her in the process-, Randy thus voiced out his indignation at the severe weight of the suitcase he had seized up… and immediately let go a beat later.

Indignation that was immediately mirrored on Ashley's face as she threw her hands up in frustration.

"Okay, what is it today with men not understanding a girl's need of actually having options when it comes down to clothes?" She rhetorically –and quite breathlessly- questioned, blowing her rebellious bangs away from her eyes in irritation.

Grinning down at the sweaty diva for no reason in particular, the peculiar savior shrugged in a matter-of-fact way. "But you're not a girl— oww!" Randy was left to yelp in pain when her tote bag mercilessly collided with his forearm as soon as the words were out of his mouth. "You're not that kind of girl, I meant." He wisely corrected himself with an eye-roll, rubbing the sore spot with his other hand. "For the rest you're a girl just fine, trust me."

With this being evidently her turn to display an eye-roll at the teasing smirk of the all-too-quickly recovered superstar, Ashley folded her arms on her chest in impatience.

"Decide ledge, are you here to help, offend, or lamely try to hit on me?"

"All three, as per usual." Randy declared his honorable intentions with an unrepentant grin, laughing a moment later at her unimpressed scowl. "C'mon, have mercy, I come from 3 days spent with my family literally praising you after your little surprise visit, let me have my fun."

"They praised me? Aww really?" Ashley asked in delighted surprise, a grin finding place on her features the following moment, "I wish you were more like them."

"Very funny," the Legend Killer replied with yet another eye-roll, "you know you adore me really. Anyways," he added swinging an arm around her shoulders "what's with the heavy luggage? Planning on emigrating to another state right after the show?"

Lightly smiling at the playful inquiry, she shook her head. "For my match tonight, you know."

"Oh, you planning on burying Torrie under a mountain of clothes then? I approve, might turn out decisive as surprise move. Just make sure to slip off her ruby shoes afterwards, you know how it works."

"Stop making fun of me." Ashley protested with a childish pout, nudging her elbow in his side. "It's silly maybe, but it's an important night and I really want to look at my best. Besides, don't forget it started definitely as something personal on her side. I can't just throw on the same pair of black underwear every week and simply parade to the ring like you do."

"…They're not always the same pair." Randy frowned in apparent disgust before displaying his best cocky smile, "But I do look gorgeous, thanks for pointing that out."

"Excuse me, did you imply at some point you were intentioned to give me a hand or are you just here to be a pain in the ass?" She urged through narrowed eyes, resulting actually rather comical in her intimidating impression due to their different size and, well, the fact they were still entwined in a side hug.

Chuckling in evident amusement, Randy raised his free hand in mock defense. "Alright, alright, you win. I'll behave myself."

"Good. Let's see how long it lasts." She echoed with an exaggerated sigh, prompting him to playfully pinch her partly exposed hip –and receiving a giggle for that- before he stepped forward to pick up the two biggest suitcases.

"Umm, Randy?" Ashley called out in apparent confusion a moment later when the WWE champion didn't give any signs of being about to turn in the right direction again, "The women's locker room is over there."

Sharply turning his head sideways and seizing her up with an eloquent look, Randy spoke next in a matter-of-fact tone. "You're not going there," he added a scoff for good measure "you're special guest in the champ's locker room tonight."

"Oh. But I—"

"Oh c'mon," he cut her off mistaking the meaning of her tentative protest "I swear I'm not trying to start a harem beginning with you, but I'm not going to let you exposed at whatever Torrie's sick mind suggests her from now to the show. You have a championship to win tonight… only then we can discuss some sort of sex celebration." He finished with the inevitable hint of a smirk.

Softly smiling at the thoughtful reason of his firm decision of her staying (cause there were no doubts it was a statement and not a question) and at his peculiar way of expressing it, Ashley offered an almost imperceptible shrug.

"Actually I was just going to say that John's here too, you know…" She unsurely pointed out.

"Well it's just as fortunate that he can have your vacant spot in the women's locker room now if he's looking for a place to stay, isn't it?" And with that and a careless shrug of his own Randy started to walk forward to his own locker room, leaving Ashley to keep up with him while silently wondering when the two would actually grow up and face their problems like two adults.

"Anyway, about that celebration—"

"Keep dreaming, ledge."

"Gosh, I hate when you kill my chances like that every time." He complained in dismay, prompting the diva at his side to snicker in amusement at the well rehearsed affectionate banter.

x—x—x—x—x

Who instead wasn't exactly amused at that very moment was definitely Mickie as she sat on a wooden bench in Chris' locker room, silently listening while the man poured his mixed feelings out in her presence once again.

And not much different could have been said for the state of her own feelings in the current situation as, still unintelligible to herself in the first place, her heart went out to him again for his troubles.

"So, yeah," Chris heavily exhaled at the end "I really don't know what to do anymore — I've even thought of leaving once again, but what would that change? This seems the only good thing I have left… as fake as this façade is."

"Don't say that," Mickie softly interjected glancing at the superstar who was sat across her with the head in his hands in visible dismay "nothing's lost yet."

Lifting his head up to express his insight on the matter with a humorless chuckle, Chris carefully focused on the brunette's stern expression.

"I'm still not sure whether you're that naively hopeful or you're just making fun of me, Mickie James."

"I mean it," she insisted after offering a playful eye-roll at his remark, "There's still something you can do."

"Yeah? What is it?" He arched an eyebrow in puzzled curiosity.

"You can talk. Faculty that surely doesn't fail you." A soft smile escaped Mickie's lips at the observation "But I mean honest talking, like you talked to me. Explain things to Randy… tell him the truth."

"And what makes you think he will even agree to listen to me in the first place, let alone believe me?"

"Well, for one he needs you alive for tonight's main event," she conceded with a shrug "and that aside, I think he really has nothing to lose at this point. Seriously," Mickie hastily went on before he could interrupt her "if you tell him the whole truth and so confirm Trish's innocence you'll probably save their relationship… and I understand it doesn't sound like much right now, but wouldn't that be an act of redemption to start with?"

Remaining to stare at the diva with an unreadable expression on his face for what seemed to both like everlasting seconds, Chris let out a soft chuckle at last.

"You really thought this through, didn't you?"

Blushing under the weight of his gaze, Mickie's features slowly lit up in a shy smile, their eyes meeting once again.

Licking his lips in a quick movement, Chris twisted his hands together and absent-mindedly leant forward. "Listen Mickie, I wanted to—"

"I hope you're decent, Jerky— oh sorry, you have guests."

Jumping up at the loud outburst interrupting the private moment as the door got unceremoniously slammed open from outside, both startled gazes took in Torrie's unwanted presence.

Apparently recovering first from the shock, Y2J hastily stood up, his hands resting on his hips proving with his body language how not pleased he was of the surprise visit — thing that Mickie actually noticed and consequently blushed furiously for, wondering why her mind should even care about Chris' feelings for the blonde… or any other woman, for that matter.

"What do you want Torrie?"

Snickering at his abrupt tone, the latter feigned an innocent giggle. "My bad, I wasn't aware you'd taken habit of hanging out with such—"

"Torrie."

Her heart absurdly jumping –metaphorically, of course- at the severe warning tone in Chris' voice, Mickie forced herself to stand up as well, her attention focused solely on the superstar.

"It's okay, never mind. I'll catch you later." She aimed a smile in his direction before circling around Torrie to reach the door "Don't you know? Never listen to what a whore says, her mouth is only good for one use… and that's surely not talking." Mickie cheerfully said, eventually leaving the two alone and closing the door behind herself.

With no other option aside from scowling at the only one remained in the room –who didn't miss the chance of openly laughing in her face after the brunette's remark-, Torrie touchily folded her arms on her generously displayed chest.

"Interesting. You went evidently from rank to skank after me."

"Actually quite the other way around if we're measuring up from you." Chris easily grinned, loyally defending Mickie.

"Anyway," Torrie went on impatiently clicking her tongue and miserably failing into pretending the insult hadn't touched home "I'm here cause I need your help."

Feigning a surprised gasp, Chris moved his hands to his chest as well, mirroring her position. "You don't say. Forgive me for the naïve question, but weren't you supposed to be parading around with your arm linked to Randall's by now?"

"I don't know, weren't you supposed to be in devotion at Trish's side?" She counteracted to the stinging observation with a glare.

"Touché." He casually shrugged, "Looks like plan totally backfired for both of us. So what now, since both Cena and Orton seem after all too intelligent for your tricks you want help to charm the Great Kahli? Hornswoggle? One of the janitors?"

"Very funny indeed." Torrie sarcastically rolled her eyes "I need your help for my match tonight, for my title. Vince has stupidly banned me for getting disqualified on purpose, so I need you to do that for me… somehow. I'm sure you're smart enough to figure something out."

"Really?" Chris wholeheartedly laughed at the unashamed request, "Honestly Torrie, that sounds so naïve coming from you that it's almost touching. Listen to me," he added with the hint of a smirk playing on his lips "first of all, that belt will better come back into Ashley's hands tonight if we all want to save some credit to the women's title; and second but sure as hell not least, I thought I made it perfectly clear that you and I are done on any level. So do me a favor and get lost already, whatever you want to say to me from now on is just wasted breath."

Even without experiencing the satisfaction of witnessing live the midst of outrage and indignation on Torrie's livid face in reaction, the distinct echo of Chris' words was evidently more than enough for Mickie to carefully move her ear away from the cold surface of the door and calmly walk in the opposite direction with a happy smile gracing her features.

Yes, she had seen right after all, it wasn't too late for redemption.

x—x—x—x—x

"Okay, one last thing before I go." Ashley quite breathlessly announced sprinting from the bathroom like an excited teenager waiting for approval on her third outfit change of the night before a particularly important, life-changing party.

Lazily peering over the last issue of the WWE magazine he was engrossed in to kill time before his own match from his reclined position on the couch, Randy's eyes slowly scrutinized the diva's appearance from the white top with the pink straps of a bra showing underneath to the pair of military baggy pants worn loosely under her exposed belly.

"You're all dressed," the Legend Killer pointed out with the slightest hint of reproach "you should know I only offer my assistance on the inverted process."

Lifting an eyebrow and pointing for emphasis at her head, Ashley offered an unimpressed expression in response. "Eyes up here and advice on the hair, please."

"If you're fishing for compliments on how that bra matches the streaks in your hair you've totally chosen the wrong person, just sayin'."

Biting on her bottom lip to prevent herself from pointing out how he had just noticed that himself, the diva simply shook her blonde tresses. "I only want to know if it's better straight or curly. …I should curl it up, huh?"

Cocking his head on a side and narrowing his eyes for the split of a second, Randy adjusted in an upright position. "Are you planning on wearing John's cap, the one Torrie had stolen from you?"

"Yeah, absolutely."

"Then leave it straight," he went on with a careless shrug and a matter-of-fact tone "the cap would spoil the curls anyway."

Letting out a gasp at how she hadn't thought of that but he totally did, Ashley aimed a winning grin at the superstar that after his enlightening moment had unawarely shifted back to his magazine.

"Who would have believed it," she said in awe "all these years hanging around Trish and me have done the unimaginable trick… you'd make a perfect gay best friend!"

"…Excuse me?" Was the predictable exclamation that followed the couple of alarming silent seconds and the loud thud of the magazine colliding to the floor. "I would certainly not—"

"Oh, would you mind? Gotta lace up my boots." Ashley innocently smiled and waggled her fingers towards the door where a knock had just interrupted Randy's heartfelt protest right on cue.

"Of course I don't mind," the latter retorted rather touchily on his way to oblige to the nonchalant request "cause that's my locker room and I decide who can enter or not— right."

A dry tone accompanying the last word, Randy was left to hook a brow in defiantly inquiry at the sight of his –currently former- best friend.

"Well well, look if it's not the prodigal friend's return. Couldn't resist the usual urge of shocking the world with a speed recovery, superhero?"

Offering an unimpressed expression of his own, John simply stared back and buried his hands in the front pockets of his trademark jeans shorts, ignoring the evident mockery in Randy's voice.

"Don't worry, your title's still safe, I'm only here to pick Ashley. Not long till her match."

"Oh shame," the St Louis native snickered at the emotionless reply, "I was hoping you came by for the second round." He commented nodding at the faint purple shadow still visible around John's eye.

Luckily though before any answer to that could have been either verbally or physically presented, having completed her task, Ashley appeared at Randy's side after having overheard the conversation from the bathroom.

"Honestly," she drawled in evident reproach, her hands on her hips while gravely glancing in between the two "you're worse than two kids. What about apologize to each other, leave whatever unresolved question behind and move on instead than bickering like two immature idiots?"

"Really touched by the flattering words," Randy was the first to counteract with the faint hint of a smirk "but I think it's about time for your match."

Turning for help to John, who instead offered a nonchalant shrug making perfectly clear that he didn't have any intention of apologizing either, Ashley had no choice but utter a strangled cry of frustration at her boys' stubborn behavior.

"Fine, be like this." She huffed, "Yet don't say I didn't warn you of the fact you're both deliberately being two—"

"Idiots, yes." The Legend Killer finished for her while gently pushing the diva towards John with an unrepentant grin, "No need to repeat it again, I don't even know what deliberately means."

"You know," Ashley offered an eye-roll "you're lucky to have the good looks or it'd be so much easier to just hate you."

"Oh, don't I know." Randy heartily laughed in response, starting to push the door closed, "I'd even ask John if he thinks the same at present, but you've already called me gay once today. Pleasure having had you around, roomie, kick some asses and do me proud." He finished with a wink, prompting both John and Ashley to take a step backwards as he fully closed the door in their faces.

Gasping in outrage at the offensive gesture, the punk diva sharply turned to John and pointed a finger at the door. "Okay, that's it, burst in there and kick his ass."

Amused by her demand, the boyfriend in question didn't care to hide his dimpled smile. "Delighted to see we're on the same page, but weren't we supposed to… how was it? Let go, forget, and move on? Or something philosophical like that anyway."

"…Clearly not when I'm the one involved!"

"Right, my bad." John wholeheartedly laughed at her loudly presented and clearly outraged protest, moving an arm around her shoulders and not so subtly leading the diva away. "C'mon, let's get you to your match for now. As fascinating as I personally find the prospect of beating Randy up, someone needs to keep the honor of this family up and judging from my injury… hell punkie, you definitely gotta take that title back."

"Wow, talk about no pressure." Ashley conceded a nervous giggle while putting on her fingerless gloves retrieved from the trousers' side pockets.

Stopping and softly seizing her by the shoulders to turn her frame towards himself, John let their forehead touch for a moment. "You're gonna be fine and you're gonna be great, you know that?"

Ashley offered a soft smile of her own in return. "So everyone else seems to be thinking."

"Well, I don't know about the rest, but you know you can trust me, right?"

As she nodded her consent and both smiles progressively grew wider, John started to lean forward to settle the matter for a kiss… only the self-proclaimed Dirty Diva brought a and up in between them, a forefinger teasingly on his lips, and surprisingly took a step backwards.

"Uh-uh soldier," Ashley innocently grinned "I have a championship to win right now."

"…Okay, I take that back." He groaned and tried to place his hands around her waist "Screw that match, I just want to make out with my girl."

Squealing and jumping back while playfully smacking his hands again, Ashley firmly shook her head, a smirk forming on her pierced lips. "Thought you mentioned something about a private dinner later tonight, hold your horses till then."

"Alright," John conceded upon witnessing the mischievous glint in her eyes "so off you go to destroy Torrie, win your belt back, and then I exclusively claim you for the rest of the night?"

"Sounds like one hell of a plan, JC." She grinned back.

"Did I mention exclusively?"

"Umm… I think you definitely did." Ashley couldn't refrain from giggling.

"Good. I'll be waiting at the curtain."

"I'll be the one with the women's championship around my waist."

"I have not a single doubt about that, punkie." He sincerely said and, after she shot him the prettiest of smiles on her way to the ring-area of the arena, a happy sigh spilled through John's lips.

Oh yes, this had the potential to be one of the best nights of his life indeed… now he just had to wait for it to unfold perfectly like he wanted to.

x—x—x—x—x

In meanwhile, finally entering the building at last, if Trish didn't have any regrets on her decision yet, she surely wouldn't have sworn the same about having had such enlightenment only after John and Ashley had left, with her bladder consequently forcing her to stop nearly once every half hour in this impromptu road trip.

Not to mention the sharp back pain that had kept tormenting her all along, probably caused by the forced uptight sitting position to hold the wheel. Oh yes, a driver would have been much needed indeed at present occasion, the experienced diva thought with a wishful sigh, that or a relaxing massage, of course.

But at last she had safely –ouch, what was that pain around her belly now? Oh right, maybe eating both the pack of crisp and the chocolate bar hadn't been such a glorious idea after all- made it to her much sought after destination, and therefore any complaints were soon forgotten; it wasn't time for regrets, it was time to take action.

Hence with that in mind, after having taken a quick turn for the nearest bathroom (okay, so her bladder still seemed to have a mind of its own even at present situation), Trish directed herself with determined steps, or at least as determined as she could manage, towards Vince McMahon's office.

Having lightly knocked on the door and patiently waited outside, the caramel blonde beauty was actually surprised when the chairman of the company indeed opened the door instead than the usual secretary. Surprise that actually was soon mirrored on Vince's face too.

"Trish… what a surprise! What is it today with all our top stars out of action visiting, huh?" He warmly greeted her with a benevolent smile, "Look at you… Stephanie wasn't nearly as big when she expected little Aurora!"

"Oh, thank you," Trish wholeheartedly laughed at such remark "I don't know if I should consider it as a compliment or not."

"What suits you best as long as the baby is healthy." Vince replied with the touch of a smile of his own, leading the way inside the room and proceeding to sit down at his desk while she took a chair across him. "What can I do for you, Trish? I dare say you're not here to discuss your return yet like our John, looks like you still have at least a few months for that."

"You mean it wouldn't do any good to pin my opponents by crashing them down with my insanely huge belly?" She counteracted with a playful smile, "I suppose you're right. So, yes, I'm not exactly here for that… yet I could really use a favor at the moment."

Leaning with his arms across the glass-covered surface, Vince regarded the pregnant diva sitting before himself with calculating eyes, all traces of familiarity in his face replaced by the usual business-like attitude as he nodded at her to continue with her request.

"Well," Trish began with her most complacent smile "any chance I could cut a short backstage promo, say… at some point tonight during the PPV?"

x—x—x—x—x

With his eyes solemnly focused on the screen of the TV monitor present in the room where Ashley had just entered the ring, Randy was left to let out a frustrated groan where a knock on the door, the second of the night, interrupted his concentration.

"It's open, come in!" He distractedly yelled from over his shoulder, not really interested into finding out who was disturbing him. After all, with the Dirty Diva visibly engaged in the ring and his current situation with John, it was likely to be just someone of the crew bringing him a script or something.

Hearing the door clicking as it got pushed open just like he had instructed and, consequently, soft footsteps approaching the back of the couch, the Legend Killer dismissively waved a hand towards the small coffee table.

"Thanks, leave it there." He randomly said, slightly narrowing his eyes as Torrie's theme music hit the speakers next.

A loud throat-clearing -wait, did that actually sound like a strangled chuckle?- later, and he instead tried to suppress an annoyed groan while turning his head to glance at the mysterious guest.

"Oh good Lord," Randy loudly complained as he came eye to eye with the second unwanted person of the night "what are you doing here? I can't kick your teeth in just yet, it will make my massive win in the ring tonight look a bit cheap, you know?"

Offering a somewhat appreciative nod in response acknowledging the truth of the statement, Chris simply shrugged his shoulders.

"Actually, I think we should talk first."

x—x—x—x—x

Her eyes progressively narrowing as the referee displayed the belt to both competitors before handing it to one of the ringside officers, Ashley kept glaring in Torrie's direction with her best focus-meets-evil stare while the current champion, feeling actually more uneasy by the second now that the moment of truth had at last arrived, kept circling around in her way too short sequined silver mini skirt plus top combination like some sort of tipsy hooker stumbling on the pavement in the middle of the night.

Aware of the evident lack of usually boasted confidence on her rival's side, as soon as the ref signaled for the bell to be rung, Ashley didn't waste a single second into directly marching towards Torrie and to hook up with her in the Boise native's part of the ring.

Soon finding out that, even with her fingernails dug at the base of the dirty blonde's scalp, she wasn't being able to either break the hold or push Ashley back towards the middle of the ring –gosh, how much did she have worked out on her arms while her ankle was busted?- Torrie didn't find any solution but use the ropes behind herself as support as the two of them, still entwined in the same position, started to roll around.

"C'mon Ashley, stand back…! 1-2-3-4…"

Eventually obliging to the referee's request as Torrie used the just found expedient of the ropes at her own advantage and thus forced the punk diva to finally break the hold, Ashley dutifully took a step backwards, her hands high in the air, and took a deep breath waiting for Torrie to join her in the middle of the ring again.

Though, instead than doing that as it was common use to follow through in the earlier stages of a match, the Boise belle preferred to avoid hazarding any further risk and actually climbed over the middle rope, consequently starting to bounce up and down on the apron while derisively pointing at her opponent.

Spreading her arms in helpless frustration, Ashley immediately charged to the attack… only to be held back by the referee pointing out how Torrie's hands were still tightened around the top rope, therefore making her immune of any offense at present.

"C'mon, you gotta be kidding me! She's doing it on purpose!" She loudly protested as, evidently not ready to come back into the match yet, Torrie deliberately leant with her back against the ropes and vainly posed for the boos of the crowd in attendance.

Taking advantage of the distraction as the ref finally moved closer to the ropes tell Torrie to hurry up with whatever she was doing already, Ashley quickly bounced off the opposite side of the ring and sent her opponent straight to the floor with a powerful baseball slide; then, hastily sliding out as well before the referee could stop her, she helped Torrie up and, after kneeing her in the mid-section, successfully slid the Boise native back inside the ring from under the bottom rope.

Once both competitors were inside again, Ashley simply stood before Torrie while she slowly pulled herself up, a hand to clutch her sore belly.

"What, you're gonna escape again or finally found the guts to face me?" Ashley inquired with a smug nod, her arms spread wide. "It's you and me, Tor, you can't walk out. You know that."

Evidently frustrated with the early outcome of the match, Torrie stomped a foot on the mat for good measure. "Shut up, you— you bitch!"

"Maybe," Ashley conceded with a casual shrug "but it takes one to know one." And with that and a not-so-subtle smirk playing on her lips, she took Torrie down with a massive standing Lou Thesz Press.

Yes, the fight was definitely on.