"I'm very pleased with where this storyline is going, don't you agree, Stephanie?"
"I absolutely do, Dad," Stephanie said with a grin on her face.
Vince looked over the ratings report again and shook his head, "I have to hand it to Chris, he thought of a great idea…a great, great idea. I never imagined that the fans would take to it so much, it's getting better ratings than the Rock/Hogan segments."
"I know, it's amazing," Stephanie gushed, and she too was surprised by that because going into the road to WrestleMania, planning out the feuds, they expected The Rock vs. Hogan to be their huge draw, and while it was still a huge draw and pulling in great ratings, her storyline with Chris was surpassing it. "But in all honesty, Dad, I think this has been a long time coming."
"What do you mean?"
"I think that this is the pay-off that the fans want to see with this," she explained. "They've seen me and Chris at odds, and now they see that it was all a farce, it wraps up an ongoing storyline that people have liked for a really long time."
"That's true," he nodded, "well, I want to call in Chris and Paul in here and express to them how well it's going, can you have them paged for me?"
"Of course," Stephanie said, flipping her headphones onto her head and turning on the pack that was securely clipped to her side. "Hey, Danny, can you find me Chris Irvine and Paul Levesque and have them report to Vince McMahon's office immediately."
Stephanie flipped her headphones back off, "They should be here shortly. You know, this was all Chris's idea, so he should get a little extra attention for that, I wouldn't want to take all the credit for it."
Her father chuckled, "Well, maybe we should include him on the writing team from now on if he has such great ideas."
She laughed back at that, "Are you trying to replace me, Dad?"
"Replace you? You'd never allow it," he told her.
The door opened and Chris walked inside, a little tentatively until he saw Stephanie and an easy smile came over his face. Stephanie found herself smiling back since his smile was just so infectious. The interaction didn't go unnoticed by Vince, who was an observant bastard, but he let it go for the time being, knowing that his daughter was dating Paul and that Chris was happily married.
"I was told that you needed me," Chris said as he walked in further.
"Dad just wanted to discuss the storyline with you and with Paul, we're waiting on him."
"Oh, cool," he said, taking a seat next to Stephanie. "Well…how've you been?"
"I've been good," Stephanie said, "How's your wife? It was really nice meeting her…you know, despite the awkwardness, not that I'm saying it was awkward or anything, but yeah, you know, when I walked in without knocking and you looked angry at each other, and I'm just going to stop talking…how's your wife?"
Chris laughed at how flustered she always seemed to be, "She's good, she had a really good time seeing where I work last week."
Okay, so that was a complete and utter lie. Jessica had been in a pissy mood since they had arrived home last week. It was pretty bad those first few days as she refused to talk to him. He had even caught her watching the scenes like she was scrutinizing any movement and word. On the fourth day of her vow of silence, she finally erupted, saying that they were too involved, they weren't supposed to kiss like that, and all this other junk that went in one ear and out the other.
He was getting praised at work, he was getting better ratings for the company than two of the biggest names in the history of the business, and he was the one who was actually behind it all. It felt good. He was finally at the top of the mountain and he wasn't going to come down until he was damn good and ready, and if Jessica didn't like that, well, so what? She was off spending his money anyways, so she shouldn't care how he got it.
"Great, you should bring her by more often," Stephanie said, trying to be personable. "I'd never met her before, she looks like someone that you would be with."
"Oh, and just what does that entail?" he asked with a smirk.
"I don't know, she just looked liked someone you'd be with, it's something you say to someone when you're trying to be polite," she joked to him.
"Oh, I see how it is, you hated her," he joked back as she started to blush.
"No, no, that's not what--"
"I'm kidding, Steph, don't worry about it," he said, putting his hand on her arm to calm her down. Vince watched the two of them closely. They seemed to forget that he was even in the room, and not only that, but he detected a bit of flirting in their tones. It intrigued him, worried him, and pleased him all at the same time. It intrigued him because he had never really seen them backstage interacting. It worried him because they were both taken, and it pleased him because this was what was bringing him in ratings.
Paul chose that moment to walk in the room, "Vince, you needed me?"
"Ahh, yes, welcome," Vince said, gesturing towards the seats in front of him, "Take a seat."
Paul noticed that Chris had taken the chair next to Stephanie, leaving the only one open next to Chris. He grudgingly took a seat. "I was in the gym, sorry I didn't come sooner."
"It's fine," Vince said, glad that he had gotten to see his daughter and Chris interact, he was starting to form ideas about where they could take this. "I just wanted to commend you all for your storyline, you three are pulling in excellent ratings and I wanted you to keep up the good work, all of you."
Paul scowled. He hated this fucking storyline, and he wanted it to end soon, but now it had Vince's total seal of approval; it had the big ratings. He was just glad that it would all end with WrestleMania, then this asshole would be out of the picture and he would have the title, and everything would be right in Paul's world. Notice the lack of anything having to do with Stephanie in Paul's perfect, little world.
"I'm glad it's doing well," he said dully, trying to sound enthusiastic, but failing miserably.
"Yes, I think it's doing so well that Chris, you're retaining at WrestleMania," Vince declared, surprising the other three occupants in the room. Paul was the most flabbergasted, his jaw actually dropping.
"What!" Paul exclaimed. "I thought that we agreed that I'd be getting it, that it would be the journey that I was on, winning the Rumble and everything, this was going to be the pinnacle of my road back from injury!"
"I understand that, Paul," Vince said sternly, "but this is too good to just let go. Look at what happened with you and Stephanie when we extended that storyline, we had the Kurt/Stephanie/Paul storyline and everyone loved that. I see the same thing developing here, maybe even better and we need to run with it. I think we can maybe even extend it to SummerSlam as long as you two keep the chemistry coming."
"You…want me to hold the title until SummerSlam?" Chris asked incredulously. He had been content to hold the title for four months, it was still an achievement and he was the first ever Undisputed Champion, and it was great for his career. He had been okay with dropping the title to Paul in the main event at the biggest show of the year, but now Vince wanted to extend his run for months and months; he could hardly contain his eagerness.
"Yes, I think that would add legitimacy to the storyline, don't you think so, Stephanie?"
She was caught between a rock and a hard place. She could feel Paul's eyes boring into her and she licked her bottom lip a little. Paul would be so angry about this; part of what eased his mind over this was the fact that he was going to get the title at the end of it, but now her father wanted to extend it, and she was for the idea. When you had something going so splendidly, you had to ride the wave until it crashed against the shore.
"I love the idea, Dad, I think that it would be great over the summer. The fans will see the entire thing develop until it reaches a fever pitch."
"I know that it might be difficult to keep it up for that long, but I think that we can if we don't overdo it," Vince said. "So you know, sometimes you interact, sometimes you don't, we managed to keep you two," he said, looking at Stephanie and Paul, "together for two years with no problems, we can do this too. Maybe have some mini-feuds for the both of you with the underlying tension always there."
"Sounds great, Vince," Chris said with a smile on his face. Paul had slumped into his chair even more than he had before.
"Wonderful, and let's step it up a little, shall we?" he said, looking down at the script sitting on his desk. "Instead of another promo, I want a series of vignettes for tonight. What I'm thinking is that you, Paul, find Stephanie and Chris making out in the hallway and you just kind of get into an argument, and you have to hold Chris back, Stephanie, but then Chris charges at Paul after he says something particularly vile about you, and then we have some backstage guys intercede, then later on, I think you should have a solo confrontation with him Stephanie. Paul got the better of you last week, so this week it should be your turn."
"Will do, Dad, I'll get on it."
"Good, now get out, all three of you and make this work," Vince said, shooing them out of the room.
Paul was out of the room like a dart, stomping down the hallway. Stephanie had to jog to catch up with him and his long strides. She put her hand on his arm, "Paul, wait, where are you going? We have to discuss what we're going to argue about."
"How about how fucked up this whole thing is getting!" he erupted.
"Paul," she said, rubbing her hand up and down his arm, but he pulled away angrily.
"You didn't even support me in there!"
"I think that extending it would be a good idea," she protested, "I'm sorry, but that's what I think, Paul, and this will put you in the limelight all summer long, you love that."
"I want the fucking title!" he screamed, causing a scene now. "And you, my girlfriend, was supposed to have my back in there, but you didn't, you just let your father go through with it, you let him!"
She took a deep, controlled breath, "Paul, I'm not going to argue about this. I think it's a good idea. As for what we'll argue tonight, we'll just have to go by ear. I think that you should talk about what a slut I am, that should incite Chris."
"Whatever, Stephanie, I don't give a fuck," Paul said.
"It's not your company, Paul, you don't make the decisions," she told him in no uncertain terms. "We try to do what's best for everyone, and in this instance, it's what best, don't argue it anymore."
"Don't act like my fucking mother, Stephanie."
And that was the last word he said before walking off.
Chris walked up hesitantly to Stephanie, coming to stand beside her, "Sorry?"
"What for?" she asked, turning to him.
"I do my job too well," he said light-heartedly, trying to ease the tension that had seemed to racket up to a million in just a few minutes. "I knew he was going to be pissed."
"Who cares?" she shrugged. "There's nothing I can do about it, nothing I'm willing to do about it. I think it's a good idea. We're getting great ratings, Chris, better than anything right now, and it'd be stupid not to pursue this to the finish, making it only last a month or two just isn't going to work, not with this, it should last…that's okay with Jessica, right?"
"Yeah, she doesn't care." Another day, another lie, but he wanted this. "So…Paul is going to talk about you being a slut?"
"Yeah…he's probably thinking that of me right now anyways," she said with a sad smile and a sigh. "He's just pissed, he'll get over it. He's going to get the title again, he knows it, I know it, we all know it, he just has to be patient."
"That doesn't seem to be a trait that he has," Chris said.
"Well, he'll learn, won't he?" Stephanie said as she turned to him. "I'm really happy to be in this storyline with you, Chris. I haven't been a part of something like this in a long time. I mean, there was the Invasion, but that was so much more than just me, and now I feel back in the spotlight, and I don't know, I like it."
"I'm glad," he told her, putting his hand on her shoulder. "I have a match though, so I better get ready, I'll see you right before we have to film."
"I think we're going to do it soon, actually," Stephanie said. "That way we can just interject it into the show and not have to worry about being live. So give yourself about fifteen minutes to get ready and then come find me."
Getting Paul to even come over to film was a chore. He was angry, but knew that this was his job and he couldn't just say no and go sulk in the corner. They got all the cameras set up while Stephanie and Chris talked amongst themselves. Paul watched them intently, a frown on his face. He hated the closeness that they were displaying. When Stephanie started to lean up and capture Chris's lips in hers, he almost had a coronary until he realized they were filming now and he had to get into character, which wasn't too hard considering the immense amount of anger boiling inside of him right now.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't the Slut Queen of the Universe," he said snidely.
Stephanie pulled away from Chris and turned to him, "What did you say?"
"Oh look, they come up for air," Hunter said. "I'd be careful of her, Jericho, you never know what you're going to catch, I heard you could serve a whole seafood buffet from just her--"
"Shut your damn mouth, Helmsley," Chris said angrily, "Just because you couldn't satisfy her and she had to find a real man doesn't mean you have to get all jealous."
"Ha! Jealous? Of you? That's funny, Jericho," Hunter said as he held his stomach. "The day I'd be jealous of you is the day hell freezes over, go ahead, take Stephanie, but you should be warned that she'll do anything that breathes, and as I heard, maybe stuff that doesn't breathe either, isn't that right, Stephy?"
"You son of a bitch!" Chris exclaimed trying to get at Hunter.
"It's not worth it, Chris," Stephanie said, trying to hold him back.
"Oh, it would be," Chris growled.
"Oh, so now Stephanie's wearing the pants in the relationship, that's so great for you, Chris, I'm sure she's really into that kinky stuff, I remember one time when we were--"
"That's it!" Chris said, sidestepping Stephanie and lunging at Chris. The two tussled around on the floor for a moment before Chris was pulled off of Hunter by a couple of other wrestlers. His hair was disheveled and his shirt was ripped, but he didn't care. He tried to break free, but couldn't as the director yelled cut and everyone went back to their normal states.
"That was great!" Stephanie said, hugging Chris. He hugged her back slowly, feeling her body pressed enticingly into his. He closed his eyes a moment but didn't let it linger. It was then that he realized something.
He was going to have to do this for months and he came to a surprising conclusion…
He had no problem with that.