This is my attempt at CM Punk and Jeff Hardy. I don't know how this is going to go...I'm testing the waters here. Hopefully I won't sink. I'm going for the obvious dynamic between them, the fact that Jeff has had some problems in the past with substances and that Punker is straight edge. Told from Jeff's point of view. Set in present day with Jeff watching Punker sleep while talking about and referencing things that happened in the past and how they got where they are today.
Completely inspired by all of the following: Any of the other writers of Punk/Jeff out there, my cup of coffee, their handsome faces, some strange force, and most of all, the song "Everything Changes" by Staind.
Lyrics and names used without permission. Just a work of fiction. No profit is being made.
"If you just walked away
What could I really say?
Would it matter anyway?
Would it change how you feel?"
Staring at you Philly, looking at that mess of now chestnut brown dyed hair fanning out over your head and how your lips move just slightly as you breathe in your sleep I can't help but wonder...why are you still here?
You must have been some sort of masochist. I ever so gently propped myself up on my elbow to get a better look at you. One long tattooed arm stretched out over your head, gripping your pillow with your fist. I sigh. How could someone, something so beautiful want to stay with me after everything I've managed to do to try to kill any kind of love, relationship, friendship, any kind of anything we've ever had?
I can't understand. I guess I should just be happy that you're still here. I do this many nights lately, this little act of watching you sleep and trying to figure out both your logic and mine where it pertains to why we're still together.
You're snoring now. I like it when you snore at night, Philly. It sometimes wakes me up, but it only serves to remind me that you're still laying beside me. I think of nights when there was no sound of snoring there beside me to let me know you were there and it makes it that much less annoying.
Our relationship started out as a friendship. We met at that fucking brutal Ring Of Honor card I wrestled on. You know, the one where I was nearly booed out of the state of New Jersey? Fans shitting all over me was not what I had expected out of that night. But it was what I got. I had to accept it, but just because I acknowledged it didn't mean that made it any easier. You stole the show, you and Dreamer and Raven with that dog collar match. But then, you just about always steal the show, don't you Philly? It's just your way.
You and I were introduced and I remember shaking your hand and telling you how great I thought your match had been. We talked briefly, mostly about mutual friends in the business. I remember how your eyes sparkled as you cleaned the blood and sweat from your forehead as we spoke.
Around the time we met I was going through what Matt calls my "Loner" stage. It was true, most of the time I just wanted to be alone. I was at an extremely introspective point in my life. I wanted to be by myself. I felt like a fuck up, a failure in a multitude of ways. I couldn't keep a relationship. I couldn't hold a job without messing it up. Hell, by the reaction of the fans in New Jersey that night, I was beginning to think I couldn't even wrestle anymore. It was a low point for me. I wasn't looking to make a friend. I wasn't expecting to find a lover. I wasn't planning on falling in love with you.
Shannon, after much protesting on my part, drug me out to a bar after the show. I recall thinking as we walked down the street to the place that as long as this was a bar filled with low life failures like myself, then I would have no problem fitting in. Yeah...I was a pretty pitiful self deprecating fool then, wasn't I Philly? You hated that about me, didn't you? You have no idea how much you've done to me since then. How many things you've helped me change about myself, for the better. And yet I still feel as though I've let you down so many times. I wonder if I'll ever feel as though I've done you right?
That night at the bar you were there. I recalled the tattoo across your stomach, wondering what you were doing out at a bar. Back then I didn't understand Straight Edge. Just one more thing you taught me. You and I sat together for a short while, talking. I've known since my teen years I liked men as well as women. This fact was exemplified that night by the fact that I forgot what we were talking about must have been about ten times because I caught myself watching your lips move as you spoke. You probably just thought I was on something.
You asked about why I was fired. I told you truthfully, half expecting you to get up and walk away from me when the truth came out. You turned out to be not quite so self righteous as the character you portrayed, as I would come to find. You just said to me, "Hey, everybody fucks up sometime. You've got to remember that. Aint' nobody perfect. We all make mistakes. To err is human. Just gotta get back up and start over. That's the most important part, man. Can't beat yourself up."
We exchanged phone numbers. I never expected to actually hear from you. But you called, you did Philly. I wonder why? What made you want to? You could have walked away and never thought of me or the mess that is my life again. But you didn't Philly. Why is all I can wonder as I continue to watch you sleep.
"I am the mess you chose
The closet you cannot close,
The devil in you I suppose
'Cause the wounds never heal."
It must have been my dumb luck that you had insomnia around the time we began talking on the phone. Then again, you don't believe in luck, do you Philly?...
We would stay up talking at night, usually around midnight or so one of us would call the other. We'd talk about anything that came to mind, just any and everything that was going on with our lives. We'd do this little routine maybe three or so nights a week. We grew close. Even with all the stark differences in our lives, we found we had many more things in common than we thought we would have. As long as we talked, we never had a silent or awkward moment. It was just easy for us to talk to one another. It was rare. It was a separate kind of friendship like I had never experienced before. Not like what I had with my brother, not like what I shared with Shannon, it was just different.
When you told me after about three months of just talking to each other that you'd be in North Carolina for a show, I was excited. "Hey, you should come visit. It's not like I'm busy or anything..." I joked. So we made plans for the two days before you had to be here to wrestle. I remember that day when I drove to the airport and picked you up. I wanted to hug you, but I didn't. I held it back. You greeted me with a warm smile, that same sparkle in your eyes that had been there before. You looked the same, like a young punk, mischief in every step. It made me smile, your personality. I began to wonder, as the day passed us by, if I should hold back the feelings that were coming to surface. The urge to kiss you. The compulsion I suddenly had to trace the pattern of your every tattoo with my tongue. The fact that I wanted to taste you. I shook them out of my head for the time being. I didn't want to scare you off or offend you just yet. I still had to feel you out.
Why'd you pick me, Philly? Why me? You could have had just about anyone, sexy as you are. You had to go and choose me. Sometimes it boggles my mind. I know I'm not a complete failure, but damn...I've done some fucked up things to both myself and the people around me, mainly you...
I remember the first time, Philly. It was sweeter than any other time I first kissed someone. It was different, as most things I experienced with you as part of my life have been. We sat out in my backyard, watching the sky, the stars. We were talking about life, about religion, our beliefs, our childhoods. We rambled on and on for the longest time, talking until it was well past dark and beginning to get chilly outside. I got up to let the dog back in the house, not even realizing that you were following close behind me.
I let the dog in through the sliding door of my deck and turned around, expecting you to still be sitting where you had been. I turned to find you only about two feet from me, looking at me with the strangest look on your face. You smiled and then grabbed me up into a kiss. No pretense, no warning, no questions asked. It turned my heart upside down in my chest. It was beautiful.
We kissed and kissed there, standing out on my back porch with only the stars as our witnesses. When we finally stopped to catch our breath, you rested your head on my shoulder as I searched for the words to ask you about what had just happened. "I didn't know..." was all I could stutter out, still reeling from the kiss. You laughed at me.
"Didn't know what?" you asked me, looking in my eyes now. "That I wanted to kiss you?" You wrapped your arms around my neck and held them there, held me there against you.
"Well, yeah, but..." I glanced down at the ground and then back up at you, "I mean in a broader sense. I didn't know you felt like..." I paused. "like...like I do." I said quickly.
You smiled at me. You smiled at me, Philly and something clicked on inside of me, I swear it did. It was like you turned on a light switch. I haven't been the same since. You smiled at me as though I had just told you something you wanted to hear and something you loved. It made me smile too. I felt like some goofy young teenager in love, standing there holding on to you, having just shared a first kiss with someone who I felt this strong connection with. I never told you this, Philly, but I was glad you kissed me first, made the first move. I might not have been able to do it had it been left up to me.
"How's that, Jeff?" I remember you asking. I was unsure of how to answer. I figured the honest truth was the best place to start. If only I always chose that path...
"I want you." I said. "Some nights when I listen to you talk to me on the phone, I'm doing nothing but thinking of what you look like, what you're wearing, things like that." I confessed. "There's been many a night that I've selfishly wished you were actually here instead of just on the other end of the phone line. Then I start thinking about what I would do if you actually were..."
We went inside, kissing again. We made our way to my bedroom, fumbling through the doorway as we tried to enter the room, take off each other's clothes, and continue kissing all at the same time. Your hands were all over me, trying to take in every inch of my skin with your fingertips it seemed. I was content to let your hands wander as I buried my hands in your then bleached blonde and red hair and kissed you, trying to keep up.
Once we got on the bed, my doubts crept in. What was going to happen because of this? Would it change what you and I had shared up until now? I hadn't thought of that. Was this all moving too fast? It felt like it was, but I wanted it so bad... I wasn't exactly famous for thinking before I acted. So, when this rare moment of clarity hit me, I took it seriously. "I don't think I can." I said softly. You had been kissing along my neck when the words came out. You looked over at me, the smile gone.
"Oh, uh...okay. I...I understand." you said as you began to get off of me, out of my bed. There are days, Philly, when I think you would have traveled a much easier path these last few years had I just let you go right then. But I would have missed out on so much in doing so, even though it probably would have spared you a lot of heartache.
"But everything changes
If I could turn back the years
If you could learn to forgive me
Then I could learn to feel"
"No, stop." I said, grabbing you.
"Why, you said no, that's all I need to hear..." you said.
"Philly..." I whispered, feeling tears forming and not knowing why. "It's not that I don't want you, I do want you...very much." I stuttered out as I felt that first tear falling down. "I just don't think...I don't know if I can. It's been hell for me these last months, Philly." I said, now almost reduced to a sobbing mess.
I broke apart, into a million pieces right there with you. I guess I really killed the moment. I was sure you would leave, but you didn't. Add that to the list of things I'll never understand. You took me in your arms and you held on to me as I cried and ranted about how much I hated myself and what a fuck up I was for all the mistakes I'd made not only in these last few months, but in all of my life. You just held me and listened to me as I yelled and cried.
When it had subsided, this little breakdown that had come seemingly out of nowhere, you turned your face to mine and you asked me, "Are you done, Jeff?"
"Yeah." I said, wiping away a few stray tears.
"Good." you said to me, hugging me to you still. "You're not a fuck up. You've gotten me to fall for you, so I know you must be doing something right." you said, pulling my mess of rainbow hair away from my face. This statement earned a small laugh from me, and in doing so you smiled at me. I don't know how, but that smile made me feel as though things were going to be alright, I guess that's just the power your smile has.
You were so giving, Philly. So selfless and so loving. We laid there in my bed together, my back to you as you held on to me tightly, your head on my shoulder as we talked softly. We talked about my life, about everything I feared and all the hopes I had for my career once I got back on my feet. You just listened because you knew that was what I needed.
I just went on from there. It grew and it grew quickly, our relationship. I started working for TNA, you would work with them occasionally, but most of the time, in the early days of our relationship, you were busy being "The King of the Indies." I don't think you know how much I admired you back then, Philly. I did. You were like my shining star.
We didn't see one another as often as I would have liked, but in the beginning, I felt as though you were with me even when you weren't. We still shared those phone calls, late at night. Sometimes I thought you were just faking that case of insomnia you claimed to have so you could have an excuse to justify staying up until three a.m. on the phone with me.
"Sometimes the things I say
In moments of disarray
Succumbing to the games we play
To make sure that it's real."
At some point things began to become strained between the two of us, those small differences in our personalities, our ways of life, they were what we embraced about each other from the start...but somehow along the way, they drove a wedge between us.
I was angry with you that you had chosen to work for ROH instead of being exclusively with TNA when you were forced to make the choice. I had wanted for you to stay, to be there with me so I could see you more often, but that wasn't what you wanted for yourself, your career.
I can be a very selfish person, it's not something that I'm proud of but I'm not afraid to admit it either. When the phone calls between us began to get shorter and less frequent, for whatever reason or another (you were sore or I was busy traveling and doing promotional work) I started convincing myself that there must have been something wrong with me, that I must not have been good enough for you after all, even though you'd told me must have been a million times, Philly, that I was what you needed.
Still, that just wasn't good enough for me, and neither was the fact that I was only seeing you maybe once or twice a week, some weeks not at all. I couldn't take not being with you, I couldn't handle us being apart so much. The worst part of all was how I missed the physical intimacy. At that time in my life I needed it, I craved sex probably more than love back then from you, or at least your sexual acceptance. It was worth more to me then than love, worth more than gold even, to be honest.
Philly, try as I might, I'll never understand why I took other lovers while we were together. I understand why in the most obvious sense, because I wanted it and couldn't get it from you when I needed it, I needed it to feel accepted and if I couldn't get that feeling from you I was going to find someone else to temporarily give it to me.
I had a weakness for someone who had the ability to turn me on. It didn't take much, I wasn't particularly picky. Men, women...I didn't care. As long as they floated my boat for a night or two then I took them. Most of all, I did it because I could.
Observing you now, Philly, I'm not sure what you're still doing laying here. If things were reversed I'm not sure I would have stayed with you. For months, on and off, I cheated. I lied. I did all I could to fuck us over. I drank heavily. If drugs were offered to me seven out of ten times I took them. I smoked a joint almost every night before falling asleep, getting back to my home or hotel from whatever random conquest I had made that night. I popped whatever pills I could just to ease the pain that I felt creeping in. I was a mess.
I felt like shit, I knew that what I was doing was wrong. I just couldn't stop. This went on for months, my deceptive actions. Finally it all caught up with me. I confessed to you what had been going on. I know how much of a shock it came to you as. You had no reason to think that I was sleeping with someone else, that I had even wanted to. I had returned every single "I love you, baby." you cooed at me late at night over the phone. You had no reason to think I had been back to abusing whatever substance was available. I told you I had been clean, you thought I had been clean since right after I got fired, with the exception of the occasional drink.
We were both angry that night, we fought, we fought hard. I was half drunk, you were tired and strung out from having been on the road non-stop for the last eighteen days. We yelled, screamed at each other. I said countless things I didn't mean, things just said to hurt you because I couldn't make you understand where I was coming from. Hell, Philly...how could you have? I didn't even know, for Christ's sakes.
You just took it all, stood there like a brick wall, absorbing every hurtful thing I said. And then, you left. You walked away. I let you, I didn't try to stop you. I didn't know how.
" Everything changes
If I could turn back the years
If you could learn to forgive me
Then I could learn to feel"
That summer of 2005 was dark for me. It felt as though I hadn't made any progress in the last few years that had passed, or if I had, I'd just thrown it all away. I stopped drinking, but I just couldn't kick smoking weed, the drug problem in general. I hadn't talked to you for almost three months, Philly. I was going insane. You wouldn't return my phone calls, messages. After a couple weeks worth of this, calling you and getting nothing in return, I got the message. I was going through hell with my brother, his relationship with Amy had blown up during this time. We would sit around talking about both of our failures in love. It was odd, how both of our loves had come to a standstill at the same time.
I remember asking Matt one night, "I'm no better than Amy...am I?"
"Shut up, Jeff." he mumbled. "I don't think you did it for the same reasons Amy did."
"I don't know why I did it." I said softly.
"Then what do you think Phil thinks?" he asked seriously, staring at me.
"I dunno." I said.
I didn't know what you thought, Philly. You wouldn't speak to me, wouldn't see me. For all I knew, it was over. I had no reason to think there would be anything left between us after what I had done, what I had said. I felt so cold, numb living without you, having to live with what I had done. Yet, I still continued...sleeping around, abusing whatever was available to me.
I remember when the turning point came. I had no-showed for a TNA pay per view. I knew I was in deep shit for having done so, but there was no way I was going to Orlando that day. I had slept with some random young wrestler, done some coke with him, spent the night with him. I came home at four a.m., knowing I had to be in Orlando by mid-afternoon, but not caring. I just gave up. I collapsed in the bathroom and proceeded to hurl up my guts. I passed out on the floor, I remember. I don't remember how I made my way to my bed, though, but that's where I woke up at about noon or so.
I climbed out of bed, rolled a joint, grabbed my cell phone and went out onto the back deck. I began dialing the phone to tell someone important that I wasn't showing up, but the battery was dead. I swore a long string of obscenities as I threw my phone against the nearest tree as hard as I could and watched as it flew into pieces across the lawn. I slumped down into a lounge chair out of the sun, sighing.
I flicked the lighter a few times, lighting the joint and beginning to smoke it. I sat there, my hand against my forehead, wondering how I got here. The man I had fallen in love with surely hated me, I was probably going to lose my job, I had a drug problem that I didn't even want to admit to...what the fuck was wrong with me?
In the middle of my pondering, Dad came out onto the deck, startling me when he yelled my name, "JEFFERY NERO?!?!?!" I'm sure I jumped out of that chair, ten feet into the air as I heard a tone of voice that my father hadn't used on me for the better part of the last fifteen years.
"Shit!!!" I yelled as the lit joint fell down the front of my pants, falling down onto the deck as I jumped once again. I looked down at it and then at my father, finally sighing and shrugging my shoulders as I stamped it out with my foot.
"Goddammit, boy! I thought I got to you about smoking that wacky stuff when I first caught you when you were a teenager! Don't you listen worth a damn?!?!" he stood there, waiting for me to answer. I couldn't. "What the hell are you thinking? I came over here to tend to the dogs cause I figured you'd be gone to Florida until Wednesday, and look at this. I come to find you smoking dope again?"
I felt like a little kid, the way my day yelled at me that day. He was right, though. I needed to get it together. My dad and I had a heart to heart talk that afternoon. Over the years, as my career had grown, I'd become distant from my father. I never really pinpointed why, but I had. After that day, it all changed.
I worked hard, I began to get my life together. I stopped drinking, I quit smoking weed, I took a vow of celibacy. It sure as hell wasn't easy...there were days when I slipped up. But I had a good support system of family and friends there when I needed them, they helped get me through. I only wished I had you, Philly. You were the only thing that was still missing from the picture.
"When it's just me and you.
Who knows what we could do.
If we can just make it through
The toughest part of the day."
Then, out of nowhere, you came to me. You came back. August was about to turn into September and I was out in what I called my "studio", the little building behind my house where I had been spending most of my time lately. I was working on a painting. I was in the back of the room, listening to music, kneeling down on the floor and staring up at the half finished canvas before me, my paintbrush hanging out of my mouth as I chewed on the plastic tip of it.
Then you said my name, not loudly, just loud enough to be heard over the music. I was lucky I didn't choke on that paintbrush when I turned to find you standing there behind me, smiling as usual, a yellow envelope tucked under your arm, looking as beautiful as you ever had.
I think I whispered your name but I don't remember. I may have just imagined that part. You said to me as you walked over to where I was crouched, "I see you're still painting...and listening to that shit music that you like so much..." I grinned as I reached over and turned off the stereo.
"Better?" I asked, standing up.
"Yeah." you answered. You took the envelope you had been holding and handed it to me, saying "I came here originally to have your brother look over this for me. It's not that I don't understand what's in the contract or anything...it's just that Matt's so smart about things like this, about the business...so I thought it would be a good idea to..."
"Contract?" I said, puzzled.
"Yeah, Jeff. They offered me a contract, WWE did." you said, smiling.
"What?!?!" I said, excited. "Philly, that's fucking great!" I yelled, throwing my arms around you. You hesitated, but eventually wrapped your arms around me too.
I let go after a few moments against you, saying "I'm sorry, Philly. I just, I shouldn't have hugged you, I'm just happy for you is all.." I looked down at the ground.
"It's okay, Jeff. Like I said, when I originally came here, I just was going to have Matt look over this with me and go back home...but then the two of us got to talking and he talked me into coming over here to see you. Well, he didn't have to twist my arm...but it did take some soul searching to actually get up the nerve to come over here. I had wanted to see you, but..." you said in a tone of voice I don't think I'd ever heard you use before. "..but I didn't know what to say to you...I...it's going to be so hard, Jeff..." you said, your voice breaking as you trailed off.
"What's going to be hard, Philly?" I asked, taking your hand and feeling myself getting choked up as well. I was confused, I didn't know what you were talking about. I couldn't fathom why you had wanted to see me again after the last time we had spoken.
You looked up at me and said softly, "This." as you squeezed my hand. "You and I. Us. This, Jeff. You and me. It's not going to be easy...but we..."
I interrupted you, asking happily, "Philly...are...are you saying what I think you're saying?!?!?"
You smiled softly at me to answer my question and continued, "We're going to have to work really hard on this, you know that right?" you said, taking hold of both of my hands.
"I know." I whispered as I came to embrace you. "I know. And I will, Philly. I promise you..."
"Stay here together
And we could
Conquer the world
If we could
Say that forever
Is more than just a word"
I don't think you'll ever be able to understand how happy you made me when you came back, Philly. I know it couldn't have been an easy thing for you to do, but it was the best decision you've ever made. I try my hardest to make you believe that, Philly I do, and I hope you realize.
We got back together. We took it slow to start with. We eased our way into being back together, talking and talking about what had gone wrong and how we were going to fix it, if we could fix it. We've been working on it ever since, for the last year and a half now. We're still working.
There are good days and there are bad days. There are days when we argue for whatever reason or another. You bring up something hurtful I've done and throw it in my face, making me angry. I'll get drunk and you'll get pissed, not exactly because you're mad that I've been drinking, but because I have the bad habit of acting like a fool when I drink.
Sometimes you'll go a couple of days without talking to me. I can live with that. I know eventually one of us will break. There are times when you'll withhold sex from me. I can live with that too, I've become a very patient man over this last year, Philly. I could wait forever for you.
We've come across our ups and downs during this period in our relationship, but the most important part of all of this was the fact that you and I each made a promise to one another that we've vowed to keep. My promise to you was to keep clean, stay off of drugs and pills, be true to you, be faithful, be honest. So far I've done well on all those fronts.
You were unsure of what your promise to me in return should be, so I made one up for you, hoping that you would agree. I made it as honest and personal as I could, asking from you what I needed most, deep down in my heart. I asked you to stay with me no matter what I should do, as long as I kept up my end of that promise I had made to you. I asked you to swear you would never leave me again if things got hard, not to walk away from me like you had done. You looked at me thoughtfully, smirking as you nodded your head at me as an answer to my request. "I promise." I remember you whispering to me. It felt so good.
Being back working in the WWE has been like a breath of fresh air. I feel that right now I'm at a stable point in my life...I don't remember if I've ever felt as though I've been at one, but I do now. And you laying here beside me, so warm and so soft, Philly...it helps. It keeps me sane.
I sigh, thinking about the fact that we only have one more day together here at my home before we have to hit the road again. I look over at the clock, seeing that I've been watching you sleep and rehashing our rocky road for almost two hours now. I groan as I gently move my worn old body out of bed. Fuck it, I can't sleep. I need a glass of water and some air. Maybe that will help.
My standing at the kitchen sink drinking a glass of water at three a.m. somehow makes my dogs want to go outside, so I let them, following close behind. It's cold, but not unbearably cold out tonight. I stretch my arms out over my head and take in a deep breath.
"Whataryadoin?" I hear you ask from behind me. I turn around, you standing there in the doorway, looking sleepy.
"I just wanted some air, that's all." I say as I come over to you.
"Hurry back to bed." you mumble as I wrap my arm around your waist.
"Philly..." I say, looking at your face. "I love you. I'm grateful you're still with me, so grateful. You don't even know..." I continue mumbling as I wrap both arms around you and hold you against me.
You blink at me a few times, as if you're trying to wake up a little more before saying anything in response. "You were watching me sleep again, weren't you?" you say sleepily, a serious look across your face.
I want to laugh, but I don't. "Yah." I say against your shoulder.
"And thinking...?" you ask.
"Yup." I say softly.
"About how horrible of a person you think you are and how I shouldn't be laying there...right?" you say sarcastically.
You know me too well, Philly. I like it. "Pretty much." I sigh. "But you're here. I know that. I know...I love you. And I hope you'll always stay." I say.
"I promised...didn't I?" you ask, hugging me tightly to your body.
"You did." I say softly as I look at you.
"Then I'm not going anywhere. I'm not a promise breaker." you say, kissing my forehead. It makes me smile.
"It's just that some days I look back and don't understand why you're here with me, after everything..." I begin, but you stop me, you halt me by pressing your lips to mine.
"You don't have to." you say against my lips when our kiss is broken. "You don't have to." you tell me again, smiling against my lips now.
I guess you're right. I don't have to...just as long as you stay with me, Philly. Just as long as you stay.
"If you just walked away
What could I really say?
Would it matter anyway?.
It wouldn't change how you feel..."