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"When no-one else can understand me
When everything I do is wrong
You give me hope and consolation
You give me strength to carry on
And you're always there to lend a hand
In everything I do
That's the wonder
The wonder of you
And when you smile the world is brighter
You touch my hand and I'm a king
Your kiss to me is worth a fortune
Your love for me is everything
I'll guess I'll never know the reason why
You love me like you do
That's the wonder
The wonder of you."
-Elvis Presley "The Wonder of You"
Two weeks after Jeff Hardy's frightening fall from the ladder after just attaining victory, found John Morrison in the ring, claiming that since the rainbow haired warrior hadn't shown his face in two weeks, he must be dead or out of the running for the number one contendership. The Shaman of Sexy also claimed that since he was the man closest to the briefcase after Jeff, he should inherit the contendership prize.
Just then, Jeff Hardy's music hit and the crowd was on their feet, giving the young Hardy a hero's welcome. They had not heard a thing since his dramatic fall, which was exactly what Vince McMahon had wanted; to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats, wondering if he was coming back or not.
The fans already knew Jeff's fall during the match was legitimate. Their big clue was after he had fallen, The Undertaker, who was sitting at ringside with the other champions, watching the match, broke his deadman character and got into the ring to see if Jeff was all right. For Mark Calaway to do that, it must have been serious.
And now their hero had returned.
Jeff slid into the ring and got into John Morrison's face, saying that the Shaman of Sexy just talked way too much, in fact he was all talk. The two men shoved each other and looked ready to lock up and do battle.
Before a fight could break out, the RAW General Manager William Regal came out. "Jeff Hardy, are you quite sure you are healthy enough to compete at Wrestlmania, against one of the champions?"
"Then you shall prove it tonight against John Morrison," Regal announced. "If you lose the match, you will lose your number one contender status and you will be out of Wrestlemania."
Jeff mouth fell open in shock as the crowd booed. In fact, the only one who seemed happy with the situation was Morrison.
Suddenly John Cena's theme hit and the WWE champion came out to the cheer of the crowd. Regal, on the other hand, gave the champion a glare of disdain and demanded why the champ was out here in the first place.
"I want to see my possible contenders in action," Cena answered simply, before heading down the ramp to sit at ringside.
With a roll of his eyes, Regal signaled for the bell to be rung and the match to start. Jeff and Johnny locked up.
Maria was stretching, to get some of the soreness out of her body before her match tonight, when Candice came in.
"Hey,Maria," Candice said. "Jeff's on."
"What? I thought he wasn't supposed to fight tonight," Maria looked at her friend in surprise, before following her to watch the match on the locker room TV.
On the screen Jeff went for the whisper in the Wind but Johnny sidestepped it. Maria winced as she saw her beloved hit the unforgiving canvas. She knew he was going to be in a lot of pain after the match.
When Jeff unsteadily got to his feet, Morrison was waiting for him. As Morrison rolled Jeff up for an attempted pin, Maria watched in horror as Johnny put his feet on the ropes for leverage and the ref didn't see it. Jeff was going to be cheated out of his shot at the title.
Luckily, it seemed that John Cena would have none of that as he ran up and pushed Morrison's feet off the ropes, allowing Jeff to kick out, before the ref counted to three.
As the two circled each other, Maria could see the rage on Jeff's face at the man who tried to swindle him out of his title shot. She had the feeling Johnny was the one who was going to end up in a lot of pain after the match.
Jeff did not fail to deliver, after a few punches and a flying take down, the rainbow haired warrior performed a Twist of Fate, followed by a Swanton Bomb to Morrison. The crowd roared with cheers as Jeff got the win and secured his spot at Wrestlemania.
Maria and Candice hugged each other and squealed with excitement.
"So has he asked you to marry him again, yet?" Candice suddenly asked.
"What?" Maria said, caught off guard by the question.
"Has Jeff asked you to remarry him yet?" Candice repeated.
Maria looked down. "No."
Candice looked shocked. "Have you talked to him about it?"
"No." Maria looked up and shrugged. "He has a lot of things on his mind with Wrestlemania coming up. And well…since I kept him hanging with all of my nonsense, I figure it's only right for him to keep me waiting."
Candice looked unconvinced. "You still love him don't you?"
"With all my heart. "
Jeff slowly got up and limped a little over to the ropes at ringside, as the pain in his back seemed to radiate down into his leg. But he brushed it aside like he always did. Jeff grabbed a microphone and called over to Cena.
"Yo, Cena!" Jeff yelled into the mic. "At Wrestlemania you and I are going to do what I always do. We're going to steal the entire show!"
And that was it, the challenge had officially been thrown down and the crowd loved it.
Jeff gave the crowd high fives as he walked tiredly up the ramp. As soon as he left the stage he headed straight for the trainers' office to get some ice for his back. He lay down on one of the exam tables and the trainer placed an ice pack on his lower back. He looked up when the door opened again; he groaned inwardly a little when Ric and Shawn came in. Jeff sighed inwardly, he knew why they were here and it was not to congratulate him on his victory.
"Hey, buddy, you're going to Wrestlemania!" Ric greeted him and gave him a friendly slap on the shoulder.
Jeff winced a bit, even though his lower back hurt the worst, the rest of his body also ached. "Yeah that's right."
"Come on, Ric." Shawn grinned knowingly. "He knows that's not why we're here."
"What's up, guys?" Jeff rested his head on his arms.
"Well…" Flair began.
"We wanted to see how you came out with Maria," Shawn finished.
"May I ask why you two are so interested?" Jeff quirked a curious eyebrow.
Ric chuckled. "We wanted to see how our advice worked out for you."
Jeff smiled. "Real well. The whole thing with Punk was a 'good-bye' and she said she loved me, so…I'm going to ask her to marry me for real this time."
"You are?" Shawn rasped in surprise. "When?"
Jeff sighed. "That's what I'm trying to figure out. Either sooner or later…"
"If you think this will make you happy, Jeff, then I say grab it as soon as you can."
The three men turned their attention to Matt, who was standing in the doorway.
"I agree," Shawn nodded in the older Hardy's direction. "A chance at real happiness doesn't come around too often."
"On the other hand, you don't want to rush into the old ball and chain till you're both really ready," Ric pointed out.
"That's a fair point too," Jeff said wearily.
"But if you wait too long, you may lose what you have." Matt sighed sadly. "Maybe…Just maybe if I had made my move earlier, Amy might not have…" He trailed off as he swallowed a lump in his throat at the memory of his past love Amy Dumas, known to the WWE fans as Lita. While Matt was out with a knee injury, on the road Lita had an affair with Matt's friend, and WWE star Adam "Edge" Copeland. Since then, Matt had never completely opened his heart to another woman, not even Ashley.
The sad moment was broken when Maria entered the room. "What's going on?"
Matt sniffed and plastered a smile on his face. "Nothing; I was just congratulating my brother. Congratulations, Jeff." Matt patted his brother on the head, before leaving.
Shawn pulled Ric out along with him, so Jeff and Maria could have some alone time.
"Congratulations, you're going to Wrestlemania!" Maria beamed at him as she sat down on the table next to him and began to run her hands softly up and down his back.
"Thanks." Jeff closed his eyes and smiled.
"This is so exciting." Maria giggled. "My man fighting for the WWE championship at Wrestlemania."
"Yeah," Jeff chuckled. "Here's hoping I win it."
"My money's on you." She kissed the top of his head. "How's your back?"
"No worse than usual. But it's still looking forward to a real massage tonight," he grinned slyly at her.
"That's good because I've been wanting to try out some new techniques." She smiled, before frowning a little. "Though I don't know how effective I'll be, my arms might be tired after my match."
"Well, I'll give you an arm massage afterwards." He winked at her.
"I'd like that a lot," she said, before looking at her watch. "Speaking of my match, it's on in a few minutes. Mickie and I are taking on Melina and Jillian."
"Good luck, hon'," he said, getting up and, kissing her on the cheek.
"Thanks." She kissed him back and got up, but before she could walk to the door, he caught her wrist and stopped her.
Maria looked at him.
He was going to do it. He was going to follow the advice of HBK and his brother. Now was just as good a time as any. She smiled back at him and he felt his heart flutter with anticipation. He was now thirty years old, and not getting any younger, even if things didn't work out, it was worth a try right?
She looked at him expectantly and he opened his mouth to ask, but closed it again. No, now was not the time nor the place. "Don't let Melina push you around too much."
She giggled as he released her wrist. "I won't, I promise."
Get up, Jeff… Get up… The younger Hardy willed his exhausted body to push Cena off of him just before the three count.
The two men had been giving the audience a real show, almost a forty-five minute battle, pushing each man to his limit. John Cena had clearly underestimated Jeff Hardy's endurance and refusal to stand down long enough for a three count.
However, both men were nearing the end of their tether, at this point one mistake, one second of lost focus, could lose the match for one and gain victory for the other.
Jeff staggered to his feet as quickly as he could, so he would not get in Cena's infamous submission move, the STFU. But as he turned around, he was hit with a fearsome clothesline. That was it. The tether in Jeff's body had broken; he had nothing left, not even enough energy to stand.
Cena grabbed him by his hair and hauled him to his feet, only to be lifted up onto the champ's shoulders, to be finished off by the FU finisher.
In the dark seconds before his eventual demise, an image of Maria wishing him good luck before the match, flashed through his head. No. He couldn't give up. If he could not keep going for himself, he could do it for her; he wanted her to marry a winner, a champion. His body seemed to be fueled by this desire and it seemed to come back to life again.
He struggled his way out of the FU, catching Cena by surprise. Rarely had anyone struggled out of his strong grip, much less a foe at the end of the fight. The Champ had little time to ponder this when he suddenly felt Hardy's arm around his neck, and his face driven into the floor, by the Hardy's patented Twist of Fate.
Jeff got up and headed for the turn buckle to perform his own finisher. It was the only way to be certain that Cena would stay down. This was his last reserve of strength, it was all or nothing. He climbed the turnbuckle. His legs were shaky, but they held their ground as he stood up on the turnbuckle. He raised the Hardy Suicide Guns as the crowd roared, willing him to make the Swanton. They wanted a new champ too.
Direct hit. He scrambled to cover Cena, hoping and, praying that it was enough.
One… two… three…
Jeff sat there, trying to catch his breath, as his adrenaline started to drain away. He blinked when a glint of gold was held in front of his face.
Then hit him like a bolt of lightening.
Jeff felt his heart stop for a second as he took the championship belt from the referee's hand and stared at it. He had done it. Finally after all of these years of putting his body on the line, he had done it. He was now a world champion and now truly worthy of his beloved's hand.
He gave himself a hard pinch on the cheek to make sure that this was really happening and not a hallucination from one too many blows to the head.
It was real.
Suddenly, he just burst out crying, hugging the championship belt to his chest. It was not because he was sad by any means. He was just so full of emotion in that one sweet moment, that it simply broke his dam of inhibition. All of the struggle, the pain, the injuries, they had finally paid off.
He was champion.
After a few tears had been shed, he opened his eyes and saw little bits of colored paper all around him. He looked up to see confetti floating through the air. A Wrestlemania tradition to congratulate the winner of the championship match.
Chants of "Hardy! Hardy! Hardy!" rang through the arena, one great voice made from many. He slowly got to his feet. Despite his tired body's pleas for rest, he unsteadily walked to the nearest turnbuckle and stood up on the bottom rope, holding up his championship for all of his supporters to see.
Even though the cheers of the crowd were deafening, one voice seemed to pierce through the cacophony, calling his name. He turned to see Maria in the middle of the ring, looking up at him with tears in her eyes, yet a bright smile on her face. He smiled back and jumped down from the turnbuckle. Without another word she ran up and hugged him. Still holding on to the title in one hand, he hugged her back.
"I'm so proud of you," she said into his ear so he could hear over the crowd noise. "You were amazing out there."
"I was thinking of you," he said. "And that kept me going at the end when I had nothing left in me. It was like you gave me something extra."
She pulled away just a little to look him in the eye, clearly touched by that. "I'm glad I could help in anyway I could."
Dropping the Championship belt from his grasp completely, he brought his hands up to cup both sides of her face and kissed her. He didn't care if the arena full people and millions of TV viewers were watching. Right in that moment it was just the two of them and no one else.
"Marry me," he said as he pulled away from the kiss.
Maria blinked. "What?"
"Will you marry me?" He asked, and holding his breath, he waited for her answer.
She stared at him in shock for a moment and smiled, although she looked like she might cry again. "Yes, Jeffery Nero Hardy, I will marry you."
He let out the breath he had been holding and looked both relieved and elated. In his jubilation he attempted to pick her up like they did in the romantic movies, but his lower back finally screamed "No more!" and he a was forced to put her down.
Suddenly Matt Hardy slid into the ring and pulled his little brother into a bear hug, much to the agony of Jeff's back. "My little baby brother is a world Champion! Hardy! Hardy! Hardy!"
"Yeah," Jeff grunted. "A champion with a very sore back."
At that, Matt immediately let Jeff go. While the younger Hardy absorbed the pain in his back, Maria picked up his championship belt and Matt slipped under his arm to help him walk out.
"It's okay, I'll be fine," Jeff insisted.
"You sure?" Matt asked worriedly.
"Yeah, it's my big moment." He nodded. "I want to walk out of here on my own power, like a champion."
Maria grinned. "Then you'd better look like a champion." She put the belt over Jeff's shoulder and pulled pieces of confetti out of his hair, before helping him out of the ring with Matt. The Hardys high-fived the audience members on the way up the ramp, all three of them joining the chants of "Hardy! Hardy! Hardy!"
At the top of the ramp Jeff held up the belt one more time, before exiting backstage for some much needed rest. Unfortunately, that much needed rest was delayed as he was greeted with cheers and congratulations by his fellow wrestlers. Jeff did his best to hide the fact that every friendly slap on the back sent shockwaves of excruciating pain up and down his spine. He was just glad that Maria was next to him, holding his hand.
Finally Cena came up to him and shook his hand, saying, "We definitely stole the show. And don't get used too attached to that title."
Jeff laughed. "Man after all of the effort getting it, it's going to stay glued to my waist."
The younger Hardy and his crew bid the former champion good-bye before continuing on.Finally, Jeff and Maria and Matt made it back to the privacy of Jeff's locker room.
By this time, the pain his back had snuffed out his cloud of absolute euphoria and allowed his brain to realize the horrible position he had put Maria in when he asked her to marry him out there. It wasn't right to put her on the spot like that, in front of all of those people.
"Um, Matt," Jeff asked guiltily, feeling bad that he was kicking his big brother out for a little while. "I know it's the big night and all, but could you give me and Maria a few minutes alone? I have some important things to say."
At first Matt gave his little a brother a look, saying, "What the hell could be so important?" but quickly realized just how important it was.
"All right, I'll be outside, with champagne," Matt winked at them, before exiting the room.
Jeff chuckled a little at his brother and Maria giggled as well. But he grew serious as he turned his attention back to her.
"Maria," he said softly, taking a seat next to her. "I'm sorry…I didn't mean to put you on the spot out there."
"You mean you didn't mean what you said?" She looked at him fearfully.
"No, I meant what I said, I just don't want you to feel like you had to say 'yes' because we were out there," Jeff said, looking down sadly. "You can take your answer back if you want."
Maria tilted his face up to meet hers. "I don't want to take anything back; I meant what I said too," she said, smiling.
He stared at her in disbelief; this evening was going too perfectly. "Really? You mean it? You really want to?"
She giggled, tears of happiness running down her cheeks. "That's what I said, silly."
Jeff was so filled with joy he could not believe he could be this happy. He wanted reassurance before he let his heart be open to trust again. "You're sure now, you absolutely want to--"
He was cut off when she passionately kissed him on the lips. That was all the reassurance he needed. He had his girl's love and his championship. Finally all was right with the world.
Finally Jeff and Maria found each other...again...
Thank you all for reading and reviewing this story. I had a lot of fun writing this little romance for such a wonderful audience like you. You guys were so great, I'm thinking I might write a sequel as soon as I think of a plot for it and tie up some loose ends with my other fics.
Thanks again! hugs