There All Along
Summary: WWE make up artist Charlotte Robinson is in search of her dream guy, after being single for four years. Chris Jericho has just returned to the WWE and is coming out of a divorce from his high-school sweetheart. The pair form a friendship, that slowly develops into something more, but as the wrestler also has his daughter Abigail to consider and Charlotte goes from one bad date to another, will it turn into a relationship?
Rating: PG-13 for mild swearing, sexual situations, and mild violence.
Disclaimer: I do not in any way lay claim to any name or character in the WWE. This is not-for-profit fiction. The only profit received is pure entertainment. Poetic license has been taken with character personas, along with television canon. Original characters of Charlotte Robinson, her family, Abigail Jericho, Paulo Santoro and anyone else you may not recognize from WWE T.V are copyright of wandaXmaximoff, 2007-8.
Notes: Personalities presented within are not necessarily those of the characters in real life nor are the views presented within necessarily those of the author.Poetic license has been taken with character personas and television canon.
Even though this fic is based on "reality," I have not used wrestlers' real names or history or their families' names or history (which I have subsequently made up). I am highly uncomfortable doing so as wrestlers' personal lives are none of my business. No disrespect meant for those authors who do, simply personal belief on my part. It feels, for instance, as if I'm writing a fic about Orlando Bloom rather than his Pirates of the Caribbean character "Will Turner."
I'm well aware that Jericho made his return to the WWE on the November 19th edition of RAW. However, I actually began writing this story about a week before Cyber Sunday 2007, and hoped Jericho would be returning at that PPV. Additionally, when Jericho did return, I chose to keep my original idea as it was, because it worked better with the rest of the plot's subsequent time-line.
Finally, huge thanks go to the wonderful Disco Inferno 1 (User ID: 339498) for beta'ing this story, and offering her input through out. I love you to death honey (and thanks for letting me paraphrase your A/N ) Additional thanks go toIMissPadfoot (User ID: 1133633) for her input and support almost every night on MSN. I love you to death too babe!
Chapter One: You can't hurry love.
Inside a small, run-down diner, just outside Jackson, Mississippi, two women sat opposite each other, chatting over a mug of coffee each.
One of the women was petite, with crimped brown hair. She had a slender figure, and an attractive face, and was so striking she could have easily found work as a model.
The other was slightly shorter with straight blonde hair, and a curvaceous figure that suggested she cared more about having a good meal than she did about spending hours in the gym. Yet she too was pretty, and had an air of girlish innocence about her.
However, at the moment, neither woman looked their best. Both had disheveled hair, and on their faces lingered the remains of the previous night's make up they'd worn. Their yawns, the dark circles under their eyes and the amount of coffee they were consuming - in addition to their disarrayed appearance - suggested that they were facing the morning after a wild night out.
"Another night, and another worthless date," complained Charlotte, the blonde, as she took another long sip of coffee. "You know, I'm sick of all this stupid dating rubbish. I don't want the hassle any more. I just want to find someone I can cuddle up on the couch with and watch movies. I'm too old to be spending hours listening to cheesy chat-up lines."
The blonde woman pulled her legs up to her chest, and covered them in the baggy grey sweater she was wearing. She brushed her usually perfectly straightened hair from her eyes, and wiped at the day old make up that was still staining her face.
Separated from Charlotte by a plastic diner table, and two steaming mugs of coffee, was WWE diva Maria.
"You're just saying that, Charlie, because last night went badly," insisted the brunette. "You usually enjoy yourself."
"I thought I did; but I'm not too sure any more," sighed the blonde in reply.
"How can you not be enjoying yourself?" questioned the waitress, who came to refill their coffee cups. She looked very much like Charlotte, just younger and as though she at least had had a good night sleep. There was no doubt that the two blondes were sisters. "Besides, you get to hang out with hotties like John Cena. Gimme a piece of his fine ass any day, and I wouldn't be complaining."
Maria and Charlotte laughed, knowing the blonde's younger sister had a massive crush on the former WWE Champion.
"Trust me, Ellie, with a guy like John, it'd only be for the one night, and that's not what I'm after. I've been there and done that --" Charlotte paused, as the other girl seemed shocked. "I didn't mean with Cena - you jackass! I just meant, I've casually dated guys and stuff and I'm bored of it. I'm not getting any younger, and I want something more serious."
"Then why don't you ask CJ to set you up with one of his team mates?" suggested Ellie, sitting down with her sister and the diva. "Most of them are a few years older than you, so maybe they're after something more committed?"
"There's no way I'm dating someone from our brother's football team," insisted Charlotte, with a scowl, as she took a sip of coffee.
"How about someone from work, then? insinuated Maria hopefully. "Maybe someone in the crew? Perhaps, we could ask Candice and Kelly their opinions? Or maybe, we could have a party and invite loads of people from work? That would be a great way to meet some new guys."
"No, Maria, that's just your excuse for a party," teased Charlotte, with a sly grin. "Besides, I already know pretty much everyone at work, and it's not very romantic, is it? I don't want my friends picking dates out for me; I just want to find my Prince Charming."
Ellie and Maria laughed knowingly at the dreamy expression that had just crossed their friend's face. Charlotte often lived in a dream world, where her knight in shining amour was just around the corner.
"Ok, how about Paulo?" offered the younger of the two sisters, but the diva stopped her mid sentence.
"Erm, you do know he's gay, right?" giggled the brunette.
"I didn't mean she should ask Paulo out, stupid," laughed Ellie, swatting Maria playfully on the arm. "But all his friends aren't gay too, ya know! Maybe he knows someone?"
"Will you guys quit it, please?" begged Charlotte angrily. "I know I said I was fed up of the situation, but I didn't mean for you two to whore me out to every guy you've ever spoken to. I was just saying, ok?"
Everyone fell silent, knowing from the blonde's stern look that the subject was now closed for discussion.
Maria and Ellie's faces fell; obviously disappointed at not having a new 'project'. Ever since Charlotte had started working for the WWE as a make up artist four years ago, and had become friends with Maria, Candice and then Kelly, it had become the mission of the quartet to 'fix' things. A few years later when Ellie had graduated high school, and took beauty at University – just like her sister - she had joined Charlotte and the divas, not only on their nights out, but also in their mission to make everything right with their little world.
For the most part it was fun, but sometimes, Charlotte couldn't help feeling her life had turned into the movies Clueless or Meangirls, and today was one of those occasions.
Later, after seeing Maria to the airport, Charlotte enjoyed the remainder of her time off from work. Despite having more fun than ever had before in her life, working for the WWE also meant the blonde had little time at home. She was the senior make up artist for the company, meaning it was Charlotte's duty to be at the televisions shows, pay per views, various photo shoots, and most house shows.
The majority of the make up artist's time was spent working on the company's flagship brand, Raw, and diva shoots. However, that didn't prevent Charlotte from being called upon to travel up and down the country with the WWE, something she loved, as it allowed her to escape her sleepy hometown, and see parts of the country she otherwise would never have visited.
That evening, Charlotte spent her time catching up on email correspondence from her friends, which involved writing a long message to a girl named Carla Greenfield, who had been the blonde's best friend when she was studying beauty at Mississippi State University. Carla had gone on to work for America's Next Top Model, meaning the two companions rarely saw each other any more.
The make up artist always found it fun catching up with Carla, who was ever eager to share gossip about the model-wannabes and know all the backstage goings on in the WWE.
After the blonde had replied to her former confidant's message about some hopeful model who been involved in a drugs scandal, and filled her in on the news of Booker T being released from the wrestling company, she turned to the next message waiting for her.
Charlotte then replied to the email from the WWE's hairstylist, and one of her best friends, Paulo Santoro – who had been unable to join the blonde, her sister and the diva on their recent night out. Filling him in on her, Ellie and Maria's escapades, the make up artist sent the message and returned to her inbox.
She was then a little startled to find her inbox full of registration emails from various online dating agencies, and guessed that Maria had told Candice and Kelly about their conversation that afternoon, and that the divas had taken it upon themselves to 'help'.
Angrily, Charlotte sent text messages to her three friends, reminding them yet again, to keep out of her business.
Maybe finding a boyfriend would soon become a necessity, not only to combat her loneliness, but also to stop the divas interfering.
Sighing, the make up artist flopped onto her bed, and thought how interesting work was going to be when she returned on Sunday, for the pay per view, Cyber Sunday.
No doubt, the arena would be crammed full of wrestlers getting ready for their various matches, and needing a little make up put on, before appearing in front of the television cameras.
Charlotte laughed to herself, thinking how ironic it was that some the guys cared more about their appearance than a lot of the women.
Then there'd be Maria, Candice and Kelly to contend with. No doubt the trio would have already formed 'fool-proof' plans on how to get Charlotte a date, whether the blonde wanted one or not.
Yawning, and thinking about the action packed day she had ahead of her tomorrow, the make up artist, showered, changed into her pyjamas and curled up in bed with her much loved, and frequently re-read copy of her favourite Mills and Boon romance novel.
Sometimes, Charlotte wished her life, specifically her love life, was as easy as the books she read made out. Why couldn't she walk out of her front door, and straight into the arms of her perfect guy? But then again, real life was never that simple, especially not in a small town like the one she lived in.
Folding down the page of the chapter she'd just started, the make up artist switched off her bed-side lamp, and fell into a deep, dream filled sleep, about wild parties and handsome strangers.
Maybe tomorrow would bring the blonde a new prospective on everything?
Chris Jericho was nervously anticipating his return to the WWE after a few years absence, during which time he'd been working on other projects.
Despite being out of the wrestling business for a number of years, the Canadian was looking forwards to returning to the company, where he'd been the first person to win the Undisputed Championship.
In addition to the stress and excitement of making his return to the WWE, the wrestler had just come out of an amicable divorce from his high school sweetheart, and was now getting use to juggling custody of their only child, an eleven-year-old daughter called Abigail.
Abigail was finally coming round to the idea her parents were no longer together, and that she'd be seeing less of her dad, as he traveled on the road with the WWE.
With his new book having just been released, and various signings to promote its publication, Jericho had little time to settle into his new apartment, before he'd make a grand return at Cyber Sunday, and then spending weeks on the road with the wrestling promotion.
Glad of the distraction, however, the wrestler happily met up with some old friends from the business the day before the pay per view.
During his tenure away from the WWE, Jericho had kept in touch with the likes of Edge, the Hardy brothers and Shawn Michaels. Now that he was due to return to the fold, the guys felt it only appropriate to welcome him back in style, which of course meant a wild night out.
The night of Cyber Sunday came, and Charlotte milled around the beauty area, as she waited for her first arrival of the night, which would probably be one of the divas taking part in the Halloween costume contest.
Hoping it would be Maria, Candice or Kelly, rather than someone like Beth Phoenix, the make up artist cast a glance over to WWE hairstylist, Paulo.
The flamboyant Latino was chatting away rapidly in Spanish on his cell phone. When the blonde heard the phrase, 'fondo caliente', she couldn't help chuckling to herself.
Shaking her head in disbelief that all Paulo had to talk about on the night of a WWE pay per view was how great some guy's ass looked in tight jeans, she began unpacking her make up kit.
Soon enough, the arena was buzzing, as crew members set up, and wrestlers readied themselves for that night's show.
Various people passed her, needing the make up artist's services for anything from hiding a hickie, to covering the dark circles under their eyes – from one too many nights out that week.
Candice, Maria and Kelly all made an appearance at different stages of the night, in various states of dress, wanting Charlotte to do their make up for them.
The small blonde ECW diva – dressed as a Gangster - was the last of Charlotte's friends to hop onto the make up artist's stool, wanting to hear all the gossip, as her friend worked her magic with the brushes and cosmetics.
"So, how was the date with James?" she asked, raising an eyebrow Charlotte was attempting to highlight in pencil.
"So lousy I'm considering joining a nunnery," the other blonde replied facetiously.
"That bad huh? What was it this time? His shoes didn't match his belt?" teased Kelly, knowing how picky her friend was about guys.
"Worse, he had to interrupt our date to call his mummy," replied Charlotte, with a small laugh.
"He never? What a total loser!" exclaimed the diva, with a titter.
"I know! Apparently, he couldn't decide on a good bottle of wine without her opinion," explained the make up artist, rooting around her case for the blusher pot.
"What did you do?" questioned Kelly eagerly.
"The usual. Text Maria and asked her to phone me saying there was a family emergency, then hit a night club with her and Ellie," responded Charlotte, as though this was a regular occurrence on her dates.
"Awesome," snorted Kelly, as she jumped down from the stool, satisfied her make up was done to perfection.
"Well, you know, I had to escape him, before he turned out to be like Norman Bates or something," reasoned the other blonde playfully.
"So, given any thoughts to those dating agencies we signed you up to?" pressed the diva. "It's worth a shot, you never know, you might meet someone."
"Jeez, y'all are like dogs with a bone," laughed Charlotte. "No, I haven't. But I promise I'll at least take a look."
The make up artist didn't really have any intention of keeping her promise, she just wanted to humour her friends, and keep them off her back for a while. Soon enough, they'd get bored, and find some other 'project' to amuse themselves with. Or so she hoped.
The next person needing Charlotte's services that night wasn't nearly so happy to see the blonde as Kelly had been.
Beth Phoenix sauntered up to the make up artist's stool, a look of smug satisfaction on her face.
"Rough night, last night, piglet?" the 'Glamazon' inquired, as she gazed over Charlotte's appearance. "You look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards."
"Oh, and nice to see you too, Beth," retorted the make up artist, trying not to let the diva's taunts get to her.
"Well, come on then and make me look even more beautiful than I am. If that's even possible," said Beth, slipping onto the stool.
"A paper bag over your head would help a great deal," muttered Charlotte to herself.
"What was that, piglet?" asked the other blonde, who looked intimidating dressed as a she-devil. "Jealous of something, are we?"
"Of you? Never," the make up artist bit back. "Now, would you kindly shut that trap of yours, and let me do my job."
Beth bristled at the comment, but reminded silent as Charlotte applied her make up, wanting to be away from the blonde as much as the other wanted to be away from her.
Muttering to herself as the 'Glamazon' headed back to the lockerroom, Charlotte's mood didn't improve as Randy Orton approached her.
"Charlotte," the 'Legend Killer' said smoothly, turning on the charm. "Would you do me the pleasure of covering up this damn spot I have on my chin?"
"Orton, I think you're getting confused. That isn't a spot, it's your big head sitting on top of your shoulders," the make up artist good naturedly teased.
"Oh, how your harsh words hurt me," the wrestler replied facetiously, hopping onto the stool. "What's up with you anyway? That time of the month or something?"
"Oh, here we go with the chauvinistic remarks," scoffed the blonde, as she dug out her concealer. "Does your ego and arrogance ever take the night off?"
"No," laughed Orton, as Charlotte dabbed his face with an application sponge. "So, you better get use to it, baby!"
The blonde rolled her eyes, and brushed some setting powder across the wrestler's chin.
"There you go, pretty boy," she said sweetly. "All done."
"Thank you, my lovely," replied Orton jumping off the stool. "Do you and the girls fancy hitting a club with John and some of the guys later? Maybe it'd brighten your mood?"
"Sure, why not?" replied Charlotte happily. "Where are we heading?"
"Don't know yet, I'll speak to John and we'll decide later," answered the 'Legend Killer'. "Meet us in the hotel lobby at about eleven?"
"Alright. I'll let the others know and see you down there," returned the make up artist, as Orton strode off up the corridor.
"Great! Make sure you've got your drinking hat on!" he called back to her, as he looked over his shoulder and winked.
Charlotte shook her head, and flopped onto the stool the wrestler had just vacated. As she played idly with her make up kit, the blonde's stomach growled, indicating it was high time she found some food.
Looking around the deserted corridor, the make up artist assumed the pay per view was well under way, and no one else would be needing her services now.
She made her way down the empty hallways, checking in her purse to make sure she had everything important with her.
Entering the staff lounge, Charlotte was happy to find it unoccupied by anyone else. After buying a kitkat bar and can of coke from the vending machine, she settled down on a chair with her Mills and Boon book.
Reading silently, Charlotte was startled when the lounge doors swung open, and a blond man entered the room. He wasn't someone the make up artist had seen before, but by his appearance she assumed he was a wrestler.
"Sorry," he said, glancing at Charlotte. "I didn't think anyone would be in here."
"It's ok, I'll keep out of your way," replied the blonde woman, not looking up as she turned a page in her book.
"Interesting book?" the unidentified man said, peering over at her, with a slight smirk.
"Oh, it's all they had in the airport shop," the make up artist lied, not wanting to admit to a stranger it was one of her favourites. Reading romance novels always came with a certain stigmata, especially when you were blonde, and people assumed you were nothing more than a bimbo.
The blond male smirked, and kicked his legs up onto the coffee table, running his fingers through his short, spiked hair.
Charlotte glanced around the room, then looked up and asked, "Dressing room too good for you? So you thought you'd slum it with the crew?"
The man laughed, and turned his gaze to the make up artist. "Actually, I'm hiding out, so don't tell anyone you've seen me."
"Couldn't even if I wanted to," replied Charlotte. "Without seeming like an ignorant idiot, excuse me for saying I don't even know who you are."
"Ah," said the man, his eyes lighting up a little. "I'm assuming you didn't work here when I was still employed before, did you?"
"No, I've only been here about four years," confessed the blonde.
"Oh, right. That means you must have started not long before I left," the man commented.
"I guess so," agreed Charlotte. "I was probably still over on Smackdown."
"Well, I'd better introduce myself then," he said, sitting up a little, and looking directly at the make up artist. "I'm Chris Jericho."
"Pleased to meet you Chris. I'm Charlotte Robinson, general creative goddess, more commonly known as a make up artist," she replied with a warm smile.
"Oh, so you're the one responsible for making Mickie James look like a tango doll?" Jericho laughed.
The blonde giggled, and shook her head. "Sadly no. Mickie and the sunbeds did all that themselves. I just tried to do damage control."
Again Jericho laughed, and gave the blonde an amused grin.
"So, what you hiding out from?" Charlotte asked. "I thought you'd be out there tearing down the arena with the rest of them?"
"Unfortunately, no. Seeing as I made my 'big' return tonight, everyone in the company suddenly wants to talk to me. I needed some time out from the millions of questions," answered the wrestler.
"Oh, I see. Well, rest assured, I won't let anyone know you're hiding out in here," she said, with a little nod.
"And in return, I won't tell anyone you secretly love trashy romance novels," Jericho teased.
Charlotte blushed, and tucked her book back into her bag. "You do, and the next time I see you, my scissors may find their way into those pretty locks of yours," she replied facetiously.
"Oh, you do, and I'll be forced to put you in the 'Walls of Jericho'" he shot back, with a cheeky grin.
"Ok, you win, no chopping of the hair," conceded Charlotte, with a grin of her own, before looking down quickly at her watch. "Oh, jeez, look at time. As much as I'd love to stay and chat about how much your hair really does need cutting, I need to go and pack up, the show is almost over."
Jericho gazed at his own watch, and then laughed. "You're just saying that, because you're scared I'm going to put you in a wrestling hold."
Charlotte giggled, and began gathering up her things. "Maybe I am? However, what I'm more scared of, right now, is Paulo cutting off my own hair, if I leave him to clear up on his own again. It was nice talking to you, Chris, but I really gotta dash."
The wrestler smile, and stood up himself. "You've got a point actually, I suppose I better head back out there and face all the well wishers celebrating my return," he said, before turning to look at Charlotte again. "Actually, some of the guys have insisted on dragging me to a club tonight, for 'welcome back' drinks, fancy joining us? You could bring some friends."
The make up artist grinned, and replied asking, "By 'some of the guys', do you mean Randy Orton and John Cena? Because Orton asked me earlier and I said I'd come and bring some of the divas with me."
Jericho laughed and shook his head in amusement, "And who else has Orton asked?"
"Knowing him, half the lockerroom," returned the blonde, with a laugh. "That guy likes to party."
"I noticed. Well lucky for me he asked you then," the wrestler commented with a smile. "At least I know there will be one friendly face there amongst all the sycophants."
"I guess so," mused Charlotte aloud, a slight blush creeping across her cheeks from the wrestler calling her a 'friendly face' and insinuating he wouldn't mind seeing her again later. "Ok, this time, I really must go, before Paulo kills me. I'll see you later Chris."
"Alright, see you later Charlotte," replied Jericho, holding the door open for her.
The make up artist hurried along the corridor back to the hair and make up area, and as she did ran straight into Kelly, Candice and Maria, who were just coming out of the women's lockerroom.
"Hey Charlie," said the blonde diva, running over to her friend, and linking arms with Charlotte. "Cena said we're all hitting a club later, you're coming, right?"
"Yeah, Orton asked me earlier and I said I would," answered the make up artist, as Candice and Maria caught up with them.
"Excellent," said Maria, with a mischievous grin spreading across her face. "Because, I've been thinking, and have come up with an excellent idea. You know its Halloween in three days, right? Well, how about when we got out tonight, we all go in costume?"
Charlotte instantly thought of two perfectly good reasons why they shouldn't wear costumes and voiced them to her friends. "Won't we look a bit stupid, the only ones turning up in costumes? Besides, it's like ten to ten now, where are we going to get any from at this time?"
"Ah-ha," said Candice triumphantly. "I thought you'd say that, and I have the perfect answers. It's Halloween on Wednesday, so I bet a load of people will be dressed in costumes, so we won't look that out of place. We can just borrow some outfits from the costume department. There were loads of spare ones for the contest tonight, so no one will miss them. We can just take what we need for tonight, bring them back dry-cleaned tomorrow, and no one will be any the wiser that we've borrowed them."
The 'Go Daddy girl', Kelly and Maria all looked at their friend expectantly, then the blonde diva said "Come on, Charlie, it will be so much fun."
"Alright then," conceded Charlotte, with a grin of her own. "But only if we talk Paulo into it too."
The three divas giggled and nodded their heads.
"Come on then," urged the make up artist, grabbing her friends and dragging them down the hallway.
They arrived at the beauty area, to discover Paulo had already cleaned everything away.
"And where have you been half the night, Miss Charlotte?" he asked, in mock outrage, dramatically waving his arms all over the place. "I've been left to do all the hard work alone, again."
"I'm sorry, Paulo," apologized the blonde, running over to hug her friend. "I went to the crew lounge, and kinda lost track of time. I promise I'll buy you a drink later, to make up for it, though."
"Ohhh, are we going out then?" asked their hairstylist, excitedly.
Charlotte and the divas grinned, and then explained to Paulo about Cena and Orton's invitation to the night club, and their idea to dress in costumes.
"Awesome! I just saw Bridget putting the costumes back in the store closet, and know exactly what I want to wear," exclaimed the Latino, grabbing the make up artist and divas, and dragging them to where the costumes were kept.
After Charlotte, Paulo and the divas had each selected outfits, they all climbed into the hairstylist's car, and headed back to the hotel. All six of them were buzzing with excitement over their planned night out.
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