Changing Sides
Part Twenty-Two

By: Elektra

JERICHO'S HOTEL ROOM - Late Monday/Early Tuesday

Jericho lay in his bed and stare at the ceiling. What had happened between him and Stephanie? When had their mutual hatred turned into mutual attraction?

Was it the first night she had taped his ribs and opened up about her fear of Triple H?

No. It was before that. He knew there was a reason he had kissed her at King of the Ring 2000, and SummerSlam 2001. And here he thought it was just to piss her off.

"Damn," Jericho muttered. If he hadn't walked away from Stephanie at the arena when she had returned the kiss... he might have actually been forced to admit there was more then just a mere attraction. There were FEELINGS involved... which changed everything! He didn't like change. Heck, he hadn't even changed out of the leather pants he had worn to RAW yet, that's how much he hated change!

Chris rolled on his side, his eyes resting on the clock radio. 3am.

"Am I going to get any sleep?" he asked himself, then reached over and flicked on the radio. Maybe it would help ease his thoughts. He always found music theraputic.

Unfortunately, the song playing was the last one he wanted to hear right now.

I can't be
losing sleep
over this
No I can't

And now I
can not
stop pacing

Give me
a few hours
I'll have this
all sorted out

If my mind
would just
stop racing

Denial was much easier.

Chris groaned. Why did the simplest things have to be so difficult?

This is over
my head
But underneath
my feet

By tomorrow morning
I'll have this thing

And everything
will be back
To the way
that it was...

"I wish it was just that easy," Jericho finished the stanza, then quickly slammed a hand down on the radio, turning it off. He never really liked 'Lifehouse' anyway...

Jericho got up and threw his shirt into his bag. He had to sleep. He needed to have a clear head in the morning when he came face to face with Stephanie again. What was he going to say to her?

Chris jumped at the knock on his door. Who would be coming to visit him this late? Surely Triple H wouldn't be hunting him down after getting his ass handed to him earlier, would he?

Jericho went to the door and looked through the peep hole.

Stephanie stood there, looking very uncomfortable in the empty hall by herself. Jericho really didn't want to face her now.

"Chris?" Stephanie called out quietly as she knocked again, "If you're like me, you're not sleeping either," she said. "We need to talk,"

Jericho took a deep breath, and opened the door. Stephanie looked up at him for a moment, then walked in.

He let the door fall shut, then turned to her. She looked so cute in simple jeans and t-shirt with her hair falling gently on her shoulders and--

"NO. Don't think about that right now," Chris mentally scolded himself. Jericho leaned against the wall, crossing his arms, "Well?" he asked quietly, "You wanted to talk?

"Yes," she sat down on the bed. Perhaps that wasn't the best place to sit, considering the current situation. "About what happened backstage tonight," she looked back at him with determination, "What DID happen, Chris? Between US?"

"A 'thank you' kiss?" he offered.

"That was no 'thank you' kiss!" Stephanie snapped, then stood up, hands on her hips,"What's going on with you?"

Jericho took a deep breath and let it out slowly, "I think we have a problem,"

"What problem?" Stephanie replied.

"THIS problem!" he answered, indicating the both of them.

Stephanie walked towards him and he took a step back. She paused for a moment, then put her hands on his bare shoulders. He avoided her gaze.

"Look at me, Chris!" she demanded.

"What are you doing?" he asked as she put her arms around him.

"Eliminating the problem," Stephanie replied. Without another word, she pulled his face towards her and kissed him for the second time that night. Stephanie immediately felt him relax as he returned the embrace...

Jericho quickly realized what he was doing and pulled away... again, "This---we can't! It's--you're still married!" he replied. It was a lame excuse and he knew it. Her marriage had been over for a long time now.

"Daddy convinced Hunter to sign the divorce papers after you left," she said, "With some 'extra convincing' from our fellow WWFers, he didn't hesitate!"

"Well, that's good, but... I like my ribs in one piece!" he explained.

"The sledgehammer met the same fate as moppy," Stephanie answered.

"Well," Jericho thought quickly, running out of excuses, "We're supposed to hate each other!"

"Do you usually kiss people you hate?" she asked.

Chris shrugged, "Well... rumor has it that Austin is a lousy kisser anyway. I'm not planning to find out,"

Stephanie studied him carefully, her eyes never leaving his, "So if I'm divorced, the sledgehammer is sawdust, and you don't kiss people you hate... then what's the problem?" she asked.

"It's---" Jericho stopped and shook his head. Stephanie was right. There was really no problem... except that whole 'change' thing. "Damn, you're good! Ever consider being a lawyer?"

"Why? Need someone to defend your lame excuses?"

"My excuses are not lame!" Chris paused, "Ok, maybe a little lame," he then grew serious. Every other problem was eliminated... so why not the last one?

Jericho looked Stephanie in the eyes. "It's now or never," he thought. He steeled his nerve, gently pulled Stephanie against him, and brushed his lips over hers. He couldn't help but wonder why he had been so hesitant in the first place, since he found himself truly enjoying the feeling that was going through him at the moment.

Suddenly, the clock radio came to life, causing Stephanie and Jericho to jump apart, startled.

Chris and Stephanie looked at each other, then burst out laughing when they heard the song currently playing.

What the two found so funny, though, neither could figure out:

You make me sick

I want you, and I'm hating it
Got me lit like a candlestick
Get too hot when you touch the tip, I'm feeling it, I gotta getta grip

And it's
driving me crazy
baby, don't you quit
Can't get enough of it

You got me going again
Baby, you got me going again

You make me sick