Blame it on the Stars blockquote { margin-left: 50px; margin-right: 50px }

Disclaimer: Lyrics written by Vincent Leigh of Invertigo.

Author's notes: Some extremely vague idea that forced itself to be written. No real plot, no real angst, no real twists, turns or surprises. Just a really bored Chris Jericho muse that wanted a Smoochy fic.

Blame it on the Stars

We met without asking why
You thought I was someone else walking by
But I knew it was you
We talked right into the night
About what was missing from in our life
Then I knew I couldn't choose

Just like a world went off between us
You couldn't stop Mars crash into Venus
'Cause when the feeling is mutual
And the need is so physical
Then we won't blame it on our hearts

We'll just blame it on the stars
We don't care what they think of us
They can't see inside of these lover's walls
They don't know, they'll never know

A chance meeting

'Stephanie?'

She froze at the name, her heart beginning to race. Maybe whoever it was wasn't talking to her? As casually as she could, she put down the books she was perusing and headed for the entrance of the bookstore. Besides, she had to pick up her daughter from school, and she hated being late.

'Wait a second!' the same voice called out, actually following her out to the sidewalk.

She ignored him, reaching into her jacket pocket for her car keys. Without realising it, she had quickened her strides.

'Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley.'

She stopped. She hadn't heard that name in almost fifteen years.

Unfortunately, her stopping had given her pursuer the chance to catch up with her. He stopped to stand in front of her, and her heart dropped to her stomach. His hair was cut short, and he looked older, but he was still recognisable.

Chris Jericho.

'It is you,' he said, sounding amazed.

She forced a smile, trying to keep herself as calm as possible. 'I'm sorry, but I think you have the wrong person.'

'No, I don't,' he shot back, his eyes narrowing as he looked closely at her. 'And I know-'

'Look, I am not the person you think I am!' she interrupted loudly, then quickly cursed herself for having lost control. 'Now, if you'll just please excuse me…'

She tried to get past him, but he quickly stepped in front of her. 'The hair is shorter and blonde, and the eyes are-'

'I have no idea what you're talking about,' she interrupted again, still trying to get past him.

'Yes, you do,' he insisted, still blocking her.

She was getting angry with him, noticing that he was still as annoying as ever. 'Get out off my way.'

A small wry smile actually appeared on his face. 'Or else what? You'll get Triple H to kick my ass?'

Before she knew what she was doing, her open palm struck him across his face.

The look of surprise was replaced by anger, and he quickly reached out and grabbed her wrist. 'Some things never change, huh?'

She wrenched her arm free of his grasp, staring coldly at him. 'He's dead.'

*

Chris Jericho had been watching the front of the house for ten minutes, still debating what to do. Ever since his encounter with Stephanie two days ago, he hadn't been able to stop thinking about her. About how she had reacted to him. And about her bombshell regarding Triple H.

'He's dead.'

And he had found himself feeling guilty for the way he had treated her, and so here he was, sitting in his car, watching her house, and wondering on whether to apologise or to just leave it. He could probably just leave things and move on with his life, pretend that two days ago never happened, but he couldn't. There had been something in her eyes that had caught his attention when she had recognised him. There had been the briefest moment where it seemed like she had actually been happy and relieved to be seeing him.

Fifteen years. Fifteen years since she and Triple H had vanished from public eye, and from the WWF. One week they had been there, and the next nobody knew where they were. After several weeks there had been numerous rumours flying around regarding their extremely sudden disappearance. But nobody had ever actually believed that they were dead. Just…not there anymore.

Surprisingly enough, people had missed them. And not just those who hadn't hated the 'first couple'. Hell, he had found himself wanting to see either of their faces during the years. After all the hype had died down, things had gone back to normal. Or as normal as things could be considering one of the top wrestlers and the boss's daughter were both gone.

And by some freaky chance, Chris had found them. Her. He had just recently moved into the small town after his disastrous divorce, and on his first outing to check out his new life he had chanced upon Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley. A widow.

A feeling of sadness came over him. He may have hated the man, but he had respected his talents. He had worked alongside him, and in his own way, gotten to know him.

Chris suddenly realised that he couldn't do it. He couldn't just drop by her house and apologise, pretend that they hadn't shared a somewhat tumultuous past. As bad as he felt about his actions, it was probably best that he not cause Stephanie any more trouble. Just stay out of her life as much as possible in such a ridiculously small town where even the owner of the bookstore knew who Stephanie was.

Or rather, Marie Ryder.

The sharp, sudden knock on his window made him jump. Chris looked up, and was stunned to see Stephanie glaring at him. He hurriedly scrambled out of the car as she asked what the hell did he think he was doing.

'Uh, nothing,' he replied before he knew it was out of his mouth, and still not used to this new-look Stephanie. It wasn't that she had had plastic surgery done, she was just different. Blonde, shoulder length hair, deep green eyes, a much thinner face.

'You've been sitting in front of my house for the past fifteen minutes,' she informed him in a hard voice. 'You better have a good explanation, or I'm calling the police.'

Chris sighed. 'I just wanted to stop and say I'm sorry about…what happened two days ago.'

Stephanie looked at him carefully. 'How did you get my address?'

'It's a small town,' he shrugged. But she obviously didn't believe him. Small or not, she had probably kept as low a profile as she could. He sighed again. 'The guy who owned the book store had come out looking for you after you ran off, and I asked him.'

A small smile appeared on her face. 'Mr Waverly is such a nice man. He gets Thea her monthly dose of Sweet Valley books.'

Thea? Stephanie had a daughter?

She lost her smile again, but didn't regain the cold look in her eyes. 'Well, now you've said it. So please, just go and leave me alone.'

'Wait, Mom! Can I please get his autograph?'

*

The two of them looked down in surprise at the voice of a young girl who had quietly come up behind her without their noticing. Her thirteen year old daughter.

'Thea, what are you doing?' Stephanie asked, more confused than anything else.

Her daughter turned pink. 'I recognised him, and I just wanted an autograph.'

'Recognised…?' She frowned, then abruptly remembered Jericho.

But Thea ignored her, turning to look at the blonde man staring at her in shock. 'Mr Jericho, right? Can I please-'

'Thea, now isn't the best time, okay?' Stephanie interrupted, sounding a lot harsher than she wanted. 'Go back into the house.'

'But, Mom-'

'Thea, please!' A note of pleading entered her tone, which she quickly tried to hide.

'Steph, it's-' Jericho started.

'Just go,' she interrupted once again, 'and leave me alone.'

Without another word, Stephanie turned and walked back to the house, dreading what was about to come. Not only did she have a lot of things to explain to Thea, but she had to endure talking about a life she never wanted to remember again. Even after nearly three years, it was still hurting deeply.

Because of wrestling, she had lost the only man who had ever mattered to her, who had actually given some meaning to her life. The one man whom she had loved over everything else, and the man who had given her Thea.

Then again, if it hadn't been for wrestling, Stephanie would never have met Hunter in the first place.

'Thea?' she called out as she entered their house, closing the front door behind her.

'My real name isn't Thea Ryder, is it?' a voice asked softly from the top of the steps.

Stephanie looked up in confusion at her daughter. 'Of course it's your real name, honey.'

Thea was carrying something in her hand. An old video tape, and what looked to be a large notebook. 'Shouldn't it be Thea McMahon-Helmsley?'

She had known this day would come, but she had been hoping it wouldn't have been for a few years yet. 'Honey, what are you carrying?'

'A WWF tape I had stumbled across in Daddy's old stuff,' she replied calmly, walking down the steps and stopping in front of her. 'And your scrapbook.'

Stephanie knew she should have gotten rid of all those stuff years ago, but she hadn't been able to. She had tried numerous times, but she also knew that Hunter wouldn't have wanted her to.

'How long-' She stopped, rethinking her question. 'When did you find these?'

'About a month ago. I…I wasn't snooping or anything like that. I just wanted-' Thea suddenly burst into tears.

Stephanie closed the gap between them, pulling her daughter into her arms and holding her tightly. 'It's okay, Thea. I'm not mad.'

'I just…I miss him so much, Mom,' Thea sobbed. 'I just wanted to look through some old photos again.'

She felt her heart twist. 'I know, baby. I miss him, too.'

*

A conversation, an explanation

'What happened?'

'I don't…' A sigh. 'I'm not sure if you'll truly understand what had happened fifteen years ago.'

'I want to know, Mom. I just want to know about you and Daddy.'

Pause. 'Alright. It was around the middle of 2001, and your Dad had gotten badly injured during a wrestling match. The doctor told us that he was to stay away for about six months, and Hunter took it pretty bad. I decided to stay with him, and that was the first major step, although we didn't know it. We were off TV and the other shows.'

'But you didn't leave yet?'

'No, it was about another month. We were at home, watching RAW-'

'That was one of the shows, right?'

'That's right. Back then, it was the show to be on and be seen. We had been watching, and then he turned to me and he said he couldn't do it anymore.'

'Couldn't wrestle? Or couldn't watch?'

'Couldn't wrestle, honey. His injury was actually a lot worse than we first thought. His recovery time was increased to nearly eight months, and he was having a lot of trouble walking, and the pain was constant. It was there every day and every night. All of a sudden he said he couldn't do it anymore. It was…it was…' A long pause. 'He said it felt like it was killing him.'

Then, quietly, 'And you left with him?'

'Yeah, baby. I left the WWF with him. I wrote my Mom a short letter, explaining, and we just packed our bags and left.'

'Was it hard?'

'A lot harder than I expected. We moved here, a small town that had yet to have access to cable TV back then, and we weren't as recognised at all.'

'But you changed. You had brown hair, and Daddy had long blonde hair.'

'Just in case we did get recognised, we both changed our appearances as much as we could. I went blonde, and he went dark.'

'And your names.'

'We changed them, too. Legally.'

Pause. 'I always thought the names you called each other were just nicknames.'

'I'm sorry we didn't tell you sooner, Thea.'

'That's okay, Mom.'

'No, it isn't. But we never lied to you.'

'I know.'

'I wish…I just wish your Dad was here to help me explain to you though.'

'I wish he was here, too.'

'What about Mr Jericho?'

A sigh. 'Chris Jericho and I never got along back when we were still in the WWF. Your father and he didn't like each other much.'

'He used to call you names.'

A light laugh. 'You saw those old tapes as well, huh?'

'I watched as many as I could, and I've been doing a lot of reading on the Internet as well.'

'I'm sorry you had to find out this way. We had planned on telling you when you were old enough, but…I guess we waited too long.'

'Do you…do you ever wish that you had never left?'

Tense silence. 'During the first couple of years, I did. Then, I had you, and Hunter and I were together, and it was enough. I later realised that he had been right. That if we had stayed, wrestling would have killed him, and would have killed our marriage. After that, I started to dislike it, and then I just didn't care about it anymore.'

A long pause. 'Will you…I mean, you just said you didn't like it anymore, and that you don't care about it-'

'Anything you want, honey. I'll tell you anything and everything I remember.'

'Thanks, Mom. I just want…I want to know everything about you and Daddy.'

'I know you do.'

*

What the…?

'Mom?' Thea yelled loudly as she ran through the front door, dropping her school bag in the foyer. 'Mom! Where are you?'

'In the kitchen!'

She ran to the kitchen, unable to keep the large smile from her face. 'Mom, you are not going to believe this!'

'Believe what, honey?' her mother asked, walking over and giving her a kiss on the top of the head as she headed towards the fridge.

'Guess who our new Art teacher is?' But Thea couldn't wait to share her news. 'Mr Jericho!'

Her mother dropped the plastic container – luckily having just emptied it in the trash – onto the floor, and she whirled around to face Thea. 'What?'

It had been a week since the incident outside the house, and she and her Mom had gotten closer. Still, Thea knew that her mother was still not fully accepting her wrestling history. 'Yeah, he started just today.'

Her mother frowned, bending to pick up the dropped container. 'Art?'

'Yeah, my favourite subject! How great is that?' Thea couldn't help it. She loved the thought that Mr Jericho was her teacher, and that he was an ex-wrestler. Maybe she could ask him questions too? Especially now, with her mother willing to let her watch it.

'Jericho? An Art teacher?'

Thea grinned. 'He's actually pretty good, Mom. The class loves him so far, although I know it's cos some of the kids recognise him.'

'Recognise him?'

'Yeah. He let us ask him questions about it, but just for the first class, he said. Adam's been watching for years, and he told me that Mr Jericho quit wrestling about five years ago, but he watches a lot of the old tapes, and I think some of the other kids do as well. Isn't it cool?'

Her mother smiled. 'That's…that's great for you, sweetie.'

Thea finally looked at her mother more closely. 'You're not mad, are you?' She knew that her mother was sensitive to anyone recognising her on the streets as Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley.

'I'm not mad, Thea. I'm just…shocked.'

'That he's a teacher?'

'That he's actually here.'

Thea looked sympathetically at her mother. 'Mom, I know that you haven't reconciled yourself with your past, but Daddy's gone, and so you don't need to keep hiding from it to protect him.'

Her mother stared at her, and she was afraid that she'd said too much or that she'd gone too far. But then, a soft smile came over her face. 'Reconciled, huh? Guess your English teacher is making you work hard.'

Thea laughed in relief. 'Actually, I read it from one of the Sweet Valley books.'

'Come here and give your Mom a hug.' Thea went obligingly, hugging her mother back tightly. 'Your Dad would have been so proud of how smart you are, you know that?'

Thea just nodded.

*

Not quite worlds apart

'Mr Jericho! Hey!' Thea greeted enthusiastically, throwing open the front door. 'Come on in!'

He smiled down at her. She looked so much like her mother. 'Thea, I just-'

'Honey, who is it?' Stephanie's voice floated from somewhere in the house, which was soon followed by her body as she walked towards them. Chris looked up just in time to see a frown on her face. 'Jericho.'

'Uh, Steph-'

'Marie.'

He had to remember that. Marie Ryder. 'Sorry. Marie. I won't stay long. I just came to drop Thea's art book, which she left in class today.'

'Do you always make personal visits?' Stephanie/Marie asked, crossing her arms and looking at him closely. 'Or is this a new teacher thing that we haven't been told about?'

Chris sighed. 'The class have an exam coming up on Monday, and Thea will need her book to study for it. I just thought that-'

'Thanks, Mr Jericho. Not for the test, but for the book,' Thea interrupted, smiling at him brightly.

'No problem.' He handed the book to her, and she hugged it to her chest. 'Well, I'll see you on Monday.'

'Would you like to stay for dinner?' Thea quickly blurted out.

'Thea!'

Chris's eyes flew to Stephanie/Marie. She didn't look angry or annoyed. Just…surprised.

Thea looked guiltily at her mother. 'I'm sorry, Mom. But you did cook too much for just the two of us, and…and…well…it just kind of came out!'

He shook his head, unsure of what to think or feel. 'Thanks anyway, Thea. But maybe another time.' With another smile, he turned and walked away.

*

'Young lady, we need to talk.'

Thea bit her lower lip and turned to face her mother. She tried for what she hoped was an innocent look. 'Talk about what, Mom?'

'About that little stunt you pulled earlier.'

'What little stunt?'

Her mother raised an eyebrow. 'Asking Jericho to stay for dinner.'

Thea shrugged, turning her attention back to her pasta. 'It just came out. You did say that you made too much food.'

'So, no other reason, huh?'

She hated lying to her mother, and besides, she could always tell. 'Uh…no?'

'Uh huh.'

Thea sighed, putting down her fork and looking back at her mother. 'You've had nearly two months to get used to having Mr Jericho living in the same town as us now, and I've noticed that you're not quite as negative towards him as you were before.'

'You're a smart and perceptive kid, aren't you?'

She just grinned, saying nothing.

Her mother sighed. 'Thea, have you been talking to Jericho about wrestling at school?'

'Maybe?' Thea hesitated. 'I think…I think he likes you, Mom.'

Her mother almost choked on her pasta, and she quickly reached for her glass of juice. 'What?'

'He's always asking about you.'

'What does he ask about? Exactly.'

'How you are. What you're doing. Just general stuff.'

Her mother narrowed her eyes, looking at her face carefully. Thea couldn't help the guilty flush that came to her cheeks, and she quickly looked back down at her dinner plate. 'Alright, baby girl. What's really going on?'

'I…I like him, Mom. He's really nice, and I just…I want the two of you to become friends.'

'Thea, Chris Jericho and I…we're as different as night and day. We're polar opposites, and we've never really liked each other before.'

'But…opposites attract, right?'

'I don't think so, honey.'

'You're more alike than you think, Mom.'

*

It was inevitable. They lived in a small town, and it was bound to happen sooner or later. Stephanie was actually surprised that it had taken nearly four months.

'Marie, is it just me, or has Chris been unable to stop staring at you all night?'

Stephanie pointedly kept her gaze on her friend's face, smiling in confusion. 'Chris who?'

'Chris Jericho. He's the Art teacher at the school,' Lauren said, raising an eyebrow.

'Yes, I remember Thea telling me they had a new teacher.' She found herself wishing she had stayed home, and not have been so easily influenced by her friend and her daughter. Granted Lauren was her bestfriend, and it was for her husband's birthday dinner party. Unfortunately, her husband also happened to be the school principal.

'Come on, I'll introduce you.'

Stephanie began to panic slightly. 'Uh, no, I'll meet him later.'

Lauren got a mischievous grin on her face. 'Come on. He's a sweet man, and he has been staring at you all night.'

'Lauren.'

'Marie.'

'You better not be thinking what I'm hoping you're not thinking.'

'I have no idea what you're talking about,' Lauren laughed, grabbing her arm and dragging her across the room. Where Jericho was talking to Ryan, Lauren's husband.

'Hey, you two.'

Stephanie knew she was being immature, but she kept her gaze firmly on the floor. True, the idea of Jericho living in the same town as her didn't freak her out as much as before, but she still found herself avoiding him as much as possible.

'Hey, you two.' That was Tom, and she couldn't be rude. Stephanie raised her eyes, and greeted him.

'Chris, have you met Marie?' Lauren asked, pulling her forward slightly.

'Very briefly. Her daughter's in my Arts class.'

Stephanie looked at Jericho in surprise. She wasn't expecting that. She was expecting something more along the lines of 'Hey, you dirty, skanky, bottom-feeding, trashbag ho!'

'Marie, meet Chris Jericho,' Lauren introduced. 'Chris, my bestfriend, Marie Ryder.'

Jericho smiled at her. 'It's nice to meet you, Marie.'

Stephanie shook her head, forcing a smile on her lips as she tried to process what the hell was going on. 'Likewise.'

*

The feeling is mutual

It had taken nearly seven months, but Stephanie soon found herself being friendly towards Chris. He wasn't the same Chris that she remembered from fifteen years ago, and definitely not the same Chris who had called her derogatory names.

'Is six okay?'

'Six is fine.'

Chris nodded, smiling. 'I promise I won't be late.' He turned to Thea. 'Not like some students in my class.'

Thea blushed. 'I wasn't late last lesson!'

Chris laughed.

Stephanie liked hearing that laugh. 'We better get going. We'll see you tonight, Chris.'

He smiled at her again. She liked that smile as well. 'I'll see you then.'

*

Ever since his disastrous marriage ended in a messy divorce five years ago, Chris had tried hard to keep himself from ever getting too close to anyone ever again. That was why it was kind of funny that the one person he does actually want to get close to is the one woman he had always associated with a feeling of dislike.

Then, she had disappeared. And he had realised that he had never really disliked her that much at all. She was gone. Life went on. And he didn't think much about her for the next fifteen years.

Then, he stumbled upon her. And ever since that moment when he had recognised her, he hadn't been able to get her out of his mind. Did he like her? Most definitely. Did he love her? He didn't know. Was he in love with her? He'll take 'Hell if I know' for $1000 thanks, Alex.

The woman he knew as 'Marie' was a completely different person to the bitch he had known as 'Stephanie'. That 'Stephanie' was pretty much dead and buried, Chris knew. And he didn't want her back.

Marie was…was…

Marie was the woman he was about to have dinner with.

*

Thea ate her dinner as fast as she could without seeming too obvious about it. Or tried to at least, as her mother warned her about choking. But she wanted to get out of there as soon as she could, give them some…alone time.

She liked Mr Jericho, and she loved her Mom. She loved her Dad, too. But Thea knew that her mother wasn't going to be the 'single Mom' for the rest of her life. Sooner or later, she would find someone, and Thea just wanted it to be someone she at least liked. It was life, and life happened.

Mr Jericho and her Mom didn't chat about wrestling, didn't reminisce about the 'good old days', and didn't even act as if they had known each other in some previous life. They talked and behaved as if they were two new people getting to know each other for the first time.

Thea knew that, in a way, they were two new people getting to know each other for the first time. After having watched old tapes of the two of them, she found it hard to believe that they had been those two people more than fifteen years ago. Her mother was definitely not 'Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley', and her Art teacher was definitely not the Chris Jericho who had called her Mom all those ugly names.

'May I be excused?' she asked with some reluctance, a part of her wanting to stay and just watch the two of them interact. They smiled at each other a lot, and her mother was laughing a lot more than she used to.

'You don't want any dessert?' her mother asked, a look of surprise on her face.

Thea shook her head. 'No, thanks. I'm full. Besides, I promised Adam I'd call him at seven, and it's already past.' Adam was her bestfriend, and the one person who shared her interest in all things wrestling.

'Tell Adam things are going just fine.'

Thea laughed. 'Don't worry, Mom. We aren't going to gossip.'

'Much.'

With a roll of her eyes, Thea picked up her plate and took it into the kitchen. Practically running to the phone in the living room, she quickly dialled the number she knew off by heart.

'Thea?' Adam answered almost immediately.

'Everything's going perfectly,' she grinned. 'My Mom really likes him now, I can tell. And we all know that Mr Jericho likes her!'

*

We won't blame it on our hearts

Stephanie gazed down at the man sleeping peacefully beside her, and a soft smile came over her face. It was a little over fifteen months since the day Chris had recognised her in the tiny bookstore, but it felt like a lot less.

She still found it hard to believe at times. Her, with Chris Jericho. Chris Jericho.

She still thought about Hunter, and she still missed him. But he was gone, she knew that. Life – and death – happens, and she has to move on.

So, she was. With Chris.

Stephanie still wasn't completely sure of her feelings for him, but she did like him. A lot. And she knew that he liked her, maybe even loved her in a way.

But neither of them were saying The Words. Yet.

Yes, in her own way she did love him. Had grown to love him. And it felt…right. Was it fate that brought them to the same place? But it had been Hunter who had picked out the little town.

Destiny Lake.

Did that mean something? It was just a name, after all. A few letters strung together. It didn't mean anything.

Right?

*

In the first of many mornings he hoped would come, Chris woke to the wonderful feeling of a warm body beside him. Marie.

Slowly and carefully, as not to wake her, he raised his head and just gazed at her sleeping peacefully against him. Everything felt like it should be.

Not for the first time he wondered about having picked this certain town to move to. At the time it had seemed like a small, quiet place where he could live without any bad memories of his former wife, and of his former life.

A place where he had found the one woman whom he loved more than anything.

He did love Marie. And he knew that, in her own way, she did love him back. For fear of scaring her, he hadn't said The Words. Yet.

It was kind of strange, really. The two least likeliest people in the world, meeting fifteen years later in the least likeliest of small towns with the least likeliest of names.

Destiny Lake.

Maybe it was written in the stars.