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
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
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.
'It is you,' he said,
She forced a smile, trying to keep
herself as calm as possible. 'I'm sorry, but I think you have the wrong
'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
'I have no idea what you're
talking about,' she interrupted again, still trying to get past him.
'Yes, you do,' he insisted, still
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
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
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
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
A small smile appeared on her face.
'Mr Waverly is such a nice man. He gets Thea her monthly dose of Sweet
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
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.'
'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
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
'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
'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
'Yeah, baby. I left the WWF with
him. I wrote my Mom a short letter, explaining, and we just packed our bags
'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
'That's okay, Mom.'
'No, it isn't. But we never lied
'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
'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.'
'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 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
'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.'
'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
'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
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
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
'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.
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
'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
'So, no other reason, huh?'
She hated lying to her mother, and
besides, she could always tell. 'Uh…no?'
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
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
'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
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 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
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
Thea laughed. 'Don't worry, Mom.
We aren't going to gossip.'
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
'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
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.
Did that mean something? It was just
a name, after all. A few letters strung together. It didn't mean anything.
In the first of many mornings he
hoped would come, Chris woke to the wonderful feeling of a warm body beside
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.
Maybe it was written in the stars.