Disclaimer: I do not own anyone in this story, but if I did, you better believe Chris and Steph would be together. There's some swearing, so be on your toes.
A/N: This is just a short one-shot. I noticed that Stephanie's name was in Chris's book under the acknowledgments so I decided to write a little something about his thinking process. Please leave a review!
He debated whether or not to include her name.
There were pros and cons for each side, and the con list was getting longer and longer and longer, and he couldn't make his mind just quit thinking and put her name. He was handwriting this part, he didn't know why, probably because he wanted to make it extra special, or because he wanted to peruse his own handwriting. Maybe he was just tired of staring at a computer screen. No, he shouldn't include her, no way, he couldn't do that, it would be…well, what would it be?
He sighed and ran a hand through his shortened hair. Even to this day he was still getting used to that. Funny how sometimes you get so used to something that even when you change, even when you quit doing something, in this case having long hair, you still feel it against your neck. It was the same way with her. He still feels like he should include her and maybe that's the right way to go. Maybe he just needs to put her and get it over with.
He thinks of another name that he wants to include and that's fine, he writes it down and then it's gone, it's on the page, it's there. See, it's so easy, his fingers move quickly and the pen is to the paper and everything is fine and well and good. It's that simple and he knows this. It's the warring going on in his mind that is really getting to him. This war that is raging within his own head is the one that is getting him into trouble. He physically can't pick up that pen and jot it down.
What if someone knew? That's his biggest fear. Maybe his wife would pick up the book, start it, read a little bit and then see it and what would she think? Well, no, she'd probably think something else, he was now overanalyzing this too much. Nobody would know, nobody would be able to tell if he just included her name. He worked with her for God's sakes, she was…someone he worked with. He looked over the list thus far and there weren't many people on that list that he just strictly worked with and wasn't friends with. So obviously if he included her name, people would think more, and why not, the other people on this list were more. Look, right there, Shane McMahon, he worked with him…but everyone knew they were friends. Maybe he should include someone like...Paul Levesque, he only worked with him and they were certainly not friends, so there, that would work…no, no it wouldn't because he'd rather cut his finger off than put a thank you to Paul Levesque.
He looked again at the list, he looked again and he read over what he had written, not letting the guilt flare up inside of him at the top of that acknowledgements page. When he first wrote it out, those first few lines had instilled this guilt in him, but it he was over that now. So he read and he read, and he kept reading and then he came to the end, to the blank space, and he wondered and he had a whole list of other people that he was going to put, but she kept sticking in his mind like glue. She kept sitting there, like she was waiting, prodding him to just put her name down.
His cell phone rang and he looked down at the display and sighed. She had just called ten minutes ago and asked what he was doing. It was kind of annoying to have her calling so much, but he dealt with it. He thought about not answering, but she knew what he was doing, knew that he was working on the acknowledgements for his book and that didn't require him to be far away from his phone.
"How's it going?" There was the physical manifestation of his guilt now, all wrapped up into one person.
"Well," he said, "I just need to get these names down, send it to the people and then it's out of my hands."
"It's exciting," she said enthusiastically, "Can you tell me what you so obviously wrote about me?"
"No, you'll have to wait until you get the book," he told her. Everything he had written about her had been…well, cliché to say the least. He didn't know exactly how to put into words what he wanted to say, so clichés it was.
"Can you at least tell me who else you deemed worth to acknowledge in this game you call life?" she asked.
"The usual, you'll see, man, can't you be patient?" He meant it in a teasing way, but it came across harsher, which was how it sounded in his head. Couldn't she ever just wait for things? She was always so demanding and it was starting to get on his nerves more and more.
"Sorry," she teased back, and he was thankful she didn't pick up on the edge in his voice. Did she ever pick up on his emotions anymore?
"Yeah, I should get back to it, you know me, work, work, work," he said.
"Yeah, well, I love you."
"Mmhmm," he said, "bye."
He hung up immediately after that, giving her no chance to say anything else. She didn't need to say anything else, he had heard it all before, and he had things to think about. Should he put her name in there? That was the only thing on his mind right now. It was getting still early, but getting later and later in the morning and he really wanted this done soon. He didn't want to save it for the rest of his day and have it be rolling around in his mind while he tried to go about his daily activities.
He put his pen down on the paper again, then took it off again, damn it, why was this so difficult? His mind just kept thinking about how everyone would know. He wasn't even including people like Adam, Jay, Rocky, Kurt, people he had worked with for long periods of time, people who he considered friends, so how could he put her name there without arising suspicions. Of course, to Chris, this seemed like the biggest problem ever when most people would just scour it, skim across it and not care, but in a world where he had to be secretive, he figured there was always going to be someone on to him.
Little did he know, there was…there was a specific group of people who would immediately pick up on it.
Here he went.
He was going to do it.
He was picking up his pen, there it was in his hand. He rolled it around, getting it comfortable within his palm.
He put it to the paper.
And there it was, there she would be, for all eternity. After that the names kept coming, one after another, after another, after another, after another…and the list went on and on and her name would just get lost among the rest, just like he wanted.
Just like it had to be.
He finished up and then stared at the paper. Was it just him or was her name a little darker than all the rest? Did it stand out more? In his mind it did and he smiled at that. It wouldn't get bolded in his book, but he felt like it should be, he felt like it should be in size 48 font, bolded, underlined. He was only lucky that he wasn't including his life in the WWE in this book because then for sure a chapter (oh who was he kidding, five chapters at least) would be all about her, the day he first saw her, his introduction to her, their first scene, their second, their first kiss, their second kiss, their business partnership, their last scene.
He just wouldn't include all the kisses in between that, all the touching and the wanting and the chemistry that flared up whenever he saw her. He knew that affairs were prevalent in wrestling, but he and Stephanie had always managed to keep theirs a secret. Probably because she wasn't a ring-rat, she wasn't a diva, she was Stephanie fucking McMahon for God's sakes, and she deserved more than a mere mention in the middle of a paragraph but she couldn't have more, he couldn't give her more and they both knew it.
He was done though so he lifted the paper and took it with him, going into his bedroom and climbing into his bed since it was still early and he could go back to sleep for a little while, or just be comfortable for a few moments before he had to get up and go to meetings, do things, be someone, be Chris Jericho for the all the world to see. Right now, for a few more moments, he could just be Chris, that's it, just Chris. He held the paper over his head and stared at it, stared at the curve of the "S" in her name, the way he so boldly crossed the "T" in Stephanie. How the "M" blended into the "C" in McMahon.
A hand rubbed across his t-shirt-covered stomach and a groan followed a minute later. "Morning."
"How long have you been up?" she asked.
"About a half hour, she called me," he said blithely. "Woke me up, so I decided I was going to write the acknowledgements for my book, I figured I might as well since I have a meeting with the publishers this afternoon."
"Oh, you did? That's cool," she told him, cuddling up to him. She didn't even ask if she was on there. Did she think she was…or did she think she wasn't?
"Did you want to read it?" he asked.
"If you want me to, you don't want to make me read it myself?" she kidded and he turned to press his lips to her temple, her skin soft and warm from lying on her side all night long. Her skin was still so soft and he loved it. How could he love skin, he thought to himself with a smirk, but he loved her skin.
"No, you can read it if you want," he said, handing over the sheet of paper.
She took it in her hands, held it up in front of her. He turned to his side to watch her read the list. Her eyes scanned quickly over the first few names and he wondered if that feeling of guilt he had welled up inside her too. She smiled wistfully when she got to Chris Benoit's name and she turned to him and he gave her that same wistful smile back and their eyes said everything that needed to be said. She read on, seeing her father's name and nodding knowingly, then read further on, seeing her brother's name and understanding their friendship.
Then she stopped reading altogether.
"You put my name," she said softly.
"I wrestled with it."
"I thought…we discussed the fact that I wouldn't be mentioned," she said, feeling that same paranoia, "If Paul…"
"Fuck Paul," he said bitterly. "You already talked me into keeping away from talking about my time in the WWE, I can't let you dictate everything, Steph."
"You wanted to talk about me, Chris, about everything!" she protested.
"Not everything," he told her. "I wasn't going to reveal this to everyone, that's ours and ours alone, maybe someday, far, far into the future I'll put it in my memoirs, but not this, not right now, I knew…look, I put it in the middle of a paragraph, nobody will know and Paul isn't going to read this, come on, let's face it."
She sighed and calmed down, "Fine. It is your book."
"Thank you," he said as they went back to silence. Stephanie still hadn't taken her eyes off of her name. He finally relented, "If you want me to take your name off, just say the word, Steph, I'll cross it off."
"You mention that these are the people who offered you friendship, love, and support," she told him. "I just…"
"You definitely have the love part, that's what you've given me," he told her.
"People are going to know, Chris, they're going to know," she said, frightened of what people would think. Again, most people wouldn't notice, but it would only take one person and it terrified her. He hadn't included many wrestling names on this list, and sure, they could gloss over her, but still, there wasn't many wrestling people, so why should she be on here if there wasn't more to the story (there was much more to the story, come on)?
"Nobody will know," he reassured her, though he wasn't quite reassured himself.
"Okay," she said with a sigh and he kissed her for it. He kissed her because she couldn't be the first name he mentioned and he kissed her because she wouldn't be the last name he mentioned. He kissed her because he wanted her to be the only name he ever mentioned. He just kissed her because she was Stephanie McMahon. "Are you--"
"You deserve to be there…"
"Probably more than anyone else."