A/N: Thanks for the reviews, everyone, hope you enjoy the chapter! :)
Stephanie looked up at Chris and smiled. Finally, a friendly face. "Hey, Chris, I wasn't expecting you to come see me tonight."
"Not see you, my new good buddy? I would never do that. I definitely like coming to see you," Chris said charmingly. He'd heard Stephanie's thought and the idea that she hadn't seen anyone friendly today bummed him out and pressed something against his chest. He wanted to be the opposite for her. He wanted her to light up every time he saw her.
He didn't know why he was so drawn to Stephanie, no, that wasn't true, he knew exactly why: her thoughts were so different from everyone else's. There was something so unselfish about her thoughts that captured his attention. It wasn't like she didn't think of herself, she did, but she thought so much about other people. The thoughts she'd had when he broke up with Barbie more than proved that. She was uncomfortable, but she kept thinking about him and how he felt. He felt like that should be rewarded, plus he was finding out Stephanie was just a genuinely wonderful person.
"You do?" she asked, tilting her head. I don't think I've ever had anyone so happy to see me, maybe my mom, but certainly not anyone else…not even Paul…
That made Chris frown, "Of course I do. I think you're quickly becoming the highlight of my night. It's like I can come in here and escape from all the craziness out there."
That was partly true for reasons she could never fathom. Being around everyone's thoughts could get crazy and opened him up to things he never wanted to know. He didn't need to know, for instance, that Alicia Fox had been with a man the other night who couldn't get it up or that Randy Orton liked to get Brazilian waxes and needed to schedule an appointment soon because things were getting pretty scary down there. These were things he wished he didn't know and being surrounded by this all the time got tedious.
It's why Stephanie's thoughts were such a refreshing change. "Yeah, it can get pretty crazy out there." That's wrestlers for you.
"You're telling me," Chris chuckled as he sat down on the couch and then patted the spot next to him, giving her an enticing look. Stephanie got up and came over to sit next to him, giving him a smile and grabbing his hand to give it a warm squeeze. He liked that she did that. It was something of a trademark of hers. She liked to grab hands and give you encouragement through physical touch. She was like the opposite of Barbie. Barbie seemed to only believe the connection between two people came from having someone stick their dick inside of her, while Stephanie's touch was much more meaningful and comforting.
"Well, you chose to come into this business," Stephanie said, and there was another thing about Stephanie as well; she often spoke her mind. He found that a lot of the time, there were no thoughts to be heard because she voiced them to him. It didn't make her transparent, but it made her real. The person he saw in front of him was the person she was. The only difference were the insecurities she hid so well behind her perfected façade.
"That's true," he laughed, ducking his head down, "but I'm glad I did. You know I love it here, despite all the craziness, I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else."
"I'm glad you're here too," Stephanie told him. It's so nice to have someone I can talk to and who I feel actually wants to hear what I say. I always get the impression everyone just talks to me because of my father. Someday, I wish I could just go to some place where nobody knows me and see what people really think of me.
"Then that makes being here even better," he told her, which caused a slight blush to creep up onto her cheeks. She ducked away, trying not to show it, but Chris grabbed her hand this time and gave it a squeeze. "Where's Paul?"
"I don't know," Stephanie shrugged. "I never really know where he is when we're at the shows. He kind of likes to do his own thing."
"Is he that way in real life?" Chris asked, wondering if Paul was as inattentive in real life as he was at the shows.
"No, he's better in real life," Stephanie assured him, but her thoughts gave her away. If I just pretend like I'm happy, nobody will really know how miserable I am in that marriage. I think people think we're a happy couple and it should stay that way. I wouldn't want to disappoint my dad like that.
Chris felt so incredibly sad for her in that moment. Nobody should have to pretend so hard to be happy in a relationship they weren't happy in. Chris couldn't believe Stephanie would ever disappoint anyone. Granted, he didn't know her all that well yet, but from what he knew, he could see she was someone everyone should want to be around. She had that personality that just mad you want to know more of her.
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure," Stephanie told him, giving him a look he couldn't quite decipher until he heard her thoughts. God, am I that transparent that anyone can see how unhappy I am? I thought I was doing a good job of hiding what was really wrong with me, but I guess I wasn't.
"Are you really, really sure?" Chris pressed because he knew everything Stephanie was saying was a lie. He wanted her to open up to him. He wanted to get close to Stephanie and though he didn't want to push her, he did want her to feel comfortable around him.
"Thank you for caring about me, Chris," she said instead of confessing everything in her head. "It's nice to have someone around here who I can say genuinely cares about me."
"You should have a lot people who care about you around here," he pointed out. Why does he have to say such sweet things? It almost makes me uncomfortable when he does. I think it's probably because Paul never says nice things to me. Chris probably just says them to be nice though, but then, he really does come see me every week so…I mean, there has to be something there, friendship I guess. "I like being your friend, Stephanie," he said, taking her thought as a verbal cue. "I really just like you."
He really is one of the nicest people I've ever met. Was he always like this? When he was with Barbie, all I heard was about how horrible he was. But then again, maybe that was simply Barbie's fault…and now you're just being catty…but then again, the girl did cheat so blatantly. "Thank you, I really like you too," she admitted to him. "Hey, so are you okay after that whole Barbie thing from the other week?"
In actuality, Chris was more than okay. Dropping Barbie was the best thing he could have done. The air felt lighter around him and he didn't feel like he was someone's babysitter anymore. Barbie had been fun for a fling, but if he scratched the surface any deeper, all he found was a vapid, stupid, immature, little girl. "I heard she was already moving onto someone else."
"Already? Wait, is it Jake?" Stephanie wondered.
"No, because Jake is married," Chris scoffed, "I swear to God…I'm not saying I'm some kind of prude, but when I was married to Jessica, I never strayed…no matter how tempting it was."
Chris gave her a pointed look and he didn't know where that even came from. What does he mean by that? Chris didn't even know what was meant by that, but when he thought of temptation, his mind went straight towards his storylines with Stephanie and how they'd had to act like they hated each other, but sometimes…when they were really close to one another…what was he thinking! He didn't have romantic feelings for Stephanie. He'd never even thought about her beyond work, not much anyways.
"I just mean that I wouldn't betray someone's trust like that, but obviously Jake doesn't care," Chris shrugged, trying to get away from that strange admission. "I think she's with Justin Gabriel or something, maybe Heath Slater, hell, maybe both."
Stephanie giggled, "Chris, that's not nice."
"I never said I was nice," he winked at her. He can do so much better than Barbie though. If he acts like this all the time, he really could have any girl he wanted. The looks are just icing on the cake. It made Chris feel good to know Stephanie thought he was attractive. He found her attractive too and hoped she knew that. "So what are you doing tonight?"
"Tonight? Um, Paul was going out with Sheamus, he's really taken a liking to him and so I was going to head back to the room and probably lounge."
"Come out with me," Chris prompted her, grabbing onto her hand.
"Chris…" I'm not sure if it's the best idea to hang out with him. I mean, I might start to get the wrong idea and I really don't want to get the wrong idea because Chris is so…he's probably just being nice, remember that, Stephanie, just remember that. He probably thinks you're some lonely girl. You've got to show him you're not, you can't show that kind of weakness.
"As friends," he told her. "You shouldn't be the only one sitting alone in a hotel room. If Paul isn't going to take you, I'm going to take you and we're going to have a blast. I bet you like dancing."
"How did you know?"
"Because you told me how you liked to dance and took dance lessons," he told her, "what if I told you we could go out dancing?"
"I haven't been in a really long time, it's not exactly Paul's strong point. I don't know if you've ever seen him try to dance, but believe me, an elephant has better rhythm than he does," Stephanie joked, which made Chris laugh. I like making him laugh. "He used to not realize he was so bad, but then someone told him he was a really bad dancer so he hasn't danced since. He doesn't want to embarrass himself."
"He's not doing a very good job of doing that," Chris joked again and Stephanie guffawed as she covered her mouth up afterwards. "I see you agree with me."
"You shouldn't say things like that," Stephanie laughed. He's so right though, Paul always hates to look embarrassed, but then he does some things…they just make him look even more embarrassing.
"But it's the truth," Chris told her. "So what do you say? You, me, dancing tonight? I can't say that I'm the world's best dancer, but I like to think I could hold my own if I had to. I'll light up the dance floor with my cool moves."
Stephanie laughed again, "I guess I would have to see this to believe it." Go ahead and ask him, Stephanie, you know you want to. "Chris, I just need to know something, why are you being so nice to me? I mean, it's not unwanted, I really like hanging out with you, but…I just don't understand what changed? We barely talked outside of our storylines, I mean, we did, but I don't think I would call you my friend. So what happened?"
"I think I saw you," Chris told her. "I don't think I saw you before, not in the right light. I guess I had a lot of misconceptions when it came to you, but I've come to see I was dead wrong about all of them. You always came off as kind of aloof and better than everyone, but then, I guess I just took notice of you more, saw more of what was lurking inside of you."
"And you liked what you saw?" Stephanie asked. I know I shouldn't feel embarrassed, but I can't believe that was the perception he had of me, aloof? I mean, I want to project myself as strong, but I don't think anyone is buying it, are they?
"I really did and you know, for the record," he told her, thinking about her recent thought. "I didn't mean aloof in a bad way, just that you always seemed…kind of better, I don't really know how to explain it, words are failing me, you just seemed a little closed off, but now I see I was the wrong one."
"And now I'm just…you're friend?"
"You're definitely my friend and we're going dancing, I'm not taking no for an answer here! So what do you say?"
"I say put on your dancing shoes."