This one's for PlayTheGame, who encouraged me to pen this after I pestered her for a GK chapter on the subject LOL. This is also for punkrockgirl98, who is kind of blackmailing or extorting me...If I want my "Fame" trailer, I had to write this out by morning. LOL. Hope you all enjoy. The ending may have some typos, I was literally barely keeping my eyes open around that part...finished this at 2am hah. Hope you all love it. Let me know, even if ya don't!
One year earlier
Stephanie Levesque raised her head at the sound of footsteps approaching the front door. She clutched her sleeping, one-year old infant tighter against her, patting Vaughn's back so that she hopefully wouldn't wake up just yet.
Upon hearing the key moving around in the lock, her eyes tracked over to the door. It swung open, letting in fresh air and plenty of sunshine. It was so bright outside that it momentarily blinded her. The door closed over and she immediately burst into laughter at the sight of her husband.
Paul's head was hung sullenly, his blonde hair framing his face as he dragged his feet, moving in their direction. She continued to pat her daughter's back, but she knew that with the way she was laughing, shaking her entire body, the baby would be up sooner rather than later.
"What..." she tried to get out through the laughing pains in her stomach. "What hap…Ahahahahahaha!" She continued hysterically as he finally lifted his head to glare at her. "Oh…Oh man," she heaved out raggedly, slapping the couch with her free hand. "This is the best…laugh…ahahahahaha!"
"Tears? Seriously Stephanie?!" Paul asked incredulously, throwing his arms in the air when the first signs of wetness leaked from her eyes. "I can't believe you find this so funny," he commented with a shake of his head as he watched her continue to crack up without waking their sleeping daughter.
Vaughn's limp hand suddenly clutched the sleeve of Stephanie's dark purple baby tee. The tot grunted and slightly wailed her displeasure. "Mama!" She said in a half-cry, rubbing her face into the crook of her mother's neck where she'd been lying fast asleep.
Noting that Stephanie was pretty useless right now because of her incessant giggling fit, Paul reached down to take Vaughn from Stephanie's arms. Pale blue eyes that matched his wife's greeted him, albeit they were a much smaller and much sleepier version than Stephanie's. He soothed his half-conscious little girl as he rubbed his big hand over her wavy blonde hair and started towards the stairs. "Shhh now, baby girl," he hushed.
With the evidence of Paul's most recent failure out of her sight, Stephanie was finally able to wipe at her eyes and begin to calm down. Parched, she reached out for her water bottle, bringing it to her lips for a long swallow.
"Dadddddy," Vaughn whimpered in her tiny, sleepy voice.
From somewhere above her, Stephanie heard Paul say, "Daddy's here sweetheart. Mommy won't disturb your nap with her mean laughing anymore."
Stephanie's amusement made her choke on her water and she coughed and patted her chest a couple of times to get herself back to normal. As Paul and Vaughn's voices faded from earshot, she shook her head in disbelief.
For the fourth year in a row, her husband had whined and moaned about how his hair was a hassle. The summer and fall were hot, his hair was making his neck warm, the baby or toddler was tugging at it a lot and the curls wouldn't stay out of his face unless they were in a ponytail. The list of complaints went on and on. Finally, Stephanie would laugh at him, shrug and tell him to cut it, if it bothered him so much. He'd glower at her for the teasing and daring glint in her eyes and tone of her voice.
Every year they had this same conversation at least once between the months of June and September. And every year, his response was the same "Don't think I won't do it, woman! You believe I'm kidding but I'm not. Tomorrow alllllll this shit," he'd say, tugging at his hair in annoyance, "will be gone. Mark my words," he'd finish before plopping down on their bed or couch in a huff. She'd lean over, kiss him on the cheek, ruffle his hair and reply with, "Whatever you say, honey. Hair or no hair, I'll still love you and think you're a sexy beast."
And for the fourth year in a row, he'd come home after his work and errands the next day, long hair still in tow. And she'd laughed her damn ass off about it.
At the sound of Paul's footsteps coming back down the stairs, Stephanie bit down on her lip to stifle her smile. She watched him slog towards the couch, before he finally sat beside her and slumped into the cushions.
"Sooooo," she dragged out, still trying to hide her grin. "What happened this time?"
Paul's massive shoulders drooped shamefully before he lifted them. "I was sitting in the chair at the barbershop…everything was going fine. I even let James trim my beard to kinda warm me up, ya know?"
Stephanie nodded her head in understanding, when really all she wanted to do was start laughing at him again.
"But when he brought the clippers near my hair and turned them on…I freaked. I literally knocked the chair over trying to get away from the haircut."
Paul's head dropped again and Stephanie's lips twitched at the redness on his cheeks that conveyed his utter embarrassment.
"My poor baby!" She exclaimed, cradling his head and all but shoving it into her chest. She rubbed his back with one hand and used the other to thread through his ponytail. "Did the sound of the spooky, bad clippers scare my big, strong man?" She cooed mockingly.
"Shut up!" Paul groaned bringing his hand over to squeeze her thigh hard, in some attempt to reprimand her.
"Squeezing my thigh is supposed to stop me from teasing you?" She queried. "You know I like it rough sometimes," she commented with a wicked smile.
Paul tried not to, but he ended up chuckling at her words. Only Stephanie. And here, most everyone thought that she was just a sweet, innocent, modest and conservative woman. People assumed that her on-screen character was nothing at all like the woman herself. Conveniently, most people had forgotten about the interview she'd given on Howard Stern. People who didn't know them well, figured that their relationship had and would continue to corrupt her. But the truth was that she was a natural flirt with quite a knack for saying unexpected witty and/or dirty things to him. She was a real piece of work; always had been and always would be. He loved that about her – among other things – and wouldn't trade or change her for anything in the world.
Paul couldn't stop smiling. He parked on the side of their mansion where the pool was, to make sure Stephanie wouldn't see his car when she drove in and parked in the front. He switched off the engine and flipped his mirror down.
The smile on his face grew wider as he ran his hand over his much shorter blonde hair. He hadn't buzzed it all off completely. He knew that if he did that, there was a chance that it wouldn't grow back out as thickly. So he'd played it safe and simply trimmed it drastically. Hmm, he thought, maybe it'll look cool if I spike it. Wonder if Steph will like it, though.
Paul twisted his lip before grunting dismissively and flipping the mirror back up. He had to hurry up, get inside and get started.
There were lots of changes taking place recently. Stephanie practically salivated over the fantasy of having him with chest hair…so he'd given in and decided to let it grow out. He was rapidly transitioning from being an active wrestler, to being a corporate executive. The main benefit of this was that he got to be at home with his wife and their daughters Aurora, Murphy and Vaughn more often. He made it to more practices and games and was able to see them off to school – or in Vaughn's case, reluctantly hand her over to the nanny.
And now he'd chopped off his signature golden mane of hair.
He hadn't yet told Stephanie that he'd finally gone through with it. He made sure he beat her home so that he could surprise her in two ways. First, the haircut would be a surprise. He just wasn't sure if it would be a pleasant one or not. The second surprise was going to be that he finally cleared out the room at the end of the hall. Technically, that was supposed to be a huge home office. But somehow they'd started tossing random shit in there and never got around to sorting it out. Now that they both needed to have office setups at home, the smaller, downstairs office wasn't going to be big enough. For the last three months Stephanie had gently prodded him to start cleaning up what was meant to be their actual office.
If nothing else, it would smooth things over in case his wife wasn't fond of the new look.
An hour later, Stephanie scrunched up her face in confusion as she stood in her living room.
Where the hell had all this shit come from and why was it here? Her mind was a jumbled mess of questions as she speculatively eyed the items as she walked by.
What the fuck was going on? Paul wasn't home; the car he took this morning was nowhere in sight. So who was running around moving – "Oh shit!" She whispered to herself, ducking behind the loveseat as she heard a small crash coming from upstairs. She strained her ears to hear what was going on, but she couldn't make much out. All she heard was shuffling and stuff being moved. Risking a glance around the couch, she quickly retreated again. There was some man carrying their stuff down the hall. She couldn't see a whole lot; just that he had short hair and was pretty built and tall.
They were being robbed! Hell! She had no idea when her husband would be back, but she knew that her Mom was bringing the girls home in half an hour at most. She couldn't let them walk into a potentially dangerous situation. Fuck, maybe she could just sneak back out of the front door. She just had to get to it without being seen or heard.
Yes, that's what she'd do. She'd be as quiet as a mouse and probably wouldn't even bother closing the door all the way because of the noise. She'd make a mad dash for her car; she was in excellent shape so that wasn't too much of an obstacle. She'd drive away and tell her Mom to stay put with the girls, then she'd call to warn Paul and to alert the cops.
Poking her head over the top of the loveseat, she peered around, making sure the coast was clear. She stood up fully, preparing to go for the door.
But the sound of footsteps literally running down her staircase stopped her. Panicking, she threw her arms up in the air and ran towards the kitchen.
Oh hell, what did I do that for? She asked herself, feeling her heart racing in her chest. Now she was even farther from her car. She thumped her head against the wall lightly. With the deep mahogany color she and Paul had chosen for this room, she only hoped that she somehow blended in and went unnoticed. If she just turned her head and obscured her face, her hair would hide her well enough, maybe.
With that thought she turned her head and her eyes immediately settled on something that shouldn't be there: Aurora's softball bat. Normally it was kept in the downstairs closet along with any other athletic equipment and uniforms she and Murphy had. Their youngest child, Vaughn, was only two years old and hadn't yet picked up a sport, for obvious reasons.
Hearing the footsteps growing closer, she darted across the kitchen and grabbed the bat. The footsteps came to a stop, but she heard the guy fumbling in the pile of stolen goods he'd created.
Just who the hell did this asshole think he was? Did he not know who lived here? Or hell, maybe that was the reason they'd picked this house. With her anger beginning to outweigh for fear, she ran out of the kitchen and towards the living room.
For courage, she yelled just once. The man began to turn around, which only gave her a better shot. The bat landed on the back of his head and his right temple equally. He stumbled forward but didn't fall. Stephanie reared back and swung at the same spot again.
With a satisfied smirk, she watched her prey fall forward onto his loot before crashing to the floor. He landed on his back.
And her eyes went wide. "OH MY GOD!" She exclaimed loudly. Her jaw dropped, her mouth unable to form anything except for an 'O' shape for a few seconds.
"Paul! Your hair is gone! I mean…OH MY GOD! Your head! I hit you," she rambled in shock. "I-I," she stammered, dropping the bat to the floor. She got down on her knees and pushed a box of – whatever the hell it was – off of his chest. She replaced the box with her hand. "Baby?" She asked, frantically. "Paul? Paul!"
Blearily, Paul opened his eyes. He tried to raise his head so he could see Stephanie, but it hurt too much. He let his head thump against the floor again, with a pained moan.
"Shit!" She uttered in frustration, pulling at her hair. "Shit, shit, shit! Paul…just-just stay here. Okay?" She asked, getting to her feet. "I'm gonna – I'm gonna call the paramedics," she rushed out before running off to find the cordless phone.
On the floor, Paul lay in pain and somewhat dazed. There were several quips he had in his head for what had just happened…but he just plain didn't have the mental energy to get any of it out. Stay put, she'd said. Where the hell else would he go since he couldn't even lift his head off of the floor?
Stephanie repeated her address for the dispatcher, before explaining what had happened in a jumbled, nervous rush. "I kinda beat my husband…He's conscious but not coherent. I don't know what to do, please send somebody to help."
Obediently, Stephanie nodded, even though the operator couldn't see her. She was listening intently to their instructions. They were simple: elevate his head, put pressure on the temple wound, but don't move him very much.
"God, please let him be okay," she whispered to no one as she grabbed towels from the kitchen, dampening only a couple of them. She rushed back into the living room and wasn't sure whether she felt relief or dread at the fact that he didn't appear to have moved an inch.
Carefully, she lifted his head with one hand, placing most of the folded towels underneath with the other. Gently, she guided his head to the cushion. "Paul I'm so, so sorry," she said as she ran a hand over his short hair for a moment.
Her whole body was visibly shaking as she pressed one of the smaller, damp towels to the cut on his temple. Feeling wetness fall on her hand from above, she lifted a hand to her face.
Hell, she hadn't even realized she was crying.
Less than ten minutes later, the paramedics were helping Paul to sit up. As usual, he had been extremely annoyed when they shined the flashlight in his eyes. He lifted one of his hands, pushing it away weakly as he turned his head away from it. "I'm fine," he insisted.
Normally, Stephanie would tell him to be quiet and cooperate. But she'd leave him be since it was her fault that he'd ended up in this situation.
Her head turned at the sound of a brief knock on the door. Before she could go over to introduce herself and see what they wanted, the two uniformed police officers entered her home.
"We're looking for Stephanie Levesque," the female of the duo said in a no-nonsense tone of voice. Her medium length, jet black, curly hair was tied back into a ponytail. Her brown eyes probed Stephanie's blue ones.
"That's me," Stephanie replied.
Before she knew it, her arms were being yanked behind her back and she was quickly handcuffed. "What the hell are you doing?" She questioned irritably, as the team relayed her rights. She squinted to read their name badges. The female was Ortiz and the male was Bailey.
"Mrs. Levesque, do you understand your rights?" The female officer asked.
"Of course I understand them. But why do I need them?" She asked, wriggling her wrists against the restraints.
"Ma'am, we received notice of domestic abuse happening at this residence. It was reported, by you, that you beat your husband, Paul Levesque."
"It was an accident!"
"That's what they all say," the man, short and built, with brown hair and green eyes, chimed in.
"Look, my husband got his hair cut today, all right? He's been saying he's gonna do it for the last five years. How the fuck was I supposed to know today would be the day he finally hacked it all off? I come home and his car's not here and someone's upstairs carting off our stuff. I hit him with our daughter's baseball bat 'cause I thought he was a burglar or something."
"Or something," the other woman repeated with a chuckle. Stephanie watched her eyes flatten and narrow. She didn't believe a damn word that was coming out of her mouth.
"Stephanie, what in God's name is going on here?" Linda's voice said as she appeared in the doorway.
"Ma'am, do you know this woman?" Bailey asked, gesturing to Stephanie.
"Of course I do; she's my daughter. Where's P-" her voice died in her throat as she saw her son-in-law on the floor, bandages being applied to his head.
"DADDY!" Murphy yelled in distress, her light brown hair flying behind her as she ran through the front door and over to Paul. She hadn't even noticed Stephanie, who was somewhat obscured by the group that was flanking her.
Murphy threw her arms around her father's neck tightly. "What happened to your head Daddy? You have boo-boo's and your hair is all gone."
Paul touched the middle of her back, holding her close as he laughed a little. "I'm okay, midget. I promise," he told her.
"Mommy!" Aurora cried out, throwing herself against Stephanie's leg. Stephanie looked down to see a head full of chestnut hair affixed to her leg. Fuck, this was terrible. She literally couldn't embrace her own child to console her. Aurora's head lifted and their identical sets of blue eyes met.
"Rory, it's all right, honey. Mommy's fine," she tried to reassure her.
"Please remove the children," Ortiz said dispassionately, her cool stare focused on Linda, now.
"Mom, just take them upstairs or back to the car. This thing is a mess and I'd like to straighten it out before Char gets back from the park with Vaughn…Paul cut off his hair and I didn't recognize him and thought he was robbing the house so I knocked him out. Now the cops think I'm abusive," Stephanie muttered in disbelief.
Linda nodded her understanding and swiftly moved to collect both of the girls, ushering them upstairs to their rooms.
"Now that you've successfully traumatized our daughters, can you please let my wife go?" Paul's voice said out of nowhere.
Stephanie glanced back and saw that Paul was now sitting up on his own.
Ortiz sighed and headed over to Paul. She crouched beside him and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "We understand that it's hard to press charges against a partner. But if she's beating you, you need to let us know. Awareness will help with this growing issue of women abusing their male partners."
Heat rose to her cheeks in accordance with how pissed off she was becoming by this complete fiasco. "I do not beat him!" She interrupted, then hesitated for a moment. "Okay…well this one time I beat him. But I didn't know it was him, I swear!"
"Mr. Levesque," Ortiz said sympathetically. "You can talk to us. You don't have to be afraid of her anymore."
Under normal circumstances, Paul would purposely be getting on Stephanie's nerves and playfully making her look bad. But clearly these people thought she was actually capable and that he was willing to let her physically abuse him. He might play along with that story, if it wasn't for the fact that they already had her handcuffed and weren't currently believing anything she was saying. "Stephanie doesn't beat me. It was a mix-up, like she said. I'm not pressing charges or filing any report, so let her go."
Ortiz rose from her crouched position and gave a curt nod to Bailey.
In a flash, the handcuffs were removed from Stephanie's wrists.
Paul looked over at her and shook his head, a small smirk on his lips. "This is the last time I ever try to surprise you…unless I'm wearing a helmet," he joked.
Because this entire thing was completely improbable and unforeseen, Stephanie couldn't help but laugh at him making light of the situation. This was the kind of shit you usually only saw in sitcoms. "You know…that might not be a bad idea. I like the haircut on you, by the way."
"Thanks," Paul grinned. "Just so you know, I expect to receive lots of TLC from you. The meds said I should take it easy because of my injuries," he said with a pout.
"I'm just gonna get you a bell or something. That way you can just ring me…no matter what you need," Stephanie said suggestively, flipping him a playful wink.
Paul shook his head at the fact that Stephanie didn't seem to give an ounce of a damn at the fact that she was saying such things in front of an audience. An audience that pegged her as an abusive villain just three minutes prior. Clearly, she didn't care about what people thought of them as a couple. That was his blessing, because if she'd ever cared, she may never have given him a chance to be with her at all.
So for all the things that were changing in their lives…some things just never would and he was glad for it.