~! It's funny how
The walk of life
Can take you down
Without a fight !~

Somewhere in the near future...

"..and even when you booed the crap out of me, I still came out every single time because I loved doing this more than anything. Because this was all I could do, all I ever wanted to do."

The flash of cameras was almost blinding, and he tried to hold the stinging at bay. He wasn't an emotional sap. He was a grown man. A hardened wrestler and CM Punk never cries, and certainly not in front of thousands of fans at the packed arena and millions watching him at home.

"So what if I had to go through injuries, bruises and surgeries just to be able to compete in front of all of you. If I had been asked... if I`d do it all over again, I would. In a heartbeat. Because regardless of the hardships, I have reaped so many rewards. I have made friends that I would never dreamed of making. Competed with best that this business had to offer. I went from a guy who used to wrestle in backyards to winning back my WWE championship on the grandest stage of them all. WrestleMania."

His hand went to the 30 lbs. golden belt, wrapped around his waist proudly. It was the last piece of his career puzzle. Main eventing WM and having a clean win. No Shield. No Paul Haymen. No Big Show. No special guest referee. It was all him. Pinning the former WWE champ for the title. His title. That was what he always dreamed of doing. What he bled, sweated, and worked for. The reason he had put up with bullshit storylines, playing second best to John, always treated as the black sheep of the herd. It all had accumulated to that moment.. a moment of completion. A moment that cemented his place as a legend. A moment that confirmed what he was; The Best In The World.

"I have talked so much in my years here, so I just want to take one last second before I step out of this arena, of this squared ring and out of the WWE to say thank you."

He flipped the mike, dropping it in the same fashion when he used to drop pipe bombs during promos. 'Thank you Punk' chants broke out, not a single boo heard and the urge to let the tears roll was hard to clamp on. Everyone was finally acknowledging what he had accomplished. This was the respect he had been seeking and demanding. This was what he hoped to be one day.

A legend.

Kofi was the first to join him in the ring, sharing a brief yet tight hug before parting. He was saying goodbye to his road wife. A person he traveled with since debuting all those years ago. A brother to him, much more than his own flesh and blood ever was.

Rey was next. The small masked wrestler has been on helluva an opponent and a friend. Haymen embraced him next, and he hugged the man back, the person who believed in him when no one did, one who helped him embark on this journey from day one. No one knew what to do with him but Paul knew. He took one quick look at him and he knew he was destined for greatness.

On the ramp, the rest of the locker room was present, showing their respect for him. Respect he sought hard to get each and every single night he came out and wrestled. Respect he demanded throughout his heel turn late 2012. Respect that he earned as he faced Rock, Undertaker, Brock and John head on.

They all stepped back, as the former WWE champ made his way to the ring, slipping between the ropes, coming to stand in front of him. For years, they fought tooth and nail to get the right to hold the title around his waist. Many feuds, matches and epic promos made them the headlines of the company. The golden boy, baby face of the company and the guy who was not supposed to have made it past the security gates.

People always thought that he and John were real life enemies. That wasn't the case. They respected the hell out of each other and had a healthy competition to one up the other. He held his hand in front of him for John to shake, his green eyes locked with the icy blue of the man. Long seconds passed before a dimpled smile stretched the face of John, his bulky arms wrapping around him in a tight hug. Excited cheers sounded as his own wrapped around John, patting his back, before drawing back.

"Gonna be boring without ya" A code for 'I`ll miss you.'

"I`ll miss you too you big lug" he wasn't afraid to show how much he`ll miss his sparring partner in the gym for years or how he`ll miss trying to suppress their laughter during serious promos. He will miss John Cena. Period.

In a show of true sports and friendship, he raised the hand of John high in the air much to the delight of everyone. This is what true champions are made of. It`s not about the title, about cheers and boos, loses and wins. It was all about respect. About showing no matter where you came from or who you are, your dreams and achieving them is what defines you as a man, as a human being.

Philip Brooks from Chicago, IL had a dream of becoming the best in the world. Today, he was leaving the WWE as 'The Best In The World'.

Just like I promised you April.

~!So many years
Can leave behind
Regretfully until it's time
To realize the moment
When you turn around!~

She closed the door with a soft click, walking back to the dimly lit living room. The wall opposite of the window twinkled as Paris`s lights shined bright through the sheer peach curtain. The soft glow of the TV creating shadows on the peach walls, the small shelf of knick knacks from all over the places she had been, their shadows on the walls, creating interesting shapes.

She sat in the plush sofa, drawing the knit quilt of her mother`s around her shoulders, tucking her feet underneath her as she set eyes on the TV again. She hit play and the her screen was filled with his green eyes and pierced lip. He filled the frame with his height and breadth. Bulky shoulders, muscled arms, narrow waist and strong long legs. His washed up jeans, a black shirt and his trusted Cubs hat, he was perfection. He walked with a purpose, his eyes taking in each and every single thing in the arena, knowing it was the last time he`ll stand as their champion in a ring he competed in for the last ten years.

"I had the time of my life. I had a dream and I lived it to the fullest. How many can say that?" she saw him glance at his feet. Feet that were normally in wrestling boots, were now in worn red sneakers. Just another reminder that he put those boots down for the last time probably to never wear them again "I am leaving knowing that I`ll always have a home here in the WWE. Have brothers and sisters in those who compete with me for you every night. I am leaving knowing that for each time my ugly mug was on TV, I was a part of someone`s family, I was part of the WWE universe, I was a part of each and every single one of you."

Unaware, a lone tear made its way down her right cheek as she blinked. He looked straight in the camera, his achingly beautiful face filling the screen. His olive green eyes shining bright with barely held tears. She knew this was hard on him and the guilt consumed her with a burning vengeance. She should have been there with him, waiting for him behind the curtain, where she knew everyone was waiting for him. She should stand by him in the most life-changing moment of his entire life. Showing him that at the end of the day he still had her in his corner. Show him the same support he showed her when he encouraged her to accept the job offer that would take her away, to peruse her dreams and that he`ll always wait for her back home. Yet here she was, thousands of miles away from him, setting in her apartment watching him through a glass window that captured him, all of his glory, love, and faults and plastered it for all to see. She didn't feel him through the TV, nor could she touch him. Why? Because she was here in Paris living her 'dream' and he was saying goodbye to his.

"Now it`s time to have my own family."

Her hand twisted the ring that hung over her chest in a golden chain around her neck. His promise ring that he had given to her last year. They had promised each other that one day when they felt it in their guts that the time has come to start their own first shared dream would he slide that ring on her finger.

He had finished his dream.

Had she?

In the span of the two years they have been apart, she had improved her techniques, performed in places she never thought she`d have the chance to set foot in, meet so many idols of hers that pleased the insane fangirl in her. She had matured both physically and emotionally. Being in her own and having to manage in a brand new culture has strengthened her personality and her spine was not straighter, walking with a head held high unlike the hunched over stature she had before when the pain and heartache weighted her down. He had been right as always. He pushed her to go much like a pigeon pushed her new babies and forced them to fly on their own, and she had done that.

She found him sitting at the small balcony. His body wrapped in her mother`s quilt. It was almost 3 AM and his side had been cold when she reached for him. His shirt almost reached her knees as she swam in the fabric that fitted his body perfectly.

"What are you doing up?"

He looked at her. His face calm and almost serene like. His eyes bright despite the dark night. "Come here." She stepped into his embrace, her back to his chest as he wrapped the quilt around them. It was July and the summer sky was bright with twinkling stars.

"Remember the time I caught you sneaking off into the roof to watch a meteor`s shower or something" she laughed, remembering catching a glimpse of a dark figure near the tree at the front of the house, almost losing her balance. She had glared at him, the only thing she was comfortable doing around him so he won`t catch on her silly schoolgirl crush.

"I had followed you on that roof. I didn't know why, I just did. Remember what you asked me then?" He saw her nod her head, her eyes focused upwards, big and luminous. "You asked me how do you know which dream to follow! I told you"

"To follow the one that makes your heart sing" their voices blended together. He remember a talk of superheros they wanted to become. A talk of making it big. A talk of a big dream of a young girl who knew exactly what she wanted yet had no means nor ways to get there. Fast forward eight years later, her dream was being offered to her on a silver platter.

"You had that smile on your face when you talked about going to Paris and becoming a Prima ballerina. It was your dream, wasn't it?"

She turned her body as his hand guided her around to face him "Yes but I was a kid then. Dreams change"

"No they don't. You gave up on that dream because you felt it was impossible for you to achieve it. They`re offering you your dream and your saying no April because of me" Her eyes grew big, the shine in them unmistakable. Her small hands circled his forearms tightly. Hands clammy and shaking in their grip.

"It`s not true. I want to stay with you here"

He smiled wistful. He wanted to be selfish and keep her with him forever. Cupping her small face, her quivering lips and shaking body tugging at his heart "I do too, love. But I want you to go! I want this beautiful and amazingly warm butterfly to spread her wings and fly. I want to be selfish and keep you here with me forever but I don`t want you to resent me for preventing you from going" He pressed a kiss to her damp cheeks before drawing her to him. His gut twisted and a vise grip around his heart had him struggle to take a steady breath.

"You love me enough to stay. I love you enough to let you go!"

He stood at the ramp, taking one last look before disappearing behind the curtains. Stagehands looked at him before a round of applause broke out among the people who carried the show. Lighting, production, creative and security all offered their respect to him.

His huge frame cut through the throngs of people surrounding him. Paul or known better as Triple H, stood in front of him in his striped suit, his long blond mane cut to a more professional look to suit the COO position he occupied.

The air felt charged at the moment. Punk was known to give creative and authority hell on best days. Stubborn and uncooperative, both he and Stephanie had a hard time taming the rebellious champion, more days than not letting him have his say in his promos and storylines just to avoid a major war of butting heads.

He saw how his tongue poked his cheek, golden eyebrows dancing above mirth filled eyes and he knew his former boss was trying not to sass him on his last day.

So he couldn't be more surprised when he offered him his hand to shake and the look on his face must have been so funny to cause the people around him to snicker at his expense.

Firmly he put his tattooed hand in his, shaking the respected wrestler "It`s not an easy decision to bow out while you are on top of the world, and I respect the balls to make it. It`s better to walk out proudly on your own legs and terms rather than wheeled out on a chair a broken man. Been an honor to have wrestled with the best in the world."

"Thanks Paul."

"So what`s next for CM Punk?"

"Good question boss! Good question..."

~!Back in the day
When I was younger
I was so lost and proud
I've gained the world
But it will never
Compare to what I've earned!~

He looked at the dark night sky and the huge building behind him. Once he`d set foot outside, he`ll be gone. No more CM Punk, Best In The World, WWE Champion. He`ll be back to being Philip Jack Brooks. A Philip he had no idea about or who the hell he was supposed to be. What did Philip like? What was he good at? What were his dreams and hopes? Was he even a good man?

Was he the man she fell in love with all those years ago?

Did CM Punk become him and erased Philip from existence?

Was CM Punk all he could be? All he would ever be?

Maybe it was a mistake to retire. Maybe he could go back. They said he was always welcomed there, he just had to say the word.

It`s not too late. He could go back to being CM Punk. The best the WWE had to offer. Entertaining fans, travelling the world, and being a living legend.

Always on the road, always alone and forever missing out on his and April`s plans of a future.

Colt knew Phil just as he knew Punk. Knew that Punk and Phil were one and the same and yet different as night and day. Punk was a jerk, more so as a heel. He wrestled, good at kicking ass and taking names. Phil was blunt, took no prisoners. He`d rather be hated for what he was than loved for something he was not and will never become. Punk`s priorities were getting to the top, be the best and live his life inside that squared ring and hard mat. Phil`s were to be the best, have a family and have something to call his own and be only his.

Both Punk and Phil loved her. Two sides of the same coin wanted that far away ballerina, skipping on her pointe in the streets of Paris for the past two years.

Weekends and vacation split between Paris and wherever Punk was while on the road was hard on both. Even if those short visits renewed the spark in his friend's eyes, he knew none was satisfied and having to part ways after each meeting was taking a bit out of them, becoming harder since the past year or so and especially with their situation. In love yet with no official claim on each other. And while she was his just as he was hers and they were a family in every sense that the word meant, his friend longed to have a stable warm home unlike what he had in his childhood. To have a loving wife to share life with him. Phil didn't believe in marriage or that they would work from the experience of his parents and he was surprised when he had shopped for rings and asked him how to propose to April. If he was willing to overcome his hidden fear of failed marriages, he knew his friend loved her dearly to take that step with her.

Now Phil has accomplished what he had set out to do almost twenty years ago and was coming home once and for all. Was she?

Slinging the back over his shoulders, he wrapped his arm around Phil`s tense shoulders. This was no longer the wrestler. This was the man. A man he had no idea how to become. The change was probably scary for both and he`ll need a familiar face. One who was there, one who loved him as Phil and loved him still as Punk.

"Let's go home"

He wanted to ask, well scream, and say 'go home and do what?'. Sleep, he didn't sleep that much. Eat, clean, watch TV and then what? What was he supposed to do after wrestling for over twenty years of his life? Wrestling was all he knew how to do. Was all he wanted to do.

No, it`s not.

He knew the dreams put on hold due to his choice of career. He dreamed of having his own tattoo shop. He dreamed of owning a gym. And hadn't he dreamed of becoming a comic writer or something? Yeah the wet dream of a 15 years old comic nerd in high school.

The only dream he was sure of at this point was have his own family. A wife, a kid, maybe more than one..possibly two..or maybe three...no four seemed better but then again five was the same as four... alright so a big family and a dog. A family picnic or a decoration of a Christmas tree to a holiday he never believed in. Suddenly being a soccer dad wasn't all that bad. Taking his kids to school, a snow fight and reading to them to sleep. He wanted all of those things. And he wanted them soon. And he wanted them with her.

The pang of losing what was supposed to be his first born still stung, a dull ache. Philip Jr was always visited and remembered and the reunion of his parents on his tiny grave every New Year`s eve were steps into healing and becoming whole again.

They walked to the parked SUV, throwing the bags in the backseat before settling at front. The radio playing some Rock tune as they drove.

"We`ll go home and then go get your woman"

Sounded heavenly. He was going to reclaim her. At the moment she was the only sure thing in his life. His anchor during the storm that had become his life.

~!I'm coming home
To breathe again
To start again!~

After much convincing and pleading, Scott agreed to leave him be for the day. After catching an early flight to Chicago to go home, he wasn't ready to step foot in his apartment, an apartment he bought whilst being CM Punk. He shook his head, he was being silly. He was a grown ass man and he was afraid to step foot inside his own home.

House. It`ll be home when she`s living here as well.

His first smile since stepping out of the arena graced his face and he felt something shift and the gloominess of his situation brightened the more he thought about starting their family life as soon as possible.

He`ll call her once he showered and rested. Plan a long overdue visit to Paris, and either find a way for her to come back here or he`ll gladly move to live with her. Either way, their time was now and their future has arrived at last.

He was done hanging in the shadows, watching from afar whenever they separated due to the demands of their careers, skypeing every other day, and while her face was never less beautiful on his screen, he wanted to touch it, her in person. Kiss her, hold her and make love to her until he`s too old and gray to care.

Yes. This seemed like darn good dream to have now. His determination to make it in the WWE has panned out and he had done it. So will this. He`ll have the family he always wanted, he always craved and was deprived of as a kid.

A sober mother and a clean father, his kids will never suffer or need the things he had. Kids, many little grunts filling the house with laughter. Boys, girls or twins. He could care less. He wanted them all. Around him, surrounding him as he and April celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, their grandchildren there as well.

That was another thing. Marry her. Put a ring on her finger and make her his officially and while she had been his ever since he saw her dance in the warehouse and he had been hers ever since... they just took a little longer to figure it out.

He wanted it now. That bright, happy and loving future had to start now. Too impatient to wait until he got inside, he dialed her number, smiling at their happy grinning faces on his phone.

"Le numéro que vous appelez a été déconnecté. S'il vous plaît vérifier le numéro et réessayez plus tard. Merci." he waited until the US operator translated whatever the French chick was saying "The number you are calling has been disconnected. Please check the number and try again later. Thank you."

No! No! No!

His heart pumped double time, the blood burning as it rushed through his veins. Heartbeats loud enough to deafen him as he stood rooted to the spot.

Check again. It`s probably nothing. Don`t jump to conclusions.

With shaking hands he redialed her number, again hearing the same message. Five times he tried and five times the French lady confirmed it to him. Her number was disconnected.

"Nessanesaanesaa" he scrolled through his contacts, pressing the phone to his ear frantically pulling his house keys from his pocket "Come one pick up " A sense of Deja Vu filled him. When she left him in NJ all those years ago. The old insecurities and hurt he tried to forget came rushing back with a vengeance.

Did she disappear when he needed her the most? When he wanted her the most? AGAIN?

"Hay Phil?"

"Hey. Have you heard from April?"

He could her rustling on the other side "Yeah, she called me yesterday. Why? what`s wrong?"

"I tried to call her earlier but her phone was disconnected" he tried to keep the panic out of his voice. He got hold of Nessa and she had heard from her not too long ago.

It`s probably nothing.

"It`s probably nothing" she echoed his thoughts and finally he was able to turn the key and open the door. He made his way to the dark apartment, flicking on some lights as he brought his bags inside.

"Are you in your apartment?" Suspicious he answered with a hesitant 'yeah' before the line disconnected, the dialing tune blaring in his ears.

"Welcome home"

It was his mind. Always something wrong with his mind. And it was playing cruel jokes on him in his most vulnerable times. It took her visage probably, used her sweet honey voice to twist the knife and scar him so he forever be unhealed.

She watched as his back stiffened rigid by the door way. He had yet to turn his back and face her. She knew he must have assumed the worst and figured she disappeared again. This time with much more than his heart.

She shifted on her feet, adjusting the weight on one hip as she started to walk to him, seeing his face turned slightly sideways, hearing her boots echo on his floor loudly in the almost suffocating silence that descended on them.


His fervent whispered cut through her like a blade "Stop it please" Even after all this years, with how far they have come and overcome together and with how much they have gained together, there was still an insecurity hanging over their heads like a dark cloud.


Ella accomplished what she couldn't. She managed to make her father turn around, eyes luminous fearing to believe what he was seeing.

The 14 months baby drew her arms up, wanting him to hold her and in an instant she was perched up high, her face hidden in the crook of his neck, as he inhaled and kissed her, assuring him that she was here in his arms.

Another second and she was tucked in the other side of him, his face pressed in her long hair "I thought you were gone. You and Ella...that you left me" He closed his eyes, both his girls safely in his arms and breathed them in. His heartbeats slowed down and his body finally relaxing.

She felt a lump in her throat. She had a lot of making up to do. Smiling she realized she had forever to do it. And now she could start. With a single call, she`d be signing tomorrow with The Joffery dance company since her old contract would expire in a week time and she decided not to renew to be with him. Her and Ella`s thing has been flown here and the rest of the boxes shipped to be arriving tomorrow. She had been waiting for him here for the past hour. Waiting to start their future together.

It`s time to start their family.

"So does the offer of me moving in still stand?"

The apartment was wonderful and fully equipped. The view was breathtaking. They laid on the bare mattress, void of blankets and cushions. It was plain and simple and they have picked it out together. He surprised her by flying off to Paris with her, help her settle before flying back to the states. They went shopping for food and the only furniture that seemed to be missing. A bed!

They had been laying next to each other, gazing at the soft peach ceiling. She curled around him, almost trying to disappear into him. Her messy mane hiding her face from him and for a moment he allowed her to before drawing her back to him. He pulled the object from his jeans, the ring catching light as he turned it around in his hand. "So I was thinking..."

She looked at him, her neck arched to see his face "About?"

"You know when you`re finished here and come back. You are going to need a place to stay since your apartment was rented to someone else."

"Finding an apartment in New York. I might as well go homeless now" she whined.

"What I am saying is... you could come live with me" he offered, keeping the ring out of her line of sight for the moment.

"In Chicago?"

He shrugged and nodded "I gotta few extra rooms" he offered casually.

"You sure you want a girlfriend cramping your style?"

"I can live with that if she will be willing to become my wife when I ask her" he pulled the ring, surprising her by putting it on a chain to be put around her neck. "When you come home, I`ll put this on your finger properly"

"You`re just saying that so I`ll have no choice but to come back when I am done"

"I guess you`ll just have to come back and see" He pulled her back to him, feeling lighter and happy about their situation. They were going to survive this!

"If I come back and I say yes, hypothetically speaking. Your bachelor pad needs serious work done"

"Like?" They were planing for their future. They were going to be OK.

"Paint. Office. Nursery!"

"Nursery?" his voice like a kid and his eyes bright.

"Nursery!" she confirmed.

"Of course. But I only have a nursery and a room with huge king size bed. If you fancy sharing, I don't mind"

She eased back and found him already looking at her. The green eyes of their daughter were peacefully shut, her dark hair softly framing her chubby face, rosy cheeks rested on his shoulders as she napped in the safety of his arms.

"I don`t mind. I don`t mind at all!"

~!I'm coming home
From all the places
I have been
With nothing
But a voice within
That calls me…
Calls me home!~

They were finally together. They were finally home!

The End.

"The Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" Eleanor Roosevelt.

I have recently rewatched Randy Pausch`s motivational speech, may he rest in peace, titled 'The Last Lecture'. If you have not seen it, boy you really ought to. It`s about fulfilling childhood dreams and enabling others to fulfill their own. I realize this is a fan fiction and I should not take it seriously, blah blah blah LOL. I didn't introduce the Paris job offer to inflict drama or obstacles for the couple who went through enough. I wanted to show that love is not always perfect and it is sure ain`t easy. It is hard work. It is understanding and most of all it does beat the odds stacked against it if two people are committed both physically and emotionally to make it work. Punk, the real person, believes in going after your dreams and I didn't see how it can be different in a work of fiction. He would encourage her to go after hers.

What can I say? I was in an inspirational mood! ;)

Want to say:

Thanks for who had read, reviewed and followed this story! A special thanks to Red Foxie for always being there to help, beta for me and offer a nice sound advice!

Thanks to my buddy Matt AKA Raiden519 for bouncing ideas with me, being a great friend and a die hard AJPunk shipper! He`s the best!

Hope you enjoyed this!

I`ll miss you xoxo