They say, forgiveness is next to godliness. Is that so?
I have decided that our boys do deserve some sort of closure. I hope you will enjoy the last part of this story :)
Few weeks after, Jeff moves out back to North Carolina, he's said to be building a new house somewhere in the outskirts of Raleigh.
Punk learns it the hard way.
He doesn't give up on him. He tries calling, but after several attempts the number is changed, and there's no way to get his new one. He tries to come to him, but no matter how long he pushes the doorbell, no one answers. He listens by the door, hoping to hear footsteps or any other proof that Jeff is home, but there's nothing.
He walks out of the building and stands nearby, half hidden in the bush, waiting for Jeff to come home. Sometimes he stays like that for hours, but it's always the same result. He never comes.
Never in his life has Punk felt this miserable and pathetic. It never has been his style to make the first move to an apology, let alone to stalk someone like he does now. It sickens him, to feel broken like that, but there's nothing he can do about it. He needs Jeff more than he needs his dignity or pride, and he compromises with is usual rules, and does everything in his power to get Jeff's forgiveness. Because forgiveness is all he can now hope for. Punk has lost the hope that Jeff has retained any love for him.
Funny. He never thought he would be the one to strive for someone's love like that. He never believed in love to begin with. And yet here he is, stalking Jeff's house whenever he has the time to, and thinking of him whenever he doesn't, and going to see him perform whenever he gets an opportunity to.
Eventually Colt tells him (and he is informed by Shannon) that Jeff moved out and currently is renting a house in Raleigh, at least until his own is being rebuilt.
It's killing Colt to see Punk like this. He himself is happy, and there is nothing he would want more than to see Punk happy too. None of the usual distractions seem to help; wrestling is no longer the only addiction to Punk. He loses his championship so easily and cares about it so little, that Colt is sick worried about his friend's well-being.
He knows exactly how to help him, but he can't, and that is what kills Colt the most.
He and Shannon argue about it so much that sometimes Colt is afraid to piss his ever so complicated friend off completely. Shannon is absolutely certain Punk screwed up royally and not only is not worthy of another chance, but shouldn't even be let near Jeff ever again.
Of course, Colt could easily get Jeff's new number and address, but that is not nearly enough. Jeff would just shut the door in Punk's face if he would dare to approach him.
Shannon could convince Jeff to at least listen to what Punk has to say. If he wanted to.
So could Matt, it suddenly occurs to Colt, and even if he is not exactly friends with the older Hardy, it is worth giving a shot.
After Punk calls Colt asking to pick him up from the street again because has no more energy to return home, it is clear that he should not postpone saving him any further. He has no idea what exactly is he going to tell Matt to convince him to bring Jeff and Punk together again when he dials the number he's previously took from Shannon's phone, relying only on a sheer hope on Matt's kindness.
Somehow, Matt recognizes who is he talking to from the first word Colt says, and he immediately knows the purpose of his call.
"Hey, Cabana," He says in an uneasy voice. "I know exactly what you want from me. And yes, I will talk to Jeff. We can't continue to live like this anymore –neither of us; or we will all go insane."
Colt is surprised by Matt's insightfulness, but he has to agree. They are all worried about Punk – he, Joey, Natalie and many others – but Colt doesn't quite understand why Matt is worried too.
"Man, you should see Jeff… Or you probably shouldn't." Matt sighs on the other end of the phone. "I have told him to get over it, that he should find someone else, that Phil is bad news for him, but does he listen…?"
"Why doesn't he call him then?" Colt realizes it can't just be solved so easily, but there's hope Jeff would agree to listen now.
"He's too proud, my brother. And too hurt. He knows he should forget him, but he can't live without him either."
"Neither can Punk."
They stay silent for a while.
"How bad is it?" Matt asks after a pause.
"Pretty bad," Colt has to admit.
"I'll do what I can and will let you know," says Matt after another pause and hangs up.
It's the middle of the night, and Punk is reading a comic in his bed, when his phone rings, completely unexpectedly. Punk jumps out of bed and runs to the table where he'd left it, hurrying to pick it up, hoping it would be Jeff.
Close enough. A glance to the screen lessens his enthusiasm, but he picks up nonetheless.
"Yea, Matt?" He asks, frowning. They broke up a forever ago, and they haven't exactly been friends ever since. They have no common topics anymore, and Punk has no idea why would he call him at all.
"Do you have a piece of paper and a pen?" Matt asks without any introduction.
"What the fu…"
"I said, do you have a piece of paper and a pen?" Matt interrupts Punk impatiently; it is clear that he has no desire for this conversation to last any longer than it is necessary.
"Yes," Punk finally says, grabbing a pen, too busy to search for a paper sheet, and ready to write on his hand.
"I'm gonna tell you the address and you are going to get in your car and drive very fast. I will not repeat it twice and you will not be getting a second chance."
Punk's heart skips a beat when he realizes what it is all about. He writes the address Matt tells him on the inner side of his left hand, and is about to thank Matt, but he seems to read his mind:
"Don't thank me, Punkers, I'm not doing it for you," He tries to sound mean, but Punk can sense him smiling over the phone. "He is waiting for you."
"Thank you, Matt."
"Just don't fuck it up again, ok?" Matt actually sounds encouraging, and then he ends the call.
Needless to say, Punk is ready in no time and hits the road he knows so well. It however never seemed so long; it takes him whole eight hours to get to Charleston, and here he is stuck in a massive traffic jam. Impatient, he decides to take a small detour through the north of the city, and when he's standing in a crossroad waiting for a green light, something catches his eye.
"Charleston Animal Society", it reads on one of the buildings he passes, and then it hits him. He hits the brakes almost causing an accident, and, accompanied by swears from other drivers, he drives into the parking lot.
He had never particularly liked animals nor does he know a lot about them. He walks in the shelter and asks a woman working there to give him a dog he could adopt. She gives him a puzzled stare and tells that there is more than one dog up for adoption and politely asks what kind of a dog would he like.
"Umm… A barking kind," Punk tries, but the crazed glance the woman gives him suggests that it's not an answer she was expecting. "Look, just show me all of them and I'll choose one."
"Are you sure you are to be trusted with a pet, sir?" Woman frowns at him suspiciously.
"It's for a friend," Punk tries to seem as trustworthy as he can. "His dog died recently and…"
"I'm sorry for his loss," the woman smiles sadly and gestures him further in the building. "Follow me. I'm sure you'll find a nice dog for your friend."
Choosing is difficult, and Punk almost regrets starting this entire get-Jeff-a-dog thing. All of the creatures look so sad and miserable in their cages, that even though never being known for liking dogs he finds himself wanting to adopt all of them himself. He also has no idea what kind of dogs Jeff likes. He remembers Jack being some kind of a mix-breed, and that despite his not so pretty looks and not all that high intelligence Jeff loved him insanely.
For a while he just walks around aimlessly, waiting for something to catch his eye, when he sees a rather large dog, a some sort of mix between a collie and german shepherd. Its name makes Punk grin, it says "Zelda" on the cage, and he calls the woman who had brought him here.
After some necessary preparations, filling in the forms and giving the dog some medicine, they are finally ready to continue the trip. The dog seems calm enough when it gets in the car and makes itself comfortable on the front seat.
"Don't you dare pee in my car," Punk warns his new companion, and Zelda gives him an understanding glance.
"Good girl," Punk mutters and starts the car.
He is forced to stop every once in a while to give Zelda some water and a chance to run around for a while, in order to prevent her from actually peeing in his car. This is why it is already evening when he finally reaches the address Matt has given him. Windows are lit up, he sees a shadow moving back and forth in one of them, and he sits in a car for a while more trying to calm himself down. His heart is beating somewhere in his throat and his palms are sweating; he puts a leash on Zelda's collar and makes way to the door.
He doesn't even has the time to ring a doorbell, when the door shuts open and there's Jeff, hands in his pockets, nervous and tense look on his face.
For a while neither of them says anything, they just stand looking each other in the eyes, almost not breathing. The speech Punk has prepared and rehearsed in the car to Zelda all the way from Charleston seems to have disappeared from his head without a trace. Jeff is the one to break the silence.
"You brought me a dog." He states, and Punk can't tell whether he is happy about it or not.
"Yes," he simply replies.
"I hate it when you make decisions for me," Jeff frowns, and for a split second Punk fears he has made a mistake again.
"You would have never made this one on your own," He says gently.
"Too true. Just as I would've never decided to forgive you on my own," Jeff responds mysteriously and Punk's heart freezes for a moment. "Come in, both of you," He finally sighs opening the door wider.
They are still silent when Punk takes his usual spot on the window and Jeff leans on the counter no more than a meter from him.
"So… We need to talk." Punk tries. "I mean, I'd like you to listen to me-"
"Do you really have anything new to say?" Jeff asks, and there is no anger in his voice, only softness and understanding.
"Only one thing."
Their gazes meet.
"I'm so sorry." Punk breathes out so quietly that Jeff barely hears him.
"You better be," He says as silently, not breaking an eye contact. Now he is so close to Punk that they can feel each other's breath. There is a questioning look in Punk's eyes, and Jeff lightly nods, and then their lips touch.
Two hearts skip a beat simultaneously; the kiss is full of tenderness and care, it is one of those kisses you want to last forever. Punk is satisfied with this almost chaste kiss, but Jeff dives in, he licks Punk's lip asking for the entrance, but Punk pulls away.
"Don't rush," He whispers, and Jeff nods again. They both had rushed too many things in their lives, they have ruined too many things this way, and now they're going slow.
It is a rocky road they're on, but it's a happy one nonetheless.
They never move in together. This is one of the main causes of their arguments, but Jeff is unbendable about it; living 800 miles apart, hard as it is, has its benefits, and he's not talking about the fact that this way they miss each other more. He wants to keep his distance, as much as it is possible, he doesn't want to depend on Punk at this, because the rest of his life already is in Punk's hands. He still can't bring himself to fully trust him, even though he has never given him a reason not to; not anymore. It is as if Jeff expects it to end at any moment or waits for Punk to give him some sort of undeniable proof.
As if he hasn't already.
But they are happy together, as happy as they can be, Punk controlling his mood swings and jealousy and he doesn't have a reason to be jealous anymore, because Jeff doesn't even look at anyone else. He has Punk and it's all he needs now and is going to need for the foreseeable future.
He still slips, though, and sometimes ends up drunk or high, even though these occasions are getting fewer and fewer, and he never hides them from Punk anymore. He has Matt and Shannon to take care of him until Punk comes, no matter where would he be, he rushes to him as soon as he can. He yells, they argue, Jeff is sorry, they make their peace and Punk stays as long as he can allow himself to. They meet every time either of them has days off; sometimes Jeff goes to Chicago, but usually it's Punk driving all the way to Raleigh.
Like now, for example. It is Monday night, Raw has just taken place in Pittsburgh, and Punk is already on his way to Jeff, because he isn't booked for any matches for the next week. Without any rest he hits the road, making small rare breaks and sending random texts to Jeff along the way.
Jeff can't fall asleep, they haven't seen each other for two weeks and he is just too impatient to keep his eyes closed. This is why he sets up an easel and puts on some music, his phone lies beside him, occasionally buzzing with texts from Punk.
At one a.m. he writes:
"I'm in the middle of nowhere, and some god's forgotten cafe is giving away free wi-fi. Quite adorable when you think about it."
Jeff smiles but doesn't reply; Punk doesn't like it when Jeff doesn't get enough sleep, and Jeff doesn't want to worry him. Around five in the morning he starts to doze out, and yet another buzz wakes him up.
"Stars are fucking amazing here. Yeah yeah, I can just feel you frowning over there, I know I should sleep, but it's not exactly worth it anymore. Can you guess how many miles are left till home?"
This time Jeff can't resist the urge to answer him.
"You should stop texting while driving, either you're gonna crash into a tree of the phone bill will be fucking insane" Jeff replies for the first time this evening.
It is no surprise that Punk calls him back immediately.
"Wow, dude, I thought you were sleeping."
"Can't. Waiting for you."
"So you were keeping me company all the way without me even knowing it?"
"Aren't we cute?"
Silence hangs between them for a while. Jeff thinks they are anything but cute, and yet his heart melts a little each time Punk says something like that. Still. Even though he should be used to that.
"That is, we would be cute, if you wouldn't be so concerned about the phone bill and would've called me right after I hit the road." Punk's voice is slightly annoyed, and to Jeff's big surprise, he can hear small traces of nervousness in his tone.
"What brings me to our next topic," Punk continues, and there it is; now Jeff can hear it quite distinctively. Punk is nervous. Jeff can almost see him biting his lip ring and tapping the wheel, staring blankly into space instead of paying attention to the road.
"Yes?" He asks, trying to seem encouraging.
"I can't stand you being so far away so often," Punk mutters, almost shyly, and Jeff's heart fills with warmth, even though they had this conversation many times before and both knew that there's no fixing it.
"Nothing you can do, darlin'," Jeff smiles to the phone, a constant reply, and they have played this game so many times, that by now they both know the lines perfectly; now Punk will say that it's unfair, and Jeff is supposed to call Punk an oversensitive little girl and remind him that he didn't believe in love. Punk would agree that Jeff is right, laugh the situation off and say that he's happy that there is no pressure in their relationship. They would laugh and lie and pretend it's fine, while both knowing that it really isn't.
But this time something goes differently, Jeff understands it when Punk takes an unusually long pause.
"Should I get you a ring so you'd finally get my message across?" He asks irritated, nervous, hoping.
Jeff is speechless; he knew that Punk is very serious about their relationship, but he never knew just how much. He remembers him saying that he didn't believe in marriage and that he would never get himself caught in one, and that makes him realize exactly how serious Punk is. Ant that this might be the proof he unconsciously was waiting for.
"Phil, you're fucking insane." He finally manages to force out.
"Is that a no?" Punk's voice gets cold and distant; he tries to hide the disappointment behind the fake indifference.
"…Don't be an idiot."
Punk laughs and ends the call immediately, and Jeff can't help himself but to smile through tears. That's Punk for you. That's just what Punk does to him.
Only Punk could propose over the phone, on the road, in that kind of manner and still make Jeff the happiest man alive. And if that isn't perfection, he doesn't know what is.
Aaaand it's done! I'm actually pretty satisfied with how it all turned out. Even though I almost got cavities while finishing it. I really hope you liked it – please let me know about it!
Thank you all for reading and supporting me, it meant a world to me.
Also, this story done, I'm probably going to attempt a Punk/Colt fic. Although if anyone of you has a request for me, please please please do not hesitate to PM me! I'd be more than happy to take it!