Remember Me



Being on the road away from your family was really hard. Especially when you traveled for the majority of the year, spending maybe a weekend a month at home. Luckily for Shawn Michaels; he had a beautiful wife who was more than happy to stay at home and take care of their house and daughter. After ten years of marriage, Shawn couldn’t bear being apart any longer.

Their daughter was ten years old and spending her summer with his parents. Which meant this was the perfect time to bring his wife on the road. This was the first time she had ever joined him, she’d never stayed with him at all, not even for a night. Shawn was changing all that.

He didn’t view it as appropriate to bring wives and girlfriends on the road and carry them at the expense of the company. So… to balance things out, he had gotten her a job. She had been a massage therapist in San Antonio, it had been almost too easy getting her in with the Fed; on the medical staff. If she was working, she was traveling which meant she was traveling with him.

Smiling, Shawn brought her hand up to his mouth, brushing his lips across her knuckles.

River returned the smile, nervously.

“Everything is going to be fine.” He reassured her, for the umpteenth time that night. Returning his eyes to the road, Shawn entwined their fingers together, watching the off-ramp looming closer and closer. “I love you.”

“I love you too, honey.” She said; her voice a soft, rolling drawl. River stared out the window, watching as he took the exit. It took another fifteen minutes for him to navigate traffic to the hotel they would be staying at for the night. Thank goodness he had decided to stop there first, she needed to change her clothes. Hers were sticking to her from being in a car all day.

She let him guide her inside, watching as he checked in. It was all too obvious Shawn had performed this routine a million times before, he could probably do it in his sleep. Once they were in their room; she dropped her duffel bag on the bed and rifled through it, pulling out a pair of blue jeans and a white tank.

Shawn watched with an amused smile as she set her clothes down on the bed. “Something wrong, sweetheart?”

“I’m nervous.” She admitted, seeing his eyes crinkle at the corners and couldn’t stop herself from smiling. “It’s not funny, Shawn.”

Chuckling, he wrapped his arms around her waist; bending down to kiss the side of her neck. “Everything is going to be fine. It’ll be just like your job back home only we’ll be together all the time instead of part.” His strong hands gently cupped her face, staring down into vibrant blue eyes. “I’m glad you’re here, Riv.” He whispered. “I’m going to get a shower then we’ll go. Care to join me?”

“Do you even need ask?” River replied with a smile, pushing her strawberry blond hair over her shoulders and followed, watching with narrowed eyes as he shed his clothes. For as long as she had known her husband, he had never failed to excite her, a decade had done nothing to lessen that.

Shaking his head no, Shawn pulled River against him; feeling her body into melting into his. Not tearing his eyes from hers, he slowly pulled her tee shirt over her head, letting it fall to the floor. Staring up at her, he slowly got down on his knees, hands skimming down her ribs to the front of her jeans.

River watched with baited breath as he unsnapped her jeans, trembling when he slid them down her long, tan legs. Never once had she ever doubted that he would grow tired of her. Every time he looked at her, she could see the appreciation in his eyes. The way his gaze caressed her made her almost blush. It was an ego booster to know after so long her husband still desired her.

Once they were both fully nude and Shawn was finished with his visual worship; he lifted her up, drawing her legs around his waist. Holding her with one arm, he fumbled with his free hand to turn on the shower; adjusting the sprays before stepping inside the bath tub. They had a little time before work…

Even though he was small for his profession, River couldn’t find a single flaw with his body. To her, he was perfect, even when he would come home battered and bruised. She always heard love was blind and apparently that was true. She could always look past the bruises and see her handsome Shawn underneath. “Mmm…” She moaned, running her hands across his shoulders as he began trailing kisses along her throat.

Being on the road with him was definitely going to be great.


The biggest grin was on Shawn’s face an hour later as he guided his wife into the arena. His arm was around her waist, feeling her leaning into him as they walked; loving the fact that he could do this every night now. He knew she was nervous, hell so was he. Just not for the same reasons. Navigating his way through the crowded hallways, he finally halted in front of a door with a plaque bearing General Manager on it. “Here we go.”

River forced herself to breathe.

Knocking once, Shawn opened the door, pulling her in after him. “Hey Stephie, sorry we’re late.”

River momentarily though he was talking to the empty chair behind the cluttered table. Then her attention was drawn to a woman rising off of a couch pushed against a far wall.

“You must be River.”

River just nodded, returning the warm smile she was offered with a brilliant one of her own.

“I’m Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, just call me Steph.” Stephanie was now shaking hands with River. “It’s nice to finally match the name with a face.”

“Pleasure to meet you Steph.” River replied softly, reaching up to finger a cross pendant on a gold chain, a third year wedding anniversary present from Shawn. It was also one of the few pieces of jewelry she wore, besides her wedding ring. “Shawn’s mentioned you frequently as well.”

“All good I hope.” Stephanie chuckled, gesturing for Shawn to leave them be. “We can handle it from here, Shawn. You have a promo to go shoot.”

“Bossy.” Shawn teased, reluctantly letting go of his wife’s hand.

Once he was out of the room, Stephanie gestured to the couch. “Hope you don’t mind, I just hate those metal folding chairs.” She said, watching as River sat down before seating herself. “Now…” She picked a sheaf of stapled papers off the top of a precariously stacked pile. “Just read over this and sign on the dotted line.”

She read it slowly, aware Shawn had probably already seen it and as he hadn’t voiced any concerns; she signed and handed the papers back with a nervous smile. “From Shawn’s description the job was as a massage therapist?” She asked curiously, well aware that could also extend into physical therapy and a few other branches which she had been trained for and done for several years.

“Yes, as well as being consider a WWE official.” When River’s eyes widened, Stephanie smiled reassuringly and held her hand up. “Don’t panic. Let me explain first. We often do segments where the wrestlers take a nasty fall, whether it be through a table; off a ladder, things like that. You know, like what your husband used to do before he finally saw the light.” They both laughed softly. “Anyway, basically you’d be rushing to ringside with the other officials and Alex who is the WWE’s on call trainer. Who incidentally, is also your boss. Other then me, I mean.”

“Alright.” She wasn’t keen on the rushing down to the ring bit but… it was the job. As long as it wasn’t for Shawn -even if it was ‘fake’- she’d probably panic a little. She always did when he got ‘hurt and then she’d get annoyed with his teasing about her being a ‘mother hen’. “So do I report to Alex then?”

“Yes. But please, feel free to come to me if there’s anything you need. I’m not hard to find.” Stephanie said with a wink, pushing a loose curl of brown hair over her shoulder. “Now I want to talk to you about sexual harassment. Occasionally it is a problem but for the most part, people know their place.” She didn’t really like this part of the hiring process but was legally obligated to touch on the subject. “If anybody makes you uncomfortable at all, you bring it directly to my attention.”

“Of course.” Being in her line of work, sexual harassment was pretty much expected. Something about a massage got men acting like morons. In turn she had learned which nerves to pinch to hurt them, a minor form of self defense. “If I have any concerns I can’t take to Alex, I’ll address them to you.” River promised, glancing over Steph’s head at the clock.

“Excellent.” Stephanie followed River’s gaze, nodding and got to her feet. “If you don’t have any further questions, I’ll take you to where you’ll be working.”

River was silent as she followed Stephanie through the building, wondering if she would get lost if she tried finding her way back. Probably.

“Here we are. If there’s anything else you need…”

“Oh no, this is perfect.” She assured quickly, not expecting anything but practicality. Maybe a radio for background noise but other then that, this would do the job. Considering it had to be quick to set up and tear down, yes, this was going t work. “Thank you, Stephanie.” She added, walking over to the folding table to examine some lotions and oils.

“Not a problem. If you do think of anything, let me know.” She flashed another smile before walking away, bumping right into her husband. “What’s wrong?”

“Is she here?” He asked quietly, sighing when Steph nodded. “Where’s Shawn?”

“He’s cutting a promo. Why? Is everything okay?”

Paul smiled down at her. “Yeah, I just wanted to congratulate River. I’ll see you later.” He kissed her lips quickly, walking right on by River’s door without even glancing in.

Stephanie watched him walk away, one brown eyebrow slowly raising.

“There you are.” Paul was breathing heavily from having jogged, watching Shawn walk away from the cameras. He took his friend by the arm, pulling him away from the camera crew. “What were you thinking?” He demanded, eyes boring into Shawn’s. “Bringing her on the road?”

“What would have me do? It’s been years, man.” Shawn wasn’t in the mood for this.

“You know what this means right?”

For a moment, Shawn’s eyes flashed with fire. “Just let me handle it.”


River had set out to find Alex, only for him to find her, instantly taking a liking to him.

“You’re the only female on my staff at the moment.” He said bluntly, looking her up and down in a non-sexual way, just appraising her. “So if any of the boys decide to get rowdy, don’t hesitate to put them in their place or ask for help.”

Now she really liked him. They soon fell to discussing the virtues of witch hazel, Alex having asked her to stay with him for the night to get a handle on things. She got the impression he was going to make sure she didn’t have any problems with any of his ‘boys’ before turning her loose but didn’t comment.

“Shawn, now how am I supposed to teach this gal the ropes if you’re distracting her?” Alex teased, watching as Shawn tried to sneak up on her.

She whipped around, grinning. “Busted.”

“Thanks, Al.” Shawn muttered good-naturedly; leaning down to kiss his wife. “I had to come admire my beautiful wife.” He said a little louder, his arms snaking around her waist for a moment. “Actually, I really wanted to talk to you, Alex. It’s important, got a second?”

Alex and River both cottoned on to the fact that Shawn didn’t want River privy to this conversation. River promptly excused herself to use the restroom, she respected Shawn enough to accept that she wasn’t always in on everything he said or did.

“Look, if it’s about the boys, Stephanie already talked to her about it and so did I. They won’t bother her.” Alex said, arching an eyebrow when Shawn shook his head. “Okay, then what?”

Shawn quietly closed the door, pulling Alex across the room. “You need to keep her away from Callaway. I don’t care how you do it but she is NOT to treat him for any reason. I can make it worth your while, Alex.” He said softly, pressing some folded bills into the other man’s hand before walking out of the room, calling over his shoulder: “I don’t care how you do it, but make sure he stays away from her.”

Alex stared down at the money that had been forced into his hand with a frown, stepping out of the room to holler at Shawn only to find the man already gone. Groaning, he rubbed his forehead, wondering just how in the hell he was supposed to do that? He’d been so keen to take River on simply because they needed someone with her level of expertise in the pain relief area. Mark just so happened to fall right into the category, a lot. “Damn it…”

River cautiously walked back into the room. “Everything alright?”



“Did you do it?” Paul muttered, falling into step with Shawn.

“Yeah, I did. Callaway best just stay away from her. Did Steph talk to him yet?”

“Shawn, I didn’t exactly…”

Shawn stopped dead in his tracks. “You didn’t what?”

“I didn’t tell her.”


Alex spent most of the night babysitting River, glad she wasn’t annoyed by it. He had seen her resume and it was impressive but… these were his boys and it was their job to make sure the performers could do just that, perform. “Okay, what kind of massage did you just do?”


Even he blinked.

Laughing softly, River explained it as she continued working on one of the wrestlers -who had cheerfully told his name was Cena, John Cena in this James Bond tone- who was beginning to perk up, one of the benefits of this technique. “This type of massage helps with flexibility, reduces fatigue, helps improve endurance and can help prevent injuries.”

“Don’t take offense River, but I’m glad you’re not a physical therapist, you’d have my job.”

“Hey Alex.”

They both looked towards the door.

River’s eyes widened momentarily. The man standing there was huge. He had to be almost seven feet, she wasn’t guessing his weight. Quickly, she dropped her gaze and returned to her work.

“I need you to-” He stopped mid-sentence, piercing green eyes suddenly on the woman kneeling in front of John. “Who is she?” He demanded bluntly.

“Just a trainee. Honey, go get us a bottle of water, will you?” Alex turned to her, blocking her from view. Just how was he supposed to explain this to Shawn? He sighed in relief when River didn’t question it, just walked out of the room. Shawn definitely had himself a well behaved, unassuming woman. “What was it you needed Mark?”

“My knee. I want you to look at it.” Mark replied, his brow furrowed as he stared at the smaller man. He hadn’t noticed Alex’s sudden haste and would have questioned the guy but… he DID know how to crack bones for a living.


Paul sat across from his wife, chewing on his lower lip. This wasn’t exactly what he had had in mind for his night.

“So what you’re trying to tell me is that you don’t want River around Mark because of Shawn’s past?” Stephanie was staring at her husband like a hawk. Her blue eyes were skeptical, there was more to this story, obviously. But he for some reason wasn’t telling. It was pissing her off.

“Paul, I can’t do that. Whenever Mark goes to River, she is to treat him is that-”

“Steph, please do it.” Paul was now pleading with her, his own eyes finally meeting hers. “Please.”

Taken aback by the amount of guilt she found in those brown orbs, Stephanie just nodded mutely.


Alex mentally groaned when River came back ten minutes later, not even close to being done. Mark needed surgery, not therapy but the man was too damn stubborn to listen to anyone. Well… if Shawn came by and found out, he’d just tell the truth. The man had basically snuck up on them and he couldn’t send her packing without raising a brow. Therefore… “Why don’t you try that massage of yours on his knee, honey?”

River didn’t say a word, setting down the bottles of water before looking at the giant’s leg and inwardly cringing. “He needs surgery.” She said quietly.

“I know.”

Sighing, she got to work.

Mark stared down at her curiously, wondering who she was. His eyes automatically strayed to her left hand, taking in the wedding ring. Hmm, she was married, but to who? “Damn…” He growled when her fingers probed a very sore area. “You almost done, darlin’?” He demanded, blinking when her eyes met his.

“No, I’m not.” She said simply, knowing in a few minutes he was going to be feeling pretty damn good. River was a bit surprised to see how beautiful his eyes were before looking down, grimacing at the sight of his knee again.

“Hey Alex, I-”

She smiled at her husband’s voice.

Alex hurried to Shawn, glancing back at Mark and River. “Look, there wasn’t anything I could do, Shawn.” He said in a soft voice that wouldn’t carry. “She was working on Cena when he showed up.”

Shawn stared at Mark for a long minute, resignation on his face. “Try not to let it happen again.” He said finally, walking back out.

“What’d Michaels want?” Mark asked, getting the feeling this woman was linked to his adversary somehow. They were facing each other at Wrestlemania in a few short months. When Alex said he didn’t know, Mark knew the man was lying through his teeth.

Now he was curious.

River wound up switching massages, going with a deep tissue massage. “Alex, come here.”

He dropped down next to her, letting her guide his fingers. “Mark..” He looked up. “You had better watch it because this knee is about to go out on this. What do you think, River?” Alex looked at her, smiling as she contemplated it.

“There’s inflamed tissue here. A lot of it.”

“Ready for the surgery yet, Mark?”

“After Mania, I already have it scheduled. I’m not going off right now, I’m in the middle of a feud with Michaels.” He didn’t miss the woman’s moment of hesitation.

River soon finished after that, backing away to go wash her hands.

Mark watched her curiously, their eyes locking again. “Thanks, darlin’.” He rumbled softly. Somehow he wasn’t surprised to find Shawn in the hallway waiting for him.

“Stay away from my wife, Callaway.”

Now he was even more curious. “She’s your wife?”

“Yeah, MY wife. Stay away from her. Go see Alex from now on. Direct orders from Stephanie.”

“Is that right.” Mark stroked his goatee and walked off, deciding to go have a chat with the general manager. “Hey Princess.” He greeted when she entered her office. A smile automatically curved his lips when her eyes narrowed at the hated nickname.

“Will you never stop calling me that, Taker?”

“Probably not.” He dropped down in her abandoned desk chair, staring at her intently.

“Okay, what do you want?” It was hard to miss that he wanted something.

“Shawn’s wife. What’s her name?”

Stephanie blinked, wondering what the hell was going on with River. One night in the company and already she was inadvertently causing some problem. “Why do you want to know?” She asked, buying herself maybe a few seconds of time.

Shrugging, he kept his face neutral. “I am one of the longest running employees in this company, Princess. I know everyone. So what’s her name?”

He had a point.

“River.” Stephanie sighed reluctantly.

Not saying another word, Mark vacated.

All she could do was STILL wonder what was going on.


At the end of the night, River had to apply a warm compress to her hands, just to ease the stiffness in her fingers. She was pleased with the night’s work, especially when Alex said unless they were called ringside or he needed her, she’d be doing her own thing.

After helping him and the other trainer’s pack everything up, she went off to find Shawn, Alex walking beside her.

“Now, as you can see, we leave after the wrestlers are gone which means long night and longer days for us. Sometimes we get called to their hotel rooms for locked up joints or something else that’s idiotic. It’s a demanding job, think you can handle it?”

“Certainly.” If it meant she got to spend more time with her husband, most definitely.

“There you are.”

Speak of the devil!

River practically jumped into Shawn’s arms, returning his kiss eagerly.

“Mmm… I’m glad to you see you too.” He murmured against her lips. Looking over her shoulder, Shawn smiled at Alex. “How’d she do?”

“If she had any experience in the medical field other than what she has, I’d be out of a job.”

Shawn started laughing as River blushed.


Mark was sitting on top of the building when the two walked out into the parking lot. His eyes narrowed as he watched them pause to share a tender moment, a sneer on his face.


It had been years since he had seen her last. Eleven years actually. She had disappeared from the company in 1998 during the Royal Rumble and now here she was again. The funny part was that River hadn’t recognized him. Maybe it wasn’t the same River.

Maybe he was losing it.

But how many women had that beautiful strawberry blond hair or those sparkling blue eyes? With the name of River? That wasn’t a common name, was it?

He watched the couple slip into their rental car, a scowl marring his face.


At the hotel, they soaked together in the tub; River leaning back against him as he drizzled water over her chest. “Shawn…” She murmured, tilting her head back to kiss his jaw. “That guy, Mark, said something about you two building a feud, what’s that about?” She rarely paid attention to wrestling because she wound up going out of her mind with worry, now however there wasn’t any avoiding it.

He stiffened for a moment. “Don’t worry about it, honey.” He said softly, his head dipping to kiss her shoulder blade. “He won’t be bothering you anymore. Alex will be dealing with him.” He hoped anyway. “I don’t want you around him, River. Do you understand me?”

Even she couldn’t just nod and say alright, usually Shawn gave her a reason. “Okay but why?” She felt him tense again and moved so she was facing him; brushing damp tendrils of hair away from her face. “Besides a bit on the frightening side, he-” She stopped at the unusual dark expression on his face, blue eyes widening and nodded. “Aright, honey.”

“Thank.” Shawn whispered, kissing her tenderly, glad she was so obedient and knew when not to push to his buttons. There would be no more about mark. Shawn wouldn’t have it, ever. Out to distract her, he scooted forward in the tub. When she smiled at him, his heart gave a leap. Returning the smile, he drew her legs around his waist, meeting her lips in a passionate kiss. He was going to make to HIS beautiful wife.


When River woke up the next morning, she found breakfast waiting for her along with a note saying he’d be back after his morning workout. A smile on her face; she reached for her robe and rolled out of bed. “Mmm French toast.” She giggled, wondering how she had gotten lucky enough to land Shawn.


“What the hell are you going to do now?”

“Paul, don’t ask me that now, okay? I don’t know.” Shawn growled, trying to forget and just focus on pumping iron. It wasn’t working too well and Paul just wasn’t helping.

“You do realize-”


Paul decided to shut the hell up.

“I want to know what’s going on with your wife.”

Both men froze, looking up as Stephanie walked towards them.

She had been trying to piece this puzzle together, especially since mark had come to her after they had warned her to keep him away from River. “Mark came to see me last night, Shawn. He wanted to know who she was. What the hell is going on?”

“He did what?”

“Oh shit…”

Shawn’s hazel eyes were on fire as he set the bar down, quickly getting to his feet. “What did you tell him?” He demanded, staring at her angrily. When she answered, he let out a string of curses that made Paul and Stephanie both flinch; flipping over a rack of weights.

“River won’t know what you’re talking about, babe.” Paul sighed heavily, still not believing this was happening. Why did Shawn have to be such a jackass and bring her on the road anyway?

“Look!” Shawn growled, rounding on them. “Mark and I have a history and it’s not friendly. I’m trying to protect my wife, that’s it.”

Paul could only nod mutely.

That was logical, to a certain extent. Though Stephanie was fairly certain Mark wouldn’t drag a woman unknowingly into their little feud. But, she also knew that was the only answer she was likely to get so she let it slide, for now. “Fine.” She said finally. Not even looking at her husband, she turned on heel and stormed off.

“See what the fuck you started, man?” Paul was pissed now, glaring at his best friend who currently had made it onto Paul’s most irritating list. “Why the fuck did you have to bring her back, Shawn?”

“Because she’s my wife and I want her with me!” He snapped defensively. “Don’t turn this around on me!”

“But it IS on you! Because of-”

“Paul…” Shawn’s tone held warning this time. “Just let it go. Steph will forgive you.”

“Yeah, after I’m dead.”


River looked up when Shawn walked in, taking in the stormy expression on his face and flicked off the TV; her cell phone beside her. “Hope called.” She told him softly, their ten year old daughter spending her summer vacation with his parents. “Your mom and dad are taking her out horseback riding this afternoon and she wanted to let us know, in case we tried calling.” Why was he raking his hands through his hair? “Shawn?”

“What?” He shouted, feeling bad when she jumped. Heavily sighing; he sank down onto the bed, gripping his hair in his fists. “River, come here.” He ordered, feeling her hand almost instantly in his own. “You love me right? No matter what?” He looked up, seeing the confusion in her baby blues and slowly stood, pulling her into a crushing embrace. “Tell me,” He whispered gruffly, beginning to kiss her. “Tell me you love me unconditionally.”

Again, her eyes locked with his, the confusion plainly on her face. “Of course I do, Shawn.” She said softly, reaching out to gently push his hair from his face; her lips slightly swollen from his kiss. “I’ll always love you, unconditionally and no matter what, you know that.” River had no idea where this was coming from but knew he needed reassurance. “Honey, what’s wrong?” Her arms wrapped around his neck, hugging him tightly. “Tell me, what’s upset you and maybe I can help.”

“I’m just… I’m sorry.” He whispered, meaning those two words more than he could ever say. He never wanted to lose River, he genuinely loved her -he always had- and would do anything to make sure she remained by him until the day he died. “I’m just… I’m nervous about you being on the road.” He admitted quietly, pulling away to press his forehead to hers. “I don’t want you to find some stud and run off with him.”

At the expression on shock on her face, Shawn chuckled. Reaching out, he cupped her face in both hands, passionately kissing her. A moment later he was removing her shirt. He needed to make sure she still loved him, he needed to know. He had to show her how much he loved her, that she was his one and only.

What on earth was he sorry for? Making her happy? Loving her? River couldn’t fathom it and tried her best to soothe his mind; not understanding where this had come from. All she knew was he needed her and she always needed him. As he guided her down onto the bed, she caressed the side of his face, whispering: “I love you.” She raised her hips when he tugged down her skirt, blue eyes darkening as she watched him. Sitting up, River pulled his shirt off of him, tossing it to the floor with her own clothes; hooking her fingers into the waist of his workout shorts to remove those as well.

“Mine…” Shawn whispered, hovering over her; his lips grazing hers. “All mine.”


Afterwards, they lay snuggled against each other, River’s face resting against his chest. Whatever had brought that on she was thankful for because it had been intense. “I love you, Shawn.” She whispered, smiling when he practically purred, looking up at him. “You’re so full of yourself sometimes.” She teased, kissing his jaw line.

Chuckling softly, all Shawn could do was shrug. He knew they had a few hours to kill and released her long enough to pull the sheet over them. “Is Hope having fun?” He asked, laying back down beside her, arms automatically opening for her to lay against him, smiling when she nodded. “We should bring her on the road when she gets back.” He suggested, seeing River’s eyes widen. “I want her with us, we’re a family.”

River’s face had lit up with her smile, hugging him tightly. “You mean it?” She asked excitedly, grinning when he nodded. “Oh Shawn, that would be great! But we need to let her finish out her two weeks with mom and dad.” She had taken to his parents like they were her own, especially his mother. Her mind was already racing, pure joy and happiness in her heart.

Throughout their entire marriage which was approaching the eleven year mark, they’d spent as much time as possible together but his job had kept him on the road so much. Now they were truly going to be a family all the time instead of part.

“Anything to keep that beautiful smile on your face. Besides, I think it’s high time I start acting like a real father.” A flash of guilt shot through his hazel eyes. It was moments like these, them laying together, that lit Shawn’s heart on fire. River was his wife, the love of his life, his absolute everything. No force of nature or act of God would ever part them.

Not even realizing something had been briefly wrong, River just smiled; entwining her fingers with his and squeezing gently. They dozed on and off during the next few hours, then she woke him for another round, then back to dozing.

When it was time to get ready to go, they both reluctantly left the bed; showering and dressing. She was all smiles when they finally reached the arena, wearing one of his shirts over a pair of jeans. “Well, you should be limber enough for the night.” She teased, kissing him as they neared her work area, smirking when he growled.

“I’ll never be limber enough when it comes to you.” Shawn muttered, kissing her hungrily. “I love you, Riv.” He whispered against her lips.

River stared dreamily at his as he walked away before getting to work, waving when Alex called to her.

“I’m sending some of the guys to you, and the girls. They’re all asking for massages.” He winked at her. “Apparently they feel more comfortable with a lady.”

“Oh, okay.” She blinked, shaking her head when he chuckled. “Okay, out.”

“Breaking my heart.” He snorted, laughing as River actually pushed him into the hallway. “Alright, I’m going, I’m going.”


“Not now, Paul.”

“I’m telling Stephanie.”

“No!” Shawn whipped round angrily. “Do you realize what’ll happen if you do that?”

“I’m not losing my marriage over this, Shawn!” Paul growled, beginning to walk away only for Shawn to stop him.

“Just… tell her something, anything. Just anything but that.” Shawn was begging, he couldn’t lose his wife. “Tell her River feels uncomfortable around him… it’s somewhat the truth.”

“You’re going to burn in hell for this, you know that right?”

“If it means I don’t lose her, then I’ll burn gladly.”


River spent the better part of an hour and a half with Melina, who was surprisingly nice. Afterwards, she waved the other woman out, arching a brow as Alex approached. “I didn’t do it?” She said, sounding confused as he held out a large manila envelope.

“Look, review the x-rays in here and tell me what you think.” He said, not telling who’s x-rays they were, not wanting his ass handed to him but he needed a second opinion to give the operating doctor. “You can go take a break in the caf, sit at a table; eat something or what while you look. Okay?”

“Um, okay.” River was now curious, slipping out the door.


Mark watched as she walked into the cafeteria, instantly taking in the man’s shirt she wore. It was white and clung to her gently, the overly long sleeves rolled up over her wrists. No doubt her dear husband’s. Her eyes were familiar, he knew it was her. It had to be. There couldn’t be that many women out there named River who also had startling blue eyes and that hair.

Where the hell had she been all this time? Why had she left without letting anyone know? He hadn’t even known she had started dating Shawn… that wasn’t a line of thought he wanted to continue, it made him angry. Very, very angry.

River settled down at a table with a bottle of water and an apple, munching on it as she pulled out the x-rays. Frowning, she held it up into the light, blue eyes narrowing. Sly, Alex, very sly. A note that had apparently fallen from the envelope caught her attention. “What’s your opinion on treatment until surgery?” She murmured, rolling her eyes.

She automatically knew who this x-ray belonged too, this had to be Mark’s knee. The amount of scar tissue was rather scary. She knew that deep tissue massage could probably lessen the tissue along with the pain but it would still be a temporary fix.

“Hey River.”

She looked up to find Stephanie standing over her, slowly stuffing the x-ray back into the envelope. “Hi.”

Stephanie sat down across from her. “Everything okay?” She seen the nervousness in the other woman’s eyes and reached across the table to grab her hand. “If this is about Shawn’s overreaction, don’t worry about it, alright? You can treat Mark if you want. He’s not a bad guy, he’s actually really nice, once you get past his overbearing attitude.” She seen River’s eyes widen. “I know Shawn warned you away from him, so I’m going to ask you. Do you have any idea who Mark is?”

Slowly, River shook her head no. “I’ve never met him until last night.” She said quietly, sipping her water, blue eyes puzzled. “Shawn asked me to stay away form him and I’ll respect his wishes, he’s my husband.” The only way she’d go against him was if she had no choice. “I gather he and Mark don’t see eye to eye?”

“Oh honey, that’s an understatement. Some drama from before my time officially joining the company.” Stephanie shook her head, remembering some old stories. “There has to be some reason though. You’re absolutely sure you’ve never met Mark before?”

“Now Princess, I’d think she’d remember knowing me.” Mark said from behind, smirking when both women gasped. He slowly pulled away him sunglasses, locking eyes with River and extended a hand to her. “We were never properly introduced. Mark Callaway.” He watched her intently, seeing no signs of recognition in those orbs and inwardly sighed.

Hesitantly, she took his hand; seeing his practically swallowed hers. No, she’d definitely remember is she had met him before.

“Alex told me you had my x-rays. So what’s the verdict, doc?”

“Um, I’m not a doctor.” She corrected softly, glancing back down at the envelope before her. “Alex needs to start you on intense deep tissue massage. It’ll lessen the scar tissue in your knee as well the pain, plus it’ll help with that inflammation.”

A genuine smile crossed his face. “Thank you, River.”

“What does Shawn have against you?” Stephanie asked, stopping him from walking away.

“Nothing, so far as I know, why?’

Stephanie knew she was probably crossing a line but she couldn’t keep quiet. “Shawn has asked me to keep you away form his wife for some reason. I just wanted to know if you knew something. I can’t have everyone going just to Alex or his team, River is here to help lessen the load.”

“Hmm…” Mark stroked his goatee, glancing at the now red faced River. “Darlin’, do you have a problem with me? Cause if you do, I’m sure we can come to some sort of understanding.”

River could only stare at the table, shaking her head nervously. “No, I don’t- I don’t have a problem with you.” She whispered, not having any idea what the hell was going on. She was aware Shawn wanted her to stay away from Mark, but why?

“If Mark comes to you, River, you treat him.” Stephanie said after a long pause. She walked away, knowing she would have to deal with Shawn’s temper but she’d handle that when the time came.

Shawn was going to flip. River mentally groaned, standing up. “My break is over, I need to go.”

“Darlin’, I know it’s a lot to ask but it sounds like you know a lot about that massage.” Mark began, rubbing the back of his neck. “Would you mind doing it? I’d go to Alex but that’s not really his thing and the rest of the staff isn’t trained in any type of physical therapy.”

Her reluctance was obvious. Why the hell didn’t she recognize him? It was River, he knew who she was, but she was staring at him like she didn’t have a clue. What was going on?”

“Sure, I can, no problem.” She said, trying to sound casual, knowing this wasn’t going to wind up good. Inhaling, River managed a smile, hoping it didn’t look too forced. “Just… come to me when you’re ready, okay?” She quickly high tailed it out of the caf. Why the hell was everyone out to confuse her?


“Hey Michaels!”

“Not now, Dead Man, I’m busy.”

Growling, Mark clamped a hand on Shawn’s shoulder, whipping the smaller man around. “What’s the big deal, trying to make me out to be a bad guy with your wife?” He demanded.

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t give me that shit. Stephanie told us both you ordered her to keep me away from your woman. I want to know why.”

Paul’s jaw dropped.

Shawn had gone deathly pale under his tan. “I don’t want her around you because of the feud.”

Even Paul felt that one was lame.

Apparently Mark did too because his eyes were on fire. “Man, I’ve been here damn near twenty years! I can separate real life from script, jackass!”

Paul watched Mark shove past Shawn, shaking his head. This wasn’t going to end well. “You just fucking had to-”

“Shut the fuck up. I‘m going to kill your wife by the way. Painfully.”


“Stephanie told me you’re to work on Mark if he needs it.” Alex said the minute River was back, having just spoken to the GM. “And… I’m going to refer him to you simply because you have more experience in massage then I do. How many timers a week does he need?”

“A minimum of three, but Alex, I-”

“Good. Have fun with that honey, I know you’ll do a great job.”



Stephanie calmly sipped her coffee, sitting on her couch and studied Shawn intently. “Lower your voice and I’ll tell you.” Her tone was grave.

Shawn was fuming, hands on his hips. “I asked ONE simply thing-”

“You didn’t ASK anything, Shawn. You DEMANDED.” Stephanie interrupted. “You demanded I keep Mark away from your wife. Guess what? They were just fine together in the cafeteria and the only reason River is scared of him is because of you. Now get out of my office before I suspend you and find him a replacement for Mania.”

Deflating, Shawn stormed out.


Somehow, River wasn’t surprised when Mark showed up, wondering where Shawn was. She smiled awkwardly, patting the table. “You’re going to need to lie down for this, it’s going to hurt.” She said, studying his tights. “And your pant leg up.” Clearing her throat, she pulled her hair back.

Nodding, Mark simply sat down on the edge of the table, kicking off his unlaced boots before rolling up the leg of his tights. “Do your worst, darlin’, I can handle it.” He half joked, laying down. He still couldn’t believe she was acting like she didn’t even know him.


“What happened?” Paul sighed, watching as Shawn appeared around the corner. He blinked, a fist coming his way and then groaned when it connected with his mouth. “WHAT THE HELL?”

“Since I don’t hit women, I had to resort to you.” Shawn was livid, face red with fury.

“Try using WORDS next time, asshole!” Paul growled, a hand over her mouth. “What the hell happened?”

“She’s ALLOWING my WIFE to work on Mark!”

“She’s not changing her mind, is she?”

Shawn punched him again.


Standing on a wooden stool, River examined Mark’s knee, frowning. She prodded it gently, knowing he thought he could handle it but by the time she was done; it was going to feel like someone had set fire to his leg. She began; using steady, hard pressure to work at the tissue, sighing after twenty minutes. “I’m going to straddle your calves, alright?” When he just nodded, she awkwardly climbed onto the table and over his legs; working again. A quick glance up showed that he had split his lower lip and lowered her head.

He could handle it alright.

Mark was in a LOT of pain. Was this woman a professional torturer? Occasionally, a grunt escaped him, for the most part managing to remain silent. When she had sat on him, he found he could distract himself by studying her face. Those familiar blue eyes haunting him even now. “You don’t remember me?” He asked, suddenly sitting up. He took her hand, pressing it to his face and still didn’t see any familiarity in those eyes. “River, it’s me.” He groaned in both frustration and pain, pulling his leg away.

River was instantly up and backing away.

Standing up, Mark had to clutch the table, his knee suddenly going limp. “Why don’t you remember me?” He demanded, shaking the feeling back into his leg before slowly advancing on her, frowning when she continued backing away until the wall met her. “River… I won’t hurt you, darlin’. I could never hurt you.”

River was TERRIFIED. What the hell was he talking about? She had never seen him before in her life until last night! And he was talking to her and touching her like he knew her! “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said, trying to keep her tone even and calm. “I don’t know you and you certainly don’t know me!” She held out her hands to stop him, sighing in relief when he froze. “You must be mistaking me for someone else.” She slid towards the door.

Mark caught her, a hand splayed on her stomach. “Darlin’, we’ve known each other for-”


“Shawn, we’re just talking…” Mark gently pushed River behind him, out of harm’s way. Shawn hadn’t really lost him temper in years, when he had- Mark’s green eyes narrowed, feeling like this was just a repeat of history. A history River didn’t seem to recall.

“That’s not what it looked like to me. Get out!”

“She’s not done yet, so no.” Mark folded his arms over his chest. “I’m not hurting her and I damn sure don’t appreciate you making me out to be a monster when it’s obvious I’m NOT.”

Shawn frowned at the insinuation. He had known better then to bring her on the road, damn it, but what was he supposed to do? He wanted her with him all of the time, not just once a month. “Fine, keep your hands off her.” He snapped, glancing at his wife before disappearing.

She wanted to follow Shawn, knowing damn well she couldn’t though and swallowed hard. Moving away from Mark, River began cracking her knuckles nervously. “I’ll finish your knee but do not talk to me or touch me again.” She said firmly. If he did, she’d make sure every time he bent his knee it’d be nothing but agony. “I have no idea who you are and trying to convince me otherwise is pretty pointless.”

“I’m sorry, darlin’.” Mark’s voice was low and sad. “You just remind me a lot of this woman I used to know, that’s all. Her name was River too.” He smiled sadly, getting back onto the table, knowing he had probably just scared the hell out of her. “I promise, I won’t touch you again. I was out of line, darlin’, I’m sorry.”

River finished his massage, finally moving away, eyes fastening on the clock. “You’ll need at least two more this week, a minimum of three a week until surgery. And it’s going to hurt.” She added as an afterthought, shaking her hair free and inwardly groaned; feeling a headache coming on. “I’d switch between ice packs and heat packs tonight to ease the pain a little.”

“Got it, thank you River.” He watched her back for a moment, finally vacating. He knew her, this was HIS River. And she was with Shawn fucking Michaels of all people, married to him nonetheless! Mark was about to do some investigating.

At the end of the night, River was not surprised in the lest when Shawn came for her. She just rushed into his arms and buried her face in his chest. “He kept saying he knew me and asking why I didn’t remember him.” She whispered against him, glad he was here; pressing against him snugly. “He scared the hell out of me, Shawn.”

Shawn slowly pulled away, staring down into her scared blue eyes. He could feel his heart breaking when a few tears slid down her cheeks, brushing them away with the pads of his thumbs. “Sweetheart, come walk with me, let me explain to you why I want you keeping away from Mark.” Lacing their fingers together, Shawn guided her outside. “Some odd years ago, there was a woman who worked here. She was in the wardrobe department, they dated a little I guess. Anyways, she took off one night and nobody heard from her again. Mark never got over it. Every time Stephanie hires a woman who doesn’t work the show, but backstage, Mark pulls the same shit over. He always claims they know him, that they‘re this woman. Understand what I’m saying?”

If possible, River’s eyes widened even more. “So he thinks… oh god, Shawn. Why don’t they make him see a shrink or something?” She shook her head, knowing she wasn’t going to be able to work with someone who was out of their mind. “He’s never hurt any of these women, has he?” She asked suddenly, remembering him pulling her hand to his face and shivered.

“No, no of course not. Believe me, he would’ve been long gone if that ever happened.” Shawn assured her, seeing her physically relax. “If he really bothers you that badly, got to Stephanie and tell her. She won’t listen to me but maybe you can convince her, Riv.” He kissed her trembling lips gently. “I’ll go with you if you want me too.”

“She told me I had to work on him.” She said hesitantly, wondering if Stephanie would change her mind. “Why the hell would she put him with me if she knows he thinks new women are that missing girl?” She demanded angrily, brushing a strand of hair from her face. “That’s just stupid! In the cafeteria she said you had something against him, no kidding! He’s insane.” She groaned but smiled when he kissed her again. “Do you think she’ll listen to me?”

“How bout we just forget it for now and if he starts in again, then we’ll do something?” Shawn suggested. “We could go back to the hotel…” His voice dropped to a husky drawl. “Hop into the tub… rub each other down…” His lips were now traveling down her throat. “And make love until the sun comes up.”

She shivered, this time for an entirely new reason. “Mmm sounds good.” River purred, groaning when he lavished attention on one of her hot spots. “But if you keep that up, Mr. Michaels, we’ll never get there because I’ll jump you here.” She teased, briefly contemplating it then stepped back. “Come on, you have a wife to make love too, all night.” River stared at him; one hand on her hip, trying not to smile at the look on his face.

“How could I deny that?” Shawn lifted her over his shoulder, grinning when she laughed and hauled her towards the parking lot. Mentally, he was wiping a brow, knowing that had been a close one.


“Shawn… I think…” River groaned, pulling the remote control from under her back, not even wanting to know how that had gotten there and looked up to find him grinning at her. “The sun is up and we haven’t been to bed.” She had to giggle, even though certain parts of her were currently protesting the all night marathon they’d just had. Looking around the room, she arched an eyebrow. “This room is trashed.” She whistled, shaking her head as she looked around for her pillow, spying it against the wall.

Smirking, Shawn watched his wife retrieve her pillow and scooted over on the bed to make room for her. Once she was settled back down, he draped an arm over her. “We can sleep for an hour or two now then a bit more on the plane.” He whispered in her ear, a hand splayed against her stomach. “Have you called Hope to let her know?”

“Not yet.” River yawned, snuggling into him.

“We’ll do that tonight then.”


River was exhausted when they got to the arena. They had called Hope to let her know she’d be joining them on the road in two week’s time; which had gone over well, the thought making her smile wanly. Though sleeping on a plane wasn’t comfortable. She felt like a sleep walker at the moment and it showed. In place of her customary jeans and a tee shirt, River had opted for comfort clothing: track pants and a hood sweatshirt. Her body was still telling her off with achy parts and a few interesting marks. “I think I’m the one in need of a massage.”

“I’ll give you one later, I promise.” Shawn chuckled, glancing down at her. She looked tired. Good, he’d done his job then. “It shouldn’t be too bad tonight, honey, it’s just a house show.”

River nodded, coming to a halt outside her door and turned her head up.

“I love you.” He whispered, bending down to kiss her. “Mmm… coffee.”

Smirking, she took another sip from her mug.

“Cena’s waiting for you in there,” Alex said by way of greeting, trying to ignore the singing from a room to his left, watching as Shawn walked away. “Apparently you made an impression. I also feel I should warn you, he’s in one of his hyper moods.”

How come that sounded ominous?

Hesitantly, River walked into her work room, arching an eyebrow at the sight of John Cena sitting on the table singing at the top of his lungs.

“Ice ice, baby. Johnny ice ice, baby.”

He was singing Vanilla Ice, with his name. It was kind of cute, in a weird sort of way. “Um, John?”

“Hey homie! Erm, girl!” John grinned. “I need my arm looked at again, make sure I didn’t pull anything. You know, my pec, yeah that. You look nice, have you ate? God, I’m so hungry I could probably eat a horse! Anyway, shall we get started?”

Dear Lord, did he ever stop to breathe? River could only nod, washing her hands before walking over to stand in front of him. “John, start singing again and this might hurt.” She threatened sweetly when he started humming, her blue eyes sparkling with good natured humor.

John smiled sweetly, flexing his muscles at her.

Shirtless seemed to be a fashion statement around here, she idly thought. After a moment, River paused, looking into his grinning face. “There is nothing wrong with you, Cena.”

“Thanks for checking me out, homie girl!” He winked, hopping down; laughing at the look on her face. “Oh come on, it was funny!”

A throat cleared behind them.

“Time to jet.” John said in a loud; overly dramatic whisper. He tried side stepping Mark only to hear the giant chuckling.

“Where’s the fire, boy?”

“Up your ass!”

John was going to have to die.

River had to clamp both hands over her mouth to keep from laughing, wondering if John was out of his mind. Which she then answered herself with a firm YES. When the moment had passed, she stared at Mark warily. “Can I help you?” She asked politely, keeping her tone professional; not wanting to encourage him into thinking he could pull the same stunt twice.

“Actually yes, I’m here for my knee. I’m leaving for a few days after tonight.” He explained, knowing he was going to have to play this cool, the expression on her face was overly cautious. Great, he had made her think he was a psychotic. He couldn’t touch her and he couldn’t kill her husband. Not yet anyway.

River frowned, though inside a little person was dancing all over, he’s leaving! “Okay. But if you’re going, you need to find someone who can continue this or else we’re just wasting our time.” Not to mention killing off precious nerve endings in her fingertips. “Aggressive therapy is the only thing that’s going to keep that knee going until you get surgery.”

Why the hell did she even care? Because she was a good Christian, she had to remind herself, repeatedly.

“I’ll be back in a few days, you said three times a week.” Mark reminded, bursting her bubble. He dropped down on the table, his pant leg already up. “You look nice tonight.” He commented, studying the track pants and heavy top, wondering if she was out of her mind. It was hotter then hell.

“I said a minimum!” She corrected with a slight scowl. “You actually need more than three sessions a week but…” Trailing off, River began the massage, wondering if he was going to split his lip again; trying not to smile. She was going to go to hell if she didn’t stop thinking vindictive thoughts and then looked up. “Thank you by the way, for saying I look nice.”

Mark chuckled, the sound a low rumble from his chest and nodded. “You’re welcome, darlin’.”

There were no two ways around it. She was going to wind up sitting on him. One, her knees were killing her. Two, she needed more pressure and this position wasn’t cutting it. “Mark, I’m fixing to straddle you again.” She sighed exasperatedly, getting to her feet. “Why is everyone grinning at me tonight?” RIver demanded, not amused by the look on his face. “Do I look funny?”

He couldn’t stop himself from laughing at the perturbed look on her face. “Anyone ever tell you you’re cute as hell when you’re a bit upset?” He asked, snorting and laid back. “Go on darlin, you won’t hurt nothing.” Though he did grip the sides of the table, knowing he had just lied through his teeth. “DAMN!” He all but shouted after five minutes.

“Sorry.” River murmured, trying not to grin. Served him right. She didn’t dare look up at him, having considered sitting with her back to him but that would have meant straddling his- and now she was blushing. When Mark cursed again, she groaned, looking down at his legs and frowned. “Don’t jerk your legs, I might not be a guy but it still hurts!”

“Sorry darlin’… fuck that hurts.” Mark grunted, deciding he’d take a chair shot any day of the week, full force. A second later he was taking that back, watching her pink tongue wetting her lips.

That was torture.

“Language.” She corrected absentmindedly, though she was fairly used to her victims AKA patients cursing, came with the territory. “Have you been applying compresses, Mark? Hmmm…” River paused, contemplating. “Maybe if we tried acupuncture.” She let out a shriek when he bolted up right, beginning to topple before grabbing the front of his shirt. “Are you out of your mind?”

“Sorry.” He grunted, catching her by the arms instinctively. Once River was back in place, he reluctantly laid back down. “How much longer?”

“I’m moving my position.” She informed him, deciding she wasn’t going to be flying off the table because he wanted to either knee her in the crotch or buck her off. “And another fifteen minutes or so, then you’re free to go.” Without another word, River moved so her back was too him, straddling his thighs. I’d advise taking some Tylenol when we’re finished.”

“Got it.” Mark felt like she was torturing him both physically and sexually, was her pert ass as she leaned forward. Dear God, he was sick in the head. This was killing him. He knew her! He knew her very damn well! And she acted like he was some regular joe off the street. Right then and there he made a decision. He knew a certain person who would know for sure if this was River.

He was a twitcher and it was funny because he was trying not too. Deciding to distract Mark from the pain in his knee, River went with trigger point massage; giggling when he complained about a pain springing up elsewhere. “Deep breathing, Mark.” She said, pressing for ten seconds then stopped; doing it again. “How’s the knee?”

“I forgot about it.” He admitted.

“That’s the point.”

“Where did you learn this?” He asked, inhaling deeply as she went back to his knee. When she said some college in San Antonio, he nodded. “Talking distracts me.” He explained when she fell quiet again. “So what made you come to this crazy world?”

“Shawn.” River said simply, her tone changing from casual to warm with that one word. “It was hard for us not being able to be together like we wanted. Me and our daughter at home while he’s on the road most of the year; so he approached Stephanie about me joining the physical therapy crew.” She inhaled, finally moving to get off of him; groaning as her feet touched the floor. The next time Shawn wanted an all night love making session, she might have to just say no.

Mark smiled, trying to put some warmth into it. That was damn near impossible though. “How’d you two meet?”

“He was there for me through a difficult time in my life and nature took it’s course.” She said quietly, smiling as she remembered it. “We got married almost straightaway.” She lost herself in memories for a moment; shook her head and cleared her throat. “Well, ice and heat; alternate them.” It was straight back to business.

That wasn’t exactly a clear answer but Mark knew it was the best one he was getting. After thanking her, he walked out of the room, whipping out his cell phone. “Hey man, you ready for me to come see your ass?”

“I suppose. When you gonna be here?”

“Tonight. I’m leaving after the show.”

“See ya then.”


Mark didn't seem out of his mind, mostly. River mused as she joined Alex outside for a break, leaving one of his assistants in charge. She frowned when he offered her a cigarette; a habit she had kicked a few years ago and shrugged, taking it.

Alex chuckled when she coughed, watching as River took a minute then tried again. “Don't smoke?”

“Not in some years.”

“Then why are you starting now?”

“Because for some reason, nicotine sounds good right about now.” She was having conflicted opinions on Mark's questionable sanity.




“You don't even know what I was going to ask!”


“Come on Stephie-”

“I said no, beat it Shawn. I'm busy.”

Grumbling, he trudged out, seeing Mark was down the hall; busy talking on the phone with someone and raised an eyebrow before going to find his wife.


“So what the hell brings you to my house on your time off?” Steve demanded jokingly when Mark had arrived, automatically handing him a beer as he led the way into his house. “They foreclose on that shithole you call a ranch?” He noticed Mark was walking with a slight limp, arching an eyebrow. “When'd you become a gimp?”

“Long story. Knee is shot. Need surgery after Mania.” Mark grunted, taking the beer, and downed it before crushing the can in his fist. “I came here to talk to you about River.” He said once they were inside and sitting down, seeing Steve's blue eyes narrowed; clearing his throat awkwardly. “I think...I think she might be back, man…”

This was a touchy subject for Steve and Mark knew it. “Don't fuck with me, Mark.” He growled, shaking his head. “She disappeared how long ago? No calls, no letters, River is probably dead.” God he hated saying those words but he wasn't about to let his friend fill him with a false sense of hope either.

“I'm dead serious, man.” Mark stated, the amount of seriousness in his eyes causing Steve to actually lose his breath. “She came back married to Shawn.”

When Steve's blue eyes narrowed, Mark nodded; burying his head in his hands. “You know how hard it is for me to talk about her. I loved her, Steve. Truly loved her, even though ya couldn't stand me near her. I'm tellin' you. She's got strawberry blonde hair and those eyes... “ He had to trail off, squeezing his eyes shut for a brief moment “It's her, I'm almost positive.”

Steve looked over his shoulder at a picture on the wall, staring into those sky blue eyes and groaned, shaking his head. “You sure, Mark? You had best be DAMNED sure it's her. Cause if it's not, I'm gonna kill you for breakin' my heart all over again.” He scowled, draining his beer and walked into the kitchen to throw away the can and get a new one, Mark trailing behind. “Why the hell would she be married to Michaels? Riv loved yer dumb ass. Don't make no sense. Maybe you got the wrong woman.”

“That's what I'm tryin' to figure out.” Mark said, dropping down at the kitchen table. “It even SOUNDS like her. She had a voice like no other, that soft roll…”

They hadn't mentioned River in nearly five years, the last time being when Steve thought he found her, only to mistake her for someone else

“Did she... say anythin' to you before she left that night? Anythin' at all?”

Steve could remember that night all too well, it was forever etched in his memory. “Not a thing, just said she was leavin' for the night. Gave me a kiss and left. I didn't think nothin' of it, she was perfectly fine and actin' normal. Rivvie didn't like Michaels, don't make sense, Mark. She thought he was one cocky sonbitch and barely tolerated him.” That was the part he was having trouble with.

“That's why I think it's her.” When Steve stared at him with fire ridden blue eyes, Mark actually became nervous. “Look, yer comin' on the road for Mania, right?” There was no question since his best friend was being inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame. “Why don't ya talk to Steph, see if ya can't get on the roster for a few appearances. That’ll give us a chance to get a look at her and maybe even talk to her?”

“Yeah, I can do that. I'm sure Steph will be thrilled, more ratin's and all that.” He said absentmindedly, unable to keep the spark of hope down, feeling it flaring within him. What if this really was River? He had so many questions. Where had she been all this time? Why hadn't she at least mailed him a letter telling him she was okay? A phone call, something! And WHY was she married to the man she intensely disliked?

Mark seen all the questions in Steve's eyes flare and nodded, knowing he was thinking the same ones Mark had been for the past few days, ever since he saw River again. Why had she left him high and dry? Did he do something to piss her off? Why would she leave and break her brother's heart the way she had? Steve loved River and was the most loving big brother he'd ever come across. Just seeing the hope in Steve's eyes sparked his own. His eyes were identical to River's and that wasn't an easy shade to double.

Now something else was nagging at Steve as he sat down at his kitchen table, memories of his sister flowing through his mind. “Mark, if it's River, wouldn't she have recognized you? Did you talk to her? She say anythin' bout where she's been or... ask about me at all?” He asked, trying to sound casual but this was his baby sister after all.

“That's the weirdest thing of all. She doesn't recognize me. Nothing. Not even a glimmer of recognition.” Mark said quietly, hearing Steve curse, and sighed heavily. “Somethin' happened Steve, I can feel it. It's her! It has to be her! Do you know of any other strawberry blonde, blue eyed angels named River who had YOUR eye color? It's HER! It has to be!”

“You ain't someone to forget, Mark.” Steve said flatly, debating on killing the man for getting his hopes up only to squash them. “Considerin' how much in love you two appeared to be, I don't see Riv forgettin' yer dumb ass.” He sighed, looking down at his still untouched beer, cracking it then stared some more. “There ain't no way in hell she'd forget me. I'm her brother, we grew up together. You don't forget your siblings.”

“Would it hurt to just... look at her? Talk to her?” Mark knew it was a long shot, but something in her eyes sparked familiarity and he couldn't forget about it. He had tried, but something inside him told him to pursue this. “She said she went to massage therapy school, know anythin' about that?”

“Yeah, Riv had been checkin' into a school in Victoria for that shit.” Steve said with a frown, now becoming drawn into this even more against his will. It was just too many coincidences. A woman named River, who looked and spoke like River had shown up, doing a profession that his River had expressed interest in. “I want to talk to Michaels.” He said finally.

“No.” Mark shook his head, holding his hand up before Steve could yell. “If he suspects anythin', he'll take her away. Steph told me he's been actin' weird and told me to watch what I say around him. We're gonna have to be sneaky about this man. Very sneaky and quiet.”

“You think he's not goin' to notice if I suddenly come back on the road? Even with the hall of fame bit as an excuse?” Steve snorted. “Last I knew Shawn was a mite quicker than that, Mark. You and I both know he's one slick son of a bitch.” He still could not wrap his mind around River and Shawn being MARRIED, oh dear god that was an appalling thought. “How long they been married?”

“Ten years.” Mark said quietly. “I know this is hard, man, but there are too many coincidences for us not to investigate this. What if it is her? What if... what if somethin' happened…”

Steve let silence engulf them for maybe ten minutes before clearing his throat. “Mark... is she happy?” He asked quietly, seeing the look on Mark's face and knew his friend hadn't considered that. “If she's happy with him, then maybe interferin' ain't the best.” Well... on Mark's part anyway. He was the brother, he was going to interfere so much she'd wished she'd moved across the world.

He clenched his fists in his hands, not wanting to answer that question, deciding it wouldn't hurt to lie a little. “She's not River. She's not the same.” He answered, taking a few deep breaths to calm down, and closed his eyes painfully shut as the memories of how happy him and River were crashed over him. “I love her, Steve. I always will. I will NEVER stop loving her and if this is her, then I'm goin' to find out why the fuck she left me high and dry? I have just as MUCH to gain by this, if not more, than you!”

Steve was on his feet in an instant. “She is MY sister, Mark, don't be givin' me that shit! Maybe you two weren't supposed to work out, deal with it. But blood is blood damn it!” He ducked when a fist came flying, knowing he'd just provoked Mark a little too much.

“You don't KNOW what I've gone through these past ten years without her!” Mark growled, seeing Steve slowly backing up, his green eyes on fire. “If it's River, I have a right to know why she broke my fuckin' heart, you prick!” He lunged again, only for Steve to stop him, shaking with complete and utter rage. “I deserve an explanation as much as you do, Austin. And I'm gonna get it with or without yer help.”

“I'm going with you because I want to know just as much as you do.” Steve said with a heavy sigh, rubbing his bald head. “If this is River, I'll know. And then we're going to get some damn answers, one way or the other.” He was still tempted to go knock Shawn Michael's teeth down his throat but would refrain, for now.

“Fine, but remember we can't let Michaels know that we know it's her.” Mark wasn't even going to question it anymore unless it turned out it wasn't River. He would deal with the consequences then, having a sinking feeling this was a risk they both had to take. “When are ya gonna call Steph and ask her bout the angle?”

“Making the call right now.” Steve murmured, walking out of the room. Getting punched, not on his list of things to do today. The call didn't take that long and when he hung up, he was smirking. He walked back out into the kitchen, somehow not surprised to see Mark still raiding his beer. “You're going to have to buy me a new case, son.” He said, glancing in his fridge and shook his head. “Stephanie told me to come back as soon as possible, I could literally hear the cash registers going off.”

Mark chuckled, not surprised in the slightest as he cracked open another beer. It took ALOT to get the man buzzed and shut the refrigerator door. “I'll buy ya a year's worth if it'll shut ya up, boy.” He replied with a smirk, sitting down at the table, and took a long swig. “So how're we gonna get River alone and talk to her?”

“You said she was a massage therapist?” At Mark's nod Steve smirked. “Then she works under Alex. He can send her on house calls.” At Mark's blank look he rolled his eyes and sighed exasperatedly. “She's part of the physical therapy crew, if someone needs her brand of therapy, Alex can send her to their hotel for sessions if they can't make it to the arena. You are really thick in the skull today.”

“Oh shut the fuck up!” Mark growled angrily. “I've had a lot on my mind lately.” That was the truth as he downed another beer, crushing the can and tossed it in the trash behind Steve. “Shawn isn't gonna let her come to my hotel room and, if this does turn out to be River, don't you think it'll be a little weird having her do a room call or whatever if Shawn knows it's really her?” He seen Steve's eyes narrow and stroked his goatee in thought.

“So we'll kidnap her, you've got experience in that.”Steve smirked, chuckling at the raised eyebrow his friend shot him. “Face it Mark, if Shawn is tryin' to keep you away, that'll be the only thing we can do. Question is, when and where. Of course, not until AFTER I get a peek at her.” He wasn't about to go to prison for kidnapping the wrong woman.

“You want me to kidnap River if it is her?” Mark sounded incredulous, though Steve had a point. If Shawn suspected anything with both of these men when it came to his... wife, then there would be problems. River would probably disappear again and this could be their only chance to have her back in their lives, or to at least get some answers. “Fine, but if she's traumatized, yer payin' for her therapy bills.” He grunted, remembering how he had to pay four years of therapy for Stephanie during the Ministry days, shaking his head.

“I'm probably going to be paying for something anyways, might as well be her therapy. Though if it ain't River, yer paying your own goddamn hospital bills after I break every bone in your body.” Steve said, his blue eyes ice though his smile was friendly.

“You got it, man. If it's not River, you can kill me. Hell, I'll probably kill myself.


Stephanie watched as Shawn and River window shopped; not entirely sure why she and Paul were with them. Oh yes, because she had had the brilliant idea of a lunch date with the couple since they had all arrived a day early.

She had wanted to see if she couldn’t find out a bit more about River and whatever it was Paul and Shawn were hiding. So far, nothing other then the two were disgustingly happy together. “Is that normal?” She asked suddenly, glancing at Paul only to find his nose buried in a magazine. “Paul!”

“What?” Paul jumped, lowering the magazine and followed her pointing finger. He took in the couple, their linked hands and smiles as they spoke quietly with each other. He flashed his wife a smile he knew she would see right through. “They’re happy, leave them be. Did you see anything you wanted?”

“Yes, a barf bag.” Stephanie said sarcastically, plastering a smile on her face as the couple halted to wait for them. “Riv, how about going into Victoria’s Secret with me?” She asked with a nudge, giggling when Paul perked up.

River rolled her eyes when Shawn whispered something in her ear. “Victoria’s Secret doesn’t sell those, sorry honey.” She drawled, shaking her head.

“River don’t care much for that store, we’re Christians, remember?” Shawn reminded Stephanie, growling when River murmured something. “You wicked woman.”

Paul cleared his throat awkwardly, shrugging when his wife looked sick. He had to admit this little love fest was getting to be too much for him and sat down on a bench.

“Keep that up honey, and we’re going straight back to the hotel.” River said quietly, watching through the window as Stephanie disappeared into the store.

“Born again Christians.” Stephanie was mimicking, holding up a black teddy; eyeing it critically. “Because apparently lingerie is a straight shot to hell.” She snorted, folding it over her arm.

“What’s a straight shot?”

“I thought-”

“Shawn was joking with you, Steph.” River said, smiling a little as she joined the other woman in browsing, blue eyes lighting up when she found something she knew her husband would go nuts over. “I have quite the lingerie collection at home.”

“I can’t figure you out.” Stephanie shook her head with a sigh.


Paul was on Shawn’s ass the minute River had joined Stephanie. “I can’ do this.” He said evenly, the agony in his brown eyes.

“Do what?”

“I can’t do this, keep this hidden. I still can’t believe you were dumb enough to bring her on the road!”

“Paul, are you ever going to let me live this down?” Shawn sighed, raking a hand through his hair. “I want her with me and we’re bringing Hope-”

“You’re WHAT? Shawn, have you lost your mind?” Paul couldn’t believe and actually had to sit back down before he clobbered his best friend.

“It makes River happy.”

“I don’t care! This isn’t happening. We agreed you would NEVER bring them on the road, ESPECIALLY that little girl!”

“Lower your tone, Levesque.” Shawn ordered gravely.

“That’s it. I don’t want anymore to do with this, Shawn. I’m done. FINISHED.” Paul stalked inside the store and damn near dragged Stephanie out, shaking his head.

River followed behind the two, nodding when Steph shot her an apologetic look and glanced at her husband. The stern; grim expression on his face made her frown. “What was that all about?” She demanded, arching an eyebrow when he just shrugged. “Don’t give me that, Paul is pissed off. What happened?”

Sometimes it got quite annoying being left out of the loop.

“Don’t worry about it, sugar. Just some business stuff.” Shawn flashed a smile at her, though it also held her a warning to mind her own business. “So, did you find anything you wanted?” He asked, changing the subject.

“No.” River said flatly, refusing to be pacified this time. Stephanie had been too weird around her ever since she joined him on the road. Paul always looked at her like he was waiting for an eruption. The Mark thing. All of it was beginning to drive her nuts. “Shawn-” She sighed when he shook his head. “You are such a pain in the butt, you know that? If I didn’t love you so much, I’d have to hurt you, honey.”

“You could try and I’d probably enjoy every second of it.” He smirked, feeling her leaning into him and kissed the top of her head. “Don’t worry about it, River, it’s nothing for you to be worrying about.” He assured her, knowing she was uncomfortable around all these people and then wondered if she wouldn’t be better staying at home.

“NO, SHE’S MY WIFE AND SHE’S STAYING DAMN IT!” His mind instantly screamed at him, a dark look coming over his face for a fraction of a second.

“Hear from Hope?”

“No, but I talked to your mother. She said Hope’s been busy outside the entire summer.” Wrapping an arm around him, River let him guide her out of the mall. “They were planning on taking her out riding one more time before she joins us.” She was beginning to wonder if bringing Hope on the road was such a good idea with how weird things had been lately. “Shawn… with everything that’s been going on, with Mark and all that; his apparent dementia… I was wondering if it might not be better for her to stay at home?”

Shawn froze mid step, rounding to stare down at her. “Has Mark said or done something to change your mind?” He asked softly, running a finger down her cheek. When she shook her head no; he offered a gentle smile. “Then don’t worry about it. Hope deserves to be with her family instead of my parents all the time. You let me worry about everything, sweetheart. Just ignore people and do what you do best: being my wife and the best massage therapist in the country.”

How could she worry when she had him?


Stephanie patiently waited until they were in the privacy of their hotel room before exploding on her husband. “I want to know what’s going on Paul and I want to know right now!” When he started mumbling something about Shawn, she held up a hand; blue eyes ice. “Don’t lie to me or give me that shit about Shawn anymore. Shawn isn’t here. I am your wife and I want to know!”

Paul opened and closed his mouth several times before finally squaring his shoulders. “I don’t have to tell you shit!” He snapped. “Why don’t you mind your own goddamn business for ONCE in your, Steph? There is NOTHING going on! Shawn and I are just in another one of our spats, which will pass, like ALWAYS.” He stormed into the bathroom, the only other room he could escape too, slamming the door behind him.

Shawn was going to die if his marriage ended over this.

Stephanie squared her shoulders, blinking back tears. Who the hell did he think he was talking too? She was a McMahon damn it! “You and Shawn had been going at it since his wife joined him. You both have been bugging the hell out of me for stupid shit when it comes to her and you’re telling me this is just another spat? When you’re ready to tell me the truth, I’ll CONSIDER taking you back!” She shouted through the door, snatching her purse and walking out of the hotel room.

Groaning, Paul whipped open the door and chased after her, stopping his wife before she could reach the elevator. “Do you really want to know?” He demanded, his eyes pleading with her not to leave. The hurt in her own blue orbs crushed him. “Fine, come with me and I’ll tell you.” He murmured, leading her back into their room. “Mark is feuding with Shawn, which you know, and Shawn is afraid Mark might somehow drag River into this.” He sighed when her eyes narrowed. “I know, it sounds ridiculous but it’s the truth. You see how protective of her he is.”

Stephanie frowned, looking ready to slap him to hell and back. “That is the most retarded thing I’ve ever heard. You two morons have been fighting over Mark trying something with River?” She rolled her eyes. “Men… if it wasn’t for your penis’ we women would have nothing to do with you.”


“Excited about Hope coming?” River asked, brushing her hair while Shawn contemplated shaving, smiling when he reached for the shaving cream only to hesitate. “Honey, you look fine with or without the fuzz.” She teased, setting down the brush and kissed his cheek, walking out of the bedroom. Yawning, she picked up her mug of coffee, taking a bracing sip.

“Is that right?” He teased, deciding to leave it alone and followed her, dropping down on the edge of the bed. “Of course I’m excited! That’s my baby girl, I’ve missed her.” Shawn meant that too, even if… no, he wasn’t going to think about that. He smiled when River bent down to kiss him. “We need to do something special when she gets here.”

“Hmm…” River tapped her chin thoughtfully. She watched as he picked up a local paper from their discarded breakfast tray. Smirking, she took it from him. “I’m sure we’ll think of something. Now she’s going to be going to work with us right? I’m not comfortable with her staying in a hotel by herself. She’s too much like you, thinks she can get away with murder.”

“She’ll be going with us. I don’t want to keep her holed up in these hotel rooms, that’s no way for a child to spend their time.”

“Amen.” She agreed, smiling at him.


“Girl, you look like you’ve won the lottery.” Alex commented when River walked up to him. He took in her blue jeans and tank top; the sparkle in her eyes and the roses in her cheeks. “Or is it something I don’t want to know?”

River just shrugged, pushing a strand of hair that had escaped the bun behind her ear. “Just happy, my daughter is flying in in the morning.”



Shawn was equally happy, that is until he ran into a pissed off Paul. “What-” He froze, watching as a fist came flying at him. “What the fuck Paul?” He groaned, holding his mouth.

“My marriage nearly ended because of you!”


Paul punched him again. “Payback is a bitch.” He stalked away.

Shawn just groaned, holding his busted lower lip.


“If John wants his… pecs, examined tonight, I’m going to hurt him.” River cautioned as she unpacked her lotions and oils.

“It was kind of funny.”

“I wasn’t so amused.” She couldn’t help but grin when Alex just shrugged, waving when he headed off to deal with the rest of the staff. She frowned when she seen Mark coming towards her, knowing what he wanted and inwardly sighed.

“Hey darlin’.” He greeted, having gotten used to these visits over the course of the past two weeks. Each time he found out something else about River and always reported it to Steve. The man was due on the road any day now, then the fun would start. “I really think these treatments are working.”

“I would certainly hope so or else we’re wasting each other’s time.” River said with a smile, having come to an uneasy sort of acceptance when it came to Mark. She patted the table. “You know the drill, on the table; pant leg up and prepare to suffer.” She cracked her knuckles, one at a time.

“Already up, darlin’.” It was cute how focused she was, seeing the look on her face warmed his heart, confirming that this indeed was his River. Though he wouldn’t tell her that, not after the last time. He laid down, watching as she straddled his thighs. “So, your daughter is coming tomorrow eh?” He asked, having had to listen to her prattle about her baby. “Hope, right?”

“Yep, Hope.” River replied happily, glancing over her shoulder at him; blue eyes sparkling. “Shawn and I are picking her up first thing in the morning, providing he ain’t tired then it’ll be just me.” She focused on his knee; feeling the tissue and softly laughed. “You need to feel this Mark, it almost feels like a human limb again.”

Sitting up, he leaned forward and gingerly felt his knee. “You’re a miracle worker.” He rumbled, his chest pressed against her back for the briefest of seconds, inwardly groaning. Reluctantly, he lay back down. “Got any plans with your daughter?”

“Yes.” The answer was short, more absorbed in his knee at the moment. Finally she had to stop, sifting so she was facing him and scooted down; frowning when he groaned. “Sorry, did I hurt you?” She looked up, brows drawing together in concern. “I figured a little trigger point would keep the pressure off your knee for a few more days.”

She was hurting him alright, but not in the way she was thinking. Mark simply nodded, letting her do whatever she needed too. His mind occupied itself by running through every sexual position he knew, putting her in a lot of interesting spots. When he realized what it was he was doing, he began feeding himself mental images of anything he could. Dead cats, Steve, furniture. Beds… no not beds!

River had no idea what she was doing to her client besides fixing his knee, frowning and shifted again when she felt like she was sitting on- “What the hell?” Twisting, she looked down at his tights and bit her lower lip, trying not to smile.

Now that was the first time someone had gotten an erection while she was doing a deep tissue massage.

“I think we can fix that.” She said bluntly, not about to make him feel better by pretending she hadn’t noticed. A second later she had pressed her thumb and middle finger against his hip, an inch apart and watched his face go bright red. “Sorry, I know it hurts.”

“Oh fuck…” Mark moaned, that cured his problem, quickly. Suddenly, worry etched his features as he bolted upright, her legs now wrapped around his waist. “It’ll still work right, darlin’?” He asked in a panic filled voice. When he seen her starting to giggle, he groaned and dropped back down. “That was cruel, River.”

River could only shake her head, trying to breathe. “I’m sorry, I know it’s not really funny but… you are the first person to ask me if it’ll still work!” She doubled over; her face in her hands, shaking as she tried to keep from all out laughing again. “Mark, you’re definitely something else.” She muttered, wiping away tears.

“I’m glad my pain amuses you, darlin’.” Mark grunted, amusement lacing his tone. “Just got to make sure the engine still runs, know what I mean?’

Now she blushed when she looked up from her hands. “I didn’t need to hear anything about your engine, Mark.” She scolded, scooting back down his down and returned to work. “Considering how much damage was here, I’m surprised we reduced as much scar tissue as we did.” She commented, beginning to put him back in pain. “You’ll need to start seeing Alex for physical therapy to keep the tissue from amounting again though. That’s his specialty, not mine.”

“Not a problem.” Sighing heavily, Mark closed his eyes; remembering the first time he had met River. It was at an autograph signing he’d been at with Steve. Steve was just getting hot with the crowds, finally. They’d been lolling around, ignoring Shawn who had been cracking jokes with Paul when he had seen her.

A blue eyed angel with shoulder length strawberry blond hair and the most gorgeous smile he had ever seen.

Then she had flitted right on by him to jump into Steve’s arms, planting kisses all over his face.

Mark remembered hearing Shawn demanding to know who she was, shaking his head at the recollection. The man had become instantly interested. Then again, so had he. He had never felt more relieved when Steve introduced her as his baby sister. It had been love at first sight for Mark and River had admitted she felt the same way shortly after.

He had never forgotten her.

River smirked when Mark’s eyes flew open; now standing at the foot of the table, staring down at him. “You zoned out there pretty good, Mark. I called your name three times.” She said, backing away as he sat up. One glance at the clock told her the time, which she jotted down on a piece of paper next to his name. “Sign here and try not to day dream on me. You’ll still be having sessions with me, just with Alex too.”

“Great. Sorry bout that, Rivvie.” He muttered, frowning when she tensed. “Is there a problem?” He asked, signing the paperwork and held the pen out to her. “River? River?” Waving a hand in her face, the frown deepened when she didn’t even blink. Finally, he took her shoulders in his hands, gently shaking her, watching as she came out of whatever zone she had been in. “Looks like I’m not the only one who daydreams.” He joked. “You alright?”

River nodded, frowning then shrugged, flashing her usual smile. “Yeah, just- Never been called Rivvie before, I don’t think.” She frowned again, her blue eyes thoughtful; sticking the pen behind her ear. “Thank you very much, Mark, now get out of my hair before I decide to hurt you for real.” She joked, shaking off the momentary unease.

Chuckling, he patted her shoulder on his way out the door. The smile dropped from his face the minute he was in the hall, knowing he needed to go call Steve.


“Hey, honey-“ Shawn stopped when he seen the expression on his wife’s face, immediately rushing the last few steps to her. “River? River, what’s wrong sweetheart?”

“Shawn…” She hesitated, staring at him; trying to understand why being called ‘Rivvie’ had bothered her so much. “Have you ever called me Rivvie?” She asked quietly. Maybe he had a long time ago and Mark saying it reminded her or something; frowning when his eyes narrowed. “Mark called me Rivvie during our session and I- I don’t know; felt kind of like deja vous. I figured it must be something you used to call me and I’d forgotten about it.” She laughed, checking her hair playfully for greys. “I must be getting old.”

“Rivvie, eh?” Shawn stroked his chin thoughtfully; finally shaking his head. “Nope, never called you that, honey.” He had to keep calm, cool and collected about this. “If it bothers you that much, I’ll talk to him about it, how’s that?” He could see how bothered she was about this, even with her attempt at a joke.

“No, no point in making a big fuss over something stupid like a nickname.” Though why in the hell Mark would give her a nickname was beyond her; frowning as she recalled Shawn telling her how he assumed new women were the ‘other’ River. “Maybe that’s what he called that woman who disappeared all those years ago.”

Now the creep factor on Mark had gone right back up.

His eyes suddenly narrowed, pulling River against him and kissed the top of her head. “I’ll take care of it.” Shawn promised, deciding to have another chat with the Dead Man. He knew it was pointless but if Mark didn’t stop scaring his wife, he was going to wind up beating the shit out of the man.

River just nodded, arms going around his neck. It was amazing how he could make her feel better and erase any fears she had; smiling and kissed his throat. “You’re amazing.” She whispered, looking up at him; sighing at the anger in his eyes. No doubt, angered with the resident psychotic. “I love you.”

It was astonishing to see how those three words could totally change him into another person in mere seconds.

“I love you too.” He murmured; next kissing her passionately, always acting like it was going to be their last kiss. When she was gasping for air, he pulled away; pressing his forehead to hers. Every time she said those words, his heart skipped a beat and he had to remind himself that she really was his; that they were a family, a happily married couple.

That’s the way it would stay too.

“You had better.” She teased, happy to see his smile; cupping the back of his neck with her hand, leaning forward to kiss him again. “It’d break my heart if you didn’t.” She murmured, feathering kisses along his jaw line.

“Get a room!”

“Don’t you have another show to be on Glenn?”

“This one is more fun, especially with the backstage peep shows.”

“Glenn…” Shawn growled warningly, his eyes flashing a silent threat before turning his attention back to his wife. “Tonight, you’re mine.” He whispered huskily, watching as her pink tongue darted out to wet her lips. With another groan, he kissed her, again. “Okay, I’m really going this time.”

Giggling, River pressed against him.

Slapping his face, Shawn walked away before he did something drastic. Like make love to his wife right there in front of everyone.


“Momma, Daddy!” Hope screamed excitedly when she seen her parents, running towards them. Her green eyes lit up as they both caught her, lifting her between them to smother her in kisses. “I’m ten, put me down!” She impatiently pushed her strawberry-blond hair from her face. “So ya’all missed me, huh?”

“You are cocky. Just like someone else I know.” River shot her husband a look.

Shawn chuckled as he bent down, staring into his daughter’s green eyes before pulling her back into his arms. “Of course we missed you, angel.” He grinned, blowing raspberries on her neck. Hearing his baby girl giggling was music to his ears. “Okay, okay, enough.” Grunting, he set her down and took River’s hand, watching as River took Hope’s. “Ready?”

“Sure.” Hope shrugged, swinging her mom’s hand; trying to mask her excitement. She was ten. She was too cool to get excited over baby things; like going on the road with her superstar father. “I can walk by myself.”

“Big airport, Hope. You’ll hold my hand until we’re in the car.” River said gently, hearing Shawn laugh. “You will too, honey.”

“Dad, you were just owned.”

“Where’d you hear that one?”


Shawn was trying so hard not to laugh, raising his eyebrows as he looked down at their daughter. "What exactly does owned mean?" He asked curiously, ignoring her protests of being 'ten' and lifted her onto his shoulders. "Don't worry angel, I got you." He assured her, feeling Hope clinging to his head, smiling when she relaxed; acting cool. She was just like her father.

"Drop me and I'll let mom hurt you." She joked, not feeling her dad's shoulders tense under her; laughing when she realized how high she was, all fear gone.

Sometimes River had to wonder where Hope got her attitude from, then shrugged it off. Shawn had been cocky when they'd first gotten married: like father like daughter.


"Hope..." Shawn groaned, watching her running down the arena hallway. He could only watch as she went to round the corner only to fall back onto her butt, cringing and knew she must have plowed into one of the guys.

"Whoa there, darlin." Mark smiled, extending his hand to the girl. He cocked an eyebrow when she immediately took it; seeing no fear in those eyes. By the strawberry blond locks, this had to be Hope. "You alright?"

"Get away from my daughter, Callaway." Shawn ordered, already pulling Hope away to stand behind him. "River, take her to your office." He ordered, shooting her a stern look when she began protesting. "River..." His tone held a warning, letting her know this wasn't up for debate.

"Dad! Chill out, it's the Undertaker!" Hope was not like her mother, she didn't obey and had a horrible habit of questioning everything. Especially after spending the summer with her grandparents who spoiled her rotten. "I see yuo all the time on TV, my grandpa watches wrestling." She said proudly.

River seen the vein throbbing in Shawn's forehead and inwardly cringed. "Hope, c'mon baby girl, you're coming with me and I got to get to work." She didn't look at mark as she took her daughter firmly by the hand and pulled her away.


"That's alright little darlin', listen to your momma." Mark said wtih a smile, though it didn't reach his eyes. Once the girls were gone, he rounded on a pissed off Shawn Michaels. "Problem, boy?"

"You better stay away from my family, Callaway. I'm warning you-"

"Warning me?" Mark challenged, begging the man to just slip ONCE. That's all he would need. "Your daughter bumped into me, maybe you should watch your kid a little more closely."

"You mother-"

"Is there a problem here?" Paul demanded, walking up to join Shawn. It didn't take a genius to realize the two were ready to beat the shit out of each other.

"No, not a damn thing." Mark grunted, shoving past the pair.


"Mom, I love you but this is boring." Hope complained halfway through the night. "This building is jampacked full of wrestlers and I only get to see the ones you work on and who wants to see Kelly Kelly's nasty feet anyway?"

"Hope, be nice before I turn you over my knee. You best remember your butt is padded for a reason."

"You wouldn't."

"Want your daddy too?"

"That's not fair!"

"Now what's all this bickering in here?"

Hope spun around, a grin lighting her face.

Mark stepped through the doorway, ducking his head and inwardly sighed at the expression on River's face. It reminded him of a deer stuck in the headlights. "I'm here for my knee, again." He said, dropping down on the table and smiled at Hope; taking in her clear green eyes. He briefly wondered if River had had an affair considering her eyes were ocean blue and Shawn's were hazel.

Hope smiled impishly at him, revealing a toothy grin. "Hi, I'm Hope."

River just prayed Shawn didn't decide to come checking in on them, watching as Mark arranged himself before straddling his calves; keeping an eye on her daughter as she got to work.

"Uh, mom?" Hope said hesitantly. "I thought you only did that on daddy?"

River fell off the table in shock.


"I'm okay." She said weakly, not believing her not so apparently innocent baby just said that.

Mark was laughing so hard his entire face was beet red; not believing what just came out of this kid's mouth. "Darlin', you alright?" He asked in between snots, peering down at River. He cleared his throat when River shot him a dark look, immediately clamping his mouth shut; though he couldn't keep his shoulders from shaking. He was definitely telling Steve about this one, knowing the man would get a kick out of his potential niece.

Hope watched curiously as her mother got to her feet and glared at Mark, arching an eyebrow. Then she seen a thumb move and Mark let out a yelp. "I want to learn how to do that!"

"When you're older." River shakily got back onto the table. "You laugh one more time Mark and I'll have to hurt you, badly."

"I'm sorry darlin, but the look on your face was priceless." Mark groaned when she did it again, growling softly. He wanted to take and bend her over his knee but refrained. He didn't want Hope having nightmares of her mother getting spanked by the Undertaker. Now THERE was a thought. Chuckling, he watched as she resumed her work. "So... have you ever turned that shade before?" He quipped, green eyes glittering wickedly.

"If I had it wouldn't be any of your business."

"Wow mom, you're going red again." Hope leaned against the table, her mouth open as she stared; giggling slightly when Mark snorted.

"Hope, see how I'm working on his knee?" When Hope nodded, River smiled. "This is where the pain is." She pressed her thumb and middle finger against his inner thigh, watching as Mark grabbed his shoulder. "And now it's there."

Deciding it was best to keep quiet and endure the agony before she killed any vital parts, Mark just stifled his groan of pain. When River had finished torturing him, he said goodbye and then patted Hope's head when she demanded he come back to see her. "You can count on it, little darlin'." He rumbled, flashing her a smile before walking out.


"Dad, that was soooo boring!" Hope said at the end of the night, hyper and tired all rolled into one. "Mom did nothing but work! Except when she fell off of Mark's lap, that was pretty funny." She began giggling, waving her arms in the air and mimed falling.

River paled at the look on Shawn's face. "I wasn't on his lap, I was straddling-" She groaned when he arched an eyebrow. "His calves!"

"For what reason?" He was keeping the anger out of his tone, though his eyes were another matter entirely. "River?" Shawn watched as she began turning red, shaking his head and wrapped a possessive arm around her shoulders. "Tomorrow I'm talking to Stephanie." He stated, his tone final as he watched their daughter running ahead of them. "Hope! Stay with us."

A bright side though, Hope would report everything River did.

"Talking to her about what? Me doing my job?" River sighed, knowing there was no changing his mind. "Shawn, I've been -Hope, put that down- working on the guy since I got here and his knee has improved, I don't think she's -HOPE!"

"I was just looking..." Hope trailed off guiltily, closing the door she had been about to peek through.

"That's the BOYS locker room."


"You let me worry about it." He said flatly, watching Hope backing away from the door. Next he was sighing, Paul was jogging towards them. "Where's the damn fire?"

"Shawn, I-"

"Sweetheart, there you are." Stephanie's deceptively sweet voice rang from behind him. Smiling, she took his forearm. "Come with me, I need to talk to you." Winking over her shoulder at Shawn and River, she shoved her husband into her office. "What the HELL do you think you're doing?"

"Telling Shawn that Austin is coming on the road?"

"That information is confidential, Paul. You will keep it to yourself or find a new wife." She threatened, blue eyes cold. "Are we clear."

He could only stare at her.


"Okay, that was weirder than you two." Hope said, grinning when her mom and dad both groaned. "What?"

River exchanged looks with Shawn, both of them shrugging as if to say 'she's your daughter'. "We did get a suite, right?" She asked, not entirely sure if she could spend the night in the same room with Hope, that might encourage her to talk all night.

"Yes, but we're celebrating Hope being here." Shawn grinned when Hope started jumping up and down, leaning over to kiss his wife. "Later." He murmured when she purred.

"We all need quick showers.

"I'm clean!"

"You have chocolate all over your face."

"Aww hell."

After getting cleaned up at the hotel; they headed out. Shawn was feeling pretty good, though it might of had something to do with his beautiful wife eyeing him up and down like he was something she wanted to eat. He was looking pretty good if he did say so himself; wearing a black button up shirt over a white beater, blue jeans and his usual black boots; as always his favorite Stetson on his head. "I was thinking about fish..."

"Ew, gross, daddy."

"Okay then, were do you want to go?"

"And McDonald's doesn't count." River added, wearing a black knee length skirt; heeled sandals and a pale blue elbow length shirt. She had had to force Hope into a denim skirt and a pink dress shirt; the child was a tomboy and despised skirts.

"Ummmm... I don't care, just NO fish! Dad!" Hope swatted his arm playfully, giggling when he chased her to the car.

River followed them slowly, just shaking her head and smiled.

Shawn caughter Hope, beginning to tickle mercilessly. "No fish? No fishy, why, huh? Why no fish?" He was having a ball, hearing his daughter's laughing squeals. Finally, he let her go, turning to look at his smiling wife. "Sweetheart, where do you want to to eat?"

"Outback Steakhouse." River said, hearing Hope squeal again.

"Yeah, I love their accents. Can we daddy, please?" She turned big green eyes onto her father, flashing her most charming smile.

Shawn couldn't deny that smile, simply nodding. "You win." He chuckled when River snorted, opening the car door for Hope. While she buckled herself in, the adults got into the car as well. "You look beautiful tonight, River, have I told you that?"

"Yes, you did, twice. But I always like hearing it." She murmured, staring at him for a moment before leaning over the seats. "And you already know how handsome you look because I've told you several times." She whispered in his ear, biting his lobe then moved back to her seat; fastening in with an innocent look on her face.

"We going now or you two gonna flirt?"

"Where does she get her mouth again?" He asked, pulling out of the parking lot; ignoring the knowing look River gave him. "Maybe our next baby will have your attitude, hmm?"

River blinked, wondering where the hell that had come from and then grinned. "If we're lucky."

"We're having a baby? I want a brother and he has to be quiet cause boy's are noisy; he also has to play kickball and..."

She listened patiently as Hope lsiteed off the 'musts' for this new baby, wondering if both Hope and Shawn were serious.

"What do you think, Riv?" Shawn murmured, glancing over at her. Personally, he would love to see her pregnant again.

River smiled at the thought of a boy with Shawn's beautiful eyes, closing her own. She had always wondered about Hope's green eyes, knowing damn well she had never cheated on hr husband but then had always attributed it to her own parents. "I'd love nothing more, honey." She whispered, reaching out to catch his hand.

"So ya'all going to give me a brother or what?"

"We're going to try, angel." Shawn looked in the rearview at his daughter, driving in silence now. Where was his little girl who had always clinged to him? The sweet angel who had been such a daddy's girl? Once they were parked and getting out of the car, he watched as Hope impatiently pushed her mother away. "She's so big already." He said quietly, kissing the side of River's head.

"I know, where has the time gone?" She murmured sadly, wondering the same thing he was. She could remember a time when all Shawn had to do was walk in and the door and go 'I'm home' and Hope would be all over him, now she was wanting her own space and to do things on her own. "Just think, she'll be a teenager soon and we'll have one running around in diapers."

"Sounds good to me." He rumbled, following Hope into the restaurant. Instantly, Hope struck up a conversation with their server, making Shawn shake his head. She was a natural flirt just like... he shook his head, shoving that out of mind. Once they were seated, they ordered drinks. "Before we do anything..."

Hope groaned softly, taking their hands.

"Dear Heavenly Father..."

River had to kick Hope under the table when she began humming under her breath, wondering where that had come from. Usually Hope was mindful of prayer time.

"Okay, Amen." Hope said when the prayer was finished, raising her hands when both her parents looked at her. "What?"

"You need to be a bit more respectful."

"Prayer takes forever though! Besides, God knows we're grateful, don't he? If not, then why's he called God?"

All River could think was: Oh dear Lord.

"Sweetheart, we always need to be respectful. even if God does know we're grateful." Shawn's voice was firm. "Don't do it again."

Seeing Hope was about to say something, River shook her head. "Hope, you will mind your father." She said sternly, watching as Hope sighed and lowered her head. Sighing, she took Shawn's hand and squeezed. "Now, how bout we order and just put this behind us?" She suggested quietly.

"Sounds like a great idea. Hope, head up angel." He smiled when she obeyed, opening his menu. "Hope, what're you getting?"

"Steak, raw and a baked potato." Hope ordered without even looking at her menu. "Oh... and them onion things, a bloom?"

"Where do you keep all that food?" River demanded, eyeballing her scrawny daughter with astonishment on her face. "And since when do you eat steak raw?" She sighed when Hope just shrugged, ordering her own meal and looked at Shawn.

Shawn just shook his head, placing his own order and passed the menus to the waitress. “So are you excited to be on the road with us?” He asked his daughter, watching as she looked around the crowded restaurant. “Or maybe your future brother or sister?”

“Yeah but it’s kinda boring watching mom work and it’ll be a boy!” She said eagerly, looking at her mom who was pretending to be offended. “Sorry mom but it is. The best part of the night was when you did that thing on-“

“How was your summer, Hope?” River interrupted.

“Fun! Gramma and Granpa took me riding.”

Glad River had interrupted his daughter’s train of thought, Shawn smiled tensely. He was going to rip Mark from limb to limb. “What else did you do?” He asked, keeping his voice level, inside seething. This was HIS family, HIS. They were both his and nobody was going to take them away unless it was over his dead, mutilated corpse.

“Played with the neighbor kids a lot, kickball, fishing with Grandpa.” Hope launched into a long and detailed description of her summer, talking about how she and her new friends –who were either boys or tomboys like her- had watched wrestling and been practicing the moves. “My favorite wrestler is John Cena, besides you daddy.”

“John is a pain in my butt.”

“You know him? Oh my god, mom! He is the coolest!”

“He’s hyper, I should introduce you two.” Shawn said thoughtfully, grinning when River shook her head. “It couldn’t hurt, he IS her favorite wrestler after all.” Though when Hope also mentioned she adored the Undertaker, he actually crushed the glass of water in his hand; ignoring the gasps from his women. “You are to stay far away from him, Hope. Do you understand me?” He demanded, not even minding the fact that his hand was bleeding.

“Why? He’s cool and he’s funny.” Hope protested, arching an eyebrow; her green eyes flashing angrily. “He even makes mom laugh.”

“Hope, you quiet down right now and don’t talk back!” River snapped, taking Shawn’s hand and began gently picking out the glass; not believing he had just done. She’d never seen him lose his cool like that. “Shawn…”

“You will listen to me or I’ll paddle your butt, young lady.” He hissed, anger in his own hazel eyes. “He’s dangerous, Hope. Your mother has no choice but to deal with him. Now keep your mouth shut.”

Hope remained silent throughout the rest of dinner, speaking only when spoken too; pouting. River was quiet as well, wondering where her precious baby girl had gone too and who the hell this kid was sitting across from her. Not to mention Shawn’s little explosion had unnerved her. When they had finished their meal and made it back to the hotel, River ushered Hope into her bedroom.

“You change into your pajamas and then go apologize to your father.” She said gently.

“For what? He broke the glass, not me. I didn’t tell him to get pissed off.”

River’s jaw dropped. Twenty minutes later she walked into her and Shawn’s room, still not believing the change in their daughter. Was puberty hitting early or something? God, she wasn’t ready for that.

“She’s asleep.” She said when Shawn looked at her, seeing the scowl on his face and knew he was still angry. After kicking off her shoes, she walked over to straddle his lap, pulling her skirt up to her thighs to do it. “Shawn, she’s… going through a phase, it’ll pass.” She hoped.

“I want her to stay away from Callaway.” He ordered, gripping her arms tightly. “Nobody is going to take you away from me, River. No force of nature and no act of the good Lord above. Do you understand me?” He didn’t give her time to answer; pressing his lips roughly to hers in a possessive kiss, already pulling her shirt over her head.

River tried to speak, finding her mouth being plundered again, pushing at his shoulders as he laid flat; his own hands tugging her skirt down her waist.

“You are mine.” He growled, all rational thought gone. “You and Hope belong to me.” Shawn ripped her panties right off, knowing he was scaring her but didn’t care. He wanted to claim what was his, rolling her onto her back.

She watched with wide eyes as he quickly shed his own clothes, trying to draw away only to be pulled underneath him. Her protests were muffled under another rough kiss. River was honestly frightened of her husband right now. The way he talked; he sounded crazy and the way he was handling her was downright terrifying. “Shawn!” She whispered, turning her head away from him; refusing to raise her voice and possibly wake Hope. “Shawn, please, stop. You’re scaring me, baby.”


Shawn hesitated, taking in his wife’s scared expression and let out a shaky breath. Burying his face in her neck, he held her tightly. “I love you, River. I love you so much. God, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…” He whispered, knowing he was only confusing her even more. Every time Mark’s name was mentioned, it made his blood boil; thinking that at any second River was going to be ripped away from him. He had worked too hard and come too far with her and Hope to lose them now.

He wasn’t going to lose them.

“I love, I’m sorry.” He repeated, over and over again.

River wrapped her arms around him, rubbing his back, his shoulders; touching everywhere she could; trying to calm him down. “Shawn…” She whispered, kissing his head. “Honey, what is going on with you lately?” She sighed when he just repeated he loved her, gently taking his head in her hands and made him look at her; frowning at the pain she seen in those eyes she loved to stare into. “Shawn, talk to me.” She pleaded. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

But he couldn’t. He couldn’t tell her the heinous things he had done. No, he wouldn’t. he would lose her for sure then and that wasn’t happening. “I’m just afraid of losing you.” He whispered, brushing his lips against her; deepening the kiss when she responded to him. “No more talking. Let me make love you, River.” He smiled when her eyes sparkled, not believing how easy it was to please her. “I love you.”

All thoughts of what had just happened were gone.


‘Stephanie, I really appreciate you watching her, you don’t have too.”

“Mom, hush, Stephanie is awesome.” Hope said, having taken an instant shine to the woman, staring up at her adoringly.

“I don’t mind, River. I need some practice before mine get that age anyway.”


Mark was pacing like a caged animal out in the parking lot. The Michaels clan were already inside, good. This was it. Tonight they would find out if this was truly River. Their River. His breath nearly left him when a familiar truck pulled into the lot, hurrying across the pavement; nodding as his friend stepped down from the cab. “You ready to do this, man?’

“Yeah.” Steve breathed, tugging nervously on his black tee shirt. He knew without a shadow of a doubt once he seen this woman he would know if it was River or not. There were just certain things you didn’t forget about your own blood. “Her kid too?” He didn’t dare say ‘niece’ just yet, wanting to make sure her mom was his sister first.

“Yeah, Hope.” Mark reminded him, having told Steve everything about the little girl. Both of the men instantly had agreed it wasn’t Shawn’s kids. Steve’s parents didn’t have green eyes and, to their knowledge, neither did Shawn’s. “You go see her first, then come by my dressing room. If it’s her, we’ll go on with it.”

Steve waited until Mark had disappeared inside, timing their entrances so it didn’t look like they’d arrived at the same time. He chatted with a few co-workers, then Chris when the other man apologized for the stupid storyline; assuring him it was all right before finally bracing himself to see River, or her lookalike.

He found her room with no problem, seeing she was with one of the newer Divas and just stood in the doorway; fighting back the tears that were stinging his eyes. Even after eleven years he could still see his baby sister. The same beautiful hair and smile, the same sweet; rolling drawl. When she looked up, he seen his own eyes staring back at him.

Then came the heartbreak.

“Yes? Can I help you, sir?

Steve shook his head, clearing his throat. “No, I can you’re busy, Riv- honey.” He smiled once before walking away.

Mark had been right.


“Shawn!” Paul was panting, having been looking all over for his friend. “Shawn, there’s-“

“Hello, boys.” Mark greeted from behind the pair, a grin on his face; holding a happy Hope in his arms. “I do believe you lost your little girl, again, Shawn.”

Shawn immediately went to take Hope, growling when Mark stepped backwards. “Give me my daughter, Callaway.”

“Hope, do you want to go with your daddy or stay with me for awhile?”

Paul could only stare, wondering why his wife had agreed to let Mark take the kid to the cafeteria. Was Stephanie out of her mind?

“Actually, daddy, if you don’t mind, I wanna hang out with Mark for awhile.” Hope said with a pleading smile. “Please? Stephanie said he could watch me since she got busy with Cena.” She obviously didn’t have a clue what was going on around her.

Mark groaned when Hope squealed it was Stone Cold Steve Austin, setting her down so she could rush over to another of her idols. He seen the look in Steve’s eyes, could literally feel the anger radiating off the other man. Snorting, he looked back at Paul and Shawn, both men looking paler then pale. “What’s the matter, boys? It’s only Austin.” He chided, knowing exactly what their problem was. “Come on, Steve, let’s go talk.”

Hope glanced back at her dad, waving. “I’ll see you tonight, daddy!” She called, squirming when Mark tried scooping her up once more. “I wanna talk to Stone Cold, Mark!”

Steve instantly took her in his arms, smiling awkwardly when she wrapped her arms around his neck and began prattling away. He couldn’t believe it. This girl was a replica of River, except for her eyes. They were a shade of green he knew only too well. “Oh shit.”


“Mark… we need to get this done and get it done fast.”

“Huh?” Hope’s head was swinging back and forth between the two.

Raising an eyebrow, Mark just nodded; wondering what had come over Steve. “Hope, darlin’, I’m going to go get your momma. You just stay here with Steve and be good, alright?” He smiled when she nodded, ushering the two into his dressing room. “Just keep the door locked, I’ll call when… it’s done.”

Steve nodded grimly, closing the door in his friend’s face.

Cracking his knuckles, Mark headed for River’s room. It was crunch time. River was here and she didn’t have a damn clue who he was. Something was up and they were going to find out. Mark wanted nothing more than to break Shawn’s neck but knew that wouldn’t solve anything.

Even if it would make him feel better.


River smiled when Mark walked into the room, busy washing her vanilla oil coated hands at the sink. “Give me a second and we can start.” She said, frowning when she realized he was standing directly behind her. Calmly, she dried her hands and slowly turned around; craning her head back to stare up at him, trying not to panic. “Mark?”

“I’m so sorry about this, Rivvie.” He whispered before placing a damp cloth that had been soaked in chloroform over her mouth and nose. When she slumped against him, he tenderly brushed a curl of her hair from her face, sighing heavily.

This was the only way.


Steve stared down at River, memorizing every new line on her face. Eleven years, he had thought she was dead and… He inhaled deeply, vowing Shawn Michaels was going to pay for this. He couldn’t understand for the life of him why she didn’t seem to know who he or Mark were. What had happened to her? What had that bastard done? He flinched when she moaned softly, knowing she was beginning to come around.

Mark was outside with Hope when he heard the screaming begin, sighing.

“Calm down, Riv, calm down!” Steve ordered, catching her before she could fly off the bed. He felt her slump in his arms, apparently still hazy from the chloroform. “Rivvie, it’s me, it’s Steve.” He whispered, his heart breaking that she didn’t recognize him. What had he expected? That she would wake up and everything would be alright?

“I don’t know you!” She screamed, pushing away from him and fell back onto the bed, blue eyes wide. “Where’s Shawn? Where’s Hope?”

“Hope’s outside with Mark, honey, calm down.” He pleaded.

She just sat on the bed, tears streaming down her face; listening as Steve began speaking to her. Inside her mind all she could was mentally scream for Shawn. Finally, she stood up. “Oh Steve, I’m sorry!” She cried, tossing her arms around his neck.

“It’s okay, Rivvie.” He soothed, holding her tightly. “Whatever he did to you-“ Steve groaned, feeling her knee connecting with his nuts and dropped; hands flying to cup himself, eyes crossing.

River was flying out the door.


Mark seen River run out of the house and groaned, getting up to catch her by her waist. Ignoring her screaming, he tossed her over his shoulder. “You’re going to listen to us. You know us.” He said flatly, watching as Steve appeared next and set her down at a picnic table. He pulled a folded picture out of his back pocket and slammed it down in front of her. “Look at it.” He ordered.

River stared down at the picture, frowning. It was of Mark and Steve, in between them a woman who looked identical to her. Pushing it away, she got up and went back inside the house.

“River…” Steve began.

“Stop it! I don’t know you!” She screamed, pushing him away from her. “Hope!”

Hope reigned in on the horse she was riding, her head turning to stare at Mark. “I hear my momma.”

“Yeah, she’s up angel. Come on.” He lifted her off the horse and set her down, turning to see River flying back outside, running towards them. The woman was going to scare her daughter if she didn’t cut the hysterics. “Back inside.” He ordered gravely. “We have a lot to talk about. Like why the hell you ran out on me and your family eleven years ago.”

“Ma, what’s he talking about?” Hope demanded, beginning to get a little worried herself. Seeing her mom panicking told her this wasn’t something that had been agreed upon. “I want my daddy.”

“I know honey, I do too.” God, where was Shawn? River bit her lower lip nervously, stood up and held Hope firmly by the hand; staring at Mark and Steve. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t run out on you. I don’t even KNOW you.”

“Yes, you do.” Mark sighed heavily, watching as Steve just walked out. “This is ridiculous!” He finally exploded, shaking from head to toe. “You worked for the WWF over ten years ago, River! Back in 1998 was when you left, you were dating ME! We were together, happy and in love, River! Then one night you left out of the fucking blue and now you’re playing this fucking game with me, trying to say you don’t remember! Let me tell you something little girl, if you didn’t want me, then why the hell didn’t you just tell me?” Mark was livid, all his emotions finally coming to a head and had erupted. “You HATED Shawn back then, what the hell changed, River?”

River and Hope were both staring at him like he was crazy.

“In 1998 I was in the hospital.” River said finally, catching Hope nodding her head; this was a story she was familiar with. “I was in a plane crash and wound up in a coma. So you have the WRONG woman.”

“And mom doesn’t hate dad. She loves him!”

“Very much.”

“A plane crash…” Mark was really pissed now, his entire body trembling. “Come with me.” He didn’t give either of them time to say anything, just grabbed River by the arm and dragged her through the house, finally pushing her down onto the couch. “Steve, where’s the album?” He demanded, snatching it as soon as his friend produced it. Slamming it down onto the coffee table, he pointed a shaking finger at it, tears in his eyes. “LOOK! That’s you, River! And Steve is your brother! You two have the same damn eyes and you’re feeding us this bullshit bout how you were in a plane crash? Where the hell have you been all this time and who told you that fucking story?”

River refused to look at the pictures, staring at him; obviously terrified. “My doctors! I woke up in a hospital bed after almost dying! I have pictures of the bruises and the documents to prove it!”

“Uh mom…” Hope was looking at the pictures. “Lemme see your birthmark.”

“What?” River was momentarily thrown for a loop.

“That red spot on your arm that dad calls a wine stain.” Hope rolled up her mom’s shirt sleeve, frowning. Then she tapped a picture of the other woman who was showing off the same mark with ‘Mark was Here’ scribbled over it in ink with an arrow pointing down.

Mark stared down at the picture, smiling as he remembered that. He had been showing off a new tattoo when she had made a smartass comment. So he had snatched up a pen and began ‘inking’ her. “God… I remember that, Rivvie.” He murmured, coughing to clear his throat. “How long have you and Shawn been married, darlin’?”

“Ten years. Look, this isn’t-“

“Where’s your parents?” Steve asked.

“Dead. Look-“

“DEAD? I’m going to KILL that son of a bitch!”

“Calm down! Mom… these do look like you.”

“Hope, it CAN’T be.”

“Do you remember anything before your accident?”

River frowned, not answering. “I want to talk to Shawn.” She said finally, looking at Mark.

“I’m going to kill him.” Mark said now, exchanging angry looks with Steve. “No, you’re never going near him again, River.” He snarled, seeing the fright in her eyes and pushed it aside. “You need to answer us. How long have you been married to him? Was it right after your accident or before? You don’t remember, do you? Did you wake up already married with Shawn by your side?”

Steve snorted, remembering how Shawn had conveniently taken a leave of absence shortly after River’s disappearance.

“I told you before, I met him during a trying time in my life.” She said crossly, holding out a hand to shut up Hope. “I met him after my accident. He was having some problems with his back we met in the hallway at the hospital.” River’s blue eyes shot to Steve’s for a moment, frowning slightly. “Look, even if I was this woman, I obviously don’t remember anything before the accident. Sorry for your loss, move on.”

“Oh I’m going to move on alright,” Steve said slowly, cold fury written on his face. “Right over that sonbitch’s head with my truck.”

“How long after?” Mark was ignored Steve at the moment, though he agreed wholeheartedly with the idea. “River, did he tell you your parents were dead?”

“Doctors did.” She replied stiffly.

“Shawn left right after you vanished, Rivvie. He took off the night of our… THAT SON OF A BITCH IS DEAD!”

Hope began crying now. Regardless of how she acted, she was only ten years old and she hadn’t been around much violence. Her dad smashing that glass was the only time she could remember him really losing his temper.

“Mark, calm down.” Steve ordered, wanting to blow up too but controlled himself. “Hope, why don’t we go play on the PS3?” He suggested, taking her hand and gently guided her away.

Tears were stinging Mark’s eyes, unable to fathom how sick Shawn really was. He knew Shawn must’ve taken River, that was a given. It was simply to coincidental how she had been married to him for a decade, a year sigh of how long she had been gone.

Mark was going to kill him. There would be nothing left of the Heartbreak Kid. He would dismember that bastard into tiny pieces and bury the pieces all over the earth. A born again Christian! Mark snorted, shaking his head. “I suppose he warned you away from me because I’M the psycho.” He grunted. “He’s the fucking lunatic.”

“No… you’re the one who kidnapped me and my daughter. In my book, that makes YOU the psychotic. Whatever Shawn did in his past is just that, the past. He is my HUSBAND and I love him, regardless for who he was.” River said firmly, pushing herself up off the couch. She stared at Mark intently, blue eyes filled with barely subdued anger.


Mark could only stare at River, the heartbreak in his eyes. “He took you away from me, from Steve; your family. Everything you knew, he stole from you.” He said softly. “He took you away from us, Rivvie. Do you have any idea how much pain your brother went through? Your parents? How long they searched for you? No, you don’t have a damn clue. All you can do is stand there and tell me that you love Shawn when the reality is you don’t even know him or yourself.”

“I am sorry for everything all of you went through but I don’t REMEMBER any of you even IF this is true.” River said, trying not to panic. He wasn’t listening to her! At all! “I know exactly who I am. Amnesia or not, after a decade; I’ve established myself. You will NOT touch my husband and you will NOT keep me and my daughter here.”

“Oh, I’m going to touch him all right. When all is said and done, you’re going to be a fucking widow, count on it Rivvie.” He snarled heatedly before storming out of the house; needing some air.

In all honestly, he couldn’t believe things were going down like this. Though… what had he expected? He wanted to know what Shawn had done to her. How had he made it so River had no idea who any of them were. There were so many unanswered questions.


River went to the den, watching as Hope and Steve played some game; studying this man who was supposed to be her brother with a frown. “Can I at least CALL my husband?”

“Lemme think on it.” Steve replied, not looking up. It might be interesting to hear Shawn putter his way through whatever his wife would tell him but… He’d have to talk to Mark first.


“Are you out of your mind?” Mark bellowed when Steve relayed River’s request. “Steve, do you have any idea what this man is capable of? He’d cook up some story to cover his ass and she’d buy it. Hell no! She doesn’t remember us for a reason, we need to find out why. Her and Hope-“ Mark stopped his rant when Steve paled. “What is it?”

Steve glanced towards the stairs; hearing the bath going and knew River had done what she’d threatened when she had seen how grungy Hope was: dunked her. “Look, she’s terrified of you; me not so much but that’ll probably change. Can you stop and remember that she’s spent the last eleven years of her life with that asshole?” Steve didn’t like it but he knew just shoving information under River’s nose wasn’t going to change anything right away. “She loves the guy.” He about choked on his words, knowing what else he needed to tell Mark but wasn’t too keen on it; not wanting to see Mark go postal just yet.

“Only cause he brainwashed her.” Mark said flatly, though he knew Steve was right and hung his head. Everything was suddenly crashing around him and Mark fell to his knees. He had found her. His River. All these years without her, he had never lost hope. Never once.

The pain radiated off of Mark in waves. Deciding now wasn’t the time, Steve walked away.


“So when can we go home?”

“I don’t know, honey. I’m sure your daddy is looking for us.”

“Being kidnapped is a lot cooler than I thought it would be.”


Later on that night, Mark was sitting out on the patio in a glider just looking through the pictures. He half smiled, half sighed as he flipped the page, running a finger down one of the photos. It was of him and River after a show. She was hanging onto him, piggy backing, with a grin on her face; her chin on his shoulder.

River was leaning in the patio door, staring at him. She couldn’t sleep. How was she supposed to close her eyes and go to sleep knowing she was in a house with strange people who were obviously deranged? Wrapping her arms around herself, she just sighed inwardly. She was wearing a shirt Steve had provided. She had a closet full of clothes he had said were hers though she wasn’t touching them. They were ten years out of date and a size too small.

“Mark, please, Hope and I want to go home.” She said in a whisper, looking over his shoulder and frowned, seeing what he was looking at.

“What are you going to do when you finally see him again? Pretend everything’s alright and forget about us?” He asked tiredly.

Sighing, she crouched down beside him. “No, I’ll pray for all of you.” She said quietly, staring up at him pleadingly. “I know Shawn’s done horrible things, when we first married he was so angry and possessive all of the time, I don’t hold any illusions when it comes to him. I don’t remember anything you keep trying to make me remember, so I don’t see why you keep me. Even if I did remember, do you think I would automatically fall out of love with him?”

“I searched for you for so many years…” He whispered. “I don’t understand how you can just go back to his man and pretend like nothing happened, River. He LIED to you. He lied bout not having a family, bout your parents being dead.” He watched her cringed and went on. “Darlin’, you hated Shawn. You hated him with everything in you. The night you disappeared… you kissed me, told me you’d see me back in our room and then… you were gone. Nobody had heard from you, seen you, just vanished. Then Shawn takes off for awhile, claiming something with his back.” Now she was frowning. “How can you just go back to him and not even wonder who you once were? How can you trust him?”

“I suppose I can’t.” River whispered after a long period of silence; hating him for making her doubt her husband. But he was right. Even she could no longer deny the evidence, not when they continuously shoved it in her face. Maybe her marriage and life were built on a lie. Theirs or Shawn’s was the only question. And the only way she would know for sure was if she ever remembered.


“Riv, lemme ask you something.” Steve began a few days later, watching as she did supper dishes. It was a bit amazing that she had established a sort of routine but he knew it wasn’t for them but her daughter.


“Shawn’s folks have green eyes?”


“Neither do ours.”

“What the hell is your point, Steve?” River demanded, throwing down the towel she’d been using and turned to glare at him.

“Were you pregnant before or after you met Michaels?”


“What’re you watching?” Mark asked Hope, dropping down on the opposite end of the couch. He wasn’t surprised in the slightest when she just ignored him, focusing his attention on the TV; raising an eyebrow. “Do you realize this is rated PG-13?”

“Do ya realize I don’t really wanna hear anything you got to say.” Hope shot back angrily, her eyes not leaving the screen; smirking when someone got shot even though the movie didn’t show it.

“I realize that.” Mark said softly, though it wasn’t going to stop him from getting her to talk to him. “You’re angry at me.” It wasn’t a question and he honestly didn’t blame the little girl. This was a lot to take in. Though as the violence pushed the movies rating boundaries, he turned it off. “How bout we watch something a little less bloody? I have a feeling your momma don’t allow violent movies, considering who her husband is.”

Steve came storming into the room shortly, his cheek a very angry red. “River is PISSED.” HE grunted, dropping down onto the couch between the two. “What’re we watching?”

“Probably the Cares Bears, Mark took out the good movie.” Hope snorted. “And by the way, her husband is my DAD.”

Steve made a sound that was almost a giggle.

Mark stared at his friend, revulsion on his face. “Knock that off!”

Steve just shook his head, trying to stop.

Sighing, Mark rolled his eyes. “Why’d she slap you?”

“I’m picking out a different movie, I’m not watching this…” Hope muttered, sliding off the couch to sort through his DVD collection. “The Undertaker… putting in Milo and Otis, what is wrong with people…”

“Well?” Mark demanded, staring at Steve.

“I uh, said something that didn’t go over to well.” Steve winced when he heard something break in the kitchen, remembering all too well his sister’s temper, it matched his own. “How bad is my face?”

“Gonna bruise.” Hope said with a shake of her head. “My mom doesn’t hit.”

“Hell if she don’t.”

“Looks like she still has the Austin temper.” Mark chuckled, trying to straighten his face when Hope raised an eyebrow at him. “No, that’s not funny. Why are we watching this?’

“Because I thought it’d annoy you.”

“Reminds me of her dad.”

“I heard that Steve! Get your ass in here right now, I’m not finished with you!”

Steve groaned, slowly standing up.

Now Mark was confused, getting up to follow Steve. He froze in the kitchen doorway, just watching as River ranted and raved. It was quite amusing actually to see how red in the face she was and listen to Steve stutter over his words. He decided he’d keep his mouth shut and just observe.

“Riveria, look it’s obvious she’s Mark’s-“

“Call me that ONE more time dickweed and-“ River stopped when Steve started grinning. “What?”

“I’m just remembering the last time you called me dickweed.”

“Well I hate it when you call me Riveria!”

“Do you remember the last time I called ya that?”

She blinked. “No…”

Mark had caught all of that, especially the bit about ‘she’s Mark’s’ and walked to stand between the siblings, his heart pounding in his chest. “She’s Mark’s what?” He demanded hoarsely. Green eyes widened when Steve finally said it, paling under his tan. “Hope…” This was simply too much, Mark actually dropped, hitting his head on a chair.

River and Steve both stared down at him with amused/concerned looks on their faces; both obviously trying not to smirk.

“You two look alike now, well, not including the facial hair.” Hope commented, walking in to see what was going on, frowning at Mark. “Is he going to be okay.”

“Oh yeah… eventually.” Steve snorted.

“I don’t even remember… you know.” River whispered.

“Trust me, I’m still trying to forget it. You two were horrible.”

An hour later Mark came too, opening his eyes to find Hope peering down at him, her own beautiful green orbs sparkling with amusement. “Little darlin’…” He whispered, staring at her angelic face. Those eyes… they were HIS eyes. A second later he had pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly.


Steve was sitting at the table with River, each of them with a beer before them. “Um…”

River needed the beer after what Steve had laid on her. Somehow, she knew he was telling the truth. Hope’s green eyes didn’t help either.

“Dude, get the hell offa me.”

Slowly, he released her, trying to swallow down the emotion welling in him. Shawn was going to die. He had not only taken away the love of his life but his DAUGHTER. Shawn had raised HIS daughter, HIS! Mark’s brain was throwing up facts Mark didn’t want to acknowledge.

Shawn had always been so attached to River, it was pathetic. Of course, he had gone out of his way to antagonize her from day one. She had immediately despised him. Now that Mark looked back on it; it was a love hate relationship; with all the hate coming from River.

Shawn was going to die a slow, painful death.

“I’m going outside.” Hope announced, shooting Mark a disgusted look as she flew out the door.

“So… remembering anything?” Steve asked, breaking up the uncomfortable silence that followed Hope leaving.

“Not really.”

“You notice your attitude has been changing?”

“I was going to blame that on being around you.”

“Did you say what I think you said, Steve?” Mark demanded, dropping down at the table with them, accepting the beer Steve slid his way. When Steve just nodded, Mark had to take a deep breath, cracking the tab open. “Ten years…” He whispered. “She’s MY daughter… River, were you pregnant when you woke up in the hospital?”

“Apparently I was.” She said dryly, taking the second beer Steve handed her and popped the tab. Ignoring Steve’s smirk, she took a long swallow. “I became pregnant two months after leaving the hospital, when Hope was born they told us it was a premature birth.” She snorted, rubbing her head.

What else had Shawn lied to her about? The magnitude of what he had done was seriously hitting home. He had paid people to lie to her! People who were supposed to help other people!

Mark could see everything crashing down on River, all the lies Shawn told her; the betrayal and knew it was a break through. Granted, it came at her emotional pain but… He nodded at Steve, getting up to vacate while big brother took over comforting the now crying River. He went outside to watch Hope, his daughter. He sat on the glider, unable to stop smiling as he watched her run around the backyard like a wild child. She was beautiful, a mixture of him and River. He saw it now. She had his attitude and eyes. She was the spitting image of River except those green robs. It broke his heart that he had missed out on the first ten years of her life.

Shawn Michaels had taken so much from him. From River. From Hope.

Shawn Michaels had better run and never look back.

Steve came out thirty minutes later, dropping down by his friend. “She’s sleeping.” He grunted, watching his niece with a grin. “She can’t deny anymore that we’re telling the truth but she still don’t remember shit.a nd she says if ya tell Hope, she’ll kill you. She wants to have her memories back first.”

“I don’t plan on telling Hope, that’s not my place. Though if she tries going back to that sonbitch then we’re going to have problems.” Mark said quietly. “We found her, man. Now we got to figure out what that asshole did to her.” He raked his hands through his hair, sighing. “Do you have any idea how much planning this must’ve taken him? What a sick bastard.”

“Why the hell didn’t we see it coming?” Steve murmured just as softly. “Shawn had been bothering her for weeks, never thought he woulda… but why her? She couldn’t stand his ass.” That was the part he couldn’t piece together. River had never hidden her distaste for Michaels, why the hell would he want a woman who hated him? “Think he really does love her?”

“He’s obsessed with her. He always was.” Steve’s startled blue eyes didn’t faze Mark as he stood up. “That night at the Rumble, when River disappeared, she told me he had been harassing her. About something big that was going to be happening and how she wouldn’t be able to stop it. She told me and I didn’t think nothing of it. You know how Shawn was with his idle threats. I told her everything would be fine, that I’d protect her…” He gripped the porch railing tightly, his eyes closing. “I fucked up, man. I should have taken her more seriously and I didn’t…”

“Wow… and then to keep her hidden for all that time… No wonder the sonbitch was always smiling. I’d like to- Thought you were sleeping, Riv?”

“Couldn’t.” She dropped down in one of the chairs, her eyes on Hope.

“Want to see more pictures? I used to have hair.”


Mark turned to stare down at her. “Whatever he did, it destroyed a lot of lives. When are you planning on calling the rents, man?” He asked, looking at Steve. It was making more and more sense. No wonder Shawn was hell bent on keeping her away from him. Shawn knew Mark would recognize her.

“I’m not calling them till she remembers. It’d break their hearts.”

“Call who?”

“Our parents.”


“Good idea.” Mark grunted, heading for the door. “River, we gotta go back in a few days, to work. Whatever you decide, we’ll respect your wishes. But you better think damn long and hard. I’m not missing anymore time with OUR daughter.” He disappeared through the door.

River frowned, looking at Steve. “I want to go back. But I don’t want Hope going.”

“She can stay with mom and dad, I’ll just tell them something. They won’t care. Why you going back?”

“To confront Shawn.”

He grinned at the look on her face. “Now you’re sounding reasonable.”


“Steph?” Paul called, walking inside her office. He hesitated, watching as she finished with paperwork, meeting her eyes when she looked at him. He didn’t know why he was doing this, but… “Sweetheart, can I talk to you for a minute?”

Stephanie stared intently at her husband; seeing the pain in his eyes and instantly stopped what she was doing. “Paul, what’s wrong?” She was startled to find tears in his eyes, getting up to walk over to him. “Paul, honey, what is it?”

“I’m going to come clean to you… about everything.” He couldn’t hide this from her any longer and then had to sit down. Locking the door, he pulled her to the couch, dropping down, never taking his eyes from her. He glanced at the door reluctantly, he didn’t need Shawn trying to barge in here for the umpteenth time.

Stephanie waited patiently, having a sneaking feeling she wasn’t going to like anything he was about to say. She also had a feeling it had to do with Shawn. Inwardly, she braced her for hopefully anything he could throw at her and gestured for him to begin.

Paul had to take a few deeps breaths; his heart pounding in his ears. All he could was hope she didn’t divorce him after what he was about to tell her. He began the story. About how Shawn had been obsessed with River when she began back in 1996 after her brother got her into the company; about how River and Mark had immediately started seeing each other.

He seen Stephanie’s eyes widen then narrowed as he admitted to being a coconspirator in the whole ordeal with River’s kidnapping, tears in his eyes the whole time. By the time he had finished, Paul couldn’t even look at his wife; shame rolling off of him in waves.

Stephanie could only stare at him. If it hadn’t been for the tears in his eyes, she would have laughed; called him a liar and kicked his ass out for wasting her time. “Let me get this straight… You helped Shawn kidnap a woman; drugged her into amnesia and… and… Oh my god…” She stood up, staring down at him, not knowing what to do or say.

“It was a long time ago.” Paul said, getting to his feet and immediately stepped back when his wife started crying. “Steph, I was young and stupid. He’s my best friend. He asked for my help and… at the time, I hated Callaway with a passion. I know that’s no excuse though… nothing is…” His head dropped, knowing he was going to be divorced for this. “River and Hope are with Mark and Steve. I know they are… and I know they’ve probably told her everything…”

“That doesn’t fix anything, Paul. Almost eleven years of this woman’s life were taken from her.” Stephanie said shakily, staring at him still. “And River is here tonight with Mark and Steve. Mark called to let me know they were returning. If you tell Shawn, so help me God, we are THROUGH. Understood?” She loved him and she wasn’t divorcing him. She had more cruel punishments in mind.

“I won’t.” He whispered, guilt etched in his features. “But I am going to tell River.” When Stephanie opened her mouth, he shook his head, holding up a hand. “No. This is something I have to do, Steph. This has been eating away at me for almost eleven years. I need to tell her.” He walked out before she could stop him, heading straight for River’s therapy room. It wasn’t that big a shock to find Mark and Steve there. “Good, you’re all here. I need to tell you something, all of you.”

River frowned, staring at him out of narrowed blue eyes. “What, Paul?” She was more then aware he was her husband’s best friend.

“You came to spill, didn’t ya? So spill.” Steve snorted impatiently.

“You know, don’t you?” Mark wanted to rip Paul’s throat out when the other man nodded, somehow restraining himself. “Talk. Now.”

Swallowing hard, Paul knew he was going to get pounded to dust for this but he also had no choice. He launched into the story again, not leaving anything out. “Shawn was… obsessed with you, River. To the point where Chyna and I considered having him committed. He came up with this idea… to kidnap you. Royal Rumble was the night, he had that casket match with Mark. That was when Joanie and I did it. We took you while Mark was in the ring. We took you to a motel and… and injected you with a drug that erased your memory.”

His head lowered, unable to see the pain in River’s blue eyes anymore. “Shawn took you to a hospital, paid people off to tell you were in a plane crash. He took you away from everything. Your family, mark…” He didn’t outwardly flinch when Mark snarled. “He gave you a whole new identity and married you, knowing you were pregnant with Mark’s baby.”

Paul knew about that too. Shawn had overheard River in the bathroom that night at the arena, telling Terri Runnels about it. Maybe that had been the deciding factor in Shawn’s decision to take her that very night.

Steve looked at his sister, seen the hand over her mouth; tears spilling down her cheeks and pulled her into his arms. If she hurt this badly from hearing this, he could only imagine what she’d be like when she did remember, if she ever did. “How do we trigger her memories?” He demanded, staring at Paul.

“I don’t know. I know what the stuff was though. I’ll do some research and see if I can find something.” Paul said solemnly, watching as Mark stepped forward. “Now Dead man, I know you want to kill me and you have every reason too, but you need to deal with Shawn first. He’s in the building right now and probably on his way to see River. I’ve already told Stephanie everything.”

“You best hope and pray to Shawn’s ‘God’ that I don’t kill him at Mania. You can tell Stephanie that too.” He snarled through gritted teeth. Before Paul could vacate; he grabbed his shoulder. “Just one more thing, BOY. After Shawn, you’re next. Remember that.” He then shoved the shaking Paul out the door, slamming it shut behind him.

“I want to talk to Shawn.” River said, clearing her throat. “I need to talk to him.”

“With us.” Steve said flatly.

“You two can stand outside the door, with it closed.”


“Steve, you already said I could do things how I wanted, don’t make me hurt you because I can.”

“We’ll be RIGHT outside this door.”

“River!” Shawn’s voice reached them, a second later the door flying open. His hazel eyes widened at the deadly looks he was receiving from Mark and Steve, swallowing hard. “Thank God, you’re here. Did they hurt you, sweetheart?”

Steve had to drag Mark out before his friend went postal.

“It was a mistake bringing you on the road. I’m taking you home first thing in the morning.”

River moved when he tried taking her in his arms. “DON’T touch me!” Seeing him broke her heart and she had to fight down the love that threatened to overwhelm her. She couldn’t hate him, not yet but she was sure with time she’d be only too happy to spit on his grave. “I KNOW, Shawn. I know what you did to me!” She seen the expression on his face and that confirmed it. “It was all a lie, everything! You took my life from me and Mark’s daughter from me!”

Shawn’s mouth suddenly went dry, having not expected this and was ready to fight back. He wasn’t going to lose her. “You’re going to believe THEM over your own HUSBAND?” He demanded angrily. “I told you about Mark’s issue with that girl, River. You’re honestly going to believe him and that Steve Austin over ME?”

“Yes, I will believe my BROTHER over.” She said calmly. “I’ll also believe all the pictures and home videos they’ve shown me. I’ll ALSO believe Paul’s confession.” River pulled her wedding ring from her finger, tossing it at his feet. “Consider this your notice, we’re getting a divorce and I want to know how to get my memories back, Shawn. I want to know who I REALLY am.”

Paul had betrayed him? Now that threw Shawn for a loop and he was suddenly very angry. “I’ll contest it.” He snarled, his face dark. Stooping, he swiped the ring from the floor, fingering it and smirked wickedly at her. “You know, it wasn’t that hard, River.” He chuckled. “You were so damn easy to fool. Thought I must say it was worth it; having you all to myself for the past decade, keeping you from the love of your life. And now you’re linked to me. Hope is Mark’s, but she will ALWAYS call me daddy. Funny how life turns out. All I had to do was pay off a few hospital employees, a few doctors, got some phony paperwork drawn up. It was like taking candy from a baby, sweetheart.”

“You’ll never see Hope again!” River said, beginning to smirk; looking up into a camera that was blinking in the upper right corner of the room. “Steve and Mark had this brilliant idea to film this, and it’s feeding into a computer where it’s recorded.” She seen Shawn’s cocky expression slide off of his face, struggling to keep herself from crying. This was the man she had lived, laughed and loved with for ten years.

“You stupid bitch…” Shawn said softly, a sneer on his lips. A second later he was moving towards her, only to find himself being pulled back by Mark and Steve. “You think you’re going to keep me from seeing MY daughter? Think again! I’m not divorcing you, you belong to me, River! You’re MINE!”

“I don’t think so.” Mark had wanted to do this since he found out what had happened and drove his fist as hard as he could into Shawn’ gut; watching Shawn drop to his knees. The rage he had been bottling up exploded and Mark attacked, not caring that he was probably on his way to jail for assault. “YOU TOOK HER AWAY FROM HER LIFE AND EVERYONE WHO CARED ABOUT HER! YOU TOOK MY DAUGHTER AWAY FROM ME!” Every word was accented with a punch.

“Mark, no!” River got in his way; stopping him, her eyes pleading with him. “You’re on camera, he’s not worth it.” She whispered, cupping his face in her hands; trying to soothe him. “He is not worth anything, not even your anger.” She glanced down at her husband, biting her lower lip.

Truthfully, her first instinct had been to save Shawn’s ass and then care for him.

“She don’t need your permission for a divorce, jackass.” Steve spat at the broken man. “You EVER come near my sister or my niece and I’mma finish what Mark started.”

Mark knew he had to calm down and the feel of River’s soft hands on his face did it instantly. Shaking his head, he pulled away and backed off.

“This isn’t over,” Shawn rasped from the floor. “River belongs to me and NOBODY is taking her from me.”

“You’re wrong. Thank Paul for us by the way.”

Shawn was going to kill his best friend.

River took Steve and Mark firmly by the hands and pulled them from the room, shaking from head to toe. She had seen the rage and madness is Shawn’s eyes; remembering the night Hope had joined them on the road. He had repeatedly said she was his and nothing would part them, tearing her clothes…

A second later, River had run into a restroom to vomit.

Mark and Steve waited for her, knowing this was a lot to take in. Both men’s eyes narrowed as Stephanie appeared.

“Princess, you might soon be a widow.” Mark informed her angrily, wanting to kill Paul simply because the man had been apart in River’s kidnapping. Then again, the man was still useful since he knew what the drug.

Stephanie let out a soft scream when Mark suddenly drove his fist into a wall.

Steve just winced at the sound of bones breaking.

River walked out a few minutes later looking pale. She frowned when she seen Stephanie.

“I feel like shit because I knew there was something wrong.” Stephanie whispered. “I knew it.”

“Not your fault.” She murmured, glancing at Mark then his hand. “Let me set that for you.”

Sighing heavily, Mark just nodded, letting her guide him over to a table. A second later, he was inwardly cursing as she set the broken finger.


Steve and Stephanie both watched with wide eyes as Mark suddenly pulled River into him, capturing her lips in a heated, passionate kiss that left them both squirming.

Slowly, Mark pulled away; both of them breathless and could feel River’s body still leaning into his. “Darlin’, I’m-“

“Sorry, I know.” She murmured, looking distant for a moment.

“You remembering something?” Steve asked hesitantly.

“Just déjà vous.” She sighed, looking up at Mark, then to Steve. “This isn’t over.”

“If anything, it’s just beginning.” Stephanie raked both hands through her hair. “I’ve got to go write Shawn’s dismissal papers.”

“What?” Mark stopped Stephanie, shaking his head. “Oh no, no. I want that bastard at Mania.” When Stephanie opened her mouth to argue, he fixed her with a piercing stare. “Don’t even think about it, Princess. I want that son of a bitch in a Hell in a Cell match at Mania.” He ordered, green eyes flashing. Shawn wasn’t getting away that easily or off for that matter. “Make it happen.”

“Mark, River cannot work here if Shawn does. I won’t risk it.” Stephanie said firmly, looking at River. “He’s already proved he’s deranged when it comes to her. If you think he wouldn’t-“

“Fire him AFTER Mania, I can protect her till then.”

“Or I can just go- Oh yeah, I don’t have a home anymore.” River sighed.

“Yes you do, Rivvie. With Steve.” Mark wasn’t about to say with him, knowing he would have to be patient considering all she had been through. Hell, she would never be his River again. “I want him, Stephanie. I don’t care what it takes, you make sure he’s at Mania. I’ll even sign a waiver because I’m snapping that fucker’s neck.”

“You’d still be charged with manslaughter, so no, you won’t. River… I don’t really feel comfortable with you on the road so long as Shawn’s here.” Stephanie said with a soft sigh, feeling a migraine coming on.

“I don’t either. If Steve don’t mind, I’ll be going back to his house.”

“Our house.” Steve corrected with a smile. “Um… I have an angle with Jericho.”

“We’ll keep Shawn so busy he won’t want to leave his damn bed.” Steph promised.

“I’ll go off road and rest my knee until Mania.” Mark said after a minute. “I’ll stay with River and Hope.” This would also be the perfect opportunity to get to know his daughter.

“Just don’t destroy my house, Mark. You’re the biggest slob I know.”

“He is?” River asked curiously, feeling lost.

“You used to bitch about it all the time, Riv.”

“I did?”

No longer amused, Mark shook his head. “Screw you, Steve.”

“Ew, no.”

Stephanie watched as Mark and River finally walked away, shaking her head. “Steve, be straight with me, is Shawn going to stay on the road when she finds out she’s gone or is he going to say fuck it and take off?”

“Like you said, we’ll keep his ass so busy he won’t have time for anything else.” Steve replied, though he was doubting his own words. “Mark will keep them safe.” He said finally, forcing himself to believe what he was saying. His blue eyes narrowed when Paul joined them. “What?”

“The drug was PDMT. I don’t know what it stands for but the only way to regain memories is time and triggers.” Paul said quietly, knowing Steve wanted nothing more than to beat his ass into oblivion and honestly didn’t blame the man. He chanced a look at his wife, not surprised to see the disgusted expression on her face.

“You best hope she gets her memories back Paul or you’re going to wish you could forget what’ll happen to you.” Stephanie threatened, blue eyes flashing, still not believing how heinous her husband had been back in the day.

Steve loved the sight of Paul turning white underneath his tan.


River watched tensely as Hope watched the footage from her confrontation with Shawn; having explained everything beforehand to her as best she could. Now all she could do was wait.

“So… he’s not my dad after all?” Hope said slowly, looking torn between confusion and crying.

“No, baby, he’s not.”

“Does this mean I have to pray at dinner?”

River could only stare at her daughter, wishing she herself possessed that kind of indifference.

“No little darlin’, you don’t.” Mark answered quietly. He couldn’t believe all that had happened and how easy it had been to trap Shawn. The man was thicker then a post if he thought he could just waltz right back into River’s life like nothing had ever happened. “Hope…” He said her name this time, green eyes meeting green eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“For what? Not your fault you couldn’t protect my mom.” Hope said with a shrug, standing up. “I’m gonna go lie down.” She stuffed her hands in her pockets and trudged off to her bedroom.

“Mark, let her go.” River placed a hand on his arm to stop him from following. “She needs some time to herself.”

He could only nod.


“Are you mad at me for what I did?” Mark asked River later that night, standing behind her in the kitchen. She had been busy frying potatoes and onions. He watched as she slowly turned to face him, seeing those familiar blue eyes piercing his very soul. “I’m sorry darlin’. I have to know.”

“Sometimes.” River said honestly, turning back to her work. “Mostly at night. I was happy, Mark. I had the fairytale marriage. A husband who adored me, a beautiful daughter…” Her voice was trembling now, blinking back tears. “I loved him.” She whispered, finally bringing a dish towel to her face. “Excuse me.” She hurried out of the kitchen.

Closing his eyes, Mark held a hand over his eyes. He wanted to go after her, pull her into his arms and comfort her. She needed time though, just like Hope. Sighing, he washed his hands and took over for her, needing to get his mind off of the woman who currently held his heart hostage.

Fifteen minutes later, River came back, her eyes rimmed red but other than that no sign of having just cried until it hurt. She could hear Mark outside at the grill and finished with the potatoes and onions, adding a liberal amount of butter to the skillet. Pressing her forehead to the cupboard, she inhaled deeply; remembering a not too long ago a scene almost like this only it was with a different man.


Mark looked down when he heard Hope clearing her throat, closing the lid to the grill and crouched down infront of her. “Yes, little darlin’?” He drawled, blinking when her arms went around his neck and closed his eyes tightly; pulling her into a tender hug.

“It’s kinda cool having the Undertaker for a dad.” Hope said after a minute, looking at him. “Though… that doesn’t mean ya get to boss me around.”

“Hope…” River said warningly, walking out onto the patio with a glass of tea. “You know better than to talk to adults like that.”

“Awww mom.”

Mark found this little exchange amusing, grinning up at River alongside Hope, unaware their grins were identical. “She thinks I’m cool, how bout that?” He chuckled, straightening to his full height. “I’ll let your momma handle the bossing.” He teased, patting Hope’s head. When he seen the look on River’s face, he frowned, mouthing: “Are you okay?”

“No.” She said bluntly, watching as Hope took off again; wondering where the hell she got all that energy from. She had to shake away the picture of their almost mirror expressions, sinking down into a chair and groaned. This wasn’t going to get any easier and she knew that. She felt memories welling up of her life with Shawn, trying to battle the evidence of what he had done.

Her mind was winning though.

She retreated into the house to finish up. “How much longer, Mark?” She called, pouring the skillet of fried onions and potatoes into a bowl, covering it so they would stay hot. When he grunted, she walked back outside; smirking when she seen he had caught one of the steaks on fire. “That is so yours.” She giggled, watching him trying to put it out. “Better be careful or you’ll singe your eyebrows off again.”

He froze, slowly turning around; green eyes wide. “Rivvie?” He whispered, placing his hands on her shoulders. “You remember that?”

“Huh?” River stared up at him, a flash of his face with no eyebrows drifting through her mind; trying not to giggle anymore. “Yes, no. I don’t know. I remember something but… Not enough.” She frowned, seeing the hope in his eyes and sighed. “It’ll take time…” She began giggling again, trying not too but it was kind of funny.

“Damn woman, you have a ton of memories of me locked in your head and THAT’S the best you come up with?” Mark shook his head, suddenly feeling an overwhelming sadness engulf him as he turned back to the grill. “Another five minutes and these will be done. And if you don’t quit laughing at me I’m going to have to hurt you.”

“Sorry, but it’s funny.” She chuckled, now bringing out the side dishes and setting them on the table. River was trying to remember that particular memory, forcing her mind to unlock itself. “Damn it… so, how did you burn off your eyebrows the last time?” She asked finally.

“Grilling.” He grunted, not amused when she snorted. “It’s not funny woman, do you have any damn idea how foolish I looked? The damn WWF did an angle with Foley to explain it away….”

“I remember that, Janet asked if you wanted her to pencil in some eyebrows for you.” River said musingly, frowning then blinked. “Hey, I remembered!” She tossed her arms around his neck, glad she could at least recall something.

“Food done yet?” Hope demanded, skidding to a halt besides them. “I’m starving!”


After supper, River made Hope help clean the table and then with dishes, much to Hope’s annoyance. “You did it at home.”

“Yeah, but things are different now.”

“I am still the same, dry.”

“Maybe you’re not. Maybe you hate dishes as much as I do and-“

“Hope Renee Michaels, dry those dishes now.”

Mark frowned when he heard his daughter’s full name, clearing his throat to get River’s attention. “When Hope goes to bed, I’d like to talk to you.” He walked away before she could say another word, going to the living room and dropped down on the couch.

There was no way in hell Hope was keeping Shawn’s last name. Over his dead body would she have any other last name except his, her real fathers. Snorting, Mark tossed aside the remote he had picked up; looking out the window broodingly.

After dishes, River sent Hope upstairs for her bath; groaning and rubbed the back of her neck. She could see Mark in the living room, looking ready to murder someone and she had a feeling she knew why. Sighing, she went to face the music, sitting down beside him. “What did you want to talk about?” She asked quietly, resigned.

“I know none of this is your fault darlin’,” Mark began slowly, wondering how to word this without offending her. “That little girl up there is apart of me. She’s our daughter, not yours and Shawn’s.” That name left such a bad taste in his mouth. “What I’m trying to get at is: I want her last name changed. If you don’t want it to be mine, that’s fine, give her your maiden name. I don’t want it being Michaels though.”

“Legally, he is her father and has been since she was born.” River said, feeling one hell of a headache coming on; not helped by the disgusted look he threw her way. “I can’t get anything changed until a divorce and then custody is settled, so you’ll just have to wait.” She closed her eyes, resting her head back against the couch.

“Not even a DNA test will speed things up?” Mark asked, seeing her shake her head and groaned, standing up. “Get some sleep, Riv. You look exhausted.”


“So out of all them repressed memories, the one she latched onto was of you burning your face, huh?” Steve snorted later that night when Mark had called to fill him in on the latest development with river. He was trying not to laugh, honestly he was. “Well… uh, that’s good Mark, real good; ya crispy mother fucker.” He was full fledge laughing now, unable to stop himself.

“I’ll give you crispy, Austin.” Mark growled angrily, not too keen on being harassed when he couldn’t smash Steve’s face in. “You know, it is nice here. What with drinking all your beer, being with your sister and niece. Too bad you can’t join us, man.” Now it was his turn to laugh when Steve started cussing up a storm. “Now we didn’t say anything bout me restocking the fridge, that’s YOUR job.”

“You know what, I think I’m going to come home and beat the shit outta you.” Steve said after a few moments. “How’re they doing? Is Hope adjusting okay to finding out your ugly mug happens to be genetically related to her? How bout Riv?”

“They’re doing good. For the most part. They’ve each had to take some alone time but…” Mark sighed. “Is he still on the road?” They both knew who he was.

“Yeah, the cocky son of a bitch is walking around like he never did a damn thing wrong. All happy go lucky even though I’m doing the best I can to make his life miserable and so is Stephanie.” Steve sounded disgusted. “Which makes me think he believes Rivvie is coming back to his dumb or he’s planning something.”

“Fuck.” Mark muttered, not liking the sound of that. “You just keep him busy, Steve. I’ve got things covered on this end.” So Shawn was walking around like nothing had happened, without a care in the world. That brought a sneer to Mark’s lips. “I don’t want to take any chances.” He said finally. “I’m going to kill that sonbitch at Mania.”

“I don’t blame ya but the authorities will rule it manslaughter so I’d hold off on that for awhile. Look he’s not going anywhere without me following his ass. So don’t freak out too much.” Steve said, frowning as he watched Shawn pass his open dressing room door. “Hey, I’m going to go beat his ass right now, alright?”

“Have at it.” Mark hung up, shaking his head and smiled slightly. Why was it Steve had all the luck? Then he seen River walking past him and out the front door. Then again… maybe he had the luck. Getting up, he followed her, dropping down on the porch steps beside her. “Can’t sleep?”

She shook her head no.

“Rivvie, I think you should know… Shawn is probably planning something. According to your brother he’s walking around with a swollen head. I just think we need to be prepared.”

“Yeah.” River breathed, wrapping her arms around herself. “Normally I’d say he probably won’t do anything because he knows he’s been busted but… I guess I don’t know him as well as I thought, do I?” She smiled shakily. “And he knows I’m not coming back, that was made abundantly clear.”

“Don’t you worry about anything, River. Nothing is going to happen to you or Hope, I promise.” He placed a hand on her shoulder, seeing her pain filled blue eyes turning to him and swallowed hard. “I broke my promise last time, it’s not happening again. If we have too, we’ll go to my house outside of Houston.”

“I’m sure it will be no safer there then it is here.” River said quietly, reaching out to push his hand away. “Besides, it’s not good for Hope to be bounced around like she has been lately. She’s still dealing with it all, even if she does put on a brave face.”

“You used to live with me.” He was just as quiet. “You redid the entire house when you first moved in, saying it was too dark for your taste. I left it the way you had it.” He wasn’t lying. He hadn’t touched a single thing she had done.

“Fine, we’ll go. Just to see if it might help my memory issue.” Getting up with a sigh, she backed towards the front door. “Goodnight Mark.”


“So where is it we’re going?” Hope asked for what had to be the 100th time, sitting between Mark and her mom in his truck. “Houston? We live in San Antonio and we-“

River blocked out her daughter’s chatter, resting her head against the window pane.

“Houston is where I live, Hope.” Mark explained patiently. He had already called Steve to let him know about the move, knowing the man would have a heart attack if he came home to an empty house without knowing what was going on. “Your momma used to live with me. I’m hoping this will jog some more of her memories.” He smiled, catching her nodding her head from the corner of his eye.

“So you two used to live together before I was born… how come ya didn’t get married?”

“We were going to get rings tattooed on our fingers.” River said with a sigh, wondering if Hope would ever shut up.

“Were you now?” Hope asked shrewdly, staring at her mother with a smirk.

“Yes, right-“ River shifted to show her daughter, frowning when she seen Hope’s grin. “What?”

“Darlin’, you’re remembering.” Mark reached across the backseat to squeeze her neck gently. “It was going to be a bonding ceremony.” He said quietly. “Your memories are coming back, Rivvie.”

“What’s a bonding ceremony?” Was Hope’s next question.

“It’s like getting married only it’s not considered legal.” River explained patiently. “But it’s… more… intense.”

“So you remember huh?”

“Not really.”

“She remembers we were going to do it.” Mark grinned, moving his arm, knowing she was probably uncomfortable with him touching her.


“You live in a ranch! So do we!” Hope shrieked excitedly, hours later. “Mom, look! It looks almost like- OHHH DOGS!”

“Oh dear god… Hope, don’t!” River shouted, watching as Hope took off running, sighing in relief when the dogs didn’t attack her then frowned at Mark. “You can stop smiling at any time now or I might put itching powder in places you don’t want it.”

“I can’t darlin’, look how the boys haven taken to her.” Mark was grinning broadly as he guided River over to the dogs, not noticing she was cringing. He watched as the mutts instantly tackled her, laughing.

“GET THEM OFF OF ME!” River screamed.

“Dad, mom’s scared of dogs!” Hope shouted, flinching when her mom began really screaming. Scared was too light a word. “C’mon boys, c’mon.” She whistled, patting her leg and drew their attention to her.

“River’s scared of dogs?” Mark immediately got Hades off of her, swallowing hard. “You used to love these mutts. Hell, you’re the one who named them.” He seen how badly she was shaking and took his boys around the side of the house, pushing them through a gate. This was going to be harder then he thought. “Since when are you scared of dogs?” He demanded when he had joined them again, watching her just sitting there on the ground.

“Since I got mauled by one four years ago when Shawn and I took Hope camping.” River said, climbing to her feet and brushed grass off her jeans. “People at the next site over had a pit bull that wasn’t people friendly. Shawn about snapped it’s neck.”

“I remember that, you wouldn’t let go of him and he had to carry you everywhere all night.” Hope giggled.

“Jesus…” Mark whispered.

After several uncomfortable minutes, he finally led them inside, standing back and just watched as River examined the living room. There were pictures of them everywhere. He inwardly shed a few tears when she didn’t seem to recognize any of them.

“Come on Hope, let’s wade through the dust bunnies and find you a room.” She said finally, having definitely noticed this place needed cleaned and walked down the hallway. She halted in the doorway of a room and frowned. “Mark’s room, next one over, honey. Mark you have two bedrooms, this is a problem.” She said, walking into his room and looked around, beginning to smirk. “Nice boxers.”

Clearly embarrassed, Mark swiped them off the floor. “I haven’t been here in bout a year.” He grunted, ignoring her surprised look. In all honesty, it was too hard coming here. Back to the house they had lived in together. The memories always made him break down. Before she could even ask why the boxers were bright green and covered in leprechauns, he threw them into the closet. “I- Hope, what’re you doing?”

“Reading.” Hope said, carrying a letter in her hand. The paper was beginning to fade yellow, just looking at it showed it to be old. “Last night was incredible, the next time you decide to use your tongue you can put it-“ Hope frowned. “Mom, what’s this word? P-u-“

“GIVE ME THAT!” River snatched the letter, eyes scanning it and began blushing; recognizing her handwriting. Apparently she had been an avid porn writer too. “There anymore of these?”

“Shoebox full.”

Mark was laughing too hard, leaning against his dress with his arms wrapped around his stomach. He couldn’t get past River’s flaming cheeks or wide eyes. When he could finally breathe again, he crossed the room to wrap his arms around her waist; resting his chin on her shoulder and stared down at the letter in her hand. “I read every one of those two. You were very descriptive in a few.” He purred in her ear.

“I noticed.” She muttered, turning to hide her face in his chest. “Hope, bring that box here and stay out of stuff until it’s been gone through.”

“Aww man.” Hope sighed, walking back out.

“You’re evil, stop laughing at me. Mark! Stop laughing!”


“I can’t help it, the look on your face when she asked to spell pussy was priceless.” Mark watched as her face went even redder, a low rumble of laughter coming from his chest. “I know you don’t remember writing those, but I’ll let you read through them. You’re not allowed to destroy them since you wrote them to me for a year straight. Before we made things official.” When her eyes widened, he nodded. “Our love was true and deep, River, one that will never be forgotten.”

“By you anyway.” River said seriously, trying not to wince at the hurt expression on his face. “I’m sorry, Mark but I’m not remembering anything.” River sighed, dropping down onto the bed and coughed as dust rose up to greet her. “Damn…” She stood right back up. “I’m cleaning your house.”


Or she would have, if she trusted anything in the damn house. River and Hope had searched the cupboards for edibles, both recoiling at the sight of cobwebs and empty shelves. They didn’t dare open the refrigerator. There was no toilet paper in the house, the shampoos and soaps looked like they had mutated.

All in all, when Steve had said Mark was the biggest slob he knew, he hadn’t been lying. At all.

So the two disgusted girls had informed him he was taking them to the store. Hope for food and stuff to get a bath, River simply because she didn’t trust anything in that house. And because they were both annoyed, they did their best to drain his bank account.

Hope wasn’t used to living in a house like this. It wasn’t like it was clustered and littered. No, it was just that it hadn’t been lived in in so long that things were literally going to hell. She could remember her house –well, now it was just Shawn’s- and how her mom had kept that spotless.

River was just annoyed all the way around. She had been in love with a pig.

“Can you MAKE the cookies instead of buying them?” Hope begged, staring at her mom. “Make daddy’s favorite sugar cookies, with that coconut topping!”

“Chill out. Mark, can you go grab some Midol honey!” She called down the aisle, smiling sweetly when several people looked at him.

“It’s in the blue box!” Hope added.

Mark was going to kill them both, rolled his eyes and wondered what the hell Midol was. He was a man, he didn’t buy women products! He finally found a Wal*Mart associate and stopped her. “Excuse me, darlin-“

“Get away from me! RAPE!”

He blinked, watching the woman run from him, her arms flailing in the eyes and sincerely hoped she got fired.

River had dissolved into a fit of giggles, watching as he tried again and again, rolling her eyes. “C’mon Hope, let’s go finished getting cleaning stuff.”

“I’m gonna go help dad.” Hope giggled, chasing after him and caught his hand. “I know what to get daddy.” She said sweetly.

Snorting at the thought of Mark and Hope buying feminine products, River glanced down at her list before going down to chemical aisle.


All Mark could do was stare at the wall of never ending feminine products, his green eyes wide. When Hope pointed to a section filled with tiny boxes advertising miracle pills that apparently made women less bitchy, he groaned. “Which one?”

“Blue box, on the bottom.”

“Thanks.” He stooped down and snatched the box up, on his way up, he grabbed Hope and put her on his shoulders, passing the box to her. “Why don’t you hold onto them?”

“Sure.” She held the box right on top of his head.”

“Hope, that’s not funny little darlin’.”

“Wait, let’s get her some pads and tampons too, just in case.” Hope said with a giggle, ignoring him when he cursed. She tugged his hair, pointing. “The ones with the wings daddy! Mommy likes the long ones, and lemme see… the shiny tampons.” She was going to fall off his shoulders she was laughing so hard. “Oh… that woman is pregnant, did you know mommy is gonna- Wait a minute, can mom still give me my baby brother if she’s not with my other dad still? Cause they were trying for one. What’s that mean? Trying… Is it like playing a game and hoping you get lucky?”

Mark was now feeling both sick and humiliated. “Maybe when all is said and done, you’ll still get your baby brother, though it won’t be by Shawn. You know he’s not your dad right, little darlin’?” He sighed when she didn’t say anything. “I’m the one who made you with your momma. He raised you but I’m you dad.” He groaned when he got smacked in the face with a bag of pads.

“What if mommy is pregnant? I want a boy, cause there’s only room for ONE girl and that’s me. And Shawn is my other daddy. Mom said I have two, that’s kinda cool. I like you both but you’re more fun, only don’t tell him cause it might hurt his feelings and you forgot tampons dad so turn around.”

“Right.” Mark grunted, wanting to shoot himself, turning around to grab whatever the hell it was Hope was badgering him about. He was going to have a long talk with River tonight about Hope, wanting it made clear that HE was her father, not Shawn. He might not have been there for the past ten years but he didn’t know about her. They were going to get things set straight because the more Hope talked about Shawn, the more his blood boiled.

Mark was officially in hell. When they had finished shopping and gotten back to his ranch, River and Hope had taken care of everything then started on supper. Hope kept asking questions that eventually led to River telling her funny stories from when Hope was a baby.

“Did I really?” Hope giggled, passing her mom a bag of carrots, standing beside her at the counter.

“Honest to goodness. The first step you took was right on Shawn’s lap. He went like this.” River crossed her eyes, making a pained face.

“I was so awesome!”

Mark was sitting at the table, peeling potatoes and trying not to throw the damn knife. Hearing River and Hope giggling over old stories, like they were still part of Shawn’s messed up little family pissed him off. He wound up slicing his finger. “DAMN!”

River whirled around with a frown, gently nudging Hope away so the girl didn’t freak out. Blood wasn’t high on Hope’s list of favorite things. “Hope, go clean your face for dinner.” She ordered, walking down to kneel before Mark, examining the cut. “You are brilliant.” She said, holding the towel she had been using to his fingers to stem the bleeding. “How’d you manage this?”

“Wasn’t paying attention.” He said gruffly, pulling his hand from hers. “I got it.” Pushing away from the table, he stared down at her for a moment then walked out of the kitchen. He didn’t want her treating him, he didn’t want her touching him. It made him sick the way she talked about Shawn, like he hadn’t drugged her and ripped her from her family; away from him; away from what was supposed to be their future. Frustrated beyond belief, Mark headed down to the basement, needing to vent his anger out.

“You can get started.” River said when Hope had come back down, the table set. She glanced at the basement door hesitantly before sighing. “You stay up here.” She ordered, making her way slowly down the stairs. River hesitated when she seen Mark, blue eyes taking in his bare upper body for a moment, chewing her lip. She held her hand, a groan escaping her as she sank down onto the bottom step. “Remember that time we went to that UFC fight and you were so pissed by the outcome you threw a beer at the winner?”

Mark stopped abruptly, already covered in a fine sheen of sweat. “Yeah. The bastard cheated.” He growled, not looking at her. “What do you want, Riv?”

She was quiet for a minute, trying to push the memory further but only got a blank wall. Giving it up, she stood. “I want to know why you’re mad at me.” She blinked when he rounded on her. “About Shawn? Mark, he was a part of mine and Hope’s life for a decade. You can’t expect me to- to not mention him or talk to her about him.”

“You’re acting like he didn’t do anything to you. Like he didn’t tear you from your life, from your family, from ME. That he didn’t keep MY daughter from me for the past ten years, forcing me to miss every important thing in her life. You’re acting like it’s no big deal River, when it is. It IS a big deal. It kills me to hear Hope say she has two dads when she doesn’t. Shawn is not her father, I am. I’m the reason she’s here, it wasn’t Shawn that made that beautiful girl with you, it was ME.”

“What do you want me to do Mark? I lived with him all that time and I loved him! A part of me still does. He did something I don’t even remember but I do remember almost eleven years of him loving me and-“ She backed up when his eyes turned a very ugly shade of green.

“HE TOOK YOU FROM EVERYTHING YOU KNEW AND LOVED!” Mark roared, his voice bouncing off the walls and coming back at them, making her cringe. Snarling, he whirled around and drove his fist through a sheet of plaster. He heard River fleeing up the steps and knew he had scared the hell out of her but he didn’t care. The woman had to open her damn eyes and see things for what they were.

River had flown outside after hearing Hope upstairs in the bathtub, retreating out back to sink down in the long grass, drawing her knees to her chest. She couldn’t help it. She loved Shawn, God help her, she did. She also hated him for what he had done to her, hated him for building her life on lies.


“I want her to stay away from Callaway.” He ordered, gripping her arms tightly. “Nobody is going to take you away from me, River. No force of nature and no act of the good Lord above. Do you understand me?”

Hope frowned, waking up to hear her mom beginning to softly cry. Sitting up, she stared down at her mom. “Mommy?” She whispered hesitantly.

“You are mine.” He growled, the possessiveness overtaking his rational thought. “You and Hope belong to me.” He ripped her panties off, knowing he was frightening her but he couldn’t stop himself.

“Mom, wake up.” Hope whispered, hesitantly shaking her mom, beginning to panic when the crying got worse. “MOM!”

River shot upright screaming for Mark.

Mark flew into the room wearing nothing but a panicked expression and his birthday suit. He ignored Hope, instantly going to the sobbing River, sitting on the edge of the bed and pulled her into his arms. He rocked her back and forth, whispering soothing words against her head, trying to calm her. She must have had a bad dream because all she could do was tremble, cry and whisper his name over and over. “Darlin’, I’m here. I’m here Rivvie.”

“Uh dad, you’re kinda, sorta…. BUCK NEKKED!” Hope shrieked, her hands over her eyes. “Take mom with ya but get out of my room. No naked people allowed in here.” She ordered, pulling the covers over her head so she wasn’t seeing this. “She okay?” She asked from under the comforter.

River couldn’t even form a coherent word at the moment.

“She’s fine, sweetheart. Go back to sleep, I got her.” He assured his daughter, knowing from now on, he’d have to start sleeping in boxers at least. Mark carried River to his own bedroom, shutting the door behind him and laid her down on the bed. He then realized she wasn’t letting him go and sat down with her, finally laying out on the mattress, pulling her alongside of him. “It’s alright, I’m here baby, I got you.” He whispered, holding her trembling frame close.

River just lie there, feeling him caressing her back and bit by bit the crying subsided. After taking a deep breath, she whispered: “He kept saying I was his. That nothing on earth or above would take me from him.” That dream, the memory of the night was really hitting her as she realized just what Shawn had meant. “Mark, he’s not going to let me or Hope go, not ever.”

“He will when he’s eating and drinking through a straw for the rest of his life.” Mark said evenly, lifting her chin to kiss her soft lips. “I’m not going anywhere, Rivvie. I love you and Hope, I’d die for you both.”

“I know, Mark.” She whispered, unable to say the words she knew he wanted to her. She didn’t love him in that way, not yet but was sure with time she could. Time and her memories. River shifted, frowning when she realized something. “Did you really flash our daughter your dick?” She demanded, trying not to giggle when he groaned.

“God, don’t remind me. I sleep in the nude.” He chuckled, seeing her head lower and had a feeling she was blushing. “What is it, darlin’? Remembering something?” He stared at her intently, wishing for light to see what was going on in those beautiful, blue orbs. When he felt her body quivering, he knew she was laughing at him. “Keep laughing and I’ll give you something to laugh about.” He threatened, poking her ribs, smirking when she jumped.

“Oh wait, I am remembering something.” River sat up in the bed, frowning. “Oh yes, that’s right. I remember you have a teeny, tiny pecker.” She burst out laughing again when he snorted. “I’m guessing that wasn’t the memory you were hoping for?”

“You’re a wench. Now go to bed before I have to hurt you.”


River woke up with a smile, snuggling into the warm body next to her and inhaled deeply. She groaned as a flood of memories began lining up to be remembered, triggered by Mark’s scent. She rolled away from him to hold her head. Process, next. Process, next. She knew that wasn’t all of them but enough. After a minute, she looked down at herself, arching an eyebrow and rolled back over to deck him. “Mark William Callaway, where the hell is my nightgown? If I had a penny for every time you stripped me in my sleep, I’d be rich as hell.”

“Aw hellfire woman.” Mark growled, not pleased with being woken up from his delicious dream. Though when he seen her, that was even better. Holding his nose, he sat up, blinking as what she said registered. “You remembered that?” He demanded, seeing the smile on her face and pulled her into his arms. “Tell me. Tell me everything you remember.”

“Nightgown first.”

Grunting, he looked over the side of the bed, reaching back to swipe up the black chemise, handing it to her. “Old habits die hard, darlin’.”

River laid the nightgown aside, smirking at him. “I ought to do what I promised eleven years ago and shave you bald.” She snickered at the look on his face, beginning to recount her memories, not entirely sure she was placing them in the order the event happened but how she remembered them. She glossed over a few that made her cheeks flush and her body ache.

She was certain he was going to kiss her when the bedroom door flew open and Hope barged in. “You need to knock.” She snapped, reaching for the sheet and wrapped it around them both.

“Oh, sorry.” Hope rapped on the door and continued it, jumping onto the bed and bounced down in between them, completely oblivious to Mark’s groan of pain. “I’m hungry and I want pancakes, please?”

River was having another giggling fit.


“Why were you naked?” Hope demanded after River had come down dressed in a denim skirt and tank top, watching her mom whipping up the pancake batter. “Working on my baby?”

“Do you even know how babies are made?”

“You lay an egg right? And Mark has a tadpole and mom why are you- MOM, STOP LAUGHING AT ME!”

“Babies are made when-“ River sighed, not entirely sure how to explain it. She had had every intention of letting Shawn do the honors for that one when it came up. Now she was stuck with it and something told her Mark would just laugh his ass off at her if she even mentioned it to him. “Babies are made by a man and woman having sex.” She decided with the blunt approach. “You know what sex is?”

“Yes, I’ve seen dogs doing- ewww. That is so gross mom.”

“Now you know.”

Mark walked into the kitchen around this time, frowning when he realized just what he had walked in on and grunted, going to pour himself a glass of orange juice. “You’re to young to be knowing what sex is, little darlin’.”

“Gramma said dogs have sex when I asked what they were-“ Hope couldn’t finish, shaking her head. “You really did that with Shawn AND Mark?”

River had been setting out pancakes when she dropped the platter, catching it before it could spill. “HOPE!”

Hope frowned. “What?”

“No more talk about sex!”


“No! You know enough for now. We can finish this conversation when you’re older.” River said firmly.

Hope shut up, knowing from the twitch in her mom’s jaw that she was going to get a spanking if she didn’t keep her mouth closed.

The days passed peacefully, made even more relaxing when no more reports of Shawn came in. river would now talk to Steve herself, telling him things she remembered, laughing when he would always go ‘thank the Lord’, taking his teasing with a grain of salt when it came to not yet remembering their childhood. She knew this couldn’t last forever though. Summer was ending and Hope needed normalcy. Hope needed school and friends. Not to mention River needed a break from her opinionated, obnoxious, arrogant daughter. She was Mark’s child through and through.

Wrestlemania was in a few short days and Mark was pumped for it. He was training like a madman down in the basement. His fists were his ticket to a clean win. Mark snorted at that. There would be nothing CLEAN about it. It would be bloodshed and it was going to be brutal.

River heard a truck crunching on the gravel and grinned. “Steve’s here!” She said eagerly, watching as Mark just nodded from his place near the pool he was erecting. Laughing, she darted around the house, giggling when Mark whistled at her.

Hope followed, laughing only to wind up screaming.” DAD!” She bolted back around the house, screaming again when she heard a door slam shut followed by squealing as the truck pulled away. “DADDY!”

Mark seen the fear in his daughter’s eyes, chasing her back out front and dropped to his knees when he seen a truck peeling out of the drive. “No…” He whispered, catching Hope when she flew into his arms. “No…”


River sat as far away from her husband as she could, flinching as a memory assaulted her.

“Go away, Michaels. I’m not in the mood for your shit tonight.” She said in a bored tone, sitting on a table as she watched a match on the nearby monitor, groaning when he sat down beside her. “I’m serious.”

“You had best watch it tonight, Riv.” He said conversationally, reaching out to take a lock of her hair between his fingers, smirk firmly in place. “Cause tonight is going to be one you’ll never forget.” He began laughing at some private joke. “Or maybe you will.”

Disgusted, she hopped off the table and hurried away.


Mark was now on the phone with Stephanie, Steve sitting beside him along with Hope. He had the phone on speaker, hearing Paul in the background. “So you have no fucking clue where he’d take her, Levesque?”

“No.” Paul said flatly. “Mark, I have no idea. I haven’t spoke with him since I spilled everything I knew.”

“Goddamn it…”

“Mark, I’m going to three-way call Shawn’s phone. You need to keep QUIET. It you so much as BREATHE, I’ll hang up, understand?” Stephanie said, sighing when he just grunted and punched in the number. She almost blinked when she got a bright and chipper ‘hello?’. “Hey Shawn, it’s Steph.” She said brightly. “I’ve been giving some thought to this WrestleMania match and I really don’t think it’ll be enough. I think we need to up the stakes. The board has already decided you’ll be the one to end ‘Taker’s streak but we need to give you something to really fight for, you know what I’m saying?”

“Interesting Steph. What did you have in mind?” Shawn sounded amused.

“I was thinking your family.” She said at once. “Picture it, Shawn. We can air a video of you and River,” Her voice took on it’s usual dreamy tone when she was brainstorming, actually going to do this. “A voice over with ‘Their love was forever until…’ You get my drift. We’ll incorporate what really happened into it. Taker kidnapping your family and how you’re fighting to get them back. We’ll make this a type of ‘love her or leave her’ match. You win, you get them back. He wins, you let them go. What do you think?”

Mark was going to kill Stephanie, ignoring the warning look Steve shot him.

“A love her or leave her match…” Shawn drawled, breathing into the phone for a moment, then silent for a second. “Why should I? She’s my wife, she’ll be with me regardless.”

“You owe her this, Shawn.” Paul growled. “You remember that favor you owe me? I’m calling it in now.”

“Sure, alright fine.” Shawn chuckled. “If I win, which I will because Taker is a moron, then River and Hope stay with me and nothing more is said about this entire fiasco. Got it?”

Steve just shook his head, watching as Mark left the room.


Hope lay curled up on Mark’s bed, sniffling. She had long cried all her tears, there was nothing left but dry sobs. “Daddy, he’s not going to hurt her, is he?” She asked quietly, a tremor in her voice. She could remember seeing her mom’s face, the panic in her blue eyes as she was dragged back into the truck.

His heart broke, hearing the fear in her tone. “Little darlin’, I’m not going to lie to you because I honestly don’t know.” He whispered. “I’ll get her back, Hope. I promise, then everything will be alright.”

She was silent for a moment then sat up, her pale face streaked with dried tears. “That’s the second or third time ya made a promise.” She said solemnly. “And you ain’t kept a single one, dad.”

“I know.” The pain of that realization was clear as day on his face. “I know I haven’t.” He reached for her again, pulling her into a tight hug. “When all of this is done, you’ll have your momma back. Your REAL mom.”

Hope frowned at that, looking thoughtful. “Dad… won’t she be a mixture of both? Her old self and how she is now? Ain’t like she’s gonna forget all the new memories she has.” She said slowly, chewing on her thumbnail before looking up at him. “I LIKE the mom I have now, I don’t want her being someone else.”

“You’re right, she’ll be a mix. You’ll see a whole new side of your momma, Hope, the one Shawn took away from her.” How the hell was he supposed to explain this to a ten year old girl? She wasn’t understanding and he honestly had no clue how to make it register with her. “Look, Shawn did something really bad to her. He made her who she is… but she’s slowly getting her memories back, her REAL memories. Do you understand little darlin’?’

“So what you’re trying to say is that my mom doesn’t exist, she’s not real; just something Shawn made and this woman you know is the real one?” Hope summarized, understanding better then he gave her credit for.

Mark didn’t know what to say when she put it like that.


River stared up at the arena, her blue eyes filled with a mixture of anger and hope. She looked down at her hand, which was being all but crushed in Shawn’s. “You’re going to break them.” She said flatly.

Shawn loosened his grip, his face grim as they walked inside. He wasn’t surprised to find Mark and Steve waiting for them, Hope firmly tucked between the pair. “Good evening, boys.” He greeted, pulling River in front of him; wrapping his arm around her throat. “Now unless you want her to get hurt, step aside. She’s mine until this match is decided, which means she’ll STILL be mine.” He glanced at Hope, seeing the tears in her eyes. “Aw sweetheart, you can come with us to my dressing room.”

Mark watched Steve pick Hope up, shaking his head. “Tonight, Michaels, you will die.”

“Ah ah, is that smart? I do have her by the throat.” Shawn said, cutting off River’s oxygen.

“Hopie, turn your head, honey.” Steve ordered, forcing her to look away, his heart breaking when he heard her muffled sobs. “You’re sick, Michaels.”

“Not as sick as some people.” Shawn replied, not bothered in the least, his eyes flickering to Mark. “If you come near me, I’ll pop her head right off.”

“Your ass is mine, Michaels. River, hang in there darlin’, I love you.”

“River don’t love you, she loves me.”

“You could only wish.”

Shawn only loosened his grip on her when Mark and Steve had walked away, taking Hope with them.


“Mark, screw the match.” Steve said when they were in a room, setting Hope down. “Let Stephanie know he’s here and there’s enough of us to stop him before he actually kills her.” He cracked his knuckles. “Else wise she might not make it to the match. There ain’t no telling what he’ll do to her between now and then.” He glanced back at Hope, sighing when he seen she hadn’t removed the IPod he had put on her, at full volume.

“No.” Mark shook his head, cracking his knuckles. “We have a stipulation and we have a plan. I want to kill him, Steve. I want to break every damn bone in his body. He won’t kill her, he’s obsessed with her.”

“No, but that don’t mean he won’t do something else.” Steve grunted. Match be damned. Shawn didn’t play the rules, he had made that clear when he had kidnapped River all those years ago, no rules but his own anyway.


River sat in the corner of Shawn’s dressing room, knees drawn to her chin; staring straight ahead. Shawn was busy talking with Glenn, who had came in a few minutes after they had arrived, unable to hear what they were saying, not sure she wanted to know.

Glenn smirked wickedly, listening to Shawn and nodded his head. “I know exactly what you want and trust me, it’ll be my pleasure.” His eyes strayed to River, shaking his head when she looked up, her ice blue eyes narrowing. “That’s not very Christian of you, Mrs. Michaels.” He said when she flipped him off.

“Oh, that will all change as soon as we get this little nuisance with Mark out of the way.” Shawn chuckled, patting him on the back. “Thanks a lot for this, big man.” He passed Glenn a check. “Pleasure doing business with ya.”

While Shawn was busy showing Glenn to the door, River got to her feet and made her way to the bathroom. She shut the door and locked it, hearing him curse. “Let me piss in private, Shawn!” She yelled through the door, rolling her eyes. “There ain’t no damn way out of here so chill out.”

When she emerged ten minutes later, having used the toilet and then just leaned against the wall, taking deep; calming breaths. Inhaling deeply, she opened the door and almost fell on her ass when she found him waiting right THERE. The look on his face instantly reminded he of her dream and the night he had almost lost it. “Calm down, honey.” She said instinctively.

“You are mine.” Shawn said slowly, his hazel eyes filled with emotion. “We belong together, River. You, me and Hope; we’re a family.” He now had her backed against the wall, a hand on either side of her head. “Do you understand?” He grabbed her hand, bringing her wedding ring to eye level. “You are my wife, like I said, no act of nature or even God’s own hand will ever take you away from me.”

River could only nod, wrapping her arms around his neck; feeling his entire body stiffen against hers but clung to him anyway. “I’m sorry, Shawn.” She whispered, burying her face in his chest, her hot tears soaking through his shirt in no time. “I’m sorry, I love you.” She raised her tear stained face to him; kissing him almost desperately. “I love you Shawn, I’m sorry.” She murmured against his lips, tears clinging to her eyelashes.

Those sweet words did what they always did. Relaxed him. “I love you too, River.” He whispered, running a finger down her cheek, catching a tear. “God, I’m so sorry.” He pulled her against him, their lips colliding in a passionate, heated kiss. “I’m sorry…” He truly meant it, pressing her back into the wall, his hands moving down her sides to cup her ass. He lifted her up, feeling her legs wrapping around his waist and pressed his forehead to hers. “After I win the match, we’ll go home and forget this ever happened.” He promised huskily.

Nodding, she wiped tears from her eyes and managed a small smile. “I love you.” She whispered again, smiling even more, seeing the usual effect those words had on him; understanding more then ever just why they did. “Shawn, when we do get home, don’t take my memories from me again.” She pleaded softly, cupping his face in her hands. “I don’t want to forget you, I don’t want to forget any of our happiness.”

“I won’t, I promise.” He murmured against her lips, glad she had seen the light. Mark wasn’t right for her, he never had been. It was him and River, together forever. “I love you, River.”

River smiled once more, her fingers caressing the nape of his neck. Her eyes darkened when he buried his face into the crook of her neck, feeling his lips attacking the sensitive skin.

“I need you.” He whispered huskily, freeing one hand to cup her jean covered sex. “Do you want me, Riv?”

“Yes…” She hissed, staring into his eyes; arching herself against him when he rubbed the heel of his hand against her, whimpering softly. “Shawn, please… I want you, honey.” Her hands were already moving to unbutton his shirt, skimming the flesh she revealed with her fingertips.


“Shawn, I want to go out there with you.” River said as they dressed, kissing his shoulder blade before he could pull on his shirt; laughing when he growled. “Listen to me,” She caught his face, forcing him to look at her. “I want to be there when you beat him. I want him to see that he could never tear us apart.”

Shawn stared intently down at his wife, searching her eyes for some sign of deception. All he could see in those vivid blue eyes was her love for him shining back at him. “Alright.” He said with a smile, kissing her hand then her lips. “Just… be careful out there, honey.”

Laughing, she quickly pulled on one of his HBK shirts, knotting it over her abdomen then brushed her hair with his brush. A giggle escaped her swollen lips when he got down on his knees to kiss her bare belly. “Hopefully out little boy is in there.” She said softly, smiling when he looked up at her.

“Hopefully.” He kissed her stomach again, resting his forehead against her.


“You ready?” Steve asked, watching as Mark pulled his gloves on, one by one. He almost shuddered at the expression of grim determination on his friend’s face, glad he wasn’t in Shawn’s place; not that he would ever admit it.

Mark just nodded; sparing his daughter a glance.

Hope just gaped at him.

“I’ll bring her back.” He promised, crouching down on one knee to catch her when she flew into his arms. “I promise, Hope.” He looked up at Steve, shaking his head. “Don’t let her watch.”

“I won’t.” Steve said softly.


River waited patiently besides Shawn, fighting back the butterflies of going out there in front of all those people. She smiled nervously when his music started up, letting him guide her out onto the stage. Then she had to fight back the urge to bury her face in her hands when he danced around her, giggling in spite of herself.

Then she really blushed when he kissed her for all to see, threading her fingers with his as they headed to the ring, her eyes fastened on the cage that was already in place. “I’ll be over there.” She whispered, kissing him again before he slid through the door.

The bells tolled as Mark walked out. He wasn’t even in his ring gear. Nothing but black jeans, steel toed boots and gloves. He wasn’t going to ruin his wrestling tights by letting Shawn’s rancid blood soak into them. He didn’t even look at River as he stepped through the ropes, hearing the ominous sound of the steel door closing behind him, followed by the padlock being snapped shut.

Shawn for the first time since this had started, actually looked scared.


“Come on, Shawn!” River called, smiling encouragingly when he glanced back at her, blowing him a kiss; her wedding ring sparkling as it caught the light. She didn’t even look at Mark, her eyes for one man only. Behind her, she could hear Jim explaining to the people at home what this match was about and who she was and all the rest. Her blue eyes narrowed as Mark opened the match with a volley of punches, wincing when Shawn staggered under the unending blows.

Mark was on the attack, his blood boiling as he kept punching Shawn, every time the man got up, he would hit him again. When the referee got in his way, he pushed the smaller man aside, then went back to stomping on Shawn.

That was pretty much how the match –if it could even be called that- went. Every time Shawn would get one move in, Mark would retaliate with several.

At this point, Shawn was wondering where the hell Glenn was.

When Glenn finally did come out, River breathed a sigh of relief and met him at the cage door. They shared a long look before he literally tore the door from its hinges. While he slid inside the ropes to deal with Mark, she retrieved a steel chair, tossing it over the top rope before climbing in after it.

“Shawn! Shawn, get up!” She urged worriedly, hearing Mark growling as Glenn tried to hold him back, watching as Shawn got into a kneeling position, her eyes widening when she seen the blood on his face.

“River, I can’t hold him!” Glenn shouted, turning Mark to face her, struggling to hold him back.

Nodding, she raised the chair, swinging it at Mark.

Glenn actually heard Mark whisper her name as the chair came flying towards him. At the very last second, River spun around and sent her already dazed husband flying; opening the gash on his forehead wider.

“Thanks.” Mark grunted, inwardly sending a prayer heavenward that it hadn’t been his head getting knocked off. He took the chair from her, his eyes taking on a wicked gleam. After a few seconds, Shawn’s head was resting between the metal seat and the back rest, Mark climbing onto the turnbuckle. He froze when he heard Steve’s theme blast throughout the arena; glancing towards the ramp.

Stone Cold Steve Austin’s blue eyes held nothing but evil intentions as he slid into the ring.

Mark dropped down, figuring Steve deserved a bit of the action. After all, it was his sister who had been kidnapped and kept hidden for over ten years.

“Wait!” River stopped her brother before he could do anything. “I want to say something before he passes out.” Shawn was already on the verge that much was plain to see. Crouching down, River almost tenderly brushed his hair back from his bloody forehead, watching as his eyes slowly focused on her. “I loved the man I thought you were, Shawn. Not you.” She whispered, seeing those words crippling him emotionally, worse than any of the physical damage he had taken tonight. “See you in court.”

“My turn.” Steve said when she backed away, cracking his knuckles as he advanced.

Between him and Mark, there wasn’t all that much left of Shawn Michaels. The pieces of the man were loaded onto a gurney and wheeled away, the trio watching impassively. Mark looked down at River; seeing the pain she was trying to hide and inwardly sighed. Not saying a word, he exited the ring, leaving the siblings there and headed backstage; he had a daughter to go see.


Hope was being watched by Stephanie and Paul. Paul was just glad his services hadn’t been needed after all, looking green under his tan. That could have been him. It probably would be him in the near future. Stephanie looked up from cradling Hope when the look opened, Mark slowly stepping in; looking like he hadn’t just damn near killed a man.

“Dad…” Hope ran to him, wrapping her arms around his neck when he dropped down to her level.

Mark held her tightly, hearing her heart wrenching sobs, feeling them tearing through her. He looked past her to Stephanie, just nodding.

Stephanie nodded back, knowing it was over.

River came flying through the door next, Steve right behind her.

“MOMMY!” Hope screamed, pulling away from her father’s arms and ran to her mom.

Stephanie was now frowning, wondering just what the hell was going on. “River… I HEARD you… what the HELL?” She was confused. She had been preparing to knock on Shawn’s door earlier when she heard the pair of them, something she was hoping could be forgotten with therapy. “You and Shawn… were, I’m confused.

River was too busy hugging her daughter to bother explaining anything just yet.

“I want joint custody.” Mark said evenly, breaking up the moment. It hadn’t taken much to understand what Stephanie had been saying, his heart breaking all over again at the very idea. When River met his stare, there was no emotion in his. “What we had was a long time ago. You don’t love me. I accept that. But I want joint custody of Hope after your divorce is settled with Michaels.” He walked out of the room, not bothering to look at Steve.

All he wanted was a pillow and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

“What the hell?” Steve demanded, covering Hope’s ears as Stephanie explained. “Rivvie?”

River didn’t flinch. “I did what I had to do to keep him from losing it.” She said softly, meeting her brother’s gaze steadily. “He was losing control and I did what was needed to make sure I got back to my daughter in one piece.”

“Oh… OH! Shit, I’m sorry!” Stephanie groaned.


Mark had kept his promise. Though at a heavy price. No matter why River did what she did, he couldn’t get past it. Steve had called to explain things but in the end it made no difference to him. She loved Shawn still and he knew it. She loved him as much as she hated him for the things he had done to her. Mark no longer had a place in her heart.

His current ambition was just to watch his daughter grow up and be a part of her life, that was it. Well, that and to get through this bottle he was working on.


Later that night after Hope had finally dropped from sheer exhaustion, River left her daughter in Steve’s care to go try talking to Mark. Steve hadn’t been keen on letting her go but she refused to let him talk her into staying behind. Though when she reached Mark’s hotel room door, she almost wish she hadn’t come at all. Hesitantly, she raised her hand and knocked.

It took Mark several tries to get out of bed, feeling slightly tipsy. Okay, maybe he wasn’t tipsy. He was well on his way to a perfectly badass hang over, swaying as he walked to where he thought his door was, reaching for one of the knobs that swirled in his vision. When he opened the door, all he could do was stare down at River blankly. “What?” His voice was gruff, not caring at the moment how he looked. Which was like shit. He grunted when she walked in past him, sighed and kicked the door shut behind him.

River sighed as well, tearing the bottle from his hand and headed into the bathroom, pouring the amber liquid down the drain. When she returned, she found him STILL standing there, taking in his red eyes and the obvious trails where he had cried. “You still listen to the Carpenters when you drink and cry?” She asked curiously, spotting a CD laying on the table and nodded, moving to stand in front of him. “Mark… I wanted to talk to you but you are TOASTED.”

As if to prove it, Mark swayed on the spot.

Shrugging, River poked him with one finger, watching as he fell to his ass.

“Say what ya wanna say an’ git out.” He slurred angrily.

“You stormed off because Stephanie told you I fucked Shawn.” She said bluntly, watching him wince and moved to sit on the edge of the bed; staring down at him. “Well, Mark William, did it ever occur to you that I did it to save my ass?” She demanded. “He was losing his mind in there and I wasn’t dying without seeing him go first.”

“He wouldn’t have hurt ya… much.” He muttered, pushing himself off the floor, managing to crawl up onto the bed, ignoring her indignant huff as he moved past her. “We both know why ya did it, Riv. Ya wanted to get one more round in with him to remind ya how it used ter be a’fore Steve and I fucked yer world up. Makes me wonder if we shoulda just left ya alone. So ya did what ya had to, congratulations.”

River stood up, staring down at him. She had her memories back, every last one of them. And they were conflicting with the person she was today. Her old self loved Mark, her memories of Mark and their time together. The person she was now still loved her husband, no matter what he had done to her and Hope. To her family and Mark.

“You’re right.” She whispered.

“I already knew that, darlin’. Go on, git outta here.” Mark mumbled, draping an arm over his eyes.

Nodding, River headed for the door.

“You gonna take him back?”

Her fingers wrapped around the doorknob, hesitating. “No.” She breathed, her eyes closing against the pain. “I can’t ignore what he’s done.”

“Good girl.”


“Momma, Stevie is chewin’ on my pencil.” Hope shouted, sounding both amused and exasperated.

River groaned from her place in the kitchen, trying to cook something edible. Stevie was a year old, Hope pushing twelve in a few days. Sighing, she walked into the living room and smiled in spite of herself. Hope was grinning at her one year old brother who was indeed gnawing on a pencil. “Well take it from him.”

Laughing, Hope did, passing over a block instead.

Shaking her head, River dropped down onto the couch to watch them. She had named her son after her brother, something that made Steve happy to no end. Her divorced was even now being dragged through the courts, though Hope was now legally Mark’s and seen him regularly. Now the issue was her and Shawn battling it out over their son.

Though in the end, River would win. Shawn’s hold on her was broken. She had seen through his painful lies. He might have loved her but his love was a brand of poison she wasn’t interested in imbibing anymore. Now that she had her memories, she had had to reconcile who she had been with who she was.

Steve often complained about it. One minute she would rant at him for something he did the next she was telling him to mind his mouth.

Propping her chin in her hand, River’s blue eyes studied her children. A child from each of her loves, a reminder of what she had had with each man. Neither man was a part of her life anymore. Well Mark was so far as Hope went. Shawn had visitations with his son, under Steve’s supervision since River couldn’t bear to be in the same room with him at all.

Maybe in a few more years, she would be able to look at him and not feel her heart break, or rage. Maybe.

As for Mark, well… in the end, he had gotten what he wanted. He had wanted her to remember who she was, who she had been and what she had lost.

But it was bittersweet. What he hadn’t counted on was her feelings for him had changed. Ten years living a life with no memory of him had changed her, even after her memory recall. No doubt he wished he had never opened that door in her mind; it would have been easier on him to have her forget him then for her to walk away.

So much for remembering.