At the sound of an all-too familiar voice calling his name, Eddie ran faster up the stairs at the back of the hotel, gripping his title belt. He should've known he'd catch up to him.
"Eddie!" The livid man finally caught up with him, grabbing him roughly by his white t-shirt, pulling him towards him.
"Chris! Holmes!" Eddie forced a smile, trying his best to sound calm, "What's wrong man? Chill-"
"Chill?" Chris yelled, "Why should I 'chill,' when you left your stupid low-rider at the arena, and I had to run the whole way here to catch you!"
Eddie shrugged, "Well, it wasn't like anyone made you follow me ése."
"Yeah, but... was taking a ride with me really so... undesirable!" Chris huffed.
Eddie's eyes lit up in realisation. He really didn't want to be having this conversation now. "...No, amigo, it's just... well.... you were being kind of annoying..."
Chris some how got even more furious. "This again! This is why I wanted to talk to you... this is what I'm so... so, mad about!"
Eddie looked away from Chris, allowing him to see only the barest hint of a cocky smile. It was fake, of course. Eddie didn't want Chris to see the guilt in his eyes. "I don't know what you're mad about," he forced out.
"You!" Chris was clearly exasperated, "The way you've been acting! You haven't called me in months, you didn't want to drive with me today... fuck, you blinded me with car wax! That was..."
"...A dick move."
That worked too.
Chris looked down at the concrete ground, kicking his feet awkwardly. "I still consider you one of my best friends, Eddie. It's just a shame you don't feel the same way. You don't care about anything do you, except winning..."
Eddie stumbled backwards. He wished he could grab Chris, hug him and tell him he felt the same way and a whole lot more.
But he couldn't.
That was the problem.
For years, no matter what happened, he always considered Chris his best friend. From when they met in Japan, all the way through ECW, WCW and finally when they came to the WWF together as part of The Radicalz, there was no one he was closer to than Chris Benoit. Sure Rey, and Dean, and C.J. were all his best friends. But Chris was his best friend.
During the dark days of drugs and alcohol, Chris was always there for him, always comforting him, always helping him.
Eddie didn't know if he ever would've been able to clean up without him.
Even when Chris got him fired, his initial spark of anger, soon turned to the realization that he'd fucked up, and that Chris wanted nothing more than to help him.
They were, after all, best friends.
It was only after Eddie cleaned up and worked on the indies, worked on getting his life back together, that he came to a shocking realisation, alone, in a hotel room.
He loved Chris, as more than a best friend.
He was in love with Chris.
The idea hit him like a freight train and made everything feel both a whole lot clearer and a whole lot worse.
He couldn't... he shouldn't.... he was.
The mere thought made him feel sick. He couldn't tell anyone. It was a secret he would have to bury deep down inside.
He'd worked so hard on getting Vickie back, if she found out that he was in love with another man, she would almost certainly leave him and take the girls with her and he couldn't bare that.
And as for Chris...
If Chris found out that he wanted him... that he'd thought of him like that... Dios, he'd probably be so disgusted with him that he'd never want to speak to him again... and hearing Chris say that he hated him... that he didn't want to see him again...
It would kill him inside.
So, he figured he was better off pushing Chris away in order to avoid the other man finding out how he really felt.
Thinking about it now, it was a stupid plan, one that hurt him and Chris anyway. But he was a stupid man, and he was so panicked, so worried about falling off the edge again that he didn't know what else to do.
He had his family, his other friends.
It was better to keep them and lose Chris, then to lose everyone...
When Chris first came back from his neck surgery, the first thing he did was come out and tell Chris that he was better than him and make fun of him. Make it clear to Chris that they weren't friends anymore. But then the bastardo had to come out and help him after his match with RVD.
...He looked so good in black.
So, when that didn't work, Eddie turned on him again during the tag tournament with Angle and Chavito, tricking him and beating him up.
Cheat to win... that was always your strategy...
But the next week, he couldn't help himself, he had to help Chris win over Angle.
And now here he was again. He messed with Chris during the United States Title Tournament to win the belt (he gripped it harder) and now Chris was convinced Eddie didn't care about him.
His plan worked and he hated that.
"...Eddie." Chris voice was suddenly very soft, "You're crying."
Eddie chuckled weakly. He didn't even realise.
"...I... I'm sorry Eddie."
Eddie didn't say anything.
"For Gods Sake, answer me Eddie," Chris yelled again, "I don't understand you anymore! You hate me, you like me... was it something I did?" His voice was strained.
Eddie looked up, and shook his head, his whole body tensing. "No, no! Of course not!"
"....Was it because I got you fired?"
Eddie dropped the belt. The words hung in the air.
Eddie couldn't believe it. Chris thought he was mad at him over that.
"No!" It was Eddie's turn to yell, "I would never be, holmes! I needed that! I was a fucking mess. Now I'm clean and sober and I've got my family back. You saved me... Chris."
"Then why have you been acting like you don't care." Chris whispered.
Eddie knew it was too late to smile and say Because I'm better than you or Because I wanted the title.
So instead, he stepped towards Chris and pulled him into a rough kiss.
Chris froze instantly.
Eddie forced himself into Chris' mouth and rubbed against him. Dios he'd wanted this for so long, so many long nights waking up suddenly after dreaming about him.
Finally tasting him, it was intoxicating.
He pulled away just as quickly, the stairwell in complete silence. He then grabbed the United States Title off of the floor and ran off up the stairs towards his hotel room.
There. Chris knew how he really felt.
He'd hate him now. He'd probably go and tell Eddie's family about it and they'd hate him. His life was probably ruined, after all those years spent trying to fix it.
But at least now he wouldn't have to live with this secret on his chest.
It was only when Eddie reached his hotel room door, that a strong hand grabbed his free hand.
No! Let me get some sleep!
"This is what all this was about? All these months of back-and-forth. Cause you wanted to kiss me?" He laughed and Eddie cringed.
Why is he laughing?
"Eddie," Chris smiled. "You didn't have to pretend to hate me, you dick."
Eddie didn't say anything. He deserved that one.
"You could've just said."
Chris stepped towards him, pulling him close, and before Eddie could reply, the Canadian has pulled him into a passionate kiss. He was shocked for a moment, but quickly melted into it, running his hands through Chris' hair, the other man responding by wrapping his arms around his waist. They stood like that for a few moments, before Chris pulled away, whispering.
"God, Eddie. I need you as much as you need me."
Eddie couldn't believe it. There was no way, an honest, sweet man like Chris would want him. he had to be dreaming.
"No, holmes, your lying!"
"Nah, that's your thing."
Eddie looked into Chris' eyes and saw nothing but love and warmth; and then he just laughed, a genuine laugh.
"Well, Querido," Eddie said in a husky voice, opening the hotel room door, the last few months of pain and anger all-but-forgotten about, "Guess you really couldn't resist Latino Heat. Don't worry, it happens to the best of them!"
Chris just smiled and kissed him again.
What was I so worried about?