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It was the hardest decision he had ever made in his career, but he was doing it. After five years, he was walking away. [Chris Jericho appreciation fic]
And now, five years later, he was doing it again. He was walking away.
He could hear the cries of the fans as the medics rolled him out on the gurney, but he tried desperately to block them out. It certainly wasn't helping him feel any better about his decision.
Chris Jericho loved his fans dearly, and even the people who weren't his fans. Anyone who cared enough about him to cheer him, or even boo him, had contributed to his success in some shape or form, and he appreciated it greatly. He worked relentlessly for them, oftentimes putting his own health and subsequent issues to the side, just to make them happy. And if he could go back and do it all over again, Chris would. He wouldn't change a thing and he had no complaints about where his choice of career had taken him. Wrestling had been in his blood for so long, and the decision to walk away had haunted him for weeks, but he knew that he had to do it. He couldn't keep going on the way he was; he was headed for a breakdown at any time. Chris was no longer in his 20s, or even his 30's. His body just wasn't primed to take abuse the way it once was. Even tasks as simple as getting out of bed or leaning over to put his shoes on were now excruciatingly painful for him.
He didn't sleep anymore, either. He hadn't in ages, never really had time to. It was no secret that the WWE's work schedule was less than light. The constant traveling and the strenuous activities that came with it chewed up even the strongest of men and spit them out cruelly. Chris was pushing forty, and as much as he loved his job, he just couldn't do it anymore. He needed a break, to recharge his batteries and focus on other projects. Fozzy was gearing up to tour Europe, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Hopefully, by focusing on the one thing he loved even more than wrestling, his music, his passion would come back. But he had no intentions of forcing it. Taking a break from the cartoon world of professional wrestling would be good for both himself and his fans.
Chris knew his fans were heartbroken. But he also knew that after the initial shock wore off and the buzz of his departure died down, they would understand. And if they didn't, well…there was nothing he could do. Chris liked to believe that his fans weren't so cruel that they would expect him to wrestle when he was in no condition to do so. Some fans were like that, but Chris believed that the majority of his would understand that this was something he had to do, for himself, but also for them.
Besides, it wasn't like he was just turning his back on them and deserting them for selfish reasons. He was only human, after all. He wasn't like John Cena; he didn't thrive on the adulation of the fans the way John did. Sure, Chris loved the positive and negative responses equally, but he didn't live and die by it, like John seemingly did. He had a family, three kids who were growing up without a daddy, and a wife who—well, he didn't like to think about it. His break from wrestling wasn't just so he could rest his weary body. He also needed to clear his mind and think about where his marriage was going. Things between himself and Jessica had never quite been the same after the pictures and news of Kelly Kelly had hit the internet. He'd tried to explain that it really hadn't been what it had looked like, that the entire thing was just a ploy to make someone jealous, but he couldn't tell her that without revealing that he'd been carrying on a torrid, passionate affair with Stephanie behind her back. Affair. The word was sour on his lips and left a bitter taste in his mouth when he uttered it. He loved Stephanie; he always had. What they had was so much more than an affair. The word even sounded tawdry to his ears.
Nonetheless, his marriage was over. He knew it, and Jessica knew it, yet the two of them just couldn't seem to cut the strings. Chris supposed a big part of that were their children, but they both couldn't deny that the love was gone in their marriage. But it didn't really matter anymore, he supposed. It was time to let go, but the possibility of it happening was very slim.
The chants of "Y2J! Y2J!" followed Chris as he was rolled out of the arena. He felt himself choke up a bit as the chants filled his ears, because he knew that even though this was a decision he had made on his own, despite people's pleas to the contrary, the WWE, and wrestling in general, would always be a part of him. He had been doing it for far too long for it to just fade away. He didn't know if he would come in three weeks, three months, or three years, but he would definitely be back. That much he was sure of.
Wrestling was ingrained in him and always would be. For now, this wasn't goodbye—it was simply a chance to move on to the next stage of his life. But wrestling would always be there, hidden deep inside. He would never abandon it completely.