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Don't Thank Me

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I stood in the entrance, hidden by the shadows in the back, watching as he celebrated. No one noticed me---hell, no one was even looking my direction. Rightfully so, since this was his moment, the moment he'd worked so hard for so long to achieve. I watched as he stared at the belt, disbelief written on his face; watched as the tears came.

My fingers itched with the impulse to wipe those tears away.

I sighed, recognizing the thought for the idiocy that it was, and as the glitter and confetti came pouring down, obscuring him from view, I turned and headed back through the entrance. This was his time, and it had been selfish of me to linger even these few seconds, to risk drawing even some of that attention away from him.

You would think that I'd be angry or upset over losing the title, but I wasn't. I was just... wistful, I guess is the best word. The title had gone to someone who was incredibly deserving, and I knew that he'd be a great champion. That wasn't the problem; no, the problem was that I finally had to admit to myself that I wanted to be in that ring with him, celebrating with him, not watching from a distance. I walked back toward the locker room quickly, not wanting to talk to anyone, not right now.

King might call him cocky, but I knew him well enough to know that his confidence was just that. He was so confident and yet so insecure, at the same time. Not that most people would ever see that side of him, of course. It wasn't a side that he liked showing to himself, let alone anyone else. I wasn't terribly familiar with it myself, but I'd glimpsed it a few times. We were friends, after all, regardless of how it appeared in the ring. We'd spent a lot of time together over the last few years, as traveling companions and as friends, and I'd seen that vulnerable side more than once. It's part of his appeal, I think, knowing that underneath the outward ego is someone who wants nothing more than to be loved.

That was part of what drew me to him. Those occasional glimpses of that need, the half-believed, half-feared thought that no one could love him, hiding behind that cocky, aggravating, overbearing facade. Or I guess it could just be his incredible sex appeal.

I smiled to myself as I hurried through my shower and changed. I didn't really want to see him come backstage, all flushed and excited, tears still in his eyes, glitter in his hair and the belt around his waist... Okay, so maybe I did care about the title. But mainly I just didn't think I could stand it if he wanted to thank me.

Normally, I was able to separate my personal feelings from the action in the ring, but not today. I'd been choking these feelings down for so long, and now, after all that time in the ring grappling with him, I really needed some time alone. I laughed out loud at that. No, what I really needed was to get laid. But since I couldn't have who I wanted, some time alone in a hot bath with my trusty right hand sounded pretty damned good right about now.

After months of watching him, months of wanting him, I knew I wouldn't be able to stand it if he came up to me with tears still in his eyes and thanked me... He was one of the most hands-on guys in the back, and a hug from him right now would just undo me. I knew my family would understand my not being sociable tonight. I could always blame it on the match. I was sore, after all. A long hot bath sounded great, for a couple of reasons.

I forced a smile to my face and signed autographs for the few fans who were waiting in the hotel lobby, but I breathed a sigh of relief when I closed my room door behind me. I dropped my duffle next to the bed and stripped as I headed to the bathroom, leaving a trail of clothing behind me. I waited impatiently for the tub to fill, trying to keep myself from dwelling too much on thoughts of the match, but it was hard not to.

So many good moments, so many good moves... so many good gropes, I admitted to myself. It'd been more of a technical match then either of us normally had, and there were any number of normal wrestling holds that just took on a whole new dimension when you were trying desperately not to get a raging hard-on in the middle of the ring. Yeah, even he would've noticed that, and he's renowned for being oblivious to people's reactions to him. I guess that makes sense, though, since practically everybody drools after him. Pretty easy not to notice it when you see it all the time.

I turned the water off and lowered myself into the steaming water, a deep sigh escaping me as I felt my sore muscles start relaxing immediately. I stretched out as much as possible and leaned my head back against the cool wall. As the heat started to seep through me, my mind began to drift... landing, not to my surprise, on images of him.

I pictured him next to me, kneeling by the side of the tub, his hair loose and falling around his shoulders, his expressive eyes locked on mine as he trailed a hand down my chest, plucking at my nipples. I gasped at the sensation, seeing his lips curve into that familiar smirk.

"Like that?" His husky drawl made me shiver despite the heat, and I nodded speechlessly.

"Good. You'll like this even more, then," he promised before leaning forward, heedless of his hair falling into the water. I sucked in a breath as he took a nipple into his mouth, rolling it in his lips. He toyed with it until I was breathless, then switched to the other one, biting it sharply before soothing it with a quick lick. I gasped, my fingers tightening on the side of the tub, wanting so badly to reach out and touch him, tangle my fingers in his hair and drag him up for a kiss...

His lips followed the trail he'd traced earlier with his fingers, licking and sucking the sensitive skin on my abdomen. I whined as he dipped his tongue in my navel, swirling around the soft flesh. As I squirmed, he raised his head, a mischievous grin on his face.

"Had enough? Should I stop? Maybe you're just too tired for any more tonight, hmmm?" he teased. I growled at him, and he laughed, a low, husky sound that did nothing for my self-control.

Before I could form an intelligible response, he lowered his head again and sucked my straining length into his lips. The feeling of his mouth on my aching cock was nearly too much and I arched almost out of the tub, his name escaping me in a harsh groan.


God, I loved hearing my name on his lips.

Wait... why would he be talking now...?

Shit. My eyes snapped open, my hand falling away from my erection as I turned my head.

Shawn was standing in the doorway, his eyes wide as he stared at me. I managed not to turn red as I met his eyes, but I had no idea what to say. I mean, I'd been hiding my attraction to him for months, and here he catches me red-handed, moaning his name as I beat off.

"I... um... I tried knocking," he finally offered awkwardly. His eyes were jumping all over, trying not to look at me, but I noticed that he didn't seem to be able to look away, either.

"Well, I didn't hear you..." I sighed a little, sitting up a bit more and raising a knee to lean on. No need to give him more of a show, after all. "...obviously."

He nodded, looking uncertain. He seemed to be casting around for the right words, which was unusual. Words came naturally to Shawn, although they weren't really doing much for me right now, either. Funny how huge amounts of embarrassment can interfere with little things like that. He finally took a breath and looked at me again.

"Bret... did you... were you..." He flushed, but met my eyes. "Did you say my name, while you were..." He trailed off again. I had to force down a sudden smile. I'd never seen him at such a loss for words before. It wasn't like I could deny what he was asking, since he'd caught me doing it, but...

"How did you get in here?" I demanded, frowning as the thought finally coalesced in my mind. I didn't expect him to let me off the hook so easily, but it was worth a shot.

"I charmed the key out of the desk clerk," he admitted with a rueful smile. "I wanted to talk to you, after the match, but you left so quickly... I just wanted to say..."

I cut him off.

"Don't you dare thank me. Just don't." I paused, pushing down the sudden flare of anger that had caught me by surprise. "Look, I left because I didn't want to talk to you." A hurt look crossed his face, and I cursed myself. "Not like that. Not because I was mad. More like the complete opposite... as you can see." I sighed again. I'd already been caught... what was the point in worrying about it now?

"Look, I didn't want to talk to you because... well, because I didn't want you to know how I felt about you."

He blinked, obviously taken by surprise. I couldn't help but laugh.

"Do you think I just fantasize about anybody? Believe me, I don't make a habit of moaning names of people that I hate." I paused, waiting for a reaction, but he just looked at me. Great. Figures he'd make this as hard as possible... well, no, he'd already done that, without even knowing. And that wasn't going away, either. Damn it. This was just damned awkward.

"Shawn, do you think we could take this conversation elsewhere? It's just a little bit weird to be sitting here like this, talking about..." I didn't get a chance to finish, though.

"You were fantasizing? About me?" There was an odd note to his voice, and I was suddenly afraid that he was upset, although with his history that would be pretty strange. I hesitated before answering, but he took a step closer, looking at me. I swallowed through a suddenly dry throat, looking up at him. I'd never seen him look at me like that before.

"I... uh... yeah. I mean, yes, I was. Fantasizing. About you." Wow, that was almost coherent, Hart. Way to go. But that look... I shivered a little, taken aback by that steady gaze. He stepped closer, until he was right by the tub, then dropped to his knees, tilting his head to look at me. I cleared my throat, feeling my cock jump right back to attention as he unwittingly paralleled my fantasy.

"Why shouldn't I thank you?" The change of topic caught me by surprise, but I managed to tear my gaze away from his, staring unseeingly at the crooked wall tiles as I answered.

"Because you don't need to. I didn't let you win the title, Shawn. I fought like hell to keep it." Hearing his soft, disbelieving noise, I reluctantly looked back at him. "I'm not kidding. You earned that belt, Shawn. So don't thank me. I didn't do you any favours today, and you don't owe me anything."

His eyes dropped briefly as he took that in. His hand settled on the side of the tub for balance as he leaned back slightly. His next question, asked while he stared at the wall, surprised me even more.

"How long have you been fantasizing about me, Bret?" I just stared at him, speechless. Did he really expect an answer to that?

Apparently he did, because when I didn't answer him right away, he leaned forward, looking at me, the ends of his hair falling into the water.

"How long, Bret?" Was I just imagining the huskier note in his voice? I couldn't help but reach out and run my fingers through his hair, something I'd been wanting to do for months. It was softer than I'd imagined, and I'd imagined it plenty of times.

I cleared my throat again, staring at his hair as I kept twirling it through my fingers. "Weeks. Months. At least. Maybe longer."


There was a long silence. I was afraid to break it, afraid really even to look at him. I didn't want to break this strange spell between us because I was sure that whenever he realised what I was saying, he'd haul off and punch me. I wouldn't blame him; I mean, if I were in his place, I'd probably be pretty upset. Friends aren't supposed to hide things like this from you, right?

"Are you just after a one-night stand?" The abrupt question broke my train of guilty thoughts, dropping between us like a rock. A one-night stand? I hadn't really ever thought about it. But now, looking at him... I wanted more. I knew that just one time with him wouldn't cure my obsession, it would make it a thousand times worse. I wasn't sure why he was asking, but I knew my answer was important to him. I could see it in his eyes.

"No." Those eyes widened at my answer, but before he could say anything else, I added, "I don't know what I want, Shawn, but I know that I'd rather never have you than have you just once."

"Really?" His voice was soft this time, uncertain.

I nodded. I had no idea where this was going, but I was starting to see that vulnerable side of him again. I had to force myself not to lean up those few inches and kiss him.

He hesitated, then almost shyly asked, "What... what were you fantasizing about? When I came in?"

Oh, now that was just unfair. My body hadn't really calmed down yet, his presence just heightening my feelings, and now he wanted me to detail my fantasy for him? I didn't even know what he wanted. Maybe he just wanted ammunition for the fight that he was building up to... Okay, that was just ridiculous. I'm not that familiar with this side of Shawn, but I do know him better than that. He was horribly insecure; most of his normal cockiness was his attempt to hide that from people. He's not the type to use people's weaknesses against them, no matter what the rumour-mongers might say.

I took a deep breath and released the strand of hair.

"I was... thinking about you, coming in here while I took my bath. Like this, kneeling next to the tub." My voice faltered, and he reached out, putting an uncertain hand on my shoulder. That didn't exactly help my thought processes much, but I appreciated the motion.

"You, uh... you were teasing me, about being tired. You ran a hand down my chest..." My breath caught in my throat as he dropped his hand to my chest, tracing a gentle line down to my abdomen, resting his hand just above my navel. My cock twitched; he had to have felt it, but he seemed oblivious, just watching me with that odd look. I tried to focus my breathing, and continued.

"You played with my nipples..." This time I was half-expecting the touch of his fingers, and the wave of sensation as he tweaked my nipples only made me pause for a moment.

"You leaned over, getting your hair wet, and... and did the same thing, but with your mouth." A smirk flickered across his mouth, almost too quickly for me to be sure of seeing it, and he leaned forward, more of his hair getting wet. The first touch of his lips on my nipples made me jerk; by the time he was done suckling on them, I was writhing, splashing water over the side of the tub and not even noticing. He trailed kisses down my chest, stopping again above my navel, his eyes almost glowing.

"Shawn...!" The protest slipped out of my mouth unintentionally, and he smiled.

"Go on. What next?" The tone of his voice told me that he already knew, and as much as I craved it, I stopped myself from answering right away. I couldn't let this happen, not like this, not knowing what he was after.

"Shawn... I can't. I can't do this." The raspiness of my voice gave the lie to my words, but he didn't seem to notice. He just looked at me, and I saw those expressive eyes change, cool, becoming once again the shields to his emotions that they normally were. He sat back and up, his face not revealing anything.

"You can't do this? But you could imagine doing it." His voice was flat, and I winced, sitting up with a splash and reaching out a wet hand to grab his shoulder, to keep him from withdrawing any farther.

"That's not what I meant, Shawn. Christ, do I look like I don't want you?" I gestured with my other hand at my body, and his eyes flickered momentarily over me, warmth returning for just an instant before they returned to my face with their cool mask firmly in place. "Shawn, I just... look, I said I didn't want a one-night stand. If that's all this is to you, then no, I don't want it."

Surprise showed on his face, and I took advantage of his momentary lapse to lean towards him, getting on my knees and placing my hands on either side of his face. "I would love nothing more than to live out that fantasy for real. But... not if it means getting a one-night stand and losing a friend. I don't want that to happen."

His frustration and confusion showed as he demanded, "Then what do you want, Bret? Nobody else ever cared if it was just one night. Nobody else ever wanted anything else!"

My heart nearly broke at that, and I realised just how much the man in front of me meant to me. All the long months of longing, of lust, of friendship, of fantasy... and I'd managed to convince myself that was all it was.

How wrong I'd been. But how was I going to convince him of that? I'd never realised until now just how insecure he was, just how much he'd suffered on his way up through the ranks. What they'd done to him to convince him that he really was just the boy toy, just good for a fuck, I'd probably never know and probably didn't want to know. I'd seen too much of it before to care about the specifics, and it really didn't matter now anyway.

"Shawn... I want you." I probably revealed a lot more with those words than I'd meant to, but he didn't seem to notice. It took him a minute to figure out what I meant, and then his eyes widened in something far too close to fear for me to like it. I tightened my grip on him when I felt him tense, not about to let him run away now.

"I want the Shawn that I know is hiding underneath that arrogant airhead. I want the Shawn that cares about people, the Shawn that slips little gifts to the kids in the front rows." I saw the surprise at those words and smiled slightly. Did he really think that no one had noticed? "I want the Shawn who's scared to death of feeling, who's ready to run right now because he's so confused." I paused again, not entirely sure that I was saying the right thing, but at this point... either I was going to get what I wanted, or I was going to lose him altogether.

"I want the skilled, caring, loving Shawn. I want the man that I've fantasized about, the man that I've caught glimpses of late at night on the road... I want the man that convinced me he was worthy of love." Shawn went absolutely still in my grasp and I clutched him, alarmed. His eyes were tightly closed, and as I stared, worried that I'd said too much, I saw tears well up and roll slowly down his face.

"Shawn...?" My voice was nearly a whisper, and this time, when my fingers itched, I raised my hand and wiped the tears away. He shuddered at the touch but didn't pull away from me.

"No one... no one's ever said anything like that to me before," he finally said shakily, his eyes still closed.

"Then they were idiots," I said fiercely. He shook his head.

"No, they... I'm not smart, Bret. I'm just... just pretty, and... and good in bed. I'm not..." I cut off his soft words with a curse.

"Dammit, Shawn, stop! Just stop." He jumped at my voice and his eyes flew open, tears still slowly gathering in their corners. I sighed and rubbed a hand along his cheeks. I stood up and stepped out of the tub, heedless of the small flood that I'd caused. I pulled him to his feet and steered him out into the bedroom, sitting next to him on the bed.

"Shawn... what do I have to do to convince you that there's more to you than just your looks? There's your talent, and your intelligence, and your kindness..." I had to stop when he refused to meet my eyes. My thoughts were fierce, but I knew that whoever had done this to him, convinced him that he was worthless, it had been more than one person, more than one time, and there was nothing I could do to change the past or to make up for it. I had to change the present... if he'd let me.

"I dunno. No one's ever cared before," he said quietly. My hands tightened into fists for a moment before I forced them to relax, and pulled him toward me. He resisted for a moment, but I didn't relent, and he finally gave in, letting himself be drawn into an embrace.

"I care now, Shawn. I have for a while. I just didn't realise how much," I said, running my fingers through his hair, wondering for the first time if he took such good care of it because it was such a big part of his "prettiness". I'd teased him in the past about the time he spent on his hair. Now I regretted it.

"You... care?" The quiet question disconcerted me, and I looked down to see him watching me with his eyes huge, still partially masked with his habitual coolness.

"Shawn, I..." I hesitated. I mean, I'd just realised that I was in love with him maybe ten minutes ago, and he was so needy, and so wounded, and I didn't want to make it worse... How many people must've told him that, then left him cold when they didn't need him any more? I didn't want to make the same mistake. But... looking into his eyes, I could see the fear... and the hope.

"I love you, Shawn." I managed to get the words out without stuttering. He tensed a little, but I could see the hope growing. "I don't love the Boy Toy, or the Heartbreak Kid. I love you. I've seen so little of the real you, but what I've seen just drew me right in. I don't think I had a choice, Shawn, except to love you. You drive me insane, you piss me off, you tease me constantly... but you make me laugh, you let me see behind your mask, and... I want to know you so much better."

"Bret?" His voice was still raspy.


"I love you, too."

I managed not to dump him on the floor in my shock, but it took some severe self-control. I stared down at him, my eyes wide this time. He smiled weakly up at me.

"Shawn, you don't have to say that. Just because I told you how I feel, I don't expect you to feel the same way. I..." A hand crept over my lips, stopping my words. He sat up a bit and shook his head.

"I know. I know what you must think right now. I do know how... how broken I am, in some ways. But... I meant it. I love you, Bret." He paused, looking at the floor again.

"If I didn't, I wouldn't have wanted to... to fulfil your fantasy. I know lots of the guys think about me that way, and I've done things with lots of them, but... it's never been about me wanting to do what they think about. It's always just a quick fuck, or a blowjob in the showers, or something like that. But... I've loved you for so long. I've wanted to tell you, but I was so afraid, because I didn't want it to be like everyone else. I guess I should be sorry that I walked in on you like that, but I'm not, because now I know that you're not like everybody else. You're not like anybody else."

My own eyes were a little blurry at that, and I just hugged him silently.

After a long silence, I said, "You know what the one thing is that I've never fantasized about doing with you?" Shawn looked up at me curiously and shook his head. "I've never fantasized about kissing you."

"Kissing me? Why not?" He frowned up at me, and I had to smile at the confusion on his face.

"Because kissing someone is such an intensely personal thing. I knew that whatever fantasy I had about it wouldn't be anything like the reality."

Shawn cocked his head, drawing back slightly, and that smirk was back. I was glad to see it, in that it meant he was recovering himself, but it was probably not a good sign for me.

"Why don't you find out, then?" he challenged, pushing his damp hair out of his face. I blinked at him, and his smirk widened. "Go on, Bret... kiss me." I smiled.

"Well, then. Since I've been ordered, I guess I don't have much choice, do I?" I sighed dramatically, then bent forward and drew his lips to mine, one hand wrapping around his head. I flicked my tongue over his lips softly, nibbling on his lower lip. When he parted his lips, I rubbed my tongue against them before sliding it in, taking my time in tasting him. He responded like no one else I'd been with, and by the time I had to pull back to take a breath, my body had reminded me that it never had gotten satisfaction tonight. When Shawn shifted on my lap, trying not to break the kiss, I inhaled sharply and closed my eyes, trying to convince myself that sex was probably not the best thing in the world for him right now. I didn't want him to think I was just trying to get him into bed, after all.


I opened my eyes and smiled ruefully.

"I'm fine, Shawn. More than fine, actually." When he frowned at me, I adjusted his position on my lap, letting my erection rub against his thigh, and understanding dawned in his eyes.

"Do you want..."

I interrupted him.

"No, Shawn. You don't have to do anything. I'm fine." He rolled his eyes at me and wiggled, drawing a moan out of me.

"Fine, huh? If you're feeling so good, why don't we do something about that?" His voice was almost teasing and I had to bite back another moan just at the sound.

"I don't want you to do anything you don't want to, Shawn. I don't want to be like... anybody else," I said carefully, trying to hold him still. He looked right at me, putting one hand on my cheek.

"Bret, you're not like anybody else. I already know that. I... I love you.I want to please you. I want to... to make love with you." He flushed slightly as he spoke, but his gaze never wavered. My willpower did.


With an impatient noise, he scooted backwards, ending up on his knees in front of me. My throat went dry at the sight, something I'd fantasized about more times than I cared to remember. When I couldn't seem to find two words to string together, he smirked at me again... and then leaned forward, one hand on my hip, and licked delicately at the tip of my cock. My hips bucked, and he pushed me back down, still smirking, and slowly sucked the head into his mouth, sucking gently and swirling his tongue around and over it. I forced myself not to thrust into that warm welcoming moistness, but my fingers went white-knuckled on the bedframe.

He laughed, the vibration affecting me like a direct touch. He slowly swallowed the rest of my length, inch by inch, until he had all of it. I groaned, knowing that it wouldn't take much more to set me off. I wanted this to last so badly, but I'd wanted it for so long that I knew it couldn't. When he leaned back, releasing me, I whined, but I nearly swallowed my tongue when he immediately swallowed me again, bobbing up and down. I couldn't help but thrust into his movements, and he responded by quickening his pace, his free hand creeping up to fondle my balls. It only took a few of those deep thrusts and I was coming, pouring my seed down his throat with a harsh growl. He swallowed all of it, finally letting the softening shaft slip out of his mouth, then crawled back up onto the bed, laying next to me where I'd sprawled over backwards.

When my breathing slowed, I turned my head, meeting his gaze from only a few inches away. I smiled at him, reaching to pull him up on top of me. I kissed him deeply, the taste of my cum on his lips sending a thrill through me. I could feel him, hard and pulsing between us, through the jeans he was wearing, and I ran a hand down his back, kneading his ass. I pressed a finger along the back seam, pressing it into the crack of his ass, and he pushed his hips up into it, moaning.

"God, Bret... please... more..." he begged, writhing on top of me as I teased him through the denim. I slid my fingers beneath the tight material, pleased but somehow not surprised to find that he wasn't wearing anything beneath the jeans. I worked my other hand around between us, unbuttoning and unzipping while I rubbed a finger down his crack. I finally managed to work the jeans down to his knees, pushing his t-shirt up, and wrapped one hand around his cock, already dripping with his excitement. I ran my other hand across his ass, working my fingers between his cheeks until I found the small pucker and pressed on it, making him gasp.

"Up, Shawn," I said, trying to pull him upward. He wiggled forward until his shaft was right in front of my face, exactly where I'd wanted it. I had to taste him, I'd dreamt about it for so long... I wasted no time in swallowing as much of him as I could, in the awkward position we were in. I held his hips firmly, not letting him thrust, as I took my time tormenting him, sliding him slowly in and out of my mouth, rubbing my tongue across his weeping head, enjoying the taste and feel for as long as I dared. When I felt him start to tense, I let him slip out of my mouth, smiling at the distressed wail he let out.

"Patience." I rolled him over, dropping a kiss on his stomach before I slid off the bed. I yanked his boots off as quickly as possible and tossed them over my shoulder. The socks and jeans quickly followed, and I saw his t-shirt go flying in the opposite direction as he pulled it off himself. I smiled at him, then ducked down again to grab the k-y out of my duffle, dropping it on the pillow as I once again covered his body with mine. He groaned, feeling my renewed erection rub against his, but I quickly muffled it with my lips. I just couldn't seem to get enough of kissing him. His lips were so soft, and tasted so good... I knew this was an addiction that would only grow with time.

When I finally released him, his lips were swollen and red and he was panting. I slid back a little and picked up the lube, flipping open the end and squeezing some out on to my fingers. I let it warm for a minute, rubbing his stomach, then pushed one of his legs up and slid a slickened finger across his pucker, making him gasp again. I pushed the finger inside him, trying to be gentle as I stretched him, but he wanted none of that. He pushed his hips up, forcing my finger completely inside.

"Bret... please... now..." His voice was pleading but the order was clear. I rubbed the rest of the lube on myself and slid up again, positioning my cock at his entrance, and looked at him.

"Are you sure that's enough? I don't want..." He shook his head violently and wrapped a leg around my hips, trying to push me forward.

"You won't hurt me, I swear! Please..." I nodded and took a breath, suddenly glad that he'd surprised me earlier, or I wouldn't have had the endurance to last ten seconds. I pushed forward, slowly at first, but once I was past the ring of muscle, he tightened his legs around me and slammed his hips upward, hissing as I penetrated fully. I tried to pause, but he refused, holding on to me for dear life as his hips pistoned up and down, and I was drawn into his rhythm. I couldn't free a hand to touch him, but he didn't seem to care, just rocking up and down... I rolled us over, supporting his hips, and let him find our pace. It was fast and furious, and I felt my orgasm sweep over me as he cried out, impaling himself fully on me as his body tensed.

"Bret...!" he wailed, coming in spurts over my chest. I let out a wordless growl as I came, and pulled him down against me, holding him tight against my chest.

When my mind cleared a few minutes later, I wondered if we'd done the right thing, but when I looked at him, the clear happiness in his eyes made my doubts evaporate. He'd wanted it, hell, he'd started it, and if he thought I was going anywhere, well... he was in for a big surprise. A pleasant one, I had no doubt. He squirmed around onto his side and kissed me softly, his hand tangling in my hair.

"Love you, Bret," he whispered. I smiled at him, tightening my embrace for a minute.

"Love you too, Shawn." My voice was hoarse, but the smile my words brought made the slight pain more than worth it.

A few more minutes passed before either of us spoke again. It was Shawn who finally broke the silence.

"Bret... do you... regret this?"

I shook my head.

"No. Why should I? I finally got what I've been wanting for months. A chance to get to know the real you... the you that I already love." Shawn buried his face in my shoulder, and I started to worry when I felt him shaking. "Shawn? Hey... this is a good thing, right?" My own doubts returned, and I was afraid that I'd pushed him too much, when he raised his head and looked at me, tears streaked down his cheeks.

"It's not a good thing, Bret." My heart nearly fell out of my chest at those words, but he continued, "It's a great thing. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me."

Oh. Well, in that case... my breathing returned to normal, and he smiled at me. "I'm sorry I'm such an idiot. I mean, we're happy, we... we love each other... this is really the best thing that I've ever had. I don't know why I'm crying..."

I kissed him into silence. I'll have to remember that trick, although I think Vince would shit himself if I did it on the air. Then again, maybe it'd be worth it just for that reaction... hmm.

"Shawn, hush. You're just emotional. That's not bad. You're right: We're happy, and we love each other. Let's worry about everything else when we have to, okay?" He nodded, and I kissed him again. "Right now, I just want to sleep for about eighteen hours, and I want you here with me the whole time. I want you to be the first thing I see when I wake up, okay?" He smiled at that, and I shifted us enough to pull the blankets out from under us.

He was asleep before I even pulled the blankets up over us, and I watched him sleep for a few minutes. Whatever had happened to him, I was going to fix, and I was damned if anybody else would ever lay a hand on him again. I knew my Shawn was never going to be the Shawn most people saw, and that was fine with me... as long as I saw him on a regular basis. Let people say whatever they want, I know the truth.

My lips curved as I watched him murmur in his sleep, and I brushed his hair out of his eyes, kissing his forehead.

"Don't thank me, Shawn. Just love me."

~ finis ~