The only reason Gus didn't grab his baseball bat was because whoever was outside of his apartment in the middle of the night was actually knocking. Between that and that sheer volume of their approach, Gus was pretty sure they weren’t trying to be stealthy, but just because they weren't sneaking didn't mean they were welcome.
"Who is it?" he said, his mouth close to the crack in the door.
"Come on, Gus, isn't that what that little peephole is for? Don't tell me you haven't used it to spy on your neighbors. I'll be so disappointed."
Gus would know that voice anywhere. He had the door unlocked and open before Shawn could knock again.
"I thought you were in Baltimore," he said, mostly because it was the only thing that popped into his head that wasn't, "You look like you haven't slept in a week," or, "How are you that wet when it hasn't rained in a month?" or, "Is that my shirt?"
"Philly," said Shawn, "Keep up."
"Does your dad know you're back in town?"
"Really, Gus?" said Shawn. "Really? That's what you want to ask me right now?"
"No, what I want to ask you is why the hell you haven't called," said Gus, opening the door wider so that Shawn could come inside, "and also what tropical cyclone you passed through on your way to my door."
"Hurricane Neighbor's Pool," said Shawn, shaking out his hair like a shaggy dog all over Gus's pajama top and new shoes, one of which he was wearing and one of which was a good two feet away. "They really should have a fence around that or something."
"It's a kiddie pool, Shawn," said Gus. "They use it for their dogs." Shawn closed the door behind him but lingered in the doorway, looking up at Gus through stringy, wet hair. "What? What is it?"
In one smooth motion he combed the hair off his forehead, leaned in, and was planting a kiss on Gus's mouth before he could get another word out. Gus's lips were still sleep-warm and Shawn's were shockingly damp and cold against them.
It wasn't the first time they'd kissed. The first time they'd kissed they were twelve years old, and Shawn said it was for practice. It wasn't the tenth time they’d kissed either. The tenth time had been the night Shawn left Santa Barbara for real, the moment they graduated.
"I'm not your rebound," he said, hand to Shawn’s chest, but Shawn's eyes were closed and he licked his upper lip and he didn't show signs he was really listening. Which he was, of course, but probably also ignoring whatever was being said until it proved important. "I'm going to get you a towel."
"Can't a guy share a friendly hello without being accused of nefarious motives?" Shawn called after him.
"Do you even know what nefarious means?" Gus's towels were folded and stacked color coded in the hall closet of his new apartment. He took two, confident the first was going to be flung to the ground the moment Shawn dried off his face and hair.
"Degenerate," said Shawn. "Wicked. Naughty." Gus threw a towel at his head. Shawn deftly caught it and scrubbed his hair and neck down before dropping the towel on Gus's shoes. "So this is the new digs, huh? It's nice."
"And I plan for it to stay that way," said Gus, looking pointedly at the towel. He knew Shawn noticed.
Shawn's face was still wet, which Gus thought was weird for about eight seconds until he figured out from the red eyes and runny nose that maybe, just maybe, Shawn had been crying underneath that layer of pool water. And if either of them actually acknowledged that then A, they would have to talk about it and B, Gus would start crying too. Not necessarily in that order. So instead of asking about it, and instead of throwing the second towel at him, Gus just moved in close again and used the towel himself to dab Shawn's face dry.
When Shawn kissed him again, he didn't push him away this time.
"What did you do, drive all night?"
"Two nights," said Shawn, grabbing himself a fistful of Gus's wet pajama shirt and pulling him into another kiss.
"Shawn, you could've killed yourself."
"But I didn't."
"But you could have."
"But I didn't," said Shawn, twisting his fist in Gus's shirt to hold him there.
"Shawn, you know that's going to wrinkle," said Gus, tugging it from his grasp and smoothing it out. It stuck to his skin. "I'm still not your rebound."
"You'd never be my rebound," said Shawn, as serious as he ever got. "You're my firstbound. Everyone else is the rebound."
"Okay, okay. I know we're not...," he said. "But could you be my best make-out friend again? Just for a little while?"
"You didn't even ask if I was seeing anyone."
"But I could've been."
"But you're not," said Shawn. "I knew that before I even got in the apartment. Gus...."
They weren't going to talk about it, whatever sent Shawn to Gus's door, whatever sent him back to Santa Barbara in the first place. They didn't really need to. When Shawn loved, he loved hard and fast, and some flight attendant or batting coach or barista had broken his heart. It didn't matter that they were probably only together a few weeks. Shawn needed to find his balance again, and Gus had always been his balance.
"You know I will," said Gus. "Take your clothes off."
"Wow, college has done wonders," said Shawn. "You didn't used to be that forward."
"You're all wet, Shawn," he said, but Shawn made no move to strip. Instead he ran a hand down the front of Gus's top, just barely skimming it, and then paused a moment at the waistband of his pajama pants before continuing down. When he ran a knuckle lightly over Gus's hardening cock, neither of them said anything at all.
Once he was sure he was being allowed to do this, Shawn brought his hand back up, ran his thumb along Gus's entire length this time and stopped where the crown was pushing up against the waistband of his pajama pants, threatening to put on a show.
Gus stared at it for a moment, as though he had no control over what it was doing, then reached out and started unbuttoning Shawn’s shirt; if Shawn wasn’t going to get out of those wet clothes himself, someone had to take care of him. Though at the moment it was unclear just who was the one being taken care of.
“You’re thinking about putting towels down on your bed, aren’t you?” murmured Shawn, tracing down his length again.
“You’re wet, Shawn,” said Gus, but he knew the best he was going to get was pushing Shawn’s shirt back off his shoulders and towelling him as they went, tracing up rivulets of water that trailed down his chest and arms and, when Gus stopped to watch rather than halting them, disappeared into his equally wet pants.
Shawn stopped touching him only long enough to whip his shirt off behind himself. It landed with a wet thud on Gus’s armchair and he almost didn’t care. Almost. When Shawn reached for him again, he was deking around him and picking up the shirt before the water soaked into the upholstery.
“Really?” said Shawn.
“I told you to get naked before, Shawn,” said Gus. “I didn’t think I’d have to ask you twice.”
“You first,” said Shawn, which Gus knew was defiance just for the sake of being defiant but he was used to it and, with a deep breath, he stripped off his pajamas and left them folded on the chair. He didn’t turn around again for a moment, and then before he could Shawn was pressed up against his back, damp but not wet and definitely entirely naked now.
They might have been making out on and off since they were teenagers but this, this was a little bit new.
He wanted to say something clever but the words caught in his throat and then Shawn’s lips were on his neck and maybe for once they didn’t have to say anything, at least for a few minutes. Shawn’s hand crept around and then they were touching skin to skin, Shawn’s hand wrapping around his cock and just holding it, squeezing lightly, while he licked up Gus’s neck right to a point behind his ear that made Gus shiver. He didn’t know how Shawn knew about that. He didn’t want to ask.
Shawn let go to grab Gus’s hand, but Gus was the one who led them into the bedroom. Everything was still ready for bed, even though it felt like a week since Gus had been brushing his teeth: sheets crisp, lamp dimmed, glass of water on the bedside table. Shawn made short work of all of it: light off, water spilled, and Gus’s body making a mess of the covers from the moment Shawn pushed him onto them.
If Gus hadn’t been entirely sure how far they were going to take this, it was blindingly clear now. Shawn straddled his body and pressed up against him, just as hard as Gus was, and any sign that he had ever been upset so completely vanished from his face that Gus almost questioned whether he’d ever seen it at all.
“Always,” said Shawn. “Is this—?” He moved his body, thrusting against him in such a way that they rubbed together along their entire length, a move Gus was suddenly confident he’d perfected with at least one if not several other people. Which was definitely not a complaint.
“If you’re asking if it’s okay you need to shut up and pay attention,” said Gus. It wasn’t often that he was the one to kiss first, but this time he did, grabbing a fistful of Shawn’s too-long hair and pulling him in even closer. Shawn grunted with surprise, but it didn’t interrupt his signature move.
Gus was used to lingering make-out sessions, touching and nuzzling and kissing and stripping down piece by piece, or sometimes not. This was not that, but maybe this was what Shawn needed. No, maybe this was what they both needed. A rubber band stretched out that far snaps back hard.
“Shawn, Shawn, Shawn,” he said, each with increasing urgency. “Shawn.”
Shawn wasn’t a mind reader, but between the two of them, he was close enough. He bit lightly on Gus’s lip then lifted his head and fisted the duvet by his head and thrust just a little bit harder until they were coming, not all at once but one right after the other. A few moments later, Gus couldn’t even remember who had been first.
Everything was still for a few moments, notable for its rarity when it came to Shawn, then Shawn was collapsing dramatically to the bed next to Gus, blindly grabbing for the edge of the covers and folding it over them like a duvet taco.
“You’re not too hot,” he said, before Gus could make a complaint, “and stop thinking about how you should have put a towel down.”
Gus hadn’t actually gotten there yet, but now he totally was because he was going to have to wash the duvet cover and getting it back on again afterward was always an exercise in contortion and blind luck. But mostly he was just thinking about how he could feel his orgasm in his brain and he didn’t want to open his eyes in case that made it stop.
Shawn’s arm came around him, letting go of the covers to rest open-palm on Gus’s sweaty stomach. Shawn definitely wasn’t cold anymore.
“Why am I always the little spoon?”
“Twice is not always.”
“Yes it is, when both times I’m the little spoon. It’s literally the definition of always.”
“Do you want to switch?” said Shawn. “Do you want me to throw off the covers and roll over and let those sweet bars of chocolate wrap me in gooey, delicious goodness?”
“I think you let that metaphor get away from you, Shawn.” Gus didn’t answer the actual question. He also didn’t move.
"I'm starting a new job next week," said Shawn against Gus's shoulder a few moments later.
"Really?" said Gus. "Me too. What are you doing?"
"Project lead for Y2K upgrades."
"What?" said Gus. "Shawn, you don't know anything about computers."
"So?" said Shawn. "I'm the project lead. That means I tell everyone else what to do. I don't have to actually do any of the programming."
Gus was already picturing airplanes falling from the sky in a few months. "In Santa Barbara?"
"Santa Cruz," said Shawn.
It was closer than San Antonio, or Philly, or Costa Rica. It was closer than most places Shawn had spent time in the past few years.
"For how long?"
He could feel more than see Shawn's shrug. "Until I'm done," he said. Which was not the same as when the job was done. Gus wasn't sure which he was more worried about, the airplanes or Shawn. No, it was definitely the airplanes. Shawn would be fine. Shawn was always fine.
“You’ll let me know before you’re done?” said Gus.
“Sure,” said Shawn. “You know me. Of course I will.”
Gus did know him, but he still let those words comfort him, at least for a little while. Shawn was here now, and sometimes that was all he could really ask for, in the end.