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What We Desire

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Shawn babysits Isabelle once, when a 4400 whose touch sucks the life out of people (yes, sometimes he does feel like he's trapped in an X-Men comic) has the world freaking out about them again. Richard is busy protecting the Center, while Lily tries to convince people that most of them aren't evil vampires. It's not like Shawn has anything better to do, anyway – people are suddenly cautious to be touched by a 4400, healer or not.

Isabelle is a cute, playful child, but her eyes are dark and serious when they turn on him and there's something in them he cannot quite understand, or name, and doesn't even want to. He smiles and hands her her toys and tries to ignore the eyes. She's just a kid. But he remembers what she's done to Jordan, and part of him will always be frightened of her. When he touches her, though, she smiles and takes two of his fingers into her little hand and he thinks it will be alright.

He's just sitting on the couch with her, leafing through a picture book, when Tom barges into the room.

It's always been like that, even back before: whenever something went wrong that Shawn might possibly have been involved in, like Kyle being drunk, or coming home late, or getting in trouble at school, Tom would come to their house, march into Shawn's room and lecture him. And he's still doing the same thing, as if nothing has changed, as if Shawn still is this kid trying to stir up trouble.

Tom rants on how Shawn (it's never 'the Center' now that Jordan is gone, it's always 'you', as if this is something personal) is hiding Jeffrey McKenzie, the life-sucking guy, and thus endangering humankind, and that Tom will personally make him responsible if anything happens. It makes Shawn's head ache. He gets up from the couch, puts down Isabelle and walks over to his desk. Sitting down there makes him feel slightly more mature and responsible, and less like the little boy caught with his hand in the jar of cookies.

But Tom is angry – angrier than usually, and a lot angrier than the situation calls for. He comes after Shawn and tells him that he won't let him get away with hiding behind the façade of a grown-up. His hands are tangled in Shawn's shirt, and the next Shawn knows he's pulled up and pushed against the wall.

Tom's furious face is inches from his. Part of him wants to cave and give in, wants to say, 'Yes, Uncle Tommy,' just so that Tom will stop being furious with him; but he knows that if he doesn't talk back now, it will always be like this. "I'm not a kid anymore!" he says, firmly.

Tom takes another step towards him and starts to say, "Then stop ac—" But then he's too close, his erection brushes against Shawn's, and the world stops.

Shawn screws his eyes shut. It's not the first time this happened. He's tried to ignore it, convincing himself that getting hard while arguing with Tom was only about the fight-or-flight syndrome and adrenaline and had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he thought Tom was… imposing when he got all righteous and angry. But before now, Tom has never been so close, has never noticed, has never been aroused himself.

He doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know what to say. He wishes Tom would just step away and they could forget this ever happened. Instead, Tom's fingers are fumbling with his belt. Shawn's eyes fly open. He knows that they cannot do this, that this is wrong on entirely too many levels, that this will mess them up more than being taken and changed by people from the future did. His mouth opens to say "no" or "stop it" or "we can't"; but then Tom's hand curves around him and all that comes out is a strangled gasp. He pushes into the waiting hand, trying to get closer even, as if he wants to crawl into Tom. It doesn't matter that he knows he'll hate himself (and Tom, probably) for this afterwards. All that counts is the now.

Now is when his hands reach out to blindly touch whatever part of Tom that's nearest. Now is when their shirts come off, ripped and crumbled, and he finally feels the glorious sensation of skin against skin. Now is when Tom kisses him, his mouth hard and angry, and he can taste the desperation of the forbidden in the kiss. Now is when he comes against the strong, callused hand and has to bite his lip because he never called Tom anything but 'Uncle Tommy' and he's certainly not going to do that now… maybe not ever, after this.

Now is when the world stops for a second time, as he shuts his eyes and tries to ease his breathing.

"Shawn. Shawn! Are you even listening to one goddamn word I've said?"

He blinks and when he looks up again and reality shifts into focus, Tom is standing in front of the desk, the expression on his face half-impatience, half-worry. It takes him another second to notice that they are both fully dressed, followed suit by the realization that he's come in his pants. He's thankful that there's the barrier of his desk between them, but that doesn't stop the blood from heating up his face.

"I've—" he begins. His voice breaks, and he has to start again. "I'm sorry... Uncle Tommy." His voice breaks at the name. "I've heard. We're not hiding Jeffrey from you. He isn't even here. Look, when I hear something, I'll get in touch." When Tom continues to look sceptic, Shawn adds a, "Promise," for good measure. Anything to get rid of his uncle now.

But Tom wouldn't be Tom if he were easy to get rid of. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine," Shawn says. It comes out too defensive and impatient, so he takes a breath and repeats in a calmer tone, "I'm fine. Really."

Tom still gives him a doubtful look. He seems to be ready to argue, but when their eyes meet, he must see something in Shawn's that changes his mind.

When he's gone, Shawn bonelessly sinks back in his chair. He still can feel Tom's hands on his skin, and it burns him. He looks up to find Isabelle looking straight at him with something that looks like a smile, her eyes two deep brown pools that make him shiver.

After that, he never offers to babysit again, and Lily never asks.