"A Momentary Chill"

By Penumbren

Disclaimer: No one is mine, darn it. But I'd happily buy HBK if they were selling him.
Distribution: ask first
Rating: PG
Characters: Shawn Michaels, Matt Hardy
Content: Implied m/m, m/f relationships, mild language/angst
Author's Notes: For Lalaith86, based on the prompt she gave me: Shawn/Matt and "walking funny".

Milky Way bar

There weren't many jobs where your co-workers were routinely half your age, let alone where those same co-workers could honestly say, "You were my inspiration, my childhood hero—I've watched you my entire life!"

The worst thing about it, Shawn reflected moodily, was how damned sincere they were, the hero worship evident in earnest faces that grew younger every year. Nights like tonight only emphasized that. Yet another Supershow, which was great for getting an extra day off, but meant that he was surrounded by people he rarely saw and even more people he'd never seen before—but all of them knew him.

At least, they knew the character he showed on screen. Most of them were content with that, happy just to bask in the presence of the infamous Heartbreak Kid, but there were a few who realised that HBK was just a shell, a persona he played on-screen and in the ring, and otherwise tried to live without—and live down. Some of his past escapades still haunted him. Knowing that some of the kids he worked with wanted nothing more than to emulate his every move didn't make him feel any better about his past. All he could do was pray that the Good Lord would find it in within Himself to forgive him for his worst excesses—and grant him the patience to deal with his youthful admirers.

Especially now, he thought sourly. He'd managed to escaped Hunter's concerned gaze when Stephanie unexpectedly showed up backstage, Aurora in tow. He loved the little girl, but those two had obviously wanted some time alone and he'd been more than willing to give it to them. He'd been hoping to escape to his locker room to nurse his injured knee in privacy after Hunt's family had distracted him from his worry, but it looked like that wasn't going to happen.

"Hey, Shawn... y'all right? You're limpin' pretty bad." The voice held nothing but friendly concern—which was the last thing Shawn wanted. Pausing in his careful hobble, Shawn met a worried gaze. At least he knew this one, even if they'd only worked together a few times.

"I'm fine, Matt. Just twisted it a bit in the ring. All I need to do is put my leg up for a little while," he answered shortly, hoping to forestall the inevitable offer. It was a pointless attempt, though, since the Hardys' Southern manners were nearly as infamous backstage as their tempers.

"Y'sure y'shouldn't have somebody look at it?" Matt's voice was doubtful, as was his expression, although he seemed to read the flat denial in Shawn's face before he could even voice it. Raising a hand, he said quickly, "Or maybe not. Why don't I at least help y'back to your room?" That was an offer that Shawn just couldn't refuse—not without feeling like the heel he'd once played, at least.

"Sure. Thanks." The short distance was covered in silence, Matt's arm around his waist as a counterbalance to his uneven gait. The sidelong glances Matt kept sending him didn't pass unnoticed, although they made him a little uncomfortable. Years ago, he'd have been willing to follow up on the promise inherent in those dark eyes, but now... All it took was a glance down at his left hand and the tattoo that he could feel almost as much as the ring that normally covered it to remind him of what he already knew. He had no need—and more importantly, no desire—for what he knew Matt was offering. Images of Becca's smile and the laughing faces of their children came to mind, and he smiled softly at nothing in particular, looking forward to being home the next day to spend time with the most important people in his life.

"Shawn...?" The hesitantly hopeful sound of his name brought Shawn back to blinking awareness of the present. They'd stopped in front of his door, and Matt was looking at him, eyes shining. With a sinking heart, Shawn knew that he couldn't just ignore this, but... hopefully he could be gentle about it.

Carefully unwinding Matt's arm from his waist with a casual touch, he smiled at the younger man, careful to keep it friendly, and clapped a hand on his shoulder. "Thanks, Matt. I appreciate your help." Keeping his tone light, he stepped carefully away from Matt, not missing the flash of disappointment in the dark eyes. "I'm going to get back to the hotel and put my leg up—can't have my knee locking up on me tomorrow when Cam wants to wrestle, can I?"

The answering smile on Matt's face froze for a second, before he drew in a breath and shook his head. The following laugh sounded a little forced, but it made Shawn feel a little easier about the momentary awkwardness. "Definitely not. Can't disappoint the kids, after all."

Shawn nodded in agreement as he reached for the doorknob, tugging the door open with an easy pull. "No, certainly not. Thanks again. I'll see you around."

Some of the earlier lightness left Matt's voice as he nodded. "Yep. Later, Shawn."

Watching the man walk away, Shawn wondered if he'd done the right thing. Lots of people had had crushes on him, but that look... Shaking his head, Shawn entered his room and closed the door behind him.

Usually he waited until after he'd showered and changed to fully put away HBK and just be Shawn again, but tonight... Sighing softly as the cool band of metal came to rest in its rightful place on his finger, Shawn smiled. The gold warmed quickly, and the momentary chill at its touch was quickly forgotten.

~ finis ~

Milky Way bar

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