"Oh Hell Yeah"
Disclaimer: No one is mine, darn it. But I'd happily buy HBK if they were
Distribution: ask first
Characters: Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin
Content: implied m/m relations, language, angst
Author's Notes: Spoilers for Survivor Series 2003. I've had notes about That Scene since the night the PPV aired, but I couldn't decide how I wanted to write this. I think Jadedoll's story inspired me. *g*
I lay there stunned, feeling the blood starting to dry on my face. It itched. I wanted to reach up and scratch, but I couldn't move my arms. I couldn't move... Before I could start panicking at that thought, I became aware of someone next to me. Someone was watching me.
I could hear the fans screaming in the background, muted, and I started to realise what had happened. I was in the ring, and Orton... Orton had pinned me. That was important for some reason... I tried to remember why, but the throbbing pain in my head interfered.
As I started to twitch slightly, trying to move, I was aware of whoever was staring at me coming closer, kneeling down. A surprisingly gentle hand on my arm calmed me as the panic threatened to swell again. Another hand on my chest, and I forced my eyes open, recognizing the touch, knowing who I'd see. One hand left me, and I reached up, plucking weakly at the arm over me as I tried to get my eyes to focus. A quick touch on my chest and I blinked, staring up at the man leaning over me.
"Steve..." I whispered, licking my lips and tasting the blood on them. My throat was dry. He stared down at me, his expression almost unreadable. Did I see worry in his eyes? Steve was worried about me? I would've laughed at the thought, but it hurt too much to try.
"Hush, Shawn," he said gruffly. "Yer hurt."
I reached out, putting my hand over the one he still had on my chest.
"Steve... tried. So hard. Didn't want this..." My voice cracked, was hoarse. It hurt to speak, but I felt an overwhelming urge to tell him how sorry I was. He'd been forced to rely on me, forced to trust me, forced to go against everything he believed in and everything our history had taught him... and I'd let him down. The thought made my chest tight, and I realised I had tears in my eyes.
"'S not yer fault, Shawn. It's Bischoff's. Not yers," he replied, his eyes showing momentary anger. I shook my head, trying to contradict him, but he interrupted me, waving a hand over me. "Yer hurt. Gotta get ya outta here." He dropped his hand to his side and stood up.
I rolled to my side, grunting at the wave of pain. My back was in agony. I managed to rise up to my knees and stopped for breath, looking unsteadily up at Austin. I could see him looking at the crowd, and my guilt nearly drowned me.
"I'm sorry..." My voice broke, and he ignored my words as he reached down and grabbed my arms, pulling me to my feet, pulling me into a quick embrace... accidentally? I remembered other times, other places, standing like this... I forced the memories away.
I met his gaze and saw his pain, his worry... and something else. I'm not sure what he saw in my eyes, but whatever it was, it made him blink. He let go of me and stepped back slightly. My legs threatened to buckle almost immediately and I grabbed his arm, needing the support until I could force my legs to stop wobbling.
I glanced toward the nearest camera, judging its distance from us. Too close to say anything I really wanted to say. Instead, I said softly, "I'm sorry. I tried." He nodded, the pain returning to his eyes, and I looked down, not able to face that pain.
"I know ya did, Shawn. Ya did so much..." He paused, putting a hand on my stomach, an intimate touch for such a public place. My eyes flew back up to his and there was that undefinable emotion again. I bit back sudden tears, not knowing why, and dropped my gaze to the mat again, trying to control myself.
He put a hand on my lower back, right where it was spasming. The warmth made me feel a little better. He always had the damnedest ability to do that.
"Ya always do so much. Ya try too hard sometimes, ya know." The barest hint of humour in his voice. Flashes of other discussions, him telling me to back off, to quit trying so hard that it hurt... other touches like this one, leading to other things...
It was too much. I started to turn away, needing suddenly to get out of the ring, away from all the eyes, the cameras...
Too many people watching for something like this.
Another quick touch to my stomach and my head whipped back up, meeting Steve's eyes, seeing a twinkle there that I hadn't seen for years. His hand fell away from my stomach as he reached out with his other hand, taking mine and shaking it. I shook my head, not wanting his thanks, his appreciation for my failure. I'd failed him when he needed me most... not for the first time.
Austin shook his head, frustrated, and leaned forward slightly, waving a hand from his eyes towards mine.
"We ain't always seen eye to eye, Shawn. But listen this time, okay? Ya tried. Ya tried damn hard, an' I appreciate it." He paused, and I nodded slightly, too tired to keep denying him. He shrugged, accepting that, and I pulled away from him, turning and taking slow steps toward the ropes. I rolled out carefully, stumbling a little as I hit the ground.
I started slowly up the ramp. I could feel him following me, could picture him, hands on hips, head cocked, close enough to catch me if he needed to.
About halfway up the ramp, he stopped me with a touch on my arm. He raised it, looking at me with that same inscrutable expression, then put his hands back on his hips. I started walking again, trying not to stagger, and I could feel him still following right behind me.
I had to wonder what was going through his mind. Of all people, he'd come to me... trusting me to do my best. But my best hadn't been good enough, and now... Now, because of my failure, he'd lost more than a job. He'd lost his life. I knew what that felt like. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, and Steve... he'd been my enemy, but he'd been so much more than that. He'd been there for me when no one else was, and he'd been there when I wished he wasn't. Now he wouldn't be there at all. And it was my fault.
I barely noticed when I stepped through the curtain, but I was aware of other people standing around, watching. Judging. Shock, anger, joy... I was just numb. The guilt burdening me wouldn't let me feel anything else. Not yet.
The touch on my shoulder surprised me and I jerked to a stop, looking over my shoulder. Steve was looking at me, head cocked as if in thought. The sudden anguish that ripped through me forced more useless words out of me.
"I'm sorry, Steve. So sorry. I tried. I didn't..."
The sudden pressure of his lips on mine demanded a response and even as I was shocked, I could feel myself melting against him. I answered his kiss eagerly, suddenly hungry for it, taking as much as he was willing to give me and giving everything that he asked. His arms were around me and I had an arm around his neck, and we were devouring each other. I could taste the beer in his mouth, and that indefinable Steve-taste, and I remembered other times...
And then it was over, and my confusion must've showed as he grinned down at me.
"Seemed like a good idea at the time. Guess we could say that about a lotta things, huh?" Understanding dawned as I saw that damned emotion in his eyes again and finally put a name to it. Regret. And something else still hiding behind it... but I refused to go there. He wasn't offering that to me, and I was in no position to demand anything from him.
I could feel the stunned silence from everyone around us, and a smile flickered at my lips. His grin softened, and he pressed his lips to my temple before stepping back from me and turning towards the curtain. I could have named the emotions I felt at that moment, but I refused to. Times change, people change... Sometimes we just miss our chance to have what we want.
I watched him square his shoulders as he paused in front of the curtain, watched him wrap Stone Cold around himself again. I realised that I had to let him know I knew what he'd really been saying, let him know that I understood.
As he stepped back through it, I said, just loud enough for him to hear, "Yeah, Steve. Oh, hell yeah."
I saw him nod, once.
And the curtains closed.
~ finis ~
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