By Penumbren

Disclaimer: No one is mine, darn it. But I'd happily buy HBK if they were selling him.
Distribution: ask first
Rating: G
Characters: Shawn Michaels, Triple H
Content: Implied m/m relationships, angst, fluffiness
Author's Notes: For Lissa, who gave me the prompt, and with many thanks to Melissa and Sarah, who looked this over in its various stages of being.

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Hunter paused in the doorway, not believing what he saw. Trying not to stare as he stood in silence, he couldn't keep his eyes from following the figure as it passed him. The smile glinting beneath the familiar white cowboy hat did nothing to calm his nerves, which had tied themselves into knots at the sheer sight.

"Decided to wear your lucky hat today, huh?" he grinned at Shawn, who rolled his eyes at him. His friend's distraction as he adjusted the angle of the hat would have been taken as his normal affectation by anyone else. Hunter knew better. He could see the nervous tension filling the other man, could see the fear underlying the abrupt motion as Shawn turned away from the mirror and gave him a cocky smile.

Such a small thing, Hunter knew, to have such a ridiculously large effect on him. Anyone would think so. But then, anyone wouldn't know what that cowboy hat meant to him---no one did, except Shawn. Discovering that had been a shock, although not an entirely unwelcome one. Seeing the hat now brought a small glimmer of hope to Hunter's heart. After all, the last time he'd seen it had been an occasion to remember, even if with frustration and not a little pain.

"Of course. Not that there's anything to worry about," Shawn said with a shrug. The nonchalance was almost perfect. But Hunter knew perfectly well why they were waiting in the off-white lobby, Shawn wearing the rug thin with his pacing. They were waiting for judgment.

Hunter always tried to be honest with himself, and only rarely failed in the attempt. His biggest failure had been with Shawn. Remembering still hurt. Images swept past him, memories of first meeting the man he'd been honoured to call his best friend, memories of late nights and later recoveries, memories of Shawn's face pale with shock, blue eyes bright with tears, when he'd heard his diagnosis.

"Surgery?" Shawn repeated numbly. Hunter's fingers clenched, fighting the urge to reach out and wrap Shawn in his arms, knowing that this wasn't the time or place for it. Instead, he buried his own shock and grief and placed a comforting hand on Shawn's shoulder, the bland smile on the doctor's face falling away as his own burning gaze flicked in the man's direction. Only someone who had no idea what his words meant could have said them so calmly... someone who didn't know that he had just taken away everything important from Hunter's best friend.

Watching Shawn walk down the hall, the sudden movement as Shawn stopped and turned to look at him caught him by surprise. Even at this distance the glint in those blue eyes was clear, and Hunter swallowed harshly, his throat dry as he met the mischievous gaze.

Closing the door softly and rotating the bolt into place, Hunt heard the soft sound of a mattress creaking behind him. Not surprised when he turned around and saw Shawn sitting on the end of the bed, head in his hands, Hunter closed the short gap between them, settling down next to his friend. Normally Shawn was so strong it was frightening, but this… this was different from anything else. Gingerly putting an arm around Shawn's shoulders, he was taken aback when Shawn moved into his embrace without a word.

"See something you like?" The slow honey drawl held promise, a hint of wickedness beneath the teasing, and Hunt could feel the sweat break out on his palms. His eyes swept over Shawn hungrily, taking in the tailoured suit, the hand on one hip, the faint smirk curving full lips...

Sitting there, holding the man that he'd called friend for years, watching as he tried desperately not to fall apart, Hunter knew. It wasn't a shocking realization, or a revelation that changed his world. Just... an acknowledgement of something that somewhere, somehow, he'd always known.

Only then, as he'd held Shawn in his arms, trying to lend his strength to a man who didn't want to admit he needed it, had he known the truth. And like always, Shawn had known from his eyes what he wanted to say. Their words, half-whispered in a barely-lit hotel room years ago, still echoed in his mind.

"Shawn--" He stared into blue depths, the knowledge of feelings he'd hidden even from himself crashing down over him. His voice was low, stammering. "I... I--"


The single word fell into the confused depths of his mind like a bomb, wiping out any coherent thought. His expression was bewildered, his ability to speak gone as he saw the expression on Shawn's face.

"Yeah, Shawn. I do," Hunter answered, his voice hoarse with sudden emotion. He'd done his best to put all thoughts of it from his mind, but seeing Shawn now, wearing his favourite hat for the first time since that day, those long-denied emotions were all he was aware of. He saw Shawn's eyes widen slightly---for once, maybe he'd surprised the man. Not like last time.

"No, Hunter. Not... not now." Shawn's voice was just as soft, but it held iron. The knowledge of Hunter's unspoken words lay between them like a wall, and Hunt could only ask dumbly, "...when?"

The pain in the blue eyes cleared a little, and Shawn's lips curved in a pained half-smile as he reached out, fingers ghosting over the side of Hunter's face. The touch made Hunter shiver, his heart aching at the answering longing it revealed. Only the half-whispered answer kept him from moving as Shawn promised, "...someday."


The worried tone in the familiar drawl brought Hunter back to blinking awareness. Shawn was standing in front of him, the distance crossed without his even noticing. Unthinkingly, he reached out to touch the hat. His hand was trembling. Soft fingers brushing against the side of his face drew his eyes back to Shawn's, unsure of the emotions he saw within them.

"Someday, Shawn?" he asked quietly, almost holding his breath. The smile that crossed his friend's lips could have lit up the entire building.

"Yes, Hunter. Today... is someday."

~ finis ~

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