By Penumbren

Disclaimer: No one is mine, darn it. But I'd happily buy HBK if they were selling him.
Distribution: ask first
Rating: R
Characters: Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Kevin Nash
Content: Lotsa angst, lotsa mushiness, some sex. Spoilers for Backlash 2003.

Milky Way bar


Chris waited impatiently by the steps, watching Shawn, Kevin, and Booker T on the monitor. /Wonder what him and Kevin are saying to each other. Wish they'd hurry up.../ He squelched the other thoughts that tried to make themselves heard as he watched his lover practically cuddle another man in public. /But what a man to choose.../ He jumped as a hand fell on his shoulder, and found himself face-to-face with Hunter, who correctly interpreted the worried look on his face.

"He's fine, Chris," Hunter assured him.

Chris sighed, running his hands through his hair, replying, "I know we were all careful, but it doesn't make watching him act hurt any easier. At least he wasn't handcuffed to the ropes this time..."

Hunter nodded sympathetically. "Tell me about it. At least you didn't have to hit Shawn in the head with a sledgehammer." Chris shuddered at the thought.

"It's bad enough watching you do it to Kevin. Whose idea was that, anyway?" Hunter looked slightly abashed.

"I know. My idea, but Kev likes it. Says it's a good hook. I think it's harder for me to hit him than it is for him to be hit, actually. He just shrugs it off."

Chris shook his head. "It's bad enough to keep putting Shawn into the Walls; I know I've done stuff to him before, but now... I don't know how you and Kevin can do it." Hunter started to reply, but Chris's attention was caught by movement on the steps and he hurried over to help Shawn down as the three tag partners came down the stairway. Shawn looked exhausted but exultant, and accepted Chris's arm with a smile, hugging him when he get down to level ground. "You okay?" Chris asked quietly, inhaling the sweaty musk rising from Shawn as his lover put his head on Chris's shoulder.

"I'm fine. Just tired. Sore, but that's nothing new." They stood there for a moment, watching Ric and Booker walk toward the locker room, chatting. Hunter and Kevin passed a moment later, Hunter fussing at Kev about his head as Kevin tried to reassure him. Chris saw Shawn smile at the sight, and raised an inquiring eyebrow. Shawn shrugged, still smiling, and said, "Them. It's nice to see them together again. Hunter was a little lost without Kevin around."

Both of Chris's eyebrows raised at that and as they started down the hallway after the others, arms still around each other, he said, "But I thought you and Hunter were together---before, I mean."

"We were, but it's... not the same. I was with him because without Kevin, he was alone. Hunt and I love each other, but... well, it'd be kind of like if you were gone for so long. Hunter---and probably Kev, too---would be with me so I wouldn't be alone, but I'd want you." Chris frowned a little, not quite understanding. "Chris, I love both of them, and they love me---but they're in love with each other, just like I'm in love with you. It's just... not the same," Shawn offered as further explanation.

Chris nodded slowly, digesting that. /I dunno. I think I understand what he means, but it still seems strange. Of course, I'm not part of the Clique, so I guess it would. Well, Shawn's mine now, anyway, so I don't have to worry about it... I hope./ He changed the subject, still not entirely comfortable discussing Shawn's other lovers with him, in the past or not. "I think the match went really well, especially when we were able to split up and still keep the interest going."

Shawn agreed. "I think it was great. I don't know about you, but I'm loving building up these storylines. They're really spending more time on it than they normally do."

They conversed for a few more minutes before they got to the locker room, several other wrestlers coming up to compliment them on the match. Chris caught sight of Hunter and Kevin off to the side, talking quietly to each other, grinning. Shawn waved, and some kind of look passed between him and Hunter, but Chris wasn't sure what was being communicated. He looked inquiringly at his lover, but Shawn apparently didn't notice his interest, instead heading for his locker with some murmur about showers.

Chris stood for a moment watching him walk away, appreciating the sight, before following. He caught up to him as Shawn stripped off his tights and reached for his towel, nonchalantly standing naked in front of his locker. Chris sucked in a breath at the sight, the pent-up heat he'd had to keep pushing away during the match returning full force, making him sway slightly. "God, Shawn..." he whispered, his eyes devouring the man before him. Shawn smirked at him, then purposely turned slightly and bent over to reach for his towel, Chris's eyes following the perfect curve of his ass as he did so.

"Dammit, Shawn, this sucks. I'm supposed to be beating hell out of you, and all I want to do is throw you down in the middle of the ring and fuck you senseless," Chris whined quietly, his fingers twitching with the urge to reach out and touch the man in front of him.

Shawn laughed, wrapping the towel around his waist before replying, "Babe, I told you this would be hard."

Chris rolled his eyes, muttering, "You're not kidding. That's the problem!" Before Shawn could reply, Chris reached out and pulled him against his body, rubbing his now-aching crotch against Shawn's hip, gratified when his breath quickened. He started to lean forward to kiss him, but Shawn pulled away, ignoring his protest.

"If you don't stop that, we'll be adding a story of our own to the ones that you've already heard," Shawn said with a quiet laugh. Chris groaned, his head falling back to hit the locker.

"Dammit, Shawn, if you make me wait for you to shower, change, fuss with your hair, and then get to the hotel room, I might die from frustration!" Another quiet laugh was his only answer. Straightening up, he glanced around the locker room, to find everyone else rather pointedly looking in any direction but at them. Flushing slightly, he said, "Well, can't you just get dressed and take a shower at the hotel? That way we can... conserve water." His voice dropped a little as he looked his lover up and down.

Shawn returned the heated look and replied, "You've got a point. Give me a minute." Chris groaned again and turned away, pulling on a t-shirt and sweats over his ring attire, resolving to change at the hotel rather display his over-eager body to the entire company.

"Hey, Chris. Mind if I talk to Shawn for a minute?" Hunter's amused voice interrupted Chris's imaginings, and he blinked, seeing Hunter and Kevin standing next to him, already dressed, then nodded abruptly.

"Sure thing. Let me get out of your way." He took a few steps to the side, turning his back on them. He still wasn't entirely comfortable around Hunter or Kevin when they were around Shawn. He knew that was unfair to all three of them, but knowing their past together, he just couldn't bring himself to completely relax when they were together. /Which is just stupid. It's not like I really have anything to worry about, right? I mean, Shawn loves me. If he wanted to be with them, he would be. They haven't even really done anything when they've been together---maybe an occasional quick kiss, but that's about it. That's nothing to.../

His thoughts were interrupted again, this time by a low wolf whistle from Kevin and his head whipped around, to see Hunter bending Shawn over backwards, arms wrapped around each other and their lips locked together. He stared, watching the kiss develop into something more serious, the two obviously groping each other, until the cheers and applause from the rest of the room penetrated his shock. Glancing around, he saw grins and smirks, and pitying looks directed at him from the rest of the people in the room. He looked back at his lover, still wrapped in Hunter's arms, smiling up at him in an all-too-familiar way. The sudden unexpected tangle of emotion that swept through him nearly knocked him from his feet. He grabbed his gym bag and said over his shoulder, "I'm going to the hotel. I'll see you there, I guess." He nearly ran into Kevin as he walked away, and muttered an apology, trying to get around him.

"Hey, Jericho, wait a minute!" Kev tried to grab his arm, but Chris jerked away from him, refusing to look at him.

"Why? Go stand in line for Shawn. He'll obviously give you some time," he spat, and left as quickly as he could.


/Oh, hell./ Kevin watched Jericho walk out of the room with his face a frozen mask, and felt like he'd just kicked a puppy. He became aware of a stunned silence in the room and realised that everyone was staring at him, and at Hunter and Shawn. He glared and snapped, "Mind your own damned business!" The low murmur of background voices slowly started again, but Kevin knew most of the murmuring now was about them. /Just like old times. Joy./ He turned to Shawn, who was still in Hunter's arms, although looking pale now rather than flirtatious. He and Hunter moved to block most of the watching eyes, trying to get Shawn to talk.

"Hey, Shawn, it's... it'll be okay. We just came on a little strong for him, I guess," Hunter offered lamely, casting a pleading look at Kevin.

Kevin shrugged, putting an arm around Shawn's shoulders. "Jericho just needs a little time, Shawn. He, uh... he should be fine once he gets over his surprise," Kevin added, feeling just as useless. "Why don't you finish getting dressed, and we'll get out of here, okay?"

Shawn finally looked at him, his eyes bleak. "And go where? I'm not sure that I'll be welcome in my hotel room."

"You can always stay with us," Hunter said quietly. Kevin nodded, but he knew that wasn't going to be Shawn's first choice.

"Sure. Let me finish getting dressed, and we'll... see what happens." Shawn's voice was low as he stepped out of their embrace and pulled on the rest of his clothes.

Kevin met Hunter's gaze and shrugged again. /Hell if I know. I don't even know Jericho that well./ He frowned. /But I'm not impressed with his storming out of here... it was just a kiss. Well, a really public kiss. A really public kiss, with groping... with an old lover... okay, maybe I can sympathize with him. I'd probably be kinda pissed too, if I weren't Clique./

He sighed, picking up Shawn's gym bag and following Hunter and Shawn out of the locker room. He saw Shawn looking around as they headed out to the garage, obviously hoping to see Jericho, or at least their car. The growing disappointment on his face hurt to look at, as it became obvious that Jericho was already gone.

Kev was fumbling in his pockets for the rental car's keys when someone hailed them from across the garage.

"Hey! Guys!" Shane waved at them to get their attention and approached, looking puzzled. "Jericho took off about ten minutes ago. Left like a bat out of hell. Is something...wrong...?" His voice trailed off as he got a good look at the trio, taking in Shawn's pale face, Hunter's arm around him, and Kevin's frown. "Oh. Something happen?" His voice held only concern, since he was familiar with all of them, but Hunter cut him off.

"I'm sorry, Shane, but this isn't the time or the place," he said firmly.

"Did Chris head for the hotel, by any chance?" Shawn asked quietly. Shane nodded.

"Yep. He said to let you know that he'd be there if you wanted him for anything." Shawn sucked in his breath and closed his eyes at the words, and Hunter tightened his embrace as Shawn turned to him.

Kevin sighed. "Thanks, Shane. We'll talk to you later, okay?" Shane took the hint and left, but Kev knew he'd follow up on that promise later. /He's a good friend, but god, does his timing suck./ He unlocked the car for Shawn, then stowed their bags in the trunk before turning to Hunter. "Why don't you drive, Hunt?"

"Sure. Are you..." Kevin nodded, anticipating Hunter's question, and got into the back seat beside Shawn. As Hunter got in and started the car, Kev looked at Shawn, who burrowed into his embrace with an inarticulate noise. Kevin stroked his hair and his back, leaning his chin on top of Shawn's head, offering silent comfort.

After they left the building, Kev met Hunter's eyes in the mirror and shook his head slightly. /Not yet. He just needs us, like this, for now, I think. God. Shawn didn't even think about that kiss, and I'm sure Hunter didn't, either. I don't think any of us realised just how insecure Jericho still is about their relationship./ A low mutter from Shawn caught his attention.

"I must be the world's biggest idiot. It's not like we've been together that long, and I know he's still not okay with the whole Clique thing... So what do I do? Throw our past in his face!" Shawn's voice was low, pain threaded through it.

Kevin said, "Shawn, it's not like you knew he was going to react that way. No one could blame you for acting like you always have." Shawn laughed harshly, the sound half-muffled against Kevin's chest.

"I should have known, Kev. We've talked about the Clique, and about us, and I know that he just doesn't get it. He understands that we all love each other, but he doesn't understand the finer points. Hell, I'm not sure I understand the finer points---at least not well enough to explain them, especially to someone who's never been involved with something like it."

Hunter spoke up from the front seat, his voice a little hesitant. "Y'know, I didn't really "get it" until I experienced it...and I think, looking back, that part of my confusion was because even though I loved you, Shawn, I really, really wanted Kev, and I felt like I was cheating on you just for thinking it."

Kevin watched the idea percolate through Shawn's mind. He was rather interested in it himself, not because this was the first time Hunter had ever admitted that particular feeling, but because it brought some other things to mind. He spoke slowly, thinking out loud. "Hunter may have a point, Shawn. Jericho's...been acting a little oddly around me since I came back. He..." Kevin paused, knowing that Shawn probably wouldn't like to hear his conclusion. "He sets off some of my... alarms."

Shawn frowned at him, obviously suspecting what he was reluctant to say. Hunter raised his eyebrows, catching Kevin's eyes in the mirror.

"You don't mean...like Scott?" Hunter asked skeptically. Kevin nodded, then looked back at Shawn in time to see his eyes narrow.

"I'm sorry, Shawn. I know you don't necessarily like everything that I do, but the way Jericho acts sometimes really reminds me of Scott." Shawn started to reply, then stopped himself, looking more thoughtful.

"You may be right, Kev," he finally said. "He's not afraid of you, but he's been pretty uncomfortable around you. I thought it was because of our history, the way that he's uncomfortable around Hunter when we're not working, but...he doesn't really talk to you, does he? Just...doesn't look at you, and he doesn't want to get too close to you, but I've seen him watching you. A lot. And when you look at him, he looks away." Shawn laughed, sounding more normal this time. "If I were a jealous man, I'd be worried, actually. But I don't think I have to be."

Kev shook his head. "Nah." He caught Hunter's eye in the mirror and smiled at him. /But I have to wonder. I hope he's able to get past this jealousy thing. If he can, it could be enlightening for him...and fun. I haven't been with Scotty for a long, long time./ He sighed slightly, and pushed the thought away. /Right now, we just have to help him and Shawn fix things. Other things later./


By the time they arrived at the hotel, they'd lapsed into silence. Shawn glanced at Kevin, who seemed lost in his own thoughts even though he still had an arm around him. /Probably thinking about Scott. Poor guy. They were good together. I can see Hunter's point. I remember talking to him about Kev, years ago. Hunter was so upset by his own feelings, and it was so hard to get him to talk to me. Who knew, at the time? I think maybe he's right, though. Chris has been almost embarrassed to be around them lately, especially Kevin. I thought it was because of the Clique...but we talked about that, and he insisted he would be fine./

Shawn considered Kevin as they walked through the hotel and entered the elevator, intensely aware for the first time in years of his friend's size and strength. /Watching him casually pick up Hunter and throw him across the ring...and Chris, too. I can see why Chris would be interested, but...I wonder if Kev's right about the nature of that interest. Chris hasn't seemed to want anything more from our sex life, but I suppose you wouldn't really reveal deeply hidden fantasies to your lover during the first month of your relationship, would you?/ A quiet sigh escaped him as he continued to watch Kev, and he was startled when Hunter nudged him.

"Hey, Shawn...you might want to stop staring at Kevin. He's liable to react to looks like that, you know." The smirk on Hunter's face made Shawn suddenly aware that he'd practically been drooling on Kevin, who looked just as amused as Hunter.

"Thinking interesting thoughts there, Shawn?" Kev asked, looking him up and down.

Shawn flushed a little, taken aback by the direction his thoughts had been heading. "Um. I, uh, was thinking about what you guys said..."

"Uh-huh. And that's why your pants suddenly don't fit?" Hunter gave him an appraising look, and Shawn found himself speechless for the first time in a long time. /Dammit. Down, boy. Now is not the time for this./

As the elevator doors opened on his floor, he took a step out, shaking his head when the other two would have followed. "I don't think Chris really needs all of us to show up for this particular conversation, guys."

They both nodded, and Hunter gave him a quick hug. "Well, call us if you need us. We're up a floor, in 807."

Shawn nodded back and headed down the hallway, stopping when he reached his door. He stared at it for a moment, debating, then mentally shrugged. /Now or later, it's going to be the same thing. And better, I think, if he doesn't have reason to think I've been doing anything with Kev and Hunter besides getting a ride to the hotel./

He swiped the keycard and pushed the door open. He took a few steps into the room, letting the door close behind him, then simply stopped and looked, appreciating the sight presented to him. Chris was sprawled on the bed, clad only in boxers, his arms clasped behind his head. His wet hair and still-damp body made it clear that he'd just finished showering. Shawn took a deep breath, willing his hormones back under control, and walked closer to the bed. Chris didn't look at him as he approached, although his eyes were open, fixed on the wall in front of him.

"Chris...I'm sorry. I didn't..." Shawn faltered as Chris turned his head toward him, hurt and anger still evident in his eyes. "I just...didn't think, I guess. We didn't mean anything by it," he offered lamely, not sure what to say. /Obviously, that wasn't it,/ he realised, watching Chris's eyes narrow.

"Oh, I'm sure you were thinking, Shawn. Just not with your big head," Chris said bitingly. "After all, who cares if the entire company is watching, let alone your lover. Why would I have a problem with you and Hunter practically going at it in the locker room?" His voice was raw, and Shawn could tell that he hadn't calmed down at all.

His own temper started to rise at the tone of Chris's words, and he tried to force it back down as he answered, "We weren't "practically going at it", Chris---it was a kiss. A showy one, sure, but just a kiss. In case you hadn't noticed, we were both dressed. We weren't exactly fucking each other in the middle of the room."

"Not because you didn't want to, I'm sure. After all, you have a "special understanding", don't you? You're Clique, after all. One quick fuck is no big deal," Chris sneered.

Shawn took a deep breath before answering, knowing that Chris was purposely baiting him, consciously or not. "I do not want to fight with you over this. Nothing has happened between me and Hunter, or Kevin, since we've been together. You know that."

"Right. That's why you two were pawing each other today---just couldn't stand it anymore? Adrenaline, hormones, having to stick with the same person for a whole month...who wouldn't grab their nearest ex-lover and try to swallow their tonsils...in public?" Shawn winced. Chris's voice was rising, and so was his own temper.

"Dammit, Chris, would you just listen to me? I'm sorry if we got carried away, but it was just a kiss. That's it. That's all it was intended to be." Shawn's voice was low but his frustration showed in his tone. "Babe, please, believe me. We haven't done anything else, and we don't intend to. We didn't mean to embarrass or upset you."

"Well, you did both," Chris said shortly, standing up. He started to reach for his clothing, piled on the chair next to the bed, but Shawn grabbed his arm, stopping him.

"How many times do I have to say "I'm sorry" before you'll believe me?"

Chris glared and jerked away from him, snapping, "Maybe forever. Why don't you just go find Hunter? You're obviously more interested in him than in me."

Shawn felt his fragile hold on his temper snap, and he snarled, "What, like you haven't been interested in Kevin lately? At least I don't drool over somebody, then turn around and accuse my lover of having the hots for someone else!" Chris froze, staring at Shawn, guilt evident in his eyes.

Shawn's stomach turned, and he stepped back. "They were right. You do have it bad for Kev, don't you, boy?" His voice was almost a whisper. "So you've been fantasizing about Kev and taking your guilt out on me? How fair is that, Chris? How is that fair at all, when you're flashing me hurt-puppy looks every time I fucking touch Hunter, and you're dreaming about how it would be to fuck Kev?"

He realised dimly that he was shouting, but he didn't care."How hypocritical is that? How long have you been overreacting to everything I do with them because your own fantasies are making you overly sensitive to us?" Chris tried to get away from him, but Shawn grabbed his shoulders and pushed him back against the wall, holding him there with his own body.

"God damn it Shawn, get off of me!" Chris shoved Shawn back, but couldn't escape his grasp. As Shawn twisted to keep hold of Chris, he was surprised to discover that they were both being affected by their position. /Now that's just fucked up. We're yelling at each other, and we're turned on?/

"I don't think..." Chris started, and Shawn interrupted him.

"That's the problem, boy, you're not thinking. Why in the hell would you think I'd leave you for Hunter? If I wanted him, I could've been with him this whole time, instead of trying to get you to believe that I love you!" Chris shook his head, trying to duck and twist away from Shawn, but Shawn took the opportunity to hook his ankle and tumbled him to the floor, landing on top of him.

"You son of a bitch," Chris hissed, struggling to get out from under Shawn's weight.

Shawn laughed harshly. "Damn straight," he said, and then leaned down and kissed him, forcing his lips apart. Any protest Chris might have had died away as Shawn shifted, bringing their groins into contact, drawing a groan from him as Shawn plundered his mouth. Chris's hands slipped around Shawn's waist, pulling him closer now rather than trying to push him away, and it was Shawn's turn to moan as Chris rolled his hips, sending shockwaves through him.

"Shawn..." Chris's voice was breathy rather than angry, and Shawn pulled back, tearing off his shirt and working his jeans down before leaning back down to seize Chris's lips again. He felt Chris's hands on his body, and realised that the other man had managed to get the rest of his clothing off.

With a smirk, he slid down, pulling his lover's boxers down with him, and without a pause swallowed Chris's erection whole, gloating to himself at the resulting shriek. Chris's entire body arched, and Shawn pressed his hips down again, sucking hard and swallowing as Chris shouted wordlessly, shaking in orgasm. Shawn moved back momentarily and scrabbled behind him for his gym bag, finally finding the small bottle of oil in an outside pocket and grabbed it, coating himself thoroughly before pushing roughly into his still-limp lover. Chris groaned raggedly at the penetration and clutched at Shawn.

His voice rough, Shawn said, "Now, why would I leave you, when you do this to me?" With a hoarse chuckle at the surprise in Chris's eyes, he began to move, feeling Chris's cock harden again at the sensation. He reached down with one hand to grasp it, stroking him unsteadily as his own orgasm built. He leaned down to kiss him again, only throw his head back with a howl as he reached the edge, and poured himself into his lover. He felt a sudden spurt of warmth between them as he collapsed, boneless, feeling Chris shuddering beneath him.

Shawn raised his head again a few moments later, feeling Chris's eyes on him. /Oh. My. God. What the hell just happened?/

He warily met his lover's gaze, flushing as he sat up and back. His voice hoarse, he said, "I'm sorry. I don't know what just happened. I've never lost control that way before." He held out a hand to Chris, helping him up, and saw him wince as he stood. "I didn't hurt you, did I?" he asked anxiously. Chris shrugged.

"Just a little sore. I'm not used to it being so rough." Shawn winced, guilt welling up at the words, but Chris walked past him into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him without another word. Shawn stared at the door.

/My god. I'm... I'm acting like him.../ He shook himself. /No, no, I'm not. It was just... emotions running away with us./ He could hear the toilet flush and water running briefly, and after a few minutes, Chris walked back out, fully dressed.

He headed straight for the door, not even looking at Shawn, who finally asked softly, "Are you too angry to talk to me now?"

Chris stopped at the door, his hand on the knob. He hesitated before answering slowly, without turning around, "I love you, Shawn. I'm just not sure how to handle this now. I'm not sure if I can." Then he opened the door and walked out, the door slamming shut behind him.

Shawn stood in the middle of the room, at a total loss. /Dear god. Now what do I do?/ He sank onto the bed, staring sightlessly at the door. He finally shook himself, catching sight of the phone next to the bed and picked it up, dialing Hunter and Kevin's room.

"Yeah?" Hunter's voice growled, sounding out of breath.

"He left," Shawn said tonelessly.

"He...oh, shit," Shawn could hear Hunter inhale deeply, then whisper to someone else, "Stop, dammit. Yes. Yes, it's Shawn. No, really stop! Yeah. Yeah. No. No, he left. I don't know yet." Louder again, to Shawn, "Babe, what happened? You okay? No, stupid question. Of course you're not. Do you need company?"

Shawn slowly answered, "I came in, tried to talk, and we argued. We... He said that he loved me, but he wasn't sure how to handle this, or if he could. And then he left..." Shawn's voice broke and he closed his eyes, almost not hearing Hunter's reply.

"Shawn? Shawn! We're coming down. We'll be there in a couple of minutes. Stay there, okay?"

Shawn nodded, then said, "Yeah. I'll be here." He hung up, then stood up, surveying the room. /Guess I could pick up a little, at least./ He realised abruptly that he was still naked. /I'd better get dressed. Chris could come back, after all. Finding me naked with Hunter and Kev definitely wouldn't look good. / He cleaned himself up in the bathroom, then pulled on a pair of boxers. Walking back into the bedroom, he thought briefly about straightening up, then decided to just kick all the clothes into a pile. He'd just put the bottle of oil on the table when a sudden pounding on the door made him start.


"Shawn, open up! It's us!" Kevin said loudly.

Hunter snorted, looking at him. "Gee, Kev, I don't think the clerk on the first floor heard you. Maybe you should try again, louder." Kevin looked slightly abashed, but was spared answering as Shawn opened the door.

Hunter immediately swept him into a hug, moving them back into the room to let Kevin pass. He let go of Shawn to look at him, then wished he hadn't. /He almost looks like he's in shock. Dammit, Jericho, what are you thinking?/ Hunter's thoughts were frustrated, but he tried to keep them from showing on his face as he wrapped an arm around Shawn, guiding him to sit on the bed. He shared a worried look with Kev as he sat beside them. Shawn leaned against Hunter's side, sighing as Kevin ran his hand through his hair.

"So, babe, I told Kev what little you told me. He just up and left?" Hunter asked, not surprised when Shawn turned his face into Hunter's chest, trembling. He enclosed Shawn in a hug, and Kevin put an arm around both of them. /God damn it. I've never seen Shawn so affected by anything. He's usually one of the coolest, most collected people I know---but Chris gets him all tied up in knots. When we get out of here, I am so teaching that jackass a lesson. He doesn't appreciate what he's got here, and that's practically criminal./

After a few moments of silence, Kev disentangled himself with a few quiet words and went to the bathroom, returning with a cup of water, handing it to Shawn. After drinking it slowly, Shawn calmed down enough to talk, pulling away from Hunter as he did.

"Thanks, guys. I really did need you. Thanks for not letting me try to tough it out." He offered them a weak smile.

Kevin snorted at that as Hunter shook his head. "Like you had a choice. Remember what I said a month ago? It's my business to take care of the people I love---and you still count, no matter how goofy you've been acting lately."

Shawn did smile at that, then looked down, running his hands through his hair. "So. I guess you want to know what happened, huh."

Hunter leaned forward, putting his hand on Shawn's shoulder. "If you're ready to tell us. If you need to."

Shawn nodded slowly, still looking at the floor.

"Yeah. I came in, and he was just... just laying on the bed. He'd just had a shower. I tried to apologize, and we ended up fighting. Then... we ended up... we had sex."

Hunter wasn't surprised to see guilt on Shawn's face. /Probably thinks he was acting like Marty... / He met Kevin's gaze, seeing his own surprise reflected there. /Shawn never loses control like that. Whenever we fought, he'd just leave the room---it never carried over. That's new. That might be bad./

"After, he just got dressed and... left. He said he loved me, but he didn't know if he could handle this. And he left." Shawn's voice trailed off. Hunter put an arm around him, pulling him close, not sure of what to say.

After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, Shawn looked sideways at Kev. "So, did I interrupt something when I called? I seem to recall hearing some rather irritated words in the background."

Kevin looked embarrassed and Hunter smirked, answering, "Yeah, kinda. Don't worry---we won't hold it against you. He knows I'll make it up to him later, so he won't hold a grudge."

"Not against you, anyway." The meaning in Kevin's suddenly serious voice was clear to Hunter, and he saw that Shawn understood, too.

"Don't hurt him, guys. Please. He doesn't deserve it." Shawn gave them a pleading look, and Hunter tried to calm down, knowing that his expression was a dead giveaway of how he felt. Kevin wasn't so subtle.

"Don't hurt him? What the hell, Shawn? How many times does he have to hurt you first?" Hunter heard the growl in Kev's voice, and put a hand on his arm.

"I mean, I hurt him. No," he paused and looked at Hunter. "No, we hurt him. Right now, he's just confused." Hunter winced.

"That was a low blow, Shawn. He knows how we are."

Shawn nodded sombrely. "Yeah, but knowing---or even seeing---is different from experiencing, Hunt. He's not part of the Clique, or DX, never has been. Hell, he's never been in an actual relationship with another man before! How's he supposed to react?"

Kevin growled, "That's just an excuse, Shawn. He should still stop to think."

Shawn shot back, "Oh, yeah? Tell me, how did you react the first time you caught Scotty with me?"

Kev flinched. "That's really fucking low, Michaels." Shawn shrugged.

"So what? It's a valid point. You were pissed off."

Kevin nodded, but added, "Yeah, but I got over it. We talked. I didn't just run out."

"Oh, please," Shawn drawled, raising an eyebrow at his ex-lover. "You talked, all right... after you nearly broke my nose and blacked both my eyes. Not to mention interrupted us at an incredibly bad moment." Losing the humour, he continued, "If Scotty hadn't pulled you off me, Kev, you probably would've sent me to the hospital. You've never exactly handled your anger well, you know."

He shook his head as Kev looked indignant. "But once he explained..."

Shawn interrupted him. "Explained what, Kev? That he still loved you, but wanted to fuck other people? That he loved other people? That he expected you to be okay with that? I'm sorry, but I don't remember instant acceptance on your part." Hunter nodded thoughtfully as he watched Kevin's face.

"Well, if you put it that way..." Kevin muttered.

Hunter reached out and took Kevin's hand as he said, "Shawn, I won't promise anything to you, except that we'll only get physical if he does first. But I have some words for him that he is going to listen to, one way or another." Shawn looked at them, then threw his hands up in the air. Hunter hid a smile at the action. /He's definitely feeling better. He's getting dramatic./

"Fine. Whatever. But..." Shawn's voice dropped. "I love him. He's the person that I want to spend my life with, and the only way that's going to happen is if we can work this out. So, please, don't drive him away." Hunter stood up and put his hands on Shawn's shoulders, looking down at him.

"I know how important he is to you, Shawn. If I didn't think that you were just as important to him, I'd tell you to forget him. But since I know how you two feel about each other, I won't. For now, I'll just try to get him to come back and talk to you. But I will tell him that if he fucks up again, I'm going to kick his ass." Hunter dropped his hands as he kissed Shawn, then continued, "What he needs to understand is that our game only works if everyone is willing. If they're not, the game's off. If I can get that across to him...we'll see about the rest."

Kevin added his own thought. "Maybe if we can get him talked down, we'll be able to tell him what the conversation was about that caused this whole problem." That startled a reaction out of Shawn, and he twisted slightly to look up at Kevin.

"If you can get that far with him, you'll be farther than I am. But don't hold your breath. I don't know if he's ready to hear it yet." Kevin nodded, then leaned down to wrap an arm around Shawn and kiss him. Hunter sighed at the sight. /Damn, it's been a while since I've seen that. Very nice./ When Kevin pulled back, Shawn whimpered slightly.

Hunter laughed, then asked, "Will you be okay without us?"

Shawn smiled brightly at him and said, "After a kiss like that? I might waste away!" As Hunter continued to look at him, Shawn lost the smile and said, "Be that way. No, I won't be okay. But I can deal with it. If you two can convince him to come back, to talk this out, I'll be great."

"We'll try, Shawn." Kev promised quietly.

Hunter nodded, laying his hand briefly on Shawn's shoulder. "If you need us, call the cell. I suspect Jericho didn't go too far, but you never know." Leaning down, he kissed Shawn and said softly, "Love ya. Be good, okay?"

"Yeah. I will. If you're gone too long, I might look for you, though---so don't worry me," Shawn answered, laying back on the bed, obviously trying to look nonchalant.

Hunter chuckled. "Take all the fun out of things. See you later, Shawn," and followed Kevin out the door. /Hope to hell he's gonna be okay. I hate to leave him alone, but I really, really want to get my hands on Jericho right now. Stupid S.O.B./

He shared a look with Kevin once they were in the hall. "Let's try the bar first. I don't think he's out getting drunk, but I doubt he wanted to go too far. Probably needed room to think."

Kevin shrugged. "You know him better than I do. Lead the way."


/Dammit, dammit, dammit!/ Chris hesitated as he slammed the door shut behind him, immediately wanting nothing more than to turn around, go back into the room, and beg forgiveness for being such an idiot. /But...I really don't know if I can handle this. Watching Shawn kiss Hunter...or Kevin.../ He shuddered, then tried to convince himself that it wasn't because of the attractiveness of the thought.

/Well, where to? Not a lot of options... I don't feel like hiking to hell and gone, or catching a cab and getting lost somewhere. I guess down to the bar. Definitely not to get drunk, though. I am not repeating last month's little scene. No matter how good the results were.../ Chris shut his eyes briefly as his thoughts turned full circle back to Shawn, back to the hurt on his face as he left. /Dammit./

Taking a deep breath, he headed for the elevators. /I don't want to be too far away. Shawn might.../ Interrupting his own thoughts, he snorted as he punched the elevator button. /Might need me? Right. Might call up Kev and Hunter for a sympathy fuck, more likely./ He swiped at his eyes angrily as moisture welled up there. /Dammit! What the hell's wrong with me? I know he loves me. He's told me over and over, and I believe him... why can't I handle him kissing Hunter?/ He shook his head abruptly, trying to clear his head. The elevator doors slid open with a chime, and he entered, hitting the button for the first floor.

The doors sliding open snapped him out of his daze, and he headed straight for the nearly empty bar, a little taken aback by its resemblance to the bar Hunter had found him in a month before, drunk and depressed over Shawn. /But what did I expect? Hotel bars are hotel bars./ He shrugged slightly and took a seat at the bar, signaling to the bartender for a beer. /God. I hope this doesn't end up being a regular thing./ He leaned his head on his hand, staring at the beer in his other hand as his mind wandered.

Lost in his thoughts, he didn't notice as the bar started to fill, some of the other patrons his fellow wrestlers, who looked at him with mixed expressions of pity and condescension. He finally finished his beer, grimacing at its flat warmth, and signaled for another. As he took the first drink, a mocking growl cut across the room.

"Aww... guess poor Chrissy doesn't like the games the Clique plays, huh? Sitting here crying over his boyfriend." Chris's head whipped around, his angry glare becoming a snarl as he recognized the sneering voice. Goldberg stood a few feet away, a mocking grin on his face.

Chris growled, low in his throat, and Goldberg laughed. "What's the matter, Chrissy? Your boyfriend too busy fucking the rest of the Clique to pay any attention to you?" Chris was dimly aware of the stunned silence that had fallen over the bar, vaguely saw that others had entered the area after Goldberg, but he was too busy trying to control his temper to really pay attention to anyone else in the room.

"Shut the hell up, Goldberg," he snarled. "My relationship is none of your damned business."

Goldberg's grin widened. "Aw, hit a sore spot, Chrissy? I told you you'd never find anyone to measure up to me," he taunted. That was all Chris needed to hear. He came up off his barstool and slugged Goldberg squarely in the jaw. Taken off guard, Goldberg's eyes widened as he fell flat on his ass, obviously not having expected Jericho to strike out at him. Chris stood over him, glaring.

"You're right, Bill. I never will find anyone to measure up to you... because I'll never find anyone willing to stoop that low. After all, not many people take advantage of their friends the way you did." He flexed his hand absently as his eyes narrowed. /Damn, that hurt./ His voice dropped dangerously low as he leaned in closer to make his point. "And not that it's any of your business, but Shawn isn't my "boyfriend." He's my lover. With all that means---including the fact that we love each other. Any problems we have we'll work out. So, Bill, now that we've settled that, why don't you go fuck yourself... since nobody else will."

With a shrug, he turned his back on the still-stunned Goldberg and took his seat again, raising his glass to his lips for another drink. He heard Goldberg get up, and from the corner of his eye saw him leave the bar, blood tricking from the corner of his mouth. He realised as he set the glass down again that his hand was shaking. /Damn. Of all people... oh, way to go, Jericho. Just publicly admit some of your fucked-up past. Geez./

He took a deep breath, trying to pull himself together. /Brave words, Chris. Now, you just have to follow through on them. Running away from Shawn isn't going to solve the problem; it'll just make it worse. But... the Clique. God, be honest with yourself, Jericho. The problem isn't Shawn kissing Hunter. The problem is that you want them to be kissing you./ He closed his eyes, shaking his head as if to argue with himself. /I want more than that. But why do I want it? Why isn't Shawn enough? I love him. Why do I want his best friends, too?/

His thoughts were almost anguished when he was startled back to reality by a heavy hand on his shoulder. He jumped, his eyes widening as he realised whose hand it was. Kevin smiled mirthlessly down at him as he dropped onto the stool beside him, his hand still on his shoulder. Glancing to the side, Chris saw Hunter sit on the stool on his other side. /Well, shit./

"So. Nice speech, Jericho," Kevin rumbled. Chris flinched, then realised that his tone was lacking the derision he'd expected.

"Um. Thanks." Chris wasn't sure how to act around these two.

Kevin dropped his hand from his shoulder and cocked his head. "Did you mean what you said?"

Chris blinked, then narrowed his eyes as understanding dawned. "If I hadn't meant it, I wouldn't have said it. I don't make a habit of lying about things like that."

Kevin nodded slowly. "Good. Then maybe I won't have to kick your ass for breaking Shawn's heart." Chris couldn't help it; he leaned away from the larger man, overly sensitive to his presence.

"You do realise that Shawn's almost convinced himself that he's driven you away, don't you?" Hunter's voice drew Chris's attention, and he turned his head, trying not to show the pain that Hunter's words had caused. Hunter looked at him, anger obvious in his eyes. "We just left him lying by himself in the bed that he should be sharing with you, thinking that his own selfishness is driving you away." Chris flinched, his heart twisting at the words, and he unconsciously started to rise to leave. Kevin's hand on his shoulder again stopped him.

"No, you don't. You're not going anywhere. We've got some things to say to you, and you're going to sit here and listen," Kevin said quietly, the unspoken threat in his voice obvious. Chris sank back down onto the stool, suppressing the shudder that ran through him at Kevin's touch.

"I don't know what your problem is, Jericho, but you need to figure it out. We are not going to sit back and watch you break Shawn's heart through your own blindness." Kevin's voice was hard, and Chris could see the same anger that Hunter had shown reflected in his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak, and Hunter interrupted him.

"No. You don't get to speak here. You're just going to listen." He paused, staring at Chris until he nodded reluctantly. "Good. Now, I'm going to explain some things to you. Shawn loves you. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. In fact, if not for that, I'd be kicking your ass and telling you to go to hell right now. See, he made us promise not to hurt you, because he feels guilty. He feels guilty because he upset you by kissing me. Fortunately for you, I've never been able to deny him anything, so I agreed. Unfortunately for me, because I'd already planned my apology to him for beating you up, right down to the make-up kiss."

Anger flared in Chris's eyes at that, and Hunter laughed. "Don't like that, huh? Good. That means you're not entirely hopeless."

Kevin drew him back around to face him as he took up the thread. "See, Chris, you've obviously misunderstood a few things. First thing: The Clique is closer than family. Second thing: The Clique shares... everything. But," he shook his head as Chris tried to speak. "Not yet. What you haven't figured out yet is that in order to share, everyone has to be willing. If someone's not willing to share, then it doesn't happen. Nothing is forced, and nothing is done that will hurt anyone. It doesn't come up often, since most of our partners are part of the Clique, but when it does, we try to be careful of everyone's feelings. Most people can't handle our lifestyle." Kevin paused, looking Chris up and down. He almost blushed at the scrutiny, but managed to control himself. "Those who can handle us... well, we all enjoy that." Chris could hear the smirk in Kevin's voice, and had to force himself not to think about the possible meanings of that statement.

"The most important thing you need to know is that Shawn is in love with you. He looks at you in ways I've never seen him look at anyone else, Chris," Hunter said quietly, his eyes meeting Chris's.

Chris forced himself to scoff at this, not ready to believe him. "Right. That's why he called you practically before the door closed behind me. What'd he want, a Clique sympathy fuck?" Although his voice was harsh, his face belied his words, his heartache clear as moisture gathered in his eyes. /Shawn. What have I done?/ He expected the growl from Kevin, but the sympathy on Hunter's face surprised him.

"You little idiot. If you're that goddamned insecure, deal with it! Don't take it out on Shawn." Chris blinked away the blurriness in his eyes and stared uncomprehendingly at Kevin, who rolled his eyes.

"Look, boy. Doubt yourself all you want---for now." Chris blinked again, wondering, but Kevin continued, "But don't you ever doubt Shawn. The man is madly in love with you. I've never seen him act this way with anyone else. He sure as hell never looked at me the way he looks at you." Kevin leaned towards Chris.

"When he tells you that he loves you, he means it. When he says that he won't cheat on you, he means it. No matter how outrageous he may act, that's exactly what it is---an act. Unless you're willing to play, that act is all anyone will see from him." Chris stared at Kevin. This was not what he'd been expecting. "He can't help but act---that's how he is. But it's not the real him, and you should know that by now. You should know that he wouldn't do anything to hurt you."

When Hunter laid a hand on his arm, he jumped as a sudden warmth rushed through him. /Holy shit!/ he thought frantically, jerking his arm away from Hunter's touch. The glint in Hunter's eye told him that his reaction hadn't gone unnoticed, but Hunter showed no sign of it as he spoke.

"Chris, what you saw earlier today was normal for me and Shawn. Remember, I told you once that we've always been good lovers even when we're not good friends?" Chris nodded reluctantly. "It goes the other way, too. Do you want to know what we were talking about?" Without waiting for an answer, Hunter leaned forward and pointed at Chris. "We were talking about you."


Kevin watched with some amusement as Jericho took in Hunter's statement. Chris paled, then turned red as he realised exactly what Hunter meant.

"Y... you mean... you and Shawn were..." He couldn't quite seem to finish his sentence.

"We were wondering how you felt about the Clique," Kev finished for him. "Specifically, we were wondering how you might feel about, ah, spending some time with Hunter and myself... in the company of your much-maligned lover, of course. Shawn would never agree to it, otherwise." Kevin smirked widely at Chris's wide-eyed stare as Hunter chuckled. "Assuming, of course, that you're interested. We're not too sure about that, after your reaction today... but it looks like you're not, either." Kevin winked at Hunter over Chris's head.

/I should be ready to kick his ass, but after hearing what he said to Goldberg, I just don't have the heart... especially if he was implying what I think he was. Shawn doesn't seem to be the only one around here with a not-so-happy past. He made a good point. We're expecting Chris to fit into our way of doing things, without thinking about how he feels or what he may be comfortable with. And I've seen how happy Shawn's been with him, until today---when we pushed too hard, too fast, and he flipped. Hopefully the gradual method will work better. Or maybe just a shock treatment.../ Meeting his own lover's eyes, he could see that Hunter had followed his train of thought and was nodding at him to continue. Chris was still gaping at him, obviously not having considered things in this light before. /I wonder if he thought that we expected him to share Shawn with us without him being a part of it.../

He shrugged and leaned forward, catching Chris's shoulder and pulling him forward into a heated kiss. Chris gasped as their lips met and Kev took his chance, slipping his tongue into Chris's mouth for a quick taste. Hunter made an appreciative noise at the sight and Kevin intensified the kiss, feeling Chris tremble against him as he slipped his arm around him.

Finally pulling back, he smiled as Chris moaned softly at the loss of contact. He could see that Hunter was a little short of breath, as was he, but what immediately captured Kevin's attention was not the shocked or, in some cases, offended, stares from the other bar patrons, but a carrying wolf-whistle from the entrance. He looked over at the newcomer and broke into a wide smile. /Figures. Damned timing, anyway. Lucky bastard./

"I take it you enjoyed that?" he inquired softly of Chris, who just stared at him, dazed, lips still parted slightly and still glistening from their kiss. Kevin found himself sorely tempted to repeat the performance, but a nudge from Hunter as he started to lean forward again brought him to his senses.

"Well, I think someone else appreciated it, too," he said with an evil twinkle in his eye. The sudden horror on Chris's face as he turned around would have made him laugh, if it hadn't been accompanied by guilt. Kevin started to reach for him, but Hunter beat him to it. He slipped an arm around Chris, anchoring him in place when he would have tried to run.

Kevin watched calmly as the newcomer walked over to them, head cocked to the side as he considered Chris.

"So, boy, getting any ideas on how to "handle" this yet?" Shawn asked with a crooked smile.


/Well, well, well. Kev looks awfully pleased with himself, and Chris looks like he's been poleaxed. Not quite what I'd expected, but definitely better than what I was afraid of,/ Shawn thought, unable to hide his smirk at the tableau before him, the pain he'd been harbouring lightening at the sight.

Chris was staring at him, wide-eyed and pale, looking for all the world like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Hunter was next to him, an arm wrapped protectively around his waist, and Kevin... Kevin was right behind Chris on the other side, his smug grin almost as good an indication of his mood as the hand that hovered protectively near Chris's ass. Shawn couldn't tell from the angle he was standing at, but he was perfectly willing to bet that the fit of Kev's jeans showed the effects of the intense kiss he'd just witnessed. With an inner grin, he met each pair of eyes, knowing that they had quite an audience at the moment. An unexpected sliver of lust rippled through his body at the sudden image of him fucking Chris senseless on the bar in front of all the watchers. He shivered at the thought, pushing it away.

"I don't know how far you all have gotten in your little talk, but judging from the looks on these people's faces, I think it's time we took it somewhere a little more private, don't you?" Shawn made an all-encompassing gesture towards the area behind him. "Although if what I just saw was any proof, I daresay we're all getting along a little better than we were earlier today, hmm?" His eyes lingered on his lover, who was still staring at him, mute. /Damn. Let's hope that's just temporary. He sure seemed to like Kev's kiss until he saw me./ His thoughts took a wry turn at that. /What is it about Kev, anyway?/

Chris stumbled forward, almost falling until Shawn caught him, wrapping his arms around him to keep him still. He glanced at Hunter, who spread his hands in an innocent gesture, but the smirk gave him away. Shawn tilted his head at him, acknowledging, then turned his attention to his lover. /Dammit. We need to get past this guilt, from both of us, first of all./

Trying to ignore Chris's tension, he tightened his grasp until Chris looked at him reluctantly. Then he leaned forward slightly, kissing Chris's cheek softly, whispering in his ear, "I love you, you idiot. Why would I be upset to find you with two other people I love?" Chris started to speak, but Shawn silenced him with another kiss.

"Hush. We'll talk about it in private---with Hunter and Kevin. Who, I might add," he raised his voice as he looked at the other two, "have an awfully interesting way of kicking somebody's ass." Kevin had the grace to look slightly abashed, but Hunter's smirk just widened into a grin. Shawn shook his head, his faint smile fading as he looked back at Chris, who was still staring at him. A wave of emotion crested at the confused guilt in Chris' eyes, and Shawn was suddenly unsure whether he wanted to kiss him senseless or hit him. He shuddered slightly, then forced the emotions back down for the moment, taking Chris' hand and leading him, and the other two, out of the bar toward the elevators.

"Why'd you come down here, Shawn?" Hunter's voice interrupted his inner turmoil and he glanced back briefly as he answered.

"Because you'd been gone too long." Shawn paused briefly, turning his gaze toward Chris before continuing. "And... because I wanted to talk to you myself." Chris met his eyes for a moment, then stared determinedly ahead at the elevators. Shawn sighed, and added, "I knew it was a good idea when I heard cursing outside the door and looked out to see Goldberg storming down the hall with a bloody lip. Who punched him, anyway?" Hunter raised his eyebrows in Chris' direction and Shawn blinked at him, surprised. Kevin nodded, and Shawn digested that bit of information as they entered the elevators.

Once inside, Chris pulled his hand from Shawn's grasp, still refusing to look at him. Shawn's vision went a little blurry as his emotions welled up again, and he blinked hard, determined not to lose control of himself. /Chris... god, I love you. Please, don't keep shutting me out./ He closed his eyes for a moment, and jumped as arms wrapped around his waist.

"Shh. Just me," Kevin said softly, and Shawn let himself relax, leaning back into Kevin for support. "We've just given him a lot to think about, Shawn. And he's blaming himself for hurting you, so you catching us kissing certainly didn't make him any more talkative," Kevin murmured into his ear. Shawn opened his mouth, but was hushed by a finger pressed against his lips. Kevin shook his head, and Shawn sighed.

The touch sent a wave of heat rippling through him, and he looked over at Chris, unexpectedly catching his eyes, remembering the frisson of desire he'd felt upon seeing his lover kissing Kevin, and saw an echo of it reflected in Chris' eyes before he lowered them again. Shawn tensed, his thinly-held calm slipping as his anguish peaked, and felt Kevin tighten his embrace, trying to comfort him. He squeezed Kevin's hand in return, smiling faintly as he felt Kev rest his chin on top of his head.

The elevator seemed to take forever to reach their floor, but finally it stopped and dinged, the doors sliding open. Shawn stepped out of Kevin's arms and headed out, followed by the others. Without looking back, he walked down the hall to his and Chris' room and opened the door, ushering everyone else in.

He sank onto the bed with a subdued bounce as the door closed, and looked at the other three men, silent for a moment. Kevin and Hunter stood side-by-side, their fingers half-entwined without their even realising it. Chris stood to the side, distancing himself from everyone, not meeting anyone's eyes.

A burst of impatience with both Chris and himself made Shawn burst out suddenly. "Oh, for God's sake, this is ridiculous. Chris, you are now guilty of exactly the same thing as me, in just as public a place, if in a less spectacular fashion." Chris' head jerked up at his words, and Shawn leaned forward slightly. "We've each kissed somebody else in front of other people. I think we're even now, if we're keeping score." He paused, and his voice gentled as he said, "So please... sit down. Beside me." He kept his eyes on his lover. After a long hesitation, Chris slowly walked to the bed and sat stiffly beside him, staring at the floor.

"Chris..." The name slipped out before Shawn could stop himself, and he winced at the hurt obvious in his own voice. Chris sighed, then looked first at Hunter and Kevin and then at Shawn.

"I'm sorry, Shawn. I didn't mean to hurt you. I just... I don't even know what happened." His voice was low, almost reluctant as he spoke. "I guess it was just a shock, seeing you and Hunter like that. I mean, it was one thing to see you two act like that before... but to see it now... I just wasn't expecting it, even after we talked about it. I was surprised, and angry because it was so public, and right in front of me... and jealous." As Shawn reached for Chris's hand, he saw that Hunter had moved into Kevin's arms. They were watching quietly, understanding showing on both of their faces.

Shawn said softly, "I understand the surprise and the anger, and I'm sorry for causing it. But, why jealousy? You know that it's you that I want to be with."

Chris nodded, looking almost embarrassed as he answered. "I do---but... We don't have the history that you have with them. We never will. I'm just... not sure how to compete with that." Shawn snorted and took Chris's head between his hands, forcing his lover to look at him.

"Of course we don't have a "history" together---yet. Chris, that's what relationships are all about: Making a history---together." Shawn put as much love and sincerity into his voice as he could, hoping that Chris would believe him this time. He dropped his hands as Chris looked down, his heart in his throat as he waited for his reaction.

Chris glanced at Hunter and Kevin, still standing in each other's embrace. They both looked appropriately solemn, until Kevin smiled. "Although if you're up to it, we wouldn't mind making a little history of our own with you." Hunter nodded. Chris hesitated, then turned to face Shawn.

"Shawn---I love you." Shawn smiled, relief washing over him, but the smile slipped as Chris continued, "But I just don't know about all of this. I've never been involved with more than one person, and I'm not used to sharing the person I'm with."

Shawn had to clear his throat before he could answer, "So... are you saying that... you don't want us to be together, or that you want us to be exclusive to each other?" His heart was cold---no matter which answer Chris gave, he'd be losing someone he loved.

Chris hesitated again, looking once more at Kevin and Hunter, who had lost all vestiges of levity.

"Look, if you want us to go, we will. We understand," Hunter offered quietly. Shawn gave them a wide-eyed stare, silently pleading with them to stay. /I don't know what I'll do without them---what if he's leaving me? I don't want to be alone!/ Kevin nodded slightly at him in acknowledgment, but Shawn knew that they weren't asking him. Whatever Chris decided, they would honour.

Finally, Chris shook his head. "No. This involves you, too." He smiled a little. "Although I'm surprised you still want anything to do with me, after all this." Not waiting for an answer, he turned back to Shawn and said softly, "I love you. I don't want to leave you. I want us to stay together." He paused, and Shawn, relieved, leaned towards him. Chris smiled again and kissed him, a brief touch of lips before he looked rather hesitantly at Hunter and Kevin. "If... if you're still interested in... introducing me to the ways of the Clique, I... I'd like that."

As a grin broke out on Hunter's face, Chris held up a hand. "But... I'd like to take it slow. This is all new to me, y'know? I've never been in a real relationship with another man before, let alone more than one." Hunter nodded understandingly, and Shawn couldn't keep the exultant grin off his face. He knew he probably looked like an idiot, but he couldn't stop smiling.

"Chris..." he whispered, not able to stop himself from finally pulling Chris into his arms and kissing him thoroughly, not stopping until they had to break apart for air.

"Damn, Shawn," Hunter complained. "Tease us a little, why don't you."

Shawn shrugged, not releasing his lover, who was obviously not in any hurry to move. He smirked at Kevin and Hunter, then glanced back at Chris, his smirk widening a little. "So, how would you feel about a little hands-on practice with "sharing"?"


Chris blinked, not quite understanding until Hunter placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Kev got a head start, so I think you owe me." As Chris started to answer him, Hunter captured his lips. He moaned as Hunter's tongue swept across the roof of his mouth, feeling Shawn's arms around him as he put a hand on Hunter's hip to steady himself. He heard a quiet noise from Shawn, the sound only further enflaming him. When Hunter pulled back, he whimpered slightly. Hunter smirked at him, then looked over his head at Shawn, who licked his lips and glanced at Chris.

It took a minute for Shawn's expression to penetrate his haze, but as soon as he realised what Shawn was silently asking, he nodded and scooted back to make room on the bed. Hunter squeezed in between them with another quick kiss to Chris, then pushed Shawn down, leaning over him to kiss him breathless. Chris watched them, this time feeling only appreciation at the sight, aware of heat building inside him. As Shawn and Hunter's kiss deepened into something involving more than just lips, he was startled out of his avid stare by Kevin's quiet rumble.

"Nice to watch, isn't it?" Chris nodded, meeting Kevin's gaze, and was a little startled by the raw hunger he saw there. He hesitated for a minute, glancing at Shawn for guidance, but he was too involved with Hunter to notice. Gathering his courage, he stood up, feeling suddenly very small compared to Kevin, who looked moderately surprised.

Before Kev could speak, Chris put his hands on his chest, simply feeling the warmth emanating from the taller man. With a glance up at his face for permission, he pushed Kevin back until his legs hit the chair in the corner and he sat, eyes still locked on Chris.

With a soft sigh, Chris straddled Kevin's legs, bracing himself with a hand on either side of his head. He met Kevin's eyes again, pausing as momentary doubt swept over him.

Kevin said softly, "You don't have to do anything, you know."

Chris nodded slowly and replied, his voice a little shaky, "I know. But... I want to." He raised a hand, running it through Kevin's hair, his fingers tangling in the wavy strands. "You're gorgeous," he whispered, touching Kevin's face. Kevin blinked, obviously surprised, and Chris bent his head, pressing his lips to Kevin's. It was a soft kiss, over quickly, and he pulled back, simply looking at Kevin, his eyes wide.

Kevin smiled gently at him, incredible tenderness in his eyes. Without speaking, Chris bent forward again for another kiss, this time more forceful. He opened his mouth, flicking his tongue against Kevin's lips, eagerly exploring this new territory when Kev parted his lips, letting Chris take the lead. They finally broke apart, and with a sigh, Kevin put his arms around Chris, holding him close. Chris leaned against him, enjoying the unfamiliar but comforting feeling of the larger man's embrace.

After a few moments of comfortable silence, Chris heard a low chuckle and turned to look at the bed. Shawn and Hunter were a tangle of limbs---clothed limbs, Chris was secretly glad to note---and they both wore wide smirks as they watched Chris and Kevin. Chris turned red, suddenly acutely aware of both their stares and the effect he'd had on Kevin. He shifted, trying to put some distance between them, but Kevin merely tightened his embrace.

"Now, now, none of that," he admonished, smiling slightly. "No use getting embarrassed now, Chris. We're all friends here, remember?" Chris nodded slowly, forcing himself to relax again, and leaned back against Kevin.

"I, uh, I don't mean to be a tease, Kevin," Chris said awkwardly, but Kev shook his head.

"Hon, I wouldn't mind if you wanted to tease me like that all day long."

"Besides, you have to remember that he's not without his own resources," Shawn said with a smile, dropping a kiss on top of Chris's head. Chris jumped, startled, and heard Kev chuckle. /Not fair. He can see behind us, and I can't./ Chris startled a smile out of himself at the pure silliness of the thought, realising abruptly how comfortable he felt with the overall situation. Kevin ran a hand through Chris's hair, caressing his face lightly, then made a face at Shawn.

"Sure, Michaels, ruin a perfectly good guilt trip," he groused good-naturedly. Shawn laughed outright at that, then sat on the arm of the chair, wiggling to squeeze in. Kevin shifted, wrapping his arm around Shawn's waist and pulled him in for a lengthy kiss. When they separated, Chris released a quiet moan, echoing Shawn's breathy sigh. Chris felt Kevin take a deep breath, and leaned back to look at the other two men. Kevin took another deep breath, looking at the two men he was holding.

"Damn. You two are going to be the death of me." He shook his head, but his words were ruined by the smile on his face.

"Not before I get hold of you," a new voice laughed. Hunter squeezed in on the other side, putting an arm around Chris to hold himself steady, with one leg on the floor. Shawn put one arm around Kevin's neck and the other around Chris, and smirked at Hunter.

"Got lonely, huh?"

"Hell, no! Got horny. You're bad enough, but watching these two..." Hunter's voice trailed off as he waggled his eyebrows suggestively. Chris flushed again, aware of how incredibly turned on he was by all three men, but Shawn wouldn't let him hide his face.

"No, no, no. You're part of a family now, you know. An obscene, perverted, and incestuous family, but a family nonetheless."

Kevin and Hunter nodded, and Hunter added, "And don't worry---if the rest of the family decides to visit someday, we'll tell them to take it easy on you---if you want them to."

Kevin shifted again, drawing a hiss from Chris as their groins brushed together again. Kev shrugged.

"What can I say? I've got three of the hottest guys I know sitting on me. I'm only human." He hugged Chris close again, brushing his lips across his forehead, then said, "But, I do need to move. This was okay with just Chris, but with all three of you, it's a little crowded."

Hunter made puppy eyes at him, but stood up, followed by Shawn. Chris started to move back so he could stand, but Kevin stopped him. "Uh-uh. Not yet. I know we agreed to take it slow, but I want one more thing from you."

/One more...? What...?/ Chris's eyes widened and he glanced to the side, at Shawn. Kevin's eyes glinted mischievously as he looked over, too, but Shawn just smiled.

"Whatever he's up for is fine by me, Kev," he said with a shrug.

Looking back to Chris, Kev asked softly, "If it's all right with you, hon." Chris swallowed, suddenly aware again of how much larger Kevin was than him.

"That depends on what it is, I guess," he answered hesitantly.

Kevin cocked his head, a smile breaking out. "Now, that just takes all the fun out of it. But, just so you don't get all worried again, I'll tell you. What I'd really like is to strip you naked and swallow you whole, so I can find out what you taste like and what you look like, and discover what noises you make when you come..." Kev grinned.

Heat flared in Chris's eyes, a shudder running through him at those words. He didn't even have to look at the two men behind them to know how they'd been affected. He leaned forward, burying his head in Kevin's shoulder for a moment as he fought for control of himself. /Damn. I don't know... I don't think... oh, my god... just the thought.../ Chris's thoughts tumbled around his head as he trembled in Kevin's arms. /Get it together, Chris. Come on, come on.../ Finally he took a deep breath and leaned back and met Kev's eyes again.

Kev cupped his face with one hand, shaking his head slightly at Chris's wide eyes. "But... since you said you wanted to take it slow, what I'd like you to do is just stand up and let me---and Hunter and Shawn---look at you. If you wouldn't mind taking off some of your clothes, or even all of them, I wouldn't mind that, either." For a moment, Chris just stared at Kevin, his mind blank of everything but the image of being naked in front of him, of all of them, and he knew that Kev could feel the throbbing between his legs at that thought.

"Chris...?" Kevin's voice held concern, and he shook his head, still speechless. Without a word, he scooted backward and stood up, his eyes never leaving Kevin's, suddenly aware of a new undercurrent between them.

He moved back until he ran into Shawn, who looked from him to Kevin, frowning a little. Shawn put a hand on his shoulder and said softly, "You don't have to do this if you don't want to." Chris nodded, not breaking Kevin's gaze.

"I know. I... want to. But I don't know if I can do it by myself. Can you---and Hunter---help me?" His voice trembled slightly, but his tone was certain.

Shawn kissed his cheek, dropping his hand to Chris's hip. "Of course I will, babe. It's what you want."


Hunter moved to Chris's other side, also aware of the new tension between him and Kevin. He glanced at his lover, and recognized the look in his eyes. /Christ, last time I saw him look at anybody that way, he was still with Scott. I think I'd better have a chat with Jericho when I get the chance, just to let him know what he's getting into. Of course, Shawn may beat me to it, but he doesn't exactly have an unbiased view of all of Kev's inclinations./

Chris kicked off his shoes and socks, and paused. Hunter shot a quick glance at Shawn, who nodded at him, and reached for the hem of Chris's shirt. Chris shuddered against his hands, and Hunter smiled as he took his time slipping the shirt over Chris's head, relishing in the feel of warm skin under his fingers. He felt Chris tremble at his touch and dropped the shirt to the floor, watching him for any sign of nervousness. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Kevin watching the proceedings intently.

As Hunter watched, Chris blinked, then looked at Shawn, willingly breaking Kevin's gaze for the first time. Shawn's face was closed, not revealing his emotions at the scene unfolding in front of him, but his eyes were dark. He slid his arm around Chris's waist with a questioning look. Chris nodded slightly at him, but Hunter could tell that he'd reached his limit.

"Chris, it's fine. You can stop right there," he said quietly. Chris nodded slowly, and Hunter caught the relief in Shawn's expression before he hid it again.

"Kevin... I don't... I think I'm done. For now," Chris said hesitantly, meeting the big man's eyes again. Kevin smiled as he stood up and took a few steps toward them.

"That's okay, Chris. It's your choice. I just gave you the option." He stopped as he got closer. "But if you don't mind, I'd like to look at you before we end this." Hunter could feel the shudder run through Chris's body at Kevin's words. He placed his hand on Chris's waist, over Shawn's, squeezing it a little. Shawn glanced at Hunter, silently thanking him for the touch, then turned back to Kevin, who was watching the trio patiently. "Shawn?" Kevin questioned softly. Shawn took a breath, then dropped his hand and stepped back from his lover.

Hunter did the same, and pulled Shawn into his embrace as they watched Kevin and Chris. He felt Shawn trembling, and ran his hands over his chest, kissing the back of his neck before whispering, "Kev won't hurt him, Shawn. You know that."

Shawn took another breath, then slowly nodded, murmuring, "I know. But that doesn't reassure me, for some reason. You know why I'm not comfortable with... this. If it were just the two of them being attracted to each other, I'd be fine. But this... this is something else."

Hunter's mouth twisted at the undertones in Shawn's voice and he tightened his embrace. /"Not comfortable," Shawn? Try "totally freaked out." If I ever get hold of Marty, he's a dead man for hurting you./


Kevin slipped an arm around Chris's shoulders, not missing the smaller man's reaction to his touch. /This is looking promising. Except for Shawn./ He glanced at Shawn quickly, frowning as he saw his tense unhappiness, Hunter's comforting touches not doing much to relax him. /Damn. Maybe someday I can figure out how to fix what Marty broke in him. I hate seeing him scared./ He returned his attention to Chris, and leaned down as he dropped a gentle kiss on his forehead.

"I'm proud of you, Chris, for being brave enough to do this. And I'm happy, both that you came to your senses about Shawn, who's one of the best men I've ever known, and that you're willing to give us a chance," he rumbled quietly into Chris's ear. He couldn't resist nibbling on the earlobe, enjoying Chris's sudden jump at the touch. "You taste good, hon. I look forward to tasting more of you sometime," he whispered. He straightened, smiling at Chris's blush, and hugged him, silently enjoying how he felt in his arms.

"Shawn...?" Kev called quietly, holding out his other arm in Shawn's direction. Without hesitation, Kev was glad to see, Shawn stepped into his embrace, wrapping his arms around Chris as Kevin hugged them both before stepping back. Hunter came to his side.

"Shawn, I can promise you that Kevin's not going to steal Chris away from you, because I won't let him. However, he'll probably want to borrow him from time to time if things go well," Hunter smiled.

Kevin nodded, watching Shawn closely, and added, "But only if you're okay with it. And you're always invited, y'know."

He saw Shawn's grip tighten on Chris momentarily before he forced himself to relax, answering, "Thanks, Kev, but I think not. You're planning kind of far ahead here, aren't you?" The sudden angry tone in his voice took Kevin by surprise, but he shook his head.

"No, Shawn, I'm not, because I'm not planning anything. If things work out, they work out. If not, we'll deal." Kevin was solemn for a minute, then grinned at the two of them. "Your boy is looking a little confused, Shawn. Maybe you should give him some background to work with."

/Ooh, if looks could kill. You didn't want me to bring that up, did you? Too bad, Shawn. It's time you quit hiding and started dealing with things. Especially since Chris does indeed seem to have a submissive streak in him. That response.../ Kevin took a breath of his own as his body responded to his thoughts. /If you can't deal with it, there's going to be more trouble later on. And you've been holding on to this trauma for way too long./


/Damn you, Kev. You know why I didn't want to go there./ Shawn could feel his walls going up, trying to hide the memories that were being drawn out, and he bit back his initial angry response. He stepped back from Chris, needing a little distance for the moment. /Dammit. I know he thinks talking about it and "dealing with it" will help... but... I don't want to talk about it. Not that they're giving me a choice. If I don't talk to Chris about it, they will. And I've been avoiding this for so long... I told them that I'd talk to him about all of it.../

Hunter said seriously, "That's a good idea, Shawn. If you have any trouble with parts of it, I can help. But I think Chris should know what he's getting into." Shawn's eyes narrowed, but Chris interrupted before he could respond.

"What are you guys talking about? Don't treat me like a child. I'm right here!" he frowned. Hunter shrugged.

"Sorry, Chris. We're not trying to ignore you, but none of us, I think, were expecting what just happened, so it's a bit of a shock. And the reason that Shawn's not reacting well---well, that's for him to tell you. But... if you need any help, Shawn, let me or Kevin know." His voice was earnest. Shawn slowly nodded, his shoulders slumping a little as he answered.

"Thanks, Hunt. I... I just might. I guess it's about time I started to deal with it, anyway," he said with an unhappy sigh. /Hell. This could be a long night./

"Shawn? What's wrong?" Chris asked, obviously starting to get worried. Shawn shrugged a little, his hair falling over his eyes.

"Not all my memories are happy ones, Chris," he answered shortly.

Kevin cleared his throat. "Um, sorry to interrupt, but I think you two have some things to talk about, and I think it's probably time for me and Hunter to leave." Pausing, he cast a distinctly sad look at Shawn before adding, "Hon---I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring up bad memories. If you need me, I..."

Shawn interrupted him. "I know, Kev. I know." He smiled slightly, his anger lifting at Kevin's obvious concern. "I still love you, Kev. I just... don't like everything about you."

Kevin nodded, still not looking happy. He turned toward Chris, leaning down and laying a gentle kiss on his cheek. "If you want to talk to me, Chris, you can. Anytime," he said quietly. Chris nodded, still looking confused.

/Histories. Sometimes it really sucks having ex-lovers as your best friends. They know too damned much about you,/ Shawn thought ruefully, watching as Hunter hugged Chris then approached him. He stiffened a little as Hunter rested a hand on his shoulder, then forced himself to relax at the hurt look on Hunt's face. Hunter sighed, then kissed him, his lips brushing softly against Shawn's, and leaned in to whisper in his ear.

"Shawn, be honest with him. Tell him what happened with Marty, and let him hold you afterwards. And don't try to pretend that the stuff doesn't still get you hot and bothered. Remember the night Kev came back," Hunter murmured. Shawn felt himself flush at the pointed reminder and glared at Hunter. Hunter shook a finger at him. "Uh-uh. No lying, Shawn---not even to yourself." Hunter smiled and took Kevin's hand, the two of them exiting the room hand-in-hand.

Shawn closed his eyes and took a deep breath, not looking forward to the upcoming conversation.

"Shawn? Are you okay?" Chris's voice was hesitant. Shawn opened his eyes and grimaced.

"No. But I have to deal with it. Looks like tonight will be the start of that. Well... this has been quite the night, huh?" Chris followed him to the bed as Shawn sat on top of the blankets.

"I'm sorry. First I overreact and storm off, then I practically throw myself at Kevin. Not very good at consistency, am I?" he said deprecatingly as he sank down onto the mattress. Shawn put his arms around him and held him. They were both silent for a few minutes.

"Consistent, no, but I'm not great at that, either," he finally said. Chris looked at him, startled by the suddenness of the reply after the silence. Shawn took a breath, then said, "Chris, I'm sorry for confusing or worrying you tonight. I love you. Please, never doubt that. I'm not angry with you for earlier today, and I'm not upset with you for your reaction to Kevin. He can be... pretty compelling."

Shawn felt Chris nod and he paused, not wanting to explain his own reactions, but knowing that he had to. /It's not like Kevin planned this, after all, and it's not as though Chris knew that he was going to provoke that particular reaction from him, let alone why. Please, god, just let me get through this without being an emotional idiot. I'm not sure how he's going to take any of this./

Finally letting his breath out in a long exhalation, Shawn said, "Kevin... he's a dom, Chris. Do you know what that means?" From the startled look he received, Shawn judged, mostly not. "That means that... he's into bondage. He's a dominant, someone who likes to... control other people." Shawn said slowly.

"The... the type of person who gets off on tying somebody up and hurting them?" Chris sounded horrified. Shawn shook his head.

"No. Well, yes and no. It's... complicated. Kev isn't like that all the time, for one thing. It takes a certain type of partner and a certain situation. But he does like that kind of thing. Before you ask, Hunter doesn't especially, so they don't "play" that way very often." Shawn trailed off for a moment, not comfortable with what he was having to say.

Chris surprised him by asking softly, "And you're not into it, either, are you? Did... something happen to you? Is that why you started to get upset earlier? Because... because Kevin started to..." He trailed off in turn, turning red. Shawn was a little surprised by his perception.

"Yes, it is." He purposely avoided answering Chris's first questions for the moment, focusing on the last. "For some reason, you set off Kev's "alarm" as being someone who would respond to him in that way---someone who would enjoy being submissive."

Chris blinked at him, obviously not sure how to take this information. Shawn kissed him softly, then said, "It's nothing to be ashamed of, especially with Kev. Your reaction was a huge turn on for him. He and Hunter are probably trying their damnedest to break their bed right about now."

Shawn stopped again, not sure how to explain the rest. Again, Chris surprised him.

"So---my reaction didn't upset you, but what it signified did." Shawn slowly nodded.

"Right. Although I'm... not really into that kind of thing," /God, Hunter would kill me if he heard that./ "I understand the attraction. You were right---there's a reason that I'm... not comfortable with those situations. It happened years ago. I was still partners with Marty, during the Rockers days." He stopped again, taking a shuddering breath as he tried to make himself talk. /Dammit, I really didn't want to have to go here, but they didn't exactly leave me a choice./ Shawn laid back, staring at the ceiling as he finally continued speaking.

"I'll keep it brief. It was a long time ago, and the details aren't really important right now. Marty and I weren't really lovers, but we slept together off and on, had for a while. He was into all kinds of stuff, weird shit, always trying to get me to try it. He finally convinced me to "be adventurous, live a little," one time." The bitterness in his voice surprised him, and he tried to keep his tone even as he spoke. "So. He tied me up, blindfolded and gagged me, and... went ahead with his plans. Which turned out to include a lot more than we had agreed on. I couldn't get him to stop---I had to take it. I had no way of getting out of it, or screaming, or any way at all to fight or to get help." Shawn's voice cracked, and he squeezed his eyes shut as his memories threatened to overwhelm him.

"He raped you," Chris almost whispered, twining his fingers through Shawn's, squeezing them reassuringly. Shawn flinched at the word, but slowly nodded.

"Yeah." Swallowing, his voice harsh, he continued, "When he was finally finished, he took everything off, untied me, even helped me sit up. I called him every name I could think of, and when I could stand, I punched him. Left him lying on the floor. I pulled on some jeans and went to Kevin. He was with Scotty at the time. He took one look at me and demanded to know what had happened. I told him. He left me laying in bed with Scott holding me, and took off, furious. I found out the next day that he'd beaten Marty to a bloody pulp. We still had to work together, but I split us up as soon as possible. I think it took about a month."

"Oh, hon..." Chris breathed, running his fingers over Shawn's face. Shawn blinked. He hadn't realised his eyes were still closed. Or, as he blinked up at his lover, that there were tears on his face.

"Damn. I thought I was past that," he said hoarsely. Chris kissed him gently and laid beside him. Shawn rolled onto his side and put his head on Chris's shoulder, slowly relaxing in his embrace. /Well. That went better than I'd expected,/ Shawn thought wryly. Until Chris's next words.

"So... what did Hunter mean earlier about not lying to yourself?" Shawn tensed again. /I was hoping that he'd forgotten that. Damn it, Hunter, that's not fair!/

After a long silence, Shawn drew in a shaky breath and slowly admitted, "He meant that I'm a hypocrite. At least in his eyes." He could feel Chris's curious eyes on him, but he refused to meet that gaze, instead turning his face into Chris's shoulder, making his next words muffled.

"The night Kevin came back was the night you handcuffed me to the ropes. That night, I... I went knocking on their door. That night, I tried to resist it, but I couldn't. I just couldn't."

"Resist what, Shawn?" He heard the puzzlement in his lover's voice and hesitated before answering. A shudder rippled through him at the memory of that night.

"The emotions. I wanted to give Hunter and Kevin their night together and stay away, but..." His voice faltered for a moment. "You didn't notice---somehow---that during the entire scene in the ring, I was hard as a rock. When we got backstage, Hunter made a comment about it and Kevin got interested. He told me it was probably because of the situation, the helplessness, in front of all of those people..." Another shudder, another pause. "I was horrified by what he'd suggested. After what Marty did... being turned on by the same thing... was terrifying. It still is," he admitted reluctantly.

Chris tensed, and said flatly, "You... you went to them?" Shawn realised immediately his mistake, and finally lifted his head to meet Chris's eyes.

"Not like that, Chris. I'll admit the thought was in the back of my mind when I knocked on their door, but we'd just made love... I just couldn't. And as soon as Kevin saw me, he just held out his arms. I just clung to him. I don't know how long we stayed like that, but when I could finally let go of him, he sat me down and had a long talk with me." Shawn shook his head slightly. "He told me that it was a normal reaction, that it happened to lots of people, and that I shouldn't be afraid of it or react so badly to it." His eyes closed again as his voice dropped. "Easy for him to say."

Chris kissed his forehead and asked, "Why didn't you tell me? I remember that night, you know. We hadn't been together for very long, but... wow." Chris's voice grew a little husky at the memory.

Shawn smiled a little and looked up again as he said, "I'm sorry, Chris. I didn't... I couldn't talk to you about it. What was I supposed to tell you? "Hey, Chris, sorry to bother you, but I was abused in really kinky ways by a former tag partner over a decade ago and I still have nightmares about it, but that handcuff stunt really turned me on and that scares me to death"?" His voice was harsh and he stopped speaking abruptly, regretting how much emotion he'd just revealed. Chris's soft voice almost startled him.

"I knew something was wrong during that scene. That's why you have nightmares, isn't it?" Reluctantly, Shawn nodded. Chris's mouth twisted. "I knew something bad had happened to you when I woke up to you crying in your sleep the night we hooked up."

Shawn's eyes widened. /I what? I didn't know.../

Chris didn't let him respond. "Well, then, I'll make sure to wake you up from those dreams from now on. In a very good way," he promised, pressing his lips to Shawn's in a slow, deep kiss that left them both breathless by the time they broke apart.

"God, I love you," Chris whispered, staring at him. Shawn could see the strength of his emotion in his eyes, and some of the darkness in his heart lifted at the sight.

"Love you too, babe," he answered as his hand tangled in Chris's hair, pulling him close for another kiss, and neither of them spoke again for some time.

~ finis ~

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