"Taking It Slow: Backstage Lessons"

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-ish
Characters: Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Kevin Nash
Content: Implied m/m, language, some mushiness
Author's Note: Takes place a week after "Taking It Slow: Moving Lessons." Spoilers for the 4/28/03 and 5/05/03 episodes of Raw.

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~[Shawn]~

Shawn hopped out of the car, wincing slightly, but with a smile on his face. /Ouch. Sore... but such a good sore,/ he thought contentedly. Hunter followed closely behind, shaking his head.

"Geez, Shawn, you can stop gloating, y'know," he grumbled. Shawn's smile widened into a grin as he got his gym bag out of the trunk, shooting a glance at Kevin. Kevin sighed theatrically as he picked up his bag before stepping back to let Hunter by. Hunter brushed by Shawn without looking at him and hefted his bag with a grunt, then let it drop to the ground, turning to look at Kevin. Shawn couldn't see his face, but he could imagine the puppy-dog eyes that Hunter was flashing. He hid a smile as Kevin sighed again, lifting his bag to his shoulder before leaning over and picking up Hunter's. /Kevin'd kill me if I said it, but he's such a softie./ Shawn waited until Hunter had turned back to him before replying.

"Why, Hunter. I do believe that you're jealous," Shawn said smugly. Hunter glared at him.

"Why would I be jealous?"

"'Cause you're not the one getting fucked silly in the back of the car every day?" The flippant question drew Hunter's gaze away from Shawn, who laughed outright. He turned to receive a kiss from his lover as Chris walked by, smirking at Hunter. Chris slung his bag over his shoulder, then turned to tug Shawn's out of his grasp. Shawn sighed, but let go, knowing better than to argue about it. /Not sure where this protective streak came from, although I can guess... If I can't persuade Hunter and Kevin to tone it down, I'm sure not gonna be able to convince Chris to./ Chris turned back to Hunter, flipping his hair over his shoulder. "You are, y'know. You're jealous," he teased. Shawn hid a smile as Hunter glared at Chris.

"Yep." This time it was Kevin who spoke, drawing a wounded look from Hunter. "But it's not 'cause he's not getting fucked in the back of the car---it's because it's not him you're fucking." Kev smirked at his lover, blocking a half-hearted blow to his shoulder.

"Bastard. You're not supposed to agree with them!" Hunter complained. Kevin shrugged.

"Brat. You've said it yourself." His voice was light, but Shawn could see a flash of anger in his eyes. /Damn. I think the Big Guy's gonna lose it any time now. Hunter has been pretty obnoxious the last few days.../

"Hey!" Hunter sounded indignant. Their bickering faded behind Shawn and Chris as they entered the arena. Shawn forced himself to think about happier things and chuckled, wrapping an arm around Chris's waist as he looked faintly worried.

"You don't... I'm not causing a problem, am I?" Chris sounded unsure, and Shawn stifled a sigh. /How many times do I have to tell him...?/

"No, babe. You're just giving Kevin fodder. He loves to tease Hunter. And Hunter is jealous---he's not used to being able to kiss but not touch. Don't worry," he added hastily, seeing the hurt look on Chris's face. "It's not a bad thing for Hunter to learn a little patience. Usually everything he wants just falls into his lap... sometimes literally." He paused, then smiled at his lover. "Besides, at some point, you'll reap the rewards of keeping him waiting." Chris blushed a little at that, but Shawn noted that he was smiling slightly, too.

He halted as they reached the locker room, looping an arm around Chris's neck and drawing him close for a kiss. By the time they pulled apart, they'd gotten more than a few wolf whistles, and Chris was red again. Shawn whispered, "Babe, you've got to learn not to blush about this stuff. If you don't, you may be red the rest of your life." Chris made a face at him and went to their lockers to set their bags down.

Shawn stayed in the doorway for a minute, watching him, before following him over. When Chris turned around to see where he was, he bumped right into him, not having heard him approach. Shawn took the opportunity to push him back against the locker and plaster himself against Chris, seizing his mouth again. /God, I'll never get enough of him.../ When Shawn pulled back this time, Chris glared at him.

"Shawn..." he whispered in quiet protest. Shawn grinned at him.

"What? You can't accuse me of being a tease, not after that car ride," he said. Chris turned beet red as chuckles sounded from around the room at the comment. Shawn caught Goldberg glaring at them from his place in the corner, and smiled even wider as he met his eyes. Goldberg bared his teeth at him, but looked away as Kevin and Hunter walked in.

"What took you so long?" Shawn called, seeing some tension between them. They turned toward him, Kevin smirking, Hunter looking sullen.

"Had to convince him to stop being a brat," Kevin rumbled, glancing sideways at Hunter, who narrowed his eyes at him but didn't say anything. Chris looked confused as Hunter slammed his bag down and started peeling off his clothes, not looking at Kevin.

Shawn raised an eyebrow at Kevin and cocked his head, wondering if he was reading the signs right. Kev nodded, once, then started getting ready himself, staying close to Hunter but not as close as normal. Shawn sighed. /Dammit. Stupid temper tantrums, anyway./ He glanced at Chris, who was also changing. He watched appreciatively for a moment, then took a few steps to Hunter's side. Hunter glanced up, eyes narrowed, until he saw who it was and relaxed.

He said quietly, "So. You okay?" There was a short silence as Hunter turned sideways before pulling down his briefs, revealing a large, red hand print across his ass. Shawn winced in sympathy, stepping forward a bit to help hide the mark from the gaze of the others in the room. /Guess he really did push Kev's buttons. Ouch./ Chris, next to Hunter, looked up at the movement and stopped, staring, as he saw it. Shawn shook his head at him as he started to say something. Chris frowned, but turned around and finished dressing. Hunter pulled his briefs back up, covering the mark, and pulled on his slacks before he turned back to Shawn, looking calmer but still unhappy.

"As fine as could be," Hunter finally muttered. He started to say something else, but stopped and took a deep breath instead, visibly relaxing as he released it. Shawn's eyes softened, and he ran a hand across Hunter's back, pulling him close. He could feel Hunter trembling slightly, but knew it wasn't fear... or even anger, really. /Wonder what happened... Kevin doesn't do this often, and never at work before./ Hunter sighed, and wrapped his arms around Shawn after a moment's pause.

"I deserved it." The quiet words took Shawn by surprise. Hunter laughed quietly at the look on his face. "No, really. I've really been getting on his nerves, and on yours. Watching you and Chris... well, let's just say I'm almost surprised it took this long for Kev to react." Shawn raised his eyebrows, asking a silent question. Hunter responded by pushing his hips forward, and Shawn couldn't muffle the soft noise in his throat at the feel of him.

"I... see," he said in a low voice. "I guess I'm just surprised by your reaction." Hunter shrugged, looking almost rueful.

"I told you once... there are times. I think Kevin just figured out sooner than I did what I was looking for." Shawn looked closely at him, could see the calm settling in, and felt considerably relieved.

"If you're sure..." He trailed off as Hunter nodded. Before he could say anything else, Hunter leaned forward and kissed him, briefly but full of emotion. He smiled at Shawn, then looked over his shoulder. Shawn twisted around, releasing his hold on Hunter as he did, and smiled at the sight of Kevin kissing Chris. /Not missing a chance for a little groping, either, I see,/ he thought, amused as Chris tried to discretely grope Kevin's ass through his leather pants. Kevin bypassed "discrete" altogether and lifted Chris off his feet, propping him against the locker as he cupped Chris's ass in his hands, cradling their hips together. Shawn heard Hunter's laugh and shared an amused look with him. /Welcome to the Clique, Chris. Hope you're ready to become part of those stories you heard... Hope you learn to stop blushing soon./ Stepping forward out of Hunter's arms, he cleared his throat.

"Sorry to interrupt..." Kevin broke the kiss and looked at him. "But that's my locker you're leaning on, and I need to change, too." Kevin shrugged and took a step sideways, not releasing Chris as he leaned in to kiss him again. Shawn watched, enjoying the sight, as he changed into his wrestling gear.

~[Hunter]~

/Dammit, that hurts,/ Hunter thought semi-resentfully, trying to resist the urge to rub his ass. Too many people that he worked with knew too much about his sex life already---he didn't need to give them more grist for the rumour mill. Watching Kevin maul Chris in front of everyone, he had to smile a little at that thought. /They have enough to gossip about as it is./ He glanced to the side, watching as Goldberg glared at the spectacle they were making. /And maybe more than gossip... have to watch him, especially after Chris's Highlight Reel last week... Nice of Vince to agree to write Chris's idea for a grudge between them into the show. At least that way we'll have an excuse.../

He shifted uncomfortably, feeling the pain start to mutate into something else, something warm... something pleasurable. He wrenched his gaze away from Kevin and Chris, only to have it land on Shawn, half-naked. He groaned softly, turning and sitting gingerly on the bench. /I do not need this right now.../

He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder, and looked up into Kevin's face. He started to look down again, but Kevin squatted next to him and cupped his cheek with one hand, gently turning his face toward him.

"Hunt, I'm... sorry. I shouldn't have done that," Kevin said softly. Hunter blinked at him, somewhat taken aback by the apology. Kevin sighed. "I know we've always had an unspoken agreement that we'd leave things like that outside work, and only when we'd talked about it... I just... I just couldn't think of anything else to do. You've been... I don't know, such a brat lately. And you weren't just getting on my nerves---you were getting to Jericho." Hunter looked up quickly at that, over Kevin's shoulder at Chris, now chatting with Shawn. /What? I didn't know... he didn't act any different.../

He looked back at Kevin with a frown, but before he could speak, Kev shook his head. "You were. He was questioning himself... and us. He didn't say anything to me, but I saw how he was acting. And I heard Shawn reassure him more than once, including when we got here today. It's not an excuse... but that's why."

Hunter stared at the floor again. He hadn't been expecting that. Slowly, his voice low, he said, "I didn't mean to do that. I just... God, Kev, it's so frustrating to kiss him, to watch him, and not be able to do anything else!" Kevin nodded understandingly, but didn't say anything.

"I guess that's not an excuse, either, huh?" he finally said, a touch of amusement in his voice. He met Kevin's eyes and sighed. "Yeah, Kevin, I'm sorry. And I forgive you. It... I deserved it," he said slowly. He couldn't miss the surprise in Kevin's face. "I know. Not what you were expecting. But... damn, Kev, sometimes you know me better than I know myself. I think... I think I needed that." He chuckled. "God knows it's had a hell of an effect on me." Kevin arched his eyebrows at that, his gaze dropping momentarily. Hunter saw his fingers twitch and smiled again.

"Hunter..." The sudden heat in Kevin's voice sent a shudder through his body. He reached out, tangling his fingers in Kevin's hair, getting his attention. /Please, Kev... understand what I'm saying here. I don't think I can just ask you for it./

"I guess maybe sometimes I'm a little more like Scotty than we thought, huh?" Kevin's head snapped up, his eyes wide. Hunter nodded slightly. "Yeah. I think... tonight." There was a pause. Hunter shivered slightly, thinking about what he'd just put himself in for, later.

"Are you sure?" Kevin's voice was huskier, and Hunter knew without even looking how his words had affected him. He nodded again, swallowing against a suddenly dry throat before he was able to speak.

"It's been a long time. And I need it. I need to be reminded that I don't have to be Triple H all the time." He wasn't prepared for Kevin's sudden embrace, but realised as soon he was in his arms that he'd needed it. He rested his head on Kev's shoulder, feeling more than hearing Kevin's soft words.

"Love you, Hunt. Don't worry. I'll take care of you." The low murmur brought a sudden tightness to his chest and he had to blink hard for a moment before he could find his voice.

"Love you too, Kev. I trust you."

~[Chris]~

/Well, this has been an interesting day. And it's not even over yet./ Chris glanced around the locker room again, feeling the familiar nervous energy start to fill him up as the time for his spot approached. The other three had taken off for some meeting or other, and he was stuck waiting by himself. He was taken aback when Goldberg caught his eyes, glaring at him. He started slightly, then glared right back. /Bastard./

"Chris?" The voice startled him and his head jerked up.

"Oh, hey, Jay. How are ya?" Glad to see his friend, he perked up a little, grateful for the distraction. /It's been a while since we've talked./ Jay sat on the bench next to him, looking at him a little oddly. Chris frowned. "What's up? Something wrong?"

"Dunno. Depends on your definition of "wrong," I guess," Jay replied. Chris's frown deepened.

"What do you mean?"

Jay fidgeted uncomfortably for a minute, then burst out, "You and Shawn... and the Clique. That's what's wrong. It's just... it's not right, Chris!" Chris stared at him, speechless for a moment. Then he started to get upset.

"What the hell are you talking about? I know it's not because Shawn's a guy," he said angrily. "Not even---not with you and Adam." Jay flinched a little and shook his head.

"No. Just... how can you do that?" Chris was perplexed, and it showed on his face. Jay waved a hand in the air, making a vague gesture. "That. You know... with Kevin and Hunter. I mean, you're with Shawn! That wasn't a surprise, knowing you, but... the rest of this... and that thing with Goldberg..."

"What thing with Goldberg? What have you heard?" Chris growled. /The bastard's been spreading rumours. I'll kill him!/ Jay shrugged.

"Just what went on in the bar after Backlash. You never told me you were... involved with Goldberg."

"Oh, for..." Chris took a deep breath. "Because I wasn't, Jay. Not really. Not in anything but my imagination, and that didn't last too long, either."

"But... he said..."

"I didn't say nothing happened. I said we weren't involved. It was a mistake, Jay, and one that I'd really prefer to forget."

"Okay. But..." Chris interrupted him again.

"I'm with Shawn, Jay. I love him." Chris had to pause. /That was... harder to say out loud than I thought it would be./ Jay was wide-eyed. "We love each other."

"But... then how can you do those things with Kevin and Hunter?" Jay demanded. Chris closed his eyes for a moment, taking another deep breath. /God. How can I explain something to him that I can't even explain to myself?/

"Well... it's... well, it's kinda hard to explain," Chris fumbled. /Damn it. Where are they when I could use their help?/ Jay kept staring at him, obviously not impressed with his powers of explanation. "We all care about each other, Jay. And Shawn and I know that we love each other... and..." He trailed off again, growing frustrated with his own inability to explain. /If Shawn were here, he could do it. He'd just tell Jay that it's because we all love each other./

Chris froze in place. /Wait a minute. What the hell did I just think? Because we all... love... each other.../ He gaped at the wall for a minute, blind to Jay's increasingly concerned look. /Oh. My. God. I... I... holy shit!/ His thoughts tumbled over each other too quickly for him to make sense of any of them, his mind seizing on the one word... "love."

"Chris? Hey man, are you okay?" Jay's voice finally broke through Chris's shock, and he turned back to look at him, his own eyes a little wide.

"Yeah... yeah, I'm fine, Jay. Just... just a little surprised."

"Surprised? About what? What you've been doing?" The petulance in Jay's voice nearly set his teeth on edge, considering the incredible emotional wallop he'd just given himself, but he forced himself to patience.

"No, Jay. About how blind I've been." Chris stopped again, turning the word over in his mind. /Love. So simple... and so not./ He was mildly surprised about how easy it was to wrap his mind around the idea, but the major shock had been in the realisation itself. He finally smiled, much to Jay's confusion. He heard somebody walk into the locker room, but ignored it. /So the hell what if somebody else hears this? It's almost as important as how I feel about Shawn,/ he thought.

"So, here you go, Jay. I can "do those things" with Hunter and Kevin because... I love them." He almost laughed at the shock and confusion on Jay's face.

"But... you... Shawn..." Jay spluttered. Chris nodded.

"Yeah, exactly. I love Shawn, more than anything. But... I love Kev and Hunter, too. I guess it just kind of... crept up on me, because I just realised it, but it's true. I'm sorry if that doesn't make sense to you, Jay, but it's the only explanation I can give you." Chris realised that the locker room was dead silent, but he didn't care. This was far too important. "Figures that I'd realise this when they're not even around," he muttered.

"Wrong, baby. Way wrong," a low voice murmured in his ear. He spun around in surprise, finding Kevin smiling, standing behind him, with Hunter next to him.

"Kev! Hunter! When did you..." Chris's question was cut off by Hunter's lips. He sighed when they broke apart, but only long enough for Kevin to lean in for a kiss of his own. When he pulled away, Chris looked from one to the other, trying to judge their reactions. He was aware of Jay, eyes wide, still sitting next to him, but didn't care. Both of them were smiling, and so was Shawn, so everything must be... "Shawn!" he exclaimed, standing up and reaching for his lover. Shawn came willingly into his arms, his eyes glowing.

"Shawn..." Chris started speak, but Shawn shook his head, placing a finger against his lips.

"Did you mean it?" he asked softly.

Chris blinked, then nodded. "Oh, yeah," he replied. He held Shawn tightly, but looked over his shoulder at the other two. The words came haltingly this time, now that he was looking at them, but he managed to say them. "I meant every word. I... love you guys, too." He paused. "But, uh... that doesn't mean... I mean, I'm not ready for..." Kevin started laughing, and Hunter grinned.

"It's okay, Chris. I think one major shock a day is enough." Anything else Hunter would've said was interrupted by a stage hand at the door.

"Yo, Jericho---you and Nash are up next!"

Chris looked from Hunter to Kevin and finally at Shawn, caught speechless. Shawn smiled gently and said quietly, "It'll be okay. Just go, do your thing. Nothing's really changed. You know that." He pressed a quick kiss to his cheek before stepping back. "Go, or you'll be late."

He nodded mutely, then walked out, his thoughts still swirling. /I can't believe I just said that in front of everybody. Hell, I can't believe I just said that... but it's true. I love them... but... how? When?/ He shook his head. /I love Shawn. That hasn't changed... I guess it's just... expanded, somehow. I sure wasn't expecting it!/

When he got to the gorilla position, he stood next to the monitor, bouncing slightly on the balls of his feet in nervous anticipation. A hand snaking around his shoulders made him jump, but he recognized the touch almost immediately and relaxed as he turned. Kevin smiled down at him and Chris found himself smiling back.

"You okay?" The question was soft, for his ears alone, and Chris nodded.

"Yeah. A little shocked, I guess, but... yeah, I'm okay." Chris's answer was just as quiet.

One of the stage hands called, "Sixty seconds, Jericho!"

Kevin tilted his head, looking consideringly at him for a moment, before wrapping a hand around his head and pulling him close, slanting his lips across Chris's. He gasped, and Kevin took advantage, slipping his tongue inside, sliding it across Chris's palate, drawing a low, muffled moan from Chris.

Behind them, the stage hand said, "Thirty seconds!"

Chris was lost in the kiss, his head almost swimming, when Kevin finally lifted his head. He took a long, shuddering breath, staring at Kevin with wide eyes.

Kevin chuckled and murmured, "Love ya too, Chris." Chris flushed, staring into Kevin's eyes, seeing the emotion there.

The stage hand sounded almost panicked as he yelled, "Ten seconds! Jericho, c'mon!"

"Kev..." His voice was shaky. Kevin shook his head.

"Ya gotta learn how not to blush sometime, baby. Now'd probably be a good time to start." Kevin turned Chris around and shoved him toward the curtain. Chris stumbled toward the entrance, then paused. He took a deep breath, hearing the stage hand start counting down from five. /Breathe, breathe, breathe.../ One more deep breath, a determined effort, and he felt the warmth on his face draining away. A heartbeat later, he lifted his head, face clear and determined, and walked through the curtain.

~[Kevin]~

Kevin had to fight to keep a snarl on his face as he glared after the rapidly departing car. He really felt like laughing---after all, the storyline was just ridiculous. But above and beyond that, he was in an exceptionally good mood. /Things are so much better now than they were this morning... Chris finally understands, and that's good. Shawn's happy because of that, and that's good. And Hunter.../ He took a long breath, looking over his shoulder to make sure that the cameras were off. He waved at the camera guys as they walked back inside, leaving him alone outside the building.

He leaned against the cool brick wall and crossed his arms, waiting for Hunter to come back. /Tonight I'm going to remind Hunter that he's not Triple H, and that he can't be an asshole just because he's not getting what he wants. And that'll be really good. Tonight.../ A sliver of heat rushed down his spine at the thought and he had to force his body back under control.

Any further thoughts were interrupted at the squeal of brakes. He looked up, his smile finally breaking free as Hunter screeched the car to a halt and hopped out, flushed and grinning from the excitement of the spot. When he saw Kevin waiting for him, the grin faded and he looked almost shy as he walked up to him. Kevin watched him fondly, understanding. /Time to start peeling Triple H away./ He waited until Hunter was within arms' reach, and uncurled, reaching out and pulling him close.

"Hey, baby," he whispered against Hunter's hair, inhaling the sweaty, musky, unique Hunter-scent rising from his lover. He hugged him tightly for a moment, feeling Hunter's arms creep around his waist. He tilted Hunter's head back and saw the turmoil in his eyes.

"You sure about this?" he asked, concerned. Hunter hesitated, then nodded, not breaking Kevin's gaze. "Good. You know I love you?" Hunter nodded again, still silent. Kevin stroked his cheek, enjoying the feeling of their bodies together.

"Time to go in, baby," he finally said quietly. Hunter leaned his head against his chest with a sigh.

"Do we have to?" The question was so soft Kevin almost didn't hear it. /Hunter... I should've done this sooner. I didn't know how stressed you really were. You're too damned good at hiding things from people, even from people who should know better./

"Yeah, baby, we do. Just for a minute. We have to get our stuff and collect Shawn and Chris, and then we can leave." Kevin kept his voice gentle, and Hunter finally stepped back, looking very different from his in-ring persona. Kevin took his hand, lacing their fingers together, and led him back inside.

They walked down the hall in silence, and Kevin very glad that they had the next few days off. He had a sneaking suspicion that Hunter would need the time. /Too much stress, too much frustration, too much shock... Who would've dreamt that Chris would spring that on us now, this soon?/

He was glad to see Hunter regaining some of his normal confidence as they entered the locker room. Shawn and Chris were deep in quiet conversation, sitting on the bench in front of their lockers and didn't even look up as they approached. Kev started packing their things, leaving Hunter to interrupt Shawn and Chris. He heard them talking, but concentrated on what he was doing, trying not to dwell on what was going to be happening later that night... and failing miserably. The more he tried not to think about it, the more it forced itself into his thoughts.

Images of Hunter, naked and handcuffed to their bed, gagged, his eyes wide as Kevin raised his hand, swinging the leather belt... Kevin shook his head, but other images popped into his head in its place: Hunter on his knees, hands tied behind his back, begging to suck him off... Hunter sweaty and disheveled, his ass red, tears in his eyes as he pleaded to be fucked... Kevin slammed the locker door shut with a curse. /Dammit. Calm down, already. It's been a while, but Jesus.../

He became aware of a deafening silence, and glanced over at the others apologetically, a crooked smile on his face as he met their startled gazes. He saw Shawn glance from him to Hunter, who was still acting quieter than normal, and then back, understanding. Chris still looked confused, but Shawn leaned forward and said a few quiet words to him. With a shrug, Chris finished throwing his stuff into his bag and zipped it, standing up.

"Are, um... are we ready to go, Kev?" he asked diffidently. Kevin nodded, lifting his and Hunter's bags.

"Yeah. All packed. If you're..." He stopped in mid-sentence, blinking as Hunter wordlessly took his bag from Kevin's grasp, smiling up at him. "So. Uh. If you're ready, we can take off, Shawn."

"All set, big guy. Let's get going." Shawn and Chris followed Hunter out the door, leaving Kevin standing in the middle of the room. /Well, well, well. Things are going to be interesting tonight./ He followed them out of the room, smiling to himself as he planned out the rest of the night.

~ finis ~

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