"...In this world we're livin' in
We have our share of sorrow
Answer now is don't give in
Aim for a new tomorrow..."

Adam had let Shawn walk out of the hotel room, assuming that he had subsequently walked out of his life. He knew that by all rights, he should have never asked Shawn to stay. Shawn was leaving to go to his rightful place, to once again fulfill his position of husband and father. To take care of his family, the way he rarely had a chance to while they were on the road. He knew that he was of no comparison to these people that Shawn had built his foundation with. He knew that Shawn truly belonged to them, and not to him, as he would have liked.

But he was selfish and he didn't want to let go. Deep in his heart, he knew that it wouldn't do any good, but he tried anyway. He tried to reason with Shawn, to show him other alternatives that would allow him to see his children without him having to leave. When that didn't work, he'd desperately begged for Shawn to stay. And when that didn't work, he cried and screamed and kicked Shawn out, knowing that he would've left, anyway.

Shawn's vacation was scheduled for four weeks, but he'd bargained for an extra few days. Adam was convinced that it was because Shawn simply didn't want to see him.

They talked on the phone a precious five times while Shawn was away. Adam had counted. The conversations were short and strained; neither of them knew exactly what to say about anything. It was the polite, obligatory talks that you had with old high school buddies you haven't seen in ages, or the casual meet-in-the-hallways chitchat you held with coworkers on your fifteen minute breaks. It was anything but the talk two people who loved each other shared in the deep hours of the night.

And so, Adam had come to the conclusion that Shawn didn't love him, had never really loved him like he said he did. And during the month that Shawn had been away, Adam had practiced letting go.

But he knew he couldn't do that alone. And so he sought assistance, and who better to help bring you into the future than someone from your past?

He'd fucked Chris and let Chris fuck him, and if he closed his eyes and kept his hands in just the right places, he could almost pretend it was Shawn. And when he realized pretending it was Shawn probably wasn't helping him get over Shawn, it morphed into getting back at Shawn. If Shawn was going to sleep with someone else, then so was he.

Chris was gorgeous and good in bed, and didn't care if Adam loved him or not. Hell, he didn't care if Adam really wanted him or not. Adam nearly cried one night when Chris looked down at him, and told him that he could call Shawn's name if he wanted to. Said that it wouldn't bother him any, that he knew where he stood.

Chris was wonderful, but Chris wasn't Shawn. He told Chris that this wouldn't go on very long. He just needed some help with things right now and that maybe everything would change again when Shawn came back. Chris shrugged gracefully and kissed his lips and told him that he'd always be there for him.

When he wasn't with Chris, Adam concentrated on work and not being lonely. Late at night, he'd sit up in generic hotel rooms and watch old black and white movies and try to sleep. He'd settled himself into a wonderfully dull, emotionless existence that he clung to wholeheartedly. Shawn didn't love him, and so he refused to love Shawn. It was that simple.

Until Shawn came back.

Shawn was happy when he was with Rebecca and the children. He loved them all dearly and would easily give his life for them. He missed them while he was away. When he was around them, he was content and comfortable. But he wasn't whole. There was something, someone missing.

He had strange fantasies about Adam coming to live with them and them all existing together happily. He imagined Becca's reaction if he told her he'd fallen hopelessly in love with a man. He wondered how long it would take her to get the papers drawn up and how much alimony she'd ask for. He thought up hypothetical situations and dozens more questions that he didn't really want to know the answers to.

And while these tormenting thoughts went through his head, he plastered on a smile and kissed his wife and his kids and swore he would call Adam later, and that they'd talk. Really talk. But something always came up, and he hardly ever got the chance.

He thought about Adam while he was making love to Rebecca, and it seemed that the harder he tried to forget that night, the more insistent the memory became. 'Take your ring off,' Adam had pleaded. 'Be mine tonight.' And he had. He'd felt horrible for it, but he'd done it anyway. And now, lying here in pleasure with his wife, he felt horrible all over again. He'd somehow managed to betray them both. No matter what, he couldn't do anything right.

He didn't want to leave home, and he didn't want to stay. He didn't want to see Adam, but he felt like he was slowly deteriorating every second that they had to be apart. He consoled sobbing children and a gracefully tearful wife, and had gotten back on the plane to catch up with work's latest destination. He didn't know what he'd say when he was reunited with Adam, but he supposed he'd figure that out when he got there.

Shawn sauntered right in like he owned the place. He didn't pay any attention whatsoever to the shocked man sitting on the bed. He just put down his suitcase and opened it and started to unpack his stuff. He didn't even look upward until Adam cleared his throat purposefully. Adam's heart was hammering in his chest and his mouth had gone dry simply at the sight of his lover. Ex-lover, he reminded himself bitterly. But he forced himself to speak steadily.

"I think you've got the wrong room. This one's taken."

Shawn looked like he'd been slapped in the face.

"Wh-what do you mean?"

"I mean, why are you unpacking here?"

"We.. we always share a room."

Adam frowned and stood from the bed, utterly confused about Shawn's casual demeanor.

"That was before you left me for a month and a half."

"Are you still stuck on that? You know I didn't have a choice. But I'm back now, and everything's fine. So, c'mere, darlin', and kiss me hello."

Adam moved to where Shawn was standing and Shawn's face lit up. That was much easier than he'd thought. He held out his arms and closed his eyes, and was on the floor before he could comprehend what had happened.

It took a second or two for the pain in his jaw to register, along with the fact that he was sprawled against the door looking up at Adam's closed fist.

"Everything is not fine," Adam growled, seizing his anger foremost so the tears and betrayal would have to take a backseat. He'd embarrassed himself enough with his crying and pleading. "If you think you can just walk all over me like this, you've got another thing coming. I'm not gonna sit here like some god damned cheap piece of ass, waiting for you to get done with what really matters so you can come back and fuck me some more! Now get up, get your shit, and get out!"

Before Shawn could begin to think of a proper reply, Adam had retreated into the bathroom, dramatically slammed the door, and locked it behind him. Shawn blinked rapidly, trying to piece together exactly what had taken place. He'd been struck and yelled at by someone he loved whole-heartedly, all in the span of two minutes, and none of it would sink in. All he could do was sit helplessly on the floor and rub his swelling face, frantically trying to decide what to do now.

Anger was beginning to set in as Shawn pulled himself to his feet. How dare Adam be so selfish? How could he simply refuse to understand that Shawn had a family, and obligations? He strode to the bathroom door and pounded on it, ignoring the pain that came with speaking.

"Adam, open the door."

"FUCK YOU!"

"Listen, I'm tired of this! We need to talk, all right? Just open the door and we'll get it sorted out."

"Go fuck yourself, Michaels. I'm not interested in anything you have to say."

"Open the damn door or I'm kickin' it in!"

Silence.

Making good on his threat, Shawn took a couple of steps back and then gave the bathroom door its own special rendition of Sweet Chin Music. The lock was flimsy and the door busted open easily, revealing a shocked and very pissed off Adam.

"You're paying for that!" he shrieked, eyes wide. He moved to get past Shawn, but Shawn grabbed him and pressed him to the wall. He struggled and cursed and Shawn just let himself be smacked, let his hair be pulled, let himself be called every name in the book. He grabbed at Adam's flailing wrists and finally pinned them immobile. Adam was panting with the effort of trying to escape, finally giving up and glaring at Shawn as if a look alone would make him retreat. No such luck.

"Listen to me for one second! That's all I ask!"

"There's nothing to say, Shawn! It's fucking over, just let it go! I don't know why you can't understand that it's –"

"I'm sorry. Okay? I'm sorry."

Adam stopped mid-sentence and looked suspiciously at Shawn. Throughout this entire ordeal, during all the arguments and all the strained phone calls, Shawn had never apologized. Not once.

Sensing that perhaps he was making some progress, Shawn warily released Adam's wrists, and took a single step back. He watched Adam's eyes sincerely as he continued to speak.

"You're important to me, Adam, and I know I haven't been treating you that way. I had to go home, I'm still sticking by that. But I should've listened to you better when you were trying to tell me how you felt. And I'm sorry. I should have made more time for you while I was gone, I should've called you more often, I know. I thought about you every day and I missed you so much. When we first started all this, you said you'd do anything for me. Remember that? So, do this for me. Please forgive me. I'm sorry."

This time when Shawn reached out, Adam didn't shy away. He closed his eyes and leaned into the touch when Shawn's fingertips brushed down his cheek. Kissed lightly at the pad of Shawn's thumb as it graced across his lips.

Adam had a firm control on his emotions, until he realized what he'd done. His eyes snapped open and he reached his own hand out, cupping the side of Shawn's face that he'd turned red and purple. Tears welled to his eyes, his lower lip shaking.

"Oh, god, Shawn. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. I wasn't thinking."

Shawn just shook his head and pulled Adam into a tight embrace, one that was readily returned. They clung to each other desperately, hands and lips reclaiming forgotten territory. Sometimes stray teeth or fingernails would go unchecked, bringing pain, but it only reminded them that what was happening now was real.

It had been too long since they'd felt each other, and the desperation to do so was unbearable. Adam hadn't even wanted to take the time to move to bed; he'd suggested the shower or atop the sink counter, but Shawn insisted there would be plenty of time for that later. That this time, after so long, he wanted it to be slow, long, and comfortable.

He'd carried Adam to bed like a man would deliver his new bride over the threshold, and Adam had giggled happily the entire way. They languidly stretched on the bed, kissing and touching and teasing each other and themselves. Shawn rolled on top and tugged Adam's shirt off, fingers unfastening his pants. Once he had his lover naked beneath him, Shawn ran his hands slowly along the perfect body, fingers trembling with excitement and restraint.

But then the realization had dawned on him that the body below him was not perfect. Was less perfect than it had been when Shawn had left, as a matter of fact. And it was all due to the small bluish mark that marred Adam's hipbone. Shawn wasn't sure exactly what it was and how it came to be on his lover, but it appeared to be some sort of bruise. Perhaps a bite, even. Yes. If you looked closely, Shawn observed, you could see the faint teeth marks.

Shawn's hands froze, his eyes glued to the offending mark. Adam, brought from his lust-clouded reverie, opened his eyes to look upon his lover. He frowned upon seeing such a horrified expression, looking down to see just what Shawn was gawking at. When he saw it, it took a moment to realize what it was. He hadn't realized Chris had left such a horrid thing behind. And now look what it was doing to the moment they'd somehow managed to resurrect.

Adam felt a wave of dreadful nausea wash through him and he sat up quickly, recoiling from Shawn. Shawn, moving dream-like slow, stood from the bed. He was talking in monotone, but since he never paused to allow Adam to answer, Adam guessed he was just talking to himself.

"This is what I get, huh? This is my punishment for what I've done. I've committed adultery and betrayed people I love, and this is what comes of it. It's my own damned fault. I should've known. I should've known."

He repeated this as he walked out the door, leaving behind his personal belongings, his petrified lover, and all the shattered pieces of his heart.

Lyrics courtesy of Judas Priest and used without permission