Shawn could finally let out his breath when he heard John's theme music play. Desperation, anger and relief warred on inside him, but he kept his face neutral, lowered,
as he walked up the ramp. It was taking everything he had not to look up, to look back and try to catch John's eye.
He had let his earlier guilts and fears about John's concentration overwhelm him and rushed down to the ring the first moment John had gotten into any trouble. He hadn't thought, he'd just felt and acted.
In the end, he had found himself pulling John out of the ring, both of them freezing in horror as the referee turned to call for the disqualification. There had been only one thing he could do, only one way to save the match and John's dream.
His eyes moistened as remembered what he had done and he tightened them, clenching his fists as he passed under the tron.
A few steps further on ahead was the small, curtained-off area the performers used to prepare for their entrance to the ring and now, inside it, Shawn could at last turn around and look back at John.
The big man was still on the ramp, but even at this distance the reddened imprint of Shawn's palm was clearly visible on his cheek. The image brought tears to Shawn's orb again, but when at last, he caught John's eye, the big man winked and flashed him a smile.
Joy and relief flooded through him, then his mouth dropped open in amazement and John began to twostep in celebration at the top of the stage.
The thunderous fury of the crowd drowned out his words but Shawn could read his lips.
"That was awesome! They hate me!"
Despite everything that had happened, Shawn couldn't keep himself from laughing. With one smile, John had made everything right again.