He wished he was stronger. He wished with all of his being that he was strong enough to be everything his father had ever wanted him to be, everything Henry Spencer had ever dreamt for his only son. He wished he was strong enough, brave enough, man enough to be what his father had spent Shawn's entire life molding.

He wondered if that had been the problem- if, by preparing him so fully, that wasn't the biggest mistake his father had made. Would Shawn have jumped to fulfill his father's dreams if he hadn't know what they entailed? Would he have been more eager to join the force if he hadn't spent nearly two decades preparing for it? He had burnt out before the real commitment had begun, disillusioned before he was even legal to smoke.

His father said he could never stick to anything- girls, jobs, apartments, identities. Shawn changed who he was like some sort of twisted, pathological liar. It was never who he was, never who he planned to become, just another story to twist to impress the next pretty little drunk he found at the bar. When he got tired of whatever zany occupation or location he had wandered into, he would shed his ties like a snake, leaving behind nothing but the fragile, translucent evidence of what had been so briefly.

He couldn't help feeling like there was a void in his life, a hole in the pit of his stomach that he could never fill because his father had burnt the ambition needed to fulfill it right out of him before Shawn had even had the chance to consider it. Because Shawn was a cop, even if he didn't have the diploma to back it up. Procedure and protocol had been his bedtime stories. He could walk the walk, talk the talk, stroll into a crime scene and solve the case before forensics had snapped on their gloves and pulled out their bags. Most importantly, he could read people like he had a degree in it, like he had spent 6 years in college learning the ins and outs of the human psych.

That was probably why he wasn't the least bit surprised with where he finally ended up. It had only been a matter of time before Lassiter had let him into his bed, and it would only be a matter of time before he let Shawn weasel his way even farther into his life than that. Shawn had seen it almost from the very beginning, and he wondered if it would have been any more special- or any more traumatic, because God, was Lassiter nasty hung over- if he hadn't known, if it had been a surprise like it had been for Lassiter, that first morning after. At the very least, he was pretty sure he would have handled it with more dignity than the other man, even if it had been a shock. It hadn't been. He hadn't been drunk the night before.

Lassiter was as close as Shawn would ever come to filling that void his father had left with his well-intentioned, pathway to Hell paving, childhood ruining good intentions. Lassiter was the cop that Henry had always wanted Shawn to become, the cop he should have been, if his father had just butted the Hell out. He lived precariously, and it was precariously, as ironic as that was considering his past experiences, through Lassiter, even as he himself was taking risk after stupid risk, just to impress the other man, just to fill that void, just to make his father acknowledge that maybe Shawn wasn't the failure Henry had resigned himself to.

And Lassiter could never quite kick Shawn hard enough to make the younger man leave, like he knew he should, like he tried so hard to do. His words never quite had that malicious edge they should have held, because what Shawn had, what Shawn was, what he embodied- every sense of freedom and power and attraction- was everything Lassiter had worked for but never gained. Everything Shawn saw was through eyes Lassiter wished he could see through, mind capturing him in ways Lassiter couldn't explain, at least not out loud, even as Shawn's words grated on him every time Shawn opened his mouth.

When they finally stopped circling each other like jealous dogs and shacked up, the snarling and snapping turned to something neither wanted to admit ran far beyond the borders of casual acquaintance, and uncomfortably past the bounds of fuck buddies. They needed each other. Each embodied the very thing the other coveted. If they had only been able to switch places, to have been born in the other's place, but they knew all to well that even if that had been the case they would have ended up in the same precarious, awkward position.

Apart, they were lost, angry, not whole. Together, they were bitter, jealous, and almost whole, seeing the world through the other and wishing for what they couldn't have, even as they woke up next to each other night after wonderful night- wishing for something they couldn't speak out loud or even in the safety of their own heads, because what was it that they really, really wanted? And if it translated itself into the physical world, the want to be the other, the need to be the other, the need to be engulfed by the other- Shawn wanting Lassiter, Lassiter wanting Shawn- then that was how it had to be, yearning for what they could have been. It was hot, it was angry, what they had, and because it was the only thing that kept them above water, it was sure to keep going.

If it had been love, it would have ended quickly. Shawn didn't do love, and Lassiter just messed it up every time he tried, but it wasn't. It was envy, and lust, and bitter need that just couldn't be smothered. By hating each other, they provided more for the other than any healthy, loving relationship ever could. It was twisted, and strange, and they both knew that they were more content in that than they could ever be with anyone else.