Chris Jericho squirmed into consciousness, startling into the world of reality as the cold sheet of departure washed over him. The bed always seemed so vast and empty without Shawn Michaels beside him.
A ripple of reassurance threaded its way through his fatigued form as he heard the pound of running water through the bathroom door, a smile graced his lips as he stretched, bones clicking as he rose.
He rapped his knuckles against the pine lightly, keenly listening as the steady beat of water trickled to a sporadic drip.
"If you drown in there you're not getting your present!"
Shawn faltered in the bathroom; towel slunk between his fingers, his dusty mane wet and stringy against bare shoulders as his heart lurched into his mouth.
"Present?" he called back mentally attempting to calculate dates and anniversaries, they had only been dating a matter of weeks, his schedule was clear of expected romantic gestures he was sure.
"Valentine's day is tomorrow" Chris reminded him, "And you can't get your present if you splutter to death in the shower"
Shawn softly cursed beneath his breath, damn Hallmark holiday. In a flurry of panic he tried to contemplate what to buy his boyfriend, mind drawing a blank.
He needed Hunter. He was good for gift ideas.
Tying the towel around his waist he padded into the bedroom, rummaging through the wardrobe for fresh clothes.
" Oh me and Hunter are going shopping" he announced yanking his shirt over his head trying to sound nonchalant, as if it was a pre-planned activity, he'd deal with telling Hunter later.
"Oh" Chris responded, unable to stifle the disappointment in his tone, "I thought we could spend the day together"
Shawn focused on buttoning his jeans, concentrating on the denim rather than the hurt look he was sure would be reflected in azure if he dared to glance upwards.
"Yeah I know. Sorry, Hunter called he needs to get Steph a present" he lied smoothly, running his fingers stressfully through his hair.
"Isn't he leaving it a little late?" questioned Chris suspiciously
" I did tell him" shrugged Shawn, " He wants me to help him pick something out"
"Ok. I guess I'll see you later then"
Chris' words were mournful, threaded with dissatisfaction. It was rare for them both to have the same day off work; he liked to spend as much time in Shawn's company as he could before the opportunity was snatched away by house shows, TV tapings and public relations.
"We won't be long" Shawn reassured him, praying feverishly that it was true. He hated crowds in malls and just knew he was going to have to fight his way through a bunch of people as equally as forgetful as he.
"I'll make it up to you" he added, with a quick peck to the cheek he was out of the room and on his way to wake Hunter in time to beat the frantic penultimate Valentine's Day rush.
"Will you pick something already?" moaned Hunter seething displeasure as Shawn stopped outside another Florists.
"I'm looking for a gift! If you don't want to help me then go away"
"I never said I'd help you in the first place! I was content watching the bodybuilding championships on TV before you came and disrupted my day crying about how you had nothing to give lover boy"
"Just help!" commanded Shawn ignoring Hunter's jibes.
"Don't get flowers"
"Because Chris isn't short for Christine" sniped Hunter, "He's not a girl Shawn no matter how much he acts like one"
"Don't you think it's romantic though?"
"Didn't you get Steph flowers?"
"What can I get Chris then since flowers are forbidden?" asked Shawn snidely rolling his eyes, "Chocolates?"
"God Shawn you're a walking cliché"
"Whereas you're originality personified right?" countered Shawn sarcastically, "What'd you get Steph? Flowers and a teddy bear?"
"Shut up" muttered Hunter
"I rest my case" taunted Shawn
"Do you wanna leave the mall and give Chris nothing?"
"No" replied Shawn meekly
"Then shut your mouth"
"Shut your own mouth" retorted Shawn childishly, the order muttered beneath his breath as he stormed ahead.
Chris finished wrapping Shawn's present in record time, cookies were easy to wrap and the book on Elvis Presley had been equally as simple to cover in the red metallic paper.
It was the card he had struggled with. How could he sum up Shawn in such a small space? His worth to him was more than any A5 card could detail.
Yet as he sat, gently tapping the biro against his thigh, fear of rejection prevented him from waxing lyrical within the card, what if he bared his soul only to find Shawn's feelings far less serious than his own?
Insecurity held his penmanship captive. Prevented him from writing anything as time ticked by in an eternity of indecision, with a shaky sigh he bit the bullet and began to trace his handwriting across the blank canvas.
"Shawn, Happy Valentine's day, from Chris xx"
He faltered, torn between sounding too cold and too corny. Taking the plunge he continued, tacking a well worn song lyric to the bottom of the card.
"Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can't help falling in love with you"
When in doubt say it with Elvis.
Hunter was ready to murder his friend and no jury would convict him. After being dragged through the entire mall at least twelve times he was sure he could get away with shoving Shawn down a flight of stairs and blaming it on his klutz of a buddy tripping on one of his three bags of useless none-Valentine's day purchases.
"Are you done yet?" he groaned as Shawn faltered outside the fifth music store of the day.
"Chris likes music"
"You said Chris liked brownies when we were in the bakery" Hunter reminded him, "And drawing when we were in the art store, and caps when we were in the clothes store-"
"No but he really really likes music!" Shawn pressed, enthusiasm enlightening him as Chris' fondness for all things musical came rushing back to him.
"Great, give him one of your Garth Brooks records and call it a day"
"No!" dismissed Shawn, striding into the store, wearily Hunter followed, hoping he could stab Shawn to death with a Metallica CD.
Several minutes later, Shawn left the store clutching his purchase to his chest. Hunter emitted a breath of relief as he was finally allowed to be emancipated from the clutches of last minute shopping.
Valentine's Day dawned gray and overcast, no blue skies and cherubs this year. It was Shawn who remained alone beneath the sheets as daybreak weaned to midmorning this day, content to lay snuggled beneath the covers, hair a mess of knots and tangles as Chris parted the strands, leaning in for a kiss, awakening his lover with his tender touch.
"Morning beautiful" he greeted him chirpily
"You're an awful liar" laughed Shawn trailing his fingers through his hair to try and calm the untidy tresses
"You are" stressed Chris
"Not this early in the morning" joked Shawn pulling Chris back onto the bed so that his face was mere inches from his own, he grinned gleefully as his own features were mirrored to him in cobalt spheres of delight.
"What'd you get me?" enquired Shawn, tone laced with amusement as he released the younger man
"How romantic" scoffed Chris, "Could you at least wish me a Happy Valentine's day?"
"Happy Valentine's day" Shawn parroted dutifully, "Now what'd you get me?"
Chris chuckled in appreciation of Shawn's eagerness, devotedly he handed the gifts to the elder man watching with pleasure as he unwrapped them enthusiastically.
" Cookies, awesome"
" Thought you'd get a kick out of those" snickered Chris watching as Shawn ripped the packet open and began to make a dent on the baked goods, his lap littered with crumbs.
" Don't spoil your book" chided Chris as Shawn started flicking through the second present, looking at the glossy pictures and general re-reading titbits about the King.
" I won't spoil it, maybe you'll spoil it spoilsport" replied Shawn ridiculously, eyes dancing with enchantment. His tone turned serious as he leaned forward, pressing chocolate smeared lips to chris' cheek.
" Thanks" he said gruffly, " Nicest gifts I ever got"
Chris blushed crimson at the compliment, watched as Shawn dusted chocolate chips from his fingers before reaching over the bed, rummaging beneath it until he surfaced clutching the present he had wrapped the night before whilst Chris had been at the bar ordering their food and drinks.
"I wasn't sure if you had it already" Shawn commented, staring at the vinyl lying on the bedcovers. Chris lifted the records from their sleeves, stroking them gently. The Beatles stared motionlessly back at him, sepia toned and musty with age.
"Where'd you get this?" he asked softly
"Record store" Shawn shrugged, "I found it with a bunch of other stuff, and the guy said it was rare so I thought you might like it"
"I love it" Chris corrected, flipping the sleeve over so that he could read the track listing on the back of the "Love songs" record. He took a double-take as he glanced the biro heart sketched over one of the songs, the tell tale chicken scratch of Shawn inked beside it, their initials permanently penned beside the song "P.S. I love you".
"We're rarely together for long" Shawn explained, "What with work and stuff, just thought maybe if you needed a reminder that would be it"
" Thanks" croaked Chris, voice cracked with emotion. He couldn't believe he'd been so conflicted about writing love in Shawn's card when the elder man had felt the same way all the time.
He watched as Shawn opened the card, read it wordlessly, eyes glassy with the threat of tears, he should have known Shawn was too soppy for such heartfelt lyrics.
" Where's my card?" questioned Chris, trying to diverge Shawn from the risk of salted beads.
" I forgot" groaned Shawn palming his face with his hand, " Damnit!"
Chris snorted with laughter.
" Of course you did. I never reminded you that you needed a card"
Shawn peeked at the Canadian through his fingers
" Reminded me?" he echoed, " I remembered –"
" When I told you yesterday morning" finished Chris with a giggle, " I could tell you were confused when I mentioned presents. As if Hunter would forget, I was there when he bought Steph's presents"
" Oh" Shawn mumbled guiltily rubbing his chin thoughtfully, " Why'd you go along with it yesterday then?"
" I wanted to see what you'd get me" admitted Chris, " I wanted to see how well you coped under pressure"
Shawn leaned back, resting his head against Chris' thighs, tilting his head so that he was staring upwards into his face.
"How'd I do?" he asked a knowing smirk creasing his features.
" Great" whispered Chris entwining his fingers in Shawn's ash blonde locks as he pulled him upwards for a kiss, their mouths meshing in a valentine's day welcome.