This is my first fic back after a very long hiatus. I absolutely could not write, and after you read this, you'll say I still can't! This is, I hope, a first step in a new walk with my favorite pairing. This was inspired by Nef's challenge. I have been kicking myself badly because I didn't think I could write anything for it. Every night, I would sit at the pc and nothing would happen, until this. It's angst, at the first, but it has the ending you would expect from someone who loves this pairing as much as I do. I'm sorry this took so long.

The first time it is the night before Christmas.

For weeks, the tension has built. They have argued and they have ignored, but tonight, the stress is too much for Shawn to bear. That night, he cries in the ring. He is broke, his family are on verge of abandoning him, and he has just laid down for his boss, these things are not new. These are not the reasons he cries.

It is a new kind of stress. Backstage, he is still crying. He doesn't haven't the strength, the pride, or worse, the will to argue. He slumps, dejected on a wooden bench while John-while Layfield_ hovers. The gesture is almost protective.

In the end, the man sits down beside him. His dark eyes aren't cold or furtive, or darting away. He isn't gloating. He seems almost ashamed.

For a long time that night, they sit in silence. The cold, grey halls outside grow quiet and empty, but they are still in their tights. Finally, it is Shawn who breaks the reverie.

When he rises, his knee gives out. He never hits the ground. It is only one brief moment, one fleeting touch, but it is enough.

In the shower, he cries again. He doesn't want this, he doesn't want to feel this way. He hates himself and in the end, it is enough to start the cycle of argue and ignore again.

He turns away from Layfield as the man takes his turn in the shower. He dries and dresses in sharp, furious movements, his brow furrowed in distress and anger.

When Layfield returns from his shower, he doesn't even glance at him. He concentrates his full attention on his gym bag,
to the elastic which in tangled up in his hair. Finally, he yanks it out in a fury, pulling out some strands in his haste.

He cannot use the mirror, if he does, he will be able to see..but the thought has come a few seconds too late. He closes his eyes, but not soon enough.

He has seen the broad naked back, the long, bare legs and his heart is racing.

Shawn is too angry with himself too cry.

In the end, he starts a fight.

All Layfield has done is ask him if he is ready to go, but Shawn explodes, unloading the full of his tension, of the pent-up rage.

He says things so terrible that even he cannot believe them.

I don't want to be around you, I'm only here because you make me, I can't stand you, I hate even looking at you.

It is every word a lie and Shawn hates himself again when he sees Layfield's eyes. Then, somehow, he is running away, dragging his bag into objects and people, knocking them down. He doesn't care, he doesn't see, he's crying too hard.

He wants to leave, to never come back, but the guilt, the pain in John's face defeats his pride. Shawn finds the millionaire Wall Street mogul alone in a room full of broken mirrors, sobbing, and sticking his finger down his throat.

I don't want to be around you, I'm only here because you make me, I can't stand you, I hate even looking at you.

Shawn kneels in the floor beside him, pressing his chest against John's back. He caresses, he kisses the soft flesh of his neck.

He can't fight this anymore.

I can't stand to be away, I can't leave you, I love you, you are so beautiful.

It is Christmas Morning.

For weeks, the antisipation has built. He has searched the house, the cars, the office, and even John's body, but still he cannot find where the Big Man has hidden his gift. Now, it is three am and John has just kissed his neck and slipped out of bed.

Shawn gives him just enough time, then he follows, literally running down the stairs. At the bottom step, he kneels and hides, just watching. John is slipping on his hat and boots, despite the fact that he is still in his Christmas undies. It has taken Shawn this whole year, but now, John knows he's attractive and he doesn't mind walking around in his briefs, or less. That alone is a gift for Shawn.

His eyes widen, intent, as the Cowboy opens the front door and kneels in front of a flower pot. When he rises again, Shawn discovers where his gift has been hidden.

Quickly, he runs back up the stairs and into bed. A few moments later, John's arms wrap around him.

He can't imagine being anywhere else.

The End