Pairings: Shane/Mara, Shane/Lem
Notes: Part one of the Jealousy'verse, but each can stand on their own.
They never define it. They never give it a name. It works for them like that. They don't need labels and definitions because they only make things messy and complicated and this, what they have, is neat and simple.
It starts to change though. Slowly, but steadily. Shane brushes him off more and more. Soon, Shane's ignoring all of his advances entirely and acting like there's nothing between them except a friendship that's quickly becoming more and more distant and strained.
Then Shane tells them about Mara. Lem knows he has nothing to feel jealous about, but it's there, hot and burning inside of his chest anyway. He hides it, shoves it down, and pastes on a smile when Shane looks at him.
He stops trying then. Shane isn't his and never was, really. He knows it now and he admits that he knew it then, he just denied the fact to himself. It hurts, of course it does. He genuinely cared for Shane and yeah, he entertained ideas of becoming something more, but he isn't stupid. Now he knows that would never have happened. Shane has Mara and they're happy.
He shows up at the party Shane has to celebrate his engagement and Mara's pregnancy. He smiles and laughs and offers his ongratulations to the happy couple. Shane is happy, he realises. Happy with Mara and happy without him, as much as that hurts to think about. A part of him, a tiny part, wants to hate Mara for taking Shane away from him, but she's innocent in this. She had no idea what they were, what Shane meant to him. Still means to him, if he's honest and Lem's never been a very good liar.
He manages to duck out of the party, heading outside for some air while Shane's still going around and greeting people. He's contemplating leaving since he's already talked to both Shane and Mara when Shane catches up to him.
"What are you doing out here, man? Party's inside." Shane grins at him.
"Yeah, just, uh, getting some fresh air." Lem attempts a smile, but it feels unnatural on his face and so he lets it fade, leaning on the railing of the stairs.
"You okay, Lem?" Shane touches his arm.
"Fine." Lem shrugs.
"You sure?" Shane asks.
"I said I'm fine." Lem says, pulling away from Shane.
"Okay, but you know, if there is something wrong, you can tell me. You know that, right?" Shane tries to catch Lem's gaze, but Lem stares straight ahead, looking out at the skyline.
This is his chance. He could tell Shane how he feels. He could tell him everything. Spill his guts to him and be free of the jealousy and maybe even convince Shane to come back to him. He knows that will never happen though. Mara's pregnant and they're engaged. There's no way Shane is ever going to leave her now. If anything, him telling Shane how he feels would only drive a wedge between them and Lem's not going to give Shane up completely. He still needs him as a friend, if that's the only way he can have him.
Lem nods at Shane. "Yeah, sure. Thanks."
"Hey, you're not leaving yet, are you?" Shane tugs on Lem's arm.
"I was thinking about it. I've got a headache, sorry, man." Lem pulls away from Shane again.
Shane notices Lem's reluctance to let him touch him and frowns. Something's been off about Lem ever since he told the guys he is dating Mara and it's only gotten worse since he announced that she is pregnant and they are getting married.
"We need to talk. Not now, but tomorrow. There's something going on with you and I want to know what it is." Shane says firmly.
Lem looks at him tiredly. "It has nothing to do with you."
"Bullshit." Shane snaps.
Lem shakes his head. "I'll see you tomorrow at work."
Shane grabs his arm before he can start heading down the stairs. "We will be talking about this because whatever's wrong is between us. I can see that much at least."
"No, Shane. We're not going to talk because it would do no good to dig up past shit and it needs to stay buried anyway. It's my fault and they're my feelings. As long as they don't affect the team, then we're okay." Lem tries to jerk away from Shane, but Shane just holds on tighter.
"What do you mean they're your feelings?" Shane asks, frowning down at Lem.
Just then, Mara opens the door. "Shane, baby, you coming back in?"
"Yeah, just talking to Lem here. I'll be in in a minute." Shane answers, looking at her over his shoulder.
"Okay, baby." She shuts the door again and Shane refocuses on Lem.
"Look, just go back in there with her. Leave this alone. Nothing good is going to come of it anyway, even if you did know." Lem says with a sigh.
"Burying shit doesn't make it go away." Shane squeezes Lem's arm.
"I know, but you don't need or even really want to know this and it's not going to make anything better. It'll only make things worse, so just please let it go." Lem implores Shane.
Shane looks at him, really looks at him. He sees the stress that's creeping at the edges of Lem's mouth. He sees the exhaustion tucked into the corners of his eyes. He sees the miserable look on Lem's face and suddenly he can't help himself.
He lets go of Lem's arm in favor of cupping his face between his hands. Lem looks startled, but before he move back away from Shane, Shane's mouth is on his. Lem makes a surprised noise, but Shane is insistent. He works Lem's mouth open under his own and licks his way inside.
It's slightly awkward since Lem is on the stair below him, making him slightly shorter than Shane and Shane has to lean over without falling off of his own step, but he tangles his fingers in Lem's hair and presses his mouth harder against Lem's.
Kissing Lem is even better than he remembers. It's been awhile since they last kissed like this and it's Shane's fault, he knows. He'd forgotten how right it feels to have Lem's lips against his, how sure he is when he kisses Lem. Lem's hands have fisted in his shirt, neither pushing him away nor pulling him closer. They're just there, seemingly anchoring Lem.
Finally the kiss ends and they part. Shane doesn't let go of Lem though. He rests his forehead against Lem's and closes his eyes. He feels Lem's hands clench tighter in his shirt and he strokes his thumbs along Lem's cheek bones in an effort to sooth him. They breathe each other in and wait for their hearts to stop beating so hard in their chests.
Lem moves away first, letting go of Shane's shirt and stepping down onto the stair below him. Shane straightens back up and looks down at Lem. eyes dropping down to rest on Lem's kiss swollen mouth. That always turned him on when they were together. The sight of those lips flushed a deep red and the way Lem sucks his bottom one into his mouth to worry at it before letting it go. Shane swallows thickly. It still works on him, a little too well.
"You shouldn't have done that." Lem wipes at his mouth.
"I shouldn't do a lot of things." Shane replies, staring down at Lem.
"You're getting married. You have a kid on the way. We can't do this." Lem says desperately.
"You want to though, don't you?" Shane asks him.
"We can't do this, Shane." Lem says with more determination in his voice.
"Just tell me you want it too." Shane presses.
"It doesn't matter if I want it or not. It can't happen again." Lem snaps.
"You want it just as much as I do." Shane continues on like he hasn't heard Lem.
"Yes! Alright? Yes, I want it too, but that doesn't mean it can happen, okay? You have a wife and a kid on the way. You're happy with them, okay?" Lem tells him, defeated and worn down.
"What if I want to be happy with you?" Shane asks, watching Lem carefully.
Lem tenses and turns away from Shane for a moment. When he looks back around at him, he smiles sadly. "It's a little too late for that, Shane. You know that. Be happy with your family and forget this ever happened. Forget anything between us ever happened."
"No, I don't want to forget, Lem. I want you. Please." Shane reaches out for Lem, but Lem shakes his head and catches his hand.
"It's too late. We had what we had and now it's over. You have Mara now. She loves you and you love her, I know. We were just a fling, a one off. Nothing serious. Not like you and her." Lem lowers his and Shane's clasped hands.
"You want to know why I started dating Mara?" Shane asks, not letting go of Lem's hand.
"Why?" Lem asks wearily.
"Because I was afraid." Shane says.
"Afraid of what?" Lem asks, looking curious now.
"Afraid of how you were making me feel." Shane reaches out with his free hand and strokes Lem's cheek.
Lem turns away, dropping Shane's hand. "We're not doing this, Shane. I don't want to hear it."
Mara opens the front door again. "Shane, baby, come back inside, please."
"Just a minute, Mara." Shane says, irritation creeping into his voice.
Mara frowns at his back, but shuts the door again, going back to the party.
Lem shakes his head and turns to walk down the stairs away from Shane. Shane hurries after him, catching him at the end of the stairs. "You can't just act like nothing ever happened."
"We have to or all of this spirals out of our control and we're both left miserable and hating one another." Lem explains.
"How do you know? We could give this a chance and end up happier than we've ever been together." Shane challenges Lem, pushing him back lightly when he makes to walk around Shane.
"You know we can't do this, Shane. You're going to marry Mara, she's going to have your kid, you're both going to stay happily married and watch your kid grow up." Lem says, finally out of patience.
"What about you? What's your future if you've got mine planned out for me?" Shane demands, folding his arms across his chest.
"I don't know." Lem shrugs, clearly unconcerned with his own future.
"I can't believe you're doing this to us." Shane shakes his head.
"There is no us, Shane. There never really was." Lem sighs.
"This isn't fair." Shane's aware that he sounds like a child, but he's running out of things to say that will keep Lem here just a bit longer because as soon as Lem leaves, he will pretend that there was never anything except friendship between them and Shane knows he isn't ready for that. Ever since he kissed Lem on the stairs, the box where he crammed all the feelings he ever had for Lem has sprung open and poured them all out on him.
"Life's not fair, Shane." Lem tells him, voice soft.
"One last kiss?" Shane asks, desperate to prove to Lem that they can do this.
"No." Lem refuses him.
"You're making a mistake." Shane tells him, stubborn.
"Maybe, but if I were to do this with you, it would be an even bigger mistake. Go be happy, Shane." Lem rests a hand briefly on Shane's shoulder before walking to his Jeep.
Shane watches him go, knowing that he can't let Lem slip away again. Not when he finally understands how he feels about him and knows that Lem feels the same.
He loves Mara too, but not like he loves Lem. He needs Lem so much more than he ever thought he'd need anyone and that had scared him, sent him straight into Mara's arms. Now they have a kid on the way and they're getting married and Lem is getting farther and farther away from him.
He heads back up the stairs and lets himself into the apartment. Mara greets him with a kiss, but it feels wrong somehow, wrong because it's not Lem he's kissing against the backdrop of wolf whistles and cat calls that make Mara blush and hide her face in Shane's shoulder before smiling up at him.
He smiles back, but it feels too forced and he turns away from her, getting a beer from the kitchen, getting sucked into a conversation with Ronnie and Paula.
He knows Mara can sense that something's wrong and that she will ask him about it once the party's over, but for now, he allows himself to get swept up in various conversations, not really avoiding his soon to be wife, but not seeking her out either.
She will question his distance later on, but that's all coming later. He can deal with it then. He'll make excuses and brush away her concerns all the while wishing she was someone else.
He's supposed to be a better man than this and he's slightly ashamed of himself and his thoughts about Mara. She's the woman carrying his child. He should be overjoyed about that, should be completely and totally in love with her, but he can't let go of Lem and the way he feels for the other man.
He just can't let go and that will be his downfall. He knows that, but he still can't let go, almost happy to be dragged down if it means he will get Lem in the end. He will get Lem in the end. Even if it means losing Mara.
He just can't lose Lem. He can't let him slip away again. Not again.