A/N: This doesn't really feel like a one-shot, but I don't have any particular plans to continue it…I don't know, it's just a scene. Takes place the summer before season 3.
Cory spends July talking about Topanga, Topanga, Topanga, and Shawn gets so sick of it that on the first of August he grabs Cory by the shoulders and kisses him. They don't speak for three days afterwards. On Friday he lies on his bed with his shirt off and his little dollar store fan on high and trained straight on his face. He hasn't moved in over an hour. He is developing a serious case of Sloth.
He hears the door open and assumes it's someone for Jon, then a few indistinct voices; he doesn't bother to listen. So Cory Matthew is standing in his doorway before he quite knows what's happening.
"Cor, hey," he smiles, glances up but doesn't make any effort to move. "You know, maybe you should step outside. I'm not really decent."
Cory doesn't smile back, just stands there in his awkward pose, shoulders hunched, hands in his pockets, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. He doesn't say anything. Shawn rolls onto his side and sits up with a groan. He leans forward with his hands on his knees. He looks at Cory sideways.
"Or do you like that?" he asks.
Still Cory doesn't smile, but he does reach back, eyes still on Shawn, and he closes the door. "I don't like that we're not talking," he says.
"And whose fault is that?"
"Well it's certainly not mine!" Cory snaps. "You're the one who kissed me, remember?"
If he was expecting Shawn to fight him, he's not in luck. All he gets is a stare, bleary eyed and unfaltering. Shawn hopes that he looks like he's thinking, like he's trying to figure Cory out, or, even better, like he already has. At the very least, he hopes he looks unbothered. He's trying really hard not to be bothered.
"And you're the one who stopped talking to me," he answers.
Cory opens his mouth to answer, looks like he's about to bite out some new angry retort, but then he stops, as if with some sudden realization. He takes a step closer. He drops his hands down to his sides with a light slap. "Well what are you supposed to say after your best friend kisses you?"
"'I'm sorry for talking about Topanga all the time?'"
"That's why you kissed me? Really?"
Shawn can't decide if he thinks Cory sounds hopeful or incredulous. Maybe just confused. Shawn's spent the last three days with his brain turned off, keeping himself too hot and too still to allow for any thoughts, and he hasn't exactly been questioning his own motives, wondering why he did what he did. He hasn't been letting the moment blow up, grow out of proportion, take on significance. He has the feeling that this is all Cory has been doing.
Cory looks at him, such confusion on his face that Shawn's half-sure he'll start yelling again now. He doesn't. "Oh," he says, and then he walks over and sits down next to Shawn on Shawn's bed. He doesn't sit too close. Shawn notices that. But he does sit. Shawn's breath hitches a little, and he tries to ignore it, tries just to look down at his knees.
"So why did you do it?" Cory asks, after a moment.
"I don't know." He answers too quick, just wants the silence to come back. He's comfortable with that. It's easier, when they're not saying anything.
"Oh," Cory says again. Then he's silent, too. The little fan Shawn had been staring into has fallen on its side, and it's pointed now at Shawn's outer thigh, the one patch of cool in the oppressive heat of the room. He starts imagining turning toward Cory again, grabbing his shoulders like the last time and kissing him again. It would be a dumb idea. He doesn't even know why he's thinking it, must be the heat, must be some kind of heat stroke or something.
"I didn't even know you…liked guys," Cory says. "Like, liked them liked them."
"I don't." Or at least, he never thought that he did. "I like you, though," he adds.
"Like me, like me? The way I like Topanga?"
"I don't know." He considers asking Cory if he would hate him if he said yes, but he doesn't even know if the answer is yes. He hadn't been thinking. He'd just done something, something that felt right at the time. Probably wouldn't have bothered if he'd known it would be so…awkward, now. He wants to forget it, now. He wants to go back to the way things were.
"You know, it's really hot here right now."
Shawn almost thinks Cory is joking, somehow, some kind of really tasteless joke about heat as in desire, or attraction, but no, of course he's talking about how it's the last heat wave of the summer rolling slowly, painfully, across all of Philly. Cory pinches the fabric of his shirt between his fingers, fans it inefficiently against his chest. Shawn hands him the fan wordlessly, then watches as he nods his thanks, then points the full force of it, such as it is, at his face. He squints his eyes against the wind of it. He looks like such a dork.
My dork, Shawn thinks. Not Topanga's, not anyone else's.
He looks at Cory again. He hadn't realized he was this possessive, something disturbing and unsavory about it. Cory's stuck the fan under his shirt now, his eyes still closed and a blissful expression on his face, head tilted slightly back. A feeling swells right up through Shawn's heart, and he could almost kiss him again, still doesn't know why.
"I…" he starts. "I want to support you on this Topanga thing."
Cory's head snaps forward again, eyes open. He holds the fan still under his shirt, as if he's forgotten about it. "But?"
"The way you said that, it sounded like you were going to say 'but' after."
He was just thinking it.
"Well, thanks then," Cory says, and then, suddenly remembering, he pulls the fan back out from under his shirt and holds it out to Shawn awkwardly. "Uh, here."
"Thanks." Shawn takes it back without looking at it, just watches Cory, his face, how his eyes flick down and then back up, guilty, nervous, how he licks his lips and probably doesn't notice he's doing it.
"I should go," he says, "I think."
"If you want." But neither makes any attempt to move.
Then suddenly Cory turns to face him fully, leans in a little like he's about to share some secret, bites his lip like he's thinking or deciding, wondering if he should say whatever it is on his mind, or not, and Shawn almost tells him to just spit it out already, when he manages, "We're still friends, right? Just like before?"
"Yeah. Of course we are. Why would you even ask that?"
The not talking for three days thing? That was you, buddy, not me.
"The kissing thing? Cory, it was nothing. Don't even think about it."
It's advice that he should be taking himself, but somehow he doesn't think he will, knows he'll be thinking about it over and over again. The conversation has broken the spell of the last three days. The kiss feels real again, for the first time since it happened. He can't help thinking that it had been nice, surprisingly nice, that brief contact of lips against lips. He would do it again if this friendship weren't the most important thing in his life, that part that needs to be protected more than anything else.
"If you say so," Cory says, and then stands and holds out his arms, actually holds out his arms in a hugging gesture, and smiles a sad sort of smile that just about breaks Shawn's heart. He stands up too. He lets himself slide right into that hug. He holds Cory tight, probably too tight, but he feels the same desperate squeeze back. His arms are on the bottom, resting almost around Cory's waist, and he even dares, the hug lasts so long, to slip one hand under Cory's shirt and touch the tips of his fingers against the sweaty skin of his lower back. He tells himself that if Cory says anything about it, he'll just deny it. Move his hand as fast as he can and pretend it never happened. Claim he had heat stroke, or Hong Kong Sloth, and wasn't in his right mind. But Cory doesn't say anything.
Later, Shawn walks him to the door. He doesn't know what to say, so he just goes with, "See you around then?"
"Yeah," Cory answers. He seems distracted, but Shawn doesn't want to ask, doesn't want to know. He's probably thinking about Topanga. He's probably going to ask her to go out with him, and she's probably going to say yes, and Shawn's probably going to spend the rest of the year, maybe the rest of his life, as a third wheel, biting down all the time whatever it was that made him do it, whatever made him lean in for that kiss, that indescribable thing that sparks in him whenever Cory is around.
"I'll see you," Cory is saying. Then he holds up one hand in goodbye, and disappears out the door. Shawn closes it behind him, then drops back against it, bare skin of his back against it, a surprisingly cold surface.
"See you around," he says out loud to the empty room.