Title: Those Few Seconds

Author: Chimera

Summary: The story of a turbulent romance that was never supposed to have been born…but never should have ended.

Disclaimer: These people do not belong to me, all hail Vinnie-Mac. :: shrug :: But since it seems like he doesn't like Matt Hardy anymore, never giving him matches where he doesn't get his ass kicked, I'll buy him! With…ten, twelve…seventeen dollars!

Notes: This is after the cage match at Unforgiven, and it's a couple'a hours later.

Rant: GRRRRRRRRR! When's the last time Matt had a singles match that wasn't against the Undertaker or Brock Lesnar? Before freakin' Wrestlmania! But I really hope at Summerslam or _somthin'_ that Matt and Jeff get back the tag belts. Or _all_ the champions get to be on both shows. And :: boing boing :: I hear Shannon Moore might be coming in as a sidekick to Hurricane! :: does happy dance :: Oooooooo! And I like Kidman's new choice of ringwear…very very yumsicles.

   Matt wearily wiped part of the blood off his face. Amy had gone somewhere; where, who knows. Most probably to her own room. The single room they were in was painted the exact same shade of yellow as was in Jeff's hair; the single bed and couch both a matching icky dark green. As pretty high-paid Superstars they could afford better hotels, but both figured what was the point? It was Jeff turn to the bed, and even if it wasn't Matt would have given it to him anyway. The fall that Jeff took off the cage, as well as the Whisper in the Wind he had performed, had left his brother's body in worse shape than his. Jeff was in the shower, and Matt smiled softly as the sound of Jeff singing reached his ears. Usually Jeff would sing songs like Pearl Jam, or other rock songs with hard rhythms, but right now he was singing a country song softly, and Matt could make out most of the words over the rushing water.

'There was a time

I really used to care

About what others thought

And the way they talk…'

   Matt recognized the song; Blake Shelton's 'All Over Me', or something like that. Jeff's version was a little slower, a little more angsty, and Matt felt a warm stirring deep in his chest. Matt swore quietly, just waiting for…_No, no, no,_ the voice in his mind, which in some bizarre irony sounded exactly like the man who helped this feeling come together, commanded. _You stay down._ Matt swore again softly, not about to mar Jeff's singing with anything more than a whisper. _He's your brother, all right, Matt? Settle down._ The voice softened. _It's been over for almost two years, Matthew._

   Jeff came out with a smile on his face, still singing softly. "In a crowd…I used to pull away…" He grinned up at Matt, before turning and grabbing a shirt from his bag. Matt had to bite his lip to stop staring at the beautiful lightly tanned skin of Jeff's back. "Shower free," Jeff offered over his shoulder.

   Matt tore his gaze away, hastily stripping off his shirt, not caring about the blood on his forehead. "Yeah," he said stupidly. He hissed slightly as the shirt brushed hard against his head.

   Jeff looked over anxiously. _Matt…Mattie, he's hurting, bad._ Absently he kept singing. "When he would kiss my face, and touch my hair…he didn't care…"

   Matt was still sitting, touching his forehead and looking at the drying blood. Jeff felt worried for a few seconds, as Matt sat there doing nothing. But then suddenly Matt got up, and headed to the bathroom. The sudden exit of his brother left him feeling oddly empty, but he shrugged it off, and kept dressing. _Get that away,_ he commanded his head at the thought of Matt slowly washing his body. _Knock. It. Off!_ Of course, his head wouldn't let the image he had known all too well out of his mind.

   Matt leaned his head against the cool tile; wishing that the coldness would seep into him, take away all traces of feeling he had, for his brother, for Amy, for everybody. He let the hot water seep over him, sticking black curls to his back, the steaming water burning his skin into a light red colour. But the black-haired Hardy didn't feel any physical pain, not from his head, not from the water…only emotional pain filled his mind.

   _Jeff…God, I want you so bad, little brother…my little one._

   Jeff brushed his hair so hard his skin started to hurt. He tied it back into a ponytail, but didn't wince as brightly colored hair started coming out in his hand by the force he placed on it. _I thought that was what he wanted,_ Jeff thought, unconsciously. _I thought…no, I knew…that's what he needed._

   He mentally swore, crashing his hand down on the table, mindless of the sting it now presented in his hand. _Damn you, Edge and Christian. Why did you have to save us from the dark side?_

   _The Ministry was the best thing that happened to me,_ Matt unknowingly continued Jeff's thought. _They didn't care about relations. They didn't care about male and male. Hell, look at the Undertaker and Kane._ He pounded his head lightly against the wall. _Then we came good again,_ he thought sarcastically. _And God, if I didn't love him so much, I'd hate Jeff. Why is it that I hate the man who I love?_

   Matt shut off the water, letting his body stay still in the wet-feeling air. He leant against the wall, and in a sudden burst of weariness, slid down the wall to the floor. He stared at the wall, watching the steam clouds rise, and collect as water drops on the wall. Matt's knees rose to his chest almost instinctively, and he lost track of time as the air cooled around him.

   Jeff stared at the ceiling. _He thinks I don't know…he thinks I don't know what he thinks. He's been my brother for almost a quarter of a century, and he still thinks he can hide things from me._ His mind flickered back, and he smiled softly. _Who would have thought the Big Red Machine was a dark matchmaker?_

*Flashback*

   Kane walked in front of Jeff, silent as always. Jeff followed, silent as always. The two made a striking pair, the small, barely six foot two, multi-hair-coloured, fairly-normally dressed man…more teenager than man, actually…along with the seven-foot, brunette, masked, leather and flame dressed monster of a man.

   The two walked, a silent pair. Kane had come into Jeff's room, and had used his rarely heard baritone of a voice to tell Jeff to follow. Never heard, Jeff had slipped out of the room like Kane's shadow, and had anyone been in front of Kane, the shadow and silence Jeff made would have led the person to think Kane was alone.

   Kane stopped, and Jeff had to use his easy grace to bypass a collision. Kane nodded to a door, and spoke again. "Open, and the next time I see you I want a difference."

   Jeff nodded silently, the words mystifying him yet he knew whatever Kane said, pretty much went. The dark side…which was the Ministry of Darkness and the Brood…was pretty much under the rule of the Undertaker, and if the Undertaker wasn't around, Kane was the head honcho. He opened the door, and found the object of a lot of his dreams in the recent past.

   Matt Hardy.

   Matt was reading, which was not a surprise. The last few weeks or so could find Matt reading up on every WWF official as well as unofficial book ever published. Matt had never said why he did this, but Jeff was suspicious that he was reading up on their opponent's moves and their own, figuring out the best counters and moves in their repertoire to get around the defenses on the people on the other side of the ring. That one habit Matt had of reading with the tip of his tongue between his teeth never failed to make Jeff uncomfortably warm, and that was mostly why Matt Hardy read alone.

   Matt Hardy.

   The pitbull terrier, never adorable. Defensive or sour or angry. All kinds of feelings disturbed those midnight eyes in the daylight hours. Except for those few seconds…

   Matt looked up, his seldom seen innocent grin flickering across his face for a brief moment. _Bada-boom. Those few seconds._ "Kane got you, too." It wasn't a question, nor a bravado statement.

   "He got you?"

   "Nah. Followed me, told me to stay here until he brought you here." Matt suddenly looked nervous.

   "What's the matter?"

   Matt tucked his lips together, as his did when he was nervous. He stood, dropping his book carelessly on the bench. "S'what did Kane me'an?" he questioned, his drawl thickening.

   " 'Bout what?" Jeff replied with a question.

   "About something being different," Matt smiled, although edgily.

   Jeff smiled back, _the last brotherly smile,_ he reflected. "Please don't hate me."

   Matt lost his grin. "Believe me, little one, I could never hate you," he replied seriously.

   The younger Hardy bit his lip in obvious apprehension. He knew what Kane meant now. Matt Hardy, standing in front of him. The one chance…and Kane's threat…forced him to make a decision. So he did.

   Matt followed him with brown country-boy eyes as Jeff stepped to the left and right, edging ever so closer to his older brother. His eyes slipped closed unknowingly as Jeff reached out tentatively and brushed the tip of one finger over his eyelids, inhaling shakily. His lips slipped open a fraction, which only milliseconds later allowed Jeff to press their lips together and invade Matt's mouth with his tongue.

   Matt allowed the invasion, and stood there silently. Jeff hesitantly put one hand to the back of Matt's neck, pressing them ever closer. Still Matt stood, still as stone, allowing it to happen but not responding. Jeff pulled back; a little troubled at the fact that Matt was seemingly comatose. "Matt?" Jeff questioned softly. Matt's eyes remained closed, and Jeff noted with shock that Matt was actually shaking. He mistook the trembling for concealed disgust, and stepped away in a hurry. Everyone knew what a pissed-off Matt Hardy would do, and Jeff didn't want any part of that. "Look, Matt, I'm _so_ sorry, um, sorry, God, I don't know what I'm doing…um, sorry-"

   "Shut up Jeff." The order was quiet, but Jeff complied immediately. Matt's eyes were still closed, but the trembling had ceased. Jeff stood, as still as Matt had earlier, and waited for Matt to punch him in the mouth or disavow him, whichever came first.

   "I can see that you have no idea what you're doing. Or why you're doing it. To be honest, that is so mesmerizing, I can't help but be enchanted," Matt said, sounding like he was quoting something; his voice slow, but firm, and Jeff couldn't believe his words. Matt finally opened his eyes and smiled at him, saying slowly, "I've been waiting for that for a long time." He cocked his head, and grasped Jeff's arm. "I don't want you to faint on me. I don't want you to miss this."

   Matt swooped down on his lips for a heated kiss, wrapping one arm around the younger Hardy's waist and pulling him close.

   _If I said this kiss is better than the last one,_ Jeff thought. _I think that'd be like saying Stone Cold likes beer better than milk._ He inhaled, but unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, Matt stopped that in its tracks. His tongue ever so slowly ran over Jeff's lips, continuing even when Jeff's mouth fell wantonly open, begging for an intruder. _I never thought that old saying of knees turning to jelly was actually real,_ Jeff thought with half a brain cell as he almost collapsed against Matt. A credit to Matt's strength, he held both of them up pretty much vertical for a long time.

   Neither noticed one eye peeping in for one second, the person smiling as he went to find his own lover and brother.

_END FLASHBACK_

   _And look where we are now,_ Matt thought cynically.

   He shook his head in disgust, and used a towel holder to pull himself up. Time for that kind of thing later.

_Later that night…_

Jeff awoke. At first he stayed silent, puzzled, trying to figure out what woke him up from his dream of a hundred naked and dancing Matts. (What? He's a grown male!) He suddenly heard a noise again, and frowned. Sounded like someone crying...but there wasn't anyone here to cry...

Matt sniffed in his sleep, tangled in his sheets. He curled up against the hard back of the couch, and tried to sink away the visions of Jeff walking away, the visions of his brother telling him they could only be brothers, for now and eternity...

   Matt jerked half-awake, a solitary tear on his cheek. He didn't open his eyes, preferring to stay silent and in his dream world. A repeat of the dream he had been having since Jeff broke it up. Memories of their first kiss, first time…ahem…first house they even _looked_ at as a retirement house in the far, far future…and the first and last breakup.

_FLASHBACK_

   Matt stared at Jeff in shock. "What?" he demanded.

   Jeff swept his hair out of his eyes, looking faintly frustrated. "I'm sorry, Matt. We just can't do this anymore."

   "Why not?"

   Jeff glanced around wildly, searching for an answer that wouldn't decimate his brother. "'Cause I don't love you like that anymore." _Yeah, that worked,_ Jeff thought sarcastically.

   Matt stepped back, as if he was shot. His hand actually came up to his chest, and he glanced down like he was expecting a trickle of blood to start coming out of his chest. "Ouch," he whispered. "What did I do?" he asked, his tone lost, like he had just been dumped in a mean world where he didn't know how to survive.

   "You didn't do anything, Matt," Jeff tried, stepping forward. Matt stepped back again, keeping a fair amount of distance between them.

   "Then what did you do?" he asked in a child-like innocent tone.

   Jeff sighed. "I grew up. You've wanted me to grow up for years, Matt."

   "Grow up, Jeff. Growing up doesn't mean letting go of things you love, it means keeping them." A tear trickled down Matt's cheek, and he let it run down his cheek, over his jaw and down to disappear in the hollow of his collarbone. "You know what the saddest part is, Jeff?" he then asked, turning slowly and walking towards the door. He turned again and answered his own question. "You're lying, but I'm not. I love you, as a brother, and as the person I wanted to grow old with. I don't want two point three kids and a wife. I want you."

   That said, Matt exited the room, leaving Jeff to rethink the worst decision he ever made.

_END FLASHBACK_

   That memory, as well as the dream beforehand, sent Matt into the realm of real crying, trying to keep quiet but failing. His crying continued even as he slowly slipped back into dreamland, making him unaware of what was about to happen.

   Jeff crept slowly over to the couch, a look of confusion on his face. "Matt? Mattie!" he whispered, trying to wake his brother from the restless sleep. "Matthew Moore Hardy, damn it, wake up!" he said harshly.

   Matt bolted awake, sitting up and staring straight ahead in…fear? Jeff looked at him in confusion, before tears started rolling down Matt's cheeks. Jeff didn't think, simply pulling Matt closer to him and resting his chin on his brother's head.

   Matt collapsed into Jeff's chest, sobs wracking his body. Jeff rocked him slowly, his eyes still confused and shocked. This was his big brother crying into his arms like a child; with a need to be comforted after a bad dream. This was _his big brother_. This was the boy who rocked _him_ to sleep more often than not in his early teens and beyond. Matt's tears slowly made a small wet patch on the shoulder of Jeff's shirt. Jeff smoothed Matt's free, still-wet hair down like he could remember his mamma doing after a childhood nightmare. He buried his face in Matt's long hair, whispering comforting words through the mess.

   Matt sniffled quietly, then seemed to realize where he was. He pushed softly at Jeff's shoulders, and Jeff held on for one instant more before letting go. Black eyes met green for a brief second before they broke, muttering something incoherent. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.

   "Thanks," he muttered.

   Jeff settled on one end of the couch. "Wanna tell me what that was all 'bout?"

   Matt avoided his eyes, staring into his lap. "Nothin'."

   Jeff raised an eyebrow. "Right. You burst out cryin' in the middl'a the night, and it's nothing. At the risk of sounding like Sugar Shane-o, wassupwitdat?"

   "Nothin', I tell ya'," Matt insisted, playing with his fingers absently. "Now, could we go back to sleep now?"

   Jeff crossed his arms over his chest obstinately. "No. I'm going to sit here all night until you tell me what's bothering you."

   "Fine. Goodnight, then," Matt said wearily as he picked up the covers and arranged his body to adjust to the loss of about twelve inches. He placed his pillow at the end of the couch closest to Jeff, and stared at him once more before closing his eyes.

   Matt didn't expect to fall asleep right away, but within one minute he was breathing as deeply as he had when he was an infant.

   Jeff watched Matt sleeping, a feeling of a knife twisting in his gut spreading to his fingers and toes. _Dammit, I know I love him,_ he told himself roughly. _Haven't you seen what happens to him around you?_ a second voice in his head questioned. _Haven't you seen what happens to him when you play up to someone from the back?_ Matt shifted slightly, turning a few degrees closer to falling off the couch. _His eyes go bad, Jeff. He tears up, and when's the last time he made a joke?_

   Jeff cursed, leaning forward a little. Matt moved like he was struggling with something, and Jeff moved slightly so Matt's next move would let Matt rest his head in Jeff's lap. A rush of tenderness made Jeff stroke the black curls out of his brother's face, and one knuckle gently caressed Matt's cheek. Matt moved into the stroke, a lightly haunted look passing over his face, and Jeff's heart took another stab with the knife. 

   He slowly used the knuckle to draw soft circles over Matt's soft skin, which had Matt been awake, he knew Matt would be smirking at him in that fiendish way of his. Little did he know exactly how awake Matt was…

   Matt had pretty much fallen asleep, but was woken up when he became aware of Jeff's soft fingers stroking his cheek. He instinctively moved into the touch, sadly remembering when he would do this to Jeff almost every night they spent together.

   A whisper of warm air on his cheek made him want to open his eyes, but he trusted Jeff enough to still try to sleep. All thoughts of sleep, however, flew out of his mind when he felt a light pressure on his lips.

   Jeff pressed his lips ever-so-lightly to Matt's, closing his eyes to soak in the feeling. The position he was in, for anyone looking, would look like he was giving his brother mouth-to-mouth, but to Jeff the touch was infinitely more personal. It was a promise to the sleeping Matt that he still loved him no matter what, and the only way to say that without saying it in words. He softly opened his lips, running the very tip of his tongue over Matt's bee-stung lips. He nearly had a heart attack, when, with a soft murmur, Matt's lips slipped open, the dark red glistening surface beyond too tempting to resist. Green eyes darted up, checking to see if Matt had woken. He brushed two quick kisses to each of Matt's eyelids, and another to the tiny cut on his forehead, before dipping his lips onto Matt's.

   Matt lay silently, not moving. He knew that if Jeff felt any movement at all besides something passed off as sleep-induced this intimacy would be over. Inside however, he was a quivering mess. _Oh God oh God oh God oh God…_ he repeated incessantly, his mind running at a thousand miles per hour. Almost unintentionally, his hand and arm raised, unknown to Jeff, and he slowly brought it down until it was just millimeters from touching the crown of Jeff's head.

   In one movement he cupped the back of his younger brother's head, holding him despite sudden struggles.

   Jeff tried desperately to pull himself back up into a sitting position, struggling helplessly against the firmness of Matt's hand. He suddenly became aware of Matt's tongue flicking against his own, and tried for a single second more to get out of this predicament. The second ended, and he groaned hopelessly into Matt's willing mouth. Matt pressed his lips even more firmly to Jeff's, and helpless to his desire, he pressed back. In one fluid move, Matt was sitting up and almost on top of Jeff, still kissing and not breaking the pressure on the back of his head. Jeff moaned again, pressing one hand to the back of Matt's neck, the other randomly retracing all parts of Matt's body he could reach.

   Matt pulled back slightly, ending the kiss momentarily before pressing six or seven quick, hard ones on Jeff's lips. He moved his hands so he was holding the back of Jeff's neck, keeping them eye-to-eye with each other.

   "Not that I didn't absolutely love that," Matt whispered, his voice hoarse from sleep. "But what was that for?"

   Jeff had moved his eyes to look down at his lap, but it backfired when Matt moved slightly to get into his range of sight. His eyes were drawn to Matt's, and he was suddenly hypnotized. "What was that for?" the eldest Hardy repeated, his eyes burning with some both unidentifiable and undeniable emotion.

   Jeff furiously blinked; to his shock his eyes were watering like he was next to a smoke fire. "Nothing," he whispered.

   Matt gave a twitch of his lips, making him look somewhat doubting of the shaky statement. "Uh huh," he agreed. "Then it's nothing that makes me do this." With that he moved in slowly, giving Jeff enough time to realize ten thousand times over what he was going to do. Before Matt's lips even touched his, Jeff was breathing heavily, enough so that if the temperature were only a few degrees cooler he would've been puffing out clouds of steam bigger than Puff the magic dragon. Matt impacted, the delicate touch nothing more than a pressing of lips. He didn't say anything. He just leant closer to his baby brother, green eyes widening as he pressed lips to lips softly, and held them there for a minute. Nothing else happened. Except for the fireworks going off in Jeff's mind, that is.

   Matt broke it off, staring straight into Jeff's eyes. The smoky eyes blackened, and Jeff was looking straight into a whirlpool of emotion. "I love you, Jeff," Matt whispered. He poured all the emotion he had into those few words. "The question is do you still love me?"

   He broke. Tears poured down his cheeks, eyes overflowing. He collapsed against Matt; in a vice-versa situation of earlier that night. Matt gently pulled him up so they could sit side-by-side, and softly wiped away the tears running down Jeff's cheek. He murmured to him quietly, muttering nonsense words. Jeff curled up like a cat, still shaking. Matt stroked his face, his fingers running over the coarse stubble on Jeff's chin.

   "I love you, Matt," Jeff managed to say through his sobs. Matt's hart felt like it was going to explode, but he simply kissed Jeff on the forehead and let his brother drift from crying to soft hiccups in his sleep.

   Jeff stared at his brother, his gaze thoughtful. Their legs were entwined, both bodies facing inwards. Matt's arms, even in sleep, were comfortably tight around Jeff's waist; the warmth keeping cold chills at bay. He leant down and brushed his lips over Matt's forehead in a soft caress.

   _It won't be the same,_ Jeff reflected. _But if it was, it'd get boring._ He smiled softly, sleepily, lying down next to his brother. His smile widened as in Matt's sleep, he smiled innocently. Just those few seconds…it only took a few seconds to fall back in love.