Word Count: 1,480 words.
Notes: Shawn/Gus. Title from the song "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" by Bruce Cockburn.
Summary: This was it --- his one chance at victory. First prize; potential happy fun sexytimes with Burton Guster in the near future. Consolation; they'd always be friends.
Shawn used all of his best tactics for slowing down his heartbeat in between lighting the candles. Lamaze breathing, thinking seriously unsexy thoughts (Phyllis Diller in a bikini, holding a can of coolwhip), and dunking his head in a bucket of ice cold water. He still had sweaty palms and fractured nerves.
This was it --- his one chance at victory. First prize; potential happy fun sexytimes with Burton Guster in the near future. Consolation; they'd always be friends.
He'd always known he loved Gus. This was no secret between them. It wasn't a question of love. But lately, he'd found himself pining more and more. Shawn, on the whole, wasn't one to pine. He'd made that mistake once before and regretted it for years. Something had to be done --- this attraction had to either get its just rejection, or transform into everything he'd ever dreamed it could be. Every day they grew older, and the older they got, the more chance there was that Gus would find a hot young woman and settle down, and while Shawn really wanted Gus to be happy, he wanted Gus to be happy with him more.
Gus had been Shawn's first kiss. Not that Gus knew that. It had been on one of their legendary sleepovers (events that had lead to the total destruction of both Shawn's bunk bed and Mrs. Guster's world-famous maraschino cherry and pineapple strudel.) Gus had been sleeping, Shawn had been wide awake, and lips had met lips in a soft pucker. Shawn knew that it was vaguely creepy and definitely stepping over a boundary, but at the age of eleven he hadn't much cared. He'd wanted to know what it was like to kiss someone, so he did. It hadn't been all that fascinating and it had taken another three years before he got to do it again. This time not with Gus, although he'd always kind of hoped it would be.
Gus had also been one of Shawn's first fully formed masturbatory fantasies. It had been Gus, jello, and a whole lot of slipping and sliding. Up until the moment Phyllis Diller made an appearance, it had been awesome. This had only happened because he'd been trying to give himself cheese nightmares in a bid to psych-up his creativity for the "prose under supervision" exercise his (extraordinarily evil) teacher had planned for the next day.
It wasn't as though he'd spent their entire time together since the age of five lusting after Gus, because girls were great. And other guys too; they could be awesome. It was just that every now and then, it came back. The longing. The inappropriate and visceral physical reaction to Gus' every movement. The difficult-to-conceal-but-regularly-prese
In all this time, Gus had expressed no interest in Shawn other than as a friend. A close friend. Best friend. But there had been no touching in secret places. Shawn was beginning to realise, what with mysterious wives popping out of nowhere and hidden interests he'd had no inkling about, that he didn't know everything in relation to Gus. He knew most things, the important basics, but the answer to this question might just surprise him, and wow, he loved surprises, especially ones that lead to the adult's only version of the Hokey Pokey.
Having set up the candles, got the champagne cooling, and dressed with more flair than usual, Shawn felt he was almost (okay, not at all) ready. He had prepared everything according to the strict guidelines Gus had countless times specified as the only way to woo someone. And that's when there was a knock at the door.
He opened it, aiming for the opposite of tentative and failing. He tilted his head to one side and grinned at Gus as he stood there in the doorway. Gus took one look around the apartment and gave Shawn one of the deadest-eyed stares he had ever seen.
"Shawn, I've told you before that I'm not going to take part in any more séances."
Shawn stepped to the side and ushered Gus in. "Dude, totally not a séance."
"It looks like a séance. Candles. Incense burning. Weird floaty decorations."
"They're lanterns, and it's not."
Gus sat down on the couch and rolled his shoulders back. "Well, if it's not a séance, what is it?"
"You know when two people spend time together just for the fun of it?"
"You mean a date?"
That came out earlier than Shawn either expected or hoped for. He'd anticipated that they'd go through the whole gamut of human interaction before settling on 'date.' He opened his mouth a couple of times, trying to figure out what to say. Eventually, he went with, "yeah."
Gus' eyes widened. "Sorry, I thought you asked me over to hang out, I didn't know it was ---" Gus paused, frowning. "Why did you ask me over?"
"Would you like some champagne? It didn't come in a box, it's actual champagne from France. I hope it is, anyway. The guy at the liquor store pronounced it cham-pag-ne, so who can really say? But, you know, it looks authentic."
Gus now looked even more perplexed, lips pressed together and eyes narrowed. "No, thank you. When does your hot date arrive?"
Shawn took a large mouthful of champagne, swallowing dramatically before answering. "You already have."
Gus initially looked shocked, and then gave an unimpressed raise of his eyebrows. "I should have known you were up to something."
"Gus, just listen."
"No, Shawn. I will not be party to any fraudulent schemes you've got boiling away at the back of your mind."
"GusGusGusGusGus, this isn't a scheme, it isn't a ploy, I'm not pulling a prank. Look at me, look into my eyes." Shawn sat next to Gus on the couch, their knees touching. He glanced quickly down before staring earnestly up. "There's no easy way to say this..."
Gus spoke a mile a minute. "Oh God, you're dying? It's cancer, isn't it? Tell me it isn't cancer. I can give you a whole folder of information on brand new medications that help alleviate symptoms, just say the word and I'll talk to Bruce. I don't know what I'd do without you, there has to be something we could do."
"I'm not dying. Are these the chiselled features of someone who's wasting away?"
"They could be."
Shawn shook his head. "I'm so far from dead, I'm practically being reborn."
Gus tensed his jaw. "Ha ha, Shawn, I am beyond amused."
Shawn was very tempted to call the whole thing off, but forged on anyway, because he had to give it a shot. The thought of never seeing what might have happened was a greater threat than having to put up with a sarcastic Gus all evening. He clasped Gus' hands in his own and stated his case very simply.
"I like you."
"I know that."
"I really like you."
"We've been best friends since we were five. If you didn't like me, you'd either be a masochist, or a sadist, or a combination of both."
"Like as in, 'want to get into your pants'. Like as in, 'daydream about shutting up shop and having my dastardly way with you.' Like as in, 'persistently visualise you naked and/or covered in gleaming oil.'"
"That's it? Your sole reaction? Really now?"
Gus looked down at their hands and gave Shawn a wry tilt of his head. "How did you expect me to react?"
"A little shock, or reciprocation, or something other than mild indifference and distant amusement would be nice."
Gus nodded calmly, seeming to weigh up the options. He leaned forward and kissed Shawn full on the lips; soft, but not too soft, and lingering. He slipped his tongue between Shawn's teeth just as Shawn unclasped his hands and pulled him tighter, placing a hand at the back of his head. When they pulled apart, they were both slightly panting.
Gus smiled one of his sweet and dangerous smiles. "I like you too."
Shawn stopped himself from bouncing up and down and feigned annoyance instead. "You couldn't have said that before?"
"I like to torture you as much as you torture me. I'm just stealthy about it."
"Underhanded!" Shawn lunged forward, wrapping Gus up in another embrace that was almost as awkward logistics-wise as it was comfortable proximity-wise. "You are so much cooler than a gold medal."
"I have no idea what that means."
"And you don't have to."
Shawn kissed Gus again, and again, and another three times, before muttering something about not wanting to take it too fast. Gus surprised him by saying they'd already waited years for one or the other of them to make a move.
"I'm just glad that this time I wasn't pretending to be asleep."
Several minutes later, they sprang onto the bed, fingers working at buttons and legs tangling in the sheets.