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Jack/Shawn

It's Jack Master Post


Full post of It's Jack, just to simplify things.

           

Shawn took a deep breath, and wondered how many times he had already read the paragraph before him.  Absentmindedly, he ran his hand through his hair and then tried once again to focus his eyes and mind on the page of his law text.  After glancing at the clock he realized the same two pages had been in front of him for the last twenty minutes, and he didn’t even know what subject he was reading.  He had finals in two days, and he didn’t have time for distractions, yet distracted he was.

            If he ever managed to study and pass his exams he’d be graduating with a bachelor’s degree at the end of the month.  Which, he was forced to accept was part of the problem.  He had taken his undergraduate studies at a local collage, fully against the wishes of his parents.  Now that he had begun to seriously pursue becoming a lawyer they wanted him to finish at Yale, and he had been accepted.

            Money wasn’t an issue, his parents had more then enough on their own, and his grandmother had left him a sizable collage fund when she passed away.  It was his leaving that kept gnawing at him.  Yale was on the east coast, and his life had always been in California.  By taking classes in Arcata he had been able to be far enough away from his parents for the freedom of his own life; yet had been lucky enough to share that life in a house off campus with five of his closest friends.

Three of them, Ethan, Tony, and Will he had known since childhood.  Their parents knew his own, and therefore their living arrangements had been fully acceptable by all parties.  They were still fairly close knit, and perhaps of the three he was closest with Tony.  He seemed to share the most in common with him, and they were both studying law; which would give him one friendly face at Yale.  Ethan would be done with school after graduation, he had only attended to please his parents, and Will would be going on to medical school.

The other two, Jack and David, had been educated alongside them since elementary, but they had never even properly spoken until their senior year of high school.  After an accidental scuffle that had almost come to blows he and Jack had surprisingly become fast friends, and wherever Jack went, David did.  Of course, in the case of collage it had been more of Jack following David.  David was the resident bookworm in their household; and if it were not for him Jack wouldn’t even be graduating, not that he seemed to care one way or another.  He would be the first to admit that the only reason he had even attended collage was because David had.  When Jack wasn’t at home he was at his part time job in a garage fixing cars.  An odd choice, anyone who knew him would agree, but he loved it.

Shawn tapped his pencil impatiently alongside his desk.  It should be easy to study right now, the house was uncharacteristically quite.  Jack was working, Will and Ethan, the party animals, were both in class, and David was having a late lunch with his girlfriend Emily.  This only left Tony, who was also home, but submerged in his own studies in his room.  They were, after all, both facing the same tough finals.

What was it about leaving that agitated him so?  It would be sheer heaven to escape his parents’ watchful gaze, and they wanted him to go.  Tony expected that they would get a small place together, and the two of them had already shared a room for four years, he was an ideal roommate.  They wouldn’t have the constant coming and going of the others and could focus solely on their education, which was what one needed to do to survive Yale.  Distractions made it difficult to achieve the necessary grade to get a top spot in a firm after graduation.

It wasn’t Yale, that much he knew; and it wasn’t leaving California, either.  No, he slowly realized, it was that they had suddenly reached the end.  He glanced around the living room.  They had lived in the same location for all four years of collage, including the summers.  It had slowly become home to him, and a better home than his parent’s house had ever been.  There he had been an only child, but now he had five brothers that each had a unique place in his daily life.  Now he was about to leave them behind. 

Will and Ethan wouldn’t be there with their crazy antics at all hours.  He smiled, Hell, they are the ones that always seem to have beer.  They knew just when a cram session was too much, and how to get anyone to close their text when it was really sleep they would need to pass an exam.  Of course, they were the first ones there to celebrate when midterms and finals came back with passing grades.

David was always useful for those cram sessions, or when an assignment just didn’t make sense – even if he had never taken the class.  Perhaps even more valuable was the fact that you could always go to with a problem, even if you just needed someone to listen.  In that aspect, he didn’t always have the answer, but just knowing you could turn to him was a comfort they had all taken for granted. Whatever you told David, you knew he wouldn’t breathe a word of it to anyone, even Jack.

And Jack.  Jack was carefree, and yet always there with a helping hand, as long as it didn’t pertain to schoolwork.  He was also the one that managed to keep the household reasonably clean and tidy. He didn’t do all of the housework on his own, but he did more than his own fair share.  After he had spent over an hour to clean the kitchen while you studied it made you feel guilty if you couldn’t take three minutes to take out the garbage.  An apartment with only Shawn and Tony to clean was going to become a disaster zone almost immediately without him to rein them in.  Jack was so, Jack; hard to describe, and even harder to forget. 

That was when realization dawned, as he sought for words to describe someone that there weren’t words to describe – least of all ones that matched these feelings that were rising inside him.  Leaving the others wasn’t what he feared.  He would miss them, of course, but they had simply reached that point where it was undeniably time to grow up.  But the thought of leaving Jack – that was what caused the ache in his gut.  That sense of sheer loss and despair.

He tried to search his memories, to pinpoint exactly when Jack had ceased being a simple friend and had suddenly become so much more.  Try as he might he didn’t know when it had happened.  Every memory he looked back on now seemed to already contain these feelings.  As if he had always known.  Perhaps he had.

Finally after running his hand through his hair once more, he closed the textbook, completely giving up on studying and instead began to pace the living room.  His acceptance of this sudden attraction presented several issues if he decided to act upon it.  The very thought seemed maddening to him, and yet inaction even more so.

Thankfully, one thing he need not fear was that this crush – or whatever it was, was not someone that couldn’t return it. Jack had been open about his sexuality since before Shawn had properly known him, in fact it had been one of the things that had in a round about way led to their friendship. At the time Shawn hadn’t told anyone his own feelings, not even his friends, and he still hadn’t told his parents. Once they accepted Jack, and frankly, everyone in their high school knew, it had been a lot easier for Shawn to tell them. Jack wasn’t flamboyant, and he certainty didn’t fit any stereotypes, people knew because he had never attempted to hide it. When he had found his latest lover the world knew.  They were the only two that shared this preference in their little circle of friends, giving them a bond that the others could never really understand.  He swallowed, and then froze in mid-pace, but would Jack understand this?

It was a risk he didn’t know if he was willing to take.  Losing Jack forever would tear at him for the rest of his life, and would likely cost him David as well.  Even if some divine power intended for them to share a life together, he didn’t see how it was remotely possible.  It was too late for him to simply walk away from Yale, and he didn’t see how Jack could follow him there. 

Really, worrying about how to make a relationship work that didn’t even exist was getting a bit ahead, and he knew it.  However, this knowledge didn’t stop him from doing so.  First he had to figure out how to tell Jack, or rather, if he was going to.

As if on queue the front door opened, and David walked in.  He looked at Shawn a little oddly before closing the door.

“You alright?”

 He froze, was he really that transparent?

“Yeah, why?”

In response David walked across the length of the room and ruffled his hair like a small child.  Shawn recoiled; he loathed having his hair touched.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this,” he paused, as if trying to select the most appropriate word for the situation at hand, “Disheveled, not even after one of your all night parties.”  David didn’t approve of drinking, but aside from the various good-natured jokes he dropped now and then he had never berated the others for doing it.  Even Will and Ethan, which Shawn gathered must have been quite difficult for him. “Honestly, your hair is a mess.”

Appalled, Shawn attempted to smooth the ash brown locks back to where they should have been, but judging by the look on his friend’s face he was clearly not succeeding.

“Seriously, Shawn, what’s going on?”

He hesitated; he didn’t like to discuss men with anyone, except rarely someone else that shared his tastes.  Of course, the only person he would have felt comfortable sharing this with would have been Jack – if Jack hadn’t been the one that was the center of the issue.

“Your room?” Shawn finally asked, “Mine’s already occupied.”

David nodded, “Sure, there’s plenty of light out, so I wouldn’t expect Jack home from the garage for a few hours, at least,” he chuckled, “If he was only that enthralled with schoolwork Jack would surprise us all.”

Well, he’s currently surprising one of us, at least, Shawn thought humorously as they made their way down the hall. 

With Jack’s almost compulsive tidiness, which made little sense when one put into account that he always came home covered in grease; the room he shared with David was easily the best kept in the household.  David had once told him that even if he had been a complete slob the room would be spotless, because Jack wouldn’t allow even a sock to remain on the floor when it should be in a hamper.

David took up residency on his bed, and under normal circumstances Shawn would have taken the one across from him, but it was Jack’s, and right now that didn’t seem like the appropriate choice.  That left the floor, or the single wooden chair David kept at his desk.  He pulled the chair out, and sat down in it backwards, draping his arms across the back and exhaling audibly.

“Well?” David prompted.

Shawn glared, “This isn’t easy, you know.”

“Actually I don’t know; which is why we are in here,” his tone hadn’t changed, you had to know David to pick up when he was joking – sometimes it took one of Jack’s grins to let the entire room know. Clearly he was trying to help, but Shawn wasn’t in the mood for his not-so-witty remarks.  Maybe he didn’t want help.  Maybe it would be more convenient to simply pretend that he didn’t have this sudden reaction towards Jack.

“Don’t be an ass.”

“You can leave, if you’d rather.”

No, he didn’t ‘rather’.  He needed David, because if he didn’t tell someone he was going to lose his sanity. If it wasn’t David it would have to be Tony. Tony was a good friend, he accepted him, but somehow he thought discussing an attraction to Jack would be a bit too much for him. He couldn’t imagine trying to explain this to Ethan or Will, which left only David.

“It’s Jack,” he blurted.

“Jack?”

Shawn lowered his eyes, and took a deep, almost ragged breath, “Look, you know I have been dreading the end of the term, and Yale, and all that bull shit that goes with it,” he paused to search for more air, “Well, I finally figured out why and now I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do about it, alright?”

“And ‘it’ is Jack?”

David’s voice was so damn certain, even if the words had been formed as a question, and Shawn realized he felt a little ill as his stomach turned.  He continued to advert his eyes, looking at someone and saying it aloud seemed impossible.

“Yes,” he mumbled.

“Look, Shawn,” his voice had softened, any hint of teasing gone from him. “It’s a bit hard for me to hold a conversation with you when you seem to be having one with yourself and your shoe simultaneously while trying to pretend I’m not in the room.  Look at me, will you?” Reluctantly Shawn met his request, and David continued, “What is it about Jack?”

“Don’t make me say it.”

“You want me to say it? Because if what I think you’re trying to tell me isn’t what you want to say it’s going to get damn uncomfortable in here for the both of us.”

Shawn rapped his fingers across the back of the chair, and threw caution to the wind, “I think I like him, I mean really like him.” He was so naïve when it came to relationships, he could count the number of men (and women for that matter, because there had been a time when he hadn’t quite wanted to believe what his body was telling him) that he had kissed on one hand. He had never been shy, before, but after, once he admitted to himself he wasn’t like everyone else; he suddenly was reserved with those he didn’t know. Ask him to stand up and give a speech or hold a debate and he could command a room, but throw him in a social situation and he could become a mumbling idiot; and it was worse if he was there without someone he knew. On the rare days that he was honest with himself he knew it all boiled down to the fact that he still wasn’t comfortable in his own skin.

Shawn had expected David to be surprised, but there was no sign of shock in his features, yet he didn’t toss out his classic ‘I know’, either. This left Shawn trying to puzzle out his thoughts on the situation. You always expected David to know – even when he didn’t.

“How bad?” he asked.

“I don’t know, I just know I don’t want to leave this – whatever it is – undone to go traipsing off to Connecticut.  Even if it’s for Yale – but I can’t imagine telling him either.” His fingers continued to move across the back of the chair, playing a tuneless song without a piano. He hated the piano, hadn’t touched one in years, and yet when he was agitated his fingers moved almost subconsciously across imaginary keys. 

“If you feel that strongly, then you need to tell him.” The fingers froze.

“It’s Jack,” Shawn told him, referring to the obvious.

“All the more reason to tell him, if you don’t then you’re going to spend a very long time playing ‘what if’. Trust me.”

“And if he doesn’t feel the same?”

“Then you’ll know, it is Jack,” David repeated, and Shawn reflected ‘it’s Jack’ was becoming a mantra. “He isn’t going to hate you for it. The worst it will do is feed his ego.” He was trying to calm him, and Shawn was halfway appalled that it was working. In some weird twisted way he felt as if David was giving his approval – and Shawn shouldn’t need David’s approval, he shouldn’t need anyone’s. David was also irrevocably right, Jack wasn’t likely to berate him over a confession – and then Shawn would know. If Jack thought he was crazy he could somehow pick up the pieces, being on the other side of the country would have to make that easier – and if he didn’t – Shawn pushed the thought away. He wasn’t going to start thinking about that until he knew.

Voices floated in from the hallway, even through the closed door. Ethan and Will were home, and judging by the decibel of their words they were not bringing a quiet evening with them.

“Sometimes I think those two are caged animals,” David muttered. “Look, I’m going to round them and Tony up and get out of here for a few hours. You’ll have the place to yourself, you can clear your thoughts and then talk to Jack when he gets home.”

He hadn’t left room for further discussion, and even if he had, Shawn couldn’t find reason to argue.

 

Jack hadn’t realized how late it was until he finally exited the garage after having spent countless hours at work.  It was full dark, the outside only lit by the occasional headlights and streetlamps.  He climbed into his pickup and turned on the ignition, startled that the numbers displayed on the digital clock on the dashboard, 11:05. He often left the shop late, but never before had it been this close to midnight.  Sometimes under a car he forgot about the outside world and his boss did not care how much time he spent in the pit, as long as he cleaned up afterward.  His best friend, David, however, wouldn’t approve of his lateness.  He would need to be up by six to reach his morning classes on time, and he hadn’t bothered to finish the paper that was due in the early afternoon, either.  That paper was going to be the first thing David would inquire about when he walked through the door. Well, at least Jack hadn’t been out drinking, that would have really agitated him.

It was only a short ride home, and from the driveway it appeared that most of the household had turned in for the night.  The windows were dark, save for the one in the back that marked the room he shared with David, no doubt David was still studying. Another soft glow was radiating from the front room window that couldn’t count as true light; likely Shawn had left his computer on as usual.

            Jack parked on the street, the driveway was already full with other vehicles; and cut across the grass to the front door.  After pulling off his grease covered work boots he slipped inside, trying to remain quiet for the benefit of his roommates.  Almost immediately his eyes fell towards the desk in the corner.  Shawn had left his computer on, but he was still in front of it, head pillowed on one of the pages of his giant text book he had left open.  He grinned, it wasn’t the first time he had found him the exact same position, but it would likely be one of the last.  For a brief moment Jack contemplated waking him, but decided against it.  Shawn never allowed himself to get enough sleep, and if he woke him he was just going to spend another hour, or more; trying to read over a text that he had already spent the day rigorously studying.

            After leaving Shawn to his slumber Jack made his way down the hall to the room he shared with David.  Light shone under the door, and he opened to find his roommate hunched over his desk, still pouring over notes.

            “Late night?” David inquired, not bothering to look up.

            “Yeah,” Jack replied, striping off his filthy shirt, “Looks like you’ve had one, too.”

            David closed the notebook, stood and then stretched, “I always do.  You see Shawn?”

            Jack was rummaging for a pair of sleep pants in his dresser, fully intending to shower and change before lying down on clean sheets.  The grease and dirt never bothered him while he was working, but once he had finished he had to remove it as soon as possible or it drove him mad.

            He flashed David a half smile, “He fell asleep at his desk, again.  Don’t know how he manages to pass any of his classes when they seem to put him to sleep so easily,” he joked.

            “One of us should wake him, or he’ll be there all night,” David paused, “He mentioned he wanted to talk to you.”

            Jack shrugged, “Alright,” he reached for a towel, “Just let me get the grime off first; you know it drives me nuts.”

            “Deal,” David told him, yawning, “I’m exhausted, don’t expect me to still be awake when you’re done.”  Without further comment he flopped onto his bed, and Jack couldn’t help shaking the feeling that he had just been dismissed from his own room as he left it.

            It wasn’t until Jack had finished showering and pulled on the loose drawstring pants that he realized that David hadn’t asked him about that paper. David always asked about his schoolwork, he kept tabs on it better than Jack ever had. He ran the towel roughly through his short hair to dry it, still pondering David’s behavior. Jack hadn’t been around lately, and neither had David, not now that Emily was in his life. Had something passed between them that Jack had somehow missed? David just wasn’t David tonight, he was certain of it.

            By the time he stepped out of the bathroom Jack had convinced himself that he had somehow upset David, and he wasn’t about to let it stew throughout the night. He needed sleep, hell, they all did, but finding out what had caused this rift was his new priority. The glow had disappeared from under his door; he reached for the knob, ready to turn it, when he remembered his promise to wake Shawn. It was starting to feel like a very long night.

            Jack trudged back to the living room, unsure if he should be cursing or blessing this new distraction from David. Shawn was still curled up in front of his computer, goldfish swimming across the monitor. He hated the thought of breaking that slumber, but, hell, Shawn was going to be sore in the morning if he stayed there all night – and the sooner Jack woke him the sooner he could get back to his own room.

            After Shawn gave him no response when he said his name, twice, Jack placed a hand on his shoulder and shook it lightly. Shawn twitched, and then seemed to jerk awake before bolting upright. He brought a hand up to his forehead, and turned his head slightly in Jack’s direction.

            “Jack?”

            “Who else?” he removed his hand, “You should stop studying to the point of exhaustion, it makes it harder to recall the information later when you need it.” He was grinning, hardly visible when the only light was from a screensaver, but even Jack was unsure if it had been entirely a joke.

            Shawn returned the smile, “You spend more time under the hood of the car than any of us spend studying, including David.”

            Jack shrugged, “I enjoy it, it hardly looks as if you are enjoying this,” he moved away from Shawn to sit on the corner of the desk, “Speaking of our friend Dave, he said you wanted to talk to me.”

            “Well – yeah –” Shawn’s voice broke off and he rolled the chair backwards to stand next to Jack. His fingers moved unconsciously across the wood, and Jack knew that gesture all too well. Had he somehow upset half the household? His mind ran through the past week, and all he could come up with were blank answers. He hadn’t been there.

            “So?” he prompted, starting to feel like one of the animated goldfish behind him trapped in a very small bowl.

           

            Where was he supposed to start? Shawn had been waiting for Jack to come home for hours. Once David and the others had left he had convinced himself that he was just going to say it, just get it out there, done and over with. He had ordered a pizza at around seven, fully expecting Jack would return before it got there. They could have sat at the table hashing out their day with a few slices that had everything on it (Jack’s favorite) and Shawn could have found some way to tell him.

            It had seemed like a perfect plan, or as near to it as Shawn was like to get; but Jack hadn’t come home. The rest of his roommates had returned just before ten, and after driving himself crazy waiting for Jack to return, Shawn went back to his studying, or had tried to.

            Now, thanks to David, Jack wanted to know what he had spent those hours worrying over, and saying it seemed all the more complicated with him actually in the room.

            “Shawn?” Jack asked, apparently he had waited a bit too long to answer him. There was no way to make this less awkward, he realized, and even if there was, thought had escaped him.

            Jack was standing in front of him, half naked. How many times had he seen him in that worn pair of pajamas? Shawn couldn’t recall ever looking, really looking at him before. He should have been thankful that the room was mostly dark, because if it hadn’t been –

            Say something, his mind screamed. He couldn’t, there was nothing to say.

            Jack stood, looking down at him, “Shawn?” he repeated, “Look, I don’t know what I’ve done but –”

            Was he really listening? All Shawn knew was that after he had stood they were so close. If Jack leaned down, just a little – Why was he waiting? He had waited all night for Jack to come home and now he was right in front of him.

            It’s Jack, he reminded himself, not knowing if that was a comfort or hindrance. Without giving thought to a retreat Shawn lifted himself onto his toes and pressed his lips to Jack’s. It seemed easier than words, but nervous and clumsy; the way a first kiss should be. Bliss lasted for only a brief moment before Shawn’s wits returned and he hastily pulled away.

            “Oh,” he mumbled, returning his heels to the ground, “Jack – I’m sorry, I –” His words were cut off when Jack pressed a finger to his lips.

            “Why?” he whispered. His arms encircled Shawn’s waist, pulling him closer. This time it was Jack that pressed his lips to Shawn’s, and for him there was no hesitation. Hands that had been firmly kept at Shawn’s sides found their way around Jack’s neck and he answered by deepening the kiss. Their tongues met, and one of Jack’s hands moved from his waist to his back, needing to somehow bring Shawn nearer. It was impossible, but that didn’t stop Jack from trying.

Just when Shawn thought he would pass out from lack of oxygen, and yet unwilling to move away, Jack broke the kiss. He still held him, and Shawn allowed himself to rest his head against his bare chest, content to just be there.

“When did you know?” Jack asked.

“Today,” Shawn told him, “But I think I’ve felt this way for a long time. You?”

“Just now,” he felt Jack kiss the top of his head, “All this time you’ve been right here.”

Shawn laughed; it seemed like the only appropriate response.

           

            David woke to the sound of his alarm clock’s shrill beeping. He had never been able to wake to the sound of music, any music, all it did was put him back to sleep. The beeping drove Jack crazy. There was no sound of complaint from the bed across from him, not even a groan, and when David groggily opened his eyes he found that it was empty. More then empty, it was still perfectly made.

            Curious he got up and made his way to the kitchen, and then poked his head around the corner to the living room. Jack was on one end of the couch, legs drawn up beside him and his hand supporting his head. Shawn, still fully dressed in his clothes from the day before, was curled up at his side.

            David was a little surprised, even after his talk with Shawn. This hadn’t been one of those attractions that everyone saw but the two people involved. He would be willing to bet every dollar he had that no one else who knew them had seen it either. Here the pair of them were, all chaste (which was not like Jack), and for lack of a better word, cuddling. He could only imagine the look on the face of Will or Ethan when they came looking for breakfast.

            Before he could decide whether or not to wake them Jack’s eyes opened, as if he had sensed his intrusion. “Shawn wanted to ‘talk’, Dave?” he smiled.

            “I couldn’t exactly tell you, now could I?” Jack’s grin was almost unsettling, like a cat in cream, “You might as well wake him up, or you’ll both be late for class.”

            “To hell with that,” he muttered, leaning his head back, “We were up until four in the morning, talking, mind you.”

            “Talking?”

            “Well, mostly,” the grin widened, “I mean to get some sleep. Besides, I never finished that paper anyway.”

            David shook his head and headed back down the hallway. It seemed he’d get to see the look on Will and Ethan’s face after all.

 

                     



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