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Story Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

In those last seconds, before he would die, Shawn honestly didn't know which emotion was stronger. Regret, or fear.

He'd expected to gain some time with the groin kick. Guys didn't expect other guys to go for dirty fighting moves like that – like there was some unspoken brotherhood rule when it came to fisticuffs. Shawn had never considered himself one of a vast, testosterone army, however. Not to mention, if anyone was to blame for the tactic, it was his father.

Let me tell you something, kid. Chuck Norris and John Claude whatever may look cool when they're fighting the bad guy. But I can guarantee you that no amount of kick boxing or karate chopping is going to help you in a real fight with a real bad guy. Real bad guys don't have rules. They don't have honor and they don't play fair. They will do everything they can to kill you and you have to be ready to do everything you can to live.”

His aim was off. Not a lot, but enough that the main portion of his blow struck Wayne's inner thigh instead of his vulnerable bits. It had stopped the guy for only a second of wincing before his jaw had clenched and he'd reared back his full weight and slammed his fist down – hard.

His head his the ground where it, regretfully, had the very poor manners to crack against a rock with aspirations of being a pyramid someday. The sharp dig of pointy stone was only of secondary concern, though, as most of Shawn's focus was on the pinpoint tiny size the sky had become around the encroaching shadows. It was supposedly early afternoon, so why was it already getting dark?

He fought against it as the footsteps walked away from him. He tried to tally how many seconds it took to walk around a vehicle to retrieve a gun.

As it turned out, not long at all.

He hadn't shaken the dizzy sensation of almost passing out before the steps were returning – leather crunching on heavy gravel – squeaking on some while other pieces popped and snapped under the hard soles.

There was time to taste blood from his bleeding lip; time, even, to think of and discard three jokes regarding cleft palettes and the cost of dental repair on a G-man's budget.

There was a village of stones seeking out and adding pressure to every ache and bruise across his spine. Rolling weakly to shake off the dizziness wasn't helping and only dug the stones deeper into his flesh. Clarity, then, but not of the style that could save his life. He'd let every, perfect moment slip away from him. To tell Juliet how he felt. He'd wasted it with moping looks and petty comments and a whole kennel's worth of puppy dog stares.

But, never once, did he attempt something she'd been very clear would be a positive step towards taking their friendship into a candy heart flavored direction. Actually, that was an awful analogy. Candy hearts tasted like crap. And so did the blood seeping across his gums.

Cool shadow blocked the sun that was making his eyes squint.

And there wasn't any more time for anything except the sick weight of grief and the bank vault of apology he'd never get to spend. Arms made a weak shield but at least he wouldn't have to see himself die...


Metallic clank sounded nothing like an exploding cartridge aimed for his brain.

Arms dragged away from his face in time to see Wayne drop like a guy who just got hit with a lead pipe.

Okay, so Scott was way tougher than he'd thought, roughly six minutes ago.

Thanks.” And that was all he could manage. Dry throat closed around anything else as he let his head drop back – thankfully on a patch of ground that was mostly free of pokey rocks.


He'd watched them walk off together. A shared nod and enough of a gaze to ask 'Are you okay?' and the blink back, 'Yeah, I'm good'. Juliet had looked so happy. She'd waited a long time for Scott. He was her Abigail... after all. And Shawn knew a thing or two about second chances with first loves. And maybe he'd screwed his up – he didn't really know. But whatever was going on with him and Abs, he would not be responsible for screwing up Juliet's happily ever after. Even if that meant that he wouldn't be in it. Because having her friendship was more important than having her in his bed. He would love her forever.

And, yeah, he was gonna hurt for a while and, yeah, he shouldn't be feeling any of this at all because... Because Abigail deserved better than his mentally cheating jerk heart. Because he loved Abigail too. And, when he was alone in his apartment that night; frozen bag of french fries pressed against his swollen lip, he'd ached so much just to call up Abby for an evening of Netflix. Because he did miss her. Having her so far away and out of reach – that hurt. And it was a shoe on the other foot sorta thing, he supposed. Usually he was the one taking off for far away places with barely a look back. Off for adventures while family and friends... missed him. He'd never really thought about how much they had to have missed him. Okay, maybe not dad so much – but Gus. Gus would have missed him.

And there wasn't even a way to call. If he could just talk to Abs...


But she hadn't been the one in his mind when he'd thought a bullet was about to enter it.

And he, honestly, didn't know what to do with that.

Chapter End Notes:
A little tag that's been floating around in my folders for a few years.  Finally decided to finish it.

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