When he wasn't wrestling, Ken Kennedy analyzed the other matches on the show.
Most of the guys backstage watched the other matches, or at least the ones before their performance. In fact, Kennedy had just left twelve other wrestlers sitting in the general locker room, eyes glued to the RAW broadcast on the television screen. He would have stayed and watched with them, but he preferred dressing alone.
He had lucked out this time, noticing a small, empty room down the hallway from the general locker room. When he was World Champion, he would have his own locker room to dress in; for now, this would work. It even had a small TV, which he immediately tuned to RAW. There was still a match and a half before he was scheduled to go on. He threw on his ring gear quickly during a commercial break so he wouldn't miss any of the action.
Most wrestlers watched the other matches out of concern for their co-worker's wellbeing. Some watched out of appreciation of the athleticism or the thrill of the death-defying stunts. Kennedy watched for the story of the match.
It was almost ritualized. Every match, despite the men or women involved, despite the style, despite the stakes, held to the same basic formula. It started with the shine, when the crowd favorite charged the ring and took control, energized by the enthusiasm of the fans. Then, when he or she started to tire or made a simple mistake, the opponent took over, dishing out as much punishment as possible during the heat. Finally, they worked towards a finish, usually either a gutsy comeback from the hero or a completely debilitating stroke by the opponent. Shine, heat, finish.
Of course, not all matches fit the formula perfectly: some began with the heat, or teased a second shine before the actual finish. The concept was still by and large the same, the three stages of the life of a match. Beginning, middle, end. Introduction, conflict, resolution. Shine, heat, finish. Birth, life, death.
Kennedy jerked the laces of his boots tighter, fingers working on autopilot. The good thing about rhythms, he decided, was that you didn't have to think about them. They could become habit, the way he dressed for matches. You never had to wonder what to do next.
He paused in the act of taping up his left wrist. Tearing off the tape with his teeth, he kicked open the door. "What?"
"THERE you are, man," Shelton Benjamin exclaimed, jogging up to the open door. "Been looking all over for you. Listen, what happened between you and my boy?"
Kennedy frowned. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Bullshit. Charlie's been walking around with a big-ass chip on his shoulder for the past week."
Kennedy folded his arms over his chest. "What makes you think I have anything to do with your partner's attitude problems?"
"You're dating him, right?"
Kennedy snorted. "No."
Shelton frowned momentarily before waving a hand impatiently. "Hey, it's cool, man, I respect the lifestyle. Don't think I--"
"We're not dating."
The frown returned, remaining longer this time. Understanding mixed with sympathy in his dark eyes when he finally nodded. "He broke up with you? Or you broke up with him?"
Kennedy sighed again, snapping his gum in annoyance. "It's complicated."
Shelton's gaze stayed steady. "Break it down for me."
"We had been going out for three months."
Shelton waited, but Kennedy refused to volunteer further explanation. "Break it down a little more than that."
"Three months is a long time," Kennedy responded, his eyes dropping to the floor, although his voice remained cool. "I once grew two inches in three months. People change in three months."
"It ain't that long."
"It is for me." The response came quickly and a little too forcefully. Kennedy took a deep breath before continuing. "Look, I'm sorry Charlie's upset. He's a nice guy, and I really tried to make it work. I'm just not good at the long-term stuff."
Shelton nodded sympathetically. "Did he know that?"
"I told him that. I told him the first time we went out that I had never had a relationship make it over 90 days."
Kennedy clenched his jaw defensively, still staring at the floor.
"Damn. How come?"
"I don't know. Some people are just like that."
Shelton considered before shaking his head. "I don't buy that."
Kennedy's eyes finally snapped back up, flashing angrily. "Then you tell me, Benjamin," he challenged. "I don't hit people, I don't do drugs, I don't cheat, I don't lie. What the hell is so wrong with me that everything still goes wrong?"
"Maybe you're just so convinced it will go wrong that it always does."
Kennedy shook his head dismissively. "You got it backwards. It always does go wrong. That's why I'm convinced."
Shelton let that statement hang in the air a few moments before pressing on. "So let me guess. Charlie got all competitive and thought he could break the streak?"
Shelton laughed out loud, the sound surprising Kennedy into looking up at him. "Don't sugarcoat it, man, I ain't his mama. I love him, but the boy's dumber than a box of rocks sometimes."
Kennedy returned a small grin. "So you're the smart one of the team?"
Shelton continued smiling, his white teeth glinting in the light. "That's not saying much, so don't act like you're surprised. I've just learned to take what I can get. So what do you think?"
Kennedy blinked. "About what?"
"About you and me. You're cute, and I'm all hot and shit," Shelton joked, gesturing vaguely at his chest and abs, "plus I'm not ultra-busy for the next three months. We should hook up."
"Are you serious?"
Shelton nodded, still smiling. "We could do longer than three months if you wanted to, but it sounds like a good round number to me."
Kennedy's mouth opened, then closed again soundlessly. A range of emotions swept across his features too quickly to identify, but his voice remained flat as he stated, "This won't work."
Shelton's grin turned lopsided. "If it doesn't, it doesn't. Not the end of the world." He placed a hand on each of Kennedy's shoulders as the blonde started to shake his head again, forcing Kennedy to meet his eyes. "Hey. Just give me a chance here, huh? What's the worst that could happen?"
Kennedy pulled himself back, his jaw stubborn although his eyes flickered with indecisiveness. "Let me think about it," he finally conceded grudgingly.
Shelton's smile returned. "Yeah, that's cool. Give me a call when you're done thinking, so I can pick you up and we can go somewhere. Later, man."
"So you and Charlie never..." Kennedy paused, trying to think of the least offensive way to word his question.
Shelton grinned at him from across the table. "Nope."
"Why not? He's cute."
Nodding agreeably, Shelton spread his napkin across his lap. "He is, and he's really sweet, too. And talented. But not really my type. Could you pass the salt, please?"
Kennedy pushed the salt shaker towards him, raising both eyebrows. "You don't like cute, sweet, talented people?"
"Obviously not," Shelton responded, flashing another big smile. "I'm here with you."
Kennedy choked on his water attempting not to laugh. "Shut up."
"Just joking, K-Squared. You're going to have to lighten up if we're going to make it the full 90 days. Or is it 89 now? When does the countdown officially start?"
Kennedy shook his head. "You can joke around all you want, it's still going to happen."
"I'm cool with that," Shelton told him nonchalantly. "Hell, at least I don't have to worry about what to buy you for Christmas."
Grinning evily, Kennedy countered, "No, but my birthday is in two weeks."
"DAMN IT! I knew I should've checked my calendar or something."
"So what are you going to get me?"
"How about a first name, Mr. Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy? You got enough last names already."
"You're one to talk, Mr. Shelton Benjamin. You don't have any last names at all."
"Point. Hmmm..." Shelton chewed a bite of the buffalo wings they had ordered as an appetizer as he considered. "Maybe we should swap. Shelton Kennedy? Benjamin Kennedy?"
"Ugh. I think I'll stick with mine, thank you very much."
Shelton nodded. "I agree. We'll call off the wedding on account of horribly mismatched names."
Kennedy's eyebrows shot up. "There was a wedding in the works? Was I going to be notified of it?"
"I would've gotten around to that eventually," Shelton assured him. "The plan was to tell you next week, then give everybody a month to shop for our presents, get hitched, live together another month or so, get a divorce, and then throw huge divorce parties with lots of gifts to help us get over each other. So by the time we officially broke up, we would've had at least two awesome parties and God knows how many presents."
"You're a clever man, Mr. Benjamin," Kennedy informed him, his tone heavy with mock seriousness.
"Thank you. But between the name thing and your birthday, I guess we'll have to scrap that plan. We can't ask people to shop for us three times in a row. That would just be greedy. So you know what you want?"
Kennedy's nose wrinkled as he looked down at his menu. "Not yet. Any great ideas?"
Shelton gave a decisive nod, folding up his own menu. "Pineapple upside-down cake."
"Absolutely. Why, what were you going to have? Chicken?"
"Some sort of actual entree, yes. We can order cake for dessert. You know, like normal people."
Shelton yawned loudly. "Like boring people," he countered. "Cake sounds good now."
"No, it doesn't--" Kennedy started to protest, but was interrupted by Shelton flipping his menu to the dessert page. "Ooh, Key Lime Pie."
Shelton laughed out loud, turning in his chair to flag down their waitress.
"So where are we going?" he demanded impatiently, pulling open the door.
Shelton greeted him with an easy smile. "That depends on you. But before we get to that, I want to give you your birthday present," he insisted, gently shouldering his way past Kennedy into the hotel room.
Kennedy glanced at Shelton's pale yellow silk shirt and black slacks, feeling reassured about his own outfit. "Oh, yeah? What is it?"
Shelton moved forward slowly, keeping both hands carefully hidden behind his back. Kennedy peered over his shoulder to try to catch a glimpse of his present, but was stopped by a warm, soft kiss pressed to his lips.
"Happy birthday, Mr. Kennedy," Shelton murmured.
Kennedy hid his pleased surprise with a sardonic grin. "I thought it was supposed to be 'Happy birthday, Mr. President.' "
"Don't think I wasn't tempted to wear the Marilyn dress over here."
Kennedy laughed, using the opportunity to take a step backwards. Shelton's unexpected proximity was making his head reel. "It would've been worth it to see you in the blonde wig. Present now, please?"
Shelton shook his head. "It's a game. I've got a present in each hand, and you have to pick the one you want."
Kennedy lifted his eyebrows, but decided to play along. "Can I have both?"
"All right, all right...hmm..." He rested his chin in his hand as he pondered. "Left hand."
"You sure?" Shelton asked, chuckling when Kennedy glared at him. "Here."
Kennedy instinctively caught the bundle that Shelton tossed at him, unrolling it quickly. "It's a t-shirt," he stated, flipping it over to see the "World's Greatest Tag Team" logo emblazoned on the front. "It's your t-shirt."
Shelton blinked in mock innocence. "Come on, Kennedy, you know you're a huge fan--" He broke off with a laugh at Kennedy's unamused expression. "OK, OK, OK...just because it's your birthday and you're ridiculously cute when you're annoyed, I'm going to let you trade in that present for the other one. Deal?"
Without hesitation, Kennedy nodded. "Deal. What is it?"
Shelton pulled in a deep breath before bringing his right hand from behind his back, handing Kennedy a small black notebook. Kennedy shot him a quizzical look, but Shelton simply shrugged. "Read it."
Slowly, Kennedy sat on the edge of his bed, opening the notebook to the first page. He read aloud, " 'One: You have yet to answer your phone by loudly announcing your name, although I know you're secretly dying to.' " Another confused look was met by a second shrug from Shelton, so he turned the page and continued. " 'Two: You eat everything on your plate one ingredient at a time, moving counter-clockwise.' " He flipped the page. " 'Three: You scrunch up your nose when you're pretending to be mad. Four...' What the hell is this, Shelton?"
Shelton dropped onto the bed beside him. "It's a book I made. It's 90 reasons I think you and me should last longer than 90 days."
"I..." Stunned, Kennedy blinked, glancing from the book to Shelton's eyes. "Are you serious?"
Shelton chewed at his lower lip. "Well, that was the idea, anyway. Turns out I couldn't stop at 90, so there are 94 or so. I edited as many as I could, but that's what I came up with. So...what do you think?"
"I have no idea what to say. I...I'm completely speechless."
Shelton nodded, still uncertain. "Good speechless or bad speechless?"
"I can't believe you noticed how I eat," Kennedy murmured, turning the pages back to reread the first few entries.
"I think it's adorable."
"It's a habit. They say it takes ninety days for a new eating habit to become routine, and--" Kennedy cut himself off, swallowing the rest of that thought. "Shelton. Nobody has ever given me anything like this in my life."
Shelton grinned again, some of his natural cockiness returning. "You've never dated anybody like me in your life, K-Squared. But I'm kind of hoping you're not too attached to that book."
Kennedy's grip on the book tightened unconsciously. "Why not?"
"Because the birthday game isn't technically over yet. You can still trade that in for what's behind Door #3."
Shelton blinked in surprise. "What?"
"I'm not giving up the book. No way."
"Come on, man, live a little," Shelton urged. He was laughing, but his gaze was serious as he hinted, "Listen, I really think you should see what's behind Door #3."
Kennedy remained adamant. "Fuck Door #3. I want the book."
Shelton's smile took on a desperate edge. "You want a hint?"
"I thought you said there were no hints."
"Yeah, but I really want you to pick Door #3."
"Fine. What's the hint?" Kennedy was momentarily caught of guard by Shelton's sudden movement, closing the space to cover Kennedy's lips with his own. Feeling the warmth of the kiss, though, Kennedy quickly responded, turning into him and pressing back aggressively. Shelton hummed appreciatively, sending pleasant tingles down Kennedy's spine. A few moments later, Kennedy pulled back slightly, already panting from the intensity of the kiss. "That's a hell of a hint."
Shelton's dark eyes locked on Kennedy's mouth, but he spoke softly. "We don't have to if you don't want to. You can keep the book and we can go out to dinner."
Kennedy swallowed and leaned forward at an angle to place the notebook onto the bedside table. "I'll steal the book back from you later. Tonight I want to check out Door #3."
Shelton grinned, pulling Kennedy into another lingering kiss. Caught up in the smooth slide of Shelton's tongue between his lips, Kennedy barely registered the hands fumbling at the waistband of his slacks. Shelton gave a small sound of satisfaction as he felt Kennedy's pants finally come loose, yanking the zipper down quickly.
Kennedy broke the kiss with a gasp as Shelton's warm hand pressed down on his tented boxers. He stuttered something that could have been the start of Shelton's name, and was rewarded with a deep laugh and another liquefying kiss.
"You sure about this?" Shelton murmured into Kennedy's ear, his hand still slowly stroking Kennedy's cotton-covered erection. Kennedy snapped his hips forward impatiently in response, and Shelton chuckled as he slide off the bed, landing on his knees in front of Kennedy.
Breathing heavily, Kennedy lay back on the bed, lifting his hips to allow Shelton to tug his pants and underwear down to his knees. The slight shock of the cool air was immediately replaced with the heat of Shelton's mouth.
"Fuck!" Kennedy shouted, snapping upright as the tip of Shelton's tongue circled the head of Kennedy's cock. Shelton winked up at him, sliding slowly down the shaft before pulling off completely.
"Sorry," Shelton murmured, sounding anything buy repentant as he pressed a kiss to the inside of Kennedy's left thigh. "Been wanting to do that for a while."
Kennedy moaned, letting his head loll backwards. "You're going to kill me," he swore, breaking off with a sharp inhalation as Shelton's tongue darted out again, lightly brushing the underside of Kennedy's erection.
Shelton grinned, bracing one strong forearm across Kennedy's lower abdomen to prevent the blonde's hips from bucking. He settled into a steady rhythm, alternating firm suction with feather-light kisses that had Kennedy whimpering and squirming within minutes.
"Shelton," Kennedy finally gasped, eyes squeezed shut and voice heavy with desperation. "Shelton, please. I want you to fuck me."
Silence followed, and Kennedy forced his eyes open in concern. "Are you--" Kennedy abandoned the question as he met Shelton's gaze, shivering at the raw heat in those impossibly black eyes.
"You sure you're ready for this?" Shelton asked quietly, already moving up from the floor as he discarded his own shirt.
Kennedy shrugged out of the rest of his clothes as quickly as possible, nodding to the bedside table as he kicked off his pants. "Condoms in the top drawer." He laughed shortly at Shelton's raised eyebrow. "I was kind of hoping for this type of present."
Shelton rummaged through the drawer quickly, snatching a foil packet and a small tube of lubrication before climbing on top of Kennedy. "You know, it's my birthday tomorrow," he whispered between kisses to Kennedy's neck.
"Really?" Kennedy moaned at the hot breath on his skin.
"No. But if this is the type of birthday parties we have, I'm willing to lie about it."
Kennedy's laugh was swallowed in another steamy kiss.
Kennedy had nearly finished lunch when his cell phone rang. Popping on last bite into his mouth, he checked the caller ID. His smile at seeing Shelton's name disappeared as he noticed the date in the lower left corner of the screen.
That couldn't be right. He felt a brief surge of panic. There was no way it was that late. Either the cell phone calendar was wrong, or--
Or they were 11 days away from the 90 day mark. Eleven days away from breaking up.
How could three months have passed so quickly? Whooping cranes go from birth to flight in 90 days. The average--
Kennedy's mental list of factoids were interrupted when the phone rang again. Swallowing his food, he snapped the phone open. "Hey, Shelton, what's up?" He winced at the unusually high pitch in his own voice.
Shelton didn't seem to notice. His response came a beat too slowly. "Not much. What's up with you?"
"Is something wrong? You sound a little...off."
Another strange pause. "No, I'm cool. Just been doing some thinking."
Kennedy held his breath. "Yeah? About what?"
"Nothing big. Listen, I've got a friend who's trying to hook me up with a couple Packers tickets; you want to catch a game with me?"
"Absolutely, that sounds great. When's the game?"
"Friday, three weeks from now. I'll tell him we want two."
Kennedy closed his eyes. "Shelton."
He didn't even sound surprised, Kennedy noted with a sudden rush of anger. He was making this far harder than it had to be. "We've only got 11 days left."
Static crackled over the line, but Shelton didn't respond.
Transferring his phone to his other ear, Kennedy focused on keeping his voice flat. "Shelton. Please don't do this. You said you wouldn't push for more than this."
"No, I said I wouldn't be hurt when this ended," Shelton corrected. "That doesn't mean I plan to let this end anytime soon."
"It doesn't matter if you 'plan' on letting it end or not. It's going to happen," Kennedy snapped.
"Why?" Shelton demanded, his voice rising. "Because you're so uptight about letting people get close to you that if they're not gone in three months, you panic and dump them?"
"That's not how it works--"
"That's exactly how it works. I talked to Charlie about it."
Kennedy's grip on the phone tightened. "What?"
"You heard me. He said you dropped him cold, man."
"You lied to me about it."
"I didn't want to break up with Charlie, OK? I had to, before one of us got hurt. And I never lied to you about that."
"Yes, you did. You wandered around backstage like something horrible happened to you, and that's when I decided to ask you out."
"You asked me out because you felt sorry for me? Is that what you're saying?"
"No, I asked you out because I respected you. Because you seemed like a nice, hot, funny, talented guy who had had a little bad luck. I didn't think you were the type of person who would sit around feeling sorry for himself because of something he caused."
"I didn't cause it, Shelton." Kennedy made an unsuccessful effort to speak quietly. "Charlie was the one getting too attached. I was worried about him getting hurt."
Shelton snorted disbelievingly. "So you broke up with him? Nice thinking."
"It was better than the alternative."
"It was better than YOU getting hurt, you mean."
"Fuck you, Shelton. I don't need psychoanalyzed today." Out of the corner of his eye, Kennedy saw the waiter approaching. "I have to go."
"Yeah, that's pretty typical for you, isn't it?"
Kennedy shut the phone with a snap. As he took the bill from the waiter, he noticed the date printed on the top of the paper. Eleven days left, and things were already going south. Kennedy handed his credit card to the waiter with a tight smile. At this rate, they might not even make it the full 90 days. Nothing like being ahead of schedule.
Kennedy managed to avoid Shelton at work the next few days; an accomplishment slightly tarnished by the fact that Shelton also seemed to be going out of his way to avoid seeing Kennedy. When he heard Shelton's voice outside his hotel door, therefore, he attributed the annoying flutter in his stomach to pure surprise.
"C'mon, K-Squared. Open up."
"What do you want?" Kennedy demanded, glaring at the still-closed door.
"Let's start with you opening the door, and we'll go from there."
Kennedy sighed. "It's late. I don't want to fight right now."
"That's cool, I don't want to fight either. Can you just open the door? I brought you a cupcake."
That was...unexpected. "You brought me a what?"
"Just open the door, K-Squared," Shelton cajoled. "It's not poison or anything. It's chocolate."
Kennedy opened the door slightly, peering down at the pastry. "You brought me a chocolate cupcake."
Shelton held it out to him. "Charlie said you liked chocolate." Kennedy's eyes flashed, and Shelton hurried on. "Look, I'm sorry I talked to him, all right? I just...I'm having a lot of fun here, and I don't really want it to end in a month. I know you think it has to. I just don't understand why."
Kennedy rested his forehead against the door frame, closing his eyes. "I don't either, to be honest. I just know it always happens."
"It's never happened with me, though," Shelton pointed out. "Maybe I'm different."
Kennedy looked up at him, smiling slightly as he reached for the cupcake. "Yeah. Maybe you are."
The clock read 11:52 PM. Which made it exactly 4 minutes after Kennedy had last checked the time. He glanced at the television screen, staring at the movie that he had hoped would be awful enough to put him to sleep. It hadn't worked. He used the remote to shut it off.
The inside of his mouth tasted like cardboard, so he moved into the hotel bathroom to brush his teeth for the second time that night. The mirror reflected the redness of his eyes. "It's bedtime, mister," he informed his reflection sternly. "No more excuses." To underscore his point, he went through his whole bedtime ritual. Toilet first, then washing hands and face, flossing, and 120 seconds of brushing teeth. Back to the bedroom, where he checked that his clothes for the next day were laid out. Into bed, check the alarm, covers up, lights out, and sleep...
His eyes snapped open. He had left the TV remote in the bathroom. How could he sleep with a TV remote in the bathroom?
Crawling back out of bed, he returned to the bathroom, snatching up the remote with more violence than was strictly necessary. He was debating the merits of giving up the sleep idea and going for a jog when his cell phone rang.
Unreasonably grateful for the distraction, Kennedy darted back into the bedroom and grabbed the phone. "Hello?"
"You know how long it takes, on average, to start a new business in India? 89 days. I just read that, and it made me think of you."
Kennedy blinked. "Charlie. I...how are you?
"I'm good, good. I'd ask how you are, but I bet you're nervous."
Kennedy shook his head even though Charlie couldn't see him. "What would I be nervous about?"
"Breaking up with Shelton tomorrow." There was a leading pause, but Kennedy didn't bite. "You are going to, aren't you?"
"I really don't see how that's any of your business."
"Hey. Don't get defensive. I'm just watching out for my partner."
Kennedy picked nervously at the tacky bedspread. "Well, your partner can take care of himself. And I'd appreciate it if you just kept your nose out of it." He winced as the words left his mouth. He hated sounding whiny.
Charlie just sounded mildly amused. "Man, you're really worked up. You only get this bitchy when you're scared."
The amusement faded. "You really like him, don't you?"
"He's fantastic," Kennedy answered honestly.
"I know. You're still going to break up with him, aren't you?"
An instant denial sprang to Kennedy's lips, but died before he could verbalize it.
"It's just the way things are, Charlie."
A heavy sigh echoed over the line. "I know. Just be careful with him, OK?"
"Motherfucker," Kennedy swore, tossing his cell phone onto the bed.
Quick and painless, Kennedy had decided, was the appropriate course of action. In fact, he had attempted to break it off with Shelton at 12:05 AM, halfway through a sleepless night. Kennedy assumed Shelton had been sleeping then, but that didn't excuse Shelton's refusal to pick up the phone during the ten successive calls, spaced throughout the day. Kennedy had even tried tracking him down at RAW, but Shelton had managed to escape before Kennedy could get him alone.
If this was Shelton's plan, it needed serious work. Just hiding throughout Day 90 would not keep them from breaking up. In fact, Kennedy suddenly realized, it was much easier to break up with someone over voice mail than in person anyway. He was just reaching for the cell phone when a knock rang out against his hotel door.
When Kennedy yanked open the door, he found Shelton leaning against the wall, sunglasses shoved casually up on top of his head. "I just called you."
"Yeah," Shelton acknowledged, closing the door behind him as he entered. "I kind of thought that this was the sort of thing you should talk about face to face."
Kennedy sighed. "Yeah, probably. You want a drink or anything?" he asked, gesturing to an empty armchair.
Shelton remained on his feet. "I'm not staying long. I just wanted to tell you something."
"There's nothing really to say. I mean, it was fun and all, but--"
"I want to break up with you."
Kennedy's eyebrow twitched. "You want to what?"
Shelton met his eyes firmly. "I think we should break up. Ninety days are up, right?"
"But what?" A hint of a smile ghosted across Shelton's mouth. "Oh, was I not supposed to bring that up? Your rule, you get to do the breaking up, huh?"
Kennedy shook his head. "It's not like that. Why are you--" Reverse psychology. Damn it. Kennedy took a step back, letting his eyes drop to the floor until he regained his bearings. When he looked up again, he was wearing his favorite smirk. "You're right. You're absolutely right. We should definitely break up."
Shelton didn't blink. "Absolutely. I mean, 90 days, right? That's like forever."
"An eternity," Kennedy agreed. "People change. Arguments start. Shit gets messy."
"And who needs that?" Shelton added softly. The question hung in the air between them, neither man willing to back down.
"So, I guess..." Kennedy moved forward again, reaching for the door handle behind Shelton in a less than subtle hint.
Shelton kept his feet planted, although his chin tilted up slightly. "Do I get a goodbye kiss?"
Kennedy hesitated, his hand falling back to his side. "Most guys don't--"
"I'm not most guys," Shelton reminded him, flashing a smile. "I'm breaking up with you, remember? So come to think of it, I think I get to call the shots here."
"I see." Kennedy laughed softly. "So do I get a goodbye kiss?"
"I don't see any reason why not." And suddenly Shelton was on top of him, pressing Kennedy back into the mattress. His mouth was so warm that Kennedy moaned out loud, giving Shelton the opportunity to slide his tongue along the roof of Kennedy's mouth.
"Jesus," Kennedy gasped, feeling Shelton's fingers pulling open the buttons along the front of Kennedy's shirt. Blood rushed to his groin as cool air hit his newly exposed chest. Pulling back from Shelton's amazing mouth, Kennedy gasped for enough breath to form coherent sentences. "Shelton, I--" Shelton whipped off his own t-shirt, tossing it carelessly to the side. "Holy fuck, I don't...we can't..." He trailed off as his fingertips found the muscles along the sides of Shelton's rib cage.
"We can't what?" Shelton asked, already working on unzipping Kennedy's pants.
"We can't what?" Shelton pursued, pulling back onto his knees. "Are you trying to say you don't want to do this?"
The loss of contact provoked a startling sharp ache somewhere deep inside Kennedy, but also helped to settle his jumbled thoughts. "Of course I want to, Shelton," he insisted, pushing himself onto his elbows and looking significantly at his half-opened pants. "I just don't know if it's the greatest idea. We just broke up, and--"
"And you've never heard of break-up sex?" Shelton rolled his eyes at Kennedy's doubtful expression. "Trust me, K-Squared, it's not going to change anything."
"Oh, really?" Kennedy took advantage of his relative clear-headedness to go on the offensive, grabbing Shelton by the waistband of his jeans and tugging him onto his back on the mattress. "You don't think it's going to change anything?" He straddled Shelton's hips, pressing deliberately on the bulge in the front of Shelton's jeans. "Because it feels like it's already affecting you."
Shelton groaned, pulling Kennedy down by the back of his neck into another kiss. Kennedy straightened his legs, pushing one knee between Shelton's so that his hip could grind against Shelton's crotch. He smiled to himself as Shelton began pressing back, rubbing himself against Kennedy through their pants.
Pants. Right. Kennedy toed off his shoes and socks, then pulled back to discard his slacks. He paused, giving himself a few seconds to enjoy the relief that followed. He hadn't realized how restrictive the slacks had become until they were gone.
It appeared that he was not the only one ready for action, he noticed as he looked back down at Shelton, who had taken advantage of Kennedy's brief pause to strip himself. He was now stroking himself slowly, staring up at Kennedy with half-closed eyes. For a moment, Kennedy was transfixed by the slow, rhythmic slide of Shelton's hand, gliding along his precum-slickened cock.
"Lube. Condom," Shelton panted, jolting him back to reality. Kennedy snatched both from their usual spot in the dresser without even bothering to look. Squeezing some grease onto three fingers, he began teasing Shelton's entrance with shallow thrusts. Impatiently, Shelton grabbed the condom package from him, ripping it open with his teeth and rolling it quickly onto Kennedy's erection. "Just do it."
Kennedy considered refusing the demand just to be obstinate, but the sweat beginning to form across the back of his neck reminded him of his own body's demands. A few deep thrusts of his fingers later, he aligned their bodies and pressed into Shelton, a slow, steady thrust that left them both momentarily incapable of moving.
Finally, Shelton rocked his hips forward slightly, pulling in a deep breath at the sensation. Kennedy took the hint and partial withdrew, immediately burying himself in Shelton's warmth again. They let the rhythm build naturally, with Kennedy angled low to trap Shelton's cock between their abdomens. By the time Shelton's muscular legs wrapped around Kennedy's hips, urging him faster, they were both ready to explode.
"Gonna come," Kennedy warned, nipping lightly at the skin at Shelton's collarbone. Shelton moaned in something that sounded like agreement, pushing down with his hips to vary the angle of penetration. Biting his lower lip, he slid one hand down to his own dick, stroking furiously.
Kennedy covered Shelton's hand with one of his own, slowing it while speeding up the tempo of his thrusts to get them in sync. Shelton shuddered, squeezed harder, and the bucked forward as he came, pressing his face into Kennedy's shoulder to muffle his cry.
Kennedy came with a shout a few short, hard thrusts later, digging his fingers into Shelton's hips until he was emptied. He collapsed to one side in exhaustion, his lower body still tangled with Shelton's legs as he attempted to gain some control of his breathing.
Shelton looked gorgeous like this, covered in sweat and his own cum. His eyes were open, staring at the ceiling like he was trying to remember something important.
Probably trying to figure out how soon he can leave, Kennedy suddenly realized, as the finality of the situation crashed in on him. Pushing with one hand, he rolled off Shelton and onto his back. Break-up sex. Who had thought that would be a good idea? How the hell was he supposed to watch Shelton walk out now?
He wished Shelton had fallen asleep. Then he could have had an excuse for ordering breakfast together in the morning, and maybe talked him into riding to the show together, and then--
"So I'm thinking--"
Shelton was speaking slowly enough to give Kennedy plenty of opportunity to interrupt. "So maybe three months wasn't quite long enough," he blurted, surprising himself.
There was a pause while Shelton processed that. "Really? It felt like forever to me," he finally stated. Kennedy groaned, backhanding him lightly on the shoulder. "I'm serious," Shelton insisted. "I kind of got used to this. Got used to being able to talk with you about the shows, and laugh at your mood swings. Got used to be able to do this," he added, rolling onto his side and planting a soft kiss on Kennedy's mouth, "anytime I wanted."
Kennedy smiled up at him, but shook his head. "Better rethink that last one."
Shelton's jaw tightened. "Why?"
"You just broke up with me," Kennedy reminded him, his smile widening. "I think that's fair grounds to put you in the doghouse, Mr. Benjamin."
"That's true..." Shelton admitted, smiling in answer, "but if I just broke up with you, we can't really be having a fight, can we? Because we're not in a relationship anymore." He ended the declaration with a rising inflection, as if it were half-question.
"I guess we aren't," Kennedy finally responded, still unable to admit defeat.
Shelton nodded easily. "Just friends, then." He pushed himself up onto his knees, hovering over Kennedy so that he could look into his eyes. "So, listen, buddy," he continued, his voice teasing. "What are you doing for the next three months? Because my schedule just cleared out, and I was thinking we could--"
"I was thinking the same thing." Kennedy interrupted, pulling him down for a long, lingering kiss.