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Everything heâ€™d used to define himself by was gone, jerked out from under his feet so quickly he could barely grasp what had happened. Certainly, heâ€™d had plenty of culpability in it all, and the results werenâ€™t exactly unexpected. Yet the reality of it was...harsh, frightening. It had seemed an easily dealt with thing in his mind, this altering of his future and self, but now that it was happening, fear clawed at his gut and doubt drove into his mind.
It was possible heâ€™d fucked up everything in his life. Heâ€™d been so sure before, but nowâ€”a fine time to be questioning himself, as it was too lateâ€”Shearing couldnâ€™t stop fearing heâ€™d done somethingâ€”well, really several somethingsâ€”incredibly stupid and rash, although he didnâ€™t feel bad at all about getting James Stratton free of the clinic heâ€™d been kept in. But maybe he could have gone about it in a more...legal...way. Chances were that Xavier Talbot and Chase Murphy would be in jail then, and while that would have Shearingâ€™s ass out of the sling, the idea of either of those two men in jail didnâ€™t sit right with him.
And maybe, he wanted to be the one responsible for freeing James Stratton. He hadnâ€™t done as much as heâ€™d have liked to there, but he had taken out the alarms and the cameras...not that he was ever going to admit that to his bosses. He knew they knew heâ€™d done it, but proving it...well, there was a reason heâ€™d moved up so quickly in twenty years. Heâ€™d always been rather brilliant with techie stuff, or at least good enough not to get caught. It wasnâ€™t a lack of skill that had busted him this time, either, but rather the fact that his boss knew him too well.
Even so, that still didnâ€™t mean heâ€™d be dumb enough to confess, and judging by the slight curl to Jane Guillianoâ€™s lips and the spark in her pale eyes, she neither expected him nor wanted him to admit to having anything to do with the â€˜attackâ€™ on the facility where James had been held. She waited until they were alone in her office then she rose and walked to him, placing one well-manicured hand on his as he started to get up. Shearing tensed, her touch familiar in a faint way, the muscle memory of their affair years ago still somewhat keyed into his bodyâ€™s reactions. Those icy eyes of hers narrowed as her grip tightened briefly.
â€œYou know we know, Glenn.â€
He cringed as her perfectly formed lips formed his first name. It was, in his opinion, tantamount to her crossing a line she really shouldnâ€™t have. Years ago, when theyâ€™d been lovers for a while. Itâ€™d been good, intense, but they were both too competitive and career-minded to make anything last between them. And now Jane was his boss and he was...well he was fucked by his own actions.
Shearing turned his most bland look on his former lover and boss. â€œI donâ€™t know what youâ€™re talking about, Jane.â€
Her full lips thinned and she let go of his hand. â€œIâ€™m not asking you to admit it,â€ she snapped, walking back to her seat behind the desk. â€œIn fact, I donâ€™t want you to admit it. Believe it or not, I like you. Youâ€™re a good employee and, until recently, I would have said completely dedicated to your job. But now,â€ Jane seared him with a look he couldnâ€™t dodge. â€œNow, somethingâ€™s changed with you. This job doesnâ€™t mean everything like it did, like it does to me. Something else obviously means much more, and if thatâ€™s the way itâ€™s going to remain, I suggest you walk away from here while you can, before I canâ€™t keep your ass from landing in more trouble than you are prepared to deal with.â€
â€œI think being denied my retirement is more than Iâ€™m willing to deal with,â€ Shearing said calmly. â€œIâ€™ve been here twenty years come next month, and I am not willing to just flush that down the toilet.â€ Although he probably had, which would definitely suck. Still, heâ€™d fight for his retirement. Heâ€™d damned well earned it, and what heâ€™d done, exposing the â€˜rehabâ€™ centre, wasnâ€™t anything he should be punished for, at least not severely. â€œI wonâ€™t roll over and be screwed on this, Jane.â€ They couldnâ€™t prove anything, and Shearing made certain to keep his expression neutral, his body relaxed. Theyâ€™d not find a hint of guilt in him, especially when he didnâ€™t feel guilty for what heâ€™d done. Was that how criminals felt? The thought chilled him, though he kept the reaction buried.
Jane huffed softly and leant back in her chair. She studied him for a moment then nodded. â€œYou do understand his parents are going nuts, throwing fits, bitching to the media and everyone they can, claiming Chase Murphy has kidnapped their son?â€
Shearing nodded. Heâ€™d seen the news, read the papers. Heâ€™d also made sure both sources receivedâ€”from an anonymous informantâ€”copies of the medical evaluations done on James Stratton, claiming he was mentally competent to represent himself. Those same evals were amended with another doctorâ€™s ordersâ€”to ignore the evals and keep James in an â€˜unobjectionableâ€™ state, per his parentsâ€™ request. The older Strattonâ€™s were denying all of it, especially that last bit. Shearing would have liked to believe them, but he didnâ€™t know what to think at this point, and it wasnâ€™t like they would talk to him. He was now in league with the evil Chase Murphy in their opinion...and they were right, although he wouldnâ€™t peg Murphy as evil, but whatever.
Jane tapped the desk with her fingers for a minute before huffing again. Shearing merely arched a brow at her. â€œFine, I can probably see to it that you keep your retirementâ€”if you use the leave youâ€™ve got stored up to finish out the time left.â€ The look she gave him was so shrewd he was afraid she was peering right into his brain. â€œThat should give you enough time to take care of things here, before you go off chasing afterâ€”â€ she stopped and shook her head. â€œSince you wonâ€™t be working here, Iâ€™m just going to risk saying this. I never thought you were interested in men, Glenn. When you and I were together, you were a...vigorous lover. You certainly seemed to enjoy a womanâ€™s body.â€
Shearing gave her a nod and stood. â€œI did.â€ Then he turned and left her office. He wouldnâ€™t explain what he felt for James to his boss or anyone else, just like he wouldnâ€™t admit his part in something that hadnâ€™t hurt anyone innocent and had helped free some people from what was, really, their being held against their will.
Besides, he still wasnâ€™t sure what it was he felt for James Stratton. Or rather, he was, and it puzzled and terrified himâ€”and he couldnâ€™t wait to see the man himself. Shearing had never felt such an elemental pull towards another manâ€”or woman, for that matter, but the man part...well, heâ€™d battled that kind of attraction for so long, at first because it would have meant the death of his dream career to act on it, then because it was so ingrained to deny himself.
But heâ€™d been given the case of one James Stratton, and something about the redhead had got to Shearing before heâ€™d ever even met the man. Heâ€™d dug and done more research than was strictly necessary, and had felt like heâ€™d known James before they ever found him, and somehow, the man had already been wedged into a small corner of Shearingâ€™s heart by that point. It was ridiculous and illogical and girly and...and completely and utterly true, and powerful and tempting enough that Shearing had just given up his career for it. He didnâ€™t doubt for a minute that James would be worth it.