Written for the Fan_Flashworks prompt 'The Lost Hour'.
Sean had always known precisely where he was going. He devised a timetable for success and adhered to it slavishly. Let other fools dither and agonize over their direction in life; not Sean. He didn't intend to waste a single precious second, but make each and every one count. So he did, and by the time he was twenty-five, he had a newly minted JD, a stunningly beautiful and brilliant fiancée, and an associate position at a top LA law firm.
He was right on schedule.
Until the day he lost an hour.
He'd arranged to meet a prospective client after work for drinks, but the man was late. Nursing a now watery Scotch and soda, Sean repeatedly checked his watch and drummed his fingers irritably on the counter. He didn't appreciate being stood up, for one thing, and for another this client would be a plum catch, a feather in Sean's cap that would give his timetable for becoming a junior partner in the firm a nice boost in the right direction.
"Your date didn't show, huh?" a soft voice said at his elbow. "I know how that feels. Can I buy you a drink to make up for it?"
Sean opened his mouth fully intending to say 'no', to explain that he was there on business not a date. But what he planned to say flew completely out of his mind as he stared into eyes of depthless blue set in the fairest face it had ever been his privilege to behold.
"Sure thing," he said instead, consigning client, career and fiancée to oblivion without a second thought.
The young man's lips curved into a pleased smile, and he slid onto the neighboring bar stool. "I'm Elijah," he said.
"Sean," replied Sean, "and I'm not actually that thirsty."
They left the bar together, went to Elijah's apartment and straight to his bed.
And that's where Sean lost his hour and threw his timetable into total disarray.
"Sean?" Elijah propped himself on an elbow, looked curiously at Sean as he climbed out of bed and pulled on his boxers. "What's wrong?"
"I shouldn't have done this," Sean said, almost in a panic. "I'm sorry - this was a mistake."
Elijah sat up. "Why was it a mistake? We have something here. You know it as well as I do. Don't tell me you've ever had sex this good before. I won't believe you."
Sean averted his eyes from that creamy skin, marked with red blotches from his passion-rough possession, from those kiss swollen lips and honest eyes that undermined his resolution. "You're fucking with my plan." He yanked up the zipper of his slacks almost angrily. "It's not supposed to go like this."
"How is it supposed to go?" asked Elijah calmly.
"Not like this," Sean stubbornly repeated. He slid his arms into his button-down, his bare feet into his loafers, and snatched up his tie and jacket from a chair back. Allowing himself only one final, brief glimpse of the young man who threatened to ruin everything he'd worked so long and hard for, he said, "I'm sorry," and fled.
He tried his best to deal with that lost hour: denied it, rationalized it, ignored it. But it wouldn't go away. Like a toppling domino, it impacted everything that followed, knocking it awry.
The fiancée was the first victim. "I don't know what's happened to you, Sean," she said the day she ended their engagement and returned his diamond ring. "But it's clear that your heart isn't in this relationship anymore."
The job was the second victim. "Sean, I'm afraid you're simply not the right fit for this firm," they said the day he was told to empty his desk and not return.
"Sean?" Elijah held his apartment door open wider to let him in.
Sean fell to his knees, sobbing. Elijah put his arms around him and held him. "I thought I knew where I was going, what I wanted," Sean said in a tear-hoarsened voice. "But I was wrong."
"Are you scared?" Elijah asked.
Sean raised his head; he met Elijah's gaze bravely and honestly, holding nothing back. "No, that's the amazing thing, Elijah. I'm not scared. I'm relieved, so fucking, fucking relieved."
Then he pulled Elijah close and kissed him, and counted not a single second lost.