The next week felt like it went by much too slowly to Shay. She spent her days reading until she couldn't see straight, and then the rest of her time was spent sleeping and being waited on by the guys. Benson was getting closer and closer, and she was beginning to not mind it so much. She had to admit it was flattering to have him so interested, and it was starting to feel like he actually liked her for her and not just her physical features. She was still not sure about jumping into anything with him, she didn't want to risk screwing this up, but there wasn't a lot of time left in the tour, and she was unsure as to what would happen to their relationship after the contract ran out. She knew they would be recording their song, but nothing past that.

After she finished her first show since her collapse they all opted to just head for the bus and have a little celebration together rather than go to one of the after parties they typically would have hit. "To the return of Shay!" Ethan raised his beer bottle and they all did the same before taking drinks.

"This not going to an after party thing is making me feel old." Lyle said as he flopped onto the couch.

"How do you think I felt? I couldn't do anything at all! I've been stuck on the bus for a week!" They all looked at each other then and Lyle was the first to say it with a nod.

"We're going out. Fuck it." They all set down their drinks and filed off the bus, Benson slipped his arm around Shay's waist casually, and while she looked at him quizzically she didn't move away.

They had a taxi take them to a club up the street and they started ordering drinks right away. Benson was careful not to let Shay do too much, he sat with her at the bar as the others each found themselves girls to seduce and went out to dance. "You know," Benson had to yell over the pounding music, "You should really give this a chance. I know you want me." Shay looked at him sideways and raised an eyebrow.

"Really? What makes you think that?" He grinned at her.

"You and I have been sleeping together for months now, and you let me hold you just about every night. You let me hold you on the way here." Shay bit her lip and looked into her glass as though there was something suddenly interesting about her drink. "Stop being scared! Let it happen!" He urged, as though she needed the added encouragement. Her resolve had been cracking for a long time, but she still wasn't ready to let go of that control she had left. She looked at him then, entirely too close to be friendly, but her eyes were scared and apologetic and he sat back putting distance between them. His grin faltered and he looked down at his hands before meeting her eyes. "So no then." It wasn't a question. He knew that look.

"Benson, we both know how this ends. Why even jump in if we know the water's going to be cold?" He moved closer again, she thought he was going to kiss her, but instead he just hovered there, letting the tension build up until it was almost unbearable.

"Does that feel cold to you? Because it doesn't feel cold to me. It feels hot. So hot it's burning me, but I don't want to pull my hand away. You can't tell me you don't feel it, that attraction on more than one level." Shay could feel that magnetism, that pull of two opposites, the irresistible kind, and no matter how hard she fought it she realized now there was no escape other than going home and never finishing the chapter of which she was currently in the middle. She couldn't go down this road without him, and she didn't want to, but it terrified her. She'd never felt a pull like it, and it gave her a thrill she thought she would never get ever again.

"No," she said before she kissed him. That was the beginning of the end of her last drop of privacy.

The paparazzi caught every moment of that first night, the heated exchange before the kiss, and the dancing and partying they did together for the rest of the night. The pictures were plastered on the front pages of almost every tabloid and magazine by the next morning.

"Benson! Shay! Wake the fuck up!" Lyle screamed at them late the next morning. The pair had agreed to try to keep it quiet and keep it from their band mates until after the tour, but the cat didn't even make it into the bag.

"What the hell, Woody? Shay still needs SOME rest!" Benson said crankily. Lyle threw the first tabloid at him.

"Looks like you two had a grand ol' time last night. Everyone saw you, we even saw you. Bobby's not happy, the company's not happy. No one is happy. If things between you guys go south, which, let's be honest here, we all know they will, that's the end of it. All of it." Shay interjected then.

"Wait a second, wait a second! This isn't how I wanted anyone to find out, okay? You don't think I'm not terrified this guy is going to be the end of me? I know his track record, or lack thereof, with women, and I know how he is." She buried her fingers in her hair and tugged a little. "I'm going to have to call my mom… Just to explain. This is just great. Why did I let you talk me into this?" Benson glared at her, then at Lyle.

"Don't you dare start having second thoughts; don't let anyone make you think twice about it. I'm not going to do anything to you." He pointed at Lyle. "And you have no room to talk. You don't get to come to me and tell me what an idiot I'm being and how bad I am for her got that? When was the last time I even wanted a girlfriend? Let alone worked to get one." Lyle just shook his head.

"You're a lost cause." He looked at Shay. "Run while you can. Don't let this happen, don't let him happen to you." Shay was too angry to see the change in Lyle then. She couldn't see the pleading in his eyes or hear it in his voice, if she had, she would have listened to his advice, and instead she shook her head.

"I'll be fine. Thanks for the concern, but I'll be fine. I'm a big girl. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go do some damage control on my mother." She slipped out of the bunk and went to the back of the bus to call her mom. After answering all her questions and reassuring her that she was taking things slow and being responsible she went to join the rest of the band.

Things were tense, and she decided to try to put everyone at ease. "I'm not going to be the reason you all stop talking, do you understand me? Nothing changes, I'm still not having sex with Benson," Benson got a small sound of protest out here, but Shay ignored him. "I'm still just Shay. Benson is still, well, Benson. I'm still doing shows with you and living with you. Don't start treating me any different, okay? Please?" She ended with a lot less conviction and a lot more self-consciousness than when she started, and it made her sound timid. Ethan was the first to nod and agree.

"Alright, but when you two start screwing, just, make sure none of us are around." Shay laughed.

"I don't agree with this decision, but I didn't agree with the decision to let you come on tour with us, either, so my opinion obviously matters really little." Micah said.

"I don't agree, either, but I like you, and you're the first girl I'd actually approve of him dating. I just like you, and disapprove of him as a choice for you." Spencer said. "I won't be an asshole about it, though. I'll sit back and let you two be idiots so long as I don't have to see a bunch of PDA."

"I don't like it, and I won't like it, and I'll do everything in my power to make it harder for you two to be together. It's for both of your own good." Lyle said. Shay couldn't help but liken his response to that of a child who wasn't getting his way, but she really didn't expect much different from Lyle.

"Benson, can you live with that? I can. At least for now." Benson crossed his arms over his chest.

"I protest your refusal to sleep with me." He said. Shay laughed.

"I know you do. Tough cookies, though. I'm not rushing anything, if you don't like it, we don't have to do this."

"Is no one else going to mention the fact that technically you guys sleep together every night?" Ethan looked too pleased with himself and it got everyone laughing.

"Good point." Spencer said.

"You all know what I meant. Unless you want me to spell it out for you, because I can do that no problem." Benson threatened. They all declined his offer and things went on as usual.

They were hounded by paparazzi more than ever now that everyone was correct in assuming Shay and Benson were an item, even if they hadn't made it official yet. The record label had ordered them to stay silent and ambiguous about it, but to play it up on stage at every chance they got. Their immediate families knew, just to prevent hurt feelings, but outside of the few, no one else was allowed to know.

The tour went on as planned, nothing changing, the dynamic even managed to stay the same. Shay had even noted that Benson seemed to be drinking less than he had before, maybe he was happy, she didn't know, but she wasn't complaining. They went to the after parties and had a good time with everyone, and then they got on the bus and drove to the next show to do it all over again. Shay had recovered well from her bout with exhaustion, and she was performing 110%. The guys were all starting to wind down and were beginning to talk about getting home and seeing their families. She missed home, but she was starting to feel the emptiness of being without her new found family among the guys who had so willingly given her a spot in their band and lives.

A few nights before their last show, she decided she didn't want to go to the after party, but urged the rest of them to go and not to let her ruin their night. All but Benson went, for obvious reasons. They had barely made it onto the bus before Shay broke down in tears. "Whoa, whoa, what's this about?" Benson wasn't the best with such a display of emotion, and so he stood there hands at his sides wondering what to do. She just shook her head.

"It's almost all over for me." She managed to sob that out, and it finally clicked for him. He hadn't thought about it like that. The breaks after tours were usually spent at home writing music and in the studio getting their next album out with the rest of the guys, but Shay would be going home, half a country away from the rest of them. It hit him like a freight train and he sat down.

"Come with us." He said after a bit of thinking.

"Benson, I can't just come with you. I have a life to get back to. School, my family, a few friends…" She trailed off. "I have a life I put on hold to do this for six months, and time's almost up. I have to go back. I get to record our song, but after that, I have to go home." She sniffed. Benson was silent, staring at the floor for a long while before he looked at her and got on his knee in front of her. Shay just laughed and shook her head. "What are you doing?"

"I'm proposing, stop laughing." Shay laughed harder.

"Stop it. Get up. You're not proposing, I won't say yes if you do."

"You would say no if I got a proposal out? Seriously?" He was offended, Shay knew that, but she didn't think he was thinking things through properly.

"Yes, now get up. You're not thinking straight." She sat at the booth and he slid in after her.

"That's a blow to the ego, for sure. My first proposal and I get turned down before I even get it out." Shay giggled.

"You wouldn't have meant it anyway. You'd have found a way out before it was official. Let's not kid ourselves; this was doomed from the start. It'll end when I go home." She picked at the skin around her nails as she said it, saying it made her sad for a lot of reasons.

"Why does it have to?" He asked.

"Because you're a rock star, and you'll fuck the first thing with a vagina that throws itself at you by then." She could see him bristle at her words, but he didn't argue. "I'm not going to be that girl, waiting for a call that never comes, believing a lie because I want it to be the truth too much. I won't let you humiliate me publicly every time you guys go out." He grabbed her hands and looked at her dead in the eyes.

"Why are you with me if that's what you think I'm going to do to you? Are you that stupid? I don't think so. You see something more here, I know you do. I know I do." Shay shook her head and looked away.

"Benson, I agreed to this because I couldn't avoid it. I knew that if I wanted to finish this without any 'what ifs' that included finally agreeing to date you." He looked puzzled. He couldn't grasp that concept.

"I don't understand, Shay. I'm just some life experience? A necessary mistake? I like you, a lot, enough to hold off on pressuring you for sex, and believe me, that's not easy for any guy let alone me. I've let you tease me during shows and photo shoots, and haven't looked for a release since you got on the bus. You think all that was some ploy to get into your pants and dump you without a second thought?" Shay opened her mouth to speak, but no words came so she simply closed her mouth. She felt guilty now. She had never thought of it like that. "Give me some credit; I thought you knew better than that. I thought you knew me better than that."

"Can you blame me, though? Really think about it, I'm a good amount younger than you, you're widely known as a womanizer, and I'm only here for a short amount of time." Benson thought a moment.

"What if we decided we wanted you to join the band? Did you never think about that? The guys like you, they've let you perform with them for the past six months, and they've lived with you since then, too. The record label might even go for it if we write some killer stuff that includes you. You'd have to come home with us, though." Shay had thought about it, but she didn't expect it. In fact, she had been telling herself for weeks now not to expect it.

"Is it really that simple? What about my family? School?" Shay asked.

"It's that simple, and your mom can visit, your friends too. As for school, you can do that online now, can't you? It isn't like you don't have the time, or money, now. Well, you won't during writing and studio time, but during tours and downtime you will." Shay thought about it.

"If you get the green light from all of the guys, and I mean a real green light, it has to be unanimous. I'll think more about it." Shay said. Benson grinned at her.

"See? That wasn't so bad. You didn't have to cry, sweetheart." He pulled her into himself and gave her a quick squeeze and a kiss on the top of her head.

"Benson, what if all this works out, but you and I don't work out?" Shay asked after a few moments of silence.

"Let's not think about that unless we end up in that situation, alright?" Shay agreed physically with a nod, but she couldn't shake it mentally. It plagued her for the remainder of the night.

A.N. I know, I know, I haven't updated in forever and a day before chapter 9, and you get 9 and no explanation. Consider this your explanation. I have almost 100 more pages, and lots of revisions I'm still debating on whether or not I'll post. Let me know what you think about things so far, favorite characters, things I could or should change, all that jazz. Thanks for being patient, and thanks for reading, it means a lot.