January was always bitter in Pittsburgh, the sidewalks frosted and the sky heavy and grey. Today was no different, the cold even seeming to seep into the studio since Ginger was so frugal with the heating. Tired television workers huddled at desks and around the coffee machine, hoping to preserve body heat. Everyone except Ryan, of course.
"Someone turn the heat down, it's boiling in here," he snapped the second the he entered the studio. Having spent one last night at his own apartment gathering the remainder of his possessions, Ryan has woken up cold, uncomfortable, and with a very short temper. "And you-" He pointed to a new intern who had been warming their hands over a cup of coffee, "A juice box, please."
"Wh-what flavour?" They asked, looking like a deer caught in headlights.
"You know what I like," Ryan said airily, waving the intern away. They dithered in the centre of the room. It was only their second day; they did not know what he liked.
Ignoring Marsh's calls for his attention, Ryan squared his shoulders and continued towards his office. "Ryan-" Marsh placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Oh my God!" Ryan snapped. "I literally just got in, what do you want, Marsh? I don't want any sexist comments on the news today, and no irrelevant stories. You got that?" He stared intensely into Marsh's eyes, rising onto his tiptoes.
"Umm, umm..." Marsh glanced around, panicky, then pointed vaguely towards his office and hurried off.
"That's what I thought," Ryan yelled after him. He turned and walked smack into Chuck, who was watching his phone intently. He'd tried to start internet dating a few weeks ago and had done nothing around the studio since. Ryan wanted to tell him that he pretentious and selfish and undeserving of love; and that he had a face like toad. But he was always too skittish, despite the fact he was technically Chuck's superior.
"Hey Ryan," Chuck said to his phone. "Those glasses aren't good for much, huh?"
Ryan fumed. He was hot and uncomfortable and absolutely mad. He threw his jacket onto someone's desk, and squared up to Chuck. "Shut up! Don't mock me-"
"That's going to be difficult-" Chuck started, but Ryan continued before he could finish.
"No! Just listen to me! Someone got killed today. We need to report on that. Somebody died! And we're due more snow and global warming is crazy and there's been a new outbreak of a virus down south and rich people and embezzling taxes and WE NEED TO REPORT ON THIS!" The whole studio was cowering by the time Ryan was finished. He looked round, shocked and ashamed at how loud his voice was.
Chuck, however, was just laughing. "I'm sorry." He covered his mouth. "I just can't take you seriously in that top."
"Huh?" Ryan looked down at his top. Ok, so a tank top was more suited to pool-side Florida than a Pittsburgh office, but he was sick of being hot and sweaty and having to borrow other people's shirts. Especially Chuck's, who he was certain gave him too small shirts on purpose.
"It's just, you look like you're going to a rave or something." Chuck put a hand on Ryan's arm, pushing to one side and squeezing past, but Ryan shrugged him off. "Come on, Ryan," Chuck said good-naturedly. "That's a lot of skin to be showing for the office, and it's kind of tight."
"What? You think it's funny that I'm fat?" Ryan pointed an accusatory finger at Chuck, backing him against a desk. "You think that's hilarious, don't you? With your snide comments and your tight shirts and the way you'd dismiss me every time I got a date. You're disgusting, just like everyone else in media. God forbid we ever let fat people be anything but comedy, right? I have had it up to here-" Ryan held his hand next to his head, then realised that only came up to Chuck's shoulder. He raised it to Chuck's eye level. "I have had it up to here with you! Put your phone away, study your lines, and for God's sake leave Kelly alone, she doesn't like you."
Silence hung heavy in the air. This was usually the moment when Ryan panicked and apologised for everything he'd just said, but today he wasn't backing down. Instead it was Chuck who cowered against the desk. Ryan was aware that everyone was watching him but for once he didn't care.
Chuck tried several times to reply, but eventually melted under Ryan's gaze and hurried to his office. The second he slammed he door behind him Kelly opened it again. "Is everything alright? It sounds like a chipmunk's being strangled out here." She took in Ryan's flustered, defensive position. "Chuck's not being mean to you again, is he Ryan?"
"No," Ryan said brightly. "I'm ok."
"Alright, that's good," Kelly smiled. "I like your shirt, very summery."
"Thank you." Ryan's tone could've given a man diabetes.
Kelly ducked back into her office and Ryan whipped round to face the rest of the studio. "What do you think you're all doing?" He demanded. "Get back to work! Go, go!" People scattered, diving behind their desks to avoid Ryan's sharp glare. Once he was satisfied that everyone was working Ryan headed back towards his office.
"Umm, Mr Church?" A small voice behind him mumbled.
"Yeah?" Ryan turned to find the traumatised intern from earlier.
"Here are all the flavours of juice box we have." They held three small cartons out to Ryan. "Is that ok?"
"Aww." Ryan's face immediately softened as he took the boxes. "Of course, thank you. You're my favourite intern now, go take a coffee break," he said kindly. They scurried off.
Ryan remained in a mood for the rest of the day, intimidating Chuck and Marsh before they went on air, ordering the camera crew to actually focus their shots on the reporters, shouting at half the studio for bullying Gary. Ryan wanted to feel bad for being so short with people but the studio have never run so smoothly. He was not-so-secretly very impressed with himself.
At midday he excused himself for a lunch break for the first time since he'd started working there, telling everyone to listen to Kelly as he left. On the steps of the studio he ran into Craig.
"Oh, hey Ryan," Craig grinned. "What're you doing out here?"
Instead of replying Ryan just hugged, relaxing for the first time all day. Being in charge, properly in charge, felt good but it was also exhausting.
"And aren't you freezing? Very cute, though." Craig kissed Ryan on the cheek and ran his hands up and down his arms, but Ryan was warm to the touch.
"I took a lunch break," Ryan mumbled to Craig's coat. "And I'm boiling."
"I can tell." Craig turned and started to head back down the steps with Ryan. "You don't normally take a lunch break, though. I was just coming to ask if you wanted a sandwich or something."
"Pizza. And garlic bread. But not the kind that looks like a pizza because that's just like eating two pizzas, I want the slices that look like bread," Ryan said in his authoritative tone. "They taste better."
Craig smiled fondly. "You're grumpy today, huh? Course we can get some pizza." He placed a hand on Ryan's back, guiding him down a side street and towards a diner they frequented after work.
"I'm not grumpy," Ryan huffed. "I'm just... a reasonable level of frustrated."
Craig held the door for Ryan as they entered the diner. "Alright, well why don't you keep that reasonable level of frustration at the table so you don't piss off any wait staff," he suggested, absently pulling out a chair for Ryan then ruffling his hair.
"Yeah, that's fair," Ryan conceded.
Over lunch Ryan thawed, talking excitedly about everything they could do now they lived together. "We can go grocery shopping together. And stay up late watching movies! And bake cookies at three am oh my gosh!"
"We do all that stuff now, Ryan," Craig grinned.
"Yeah, but now we'll be doing that stuff and living together!"
A sharp wind blew as Craig walked Ryan back to the office and he shivered, the winter weather finally getting to him. "You cold?" Craig asked. Ryan shrugged, feeling like a little kid who hadn't listened to his parents. "Here-" Craig slipped his jacket from his shoulders, "Have my jacket."
Ryan reached to take it but stopped suddenly, looking away and opting to instead hunch his shoulders for warmth. "No, no, it's alright," he mumbled.
"Honestly, I have a sweater on underneath," Craig said, holding his sweater out to show Ryan before realising that was stupid; of course he could see it.
"I, I don't, I just don't want it," Ryan blushed, picking up the pace a little and wrapping his arms around himself. The wind chilled him to the bone and he'd begun to get those whole-body shudders that seemed to rattle his ribs.
"Ryan." Craig smirked and shook his head. "You're so stubborn sometimes, here." He draped his jacket around Ryan's shoulders and pulled him close to his side. "Better?"
"Mm." Ryan sunk into the jacket and wriggled a little closer to Craig. "It's just, I don't really like borrowing other people's clothes," he said softly.
"Fifty percent of your wardrobe is my stolen clothes," Craig replied with a chuckle. "What do you mean?"
"That's true." Ryan wished he hadn't said anything. "But I just wear those 'round the apartment and stuff, that's ok. I couldn't wear them out though because they don't really, y'know." Craig did not look like he knew. "Y'know, fit."
"Ah." Craig stopped Ryan and hugged him tightly. He appreciated the warmth. "Oh Ryan, you're silly. I love you so much." He kissed him on the forehead. "You don't have to worry about other people's clothes fitting you. They're other people's clothes for a reason. In fact, you don't even have to worry about your clothes fitting you, it doesn't matter." He looked over at Ryan, shivering and clinging to his jacket. "Is that why you're dressed for a beach party? So you don't have to borrow anyone's shirt?"
"I dunno." Ryan squirmed. "Maybe a bit. I do get super hot in the studio though."
They were back at the studio steps now, Ryan still wearing Craig's jacket like a cape. He reached to take it off. "No, it's ok. You can keep it," Craig stopped him. A huge grin split his face. "Then you can bring it back to our apartment tonight."
"Cool," Ryan giggled. "See you tonight, roomie." He hopped up a couple of steps to kiss Craig goodbye.
"Yeah, ses you later," Craig smiled. He waited for Ryan to continue up the steps a little before calling, "You look super hot, by the way!"
Ryan blushed and pretended to ignore him, but watched him leave the second he turned his back. Once Craig was out of eyeshot Ryan turned to the studio doors and pushed them opened dramatically. The security guard raised an eyebrow but said nothing. He'd seen much stranger things.
Ryan smirked. He was ready to manage some studio workers.