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Kismet.

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Like every year, Shane seemed to disappear through the whole day, trying his best to not be bothered with big smiles, good wishes and gifts. And like every year, Ryan tried his best to not grab him by the shoulders and ask him what the hell was wrong with him.

“Happy birthday, big guy.” He smiled at his friend when Shane finally sat down at his side after recording as many things as he could in one of the audio booths.

Shane sighed, defeated. “Thanks, I hate it.”

“Well, I didn’t get you anything this year.”

“You’re still reminding me I’m getting older.”

“Come on!”

That was one of the biggest lie Shane had told him, and he had lied enough to Ryan. He sighed, remembering their doctor’s words just last week, “Mr. Bergara, your boyfriend—he may be a little touch starved. Be patient with him.”

He’s not my boyfriend had died on his tongue and instead Ryan had only asked, “What can I do?”

“Love him a lot,” The man had answered with a big smile before listing all things he could try.

It was easier said than done, especially when the man wasn’t his to love; no matter how pretty the sunflowers he had gotten after their Bigfoot hunt were, and how much effort Ryan put into keeping them alive.

Shane had told him enough during their last trip for Supernatural, but on their way home, the silence had come back with a vengeance.

Nothing had changed in the end.

Shane’s hand wasn’t gloved today, Ryan touched his fingers tenderly with the tip of his and the man’s entire frame tensed at his side. Taking away his hand, Ryan swallowed and waited for his friend to say something, but nothing ever came.

“Ryan?” He heard after hours of working in silence.

He looked at his side where Shane kept his gaze on his own archive of editing footage, headphones around his neck; Ryan took off his to show attention to whatever Shane was about to say.

“Do you wanna go out with me sometime?”

They hung out almost daily — lunch together had become law. But this was new. This was them after Bigfoot hunts, hand holding, long kisses and deep confessions. Them, after Ryan had found out his feelings were requited.

“Yeah,” Ryan answered, grin spreading on his face. “How about a movie today?”

“As long as it’s not for my birthday, okay.”

“Good.”

Kismet.

He dreamt of dead sunflowers and birds that could not fly, and once you have those visions since childhood, you become kind of tired of any horrors the world has to offer.

As a kid, Shane used to ask about it every day. About why he kept dreaming this, and why he couldn’t hug people, or why his mother had died so young. These questions were always met with a thin white line on his father’s lips.

Growing up, he got used to the sensation of gloves on his hands and long sleeved shirts, jumpers and sweaters, jeans and hats, his skin always covered, and the instant reaction to get away when someone tried to touch him.

“It’s not your fault”, his therapist had told him at age ten when he started to understand his curse. “Nobody choses their Gift”, the woman had said.

But death was in his fingertips in every move. He saw his grandmother’s plants die at his touch and his best friend slowly getting sick after taking his hand while walking to the store together for weeks.

Then at twelve, he knew the truth.

“I killed mom?” He had asked Scott. Blinking, his brother’s eyes went big and his face too pale.

Scott’s Gift was to control water; Shane still wishes he had gotten something like that.

“No.” His brother answered. “God, Alex—“ And he rounded him with his arms, Shane’s face on his coat and Scott’s chin on his beanie. None of him touching any skin.

Shane swallowed.

“No, silly. That had nothing to do with you.”

Years later, at twenty-six, his father insisted his touch had not killed his mother. His family still called him Alex for his grandfather’s name was also Shane Madej, they still hugged him shortly from time to time, and they all said the same.

“She just had to leave.”

Shane would have loved to explain this to Ryan. Make him see why there was nothing out there he believed in that could scare Shane, that could teach him souls stay to finish business because then—then he would need to know from his own mother, he would maybe face the truth he had always feared.

He saw his friend shiver at nothing in particular, just his shadow casting monsters only Ryan could see. It made him think of what Ryan had shared with him sometime before, of his nightmares where pitch black hands with long nails tried to touch him. Shane wanted to hold him, make him see.

Closing his eyes, he began the familiar chant—one, then two, and three. Your touch eventually kills. Don’t touch Ryan.

The Lizzie Borden house would have almost been kind of cozy if it wasn’t for the murderous past it exploited nowadays. It was also cold when the rest of the team had left, dark as they prepared to sleep after filming, and Ryan jumped at his own noises while walking to turn the lights on.

Like many times before, Shane wondered how someone so literally full of life could be scared of what may lay beyond.

“This bed is too small…” He noted, while Ryan didn’t seem to mind it one bit. “Ryan,”

The man looked at him after turning off the lights.

“This bed is too small.”

Ryan frowned, looking at him with disbelief. “So?” He walked to the bed and towards him, taking his bag from the floor. “I mean, I guess your infinite legs won’t fit but we’ve slept in worse places, haven’t we?”

Not this close. Shane closed his eyes and breathed in-and-out, in-and-out.

He could sleep on the floor, this much he said to Ryan before his friend threw a pillow in his direction, claiming the camera was framed for a shot of them sleeping in the same bed.

Fuck.

“Come on, if your shoulder touches mine, you’ll get at least ten extra days of healthy life!” Ryan joked. The big smile on his face made Shane want to throw up.

“I’m not touching you, that’s the point.” It sounded way more aggressive than he meant it, but Shane just ran a hand through his hair, the other landing on his hip. “Fuck.”

“Dude—“ Ryan was frowning again. Shane wasn’t looking at him, but he could hear the frown. “What’s wrong with you?”

He didn’t answer. Too many questions would follow that and his throat was closing because—because he should have made sure this place was more suitable for his fucking situation. Anxiety started to build in his stomach and Shane shook his head, trying to not make Ryan any more curious.

One, then two, and three. Your touch eventually kills. Don’t touch Ryan.

“I just… Okay. Let’s just—get into bed.” He suggested, but he could feel Ryan’s eyes still on him as he moved.

“Shane?” Ryan called, Shane looked up at him slowly. “What’s wrong?”

He closed his eyes, breathing loud and heavy.

One, then two, and three. Your touch eventually kills. Don’t touch Ryan.

Shane opened his eyes, “Nothing.”


 

“Do you know that your Gift has a mirror?”

“Uh?” Ryan looked up to Jake. His brother had a finger on the book he was studying, and he saw Helen approaching them from the corner of his eye. “What do you mean a mirror?”

“Someone with the opposite of your ability.”

“That sounds horrible,” Helen said, sitting at the table with them after leaving the popcorn in the middle. Ryan took the whole bowl and his companions protested immediately.

“Hush, I’m not eating all,” He answered. “So, a mirror. That’s, like… holy fuck, someone out there can kill with their touch?”

Jake nodded, going back to reading. “I mean—it’s like yours, eventually they may kill someone with their touch. Apparently, the process is slower than your healing.”

“Not even controlling it?” Helen asked, taking some of the popcorn from him.

The afternoon glow was casting a golden halo over her hair, and Ryan smiled. Her ability to soothe and heal other people’s feelings was incredible, like out of a dream, just as she was looking right at his side. Helen looked at him, blinking, and Ryan smiled again.

“Poor guy,” She told him and he came back from his inner world, looking back at Jake who was showing something to his girlfriend on his phone. “Imagine if that Gift was in the hands, no pun intended, of someone… really bad.”

“That—“ Ryan swallowed, remembering every talk he had endured about his ability being more than just a Gift, but a big responsibility. “That would be a nightmare. I guess everyone is keeping an eye on this dude.”

Helen passed Jake’s phone to him, the Mirror Directory displayed on the screen. Ryan had never visited the page, even knowing his Gift was one of a kind. It never occurred to him it could also be a Mirror.

Male, older than him. The directory didn’t offer a name or picture, just that there had been a child born before him with Thanatos’ Touch and so, he was sorted to have Hebe’s.

So, this was the person he should be glaring at for giving him his cross.

“You know…” Helen cocked her head to the side. “It must be a torment. Don’t get me wrong, Ry—“ She said putting a hand on his arm, then looking back at Jake. “I know your Gift can be a pain in the ass, too. But this guy…” She sighed. “He probably can’t touch anybody he loves. Can you imagine growing up like that?”

Jake shrugged, the uncomfortable aura between the three of them starting to feel warm, and Helen sighed, closing her eyes while she concentrated in driving it out the window with her own aura.

Around her, nothing seemed to happen. No white glow, angel wings, or light coming from somewhere, not even sound or something that may give it away, just the calm feeling filling his chest and draining his lungs.

She was forming circles on her own skin, the only sign that she was working her Gift. Jake looked up with a smile.

“That’s much better.”

Helen smiled at his brother, and Ryan looked down at the phone again, wondering. He had always wondered about the person that could mirror his ability, always thought they would never meet—

Today Ryan was wide awake.

He was looking at Shane’s back in the darkness of Lizzie’s room, years after finding out about his mirror. And—

There was—there was no way.

Many Gifts worked with touch, he reminded himself; plenty were uncomfortable to users and some others just preferred to keep them a secret, to never let it affect their lives. Shane was one of those, Ryan tried to tell his tired mind. He wasn’t—he wasn’t who he thought he was.

Unless… “Shane?” He softly murmured to no answer. Swallowing, Ryan tapped his shoulder, waiting. “Shane, man, are you awake?”

There was a deep breath being taken and Ryan took his hand away from his friend’s shoulder. “Sadly”, Shane finally answered. “What? Ghosties being romantic to your ear?”

“Shut up.” He answered, sitting up on the bed and hoping Shane would get the hint. “Just…” Swallowing again, he moved his hand to try and touch Shane’s arms, but he stopped. If Shane didn’t like to be touched, then— “You know, my Gift has a mirror.”

Silence met him next, and as he looked down to confirm Shane hadn’t fallen asleep again, he found him staring straight into the ceiling, like praying to something he didn’t believe in. His Adam’s Apple moving up and down when he swallowed.

“Yeah?”

Fuck. “Yeah, it’s called Thanatos’ Touch or something dramatic like that.”

He seemed to smile, but Ryan wasn’t so sure in the darkness. He could barely see him, mostly just making out the shape of him still laying on the bed. Ryan crossed his legs meditation style and tried again.

“It’s a person that— their touch does the reverse of mine.”

Before the next pause started to become suspicious, Shane answered, voice very awake. “And what would that be, Ryan?”

“Maybe—“ Ryan imagined reaching in the dark and grabbing Shane’s arm, feeling that electricity he’d read so much about, the effect of his Gift reacting to contrast Thanatos’ touch. “Maybe, they eventually kill the people they touch?” He finished as if asking, as if Shane could answer him.

His friend said nothing at the end, and when Ryan used his phone to confirm his theory, he sighed at the sight of Shane fast asleep again, his back to him once more. He licked his lips, looking at his friend’s uncovered skin, the thought of just touching too tempting before shadow arms came from the darkness to touch him, and Ryan went back to his side of the bed, back to Shane’s.

Those hands went back to his memories, and he wished he could explain to Shane what was in every corner, in every step, why he believed.


 

The first time he touched Ryan without his gloves, it was an accident.

His heart had dropped to his stomach as his friend laughed it off, not even mentioning the shock of literal electricity going around their bodies at the contact.

He had basically fallen into Shane’s arms as they walked inside the limo, Jen and Maycie laughing as they struggled to get in there without becoming a knot of limbs and clothes. Ryan had been laughing as Shane slowly moved away, trying to not call attention to himself.

But Ryan kept touching him.

The man kept putting his arm around his shoulders and playing with his hair, obviously addicted to the new sensation of their skin against each other’s. And Shane—Shane would have done something had he not been as drunk.

Back when they met, Ryan’s gloved hands hadn’t caught his attention for many people had Gifts that required touch and could sabotage their everyday life easily. It had helped him to maintain his a secret as best he could, and it never occurred to him that Ryan would be That One Person he daydreamed of meeting when he was younger.

Soon after getting help from a therapist, Shane read as much as he could about his Gift.

Everyone was born with one, most of them repeated in many people but his was—unique. Dangerous, but unique.

It was a rare one, to the point Shane was the only person alive right in that moment to have it. Most countries called it their own way, but he’d grown up calling it Thanatos’ Touch as his doctor and therapist did.

The only time more than one person with it had been alive at the same time was in the 1910s. Three people, all from different parts of the world, none related in any way. And for each of them, there had been another person with Hebe’s Touch, the Gift to give life with touch.

Supposedly, every time someone with Thanatos’ Touch was born, someone with Hebe’s Touch walked the Earth, too, like some kind of fairy tale.

As a kid, Shane had believed all of it, and had gotten excited to learn that yes, someone was registered as having Hebe’s Touch a few years after he was born. He daydreamed of meeting them, of meeting the only person he could touch without eventually killing them.

Then, he grew up. And yet—

When he met Ryan, the man at his side had gloved hands and looked at him with a big smile, like he was genuinely happy to see him, even though they had never met before.

“You must be Ryan,” Shane said, waving his hand like an idiot.

He nodded, offering his hand while still sitting at his newly assigned desk. “Ryan Bergara. Nice to meet you, man.”

“Shane Madej,” He answered, taking his hand and smiling at the way the boy—he wheezed at their gloved hands making ridiculous noises as they rubbed together.  “Nice gloves.”

“Nice gloves to you, too,” He answered, gesturing at the black leather. Shane finally sat down in his chair, computer still sleeping before he got to work. “I guess we’re not in the stage to be telling each other our Gifts? I just hope it’s nothing I have to worry about, right? Cause I’m gonna be sitting by your side from now on, man.”

Shane froze, he swallowed and forced a smile to look at Ryan Bergara at his side. Ryan was busy checking his emails, but immediately looked at Shane when he felt his stare.

“Nothing to worry about, man.”

“Great.”

He still dreamed of dead sunflowers and birds that couldn’t fly. And about this moment, a scenario in which he was free to tell Ryan the truth from the beginning, where he gets to tell him,

“I’m the one you don’t believe in, I’m the only thing you don’t believe in. I’m your mirror.

What I touch eventually dies.

I made Sara sick.

The negative feelings in my lungs made Helen cry when she tried to heal it.

I think I killed my mother.

I asked to be put on Unsolved, it wasn’t a coincidence.

Maybe I’m in love you with you.

Maybe I’m just in love with the idea of you.

I’m still scared I may kill you if I touch you.

I’m scared of the fact that I know I truly do love you.”

“Hey, big guy!”

Ryan woke him up, world already dark around them and Shane sighed, blinking at him for they had been driving for a while, many years after meeting.

“We’re here. Time to get us some Sasquatch meat!”


 

Shane always wore gloves, and never talked about his Gift.

Every cell in Ryan’s body felt magnetized at the idea of discovering whatever big secret his friend’s hands kept, but his brain was also aware enough to know he shouldn’t be creeping on Shane’s personal business. There had to be a reason why he hadn’t told him anything.

There was a bet going on at work, where the person who discovered Shane’s Gift would—well, they never actually talked about it, but there was a blackboard in the communal kitchen with every person who had tried to guess’ names on it.

In almost four years, nobody had gotten anything out of Shane’s mouth, and sometimes, Ryan could see him glaring at them for trying. But more often than not, he just laughed it off and sent them to fuck off somewhere.

“I got something for you, mister,” Keith said one Monday morning, too damn cheerful for everyone’s liking.

Shane looked up at him anyway, coffee on his lips, and he only nodded. Keith signaled him, “You’re it—the devil.”

“I sure am. Right, Ryan?”

“Yup.”

Ryan walked in, sitting by Shane’s side while everyone else still seemed interested in whatever Keith had to say. By the time Ned and Jen had gotten too close, Shane tensed at his side and Ryan realized he didn’t have his gloves and jacket on.

His hands and most of his arms were exposed.

“You have Thanatos’ Touch!” Keith said, firm and serious, and this time there wasn’t a smile on his face. Ryan froze and immediately looked at Shane. “You don’t tell anyone so we won’t panic. That’s why you only do one-night-stands. And why you cover your entire body when the sun is melting everyone’s brains outside.”

Nobody was saying anything. Shane only lowered his cup to the table and Ryan saw the second a small tick on his upper lip made it shiver. Shane bit his bottom lip, and then smiled.

“It’s not that dramatic,” He answered, something missing in his voice.

Ryan looked at everyone in the kitchen to see if anybody else had noticed. But people were starting to relax and laugh.

“I would have killed all of you already if that was the case!”

“Dammit!” Keith said, a fresh wave of laughter pouring in from everyone.

He saw Ned standing up to put Keith’s name on the board, Thanatos’ Touch at its side, and Ryan swallowed, slowly looking down at the table were Shane’s uncovered hand rested. His fingers were white, put into fists. Then, he stood.

“Shane?” Ryan followed, ignoring the new conversation that had started between their coworkers.

The hallway back to their desks was filled with life, the sound of fingers typing and murmurs familiar. Finally, Ryan reached Shane and saw his hand free from his fist and his gloves.

For two seconds too long, he wanted to take it, see if it was true that he could feel this was his mirror. He wanted to know if maybe his friend had lied, or if he just wanted him to.

Standing there, Shane again far from him, Ryan let out a long sigh with his eyes closed.

Maybe Helen was right—he had to figure out what he wanted.

When he and Helen had broken up, a part of him wasn’t sure they would still see each other and call the other a friend. Months later, he had invited her to a party he promised some friends to do, just so they would meet his BuzzFeed friends.

Last weekend was still fresh in his head.

Ryan had gasped that night, seeing her outside with Shane of all people. Blinking like an idiot, to this day, he wasn’t sure why he felt like this or who he felt it for.

There were people laughing around him, music loud enough to make you stupid while drunk and he walked among his friends to his balcony, not sure if he was about to make a scene or step into the biggest betrayal of the unspoken oath between him and Shane.

But—he froze, few steps away from the sliding door.

Helen moved her hand hesitantly, letting it hover in the air before it landed firm in the middle of Shane's lower back, making soothing circles while he leaned into the balcony's ironwork, his shoulders shaking.

Fuck. He hadn’t seen that one coming.

He was also a little bit drunk. Part of him told him he was seeing things, but his hand still slid open the balcony door, into Helen using her Gift and holy shit, Ryan felt like an asshole.

“Is everything alright?”

Shane didn’t look at him, but Helen did, crying tears that didn’t belong to her. She smiled and nodded, and if he hadn’t known what her ability was, he may have thought he just interrupted a break up or love confession.

“Are you gonna be okay?” She asked Shane, and he took his time to respond, only nodding. “Great. You can call me… You know that, right?”

He heard his friend clearing his throat, slowly looking at his ex-girlfriend and nodding again. “Yeah.”

“I mean it.” She said, her tone as firm as it was the day they had that conversation that made them go into different paths. “Don’t give up.”

Shane nodded again, but Ryan was more concentrated on the fact that Helen was touching him—granted, no exposed skin, but touching Shane anyway. Whatever she had perceived in him must have been strong and heavy for her to get this close in just one night, to cry due to whatever feeling Shane was holding so close; her healing had put them on edge.

As she walked away, Ryan went to his friend, not sure of what he should say or if he should let him know how stupid he’d been, what his drunk ass had thought when he saw them outside together.

But Shane was looking down, not drunk, not even a little bit tipsy.

Drunk Shane was a lot of fun. He got even more giggly, free and touchy. They constantly did stupid shit, like ordering alien onesies online or watching The Notebook while yelling at the characters to make better decisions.

That day, though, Shane had licked his lips and looked at him.

“I didn’t know what Helen’s Gift was.” He said, and Ryan nodded. “Took me by surprise, what she can do.”

“Yeah…” He sighed, leaning his back on the ironwork. “Feels weird, right? How the… positive thing starts to spread in your body, or something.”

“Or something.” Shane chuckled. “She’s great.”

“Yep.”

Later, Ryan thought of that silence as a lost opportunity—there was that question floating again, “What’s your Gift?”, and in the moment, he’d thought it wasn’t the right time. In reality, if he had gotten the balls to ask, Shane would have probably told him right away.

“When are we leaving?”

“Uh, Tuesday. I tried for it to be on the weekend, but—“

“It’s fine.” Shane finally looked at him, smiling a bit. His nose and eyes were a little red. “Let’s hope the ghosties are on your side this time.”

“Oh, fuck you. And we are not looking for ghosts in Willow Creek! We are getting your second cousin, Bigfoot!”

In the silence that followed their laughter, Ryan thought about Shane’s own and how often he had noticed his distraction from the world. Such a good actor, way too kind to actually show his real feelings. It made him sick.

“I don’t believe in the mirror effect.” Ryan said, his voice sounded far away to himself. Not an echo, just… not there. “I mean, I know they exist, of course. I don’t believe in what they say about them.”

Shane laughed at his side, still looking in front of him without finding anything. “You mean; you don’t believe in Kismet.”

“Nope.”

“Well, aren’t you full of surprises, Bergara?” Shane looked at him, and Ryan followed his lead until he was smiling up at his friend. “To you, ghosts and conspiracies are real, but soulmates aren’t?”

“Come on!” He moved, facing Shane entirely. “You’re not telling me you actually think Kismet is a thing? Someone predestinated to you? Dude.”

“No, not like that.” He sounded serious all of a sudden, and Ryan’s shoulders started to feel somehow heavy. “We know mirrors not only are opposites, they complement each other; the energy when mirrors’ abilities touch can be felt, also confirmed. It’s science, Ryan. Biology! That’s what I believe.”

Ryan sighed. “I knew your big head wouldn’t be sold on something not realistic.”

There was a strange glimmer in Shane’s eyes Ryan hadn’t wanted to mention in the moment, something that haunted his mind for a long time after. He wasn’t looking at him anymore, his eyes were back to the ground below them, into the empty street and the lights that danced with the murmur of cars and smoke.

Shane licked his lips, and for real—Ryan needed to stop looking at his mouth. He closed his eyes, opening them away from Shane’s face, waiting for whatever else was gonna be said.

“There’s proof…” Shane started but the words couldn’t leave his mouth, Ryan risked looking up again, his friend wasn’t looking anyway. “The… romantic part of Kismet. There’s proof it may exist.”

“Uh…”

“I don’t think people are soulmates. I just think… it’s fascinating; you know? Like Joffrey and Jeffrey.”

Ryan laughed, that was something he could work with. “Oh, the unable to lie and able to convince non-twins? I love that story.”

“Of course you do,” Shane chuckled. “They didn’t know each other ever in their lives, and yet lived basically the same life in different countries. Same birthday, same age, almost the same name.”

“It’s one case in—“

“Lennon and McCartney had mirror Gifts that matched their also opposite personalities, but made their understanding of the other so deep, McCartney felt it when Lennon died.”

“Shane. They were obsessed with each other.”

“Guess Jobs and Wozniak having the exact same mirror as them and the same connection is also obsession.”

Not helping his case, Ryan wheezed. It was surreal, having Shane school him on soul bonds and connections dictated by an unknown effect of someone’s Gift. He stopped laughing when he realized Shane hadn’t followed his lead, and he swallowed dry.

“My… my Gift has a mirror.” Ryan reminded him, Shane nodded. “But if someone like that truly exists, do you… you really think I would have a deep connection with them? Feel electricity when I touch them?”

“His Gift would try to kill yours and yours his,” Was his answer. “Maybe, Ryan.” Shane sighed, looking at him with a soft smile on his now calm face. “They wouldn’t be able to touch anyone they love like a normal person. Just you.”

“Sounds like a lot of pressure.”

Shane made a tsk sound with his tongue and searched for something in his pocket; he took out his grey gloves, starting to put them on as he spoke again.

“I think you’re afraid.”

Ryan lifted an eyebrow. “For real?”

“You’re afraid…” He kept adjusting his hands inside the gloves, and when he was done with it, he said, “You’re afraid there’s someone you can’t fix, someone you will be normal to.” His hand was suddenly on Ryan’s face, softly over his cheek, the cloth of the glove tender on his skin. “Even in all your weirdness, you’d be only Ryan to him.”

“Shane?” His thumb was lazily caressing his bottom lip, his friend’s eyes looking right into his, as if hypnotized by the movement. “Are you…?”

He had wanted to ask right there. Are you it? Are you my mirror? Does that mean Kismet is real? Because I—

“Although, he thinks the world of you.”

“What?”

Shane closed his eyes.

Ryan thought back of when he first saw him out here, crying after Helen had used her Gift on him trying to take away whatever negative feeling she had felt in him. He had thought Shane sober, but looking at him now—maybe Ryan was wrong.

Maybe something was up and he hadn’t noticed.

“Shane?”

His thumb silenced him for a few seconds, applying pressure to his lips without hurting him, then leaving as fast as the conversation had turned into… this. Shane swallowed visibly, opening his eyes without looking at Ryan, hands at his sides.

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Shane—“

“I’m gonna crash in your room for a bit, I’m too fucking drunk for whatever we’re talking about.”

“Uh. Alright.”

The sensation didn’t leave him for the rest of the night, he still felt it for the long of the week after, as he was feeling it in that moment.

Ryan sat down staring at nothing on his computer, Shane by his side in his constant silence with his earphones up.

Shane’s touch lingered on him every time, he had noticed it before but this was—this was the first time he was willing to admit it, at least to himself.

His friend had never touched him without gloves, not even by accident. He never talked about his Gift, nor did he give clues on what it could be. Or that’s what he’d thought before.

A mirror. Kismet. Him.

So Ryan looked at Shane, seeing the birthmarks on his face and imagining the ones he knew would be on his neck and down his shoulders, and his back.

Licking his lips, he sighed, gaining Shane’s attention. Shane immediately smiled and Ryan returned the gesture, body finally relaxing after days of headaches.

“What’s up, little guy?”

“Nothing.” He said, smile even wider. “Everything’s alright.”


 

Shane wasn’t sure when he started to think of Ryan as more than his friend, but it had been before he discovered he was his mirror.

He knew because he had wanted to touch him before, months after what he tried to have with Sara didn’t work out, but just before he first met Helen.

That first time, Shane had thought the woman had been able to see through him. He didn’t know what Helen’s ability was, or Ryan’s; so thinking she may have read him wasn’t so far off. Some people could do that, or read your mind—they could tell when you were lying, things like that.

No Gift had physical markers and every day, more people decided to keep it a secret.

She wore no gloves but always a smile, and God—Helen was gorgeous. There was always something warm coming from her; it was no wonder Ryan called her his angel.

But—She was… looking at him that first time. In a weird way.

Shane swallowed, eyes everywhere but on Ryan’s girlfriend’s face. Helen had smiled at him when Ryan introduced them little after both had gotten a place at BuzzFeed. He had offered his hand happily; when his gloved had touched hers, her expression changed and something inside him dropped.

“You guys okay?” Ryan asked, noticing the strange tension between them.

“Ye—yeah. Right?” She smiled, first at Ryan, then at him. Her eyes were full of apologies and Shane swallowed again, nodding after licking his lips.

The day went on.

Helen and Ryan had gone out for lunch and he had stayed at the office, eating his with Sara at the other side of the table, as far from him as she could.

She still looked at him like she wanted to tell him something, to convince him that they could work out and be together. And he wanted to believe that, that he wouldn’t hurt her with his fingers tangled in her hair and his lips brushing on her neck on a Sunday morning.

That somehow he could have a normal life, love her not only with his heart but his body, have children he could carry and hug, a mother he didn’t kill.

“You’re making that face again,” Sara’s voice brought him back to reality, and he attempted a smile but she glared at him and Shane sighed. “You’re thinking about your mom, aren’t you?”

Sara’s Gift was such a simple, innocent thing. She was capable of reading people she touched, often explained it as having a small movie trailer of their lives in her head after a little touch.

When she got close to him, following his awkward conversations and in exchange flirting with him, Shane had panicked. His constant worries about forming close relationships he could ruin, or even kill, had prevented him from having real, long term relationships.

But she had insisted in good spirit, smiled at him every day, and said yes when he asked her out, against all his reasoning, so many months ago.

Sara had thought Shane had something similar to her Gift when she noticed his gloves and the way he would take a step aside when someone tried to touch him. When she heard the truth, her hands had taken his gloved ones and for the first time, she had tried to make him stay.

Now, he nodded and looked at his food, thinking of how delicious it had looked and smelled when he got it, and how much he hated it now.

“Shane,” she put her hand in the middle of the table; he wasn’t wearing his gloves, as he often did while eating and didn’t take the offer. “Come on, don’t be an asshole.”

“Sara—“

“Put a damn napkin over it, I don’t care. Come on.”

He threw his fork into his food with too much unnecessary force and he knew she was calling him dramatic in her head. His hand landed on hers, and she smiled.

“See?” She murmured. There was a part of him that wanted to take his hand away, but Shane knew exactly what Sara was doing and he knew she was right. “Not dying.”

Looking at his hand over Sara’s, he remembered every session with every doctor he ever had. The key word was eventually. As long as he didn’t touch a person on a daily basis and for prolonged periods of time, they would be fine.

It didn’t erase the possibility and the too long, too constant, and too notorious cold Sara had gotten while dating him for just a few months.

Shane retired his hand, immediately putting it as far away from Sara as he could. She sighed. It was April all over again, her silently crying while listening to his ramblings about her red nose, dry hair and pale skin.

He looked up now, and she was eating again, her hand back at her side, and the table between them.

Just like it never happened with him and Lori, it wouldn’t happen for them. He had explained that without giving away much to Ryan, without telling him that he had made Lorca so sick he had ended up in the hospital; without telling him that the reason Sara was constantly sneezing months ago was him.

“That sucks, man.” Ryan granted. “I thought you really liked her, you two looked… I don’t know. Good together or something.”

Shane had looked at him from the corner of his eye. His lie about not being good at relationships was stupid, and he was actually surprised Ryan had accepted it; his friend probably knew it was bullshit but said nothing.

Ryan frowned suddenly, the smell of churros and hot chocolate making him look adorable in the lit light of their hotel room in Mexico City, backs to the headboard.

“Do you think it’s possible to heal like, depression, with a Gift?”

“What?” Shane chuckled at the sudden change of subject, silently grateful for it. “Well—there’s people that can manipulate feelings, right?”

“Yes, I know. But I mean, permanently.”

“Dude, no.” Shane sighed. “Nothing’s permanent.”

His friend’s silence was enough to make him look back at him.

Ryan was playing with his fingers, gloves forgotten on the nightstand by his side. He sighed, and Shane followed the movement of his neck while swallowing and the way he had licked his lips before talking again, their eyes meeting at the second.

“My Gift is permanent.” He said. Shane nodded, unsure of what to say. “Everything I touch, it… It gets better, and it’s permanent.”

It was his turn to frown. “What does that mean, dude?”

“Well, I…” Ryan sighed, like he was bracing himself to confess something. Whatever it was, it was a big deal for him, and Shane straightened his back to show attention. “I have Hebe’s Touch.”

Bullshit.

Ryan had stopped talking, looking up at his face like he was trying to find a reaction or recognition from Shane’s expression. Could he remember that night when they all went out and made a mess of themselves? The way that shock—it had been—

“You—you know, that… It’s a weird Gift, I’m the only one who has it right now,” Ryan had explained, voice too fast to be interrupted, looking down at the hand he was showing Shane, who felt himself tense with each word. “And it’s like… crazy, because every time someone finds out, their first reaction is to touch me because—who doesn’t want to live forever, right?”

In the silence, Shane found himself remembering Ryan with gloved hands and anxiety attacks when too many people were too close. He remembered him acting reckless while drunk, yelling he was free that night to touch and be touched, making the girls laugh and yell cheers for him.

He remembered Ryan taking off his glove to touch Sara’s neck, the image so far away from him—both standing near the office’s kitchen, Ryan moving just a little bit closer, fingers on Sara’s neck. There hadn’t been anything sexual or intimate in it, it had looked—medical, he remembered it weird, remembered it made him feel uneasy.

Sara had been free of the cold he had caused the next day. Shane didn’t think much of it, he thought it was just the distance between them finally catching up with her body and health.

It had been Ryan. All this time, it was Ryan.

Each little detail made sense, that strange electricity—it was—

“I’m not gonna touch you.” Shane assured him, Ryan’s shoulders visibly relaxed.

“You… you can, if you want to.” His voice sounded far away, too small to belong to Ryan.

Full of life Ryan, always smiling and making each day brighter—his friend, his co-host, his mirror.

“No.”

His mouth closed, lips slightly curved in some sort of surprise. So Shane looked away, crossing his arms over his chest, all gloved hands and long sleeve shirt to sleep. Ryan seemed to examine him for a few short seconds, “oh”, coming out his mouth in a soft sigh.

Disappointed.

“I’m sorry—“

“Sorry, It’s just—“

Both talked at the same time, Ryan wheezed and smiled at him before nodding in his direction, Shane cleared his throat and tried a small smile.

“Don’t be sorry, It’s okay,” Shane started. “I’m just… not used to touching anyone? It’s strange. My Gift—it’s not as cool as yours, but I don’t like to be touched.”

“I understand,” Ryan smiled again. “It’s okay, though. I don’t mind it. You are my friend… I was worried I had made you uncomfortable with my mumbling.”

Shane shook his head. “Doesn’t matter what your Gift is, man,” He assured him. “You said it yourself… you are my friend.”

Shane doesn’t remember when he’d started to label Ryan as something else. His friend, but more. Not a brother, or some sort of fraternal feeling, just something more. Crush wasn’t even close, and he wouldn’t act on whatever Ryan made him feel, and now—

“Listen—if I ever get smacked in the face by any ghost, you’re totally touching me.”

That seemed to do the trick, and Ryan laughed loudly at that. “Not before filming it.”

“Of course. But then… no hospital, just put your lil’ finger,” He pointed with his index finger, the black glove shone in the dim light, and Ryan smiled, looking at it and putting his own naked one against it, “on mine—do your magic, Ry.”

Kismet.

There was just one person in the world Shane could touch, someone he had condemned to repair the damage his touch could do—born after him, far away, their identity a secret. To meet them was just a childish dream Shane had dropped the second he kissed Lorca for the first time.

Yet,

His friend looked up, his cheeks were a little red. “I’ll do it.”

Ryan Steven Bergara happened to him.


 

“What’s your Gift?”

The first time Ryan asked Shane about his Gift, they’d been on the flight back from Mexico City. and Shane had looked down at him, surprise in his eyes. All too quickly the sincerity dropped, a smirk appearing that Ryan knew meant he wasn’t getting a real answer.

“Nothing to worry about.”

Shane’s answers about his Gift were always the same; Ryan had complained to Helen more than once and she always replied that he should stop trying so hard to discover Shane’s Gift. Nowadays, some people kept their abilities a secret and Shane happened to be one of those private people.

But in the back of his head, there was a voice saying there was so much more to it. That if he ever got to know the truth, he’d be closer to Shane than any of his friends had ever been, like family. Or something more. He wasn’t sure what, but more.

His friend was funny and shy when he wasn’t around people he trusted, but Ryan felt that there was another layer he wasn’t allowed to touch, and maybe it started with Shane’s hands— and what they had to do with his Gift.

“What’s your Gift, man?” Months later he’d asked again, when they were sleeping together on Queen Mary.

That time, Shane had looked at him for almost a whole minute, like he was pondering if it was prudent to finally tell him or not. He’d smiled his way out of it, though, looking at the ceiling as he said, “That’s private, dude.”

Later, as Shane slept, Ryan had thought of poking his face as revenge for every time he’d made fun of his experience on this stupid ship. His finger was hovering over Shane’s whiskered cheek and he would have touched him if not for his eyes fixating on the long sleeve of Shane’s shirt, his sweatpants and his gloves.

Whatever Shane carried with him was as much a cross to him as Ryan’s Gift had been for most part of his life. He still had those nightmares, horrible hands trying to touch him without his permission, and he wondered.

He wondered if his friend had those dreams, too.

If someone had heard of his Gift and immediately felt the need to grab his hand, touch his face, caress his skin. The thought made him sick and he went back to his sleeping bag, looking at Shane’s back.

Shane rolled over, facing him now.

How he was capable of sleeping in such a horrible place like this, Ryan would never understand. But Shane’s face looked soft and tender while sleeping and something inside him throbbed at the sight.

Ryan swallowed that time, closing his eyes and trying to sleep.

He had learned to not talk about his Gift early on, when he was starting to make friends and people reacted strange to the ability he was born with.

When his mother had found out he had ended curled on himself in a corner of his classroom after innocently saying, “Everything I touch lives forever!” during his introduction in class, she’d bought him gloves and made him swear he wouldn’t say that again, no matter who asked.

He had nodded at the time, and growing up he understood why.

“It’s weird,” He said, looking at his uncovered hands as the sound of the woods sang in his ears. “I used to have nightmares of those hands trying to touch me. They were only kids, but in my head they were—they—“

“I get it,” Shane’s voice resonated around green and humid places, little animals walking at their feet, birds flying above their heads. “Not everyone’s Gift is lit. Some of them suck.”

Ryan looked at him, sitting by his side with his gloved hands.

Shane always covered his body like if he was afraid the wind would touch him. If Ryan didn’t know the amount of people with his Gift, he would have thought Shane understood his experience, and like many times before, he wondered.

“Mine doesn’t—it doesn’t suck. It’s just…” Ryan sighed. “When people learns about it, sometimes they just… want to touch.” He swallowed and licked his lips before explaining himself. “Just imagine that… Just with some prolonged touch, you get to be healthy and look good.” A strange laugh left his lips, trying to ignore the constant thoughts invading his head about it. “There was this woman…” He swallowed. “It doesn’t matter.”

“No, Ry.” Shane moved his hand towards him, not reaching or touching, but there. “Whatever it is, it upsets you. It matters.”

He stood in the silence of the forest and Shane’s interest, his care so bright it made him feel breathless.

It sucked to feel this way about his best friend, a man who may never look at him the same way. But Ryan refused to be a whiny ass about it. He smiled at his friend, and tried to speak again.

“She was… our neighbor,” He said, sighing and looking down. “She knew about my Gift because I used to play a lot with her children, so we were at each other’s every other day. One day she was diagnosed with God knows what, I never knew—“

When he looked back at Shane, his eyes were on him, serious and waiting. Ryan licked his lips and decided to finish the story.

“She went to me, wanted to touch me. I was alone outside my house, waiting for the other kids to get out and play—she didn’t…” He looked up at Shane again, he was still looking hard at him, and he saw the way he was fisting his jeans in his right hand. Ryan swallowed, “Like, she didn’t grope me or anything like that, but it… it freaked me out.”

“You were a kid, Ryan. No fucking adult should be touching any children.”

“I know, it’s just—it wasn’t, like, sexual—“

“Ry,” He looked at his friend, and Shane was looking forward now but his expression was hard. Angry; not at him, but at the memory. Ryan swallowed. “No one should be touching any kid,” He finally looked at Ryan and he nodded, a little ashamed, “It’s not your fault either.”

“I don’t—“ Ryan closed his mouth and his eyes, sighed and gave up. Those hands… all coming to him, so many, they always made him feel like a child again. “We… we moved after that. My mom couldn’t stop yelling at that woman, and my dad was crying when mom told him that night after work.”

Shane only nodded at his pause, Ryan licked his lips and finished.

“I don’t know what happened to her.”

“Don’t care.”

“Yeah,” He wheezed. It still amazed him how protective Shane could be. It certainly made him feel… nice things. “But I like it, anyway… My Gift, I mean. I do like it, It’s— Everything I touch lives!”

His friend said nothing.

When he looked at Shane again, he was glaring at his gloved hands, like blaming them for something Ryan wasn’t aware of. The eternal question resurfaced in his mind. “What’s your Gift?”, he wanted to ask, but he knew it would be met with a shrug and Shane walking away.

Instead, Shane said: “So, sex with you’s literally lifesaving?”

Ryan laughed at that. Of course he was going there.

Nobody made him laugh like Shane did. Nobody made him feel this comfortable with his giggles and constant wheezes, and full ridiculously loud laugh. Ryan was sure Shane could tell him the most stupid joke in the world and he’d laugh at it anyway.

It was the way he said it, the thought behind it, and just the fact that—that it was Shane. And Ryan was just a little bit in love with his humor, his gloved hands, his ridiculous not hot beard.

“You can say that,” Ryan said, smirking at him. “I’ll give you a—maaaybe.”

“You have, like, a magic penis, right?” Shane finally looked at him, there was that devilish grin on his lips and the shine of pure mischief in his eyes again. All Shane. “And your semen would be like—“

“Don’t—“

“—the Fountain of Youth!”

“Oh, my God, dude!” And just like that, he was laughing out loud as they hunted for Bigfoot.

“Just saying, man. Thank God you left your frat boy self behind, or you’d be like—” Shane shrugged, laughing with him as he started to take on a ridiculous voice. “Baby, my dong can cure that headache!”

“Shane!” Ryan covered his face at that, feeling his cheeks warm. He was so gonna edit this from the final footage. “Shut up!”

“Want some good hair? I got exactly what you need!”

“Oh, my God—“

“Need some cleaning on that face? No worries, your facial is here!”

“Shut up! Stop!”

His hand landed on Shane’s mouth when his friend wasn’t looking, immediately jumping at the contact of skin on skin and Ryan’s heart stopped. Then,

“Fuck!” He took away his hand, electricity burning the palm of his hand where it touched Shane’s lips, and the tips of his fingers, where they had touched his cheek and beard. “Dude, what—“

Shane’s eyes were wide open; Ryan had never seen him this scared before.


 

Shane stood way too fast, ready to run as he always did when he felt the confrontation coming, when the curse was getting stronger, capable of destroying what he loved most without him even touching anything.

But Ryan stood there, looking at his own hand and Shane, not sure of what to do now, looked at TJ and the rest of the crew, who had all froze at the sight of them abruptly separating.

“Is everything alright?” TJ asked them. He’d turned off the camera, and Shane nodded.

Ryan looked at him, hand slowly going down. “Yeah, man. Sorry, just… weird shit.”

“Sure,” Their friend arched an eyebrow, but said nothing else, going back to his place behind the camera.

As they filmed the rest of the footage, the search for Bigfoot became a distraction. Ryan sure had felt their touch this time, and there was no alcohol through his veins to make him forget they had directly touched, skin on skin, and literal energy had surfaced between them.

It was such a weird thing, how his curse would clash with Ryan’s Gift, both trying to win over the other. And if Ryan had read about his ability as much as Shane had read about his, he certainly knew Shane’s Gift now.

Ryan kept laughing at his silly jokes, even if he was looking at him like he wanted to put a case together. Nobody ever got in his way when it was research time, and like all those times, Shane said nothing.

Under the rain, they ran into their rooms for the night, the laughs of the crew and Ryan’s loud one making people look at them as they went from the truck to the entrance of the motel. The woman at the front desk laughed with them once they were all secure inside, wishing them goodnight as they went to their respective rooms.

One by one, the crew left their side until it was only them; Ryan ahead of him, always so far, and Shane behind, always following.

Their room was still, cold, dark before Ryan got the lights on and sighed, leaving his bag on the ground near their double bed. He walked inside the bathroom.

I’m fucked, Shane texted Sara.

Like… wasted and stuff? You guys sure work hard during your trips… She answered back as Ryan flushed the toilet and washed his hands.

Shane swallowed. No, you dummy. Ryan touched my fucking face. He knows.

FINALLY!

Blinking, he didn’t see Ryan leaving the bathroom and digging his eyes into his back.

He kept his attention to his conversation with Sara, trying to figure out what she meant. He thought—he thought that yeah, eventually he may have told Ryan about his Gift. But as long as his stupid infatuation didn’t go away, Shane would have preferred the silence.

“Shane.”

You’re such a big moron sometimes.

“Yeah?” He murmured, slowly turning to Ryan, phone still in his hands.

Ryan was looking at him again like if he was one of his investigations. His eyes rummaged through his face and down his body, slowly going back to his eyes and his shoulders relaxed. Shane was still tense, not sure of what to do or say next.

“How the fuck do you type so fast with gloves?”

You never notice when someone genuinely cares about you. Like Ryan and me.

“What?”

“You know…” Ryan moved, walking towards him with his eyes on his hands. Shane grasped the phone harder as he was getting closer. “I guess you’re so used to your gloves; you type fast even with them on.”

Shane nodded, holding his breath as Ryan’s hands landed on his, taking his phone away and into the mattress.

“Why don’t you take them off? They’re wet.”

All of their clothes were wet, their hair sticking to their necks and faces, but Shane understood exactly what Ryan wanted in that moment. And maybe Sara was right—maybe it would be okay for his best friend to know even this part of him.

He’s the person who won’t get hurt by your touch, so why don’t you let him know?

Shane took the gloves off with a sigh, landing with a soft thud on the carpeted floor at their feet. He could still feel Ryan’s eyes on him and when his hands were free, Shane only waited.

Nothing needs to happen.

Ryan touched the tip of his middle finger with his, then his ring finger, his index and finally, the rest of his right hand against his left.

“Oh…” Ryan wheezed at the touch of their fingers. His hand wasn’t as small as he thought, but his fingers weren’t long and it still looked smaller in front of Shane’s. “That’s something…”

Ryan looked up at Shane, eyes wide and watery, big smile giving him an adoring look. “I can’t believe you’re real.”

Just let it be.


 

His heart was mostly in his throat, that’s how it felt to ride the elevator in silence with Ryan by his side.

They had done this a million times, going into one of their apartments and having an improvised movie night, but today was different—Maybe now he wouldn’t hate his birthday, so much.

“Can I ask you something?” Ryan said, voice oddly soft due to the fact he had barely spoken all day.

“You’ve had lots of questions lately.” Shane swallowed, then stared at Ryan who wasn’t looking at him, but at the buttons in the elevator of Shane’s building. “Shoot.”

The doors opened and they both walked out in silence, the noise from their shoes the only distraction from whatever Ryan wanted to know now.

“Why do you hate your birthday?”

No. Wrong question. “Too soon to ask, baby.”

He didn’t seem uncomfortable at the pet name, nor did he jump to call him out on it, prohibiting him from using it to refer to Ryan again. Instead, Ryan sighed and smiled a little.

“Are you gonna tell me one day?” He asked while Shane opened the door to his house.

“Yeah…” In reality, he wasn’t sure. His reasons for hating the date were ridiculous.

Shane wasn’t big on conspiracy theories, but there was only one he was sold on and it was something Ryan would never like. Nobody wants to hear that from their significant other— or whatever the hell they were now.

Nobody wants to hear so many times, I think I killed my mother.

It was stupid of him to think that, especially since he’d been told time after time, by his entire family and doctors alike, that his ability had nothing to do with his mother having leukemia. She had it before he was born, and there was a chance his touch had actually done nothing to her.

There was a theory about the mother being immune, something never proven since the only person with Thanatos’ Touch in the world had no mom to put the experiment to the test. And even if so, Shane wasn’t sure Sherry Madej would have let anyone experiment on them, on him.

“What do you want to watch?” He asked instead, tension around them too tight to ignore it like any other night.

“Whatever you want, big guy! It’s your d—I mean—“

Shane sighed. “I hate you.”

Ryan smiled, shrugging. “It’s your apartment.”

Flipping him off with both hands, Ryan laughed while walking over to his TV and making himself comfortable on his couch. If this was a date as Shane had intended, it was the most domestic and familiar one he’d ever had.

It reminded him that he’d heard Ryan tell him he loved him and he’d said it back, changing absolutely everything around them and yet nothing had at all.

Ryan remained his friend and the small, charged of tension, touches they shared from time to time were slowly starting to feel like their every day banter, every day wheeze, and every day shared secret of what Shane’s hands could do.

“Here,” Shane passed the popcorn bowl to Ryan, who was already searching for something to watch on Netflix.

His fingers caressed Shane’s for just a second or two, the touch giving off the usual warm electricity, and Ryan smiled at him, setting the popcorn to his other side, away from the space he was hoping Shane would use to sit by his side, very, very close.

“Come on, I don’t bite,” Ryan said. “Unless you like that, of course.”

“Shut up.”

Shane sat down, as close as he had wanted before, still unsure if this was okay, if he truly wasn’t going to hurt Ryan with his Gift.

Ryan seemed to read his mind as he often did, and he offered his hand the same way Sara used to. The idea made Shane shake his head, making the other man put on the most disappointed face he’d ever seen, talking before Shane could explain himself.

“Shane?” He started, “You know, I think… Well. Maybe we should talk about what happened in Willow Creek.”

“Uh?” Shane moved on the couch, trying not to look and sound uncomfortable. “Sure, I guess—yeah, we should.”

Yet, neither of them said a word.

They were just looking at each other’s eyes, searching for meaning. The same way it had happened in Mexico City and on the Queen Mary, and Ryan’s balcony, and—it was a circle, they were circling each other, waiting for one of them to make a move.

Words weren’t enough anymore, but it seemed to be the only thing they had.

“You said—“

“Ryan.”

His fingers brushed Ryan’s cheek when the younger man opened his mouth to answer; he stood there then, waiting. The light from a long forgotten search on Netflix was enough to notice the details of his face, and Shane’s palm touched the whole of Ryan’s cheek while his eyes followed the way the man had swallowed at it, Adam’s apple moving slowly.

“Listen…”

Shane could die a happy man just at the sight of Ryan tenderly kissing his thumb. He caressed his lips with it as Ryan put his own hand over his and moved forward, encouraging him to finally, finally kiss him after so much teasing.

“Listen,” he said again, just to lock his lips with Ryan’s in a fast move.

But he wasn’t going anywhere, and Shane could kiss him for the rest of their lives, and— he wouldn’t get cold, wouldn’t get sick, wouldn’t die by his hand. He could kiss Ryan like he’d wanted for years, and Ryan would kiss back, just as deep and just as warm.

Shane moved his head slightly, going back to kiss Ryan slowly, licking softly between his lips to taste his mouth. Ryan made a small sound of approval, goosebumps rising on Shane’s skin as his tongue played a bit with Ryan’s, soon exploring his mouth until neither of them could hold their breath any longer.

He was panting, unable to open his eyes in fear of waking up to the sun giving some sort of peace to a Ryan that didn’t sleep through the night in another not-haunted location. Ryan’s little pecks on his lips, his cheeks and his chin woke him from his fear.

Shane smiled against Ryan’s mouth, kissing him again once, twice and one more time before losing himself on his neck, leaving small kisses as Ryan laughed happily.

“If you’re going to talk like that, I’m not asking you to shut up ever again,” He said, and Shane smiled against his skin before standing up and offering his bare hand to him for the first time.

“Let me talk you some more, then.”


 

As a kid, Ryan never had any desire to believe Kismet was real.

It was something nobody but the people experimenting it could see, and the few things he had read about it were enough to prove it was a natural reaction of the body, Gifts meeting each other, but nothing else—the romantic side of Kismet, the fairy tale, never caught his attention at all.

Maybe it was his ever growing desire for control, born from perfectionism taught by his parents and the fear of those hands approaching him in the dark at every corner. As long as he was sure and in control of where he was standing, who he was and who was with him, nothing would ever touch him.

But, if out there was a human being that would fit him so well, there was nothing he could do about it—then he was lost. Then there was something he didn’t see coming, and that was enough for him to define the possibility as impossible on his mind’s list of the unknown.

Until Willow Creek.

“Ryan Bergara, who gives the benefit of the doubt to every and each conspiracy theory, doesn’t believe in being compatible with his Gift’s mirror—even when it is a known fact that mirror Gifts complement each other, therefore, the users may, too.”

Ryan smirked at that, looking up at Shane sitting at his side on the ground, backs to the mattress they should be sharing already at two in the morning.

“Look at you—big week for the Shaniacs, their leader has become a believer.”

Shane frowned with a mock-offended expression.

He’d stopped shivering just a few minutes prior, the touch of his bare hand lingering on Ryan’s and the image of his chest going up and down heavily, on the edge of tears at the intensity of their touch, was going to be forever engraved in Ryan’s head.

“Excuse me? This only proves you are ridiculous. You don’t believe in things grounded in reality, but you believe that the wind speaks to you at night.”

“Hey!” Ryan felt his cheeks warm, Shane was smirking already before looking at him. “You fucker, you’re the ridiculous one, believing in soulmates and predestinated shit—“

“I don’t believe in soulmates; I just believe in the compatibility of Gift users!”

“You were just saying that the urban legend of what Kismet is rea—“

His teeth hurt where Shane’s had clashed with his, his sudden kiss tasting faintly of blood from the impact breaking skin, but Ryan couldn’t care less in that moment. His hands landed on Shane’s cheeks, his beard a new sensation he would gladly get used to if it meant he could keep kissing him like this.

It felt like he was learning how to kiss again, excited to discover every corner of his partner’s mouth, happy to experience this first with him. The strange feeling of his Gift fighting Shane’s dissipated as they touched more, but the initial electric shock born from his lips was still a new stimulation he didn’t mind.

Ryan rounded Shane’s neck with his arms, wanting him as close as possible, skin on skin if he wanted to.

But,

“Shane—“ He called, while his friend kept kissing his chin and down his neck, desperate for contact. “Shane—Shane—Why you didn’t tell me before?”

That did the trick, and Shane stopped his ministrations to slowly look up. His eyes were open, tinged with shame as he slowly disentangled himself from Ryan. He followed his lead, looking at him with expectant eyes.

“I…” He started, and Ryan saw him swallow.

There was little space between them but none of him was touching Shane anymore, and it felt infinite, cold in the absence of Shane’s presence against his body.

Shane lowered his eyes to his hands. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“I don’t like talking about my Gift, and I—“ He shook his head. “Does it matter?” He added in a soft murmur.

If it hadn’t been for the silence around them at this hour of the night, the rain still just a soft touch on the ground, Ryan wouldn’t have been able to understand Shane’s words.

He frowned. “Of course it matters!” It did, and Ryan wanted to understand whatever reason why Shane had to keep such important information from him. “You’re my friend, my best friend even! And you didn’t tell me—I thought you were just private about your Gift, and that was fine… but you’re my mirror, and you’ve known probably since—oh my God!”

Shane looked up again, guilt all over his face.

“You’ve known for years!”

There was a knot in Ryan’s throat, and Shane had lowered his face once more and had started to play with his fingers, nervous and defeated in shame. Ryan swallowed, trying to ground himself and understand.

“I’m the only person you can touch without the effect of your Gift…” Ryan unnecessarily reminded him. “Why did you keep it a secret?”

“I didn’t want you to know.”

He stood there, feeling like crying. “Why?” he repeated softly.

“Ryan…” Shane put both hands on his face, visibly tired. He roughly rubbed his closed eyes. “My Gift— it’s not like yours. It’s not a Gift, it’s a fucking curse, I—“

“Shane—“

“I couldn’t just say it, I can’t ever say it—“ He swallowed. Ryan crawled towards him, hands going directly to take his but Shane moved, standing up and getting away from him. “I was scared.”

“Of what?”

“Of—“ He stopped himself, arms at his sides and closed eyes.

Ryan stood then, looking at his friend with his heart in his throat. How had they gone from tender touches to this? He should have kissed Shane and shut up, he should be happy that he seems to feel the same about him—

“Shane?” He walked to him, hands going for Shane’s, but Ryan stopped himself. If he didn’t want to be touched, he wasn’t going to do to that to his friend. “Is it because of me?”

“No, it’s—it’s complicated. Ryan,” he opened his eyes and walked away, turning his back to Ryan, “your gift eventually gives a better life to whoever you touch, and mine literally kills people.”

Shane looked back at him, and there was something hard in his eyes Ryan wasn’t used to—he decided then and there that he didn’t want to see it again.

“No maybes, no theories, it does. It made my best friend sick when I was kid, it killed my fucking bird, my grandmother’s sunflowers, and it almost killed my first boyfriend. I made Sara sick!”

He stopped then, probably waiting for a reply, but Ryan had nothing. He could only watch him surrender to his fear.

It finally occurred to him, that there is more to words and bravery in the face of darkness.

“I know my mother was sick, but I—“ His voice broke, and Ryan felt smaller as Shane fought tears in front of him. “Who says it wasn’t me that killed her?”

Shane had his own set of monsters under the bed, his own shadow over his shoulders, and that made Ryan’s heart ache even more. It seemed like all he really was doing until that moment was living off the safety Shane’s bravery gave him, and he’d never thought of what could really scare him—so, he remained in silence.

“Is that what you want?” for you was left unsaid. Shane’s voice broke at the end again and this time, he didn’t do anything to stop it, tears already rolling down his face. He bit his bottom lip and continued. “I couldn’t just tell you something like this and then say—say that I want to touch you.”

“You ca—“

“I want you.” There was some sort of finality to that. The image of this man he always thought larger than life, silently crying as he confessed to him, made Ryan want to love him even more.

Ryan’s shoulders felt lighter and he opened his mouth to stop Shane from saying anything else, but no sound left him; his friend took this as a cue to continue.

“And—what if it was just because, in theory, I know I can touch you without killing you? It’s unfair. I don’t want you to think that, I don’t want you to let me do that just because our Gifts mirror each other, or something like that—“

He let out a long sigh, eyes closed once more, more tears rolled down his face lost in his beard. Both men were facing each other, a life time of fears and well kept secrets between them.

Then, the silence.

“But I want you, too,” Ryan said, finally crossing that distance.

With his hands up, he waited for Shane to walk away or shake his head.

Instead, he looked at his hands and back to his eyes, waiting for the next step. Ryan put his hands behind Shane’s neck, the stretch of his arms as he reached up reminding him that God was a dick and had wanted his mirror to be everything he wasn’t.

Shane didn’t move, but had stopped looking at his face. His nose was a little red, his jaw clenched indicating he wasn’t done crying. Ryan wasn’t quite hugging him, or making him lean down to his lips again; he just left his hands there, fingers slightly touching Shane’s skin and when he caressed it, the man jumped a little, a small sound leaving his mouth.

He remembered the first time they went out for lunch, Shane avoiding contact with everyone they passed even while wearing layers and layers of clothing. That night he saw him flirt for the first time and go home with some stranger he never saw, nor heard about again; his face that tried not to reflect the guilt part of him felt for whatever had transpired at night.

Now he was here, so close to him and yet so far.

Ryan’s hands travelled from Shane’s neck to his shoulders, slowly down his chest; the contact didn’t seem to relax him, but at the same time he slowly moved towards him, as if searching for it. Ryan breathed his scent it and then out, swallowing before—

“I love you.”

Shane’s eyes looked clear even in the bad lighting of their room, he was finally looking at Ryan and his hands went softly to his cheeks, cradling his face, lips meeting his in a tender motion.

It felt like a long awaited taste of water, and for the length of it, Ryan could only think of how much he meant it, how much he really loved this man that was quick to dismiss his evidence of the supernatural and as quick to make him laugh when nothing else could change his mood.

He opened his mouth to him, hands now on his back as Shane’s moved one into his hair and the other stayed on his cheek, caressing with nothing but devotion. The lingering feeling of electricity tasted sweet on Shane’s tongue, and Ryan allowed himself to drink from it as much as he could.

As a kid, Ryan didn’t have any reason or proof to believe in the romantic promise of Kismet, but Shane did. His hands were always covered, and he learned to keep his Gift a secret to live as normal as possible, thinking once that somewhere out there was a person that did better with their Gift, that mirrored his, and he could touch without feeling like the worst.

Shane believed he had a soulmate, somehow, and Ryan didn’t know how much he craved to be that for him until he had felt his touch.

The man put his forehead over his, panting against Ryan’s lips before he decided to open his eyes and find Shane’s this close. He smiled, fingers on his beard, thinking about how the tickles it had caused would feel wonderful somewhere else, and he wondered if this intimacy could stay around them for longer than this kiss.

“I’m sorry…” Shane said, and Ryan frowned while Shane straightened his back. It had been just a few seconds, and he was already missing his warmth. “I should have told you, it’s just—“

“I understand,” Ryan shrugged, in part relieved it was just this. Just Shane being nervous, trying to make things right, exactly how he knew him. “I mean, I—Yeah, I understand. Fuck…” He hugged him, face against his chest, and as Shane covered him with his long arms, Ryan heard the beat of his heart.

They had hugged before, all clothes and gloves, but nothing like this. Feelings there in the open, secrets that no longer mattered. It just felt different, better; and he hoped Shane felt the same.

“I love you, too, little guy…”

 Many things ran through his mind for an answer and he said none of them. Ryan smiled against his chest and sighed, feeling lighter than he had in a year. So many things had changed ever since he moved out of what had been his and Helen’s apartment, and so many more had changed tonight.

He wondered if he would ever get tired of feeling Shane against him, then he decided he wouldn’t as long as there was salt in the world, and longer if he could.


 

Kissing Ryan was something else.

It felt, for lack of better words, just different from everyone Shane had kissed before—everyone did, but Ryan… there was literal electricity between them, and each shock sent shivers through his body, directly to his crotch.

He would have liked to say he had no problem with living without touch, he really would.

As a kid, he’d been told a million times he would get used to it, to having as many layers as possible and maintaining his distance from the rest of the world, but he never did—he seemed to want other people’s presence more with each passing day, he wanted his family’s hugs to last, and to take someone’s hand while walking.

So, when he had found out about the person who had been born in order to balance his Gift’s existence, Shane had thought Kismet an undeniable truth. A person he could touch without hurting them, someone that would complete him and accept him.

The dream died on Lorca’s lips. The first time he kissed anyone, it had been a boy with a ridiculous name that didn’t fit him and he’d gotten for racist reasons. Lorca’s mother was a mess, but her son wasn’t. He was beautiful, a big smile on his face all the time, always trying to help others for his Gift allowed him to know when someone had been carrying negativity for a long time.

He wondered what Lorca, who he’d almost killed for loving him with his hands and his mouth more than once, would think of him right now—Would he still think he had a grey aura, a heavy cloud over his shoulders? Or had all that changed the second he had met Ryan?

They met now in a more desperate kiss as their clothes dropped. Ryan’s fingers unbuttoned his flannel and a long shiver ran from the bottom of his back to his neck; Shane hoped he hadn’t noticed. Instead, Ryan bit his bottom lip, stealing a groan from his mouth.

“You think too loud, Shane,” He said, his voice deep. There was a wide smile on his face when Shane looked up. “Come on, lay down.”

Shane did as he said, his buttons now undone, and he couldn’t think of the air touching his skin as Ryan settled himself on top of him. He could feel his erection against his own and they both moaned at the friction, Ryan grinding against his in search for more. The man took off his shirt and Shane swallowed at how toned his body truly was.

Ryan was a goddamn sight, perfect everywhere Shane looked—and all that external beauty was nothing compared to the wonder of his mind, the warmth of his heart, the life of his soul. Shane was certainly lucky to know that and now this, his body with every whimper and every shiver his hands initiated; this was glory.

“Fuck…” He sighed, one hand on Ryan’s thigh and the other travelling up his belly and chest.

A small chuckle left Ryan’s chest as his hands moved forward, slowly touching Shane’s chest with the intention of making him feel that electricity again, making him truly lay down and moan at the oh-so present contact. If they didn’t do something, he wasn’t sure he was to last.

His ass moved then, right over Shane’s hardened cock, and he moaned again, letting his head fall back with Ryan’s lips chasing after his from his collarbone to his mouth. Shane kissed him hard there, goosebumps raising as Ry’s hands kept exploring his chest, trying to take off his shirt.

But he swallowed, taking Ryan’s wrist and stopping him from going further. Shane sat down, arms circling Ryan’s waist, lips kissing him again before starting a path down his chin to his neck and shoulders; down, down, down until he could taste sweat on his pecs and feel the drum of his heart.

Looking up at him, he saw Ryan swallow and Shane smiled at him. “How do you want this?”

“Whatever you want…” He rested his forehead on Shane’s, eyes closed, and sighed. “Anything, really.”

“Ry? I always do this quickly.”

“You don’t have to with me.”

Ryan’s fingers brushed against his beard, and Shane moved forward, trying to feel his touch some more. Not even for the electricity anymore, just to feel that warmth and the smell he knew so well all around him.

“But take this off.” Ryan tugged at his shirt again; this time Shane smiled and let it slide off his arms, and Ryan put it away with his own on the ground. “And these…” He started to unbuckle his belt and Shane laughed this time, taking him by the shoulders to kiss him again and stop him.

Pulling him by the waist, their naked chests touched for the first time and they both made a pleased sound at the feeling of their Gifts meeting, slowly getting used to it, and Shane suspected Ryan would have moved if he hadn’t started to kiss his shoulder and the inside of his arm while Shane unbuckled his belt and jeans.

He palmed his cock over his boxers and Ryan whimpered slightly, moving to capture his lips again.

Ry was going to have burns from his beard in the morning, and the idea made him smile against his lips before his tongue found a home in his mouth, the taste of popcorn and Ryan all too familiar and comfortable.

“Jesus, fuck…” Ryan moaned as Shane squeezed him a little to win another whimper and when the man exposed his neck, his lips landed on his skin, sucking little marks he hoped would stay there for days. “Shane…”

No one had called his name like that before. He didn’t have a way to describe how it made him feel, except the effect of their touch on each other: magical warmth born from electricity, all around him and through Ryan.

He moved his hand on Ryan’s cock, stroking him through his boxers in almost urgent movements. The man moaned with his eyes closed and his hands on his shoulders. Shane concentrated all his attention to that face, to every micro expression on it as pleasure invaded Ryan’s body.

Shane’s own cock twitched in his jeans, painful and begging for release, but Ryan was beautiful like this and he was too spellbound by him to think of something else.

He could get off like this, probably; just watching Ryan lose himself like nothing else was around him. But Shane suspected, Ryan wouldn’t want that for their first time together.

“Come on, sweetheart, let me take these off,” Ryan nodded slightly, thrusting against Shane’s hand as he moved him to the edge of the bed.

When he moved his hand, Ryan’s eyes opened and his feet landed on the floor; Shane let him left him on the bed as he stood next, quickly removing his pants and boxers together, leaving them aside on the floor. Ryan’s cock bouncing on his belly made his mouth water, and he wondered how the electricity would feel if he sucked him off, if he eats him out.

Ryan’s hand went directly to his cock’s head, squeezing a little as Shane licked his lips and watched him lazily stroke himself.

“Take off your clothes, I want to see you,” Ryan murmured and Shane immediately finished undressing, the burn of the other man’s eyes on his body making him swallow as he took off his socks as well.

He had never done this completely naked, just the one time so long ago.

This was always fast and to the point for him, almost never on his bed but the couch, or some cold bathroom in a bar, behind the club where he had met the person of the weekend. Nothing special.

Ryan looked at him, propping himself up on his forearms. His eyes surveyed Shane’s body from head to toe, completely naked and hard, and—the bastard wheezed—the little shit, laughed and covered his mouth with both hands, sitting of the bed with his face heating up as he tried to cover it with his hands now.

Shane frowned.

“What?” It sounded harsher than he wanted to, and Ryan looked up, a little bit concerned but still laughing.

Nervously.

“It’s… it’s—“ He bit his lip and gestured at him, down.

Shane looked down at himself at the same time Ryan did and when his eyes found Ryan’s after realizing this was about—uh, his length, Ryan was licking his lips with a wide smile, opening his arms to him as if to invite him to feel the shock of their skin together.

He smiled, going down on his knees in front of Ryan who immediately cradled his face with both hands and kissed him softer. Shane welcomed the now familiar sensation and rounded his waist with his long arms, slowly getting them together to hiss at the feeling.

Both of them gasped at the shock that struck their bodies on impact, and Shane tried to maintain the desire to just rub Ryan through it until the two of them were coming. Instead, Ryan spread his legs wider and he adjusted between them, taking Ryan’s cock in his hand.

Ryan whimpered at it, his fingers tangled in Shane’s hair and his eyes closed.

“Does it hurt?” Shane asked, stopping his ministrations at the idea, but Ryan shook his head quickly. “Want me to keep going?” He nodded and Shane licked his lips, smiling against Ryan’s lips as he stroked him faster.

“Fuck—“

The sound made him look down, his lips landing on Ryan’s chest, and Shane started to wander around, leaving marks here and there, playing with his nipples and slowly going lower. Ryan tugged at his hair, though. Shane squeezed the head of his cock and looked up as Ryan moaned his name.

“You okay?”

“Bowmm…”

Shane chuckled. “What?” He said, Ryan’s hand caressing his face in what was supposed to be some sort of slap, but he was already a mess from just a handjob.

Something inside Shane tingled at it. He smirked wide when Ryan opened his eyes and looked at him while trying to rock his hips on his hand.

“Blowjob,” He said, his left hand on his cheek and his eyes looking directly into Shane’s. “I wanna blow you.”

The older man closed his mouth and swallowed, hand stopping on his partner.

“You think you’ll feel the electricity if I put my tongue there?” Ryan murmured.

No one was there with them, but the sense of secrecy of sharing Kismet together in this remained anyway and Shane smiled at it, at him, and his cock twitched. He kissed him once, then twice.

“Yeah, baby.” Again, Ryan seemed to not mind the pet name and it made him feel warm. “But I wanna cum with you.”

“Bed.” Ryan said lowly after a groan. “Now.”

“Bossy…”

Ryan pushed him away playfully, and he looked as the younger man moved to the center of the bed, waiting for him, smile never leaving his eyes even if his mouth was busy gasping at their contact once Shane went directly to him to keep on kissing and touching each other, soft caresses and fingers discovering new places, only making them want more, more, more.

The touch of electricity on his cock was fucking amazing, but it still made him jump and moan louder than he would in any other occasion. Or maybe it was the hand touching him, Ryan’s wide eyes looking down between them as his hand spread pre-cum on his length, doing him as he wished.

Once again, the man wheezed. This time, when Shane looked at him, he saw the red on his cheeks and would have asked what it was if it weren’t for the hand distracting all his coherent thoughts at the moment.

“You’re big…” Ryan answered anyway, like if he could hear all his doubts. “Never had anyone this big.”

Shane smiled at least, moaning Ryan’s name as he kept stroking him. He let his head fall back, exposing his neck to Ryan’s kisses, and Shane moaned louder at the feel of teeth at the juncture of his shoulder and neck.

His kisses went down, the humid sensation alongside the little shocks doing nothing to stop Shane from running to the edge. He only hoped to have the willpower to last long enough to not embarrass himself, even if this was the longest he’d done foreplay with someone before fucking them.

Ryan’s mouth was a sin over his sensitive skin. Shane fell down in the pillows of his bed and swallowed a scream when his would-be lover took him as deep as he could in one go. He had no gag reflex, and fuck, if those lips weren’t Heaven. He couldn’t even talk, breathing just mechanic; all he could do was moan as Ryan worked more of him down, then stopped and went up.

“So big…” He murmured against the crown of his cock before blowing cold air over it, wrapping his tongue and tasting his pre-cum. “How does it feel?”

“L—Fuck! Ryan!” He fisted Ryan’s hair as he licked the length of his shaft, one hand cupping it before he went down on it again, slowly getting to his objective. “Fuck… iiing… amazing,” He said breathlessly. Ryan looked up, still trying to take him whole.

His eyes shone bright, mischief and adoration in them making everything foggier in Shane’s mind. The obscene image of his stretched mouth taking most of Shane would remain engraved in his mind forever.

Shane moaned once more, deeper, even louder—his neighbors might hate him after tonight, but they would have to hopefully get used to it for Ryan had got him completely in his mouth, and the sensation was even more mind-blowing than he’d ever expected.

The shock of their Gifts was nothing compared to the wet sensation of Ryan’s warm mouth nestling his cock happily. Ryan hummed, the vibrations making Shane shiver, and he pulled at his hair, wanting him to move and give him more of his goddamn perfect mouth.

 But Ryan took his time, enjoyed the feeling of Shane stretching his mouth, choking him with his wide length. After a few seconds, maybe even an entire minute, Ryan began to move, bobbing his head up and down, first slowly then faster, a hand cupping his balls at the same time.

Just the sight of it would have been enough to make Shane come, so he went back to the pillows and looked at the ceiling, moans and groans echoing the room with the unashamed happy whimpers and wet sounds of Ryan’s mouth as he licked him, took him into his mouth again, and went down to suck on his balls, playing with them long enough for Shane to be tense and ready to scream his release.

“Ry—“ He called, the man looked up while taking him down again. “I’m close… Baby, I’m close—“

With a loud pop, Ryan let him go, panting between his legs and looking up like he was trying to say something, but no words left his mouth, just a big smile as they met for urgent kisses and firm touches, Shane rolling them over on the bed to get on top of his lover.


 

“Size queen…” Shane said in his ear, teasing it with his tongue and front teeth. “I knew that pretty mouth of yours was for cocksucking…”

Ryan laughed at that, nodding and making Shane go back to his lips. They were taking their sweet time, but he needed more of this man—now. With his arms around Shane’s neck, Ryan thrusted his hips up against the other man’s and both of them gasped, desperate to feel the other more.

“Fuck me,” He said. He had wanted it for a long time and he hoped Shane wouldn’t have any objections to it.

“You sure?” His voice sounded small, like if Ryan had offered something he thought he didn’t deserve, and fuck— Shane was going to be the death of him.

Ryan nodded. “Shit, yes—Need that big cock.”

Shane smiled above him, “Romantic.”

The slap was firm this time, on Shane’s shoulder, and he hoped he had felt the burn. Shane only laughed, reaching for his nightstand’s drawer and searching for something. Ryan sighed at the sight of lube and a condom; he took the condom, looking at it with determination.

If they were to do this, he wanted to feel everything. The electricity around his body had been amazing until now, and if he could feel Shane like that inside him—damn. Ryan wanted all of him tonight, and he knew Shane did, too.

“I’m clean,” Ryan said softly, not looking up, just… spreading his legs wider. “I trust you are, too.”

“But—are you… okay.”

For a second too long, he didn’t move until he slowly looked up at Ryan. He tried a reassuring smile, and Shane kissed him softly. Ryan tangled his fingers in his hair once more, enjoying the tender moment after having his dick down his throat.

Shane moved between them, caressing the inside of his thighs as he kept kissing him, stopping in the sensitive spot between his cock and balls, massaging there with a finger. His tongue pushed against Ryan’s mouth, and he let him in with a little moan that only got louder when he felt Shane’s fingers caressing between his ass cheeks.

He was so distracted by Shane’s mouth on his neck, going up behind his ear, he didn’t hear him uncap the lube, warm it on his fingers and move to touch his rim slightly with a tentative finger. Ryan jumped at the sensation, whining when Shane removed his finger, thinking it something bad—

Maybe he’d get used to the shocks after, but right now it was new and all he wanted—he said so to Shane to feel him there again, he kept saying it with his moans and sighs while his finger entered him slowly, free hand keeping one of his legs hooked on the taller man’s elbow.

Ryan tried his best to relax under Shane, closing his eyes and focusing on the wonderful sensation of Shane opening him with his finger, slowly thrusting it in and out until he relaxed and Shane made room for a second one.

Did he ever think they would make it until this point? He could remember looking at Shane’s face as he smiled down at him in Mexico City and thinking, this is my guy. It hadn’t meant what it meant now, but maybe that was the starting point of it. He had told him about his Gift that night and Shane hadn’t been weird about it.

“Oh fuck, oh fuck, fuck, fuck…”

“You okay, baby?” Shane asked, his stupid smirk on his face again, and this time it only made Ryan smile. He nodded, adjusting on bed to enjoy Shane’s fingers easily reaching his prostate. “You think you can take another one?”

“Please…” It was supposed to be sarcasm, but it sounded like a prayer and Ryan couldn’t help the groan Shane’s third finger inside him caused.

There was a board with a lie back at work and many years of keeping a secret that could have changed things since the beginning. Ryan opened his eyes to Shane’s loving gaze as he asked if he was ready for him. He nodded, rounding his neck with his arms and opening his legs wider, knees up to give access to him.

“Tell me if it hurts,” Shane reminded him, Ryan nodded. “Ry, baby—tell me if it hurts in any way, okay?”

“Yeah, yeah…” He answered, his preoccupation only making him want Shane even more.

Shane that was always so caring and trying to make him laugh. God knows when he had fallen in love with him, but he sure wasn’t going to forget the feeling of having him inside, the way he had slid the head of his cock in him and slowly pushed himself in inch by inch.

Their Gifts, even if Shane hated his, made it so much more. Maybe it wasn’t even the fact that there was wave after wave of small electricity surrounding his pleasure, but just Shane looking at him as if he was the answer to every question he ever had.

Once deep inside him, balls touching the skin of Shane’s pelvis, he stopped to let him adjust and Ryan breathed in and out. God, he was big. He had noticed from time to time, the bulge on his boxers or sweatpants in the morning when they woke side by side; Ryan had seen the size of his hands and of his fucking feet, but it was still something amazing to take in.

He smiled against Shane’s lips as he hugged his waist with his legs, urging him to move right about now.

“Babe, please…” Ryan begged, “please, please…”

“How does it feel?” He asked, pulling out of him almost completely, way too slow for Ryan’s desire. “Talk to me, Ry.”

It burned, it burned in an amazing way, slowly fading to leave only the pleasure of each thrust. Ryan hoped his babbling was enough for Shane, that he had understood, and maybe he had—if the way he had started to ram harder into him was any indication.

He thrusted hard, changing the angle every two or three times, trying to find the one that would make Ryan see stars. He could only moan every time, delighted with the way Shane filled him perfectly, how he felt even bigger inside him—exactly what he wanted, to feel full and so close to him.

“OH! Shane, there—!”

“Yeah?” His hair fell on his forehead; it was an image Ryan wanted to keep forever. “Like this, baby?” He thrusted forward, hitting Ryan’s prostate to gain another loud moan from him. “Look at that… you’re so beautiful like this.”

“Shane—“

“Fuck—“ Shane groaned, his knuckles white as he held onto Ryan’s thighs, keeping him open and in place to fuck harder. “You feel it, too? The sparks our Gifts cause—fuck, fuck—Ryan…”

Each little shock became a moan on Ryan’s lips, and a kiss to every part he could reach of Shane. The man kept murmuring sweet nothings to him, each thrust harder than the last, spreading him wide with both hands until he lifted Ryan’s legs and left them over his shoulders.

When he woke up this morning, knowing it was Shane’s birthday, Ryan had never imagined ending up here on his bed, fucking like they’d been starved to touch each other.

His moans became pleas for more, harder and faster, and Shane gave it to him as his only purpose in life was to get him off.

Shane kissed his right leg before leaning down over him, claiming his lips in sloppy movements as their hips met in each thrust; Ryan rounded his hips with his legs and moved with him, trying to match his rhythm.

He wasn’t going to last any longer, Ryan bit his bottom lip knowing he was going to come on Shane’s cock, and he arched his back feeling his entire body tense, needing the release like air.

“Shane—“ His partner nodded back at him and Ryan smiled and closed his eyes, letting his mind wander away. “Fuck, Jesu—Shane!”

His nails had probably left a mark on Shane’s shoulder and arm; Ryan gripped at him for dear life as he shot his release between their stomachs, Shane still pounding into him, hitting his prostate just the right way as his orgasm expanded to every corner of his body.

Ryan's chest went up and down, and he whined at how sensitive he felt with each of Shane's messy thrusts. Knowing him close to his own orgasm, Ryan kept moaning and crying out for more, needing to see him lose himself to him, to get to see his blissed out of his mind face like he’d wanted for so long.

"Baby, I need to—“

He crossed his legs on Shane’s back, hugging his hips to not let him go. “Inside—It’s okay, come inside me.”

Shane thrusted a few times more and then stilled inside him, letting out a deep and loud moan that sounded quite like Ryan’s name. The hot feeling of his release made Ryan whimper a little, arms and legs circling Shane and keeping him as close to his body as possible, and then they were kissing.

The bliss of his orgasm felt new too, and maybe the romantic part of Kismet was real—Shane was his soulmate, the person he wanted to share these moments of comfortable silence and tender kisses, whose weight was crushing him slightly and he made giggle while shoving him aside, needing to breathe properly.

Looking at each other while laying on their sides, Shane put one of his big hands on his face, caressing his cheek and cupping part of Ryan’s jaw, thumb near his lip like he had done so many times before. Ryan kissed his thumb again, happily sighing when he saw Shane’s smile widening.

“I really fucking love you,” Shane said, like if he was trying to also convince himself this was happening. “I do, so much—it’s insane.”

Ryan narrowed his eyes in a mocking you better way, then broke into a happy wheeze. “That’s good to know.”

“Yeah?” He murmured.

“Yeah.” Ryan rubbed their noses together, feeling sleepiness creep up to him as he kept talking. “I love you, too.”

Shane’s arms pulled him against his chest, he felt a kiss on his head and heard Shane’s voice saying his name, thanking him for something he wasn’t sure of, and slowly, he fell asleep.

He dreamt of Shane’s apartment, of the first time he was here and thought it better than his.

Honestly, anything with another room was better than what Ryan was renting at the moment; and that time, Shane had laughed, joking that if he was going to be alone forever, he at least wanted to live comfortable.

“This place is yours?” He had asked, making Shane laugh like a little kid as he showed off his belongings and holy fuck, they were those kind of adults that longed for a proper place to stay and something real to eat, not worrying about—what is that? Personal relationships? That.

His friend was still paying for it, would probably be paying for it for a long time—but it was his, it made him stay grounded in Los Angeles for a long time, and Ryan wasn’t sure why that made him feel so fucking happy, as if it secured their friendship for the rest of their lives.

It had been a difficult day for Shane, that one time. July 10th was a date he hated and Ryan had listened to his long story of why, and he couldn’t blame him at all. If something ever happened to Linda Bergara, he would probably die with her.

That day, it had been Shane’s mom’s mournful anniversary and Ryan had stayed with him the rest of the afternoon and night, distracting him from whatever clouded his mind that day every year.

He knew what it was now, and he had taken Shane’s face in his hands the day they had come back from their first doctor’s appointment together, and reminded him the same story Ryan had heard so many years ago—

“You didn’t kill your mother.” Ryan had said. “Shane, she was sick before you were born. You told me yourself, you didn’t—you had nothing to do with it.”

“How are you sure?” The man replied without looking him in the face. “I came out of her, that’s a lot of touching… feeding me, carrying me, she was—I don’t know, Ryan. We’ll never know.”

“No, Shane. Look at me.”

Another moment of hesitation passed before Shane finally looked at him, his eyes were red—and this was something Ryan was starting to get used to, and he didn’t want to.

Shane shouldn’t cry. He was a goofy man with an excellent sense of humor, pretty smiles and happy eyes. Ryan didn’t want to see that sorrow on such a handsome face ever again, and he hoped he could help Shane eventually, help him heal himself.

“What did your father tell you? What did her doctor tell you in person two years ago? It wasn’t your Gift. If it had been, it would have been earlier—you wouldn’t be here, Shane…”

The man had lowered his face again, his shoulders shaking as Ryan realized his friend was crying. It was terrifying to notice he didn’t make a single sound, barely sighed or did anything else. It occurred to him Shane had done this a million times before, hiding his feelings in silence like he had kept his mouth shut about them being mirrors.

Ryan didn’t have the heart to disturb him anymore, he moved to hold Shane in his arms as he cried against his chest that afternoon, just like he was holding him now as they slept in his bed.

Blinking, Ryan realized he was awake now and Shane had his head over his chest, his arms cuddling him to his body. His sudden movements made him change his position, throwing an arm on Ryan’s chest and searching for the pillow Ryan moved so he could be comfortable again.

They were face to face now, and Ryan blinked, watching him sleep. He’d always liked seeing him in this state, when his face was calm and he seemed to wander away from this world. Shane often said he didn’t like to dream. Just a few weeks back Ryan had found out why and he remembered the flowers at his desk back at the office.

Ryan gave a peck to Shane’s lips and he opened his eyes for just a few seconds, smiling and hugging him again. Ryan smiled against his neck, enjoying Shane’s smell around him as he felt the man put his chin on his head and going back to sleep.

“I love you.” Ryan murmured.

No more dead sunflowers and birds that couldn’t fly. Just the smell of water and life on their shared desks every morning, Shane’s kiss before boarding a plane to another ghost-hunting adventure.


 

“So, like…”

Brent and Steven seemed to enjoy Ryan’s conversation, the fascination in both of their coworker’s eyes made Shane smile at Ryan’s side.

“If I touch them for thirty seconds to a minute when they start showing signs of decay, they’ll start to look alive again almost immediately.”

“But why?” Brent frowned, looking at Ryan who was taking off his gloves to demonstrate his Gift on the flowers Shane had given him.

The sunflowers were leaving petals on their desk, covering Ryan’s toys in an unexpected spring during autumn; but Ryan was about to change that and win a shocked expression from their friends.

Shane looked, too.

“Plants take Hebe’s Touch almost immediately, but it also depends on the type of plant.” Shane explained to them. “I don’t remember exactly what it is that they have that helps it work that way, but—you’ll see.”

“Uhmmm…” Steven crossed his arms, looking at the sunflowers with all his attention as Ryan touched each flower for thirty to forty seconds. “Well, I think it’s romantic.”

“What’s romantic?” Ryan asked, not losing concentration of his action. “I’ll take longer with this one… I didn’t notice, it’s almost dead.” He sighed and pressed three of his fingertips to the center of the flower.

“Shane gave you these, right?”

The mentioned man blushed immediately, knowing what was coming. Ryan still managed to answer, looking at Steven with curiosity. How could his boyfriend be so freakin’ smart and yet so clueless at this? Shane swallowed and buried his face in his work, still listening.

“Yeah, so what?”

“And you touch them so they won’t die?” Steven continued, and Shane could hear Brent already giggling like a teen with a secret between his friends. He couldn’t help but smile.

“Yeah… I do.”

He saw Ryan take his hand away from the flowers, the other two suddenly silent and when Shane looked at them, they were all waiting for the flowers to change. This time, Andrew had stopped behind Steven, hands on his shoulders and eyes fixated on the flowers, even when he had already seen it last week.

“Ah!” Steven exclaimed when, slowly, each flower started to move and seemed to recover their color and the strength of its stem, making them all stand tall and alive again. “It worked, it really did!”

“Told you, it’s incredible.” Andrew commented at him, Steven looked up at the other man with a big smile. “Nicely done, Bergara.”

“That’s amazing!” Brent clapped excitedly. “And you can do this with every living being?”

“Yeah—I mean, it’s slower in animals and even more so in humans.” He sighed, Shane saw him trying to relax while talking about it. He hoped Ryan wouldn’t get too anxious with each question. “But eventually, I can… give health to whatever I touch as long as it’s alive.”

“Awesome,” Steven said, his fingers laced slightly with Andrew’s on his shoulder. That was new, Shane noted. “So, like—if I have an upset stomach, do you touch me and I’ll feel better?”

Ryan wheezed. “Not right away, but yes.”

“See?” Steven looked up at Andrew again, Brent was shaking his head at their side, walking away and behind Ryan. “We gotta take Ryan with us next season.”

“Hey! I have my own show to film, too!” Ryan reminded them.

Brent put a hand on Shane’s shoulder and he tensed immediately. Ryan looked at him right away, but Shane smiled. His clothes were enough, he was getting used to not react so badly to friendly contact while clothed and Ryan smiled back at him.

After a few more laughs and banter, the three of them left, and Ryan came back to look at his sunflowers and then at Shane, who shook his head and went back to work.

He saw Ryan’s free hand near his travel cup and slowly, Shane moved his hand to brush his fingers with his. Ryan shivered, smiling without looking at him, caressing his fingers with Shane’s as that familiar shock of recognition hit like every time. Soon, their fingers were interlocked and they kept working like that.

Shane used to dream of dead sunflowers and birds that couldn’t fly. He used to count one, then two, and three. Your touch eventually kills, don’t touch Ryan. And he always thought there was nothing else to do but accept he’d end up alone.

Then, Ryan Steven Bergara happened to him.

**