Filming Supernatural always took its toll on Ryan. Between the traveling, the late-night shoots, and analyzing footage, it was a lot of work. And this season had been more taxing than usual. The tight filming schedule was part of it, sure, but their trip to Charleston in particular had left its mark on Ryan, like a stubborn bruise that refused to heal. Insomnia, nightmares, and self-doubt haunted him, especially when he was alone. Ryan knew it was stupid, that jail wasn’t even demonic, but his mind wouldn’t let it go.
He was mainlining Red Bull and examining footage when the jail’s shackles tightened.
“THIS FUCKING SUCKS! I HATE IT! I FUCKING HATE THIS!” a purple-tinged Ryan screamed from the computer.
Ryan pressed the spacebar with a frown. He didn’t remember that. He didn’t remember most of this, frankly. Sure, there were usually things he’d forget from shoots, but they would always come rushing back once he watched the footage, like seeing a movie for the second time. But this, his solo investigation into the Old City Jail, at least half of it was lost to him. His brain must have blocked it out, in some sort of attempt at protection.
Ironically, that just scared him more.
The next morning, after another restless night, Ryan decided to indulge in a little self-care. He was going to take the entire Saturday off. No work, no ghosts, nothing about that fucking jail. Instead, he was going to eat an entire bag of popcorn and watch as many John Carpenter movies in a row as he could. He thought about asking Shane over to join him, but after all the time they’d been spending together, he figured the big guy deserved a break.
Roddy Piper was declaring he was all out of bubblegum when Shane’s goofy yet handsome face lit up Ryan’s phone. Happily surprised, Ryan immediately swiped to answer.
“Hey, what’s up?”
“Hey Ryan—no, ma’am, I’m fine. Seriously, I’m fine, thank you for your concern,” Shane said, his voice directed away from the speaker. He sounded out-of-breath. “Whatcha up to?”
“Uh. Having a Carpenter marathon, just on They Live. What are you doing?”
“Oh nice! Sorry, didn’t mean to—shit, ow—interrupt.”
“It’s fine.” Ryan slid off his bed towards his shoe rack. He had a feeling his marathon was about to end early. “Shane, what’s going on? Are you okay?”
“Peachy keen! I was just out for a run when I wanted to see what my good friend Ryan Bergara was up to.”
Ryan balanced the phone between his ear and shoulder while he tied the laces of his third-favorite Jordans. “Shane.”
“It’s, well, it’s pretty funny, actually. I was out for a run, like I said, when I, well, I fell. Right in front of the Greek Theater.”
Ryan couldn’t help but laugh, snickering into the phone. “Dude. I bet that was terrifying.”
“A little bit. I kind of fell multiple times until I went fully horizontal.”
“I meant for all the people who had to see a gigantic string bean splat onto the ground before their concert.”
Shane laughed, wheezing through the speaker. “It was! So many people gasped and turned away.”
Frowning, Ryan rummaged through his dresser for the shirt he was looking for. “No one helped you up?”
“Oh. A couple people offered, sure, but I’m fine. Just a little banged up.”
Considering the hisses of pain Ryan could hear through the phone, he didn’t quite believe that. “Sure, big guy. You still in Griffith Park?”
“Yeah, but I’m probably done running for the day.”
“Obviously. I’ll be there in 10, maybe 15.”
“Wait, what? You don’t have to come get me.”
Ryan sighed. “Then why did you call?”
Shane didn’t seem to have an answer for that, his breath still ragged. “I’m kind of a horror show, FYI.”
“Good thing horror is my favorite genre, then,” Ryan said as he finally found the shirt. “I’ll call you when I’m close.”
“Thanks. I’m still near the theater.”
They hung up. Ryan switched out his Lakers jersey for a t-shirt he’d previously only ever worn to sleep in. He knew it’d make Shane’s day to see him in it and it sounded like he needed the W today.
Ryan also, maybe, not-so-secretly needed a win himself. And Shane’s reaction to Ryan in the Hot Daga shirt he had drawn was going to be a slam dunk.
“Jesus Christ, dude,” Ryan gasped as Shane lowered himself into Ryan’s Prius. It was worse than he imagined. Shane’s legs were covered in bright red scrapes, and his palms were a mess of blood and grit from the sidewalk.
“Told you it was a horror show,” Shane said as he delicately clicked the seatbelt in using only his fingertips.
“I know, but fuck. Do you want me to take you to urgent care or something?”
“No, I think it’s okay. It’s all mostly stopped bleeding at this point.”
“Well, you still need Band-Aids and shit.”
“I have Band-Aids and shit, I’ll take care of it.”
Ryan glanced over at Shane’s palms. “Sure you will.”
As Ryan drove them to Shane’s apartment, Shane regaled him with the full story of his fall, complete with funny voices and sound effects. It was such shitty luck for Shane to plan to run during the day so he wouldn’t trip and then do it anyway that Ryan couldn’t stop giggling.
“I’m so glad that my plight is bringing you such joy,” Shane said as Ryan pulled into a parking spot.
“I keep imagining it if you did do this at night. With your dorky headlamp and fuckin’ eight miles of leg, flailing all over the place. You’d be a new LA cryptid in no time.”
“That’d make for a good episode. The Case of the Mysterious Griffith Park Noodle Man,” Shane said, doing a pretty good impression of Ryan’s narration voice.
Ryan cracked up all over again, his cackles ringing out loudly as he got out of his car. Shane took it a little slower than usual, grunting as he pulled himself out of Ryan’s Prius.
“You need some help?” Ryan asked, hustling to the passenger side.
“Nah, I’m okay, just a little,” Shane stopped abruptly, staring at Ryan with wide eyes and a slack jaw. Ryan recognized that look instantly. The last time he’d seen it had been in a Best Western the day of a treasure hunt.
Biting the inside of his cheek, Ryan tried to play it cool. “Just a little what?”
“What—what is this that I’m seeing?” Shane demanded, his voice going up at least one octave.
“What do you mean?”
“This.” Shane pointed a red finger at Ryan’s chest. “Where did you get that?”
“Hm? Oh, this thing?” Ryan picked at the hem like it was any old t-shirt. “Same place you got yours, merch department.”
Shane glanced down at his “I Love the Hot Daga” shirt before eyeing Ryan again. “Why?”
“Huh? I have all our merch, you know that,” Ryan said as he lightly bumped Shane’s shoulder with his fist. “Come on, we should get inside before you bleed out in the parking lot.”
“Right,” Shane swallowed, his cheeks turning a bright tomato red. Ryan couldn’t help but smile. Slam fucking dunk.
Once they got into his apartment, Shane pointed his thumb towards the bathroom. “I’ll be a minute, help yourself to the fridge and Roku.”
“Seriously?” Ryan asked with a roll of his eyes. “C’mon, show me where your Band-Aids are.”
“Ryan, you don’t have to—,”
“You think you’re gonna be able to bandage yourself up when it took you a good twenty seconds to dig your keys out of your pocket? It’s fine, that’s why I’m here, right?”
The faintest shade of pink crept up Shane’s neck. “Alright. But if it’s too gross, remember that you volunteered for this.”
“I’ve signed up for worse.”
“I can believe that.”
While Shane rested on the closed toilet, he directed Ryan around his bathroom for washcloths, bandages, and antibiotic cream. Once everything was laid out, Ryan opened his phone to make sure they weren’t forgetting anything.
“Why did you wait until now to text someone?” Shane asked, clearly annoyed.
“I’m not. I’m just googling ‘how to clean a wound’.”
“Ryan. It’s a couple scrapes, just put the bandages on! It’s not that hard.”
“Well, excuse me for making sure I bandage your clumsy ass up correctly,” Ryan shot back. “Get over here by the sink.”
As Ryan washed his hands, Shane set on the edge of his bathroom counter, his hands resting awkwardly palms up on his thighs. After taking one last look at the WebMD page on wound care, Ryan ran a washcloth under some warm water and motioned for Shane.
“Let’s do your hands first.”
Shane stuck out his right hand. Ryan couldn’t help but grimace. It was pretty gnarly. There were still bits of gravel in the deepest scrapes at the base of Shane’s palm and his thumb was ripped open from top to bottom.
“You don’t have to do this,” Shane mumbled.
“Just shut up and stick your hand in the sink.”
He did as Ryan turned the water on. Instinctively, Shane’s hand twitched away from the running water, but Ryan grabbed his wrist to hold it in place.
“Told you you needed help,” Ryan said as he carefully guided Shane's hand back under the faucet.
"Yeah, yeah, fine."
While holding Shane's wrist with his right hand, Ryan unfurled Shane's fingers with his left as the water poured over them. Shane winced but he didn't try to pull back this time. After getting the excess blood and grit rinsed off, Ryan took the washcloth to clean around the cuts individually. Ryan didn't think they looked as bad now, but then he touched the deepest cut on Shane's lower palm near his wrist with the damp washcloth.
"Ow ow ow," he hissed, his eyes squeezed shut.
Ryan stilled. "Sorry! It says to wash them like this too!"
"It's okay. Keep going," Shane nodded, gritting his teeth.
Ryan pressed in again with the washcloth, albeit much gentler this time. As he dabbed up the blood and dirt, Shane’s hand steadied in Ryan’s hold. His hands were always so steady, no matter the circumstances.
“But the — the cameras…”
“We’ll get them.” Shane cupped his hand around Ryan’s and led him to chair in the Old City Jail’s office. “Just sit down and take it easy.”
Ryan sat but he didn’t let go of Shane’s hand. “I hated that. I hate it.”
“Something ran past me.” Ryan gripped tightly onto Shane’s hand. “Twice.”
Shane knelt down in front of Ryan and laid his other hand on top of Ryan’s so that his hand was sandwiched between two gigantic, firm palms. “You’ll be fine here. We’ve gotta pack the gear up, but then we’ll go back to the hotel, okay?”
Focusing on the warmth of Shane’s hands, Ryan took a deep, slow breath. “Okay.”
Back in Shane’s bathroom, Ryan took a similar breath to calm his loudly beating heart. He had to do his best by Shane here, it was the least he deserved.
Shane flinched when Ryan wiped at his torn thumb. “Fuck!”
“Sorry! Try to hold still.”
“It’s an involuntary reaction, I can’t help it.”
Ryan adjusted his grip so he could hold onto the base of Shane’s thumb more firmly. He pressed the washcloth as gently as he could while still cleaning the wound. “Better?”
Shane’s fingers twitched. “Yeah. Still stings but not as much.”
Warmth spread through Ryan’s body, down to his own fingertips. “Good.”
After he was done with the washcloth, Ryan rubbed some Neosporin on Shane’s cuts and then began bandaging him up. Shane didn’t have the biggest variety of Band-Aids, but he at least had one big enough for the cut on his palm. The rest had to be covered with regular-sized Band-Aids, even if they took two or three to cover all the cuts. When Ryan was done, Shane held up his hand to inspect it.
“Not bad. It kind of looks badass, in a way. Like I’m a cool action movie guy all bandaged up from kicking the villain’s ass.”
“Okay, Tom Cruise,” Ryan joked. “Give me your other hand, we’ve got three more limbs to go.”
There weren’t as many cuts on Shane’s left hand, but Ryan still took his time cleaning and smoothing the bandages over them as carefully as possible.
“That one probably doesn’t even need a Band-Aid,” Shane pointed out as Ryan bandaged up a small scrape on his pinky.
“Better to be safe than sorry. Can’t have my fellow ghoul boy getting tetanus or something on our next hunt.”
“We’ve only got the Viper Room left to shoot, I don’t think we’ll run into a bunch of rusty nails in there.”
“No, but it is a notorious party club. There could be ghouls with certain kinds of needles waiting just for you,” Ryan said with a shit-eating grin.
“You joke, but if that happens, you’re gonna have to find yourself a new partner because I am done,” Shane threatened.
Ryan knew Shane was just messing around, but his fingers tightened around Shane’s anyway. “Well, then I guess the show would be over because I would never replace you.”
“Oh. Well, uh, that’s...good to know. Thanks,” Shane said quietly. His fingers curled in close around Ryan’s for the briefest of seconds before unfurling again.
Suddenly feeling as ripped open as Shane’s hands, Ryan let go and busied himself with wetting a fresh washcloth. “Legs next?”
Shane sat back down on the closed toilet and stretched one leg all the way out while Ryan sat down in front of him with all his supplies. Carefully, Ryan lifted Shane’s outstretched leg and got to work.
“I always forget how long they are,” Ryan said as he wiped away the blood and dirt.
“How? You comment on how tall I am literally all the time.”
“Because it still doesn’t make sense to me. How does someone even get this tall?”
Shane snorted. “Some people are tall, Ryan, just like some people are short, as you would know.”
“I’m not short,” Ryan argued for probably the ten-thousandth time in their friendship. How they always ended up back at the exact same arguments was a mystery to him, but it was one of the few Ryan wasn’t interested in solving. “You’re just obnoxiously, offensively, objectionably tall.”
“Nice alliteration,” Shane chuckled. “You been holding onto that one long?”
Cleaning Shane’s legs up took longer than Ryan anticipated. The scrapes weren’t as deep as the ones on his hands, but there were more of them, dotting the landscape of his stupidly long calves like lines on a map. He did have particularly nasty one up right up the middle of his left shin that took Ryan a good five minutes to clean, though.
“You know, I never expected to see you like this,” Shane said as Ryan started bandaging up his legs.
“Like what, a makeshift nurse?”
“Yeah. It suits you. You’re not wigging out or anything.”
Ryan shrugged as he sorted through Band-Aids. “I guess I got some of those Bergara-doctorly instincts after all.”
“Dentists don’t really patch people up, though.” Smiling, Shane nudged Ryan with his leg. “This might be all you.”
“If that’s the case, you probably need to get a second opinion. I am the world's biggest idiot.”
Shane nudged him again, although his smile was gone. “Hey, that’s my friend you’re talking about there.”
“Not my fault you have bad taste in friends,” Ryan joked, nudging Shane’s leg back with his elbow.
“You gotta stop doing that,” Shane said with a weary edge to his voice. “It’s not as funny as you think it is.”
Uncomfortable, Ryan focused in on a large cut on Shane’s knee. It was gross, but better than looking Shane in the eye. “It’s just a joke.”
“A bad one.” Shane’s voice softened. “Is everything okay?”
Ryan rubbed his thumbs over the bandaged cut, his fingers curled against the sides of Shane’s knee. “Yeah. It’s just…” he paused to swallow. “That fucking jail.”
“Nightmares?” Shane asked, his tone still so uncharacteristically gentle.
“Yeah, but I always have nightmares when we’re shooting, that’s not new. It’s...I don’t know why I let it get to me so badly,” he finally admitted. “It’s—I’m—so fucking dumb.”
“You’re not dumb,” Shane said. “That place was foreboding as hell and you were in there all alone, it’s understandable that it would get to you.”
“Except it didn’t get to you. Or TJ. Or Mark or Devon or Katie. It only got to me,” Ryan pointed out. He was so frustrated with himself just thinking about it that he fucked up sticking a Band-Aid on Shane’s leg, completely missing the wound. “Fuck, sorry. See? World’s biggest idiot.”
“Ryan,” Shane warned.
“I’m just callin’ ‘em like I see ‘em, man,” he said. “Sorry in advance,” he added as he began to pick the misplaced Band-Aid off of Shane’s skin, but a large, bandaged hand stopped him.
Ryan glanced up. Jaw set and eyes narrowed, Shane cut a weirdly intimidating figure for a guy wearing a flowered bandana to keep his floofy hair out of his face.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Ryan asked as a nervous giggle escaped his throat.
“Because I want you to listen to me. You’re not stupid or an idiot or any of the other shitty things you tell yourself.”
“Then what am I?” Ryan asked, his voice more unsteady than he wanted to admit.
Shane grabbed both of Ryan’s shoulders, wincing through the obvious pain it put him in. “You’re my friend .”
Shane had been saying that a lot lately. Ryan thought it was a bit, some funny throughline for the newest season so people on YouTube and Reddit would stop asking if they hated each other, but there were no cameras to mug for now. He said it entirely for Ryan and Ryan only.
“I know,” Ryan said quietly.
“Do you? Because I keep telling you and you keep beating yourself up anyway.”
“Yeah, well, you didn’t get so scared of a location that you literally don’t remember half of it, so…” Ryan let the admission hang as he peeled the backing off of another Band-Aid.
Shane dropped his grip on Ryan’s shoulders so he could hunch over on his knees, his hands hanging right in front of Ryan’s face. “You don’t remember?”
He started sticking bandages on the large scrape up Shane’s shin. “Just parts of it from my solo stuff. I was watching the footage yesterday and I didn’t even recognize myself. Weird, huh?”
“Weird, sure,” Shane said, flicking his fingers out to push the tip of Ryan’s hat up. “Stupid, though? I don’t think so.”
His hands still curled around Shane’s leg, Ryan looked up. “You don’t?”
Smiling, Shane shook his head. “Nope.”
It was all Ryan could do to stay rooted to the floor. He wanted so badly to surge up and kiss every part of Shane’s huge face that he could, but he knew that wouldn’t end well for either of them. They were friends, as Shane had reminded him again today, and that was going to have to be enough.
But Ryan’s self-control was only so strong, especially when Shane was smiling at him like that and saying such nice things. Ryan could keep himself seated, but he couldn’t stop himself from leaning forward and pressing a kiss to the Band-Aid on Shane’s knee.
As soon as his lips touched the bandage, Ryan pulled back, horrified at himself. “I—I don’t know why I did that.”
Shane let out a soft, low laugh. “It’s okay.”
“Sorry, I just fuckin’...my mom always did that when I hurt myself as a kid, it must’ve been instinct,” Ryan covered, almost tripping over his words to get any sort of explanation out.
“Must have,” Shane said as his thumb swiped over the bandage Ryan kissed.
Face on the brink of overheating, Ryan scrambled to stand. He truly was the world’s biggest idiot. “I’ve gotta—I should clean up.”
“You don’t have to, I can get it later.”
Unable to look Shane in the eye, Ryan focused on rinsing out the washcloths. “It’s fine. You should get some rest.”
“Alright, twist my arm.” Shane stood with only a minimal grunt of discomfort. “Thanks. You’re a real pal.”
“Just repaying the favor.”
“Huh? I think I’d remember making a Band-Aid mummy out of you.”
“For the jail. Afterwards, you helped. A lot,” Ryan admitted quietly as he scrubbed soap harder into the washcloth.
“Oh. I was happy to, it wasn’t a big deal.”
“It was to me.”
Shane didn’t say anything for a moment, but he didn’t move to leave either. Ryan stayed focused on the washcloths, though, still too embarrassed to look Shane in the eye.
“You know,” Shane said, clearing his throat. “I have a nice little Carpenter collection myself. Probably not as big as yours, but I’ve got the essentials.”
“Yeah. Halloween, The Thing, Escape From New York, and Big Trouble. No They Live, unfortunately.”
“That’s okay, I was mostly done with it.” Ryan stopped the faucet and finally looked up to see Shane smiling at him in the mirror. “We can start on the next one.”
“You can choose. Except Big Trouble, I watched that already. Or The Thing. That’s the closer.”
“Obviously. Alright, I’ll get Escape started if you make the popcorn.”
Ryan grinned back at him in the mirror. “You got it.”
Two and a half movies and an obscene amount of takeout food and popcorn later, Ryan was more relaxed than he had been in days. Watching some of his favorite movies with one of his favorite people had quieted his mind enough that he could just enjoy the night. He’d even forgotten about stupidly kissing Shane’s knee, too engrossed by Kurt Russell’s magnificent hair (and maybe a little by Shane’s as well).
They were halfway through The Thing when Shane pulled himself up off the couch, rubbing at his back.
“Ugh. I think those aspirin are wearing off.”
Ryan paused the movie from the recliner. “You okay?”
“Yeah, my back’s just sore,” he said. “Bodies are so stupid. I didn’t even fall on my back, why does it hurt now?”
“That’s what happens when you get old, big guy.”
“Thirty’s coming for you, buckaroo, don’t get too comfortable,” Shane groused as he stretched. He winced, grabbing at his shoulder. “I think I have a heating pad somewhere, gimme a minute to look for it.”
Ten minutes went by and no heating pad. Shane just shrugged it off and took another aspirin, but it didn’t seem like enough to Ryan. No one deserved a backache while watching one of the best horror movies of all time, let alone Shane.
“Hey, uh, if you want, I could give you a little back rub,” Ryan suggested as Shane eased himself back down on the couch.
Eyebrows raised, Shane stared at him. “Really?”
“Yeah. I mean, I can’t have you whining and complaining while MacReady incinerates Norris-Thing, it’s one of my favorite parts.”
Shane grinned. “Well, we can’t have that. C’mon, give me the ol’ Bergmeister special then.”
“Please don’t call it that.”
As soon as Ryan knelt behind Shane on the couch, his heart leapt into his throat. He vastly underestimated how attractive the back of Shane’s head would be, his hair was so thick and shiny and long. Fuck, Ryan really was an idiot, what the hell was he thinking, offering Shane a massage?
But it was too late to back out now, so Ryan tentatively curled his hands around Shane’s shoulders.
"You don't have to," Shane said suddenly, his shoulders pulled and taut under Ryan's touch. "If it's too awkward. I’ll live."
"No, it's okay," Ryan said quickly. He began kneading Shane's shoulders in a slow rhythm. "It's the least I can do."
Shane snorted. "The least you could do was listen to me whine on the phone about busting my ass in front of a bunch of strangers. You've gone above and beyond that."
“Just repaying the favor, like I said.”
“For Charleston? You’ve already repaid, with interest, so please don’t feel obligated.”
Ryan shifted his hands fully to Shane’s back, pressing his fingers in and around his shoulder blades. “Do you want a goddamn massage or not?”
Shane tipped his head back, laughing softly. “Okay, okay. I still think you’ve wildly overpraised me, but since I’m reaping the benefits of it, I’ll shut my mouth.”
Ryan’s fist clenched in Shane’s shirt as all that hair flopped dangerously close to his fingers. “I really haven’t. It was bad, Shane, but you kept it—me—from getting worse.”
“You would’ve done the same for me. I mean, you are, right now,” Shane pointed out. “I’m just glad it helped.”
As Ryan worked the muscles in Shane’s back, he remembered just how much Shane had helped.
“Hey. They had Modelo at the gas station.”
There was a small sliver of window visible in between the curtains. Ryan couldn’t take his eyes off it, in case a face appeared. Constant vigilance.
A slick, cold bottle was pressed into his hand. “Modelo. Beer. For you.”
“I’m going to give the rest of these to the gang, but I’ll be right back, okay?”
As Ryan brought the beer to his lips, the curtain flapped. Just an inch. But it flapped. The bottle smashed into Ryan’s upper lip. No. No no no, not here too. This was a Holiday Inn. Holiday Inns aren’t haunted.
Or are they?
Hands shaking, Ryan stared at the curtain. Please don’t move. Please please please please stay still, please don’t move.
Or did it?
A pair of ridiculously long legs appeared in front of him. Where’d they come from? “How’s the beer?”
Shane crossed over to where the curtains met. Pulling them together, he secured them with a large hair clip. “Katie only had the one, but it should keep them together.”
Without the window to stare at, Ryan redirected his gaze to Shane. “They—the curtains—they moved.”
“Probably ‘cause I turned the A/C on,” Shane said, pointing to the unit sticking out from under the curtains.
“Oh.” Ryan shook his head, feeling as stupid as ever. “Duh, of course. I’m such a fucking dumbass.”
“It’s still hot as balls in here, so it’s not very noticeable yet,” Shane said. “C’mon, take your shoes off, drink your beer. I’ll try to find us something on TV.”
After settling back against the headboard, shoeless and sipping on his Modelo, Ryan took a deep breath. His nerves were still shot but it helped, a little.
When Shane joined him, he slung an arm around Ryan’s shoulders. “You’re not a dumbass, by the way.”
Ryan leaned into him, letting Shane hold up most of his weight. “Pretty sure I am.”
“Come on, Ryan. You believe in everything, believe in yourself.”
“It’s not that easy.”
Shane squeezed Ryan closer. “Then I’ll believe for you.”
Ryan’s head dropped onto Shane’s shoulder. If the curtains flapped again that night, Ryan never knew.
Back on Shane’s couch, Ryan cracked his knuckles before wrapping his hands around Shane’s shoulders again. He was going to give the big guy the best goddamn massage on the planet.
“Jesus, wow, Ryan,” Shane gasped.
“That’s the ol’ Bergmeister special, just for you.”
Shane let out a wheeze. “Finally came around on the name, huh?”
“Nope,” Ryan lied.
“Shut up, Shane.”
As Ryan worked his way across Shane’s back, kneading at the sore muscles, Shane actually did grow quiet. With such little noise in the living room, it amplified what Ryan could hear by a thousand: the scrunching of Shane’s shirt under his fingers, the slight hum from the TV where the movie was still paused, Shane’s steady breaths and Ryan’s unsteady ones. As much as Ryan wanted to break the near-silence, he couldn’t trust himself to not say something stupid, like telling Shane that his shoulders were nice and firm or that Ryan could feel how warm he was through his t-shirt. So, he kept quiet, hoping Shane would crack the tension instead.
When he reached Shane’s lower back, Ryan dug his knuckles in alongside each other of Shane’s spine. A noise that could only be described as a groan escaped from Shane’s throat, his entire back arching into Ryan’s touch. That was not the kind of silence-breaking Ryan expected. He suddenly got very warm, his brow beading with sweat.
“Fuck. You’re really good at that,” Shane gasped.
Ryan shifted on his knees, trying to relieve some of the building pressure in his shorts. “Th-thanks.”
“I should be thanking you. My back feels a thousand-percent better,” Shane replied as he squeezed the couch cushion underneath them for support.
Ryan reached forward to move Shane’s hand, wincing when his dick rubbed against his zipper. “Hey. Don’t hurt yourself more there. You only have so many Band-Aids.”
Shane let Ryan lift his hand off the cushion, but he didn’t let him pull his hand back after, his wrist twisting to catch Ryan’s fingers with his own. Ryan’s entire body went tight, tighter than any of the muscles he’d loosened in Shane’s back.
“I’ll be okay. I know a guy who can kiss it and make it better,” Shane said, undoubtedly with a shit-eating grin across his giant, stupid, handsome face.
Heat flooded Ryan’s cheeks as he tried to yank his hand back, but Shane wouldn’t let go. “Very funny. Now let me go.”
Shane turned his head to the side. His face was pink and his eyes were dark and there wasn’t a hint of a smirk. Huh. “I’m not being funny. My knee feels great”
“Yeah?” Ryan asked with a swallow.
“Yup. Everything else is a little sore and achy, but my knee? Fit as a fiddle.”
Ryan’s free hand clutched at Shane’s side. “You’re still hurting?”
“A little bit.”
“My hands,” Shane said, his fingers twitching against Ryan’s.
Ryan brought Shane’s hand up over his shoulder. Leaning forward, he pressed his lips softly to Shane’s bandaged index finger. Shane’s breath stuttered.
“S’that better?” Ryan asked, his heart beating fast enough to power a fighter jet.
“Yeah,” Shane said, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “Feels like new, Ry.”
With that bit of encouragement, Ryan continued, gently kissing each of Shane’s fingertips. He had no idea what the fuck was happening but at least it was distracting him from his extremely uncomfortable hard-on.
After letting his lips linger for a second or two on Shane’s bandaged palm, Ryan carefully deposited Shane’s hand back at his side. Before Ryan knew it, Shane was pivoting around so that his back was against the couch, his gaze heavy.
“One down, one to go,” he said, offering up his other hand.
As Ryan brought Shane’s hand up towards his lips, he noticed a bulge in Shane’s running shorts. He did nothing to hide it, instead keeping his focus on Ryan’s face.
Forget a fighter jet. Ryan’s heart could power the fucking Millennium Falcon.
Holding firm onto Shane’s wrist, Ryan peppered his hand with the same tender kisses. Shane’s eyes never left him the entire time, not even when he was done and setting Shane’s hand back down.
Completely flustered, Ryan had to take his hat off to wipe at the sweat. What the fuck was happening?
“You’re all set—”
“You missed one,” Shane interrupted.
Immediately, Ryan frowned down at Shane’s hands, looking for the rogue wound. “I—I did?”
“Yeah. A pretty big one.”
“Really? I got the ones on your palms—”
“Ryan,” Shane interrupted. “Up here.”
When Ryan looked up, Shane’s lips twitched.
Ryan squeezed his hat so tightly that he nearly bent the bill in half. Holy shit. Did that...did that mean what Ryan thought it did? That Shane wanted Ryan to kiss him? Holy shit. Ryan was not prepared for this, his breath probably smelled like beer and popcorn and he had hat hair and he hadn’t shaved and he needed to let go of his hat but he couldn’t because he didn’t know what to do with his hands and—
“You gonna just sit there?” Shane asked, trying to sound nonchalant and not quite nailing it.
Knowing that Shane wasn’t as chill as he looked was enough to pull Ryan out of his spiral. He couldn't leave Shane hanging like that.
Ryan dropped his hat and lifted Shane’s chin with trembling fingers, his thumb right under his bottom lip. “Sorry.”
“S’okay,” Shane whispered.
Mustering up all the courage he had, Ryan leaned in to press the softest, more careful kiss of his life to Shane’s lips. They were a little dry, but not chapped, and tasted a bit like popcorn. It lasted just one second, but it was a second Ryan would never forget.
“Better?” Ryan asked.
Not missing a beat, Shane replied, “Not really. I think you’ll have to try again.”
Ryan grinned so hard his face hurt. “Smooth.”
“What can I say, that’s the ol’ Shanester Special. Just for you,” Shane smiled. The crinkles around his eyes were as deep as Ryan had ever seen them.
“What else, exactly, is in a Shanester Special?”
“Kiss me again and find out,” Shane said in his Transatlantic accent, waggling his eyebrows. Somehow it didn’t turn Ryan off in the slightest.
“Okay, Bogart,” Ryan laughed before leaning back in for another kiss.
This one lasted much longer than a single second. Shane almost immediately deepened the kiss, parting Ryan’s lips with his tongue, while Ryan eased his fingers into Shane’s hairline. He couldn’t get far, though, with the bandana blocking him. He tried to shove it off, but Shane had it tied pretty securely.
“Ugh, why is this on so tight?” he mumbled as he tried to untie it from behind Shane’s neck.
“You have to when you’ve got a big noggin like this one,” Shane explained. “Here, let me—”
“No, I got it.”
“Shut up—there!” Ryan flung the bandana onto the floor before grabbing two fistfuls of Shane’s newly freed hair. It was even softer than he’d imagined, all slick and long in between his fingers. Ryan couldn’t help it—he groaned.
“So, I keep meaning to ask you. How do you feel about me growing my hair out?” Shane asked.
Ryan ran his hands through the strands, his fingertips rubbing against Shane’s scalp. “It’s been ruining my life, thanks for asking.”
“We’re even then. ‘Cause you’ve been ruining mine ever since we shot Area 51.”
Before Ryan could ask him to clarify, Shane rubbed his non-injured thumb over Ryan’s nipple, over his shirt.
"Oh shit,” Ryan gasped.
“Do you have any idea how hard it was to film while you just rubbed your nips like it was no big deal?” Shane’s voice was rough on the edges in a way Ryan had never heard before.
Ryan dropped one hand to the bulge in Shane’s shorts. “I’m getting an idea.”
“Fuck,” Shane hissed before grabbing Ryan’s wrist and moving it off his crotch. “Wait, not yet.”
Ryan yanked his hand back like he’d touched a hot pan. “Shit, sorry! I should’ve asked, fuck me.”
“No no no, it’s okay,” Shane said. “I just want to make sure, before we go any further, that you want...this. That you’re not just doing it out of any obligation you feel like you owe me.”
A vice squeezed around Ryan’s heart. “Shane…”
“It’s okay if you don’t really want to. We can go back to watching the movie,” he added with a weak smile. “I know you love watching MacReady light that fucker up.”
Ryan gently curled his hand around Shane’s wrist, his thumb stroking the edge of his bandage. He wasn’t used to being the reassuring one, but he hoped it would help. “You wanna know how much I want this?”
Ryan turned off the TV. “That much.”
"That’s your grand gesture? Turning off a movie?”
“My favorite horror movie,” Ryan corrected. “I can also show you how hard my dick is, will that help?”
“Can’t hurt,” Shane grinned.
Ryan brought Shane’s hand into his lap, shuddering when it brushed against the tent in his shorts. Shane cupped him, his breath turning sharp as he gently squeezed.
“See, big guy? I want this—you. I have for a while.”
“That’s good to know,” Shane said quietly. He dragged his finger up Ryan’s shirt to where Ryan’s name was written in Shane’s own handwriting and began tracing the letters. “Because I have too.”
Breath hitching, Ryan watched as Shane continued to trace the five stars he’d drawn, right above Ryan’s name. “You know that if it were up to me, we’d bring it back this season.”
“Sure you would,” Shane said skeptically.
“I’m serious, man. If I had control of the budget, it would be a done deal.” It wasn’t a lie. As much as the actual story of the Hot Daga physically pained him, Ryan missed how excited Shane got about it every week, the wicked glint in his eyes as he meticulously wrote his insane opus. “It is a critically acclaimed saga, after all,” Ryan added, tracing the five stars with his own finger.
“That is the hottest thing you could ever say to me, fuck you.” Shane’s fist clenched in Ryan’s shirt, pulling him in to smack a hard kiss to Ryan’s mouth. “I need you in my bedroom. Now.”
Licking over his tingling lips, Ryan pulled Shane up off the couch. “Lead the way.”
The moment Ryan pressed Shane into the bed, he knew he was a goner.
All ten feet of him spread out on the sheets while looking up at Ryan with the fondest expression was enough to make Ryan’s dick twitch to full hardness.
Ryan kissed him, slowly, deeply, trying to show Shane just how much he wanted this, how much he wanted him . As they made out, Shane curled one hand around Ryan’s neck, his bandaged fingers dragging against the short hair.
“Get on your back,” Shane said after pulling back for air.
“‘Cause I wanna rock your body, baby.”
“Jesus Christ,” Ryan laughed before reaching down to lightly cup Shane’s knee. “But won’t that hurt your body, baby?”
“It’s a skinned knee, Ryan, I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure? It’s okay, really, I’m fine to get myself off.”
“You sweet, gorgeous idiot, yes, I’m sure,” Shane sighed, rolling his eyes.
Ryan lightly tugged on a handful of Shane’s hair. “Hey, I’m not an idiot. This friend of mine told me so.”
Shane’s entire face lit up. “Sounds like a smart guy. Glad you’re listening to him.”
“I’m trying to,” Ryan smiled back.
Before switching positions, they undressed. Shane had a couple big, red marks along his chest that were on their way to becoming proper bruises. Ryan gently traced a finger around one on his ribs until Shane grabbed his hand, bringing it up to his mouth to press a kiss into the palm.
“Lay back,” Shane told him.
Ryan did, pulling Shane down with him. They kissed, soft and slow again, until Shane ducked his head to mouth down Ryan’s jaw and neck. Skin prickling with heat, Ryan held onto the base of his dick to relieve some of the pressure. He wanted this to last as long as possible.
After kissing down the center of Ryan’s chest, Shane settled on his elbows and pressed his mouth over Ryan’s right nipple.
“Oh shit,” Ryan gasped.
“Is this okay? I...I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it,” Shane admitted as pink flooded his neck.
Ryan tangled his other hand in Shane’s hair. “Knock yourself out.”
Shane let out a huff of laughter before licking over both of Ryan’s nipples. It was just a tease of a touch, but enough to get them hard. Obviously pleased, Shane shot Ryan a grin.
“Wow. That was easy.”
“I don’t think you want my mouth closed, Ryan,” Shane teased, immediately before pressing his open mouth back to Ryan’s right nipple. This time he sucked at the tender skin, his tongue licking over the nub. The pressure was just enough to send a small shockwave through Ryan’s body, all the way down to his toes as they scrabbled against the sheets.
“Keep doing that,” he told Shane, his hand clenching in his hair.
Shane hummed in response as he kissed and sucked around Ryan’s nipple. Ryan had to give himself a few strokes to relieve some of the pressure building in his abdomen, but just a few before he had to let go. He was about to rub his currently neglected left nipple when Shane beat him to it.
With Shane’s index finger bandaged up, it was a slightly unusual sensation; the rough drag of the Band-Aid contrasting with Shane’s soft, uninjured fingers. Ryan did not hate it, though, not in the slightest.
Shane switched nipples, sucking around Ryan’s left one now, while he rubbed at his right. That one was more sensitive, so the moment Shane dragged his teeth over it, Ryan’s back arched off the bed.
“Oh fuck, Jesus Christ,” he groaned.
“You liked that, huh?” Shane asked, entirely too pleased with himself.
Ryan motioned to where his dick was leaking steadily against his stomach. “What the fuck do you think?”
Running two non-bandaged fingers through the mess of precome, Shane grinned. “I think I’m going to try something.”
Shane had bitten Ryan, not directly on the nipple, but around it, and it nearly undid him. His fingers dug into Shane’s scalp, his dick ached, and his forehead beaded with sweat. Of fucking course Shane knew how to take Ryan apart, just like he always knew how to put him back together.
“Shane,” Ryan choked out as Shane bit down again.
“Too much?” Shane asked before licking soothingly over the red bite marks.
“Sort of. You’re about to make me come.”
“That’s kind of the point.”
“I know, I just…” he swallowed, not sure how to say it without sounding like a sappy idiot. “I’m not ready for it to be over.”
So much for that.
“Oh Ryan,” Shane smiled, this bandaged thumb tracing Ryan’s cheekbone. “We’re gonna have so many nights like this, it’s okay.”
Heart in his throat, Ryan nodded. “Okay.”
Shane surged up to give him a quick but sweet kiss. When he ducked his head back down, Ryan expected him to go for his nipple again, but Shane kept heading south until he was eye-level with Ryan’s dick.
He kissed down the shaft to Ryan’s balls, lightly sucking at them before making his way back up to the crown. Ryan felt like he was going to explode, it was just enough touch to bring him to the edge but not enough to push him over.
“You asshole, come on,” Ryan groaned.
“I thought you didn’t want this to be over so quickly,” Shane said, one eyebrow raised.
“I didn’t, but fuck, dude, there’s teasing and then there’s teasing.”
“I only have my mouth to work with here, gimme a break,” Shane reminded him, wiggling his bandaged fingers.
Ryan grabbed the base of his dick, holding it at the ideal angle for Shane's mouth. "Then let me help."
"Such a gentleman," Shane joked before closing his lips around Ryan's cock.
No longer interested in teasing, Shane used the same technique on Ryan’s cock as he had on his nipples, sucking hard and working his tongue on the tip. Ryan grabbed at the sheets, swears and groans falling from his lips until his entire body went taut as he came. Completely overwhelmed, Ryan didn’t even register Shane flopping down next to him until a sweaty nose pressed into his cheek.
“Fuck, that was hot,” Shane murmured, his voice raspy.
“So hot I kind of blacked out there for a sec.” Ryan rolled onto his side, his hand cupped around Shane’s neck. “Is your throat okay? I should’ve warned you.”
“I’ll live. It was worth it, anyway.”
“I still wanna make it up to you,” Ryan said, gently pushing Shane on his back so he could straddle him again. They kissed, Ryan groaning when he tasted himself. “Fuck. What do you want Shane? I’ll do—I’ll do anything.”
“Them’s dangerous words, Bergara,” Shane said in a Western drawl before returning to his regular voice. “But seriously, whatever you’re comfortable with. It’ll be good.”
“I’m comfortable with most things,” Ryan said casually, just to see Shane’s reaction. Sure enough, his eyes got real wide and he made a funny little noise that reminded Ryan of a deflating balloon.
“Shane will remember that,” Shane said, clearing his throat. “Okay, okay. I want your hands, your fingers specifically. I’ve got lube in my nightstand.”
“Oh. Really?” Ryan wasn’t disappointed, just surprised. A little fingerbanging was always fun, he just didn’t expect Shane to want it from him.
Shane raised his eyebrows. “Yeah? Is that okay?”
“For sure! It’s just...it probably won’t be as good as yours would.” Ryan carefully spread out the fingers on Shane’s right hand to admire them. “Mine aren’t shit compared to these babies.”
Eyes narrowing, Shane stared at him, barely blinking. “Your hands are amazing, Ryan.”
Taken aback by Shane’s sudden swerve into intensity, Ryan wheezed. “Okay? No need to get so worked up about ‘em.”
“Yeah, there is.” Shane turned the tables and spread Ryan’s fingers out in between his own. “These hands took care of me all day. They cleaned and bandaged me up. They popped me the best corn. They massaged me. Of course I’m going to get worked up about them.”
Ryan looked down at their sandwiched hands. In every physical way, they were opposites; Shane’s large, pale, well-manicured, and bandaged versus Ryan’s smaller, tan, nail-bitten, and uninjured. That’s where the differences ended, though. Every touch, every squeeze, every wound bandaged, every curtain secured, it was all for the same purpose: to show the other how much they cared.
Nearly bowled over by the realization, Ryan wound their fingers together as tightly as he could without hurting Shane. “You better prepare yourself, then.”
Shane raised his eyebrows. “Oh?”
“Because now I’m gonna rock your body.” Ryan leaned over to whisper in Shane’s ear. “Baby. ”
Shane nearly knocked Ryan in the head flailing for his nightstand while Ryan laughed. He loved being able to unseat Shane, to see him act on any level other than chill. It was a treat every time.
After taking the lube pressed into his hand, Ryan moved down Shane’s chest towards his dick. (He made sure to leave two gentle bites to Shane’s nipples on the way.) Once he settled in between his absurdly long thighs and slid a pillow under his back, Ryan popped open the cap and poured some lube onto his index finger.
As he slipped his finger just inside, Ryan kept his focus on Shane’s face. He always liked waiting for Shane’s reactions, but this was even better than dropping a bomb about a nasty crime or asking a bratty question during a Post-Mortem, because he truly had no idea what to expect. It sent a thrill up Ryan’s spine knowing there were parts of Shane he had yet to discover, like clues in an unsolved mystery.
So he watched. With every inch he pushed in, he found something new to look at. A line of sweat forming on Shane’s hairline, his pink skin steadily growing darker, the way he bit down on his already swollen lips, his Adam’s apple bobbing as Ryan twisted his finger. It—Shane—was captivating.
“You just gonna stare at me or actually do something down there?” Shane huffed.
“Sorry.” Ryan slid his finger almost all the way out before pushing back in. “You know how immersion gets me.”
One of Shane’s feet slid against the sheets, flattening out next to Ryan. “Are you comparing fingering me to one of your obsessive theme park attractions?”
“I’m saying you’re so hot that I got distracted, dumbass,” Ryan said as he teased a second finger against him.
The tomato red of Shane’s face spread beautifully down his neck. “Ah. This haircut really is doin’ it for you, huh?”
“If you think it’s just the hair, you’re an even bigger idiot than I am,” Ryan told him. Before Shane could try and argue back, he pushed his second finger in and twisted. Shane swore, his hand going for his dick before he remembered his bandages and dropped it back against the sheets. Ryan decided to help him out, just a little, and licked up one side of Shane’s dick, swirling his tongue when he got to the head.
“Is that it?” Shane groused when Ryan pulled away.
“For now. I’m just getting started, big guy.”
“I should’ve teased you more,” he huffed, trying to push back on Ryan’s fingers.
Ryan spread his fingers, grinning when Shane’s mouth fell open. “You sure about that?”
“Next time,” Ryan said, giving him a particularly hard thrust.
Shane groaned as his dick twitched, precome beading at the tip. Feeling generous, Ryan licked it up before closing his mouth around the head. He crooked his fingers inside, hoping for more, and Shane’s body provided.
“Jesus Christ,” Shane gasped. “You are such a goddamn liar.”
Ryan pulled off, sputtering as he laughed. “What?”
“Oh Shane, my fingers won’t feel as good, they’re nothing special,” Shane mocked in a super-annoying voice. “Complete horseshit, as usual.”
For that, Ryan stilled his fingers, glaring up at Shane. “Do you want to get fingered or do you want to run your mouth up there?”
“I want you to fuckin’ listen to me when I tell you how good you are. At this, at ghost hunting, at being my friend, all of it, ” Shane damn-near growled, his eyes going dark.
Ryan sat back on his heels, easing his fingers out. He was hot all over, like an egg sizzling on the sidewalk. “You gotta stop that.”
“Because you’re killin’ my game here. I was being so cool and sexy and shit, and now I just want to hug you and whisper sweet nothings in your ear like a dork.”
Shane sat up and curled one hand around the back of Ryan’s neck, a sweet smile on his lips.
“Oh no, not your precious game.”
“Shut up, you were into it.”
“Unfortunately true.” He pressed a kiss to Ryan’s temple. “I’m not going to stop, though. If I have to yell at you every day that I believe in you, I will.”
Wrapping his arms around Shane’s back, Ryan pulled him close. As Shane reciprocated, his long arms curled protectively around Ryan, Ryan melted against him. To be on the very short list of things Shane truly believed in was a hell of an honor that Ryan still wasn’t sure he deserved, but he was going to try and live up to it anyway.
Regaining a bit of his cool, Ryan peppered Shane’s shoulders with kisses before sucking softly at the base of his neck. He felt Shane’s dick twitch in between them, so he reached down to wrap his sticky fingers around him.
“How’s that feel, big guy?”
“S’good,” Shane murmured, his hips rocking forward into Ryan’s hand.
“Good. Wanna make you feel so good, Shane. Like how you do for me.”
“You already do,” he huffed. “I mean, fuck, you wore a fucking Daga shirt today.”
“It’s a good shirt. It even helps me sleep, sometimes,” Ryan admitted.
New wetness leaked all over Ryan’s hand as Shane shuddered. “Ryan.”
“I’ll trace over the lines, knowing you drew them, and it calms me down,” he said, tightening his grip. “And sometimes it does the opposite of calming me down. If you catch my drift.”
Shane’s entire body was bright red, now, from his cheeks to his chest to his cock. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” Ryan quickened his rhythm, holding Shane upright with his other arm. He had to be close. “Five stars. Every time.”
That was the ballgame. Shane came hot and shaking in Ryan’s hand, panting against Ryan’s cheek. Ryan stroked him through it, regardless of the mess.
“That was so hot, Shane, Jesus Christ.”
Shane’s nose rubbed against Ryan’s, his breath hot. “You’ve ruined me, Ryan Bergara. I’ll never come again unless you’re telling me about how you jerk it in the Hot Daga shirt.”
“I think we can find other ways to make you come, Shane.”
“Mmhmm. I’m going to require a lot of hands-on experiments to find out.”
“How scientific of you.”
They washed up, using the last of Shane’s clean washcloths, before collapsing back into bed away from the wet spot.
“I’m gonna sleep for a thousand years,” Shane mumbled into a pillow as Ryan slid in next to him.
“Care to share? I can only get four or five hours at a time out of this thing.”
“Oh shit, that reminds me.” Abruptly, Shane rolled back out of bed, limping to his bedroom window. He dropped the blinds and closed them before easing back under the covers. “Hope that will help.”
With a small lump in his throat, Ryan curled himself around Shane, holding him close. “Thanks.”
“Of course. Wake me up if it doesn’t, okay?”
“But you’re hurt, you need your sleep.”
Shane rolled over so they were face-to-face. “So do you.”
Using the dim light of Shane’s bedside clock to help guide the way, Ryan traced the outline of Shane’s face, from forehead to brow to cheek to chin, ending with his thumb under Shane’s bottom lip. “Okay. But you gotta wake me up if you need something too, okay?”
“Deal,” Shane said before kissing Ryan’s thumb.
They both fell asleep not long after that, their hands loosely intertwined.
Two hours later, something rough was dragging down Ryan’s arm. He woke up, blearily blinking in the darkness. “Wha?”
“Sorry,” Shane whispered. His bandaged thumb was rubbing Ryan’s bicep. “Could you get me some aspirin?”
“Oh sure. One sec.”
Ryan stumbled into Shane’s bathroom, grabbing a couple pills and a paper cup of water. After giving them to Shane, he settled back into bed.
“Yeah. Just sore, everywhere,” he grimaced.
Ryan tugged on his arm. “C’mere, big guy.”
Shane shuffled in close so that he could rest his head on Ryan’s chest. Slipping his hand into Shane’s hair, Ryan began massaging his scalp. Soon enough, Shane’s breathing evened out as Ryan’s own eyes grew heavy again.
Three and a half hours later, after Ryan awoke from a nightmare in which Lavinia Fisher kept pushing Shane down a never-ending prison hallway, Shane softly sang some Hot Daga songs to him.
“You’ve gotta believe in yourself, even if you’re just a hologram,” he crooned, voice rough with sleep.
“Subtle,” Ryan murmured, his head on Shane’s chest now.
“Shush, don’t interrupt this critically acclaimed song,” Shane chided before continuing “Plupple Honeymoon.”
Smiling, Ryan drew five stars across Shane’s chest up to the edge of one of his bruises. It was just starting to turn a deep purple, the skin still newly damaged. The thing about bruises, though, is that they always fade, the colors twisting and dissolving until they fully disappear. They just take time, some longer than others.
Shane was going to be okay. And so was Ryan.