Alex is notorious for sleeping late. It’d be impossible to count how many things he’s nearly missed because he slept in. On their off days, he does his best to sleep as late as possible, and since Ryan claimed half his bed, mornings have only gotten better. Ryan may wake up earlier, but he likes to spend the morning in bed anyways, because – though he denies it and wouldn’t admit it even under threat of playing goalie for a game – he likes cuddling. Summertime is the best; even when it’s too hot for a single blanket, Alex still likes to curl into Ryan’s side, let Ryan hold onto him tight and gentle.
Sunday morning, Alex wakes up at eleven, and even though he’s got tons to do, can’t bring himself to get out of bed. He’s using Ryan’s chest as a pillow, and Ryan’s arms are around him. Ryan’s playing a game on his phone, and Alex arches up a little to kiss his jaw gently before settling back into his embrace.
“Bon matin,” Alex hears, and he can’t have heard that right, really. Sometimes Ryan mimics his French, but only phrases he’s heard before, and even then, they’re usually pretty mutilated. Alex loves every single one. Part of him wishes, of course, that Ryan actually could speak French with him; he wants Ryan to understand all of him, and while his English is getting better, there are some things he just can’t say perfectly right. As it is, though, he’ll settle for this, even though Ryan gets this look on his face sometimes, when Alex gets frustrated with English, like he wants to understand Alex so bad.
“Quoi?” he mumbles, disoriented. “Where did you learn that?”
“Oh, just from you,” Ryan says, even though Alex is sure he’s never said that to Ryan before. His French just slips out in the middle of sentences, he doesn’t use it on purpose. Ryan tosses his phone aside, tugs Alex up to kiss him. “Got anythin’ to do today?”
“Mmm. Yeah.” Alex makes no move to leave the bed, though, because Ryan’s kissing down his neck, and the entire sensation of Ryan, kitten licks and soft lips and rough stubble, it’s all kind of exhilarating. He’s continually amazed at how nothing loses the world-changing brilliance it had the first time. “You?”
“Really?” Alex pushes himself up on one elbow to give Ryan a questioning look. “Since when do you actually do things?”
“Very funny.” Ryan closes the gap between them, kisses him softly. “We can’t all be hyperactive.”
“Tellement mechant,” Alex grumbles. “I have a lot to do, too.” He does, actually, and gets out of bed to shower.
When he wanders back into the bedroom, he catches the tail end of Ryan’s phone conversation, just Ryan saying, “I am not always late, I’ll be there in like, twenty minutes.” Alex shoots him a questioning look, but Ryan only smirks in return.
“See you tonight,” he says, kissing Alex swiftly before heading out of the bedroom. “Be good,” he calls over his shoulder.
“I will when you are!”
“Just chip and run for this one.”
Alex turns to glower at Dan, who is standing with his hands in his pockets, perfectly mild look on his face.
“You say that like it is easy,” Alex accuses. Dan hides a grin, not particularly well.
“It is,” he says. “Just get it onto the green.” He points towards the flag. Alex sighs, goes to stand before the golf ball. He’s not a huge fan of outdoor sports, too distracted by the way the sun beats down, the other people walking around. He likes the single-mindedness of hockey, the way the world shrinks to the ice. Here, there are goddamn geesewalking around, for God’s sake.
“Narrower stance,” Dan calls over. “Left foot back a bit.”
Alex starts his swing, only to hear that “ah-” he’s so used to by now.
“What?” he looks back over his shoulder.
“Your wrists are moving too much.” Dan mimes swinging the club, “wrists stay steady.”
Alex tries to remember all this when he hits the ball, and it goes skittering across the green, about twenty feet past where he wanted it to go. Dan tosses another in its place.
Five tries later, the ball finally decides to do what Alex wants it to.
“So your score would be, what, eight hundred strokes by now?” Dan asks, as Alex sinks the ball. “I’m not one to advocate quitting, but maybe you should think about it.”
“I can’t, even though I probably should,” Alex fishes the ball out of the cup. “At least, I am a little better now, non?”
“Not hard to improve from where you were,” Dan says, and Alex rolls his eyes. “You’re halfway decent, I guess. So, since it’s the last lesson, do I get to know why you chose golf, of all sports? The mystery has been just killing me.”
“I couldn’t tell you,” Alex protests, “if you don’t know, you can’t accidentally tell someone. Or have someone force you to tell them.”
“Jeeeeze, Burr, what kind of spies do you expect to come after you?”
“This had to be a secret.”
“Well, Kes likes golf a lot.”
“So why didn’t you ask him to teach you?”
“Because, it’s a surprise for him. He likes it, and he always wants me to go with him, but I didn’t know how to play.”
“Ohhhh.” Dan grins, squinting a little in the bright sunlight. “Man, Burr, I didn’t know you were such a romantic! Guess all Frenchmen are romantics at heart.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Alex tosses the golf ball back to him. “Try not to find it too hilarious.”
“I’ll try, but you really put us all to shame. I mean, we’ve been at this for over four months.” As soon as the weather had gotten nice enough to allow outdoor sports, Alex had secretly approached Dan and asked for golf lesson; he would have asked Juice, who was also pretty good at golf, but there wasn’t a chance in hell he’d have been able to keep his mouth shut.
“Ouais, four very long, very difficult months.”
“That’s all your fault, for being the worst student ever.” Dan grins at him unapologetically. “But hey, at least now, he won’t kick your ass immediately, you’ll at least stick it out for the whole game. Two hundred strokes behind, but whatever.”
Alex flips him off as he goes to pick up the bag of golf clubs, which is more of a show of optimism on Dan’s part than anything else, seeing as Alex is still just as useless no matter which club he uses.
So golf definitely isn’t his sport, and he’ll never adore it the way Ryan does, but, looking out at the tranquil green, he can’t wait to come out here with Ryan. Sure, he’s not looking forward to the game so much as spending the afternoon alone together in the sun, watching a polo-shirt clad Ryan, who’ll have that look of utmost concentration on his face, the one Alex just loves.
He doesn’t really like golf, but he’s not really going to play just golf, he’ll be playing golf with Ryan, and that, Alex likes that.
“Not even a hint.”
“You’re incorrigible, you know that?”
“Ouais, so incorrigiable,” Alex replies cheerfully, doesn’t miss the grin on Ryan’s face at that. Okay, so he doesn’t know what incorrigible means, maybe. Also might have said it wrong. He glances over at Ryan in the passenger seat, where he’s looking out the window with the obvious intention of figuring out where they’re going. “I should make you close your eyes, too.”
“So not happening.”
“You’re no fun,” Alex complains, gets swatted in the shoulder for that. “well, we are almost there, anyways.”
The look on Ryan’s face when they get to there is priceless; he looks confused, excited and worried all at once.
“Golfing?” he asks, staring as Alex opens the trunk to reveal Ryan’s golf bag. “You don’t golf.”
“I do now,” Alex grins at him, thoroughly enjoying the bewildered look on Ryan’s face. “Viens, let’s go.”
Ryan makes him go first once they get out to the green, and Alex’s first shot is surprisingly great. The amazed look on Ryan’s face makes it even better. He continues to watch in shocked silence for the first few holes, shaking his head in disbelief every time Alex does something particularly decently.
“Okay, last time we were here, you broke twelve tee’s, lost nine golf balls, and practically killed a guy in a golf cart. What happened?”
“I had Dan teach me, so I can play with you because I know you like it. It’s my anniversary gift to you.” Alex beams with pride, and Ryan looks almost floored.
“Alex,” he says softly, and then he pulls Alex to him and hugs him hard. “I love you, you know that? So- so much.” This, this makes every second of it worth it, because Ryan’s thrilled. “And, fuck, you’re actually pretty good, you know that?”
“You sound surprised,” Alex teases, leaning up to kiss him.
“Well,” Ryan pauses, looks inexplicably reluctant about something. “Um, what I did for you? It’s not- not as good, I think.”
“What? Of course it is, what is it?”
“Um.” Ryan tugs at his collar, bites his lip, looks altogether worried and adorable, admittedly. “J’ai demandé à Lappy de m’apprendre francais.”
Alex forgets every single word he’s ever known when he hears that, can’t think of anything to say. I asked Lappy to teach me French, Ryan just said, in French, in the language Alex understands, every single word.
“Depuis, um, peut-être un annee ? Je ne suis pas, um, très bon, mais, je comprends beaucoup ? Et maintenant, je peux… je peux comprends… toi. Tout le temps.” He looks at Alex hopefully, as if this may have not made sense. Now, Ryan had said, I can understand you, all the time.
Ryan can understand him, because now, now they have two languages between them, now he never has to worry about missing anything, about ruining anything because he just isn’t good enough at English. Now, Ryan can fully understand him, but more than that, he learned French because he wants to, because this, what they have, it’s really theirs forever. Alex wants to tell Ryan all this, and he tries to, but the realisation that he actually can, that Ryan’s going to be able to understand what he says – he can’t do it. He can’t help it, starts to cry because it’s impossible, it’s unbelievable, and Ryan did it for him.
“Oh, God, Alex, I’m sorry,” Ryan bursts out, looks almost like he’s going to cry too, but not from overwhelming happiness.
“Non, non, c’est incroyable, t’es incroyable, je t’aime, tellement, que je t’aime,” Alex manages, wrapping his arms around Ryan, holding onto him tight. “Merci,” he whispers, “Ryan, this- means the world to me.”
Ryan runs his thumbs over Alex’s wet cheeks, smiles at him. Alex never feels bad about how he’s so extreme in all his emotions around Ryan, because Ryan just looks at him with something like admiration for Alex’s spirit, his energy. It’s like for you, everything is, Ryan had said once, and then just spread his arms to show what he meant, as if to say everything is more for you than it is for everyone else, more exciting and bigger and just more everything, and then he’d said I’m so happy I can share all that with you, then sort of blushed, the way he does every time he admits something he really feels deeply about.
“Je t’aime,” Ryan whispers, and he’s told Alex he loves him before, so many times, but this feels a little different. These are the exact words Alex has always imagined hearing, these precise words, from back when he only thought in French, just like he learned to say I love you so the words will resonate with the feelings Ryan learned they carried, so too has Ryan learned je t’aime, so Alex can feel everything ever tied to those exact words. These words, they feel bigger than he’d ever imagined they would, because from Ryan, they mean so much more. They mean I learned your language so I can understand all of you, they mean I did it because we’re going to always be together.
Ryan learning French was something Alex had never dared dream of. It was too big, too difficult, too much, but he was wrong. If there’s anything Ryan has shown him again and again, it’s that Alex can never dream too big.
Even now that they have two languages between them, all Alex really needs to know everything Ryan feels for him is there in his touch, in the way Ryan kisses him soft and sweet, remaking promises he’s kept and will continue to keep. They have countless words between them, but none is more important than the way this feels, because it feels like everything Alex ever wanted, and everything he never dreamed of because he didn’t think things like this could even exist. Ryan’s shown him, though, so many times, that no dream is too big.
It’s one of the things Ryan’s told him without needing any words at all.