Crevasses form as a result of the movement and resulting stress associated with the shear stress generated when two semi-rigid pieces above a plastic substrate have different rates of movement. The resulting intensity of the shear stress causes a breakage along the faces.
Everyone keeps warning them about marriage.
“It’s a nightmare,” Amy says, checking her email reflexively. “It’s like signing a business contract that you can’t break without looking like some kind of shrill, morally bankrupt symbol of everything that’s wrong with America, and you have to be around your business partner all the time, you never get a break from each other. It’s terrible.”
“Marriage can be rough,” Dave says, with a glance over his shoulder at where Sarah, four months pregnant for the third time and newly showing, is fussing with Maddie’s French braid. “But it’s worthwhile if you make it worth it. It’s hard to explain what I mean, but you get my drift, right?”
“I don’t recommend it,” says Kent. “Neither do any of my ex-wives.”
Well, fuck that, because so far, marriage is a fucking cakewalk. Technically, they’ve only been under-the-table, on-paper married for six months, and the official wedding isn’t until next week, but it’s like nothing has changed. From the moment the invites went out, bidding one hundred and fifty people bear witness to Dan Egan and Jonah Ryan as they become Dan Egan & Jonah Ryan, Dan was prepared to realize he’d made a massive mistake, but so far, so great. Not even the wedding itself is a source of stress – primarily because they’ve passed off all responsibility to the best event planner in D.C., the same chirpy, efficient woman who did Ed and Amy’s tremendously Protestant affair in Annapolis. “Do whatever, just make it look good,” is the party line, and the planner delivers, booking Dumbarton House for the ceremony and the Watergate for the reception. Dan is supremely unstressed as the wedding date comes closer and closer. He pays the wedding planner to ignore Jonah’s terrible ideas and humor the good ones in a tasteful manner, and otherwise stays out of the fray entirely.
Frankly, he has no idea what everyone else is always fucking whining about in regard to marriage. He’s not just a secret newlywed planning (or “planning,” at least) the D.C. wedding of the summer; he’s also a freshman congressman commuting to and from upstate New York six times a month on average. When he and Jonah get any time alone at all, they’re not even really fighting, which is the strangest thing. Instead, they’re sneaking lunch-hour quickies in his new office in the RHOB, Dan smirking as he waves Jonah back to work across the building with mussed hair and bitten lips, or reading the news over coffee with Meet the Press on in the background on Sundays, not even bothering to put on pants at all on their sole day off. When Dan’s not holding “Coffee with Your Congressman” events in Rochester or sitting through House votes, he has these moments of quiet, of calm in the middle of the storm, and it feels fucking great.
So frankly, Dave and Kent and Amy can keep their two cents to themselves, because, Dan thinks as he flips on the lights in their new D.C. place, he might have actually beaten the system. Marriages fail because people lose interest, couples let the spark die, they stop romancing each other the way they used to. But the great thing about him and Jonah is that they’ve never romanced each other in the first place. There’s no pretense of sappy sentimental bullshit to fall away. They already are what they are – they’re a team, a couple guys who fuck and fight and, for some inexplicable reason, care deeply about each other. Fine. They’re in love with each other. It’s disgusting to say it out loud, but it’s true. And they’re getting married, not just because they’re in love, but because Dan Egan (D-NY) is about to become the first member of Congress to be in a same-sex marriage, and frankly, it wouldn’t matter whether he loved Jonah or not – that kind of history-making shit is not something he’d ever be in the business of turning down.
The feelings, whatever they are, are just a bonus.
For the ceremony, they’re writing their own vows, because it just looks good. Jonah bangs out a pretty decent draft on his first attempt, which, Dan has to be honest, floors him. He’s prepared to red-pen slash the thing to hell, but as he looks over the page Jonah hands him, squinting at his shit handwriting, the only thing he really has to ask is the occasional “Is that a Q or a G?” It’s good. It’s not too sappy, it’s funny without being a goddamn stand-up routine, and it’s actually convincingly romantic. It’s a hard act to follow, and Dan’s having trouble.
Dan is a wordsmith, he lives and dies and deals in words, so this shouldn’t be a problem for him, and if he’s putting it off, what’s the problem? Everything needs to be perfect – this is the moment that’s going to put him in the history books – so God forbid he wait until he’s got the right words. So shut the fuck up – he doesn’t have writer’s block. Definitely not.
Except, he thinks as he erases another page of bullshit on his laptop, he might actually have writer’s block about this, which is just a fucking joke. “Shit,” he mutters. “How the fuck did Jonah –”
“How’d I what?” comes Jonah’s voice, as Dan realizes that he’s not actually asleep on the other side of the bed.
“Nothing,” Dan says quickly. “I was wondering how you fell asleep so fast, but evidently you didn’t—”
“Whatever,” Jonah says sleepily, and Dan closes his laptop and slides it onto the bedside table. He sinks down onto the mattress and lets Jonah move closer, wrapping his arms around him and nuzzling into the back of his neck. He turns over the words in his mind as he shuts his eyes into the dark, weighing the implications of each in turn, and he can feel it in his bones that he won’t sleep well tonight.
A week before the wedding, work lets out earlier than usual because there’s an armed shooter outside the Capitol for a few hours in the morning and it seems like all of Congress agrees that no one will be able to get any work done for the rest of the day because it’s a summer Friday anyway. Jonah doesn’t realize that his own boss has left until he gets an email geotagged from Baltimore, and it’s then that he figures he can probably duck out a few hours early as well, so he sneaks past the rest of his coworkers to traverse the crowds of departing staffers in the RHOB and knock on Dan’s office door across the building, barging past his office assistant, who gives him a withering look he promptly ignores.
“Everybody’s peacing the fuck out,” he says as Dan glances up from whatever it is he’s working on – some budget thing, likely, now that he’s on the JEC. “And Elyse just called and said all our day-of stuff came in—”
“What?” Dan sounds distracted, and Jonah rolls his eyes.
“The programs and menus and shit. For the wedding. I was gonna go take a look at them, but I figured you might want to come with—”
“Kinda super busy,” Dan says, gesturing at his desk. “But I’ll see you at home later, okay?”
“Fine.” Jonah rolls his eyes again. Because it’s not like Dan has ever been that interested in the gritty details of the wedding, but he is – he can’t help it, he grew up going to so many of them, there were always so many cousins and aunts and uncles getting married and remarried that there was really no escape. He’s a fucking beast when it comes to tearing it up at weddings, and he wants everyone else to get super laid, or at least super drunk, following his own.
So fine, whatever. He drives to the event planner’s and picks up the menus and placecards and programs, and confers over a couple additions to the seating chart. The whole thing is coming together, and on his way home, he has to blink and shake himself a couple times. It’s actually happening, that’s the thing. They’ve technically been married for five months, at least on paper, but they’ve kept it so private that it might as well not have happened at all – this is the thing that matters, the big one. Regardless of everything else, they’re going to get up in front of everyone they know and a fuckload of people they don’t and tell God and the world that they are in love and committing to each other. And that’s really kind of fucking baller.
(And he can’t shake the feeling that maybe this is a little better for Dan than it is for him, because Dan’s getting something out of this, he’s going to be That Congressman Who Got Gay Married and it’s going to be great for him—but fuck that, Jonah thinks, he’s not going to be some trophy husband who just smiles and looks supportive in the back of photos with ambassadors and shit. He’s going places himself. Maybe relaunch Ryantology, get back into the journalism game. Jonah Ryan 2026 doesn’t look like such an improbability from where he’s standing now.)
He hangs a right onto their street and parks, staring at Dan’s car in the drive as the yawning hum of the air conditioner shuts off.
Upon walking inside, he’s greeted by the smell of garlic and the sound of Dan shouting on the phone, and he follows the source of both to the kitchen to find Dan leaning on the counter, gesturing wildly with one hand as he stirs a pot of sauce with the other, all the while yelling into his phone on speaker.
“So you tell the cocksucking shitfucks we’ll give them three on the NEA, but the Alzheimer’s research allocation stays—” He slams the spoon down on the stove for emphasis. “Because I’m not going to fuck over my district like that! Either they fold on this or I take my fucking ballet shoes off and stop playing nice. Yeah. Tell them I said that. Tell Furlong he can take his 'iron fist' and shove it straight up his asshole, or else I’ll do it for him—fuck. I gotta go.”
Jonah snorts as Dan pulls ends the call, obviously peeved. “Go on, finish that thought. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to see you in action,” Jonah says, leaning on the counter. “Gotta say, it’s still pretty—”
“I thought you'd be home later,” Dan says. “I kind of wanted to surprise you—”
“Really?” Jonah asks. “That's - unexpectedly thoughtful. What’d you do?”
“Why do you assume I did something?” Dan says. “Our wedding's in a week, I can't just make you dinner because I felt like doing something nice?”
“Fine,” Jonah shrugs. He leans on the counter, watching Dan stir, taking notice of the way the muscles in his shoulders and back move under his rumpled dress shirt. “Hold on. Let me take a photo of this. Your constituents are gonna love it.”
“You make me look too domestic,” Dan grouses as Jonah snaps the photo all the same. “That’s not the kind of ‘gay’ we’re trying to project.”
“Bullshit. Voters love this stuff. You should learn how to woodwork—”
“Or just build some shit, whatever.”
“I built the bookcase.”
“With directions from Ikea. Doesn’t count.” He taps out a caption – “Decided to surprise an appreciative @ryantology with a home-cooked dinner! #WeddingCountdown” and posts it hastily, before he can change his mind. “You need me to do anything?”
“You could run to the wine store,” Dan says absently. “I meant to get some of that red we liked, the one we had at Amy's—”
“She said it's kind of hard to find in DC proper, though.”
“But it was really good and it'll give me enough time to finish the sauce and get the rest of this shit on the table,” Dan says. “So...” He gives him a meaningful look until Jonah sighs with resignation.
“Can do,” Jonah says. He pauses, then moves a little closer, trapping Dan against the island, one hand on the counter on either side of his body, and leans down to kiss him, soft and warm, pressing their bodies together. Dan lets it ride for a moment, laying a hand on the small of Jonah's back, before he pulls away.
“The sauce is gonna overcook,” he says with a pointed look.
Jonah rolls his eyes. Typical. “You know I find you weirdly sexy when you’re doing this kind of housewife shit—”
“Ugh. Fuck off. I need to watch the sauce.”
“Lemme lick the sauce off your fingers.”
“You can do that when the food's on the table,” Dan rolls his eyes. “Go to the wine store.”
“I hope you know I'm going to have a boner the whole time,” Jonah calls over his shoulder as he heads back out the door. “You're a fucking tease, Dan.”
They end up killing a bottle and a half of the elusive red. Jonah knows Dan is good and sloshed when he starts talking, directly and in detail, about their sex life -- something he's normally too fucking lapsed-Catholic to bring up. He can proposition anyone dead sober, but it usually takes a few drinks to get him talking mechanics, and so it comes as a pleasant surprise when he leans back on the couch and says tipsily, but conversationally, “You know what I've been thinking lately? It would be really fucking hot if you tied me up sometime.”
“Jesus,” is the only thing Jonah says in response. Then, “God, I'm glad to hear you say that. I didn't want...”
“To bring it up?” Dan cocks a brow suggestively. Jonah shakes his head
“No, not that. I just don't want us to get boring, you know? Like, we're married, we're moving part-time to the suburbs. I just don't want us to become a couple of fucking suburban parents who have sex once a week out of a sense of duty.”
Dan laughs out loud at this, clapping a hand on Jonah's knee and leaving it there, heavy and boozy and warm. “I honestly don't think we need to worry about that.”
“Evidently,” Jonah snorts. “But – look, you know what I mean.”
With a shrug, Dan spreads his legs a little wider, getting comfortable on the couch. “We're not gonna become anyone's parents. Figuratively or literally. If we get boring, it's only because we've literally run out of ways to fuck—”
“We should keep a list,” Jonah suggests, only half-joking. “Or like a calendar of the shit we wanna do to each other. Is that...?”
In an instant, he sees Dan's eyes light up in the way that suggests he's just thought of a new use for Excel. It's a look that reminds him way too much of Kent for his liking, but there's also something oddly endearing about it, the way the scariest freshman congressman in the House gets giddy over data collation. “I'll make a spreadsheet on Google Docs or something. We can both update it and refer to it. It'll make it so much easier to make these decisions ahead of time—”
“God, you're a fucking nerd,” Jonah mutters. “Maybe I should just marry fucking Kent.”
“You mean, you wouldn't want that?” Dan asks earnestly. “Kent's—”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. You're into Kent,” says Jonah, rolling his eyes. “Whatever. So let's get back to this thing earlier. Should I just go buy some rope, or--?”
So the wedding day comes, and Dan puts on his nice new suit – they’re doing suits, not tuxes, because this is an afternoon summer wedding and there’s no reason to look too formal – and finally dashes off a new draft of his vows he’s actually proud of on the way to the ceremony.
He memorizes them hurriedly as Dave and Amy – both his best men, he demanded they both be there – watch with bemusement. They walk down the aisle and Dan can’t keep his gaze from flitting around the room, raking over the guests seated in white folding chairs down the lawn, and he keeps going back to one man in particular – taller than everyone around him, his face partially obscured by the way he keeps looking down to his lap.
When it comes time to read the damn things, Dan lets Jonah go first, as planned. Jonah’s vows are great and it still comes as a mild shock – where the fuck did that knack with words come from? “Dan, you continually surprise me and blow my mind in so many ways,” Jonah says, and his hand is a little bit clammy but Dan, ever cognizant of the photographer, doesn’t let it go to discreetly wipe his palm on his pants. “And every day, I wake up and I remember that you’re choosing me, and it’s like remembering that I won the lottery. Which I guess I kind of did.”
Dan furrows his brow, puts on his most romantic expression as Jonah continues. “I promise to be faithful and patient and lighthearted and to keep giving you what you need. I promise to celebrate your triumphs and love you more for your failures. I just want you to feel as lucky as I do when you wake up every day.”
Which, well, okay, Dan thinks. That’s going to be hard to top. He takes a deep breath, and starts to recite the words he wrote in the car.
“You once told me not to apologize,” he begins. “Which, I think most people who know me will say that isn’t a problem I have,” a pause for the expected laugh that comes, thank god, “but it felt like one at the time. You told me ‘Don’t be sorry, just be better.’ And it’s something that I have to keep working at all the time, but it’s only because of you that I even bother to try.”
He looks Jonah straight in the eye. Jonah’s not smiling, which isn’t going to look so good in the photos, but Dan can hear him inhale, a sharp hiss of breath. It hits him where he least expects it.
He’s not going to do this. He’s the ice man. He doesn’t get emotional. He doesn’t break. This wedding is all for show, after all; they got the actual marriage out of the way six months ago. But Jonah is looking at him like he’s never seen him before, biting down hard on his lower lip and both his palms are sweating like a whore in the Vatican, and it’s almost enough to make Dan forget that this entire ceremony is a dog-and-pony show for the press and photographers and social graces.
“You force me to ‘be better’ every day,” Dan says, and it’s like something inside of him breaks. It’s not a dam, it’s not a well, it’s just a little snap of plastic, a broken peg that threatens to send everything on the shelf above tumbling to the ground at some point in the future unless it’s fixed immediately, but it’s enough. And suddenly the pre-written vows don’t seem like enough, and he feels himself beginning to veer off-script, and normally he’d start to panic but he took half a Klonopin that morning in preparation for the festivities and accompanying stress levels, and the panic doesn’t come.
He takes a deep breath and licks his lips, stalls for time, and suddenly there’s another little click inside him and he feels like a loaded gun, like he’s in danger, like he’s been playing Russian roulette with his own feelings this whole time and after spinning the chamber and coming up empty time after time, he’s finally about to put the bullet in his brain.
“So I’m doing it,” Dan says, and these aren’t the words he wrote but somehow that’s okay, he’s not worried, he knows where this is going, words are his stock in trade, after all. “I’m standing up here and I’m being better, and I’m hoping that I can continue to be the person you want me to be, to live up to whatever expectations you’ve somehow formed for me. I don’t know how you did it, but you have somehow made me want to change. I didn’t really know that I wanted to be someone else until I understood how you saw me, through whatever lens you view the world through, and now I feel like I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to be that man. You’re so much like me and we’re still so different, and I’m just… I’m really f—really incredibly lucky.”
And he knows Jonah’s not a good actor, knows he was never good at feigning anything for the cameras, and he knows the look on his face has to be real as he goes in for the kiss.
At the reception, Dan’s holding court with a group of guests when from the corner of his eye, he catches sight of the tall man from the ceremony. He’s wearing what is obviously a very expensive suit and sipping a drink from the open bar in a way that seems incredibly familiar, and almost immediately it clicks how much he looks like Jonah. And Dan, instantaneously, is mad.
“Excuse me,” he says to his guests, “I need to go ask my husband something—” He leans on ‘husband’ in a way that makes them titter and coo, but he feels none of that sickening sweetness as he strides across the room to pull Jonah away from his own little group of admirers.
“Sweetie, can I borrow you for a moment?” he says with a placid smile, and Jonah shrugs.
“Yeah, sure,” Jonah says, and as Dan pulls him away, he grins a little bit. “Weddings are dope, right? Everybody’s being so fucking cool. We should have done this way earlier—”
“Did you invite your dad?” Dan asks, point-blank.
Jonah blinks once. Twice. “Y-yeah,” he says, opening his mouth as if he’s got more to say. But he doesn’t say it, so Dan presses on.
“Why?” he asks, his brow furrowed. “What the fuck in God’s name made you—”
“I didn’t think he would come!” Jonah says hurriedly. “Fuck’s sake. I figured he’d just ignore the invitation and then I’d have another reason not to talk to him. But then he RSVP’d and I don’t think you can just un-invite people—”
“Why didn’t I know?!”
“Because you didn’t pay attention!” he says, swiping defensively at his bangs. “Any time Elyse had a question, she just came to me, so all the guest-list stuff ended up falling on my—why are you so pissed, anyway? I don’t think my dad ever did anything to you.”
Dan sighs, folds his arms. Doesn’t make eye contact. “Other than making you the way you are, I guess—”
“Fuck you, Dan,” Jonah mutters. “We’re not gonna do this now.”
“Sorry,” Dan says, against his nature. “Look, I just – I was surprised. That’s all.”
Jonah sighs, slumps a little. “Look, it’s not gonna be a problem. I texted Heather and Scott to keep him away from Mom and Mark. I’ll talk to him. It won’t be a big thing, okay? I promise.” He looks as uncomfortable as Dan has ever seen him, craning his head around the room and trying to catch his father’s gaze. Dan can’t help feeling sorry for him in that moment, which is an emotion he typically avoids, even in his closest relationships. He glances over at his own father, who is chatting amiably with one of his old coworkers, and is suddenly flooded with gratitude for even the wooden, formal relationship they have.
“You should introduce us,” Dan says firmly. “I’ll make him feel like shit and it’ll be fucking incredible.”
Jonah shakes his head. “You don’t have to do anything like that.”
“I want to,” Dan says. “What difference does it make? He’s already here, when else am I going to see him again? I’ll be subtle.”
“Bullshit,” Jonah says. “You’re like, the least subtle person I know—”
“Glass houses, Hodor.”
“Fuck you, Dan, it is our wedding day.”
Dan rolls his eyes. “Look, you don’t have to do anything, okay?” he says. He reaches out and takes one of Jonah’s big hands in his, running his thumb over the back in a soft motion and sees Jonah begin to relax and relent. “And before you get weird, I’m not doing this for you. This isn’t about defending your pride or what-the-fuck-ever. I’m actually incredibly tense right now from playing nice all day and I need to make someone hate themselves to let some of that tension out. And I can’t think of a more deserving guy—”
“So it is kind of about me,” Jonah says, a slight smile playing on his face, and Dan feels his own face and neck get a little warm as he sighs and pulls his hand away.
“All I’m saying is that your dad’s a prick and I—”
“Aw, Danny,” says Jonah, in that fake-sweet voice he only uses when he’s feeling smug beyond all comparison. “I think your feelings are showing.”
“We’re married, you assdick. I’m allowed to have feelings for you,” Dan mutters. “Look, just take me over there and let’s get this over with.”
So Jonah smirks and leads Dan over with a hand on the small of his back, and Dan plasters on a smile as Jonah’s dad looks up from his phone and drink. God, they look so much alike, it’s actually creepy – he always wondered where Jonah got the height, since it sure as fuck wasn’t from the aggressively average-sized Kanes, but looking at them two of them next to each other, it’s like looking at some version of Jonah sent from the future to warn them about artificial intelligence or something.
“Dan, this is my, uh, my father, Roderick Ryan,” Jonah announces. “This is Dan Egan, my—”
“Husband,” Dan cuts in swiftly, in his most ingratiating, let-me-tell-you-about-my-student-loan-reform-initiative voice. A calculated glance up at Jonah, a smile back at his dad. “Still sounds so weird, right? ‘My husband.’ What a weird new phrase to have to start using.”
Roderick slides his phone into the pocket of his suit pants and extends his right hand, revealing a stunning Patek Philippe. “It’s a pleasure, Dan,” he says. His handshake is so much firmer than Jonah’s, Dan thinks. Jonah has the handshake of a man who was never taught the proper form. “It’s a shame we haven’t met before, but I’ve done my research and heard good things. My son’s a lucky man.”
“Ah,” Dan says. Roderick’s teeth are straighter than Jonah’s; his hair falls in the same widow’s peak but lays smoother across his forehead and Dan silently thanks Jesus that he doesn’t seem to be losing any of it. “Well. I can say the same. You know, Jonah’s really – he’s something else.”
Jonah coughs slightly beside him, but Roderick doesn’t seem to notice. “Glad to hear it,” he says, but Dan presses on, choosing his words carefully.
“I’m just glad I stuck it out, you know? Really waited it out for the right person,” he says. “My parents have been together for almost 50 years, and they always really impressed on me the importance of getting married once, for life. Not just because it seems like the right idea at the time, but because you want to build a future with that person. My dad always talks about this concept of your marriage as a castle, and you build it up around yourselves, brick by brick and day by day—” He cuts himself off with a little self-deprecating laugh, taking Jonah’s hand, calculated and cool. “But enough of the sappy stuff, right? You don’t need to hear about all my personal philosophies, Roderick.”
Roderick takes a sip of his drink – vodka-soda, by the looks of it. “I wish you two luck,” he says stiffly. “Marriage can be – tricky.”
“So we’ve heard,” Dan laughs again. “Again, thanks for coming out. Are you in D.C. much?”
“Work brings me down here often enough,” Roderick says, and Dan cuts him off.
“Great! We should have dinner one of these days. I’d love to get to know the man half responsible for this man,” and he cuffs Jonah lightly on the arm before adding, “Well, genetically, anyway.”
Roderick’s jaw shifts visibly and, yep, that’s the fuck-you line he was aiming for, and it seems like he stuck the landing from the way he lifts his drink but doesn’t take another sip, the same way Jonah always does when he’s run out of steam or been bested. Dan’s briefly flooded with pride before he smiles again. “Jonah, I think we should go say hi to Adam and Lucy,” he says. “Last time I saw her, she was on her third glass of champagne, and you know how she gets whenever she has a night away from the kids—”
“White mom wasted,” Jonah rolls his eyes. “Yeah. We better do that shit now. I’ll, uh – I’ll talk to you later,” he says in Roderick’s direction, and as they walk away, Dan slides an arm around Jonah’s waist in triumph.
“I don’t really want to talk to my alcoholic cousin,” Jonah mutters from the corner of his mouth. “How long do you think we could slip out before anyone notices we’re gone?”
“Probably like five minutes,” shrugs Dan. “People are gonna be wanting to talk to us…”
“Fine. We’ll make it efficient,” Jonah says, and Dan smirks, because the day Jonah stops getting turned on watching him destroy their shared enemies is the day this marriage ends.
“The upside is that I’ve seen the future,” Dan says casually, “and if you age anything like your dad, I’m suddenly way less concerned about the long-term prospects of this marriage—”
“Jesus Christ, Dan, can we not talk about my dad right now?”