The thing about Hoechlin is that he never stops laughing. And that's freaky, because he doesn't have the kind of face you picture laughing; but he actually doesn't stop doing it, and it's hard to catch him without a smile, cheeks all dimples, eyes surrounded by smile lines.
Dylan remembers the week before they first met, when his agent gave him the final cast list and he went and looked them all up on Google, one at a time, because that's one of the things he actually has in common with Stiles, that he likes screwing around on the Internet a little too much.
He made a mental list (or possibly not so mental, because he used paper and several different colors of pen) of each actor and character, just to put them in context, because he'd already googled himself earlier and realized he didn't even have an imdb page yet. That he hadn't even appeared in the background of a single scene in an episode of Law & Order. That the only camera he'd been in front of in his life had been manned by his dad. And he felt extremely inadequate for a minute. ...Or for a pair of days, whatever.
So he opened his browser and started looking. And by dawn the next morning, he already had a whole page full of notes.
- Tyler Posey, child star, played JLo's kid in this one terrible movie.
- Crystal Reed, various episodes of CSI and similar, unconventionally beautiful.
- Colton Haynes, gay scandal, bone structure of a Greek god. Probably an asshole.
- Holland Roden, unknown but super impressive, haircolor not found in real life.
Doesn't anybody have normal names these days?
Okay, everyone had prior experience, but apart from Posey, who'd played the part of adorable Latino child in every movie and show imaginable, none was really all that noteworthy. Probably. Unfortunately he didn't have time to look up the episodes on Netflix and make a more thorough investigation. But he wasn't feeling too intimidated, and that was good.
And then he googled Tyler Hoechlin, and his head kinda exploded.
Tyler Hoechlin. Road to Perdition. Sam Mendes. Sam fucking Mednes and Tom Hanks. Goodbye, thanks for playing. Oh yeah, and Seventh Heaven.
Basically, having to share a scene with the kid from Road to Perdition was starting to terrify him, so much so that he went back to read the pilot script and focus on the character, and practically cried. Because he had to acknowledge that Derek was a fantastic character. He'd heard the show runners talking about him, his past, his pain and all that stuff, and maybe Teen Wolf was just an MTV show, but they didn't pull any punches with the gritty details. Derek is dark. And they gave him a really menacing role. And turning to google images, Dylan discovered Tyler Hoechlin's hair-raising eyebrows (in the best sense of the word), and that way he has of looking at the camera like he wants to eat it.
And all of that was all he could think about when he showed up at that conference room or whatever the hell it was (oh God, his first read through) and they were introducing him to everybody.
First he met Posey, and he knew from the first moment that they were going to get along. Posey had a kind of nervous energy that Dylan was sure would be irritating to most people, but which he instantly connected with. Then were the girls, obviously enchanting; and Colton, who turned out not to be an asshole at all, but a kind of shy guy with a perfect smile and the most objectively good-looking person he'd ever seen in his life, which made him feel very secure, being the ugliest one in the whole cast.
They chatted a bit, about the rounds of auditions they'd had to go through, stuff they'd filmed before, Jennifer Lopez, all the normal go-to topics for actors (not like Dylan would have the slightest idea). And then the door opened and a mountain walked in.
"Hi," the mountain said, with a smile that split his face and divided the world in two halves, white and radiant and toothy, and Dylan extended his hand after looking for a second at the dude's gigantic one. "Tyler Hoechlin," said the dude, shaking it.
"So that's how you pronounce it," Dylan mused, feeling his whole body move with the intensity of the handshake.
"Huh? Oh. Yeah, well. Dylan. O'Brien. My real name, you know. The only one with a name that sounds real."
And Tyler laughed. Dylan's jaw almost dropped to the floor, because it wasn't a deep, profound and sonorous guffaw like you would expect. It was a dumb giggle, childish and absolutely perfect.
"My name's real too," Posey interrupted, almost shoving between them to present his hand to Hoechlin, and everybody started getting into introductions for real and filling the room with anecdotes and idle comments until all the executives got there and the scriptwriters and all the rest and they finally sat down to read.
Dylan was so nervous that his palms were sweating an insane amount, and the paper wrinkled in his grip, and his voice faltered. But he hadn't even read three sentences when he was interrupted by a laugh, and he looked up to see Tyler covering his mouth with one of his enormous hands, acting embarrassed.
"Shit! Sorry, sorry," he apologized, with that smile still on his face and dimples in his cheeks and shining eyes. "But the way you said the 'body of water' line... it was funny. Sorry! Please, keep going."
And Dylan stopped being nervous, because suddenly it seemed like this wasn't going to go so badly for him after all.
The thing about Hoechlin is that he's practically perfect. His sense of humor; his impeccable taste in music; the way t-shirts cling to his shoulders and chest and wrap around his arms, the fabric impossibly stretched... and he doesn't even realize how perfect he is.
They went out to eat after the read through. And not because that was the thing to do when you meet your new costars, but because they really wanted to spend more time together. And Dylan didn't know for absolutely certain, but he figured that was a good sign. So they ate at the first restaurant they found after walking out of the building, and they shared their entrees and laughed constantly while they talked about the ten- to twenty-something years of their lives before they knew each other, and like, seriously, it was a waste of time, when they could've already been laughing like this from preschool.
"Okay, yeah. I'm not dying of envy or anything," Dylan said, nibbling on a slice of bread, "but before this I just made videos on YouTube."
"Seriously?" Posey exclaimed, because he'd been exclaiming everything. "Awesome."
"Yup. Not like being Tom Hanks's kid in a Sam Mendes film, but you know."
Dylan jerked his head at Tyler, who made a guilty face and ate another fry.
"I was nine. After that it's all been downhill," he said, and laughed again. Dylan loved that he didn't even seem resentful, just completely serious. "Lately I've been more focused on baseball, honestly, and I'm not gonna lie and say I've been killing myself looking for parts."
"Baseball?" said Crystal.
"In college. I was on a scholarship and I had to prioritize. I started off with turning down a role cause I couldn't let down the team."
"Sweet," said Posey.
"Was it worth it?" asked Holland, who'd already told them about how she left med school to pursue a career in Hollywood.
"Yes," he said without a a shadow of doubt. "I wouldn't change it for anything, not Twilight or anything."
"Were you going to be in Twilight?" Colton asked. "Shut up, who?"
"Uh. Emmett, the huge one."
"Seriously?" Posey laughed, leaning over the table and practically vibrating into a handstand from pure energy. "I went through a bunch of auditions for Jacob. In the end they cast this guy with a pig nose... who I hope isn't a friend of anyone's, because I'm sure he's a great guy."
"You couldn't be Jacob," said Dylan, trying (and failing) to dodge the retaliatory elbow-jab that Posey aimed his way, "you're not hot enough to be Jacob."
"Of course I am."
"Shut up," Colton yelled, grabbing Posey by the arm. "Did you know I was like this far from being Edward?"
Tyler laughed out loud and Colton joined in. In Dylan's head a picture was starting to form of the two of them livin' it up in Forks with some terrible special effects, for some reason, and he couldn't help laughing.
"What happened?" asked Crystal, whose face was starting to show an emotion that might possibly have belonged to one of those people who buys Team Edward panties.
"I guess an openly gay actor doesn't get a lot of play in a teenage movie," he answered, and you could see he said it cautiously, as if taking the temperature of the room to see how comfortable they were with it.
"Pff!" Posey scoffed. "Typical Hollywood. All a bunch of hypocrites."
The thing about Hoechlin is that he never stops touching Dylan. Like putting an arm around his shoulders and resting his head on top of Dylan's with no warning whatsoever, completely casual, just because he can.
"We should share an apartment," Posey said one morning in catering, while Dylan ate two bagels at a time. "Colton already has his perfect, super gay apartment full of uncomfortable chairs which must make you pick up a lot because I guess that's what being gay is all about, but -" he took a breath, " - my apartment is falling down and yours is too far from the set, and Hoechlin's staying in a hotel."
"Yeah," he had to admit, washing down a chunk of bagel with a gulp of soda.
"So I was thinking if we all went together, the three of us, we could find a place that would be nice, close to the set and not too expensive."
"Hmm," Dylan murmured. "Yeah. Okay."
"Great!" he exclaimed, bouncing a little and hugging Dylan briefly. "Awesome. I'll ask him."
Dylan watched him run off towards Hoechlin's trailer and shrugged, grabbing a piece of cheese from the cart. He didn't imagine Hoechlin would say yes because, honestly, he and Tyler were 18 and it was the first time either of them had lived alone and they were pretty undomesticated. And Hoechlin had gone to college and was basically a fully functional 23-year-old adult human being who had slightly more in his head than pizza and zombie video games and movies.
But he did say yes, and a few weeks later they were moving into a three-bedroom with a patio on the roof and a kitchen in decent shape and two bathrooms (one of which Hoechlin got to himself because he had the master bedroom). And their street had a pizzeria, a Chinese restaurant, and a place with the best fried chicken in the universe. Dylan decided he wasn't going to leave Atlanta for the rest of his life, because it was paradise.
The thing about Hoechlin is that it's so easy to live with him that it's not even funny. Because he makes extra coffee for Posey on top of his own three cups that he drinks each morning even though he shouldn't, and he cooks surprisingly well in spite of using too many of those pseudofoods known to boring people as "vegetables", and he announces his opinion that making the bed in the morning is ridiculous when you're just going to use it again at night.
They had a long weekend, and a huge pile of alien movies obtained by Dylan especially for the occasion. Colton, Holland and Crystal showed up dressed in their evening wear and tinfoil hats, the required attire for participation in the awesomeness that was this party (obviously Posey's brainchild, because he was the one that always had the crazy ideas). Although it's possible that the idea of covering their heads with metal had been Dylan's idea. Aliens. It was the right thing to do.
He was the one who opened the door, his shirt still halfway buttoned, and Holland the first one to arrive, in red dress, red lips, and red hair.
"I thought this was dumb, but really it's a good way to reuse dresses from premieres," were her first words to him. "I've only worn this once and I can't wear it again. What do they want me to do, burn it?"
"Hello to you too," he said, inviting her in and moving out of the way so the others could follow.
"We brought popcorn," said Colton, displaying the Hugo Boss bag he carried it in (because obviously those two wouldn't transport snacks in a plastic bag from 7-Eleven like ordinary mortals). "One bag apiece because we're a bunch of pigs."
"Super-hot pigs, you mean," Dylan corrected, following him to the kitchen. "Can you help me tie my bowtie?"
"Mine's a clip on, bro," said Colton, shrugging as he left the bag on the counter. "Ask Hoechlin."
"Why would he know? You should know, this is your area of expertise."
"Elegant stuff, I guess?"
"Tyler knows a bit of everything," Colton said, dismissing the question. "Ask him. Where's Posey?"
"He went down to the Chinese place for food."
"Where's the gin?" said Crystal with her head inside the bar, which normally contained a bottle of salamander brandy that nobody was brave enough to taste and another of cognac that Dylan used to make his mother's chocolate cake.
"We don't have any."
"Tyler promised me gin and tonics."
"Well, you're in time to call him and tell him to get a bottle, because we are extremely sober people here."
"He's not old enough to buy it."
"You aren't old enough to drink it," Dylan pointed out.
"Colton is," she suggested, turning to him expectantly.
"Colton isn't going to the liquor store because it's two blocks from here, Crystal," said Colton himself, coming into the livingroom. "And gin will fuck your shit up, no matter how sophisticated it makes you feel. Truth."
"Dy," she begged.
"What do you want me to do?"
"Hoechlin is over 21 too."
"And he is a man of one drink and one drink alone, and trust me, his relationship with beer is a stable and committed one," Dylan replied, crossing his arms.
"For God's sake, what does a woman have to do to get drunk in this house?"
"I think we're a terrible influence in your life."
"Whatever. Look, I brought tonics, I brought lemons, I brought these adorable mixers with martians on them," she said, putting on her best sad face. "Dylan. Do it for the martians."
"You're evil," he muttered, pursing his mouth into a menacing pout straight out of Zoolander and turning on his heel dramatically toward Tyler's room. Not for Crystal, but for all the poor little martians who'd died to make their drink mixers. Where was the humiliation going to end?
He rapped on the door with his knuckles, even though it was standing halfway open.
"Hey, it's me," he said, sticking his head around the door with an enormous asking-for-favors smile on his face. Tyler was lying sprawled on the bed with no regard for his black suit, his shirt buttoned all the way up and his jacket hanging on the bedpost. His laptop was open on his thighs. "Can I come in?"
"Is everyone here?"
"Okay, I'll come out," he said, without making any attempt to move.
"Cool. Um. But... I don't suppose you'd be inclined to go buy some gin?"
He seemed to consider it a moment, scratching under his shirt collar. "What happens if I say no?"
"Well, at least Crystal will be pissed at you. We're all minors."
Tyler rolled his eyes and closed the laptop with a sigh, putting his feet on the floor.
"But you're coming with me."
"Can I stay in the door and later pay you clandestinely like you were buying it for me? Because I've always wanted to do that."
"I am buying it for you," he said simply.
"This is going to be the experience if my life," said Dylan, putting on a little emotion. "Make yourself pretty. I'm going to find my tie and we'll go."
"What's wrong with your bowtie?" Tyler asked, taking the fabric in his hands.
"Nothing, except I don't know how to tie it."
"Let me," he said, standing up and pulling it off in order to straighten it, then putting it carefully back around Dylan's neck.
"Why do you know how to do this?"
"Because I know a lot of things." Tyler's fingers were moving around his neck, making folds and twists and knots carefully and kind of tentatively. He was very concentrated, with his forehead wrinkled and his tongue poking out between his lips. It was enchanting.
"You're adorable," Tyler laughed when he finished, taking Dylan's shoulders in his hands and admiring his impeccable handiwork.
"Thanks, I think."
Tyler smiled again and touched his cheek affectionately. Dylan could feel the red climbing up his neck, could feel his blood heating, and he wished Tyler would stop looking at him like that, so... actually he just wished he would stop looking at him, period.
"Okay," he said hurriedly, "We're going. Don't forget your protective helmet for the gamma rays," he said, pointing at the nightstand. He had sculpted the hat himself from highest quality aluminum foil, with viking horns. It was his proudest artistic endeavor to date, apart from the drawing of a unicorn he'd made for his mom last Christmas. You were never too old to give people unicorn pictures, that was his motto.
The thing about Hoechlin, the actual thing, is that he touches Dylan and makes it seem accidental. He brushes against him when they pass in the hall, he comes up way closer behind him than he needs to to get stuff down from the high shelves in the kitchen, he lets his hand fall so it rests on Dylan's shoulder for just a second. And Dylan knows that it's weird, that he doesn't do it with Posey, because he touches Posey without trying to hide it and somehow that's completely different, because it's almost brotherly. But there's nothing brotherly about the way he sits too close to Dylan's legs when he's stretched out on the sofa watching tv.
"My feet are touching your butt, Heck."
"Well, move," he replies.
"I was here first."
"I'm happy for you," he says, and steals the remote from him to change the channel to a baseball game.
And Dylan doesn't move, even when his feet start to fall asleep.
Dylan was moderately drunk. Posey was barely standing; Crystal had been sleeping for a while halfway between the sofa and the floor; and Colton and Holland had disappeared an hour before, giggling, saying they were going to get some fresh air on the roof. In comparison, Dylan was doing pretty good, because he'd only been drinking beer, although he was pretty sure there'd been a lot of bottles.
They'd watched two movies and eaten infinite bags of popcorn and a lot of kung pao chicken, and somewhere between Mars Attacks and Total Recall they'd stopped paying attention to the tv and to the quantity of gin in their drinks, and that was when things started to get ugly.
Dylan didn't feel capable of shutting his mouth for five seconds.
"Seriously, how do you put up with us?" he asked Tyler in between mouthfuls of fried rice, sitting cross-legged in a kitchen chair. Hoechlin was at his side, peeling the label off another beer bottle, Posey in front of him with his head on the table.
"You talking to me?" said Hoechlin, lifting the bottle and taking a long pull. His sleeves were rolled up and his tie hanging around his neck, and Dylan would have felt inadequate next to him if he could have remembered how to distinguish his right hand from his left right then.
"Obviously. I don't think he's even conscious. Seriously. How do you put up with us?"
"I've had much worse roommates," he replied, shrugging.
"No, as a roommate I'm exceptional. It's as a person where I leave something to be desired."
"Me..." muttered Posey vaguely, without lifting his face from the table.
"What?" asked Hoechlin.
"Too," he finished, making a gesture with his hand which might not have meant anything.
"See? That's what I'm talking about," Dylan exclaimed. "Teenagers drunk on alcohol that you've had to buy for us. How do you put up with us?"
"I don't think you realize how entertaining you are," Tyler mused, putting his chin in his hand and smiling.
"Are you trashed?"
"A little," he admitted. "But you're also funny when I'm sober."
Dylan made a face, putting his feet on the floor and letting himself drop with a dry thump on the chair.
"You might be mentally unbalanced."
"Definitely," he laughed, languid and unconcerned, and Dylan thought that he could kiss him. That his lips looked amazing when the tip of his tongue just barely peeked between them. And it would be easy, he'd only have to lean towards him, not even two feet, and kiss him. Just do it, simply, without thinking. And then he thought about it and decided that he was also starting to have mental problems.
Because no. No.
The thing about Hoechlin is that even when he's sad he doesn't stop smiling. And yes, sometimes he is sad, although Dylan isn't sure why and doesn't dare ask. He realizes that Tyler doesn't need to be Derek Hale to be sad every now and then, and that even when he is, Tyler is still better than his character, because he doesn't grunt and cast hate-filled glares. He smiles and talks and he lets himself be hugged.
"Sometimes I miss baseball," he says, sitting in front of Dylan in the patio chairs on the terrace, with an iced coffee in his hand. "And I know that it's... it's dumb, because obviously I wasn't good enough to keep playing professionally. And I convince myself that acting is what I chose to do, but really for the most part it wasn't a choice," he says, almost like a question, "mostly it's just the only thing left for me. And I'm scared of not being good enough at this either. I'm scared of being mediocre the rest of my life."
And Dylan puts his hands on his knees and laughs like it's the funniest thing he's heard in his entire life.
"Look, I hope you know none of us is going to win an Oscar, here. That's why we're making Teen Wolf and not Mad Men, you know what I'm saying?" And Tyler chuckles, almost embarrassed, and nods. "But this makes us happy and puts food on the table, which is a lot more than lots of actors can say. Okay, maybe you're not going to be the best actor, but you're the best at being you. The best human being I can think of. You're not mediocre. You're the Mad Men of people. Does that make sense?"
Dylan touches his knee affectionately and he smiles again, as if he wants to say something. But he doesn't say it, and it doesn't matter.
It wasn't too late when he got home, but he was exhausted from chasing Posey through the forest all afternoon, filming a terrifying chase. Hoechlin was already there, shut into the kitchen like he liked to do when he had some free time, and he seemed to have been using it well, because the place smelled so good that Dylan thought he was going to die.
"Honey, I'm home!" he joked, leaving his keys on the hook in the entry and making it to the kitchen in four rather desperate strides. He hadn't eaten anything since noon, and not much then. He was famished. And it smelled so good.
"Hey. I'm making dinner," said Hoechlin, throwing a cloth over his shoulder and stirring something in a pot with a wooden spoon.
"I see. And I would prostrate myself at your feet for that if I wasn't in so much pain right now."
"I'll let it go this once. But don't let it happen again."
"Okay. What are you making?" he asked, peering over Hoechlin's shoulder.
"Pea and almond soup and chicken parmesan."
"Seriously," he whined, his stomach chipping in to offer a prayer of thanks. "You are too good to be true. When is it going to be ready?"
"Is Posey with you?"
"Uh. No. He went to eat with Crystal. I don't know where he found the strength, because I am exhausted."
"Oh, good. Well, then, it'll just be the two of us," Tyler said, glancing at the table, which normally was a repository for old scripts, empty bags, and candy wrappers, but tonight it had been cleared off and set for three. With a tablecloth and plates and cups, no less. Dylan wished he could tell Tyler that he'd rather sit in front of the tv with the food, gulp it down like a boa constrictor, and then go to bed that much earlier, but he looked at him and just didn't have the strength, because he looked so happy.
"Better this way. More for us, right?" he replied. "Do I have time to take a shower? Or, well, want some help with anything?"
"No, no. Take a shower."
And instead of answering, Tyler pushed him towards the door.
The shower felt fantastic, long and hot, and when he got out he didn't even remember if he'd washed; but it didn't matter, all he'd really needed was to loosen up his muscles.
He sat on the bed with a towel around his waist, resisting the urge to let himself collapse and take a little nap of two or three years. Then he dragged himself upright and looked for something decent to put on, because he was pretty sure that going to dinner in pajamas would be kind of rude after everything Tyler had done to make it special. The least he could do was pretend to enjoy it.
He put on a black tshirt and a comfortable pair of jeans and went back to the kitchen, where Tyler was washing pots and singing. Singing. When he saw Dylan, he wiped his hands on his jeans and motioned for him to sit while he took the pot off the stove to serve.
Dinner was good. Dinner was amazing. Dinner was delicious and Tyler was just as incredibly funny and intelligent and witty as always, and Dylan did what he could to keep up. They didn't talk about anything in particular, like happens with two people who've spent the day together and don't have anything new to talk about. Dylan told him that he missed his parents even though he'd never tell them, and that he missed them ironing his shirts, and Tyler admitted that his dad made better chicken, although Dylan refused to believe it because the chicken was so good that he thought he was going to cry. Dylan only wished he could have been more awake, in order to better appreciate the way Tyler smiled so honestly and arched his eyebrows when he laughed at himself, and the way he looked at Dylan when he was talking, like he was really listening.
There wasn't a single moment when he didn't think that, right then, this was the best place in the world. And when they finished their beer and Dylan was reduced to wiping the tomato sauce off his plate with a finger, and there was no excuse to keep sitting there any longer, he just wished he had the balls to ask Tyler to come to bed with him and crawl under the covers and hold him until he fell asleep. Just because he wanted to have him there, to feel the warmth and the weight of his body on him, and his breath in his hair and his arms around him. It would have been enough.
The thing about Hoechlin is he makes him feel stranger than anything else in the world. That he makes the most normal things seem full of hidden meanings, because Dylan's never had this level of intimacy with anybody before, because for the first time he understands the repulsive expression "more than friends", and he prays that Tyler is feeling the same tingle in his fingertips every time they touch, because if not he would feel terribly stupid.
He's dying to touch him, but when he does it feels like every millimeter of skin between them is burning up, and he can't think of anything else but this, this fleeting contact, and he smiles and looks away and wants to die.
They're joking around in the kitchen, eating breakfast before leaving for the set, and Dylan is rinsing his coffee cup in the sink when Tyler comes up behind him to leave his own in the sink, ignorant as he is of the concept of personal space. His hands get all wet under the falling water, accidentally or no, and he swipes them over Dylan's face, laughing and saying it'll be good for him to wake up. Dylan tries to dodge, taking a step back, but Tyler's right there and he stumbles into his chest and feels how Tyler wraps him in his arms, close and intimate, just for one thousandth of a second before moving away.
Dylan can't think of anything else the whole week, and that's when he realizes that he might have a problem.
Dylan tried to shut Posey up, because this was one of those times when he really hated him. There weren't that many of them, considering that he was the most irritating person in the universe, that he never shut up, that he interrupted constantly and that he was always in the bathroom when Dylan needed it. In spite of all that Dylan loved him, but right now he could have strangled him without a shadow of remorse.
"Dylan scored!" he crowed, walking in the door triumphantly.
"Oh my god, stop lying," Dylan groaned for the tenth time, hoping it would have more effect than the nine previous times.
"That chick in the supermarket gave you her number," he said, flinging himself down on the sofa beside Hoechlin like a deadweight, "that's what I consider scoring."
"Lots of girls give me their number."
"You're a heartbreaker," Hoechlin remarked, looking up from his laptop.
"It's not like... that's not what I meant to say," Dylan stammered, hunching his shoulders and retreating to the kitchen to put away the cereal.
"Are you going to call her?" asked Hoechlin after a moment, solemnly, as if they were discussing affairs of state.
"Uhm. I haven't thought about it. But I guess, I dunno..." he answered from the other room, raising his voice to be heard. "I guess it wouldn't hurt to try, right? It's not like I have anything going on in my life right now."
"That offends me!" Posey shouted, and Dylan actually wanted to punch him in the mouth.
"You know what I mean. Romantically." And Dylan whispered a prayer of thanks to the ceiling for the wall which separated them, because he could feel himself blushing up to his ears.
"Mm-hmmm," Tyler murmured enigmatically, and when Dylan came out he was already absorbed in his computer again.
That night he didn't stick around to watch the movie with them. Posey didn't find anything strange about that at all.
The thing about Hoechlin is that it's pathetically obvious when something is bothering him.
It was a cold February morning, and the jacket Dylan put on to go to the drugstore wasn't even remotely up to the task of maintaining his body temperature. When he got home he was shivering from head to toe. Hoechlin probably heard the rattle of his keys, because he opened the door for him when Dylan was unable to stop shaking for a second in order to fit one in the lock.
"Sweet mother of God," he groaned through the chattering of his teeth. "Holy shit, it's freezing. Fuck."
"You're an idiot."
"How was I supposed to know it would be that cold?"
"You've only been living here for four months of winter so far."
"Exactly. I mean, isn't that enough? Can't I just run out to the store like normal people? I should've worn long underwear," he moaned, continuing into the livingroom with his drugstore bag.
"Hey, Dylan, Crystal's here," Posey greeted him without a pause for breath, casting him a not-too-subtle look.
"Okay. Hey, Crys."
She waved to him from the sofa with a smile, then turned back to the tv, wrapping her arms around her knees.
"Did you get my aspirin?" asked Hoechlin from over his shoulder, reaching out for the bag in Dylan's hand.
"Yeah, wait a sec," he said, blocking his hand and trying to get the bottle out of the bag. "Wait - gimme a sec."
"Give it here, Dy," Hoechlin said, grabbing the bag out of his hands and opening it.
Dylan couldn't help but quail a little, anticipating the reaction.
"Here they are," Hoechlin finally said, failing to hide the chill in his voice, "under your condoms."
Suddenly it was colder inside than out in the street.
"Condoms. Yep. Protection. Prophylactics," he agreed, casting a quick look in Posey's direction. "My condoms."
Tyler sank down a little behind the couch cushions, but didn't say a word.
"So it's going well with the girl from the supermarket, then?" Hoechlin asked, handing back the bag with too-careful delicacy.
"Uhm. You know..." Dylan mumbled. "Safe sex. An ounce of prevention, yadda yadda."
"Yeah. They took sex education very seriously at my high school."
"I'm going to my room," Hoechlin said finally, with determination.
"Oh. Okay. Headache, and all that."
"Subtract the aspirins from what you owe me from the shopping the other day," he added, turning around.
"Don't worry about it, on the house," he tried to joke, but Tyler's back didn't seem to appreciate his comic genius. He cleared his throat. "And actually, I'm going down right now to get some money for that, cause..."
"Do what you want," he replied, already halfway to his bedroom.
Dylan didn't move until he heard the door close, and even then it cost him to do it, trying the whole time to listen for what was happening inside. There was only silence and Posey's heavy breathing. Dylan wheeled around to face him, only to encounter the pleading puppy eyes.
"Here, your vitamins," he said, sticking his hand in the bag and taking out the multi-colored bottle to throw at Posey's head with a world of feeling.
"Ouch," was all Posey said, rubbing the point of impact.
"I'm going down to take out some cash."
"Put on your coat," said Crystal, a little uncomfortably, and who could blame her, after that display of passive aggression.
"Thanks," he replied, snagging it from the coatrack and slamming the door behind him.
It took him nearly three hours to come back. He got the cash, but that didn't even take him five minutes, since the ATM was less than a block away. Then he caught a bus and wandered aimlessly until he got bored and decided to stop at Starbucks and have an enormous coffee and a muffin like a hipster.
He messed with his phone a while until the battery died and engaged in shameless people-watching. If he'd known he was going to succumb to a childish tantrum, he'd have brought a book to kill the time. He got a little lost on the way home, but he finally made it, bored and frozen and pissed off at the entire world, but especially at himself.
Posey was still in the livingroom, although Crystal had left.
"Thanks for covering for me, bro," was the first thing he said when Dylan came in. "Where were you? I was trying to call."
"Is Tyler still here?"
"I haven't seen him come out of his room. I ordered pizza."
"I'm going to strangle you with your own small intestine," was Dylan's reply, and Posey looked at him with his habitual expression of being somewhat unsure what was going on but terribly sorry about it anyway. "I'll explain later, okay?" Dylan added, a little more gently. "I'm going to talk to him."
He took a deep breath before rapping on the door and waited a moment for a response. He had to knock again, harder. (Tyler could be irrational at times, but he wasn't that type of dick.)
"Heck?" he asked, opening the door cautiously, not wanting to think too much about what was going on inside, just in case.
"Fuck!" Hoechlin exclaimed when he saw him, jumping, and took off his headphones. "You nearly killed me."
"Oh. Hi. I didn't realize... I knocked."
"I didn't hear you."
"I figured. Dave Matthews Band?" he asked, indicating the iPod lying beside him on the bed.
"Oh." Dylan looked around, balancing on his heels in embarrassment. "Can I come in?"
"You're already practically inside," he replied, shrugging his shoulders and sitting up, which Dylan interpreted as a yes.
"But like... is this what you've been doing all day?" he asked, a little alarmed. "Lying in bed listening to music like an angsty teenager?"
"I'm only 23, I think I still have a right."
"Sometimes I forget."
"The condoms weren't mine," he blurted at last, unable to hold back any longer. "I bought them for Posey."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I don't want you to think they were mine," he said, sitting down on the edge of the mattress.
"It seemed like they were yours," Hoechlin answered, impassive. Dylan wished he could grab him by the shoulders and shake him until he did something, until he acted like a normal person instead of a robot.
"I couldn't tell you the truth because Crystal was here. Tyler asked me to buy them... I think because he's trying to score with her, the dumbass."
"Well, either way," Hoechlin insisted, too brusque, "you have the right to buy them and use them with whoever you want."
"Right. I know that. But just so you know, I'm not using them with anyone. Not because I don't use them, because seriously, safe sex and all that! There's just... there's nobody, is what I'm trying to say."
"Okay," said Hoechlin.
"Okay. Well. Nice chat," said Dylan, patting him on the leg before getting up and moving back towards the door, even more frustrated than before. But, "What do I have to do to get you to stop being mad at me?" he finally exploded, before he could stop himself.
"I'm not," Tyler said hurriedly. "I'm not mad at you."
"I'm the one with the problem, Dylan. It isn't anything you did, or... didn't do... I'm not as perfect as you like to say," he said finally, scratching his chin.
"Good. I was starting to feel guilty," Dylan laughed, feeling the tension start to dissipate, though there was still a ball of nerves in his stomach, of uncertainty. "Okay. Well... if you're over it when the pizza gets here, I'm sure we could steal Posey's part from him without too much trouble. If you want to come out and share it with me."
"Okay. Thanks," he replied, smiling tentatively. "I'm sorry."
"Don't do it again," Dylan scolded, shaking a finger at a him playfully.
He left the room and closed the door, letting himself collapse against it wearily. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he didn't like it. He didn't know how to be around him like this; it made him agitated, underneath the skin.
The thing about Dylan is he knows himself too well, because he's known himself for 19 years. And maybe he's nice and funny and even charming on the surface, but he's also other things that aren't as fun. And he knows it's only a matter of time before Tyler finds out about them and winds up disillusioned with him.
Because he's a coward, more than anything else. He's afraid of absolutely everything: of trying to make it work with Tyler and it ending badly; or of having been reading the signals wrong and making a fool of himself; or that everything will go great but then they'll break up two years from now, one of those boring couples that can barely stand each other; or that they'll cancel Teen Wolf and he'll end up in New York and Tyler in LA and they won't even see each other more than once or twice a month and he'll wind up with a broken heart.
And he doesn't know if it's fear of winning or losing, but it's the same feeling he got when the college brochures started coming, when they called him to his second audition for Stiles; and he just wants to crawl under the bed and wait for it to be over, for everything to be forgotten and go back to normal and for his life to go back to being mediocre, because that's the only thing that doesn't terrify him.
Their place was the site of the afterparty. All the actors and cameramen, the special effects department, the scriptwriters, the directors and everybody who didn't have anybody waiting up for them at home crammed into the little three-bedroom apartment, drinking beer and smoking pot and playing darts. They'd finished filming the first season, and it had been five exhausting and amazingly fun months, and the experience had definitely changed Dylan's life, he was sure of it.
And he was drunk.
They hadn't let him drink at the party because he still wasn't legal, but his own home was another thing, and the vodka had hit him hard. The others too, because they'd already been drinking at the official party, so they weren't particularly sober to begin with. He was pretty sure they weren't going to get their deposit back, but right now he couldn't care less about the cups spilled on the floor and the marks on the walls.
He made his way across the livingroom, passing Holland sitting in Colton's lap on the sofa with people from the photography department he'd met twice in his life, and peered into the kitchen. Crystal was talking to some of the "adult" cast, and Posey was laughing, scandalized, at something Keahu was explaining to some other people. And what was up with the dimples, were they contagious? Because half of the cast had them and Dylan was starting to feel out of place.
When he climbed up to the terrace and found Tyler he realized that he'd been looking for him the whole time.
"Hi," he said, sitting beside him at the foot of the lounger. It was cold up here. People had stopped bothering to come up to smoke, and were now just opening a window and blowing the smoke out it. It wasn't like it mattered. "Who are you hiding from?"
"From you," he answered, laughing. "Seriously."
"I figured. That's the kind of response I provoke from people."
Tyler tightened his fingers around his bottle of beer and took another drink, letting his tongue peek out for a moment, red and wet, between his lips. "I've had too much to drink to be surrounded by people."
"You're a lone wolf."
"I'm a crybaby."
Dylan laughed, an unexpected outburst which ended as quickly as it had begun. "It shows on your face," he joked, leaning over until their shoulders bumped.
"Aren't you afraid nobody will like the show and it won't get renewed and we won't ever see each other again?" Tyler asked, hands over his eyes like he was afraid to look up.
"Of course. But I think it's going to be fine. It's well written, and it's funny, and it has you without a shirt on, so that's one viewer guaranteed," he said, jerking his thumbs at his own chest. "MTV is putting a lot of stock in that, it's going to be okay."
"And what if it's not?"
"Then we're still going to be fine," he assured him, snagging the bottle from Tyler's hands and taking a long pull. "We'll have to do a lot of low-budget romantic comedies, but it'll work out."
"That's not what's bothering me," he said, putting his elbow on Dylan's knee and his chin in the palm of his hand. He looked at Dylan under heavy eyelids, eyes bright with alcohol, and Dylan's mouth went dry.
"We'll still see each other, whatever happens. We'll have to live in LA if we want to pursue acting, and..." he buried his fingers in Tyler's hair and allowed his cheek to rest on top of his head with simple confidence, intimate. "But don't worry about that, it's going to be fine. We have lots of publicity events, and we'll have plenty of chances to see each other. And in no time we'll be back here filming the second season. Three musketeers again."
"I know," Tyler replied, without moving away from the heat of his body. "It's just that... with the others, Posey, Holland... I know I could go a few months without talking to them and when we see each other again it'll be the same as if we talked yesterday. But you... this is a bubble that's going to pop if I breathe too hard."
"Shut up, you're killing me," said Dylan, squeezing his eyes shut.
"Shit, Dylan," Tyler muttered. He lifted his head and his fingers rose to caress the nape of Dylan's neck. "I don't want to have to miss you."
"Hoechlin," he whispered.
"Fuck. I'm sorry." Tyler's expression was pained, and he dropped his gaze and tried to pull away as if burned. "I'm being stupid, sorry."
Dylan could only seize his wrists and hold on tight. He couldn't find the words, and it seemed easier just to kiss him, so - he did.
His whole body melted against Tyler's with a sigh of relief, of months of repressed want pushed back into the depths of his mind, and when Tyler moaned against him and Dylan felt his tongue touching his, his arms around him, he thought he was dying. Hoechlin used his weight to bear him down and laid him on his back at the foot of the lounger, stretching out on top of him and attacking like an animal that's been fasting all winter. He was hungry, desperate, kissing violently. Dylan couldn't even think, his whole brain full of Tyler's body and the way their tongues slid together.
"Fuck. I've wanted to do this since the first day I saw you," said Tyler, voice barely leaving his throat.
"Well, perfect timing," said Dylan sarcastically. "My plane leaves the day after tomorrow."
"I know," he muttered, sliding an arm around Dylan's waist to pull him closer.
They went back to kissing, Dylan practically falling off the chair, clutching at Hoechlin's body and twisting under his weight, demanding more and more contact. He realized that there were other people on the terrace, people who could be looking at them, but he couldn't find it in him to care when Tyler was pressing against him like that in all the right places.
"God, Tyler. Wait a second," he said, feeling what little impulse control he still had going up in smoke, their lips still brushing, still tasting Tyler's beer on his tongue. "Let's go somewhere else."
"Your room. I'm not saying I want to, you know - do it -" he added. "Or maybe I do, if you want to, because I... what I meant to say is-" he faltered, and Tyler shifted off of him and sat up, starting to arrange his clothes nervously. "...What is this? My plane's leaving the day after tomorrow."
"I don't know."
Dylan let out a long breath, sitting up cross-legged on the lounger to look at Tyler, but he left his hand brushing the fabric of Tyler's pants because he wasn't ready to stop feeling him there. "Well, shouldn't we think about it?"
"I want to be with you," he said. "I know it's not going to be easy, but I want to be with you. And if you want that too we'll make it work, and if you don't... I don't know, I'll probably kidnap you."
Dylan snorted with laughter and twisted his hand in Tyler's wrinkled shirt. "Fuck, of course I want to. But I don't want us going to shit without having had a real chance, you know? Does that make sense?" he asked, wrinkling his forehead. "I start filming in two weeks, you're making a movie in June... and long-distance relationships don't work, and we've got a day and a half to be together before we leave, and... and we're here talking about it instead of in your bed."
"It'll work," Tyler promised, taking his arm and pulling him to his feet. "Because we're awesome. I've been told."
"Oh yeah?" Dylan teased, following him to the stairs automatically, sliding his hands up under his shirt and bumping his forehead on the back of Tyler's neck at every step. "You think 30 hours will be enough?"
"After wanting you for so many months, I think 5 minutes will do it for me," Tyler laughed, stealing a kiss before he went back to dragging him across the room.
"Heck!" he said, pushing between two groups of poeople. "Don't do that, don'ẗ sell yourself short. I'm about to change my mind!"
"I'm just lowering your expectations. It's a perfectly valid marketing strategy."
"Shut up, you're destroying my dreams."
Tyler turned and put two fingers under his belt, pulling until Dylan crashed into his chest. "Liar," he whispered, and Dylan couldn't help moaning in the back of his throat.
"Your room. Go, go. Don't stop. Straight line."
"Hey, Dylan!" Posey yelled from across the room, lifting a beer in the air, and before Dylan could tell him to fuck off Colton was there beside him, hustling him out of the room with the determination of someone who knows what's up.
"Oh my god. Room, now."
The thing he likes most about Hoechlin is that the best smiles are the ones he saves for the airport, when Dylan's just arrived, tired from an uncomfortable cross-country trip in economy, and he's waiting in arrivals with a stupid sign and a smile that leaves the entire rest of the human race looking ridiculous. Dylan lets himself hug him and asks him if he's missed him a lot. Tyler always says no, burying his nose in Dylan's neck, and laughs.