The first time Rans had an exam related meltdown Holster didn’t really know what to do. Ransom had his head on the desk, muttering something about methylation. Holster froze in the doorway.
“Nucleosomes,” was the only response he got.
“Huh,” Holster said, and walked towards the desk. “Bro, how long have you been sitting there?”
“Okay, dude, get up.” Holster gripped Ranson’s shoulders, and lifted him until he was sitting up. Ransom winced, rubbing his neck.
“Ow,” he said. “That was a bad idea.”
“Sorry, man. I think you should take a break, you can’t be taking this stuff in right now.”
Rans’ eyes widened and Holster knew he’d said the wrong thing. Rans pushed Holster out the way and frantically started reading textbook, highlighting sentences and muttering.
Holster frowned. Rans was surrounded by books, but nothing else. He was willing to bet money Rans hadn’t eaten or drank in a while. He went down to the kitchen and fixed a mug of coffee and a grilled cheese. He took them back upstairs and placed the offering on the corner of the table. He then climbed on his bed, and left Rans to his mumbling, close enough to catch him if he flaked out completely, but not so close to spook him again. Holster had to do reading on some modelling and math shit anyway; he could do that from the bed.
The scent of coffee woke Rans from his anxiety-fugue state-whatever and he took a gulp. He looked at the sandwich and Holster found himself mentally willing Rans to eat, like he was a stray kitten that Holster wanted to adopt. He managed to stop himself from celebrating when Rans started eating.
Holster looked back at his book - he was not as good as stats as he needed to be, maybe he could pick up a class? - and got lost in modelling again.
It was dark when he looked up, distracted by the smell of takeout wafting up from downstairs.
“Pizza, bitches, get it while it’s hot!” Shitty shouted. Holster didn’t even bother marking his page and leapt off the bed. Rans jumped up as well, and they had a brief tussle at the top of the stairs.
Shitty had got pineapple on the pizza like a legend, and so Holster managed to snag a lot of pieces. Rans, Lardo, and Jack looked at them both with disgust.
“Ignore them, Holtz,” Shitty replied, shaking back his hair dramatically. “We know the way, the truth, and we don’t want to share this with people who don’t want to listen.”
“It’s not easy being messianic, eh Shits?” Lardo asked, picking anchovies off Jack’s slice of pizza.
“You have no idea of my struggles,” Shitty replied, drifting over to Lardo. Holster wondered idly if they were a thing, or just friends. He was sure Shitty would have something to say involving heteronormativity and objectification if he asked, but he also knew that Shitty looked happy around Lardo.
“Hey,” Rans interrupted his thoughts.
“Hey man, you feeling better?”
Rans nodded. “Thanks, for the food and stuff. Exams are just, ugh, so sometimes I get a little-” Holster raised his eyebrows. “Alright, a lot stressed.”
Holster shrugged. “Whatever you need, man, I got your back.”
Soon Holster had managing Rans during exam season to a fine art. He knew when to leave Rans alone - sitting near him to make sure no one disturbed him, but also not going so near he’d spook him. Like he was a deer Holster was tracking. He knew when Rans needed a break; dragging him to watch Ghost Adventures so Rans had something to rant about, or Mario Kart for competitive blowing off steam.
Rans looked shocked everytime Holster did something for him, face going soft momentarily. Sometimes he made a small ‘oh’ sound, like something had clicked into place.
In return, Rans lets Holster talk about 30 Rock, and Arrested Development and other things Rans doesn’t know or care about. They make a pact to never compare quiz results from Buzzfeed, and agree that 2048 is some kind of drug.
On the ice they’re basically drift compatible.
(Holster once told Rans this, and Rans just blinked at him. He had spent the rest of practice trying to tell Rans the plot Pacific Rim until Shitty threw a glove at them and Jack split them up, shoving Johnson in between them.
“The thing about the Drift is, well, it’s a rejection of perspectivism. If there are any two people whose thoughts can intermingle and share space and time - such as space and time exists in the brain, or the mind I guess, and let’s not get into seeing yourself as Other - then there’s no such thing as perspective and so objectivity must be the truth,” Johnson had said, without preamble.
Rans gave Holster a look. Holster just shrugged and went back to watching the team practice).
Holster hadn’t been expecting a best friend when he came to college, just teammates and friends. Rans was a bonus.
“I hate you,” Ransom muttered as he climbed down from his bunk and slid into Holster’s bed. Holster blinked but didn’t say anything as Rans pulled the covers up to his neck. Unlike himself, Rans wasn’t wearing a top, just shorts, and Holster could feel the warmth coming off him.
“Of course, I’m really inconveniencing you here, I apologise.” Holster shifted over a little. There wasn’t much room to maneuver - the bed was small, but he wasn’t. Rans wasn’t exactly tiny either.
“Ghost Adventures is your fault,” Ransom hissed at him. “I think watching it encouraged them.”
“The ghosts that don’t exist?”
“Exactly!” Ransom must have emphasised his point physically, because the mattress dipped and shuddered. Holster sighed and rolled over to face Rans.
“We could get the Ghost Adventurers to come down. All we’d need to do is push back the terrible incident that led to the haunting a hundred years or so. They’d eat it right up.”
“Shut up,” Rans said. “Go to sleep.”
“I was asleep, man,” Holster said, but rolled over. Ransom was quiet. Holster yelped as Rans put his freezing cold feet on Holster’s bare legs. “Ugh, fuck you.”
“In your dreams,” Rans replied. The mattress moved again as they settled, and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning was...fine. They were bros who could share a bed and only gain new chirps from it (he does not snore; Rans can take his cold feet and shove them up his ass, anatomy be damned).
It didn’t become a regular thing, it was mostly when Rans was a little more stressed, or if they’d had a shit time on the ice; that night he would poke his head over the bed and ask if Holster was cold, or if he could hear Christina Aguilera. Holster found it more endearing than annoying, but would grumble and roll over anyway.
“Thanks, man,” Rans would whisper just as they were drifting off.
Holster tugged on the shirt he’d picked up off the floor. It was just too short for him - maybe he’d had another growth spurt?
He made a note to go shopping and then went down to see if he could finagle pancakes or - he looked at his watch: 11:30 - pie out of Bitty.
“Morning,” he said as he entered the kitchen. Lardo and Bitty were at the table drinking coffee. Lardo and Bitty looked at him and then shared a look.
“Morning,” Bitty said, smiling. “There should be coffee in the pot.”
“Awesome. Is there any leftover pie?”
“Obviously. In the fridge,” Lardo said. “Get me a slice of the pecan while you’re there.”
Holster nodded and opened the fridge, grabbing the pecan and the blueberry pies. He poured a coffee for himself and sat at the table.
“Holster, I’ve not seen you wear that shirt before,” Bitty said, sipping his tea. Holser looked down and shrugged.
“It doesn’t really fit anymore, which is probably why I stopped wearing it.”
“Oh,” Lardo said. “I thought it was because it was Ransom’s.”
“What?” Holster said around a mouthful of pie. He looked down at his shirt. That’s why it looked only vaguely familiar. It wasn’t because he’d not wore it for a while, it was because he’d never worn it; only seen Rans watched it. “Huh. Must’ve got into my pile of clothes.”
“Floordrobe,” Bitty muttered.
“The floordrobe is a perfectly acceptable way or organising clothes that are clean enough to wear but not clean clean,” Holster replied. He’d change after the pie and coffee.
The door slammed, and the three of them frowned at each other.
“No one should be back yet,” Lardo said. Her ability to remember everyone’s timetable was legendary.
“Yo!” Holster yelled.
“It’s me,” Rans replied. “Prof’s sick, so class was cancelled.” Rans came into the kitchen and walked to the coffee machine. He poured the last and then set up a pot. He hated leaving an empty pot and insisted that anyone who did so would get payback from the universe.
“There’s pie left if you want some,” Bitty said, getting up to rinse his mug.
Rans sat in the chair Bits had vacated and sighed as he took a piece of the blueberry.
“Gives me a bit more time to work on my paper, I guess?”
“Dude, that paper is done. Stop messing with it,” Lardo ordered, draining her coffee mug.
Rans looked pained and Holster just put a hand on his shoulder. “Dude, leave it. Work on something else, I’m sure you’ve got plenty.”
Rans shrugged. “A head start on my genetics paper would be nice. It’s due when we’re on the road so.”
“That’s the spirit,” Lardo said, sharing a small fond smile with Holster.
Holster fucking loved the haus, and thinking about graduation in two short years left him feeling achy and a little panicky.
He quashed the feeling and stretched out.
“I’m gonna go change,” he said, pushing back from the table.
“Change?” Rans asked, then looked Holster up and down. “Why are you wearing my shirt?”
“Picked it up by mistake, didn’t realise it was yours til these two pointed it out.”
“It’s too small,” Rans pointed out.
“Yeah, well, I’d thought I’d grown again,” he muttered.
“Weirdo,” Rans said. “If you wanted some style pointers you could’ve just asked, man.”
Holster flipped him the bird and walked out of the kitchen, up to the attic. He pulled one of his own shirts off the floordrobe and took Rans’ shirt off. He threw it onto Rans’ bed and pulled one of his own shirts on. It was cold, and he shuddered as the cool fabric slid along his back.
He went back downstairs and got his ass kicked at Mario Kart by Lardo.
The next day, Rans wore the shirt.
This semester sucked. He and Ransom basically had opposite schedules, so they barely had any overlapping free time.
Holster sat at the kitchen table and sent Ransom a selfie complete with a mouthful of Bitty’s fresh maple syrup pie.
Save me some fatass
Was the reply, over a picture of Ransom’s best puppy eyes. Holster laughed. Like Bitty would leave Rans without any.
“How is Ransom? I hardly see you to together any more,” Bitty said, lining another pie tin with pastry.
“He’s got some killer lab classes this semester. We have almost the opposite schedules so we have a couple of free hours together during the week.”
“Maybe next semester will be better,” Bitty said. “It’s a heavy semesters for all of us, it seems.” Bitty’s face changed for a second and Holster wondered if this semester was stopping Bitty from hanging out with someone. Bitty was usually pretty stable, and just seemed to bake over any other feelings, and Jesus, without Rans he was becoming melodramatic and like he was out of one of his mom’s faux British period drama books.
“... organise something?”
“Huh?” Holster said, suddenly becoming aware of Bitty speaking to him.
“You and Ransom both seem to be busy, maybe you should set an evening or afternoon where you do stuff.”
“...You know what that sounds like,” Holster said, reflexively. Bitty rolled his eyes.
“Yes. Go on a mandate, for manly burgers, manly beers, and some manly activities like belching, flexing, and hollering.” Bitty’s accent deepened as he chirped, vowels thick and round. Holster found it funny every time and it completely threw him off his chirp game. He cracked up, and Bitty flicked a piece of pastry dough at him.
“I’m serious. I know it’s always been easy for you two; it’s not the end of the world if you have to put effort in to keep it up.”
“Alright, Dan Savage, maybe I’ll take your advice.”
Later, Holster fiddled with his phone. He wasn’t sure why he was making this so awkward. He knew that Ransom would be free Wednesday afternoon, and Holster also knew he could skip his last class because it was an intro to psych class that the prof taught directly out of the textbook, droning on with little to no interaction, and it was dull as fuck. So they could do something. Go catch a movie - the new Independance Day is out soon and god knows Rans needs more pop culture in his life; he barely knows who Jeff Goldblum is.
Holster sighed and started typing.
Yo, got weds free, wanna hang?
I was thinking cinema, broaden your horizons
There was a long moment with no reply. Holster sighed.
I’ll buy the popcorn
Make it nachos and we’re talking
The response was a snapchat of Ransom flipping him the bird. Holster grinned. This was fine. They could have scheduled hang out time and not be weird.
“This was great, thanks, man.”
“No worries. It was Bitty’s idea, actually.”
They were polishing off burgers and fries with milkshakes (what Jack didn’t know wouldn’t make him lose his shit).
Holster had really enjoyed the film, and had spent longer than was probably necessary talking about Goldblum and Spiner carrying the film and Liam Hemsworth’s questionable skills as a leading man.
“Which one was that?” Rans had asked, but had that look on his face that Holster knew meant he was fucking with him.
“Dick,” he had replied, kicking his ankle gently.
“Bitty’s idea?” Rans asked.
“Yeah,” Holster looked at his food, feeling himself flush a little. “He pointed out that we’ve always just had time to hang out, and now that we don’t have a much, maybe we need to actually plan shit?” Rans just stared at him, so Holster continued. “And I had this free afternoon, and I knew you did as well, so I thought why not take advantage?”
“Huh,” Rans said. “So this is a date, huh?”
“Fuck you,” Holster replied.
“I’m a good boy, only after the third date.”
“Ugh,” Holster said dramatically. “Why do I even put in effort, when this is the response I get?”
Rans reached over to steal a fry while Holster was giving his dramatic delivery, so Holster stole one of Rans’ onion rings.
“Seriously, though, this has been fun. We should do this more often,” Rans said.
Holster should know better than to suggest organising something to Rans. Holster was in his stats for finance class when he got a link from Rans. He opened it to see a trello board titled ‘Rans and Holtzy bro-nights’. The board had a series of lists various titles: Niagra Fall and other road trips (obviously), free stuff (one of those was going for a run, which, really?), games, drinking, and non (which went without saying), and things that cost money.
This is a scary level of organisation, even for you
Lies, this is a perfectly normal level of organisation for me
Holster sighed and returned his attention to the prof and math.
That afternoon he shut himself in his room and reviewed the trello, adding ideas and commenting either agreement or vetoes.
Rans had started adding a list of dates and times when they were free. Holster shook his head and smiled. Rans accused him of being impulsive, but Jesus, Rans was all or nothing.
Holster was glad no one could see his stupid grin.
Holster woke up. He wasn’t sure what had woke him up, but something had. He held his breath as he listened, straining his eyes in the dark.
Holster could hear a rustling and then Rans gasped. Holster nodded to himself, and rolled over. It took a while for him to get used to ignoring his roommate jerking off, and even longer for him to get comfortable with jerking off himself in the presence of another dude, but it was the nature of shared rooms -
Ransom made a noise, choked off in his throat and Holster flushed. He bit his lip and mentally recited the match schedule for the next two months, hoping the monotony would let him fall asleep, but his thoughts would be focused somewhere other than dwelling on Rans’ current activities; how he looked with his hand wrapped around - nope. He wasn’t going there. He was used to it now, used to Rans jerking off and normally it didn’t bother him at all but Rans was also better at keeping quiet normally.
Eventually Rans - he stopped - and Holster relaxed slightly. He tried to ignore his erection.
He really needed to get laid.
The next scheduled bro night was two weeks after the first. They had had roadies one week then catching up on sleep and work the next, so everyone had been stacked. Holster collapsed on his bed best he could and sighed deeply.
“Bed feels good,” he said. He was physically tired but his mind was jittery, and he knew he’d have to do something if he had any hope of sleeping.
Ransom hummed an agreement, slouched down in the desk chair.
“What’s on the schedule for tonight?”
“We didn’t decide, but bro, I’m not up for much.”
“Netflix?” Holster knew it wasn’t Ransom’s favourite thing, and normally he’d be all over doing something they both liked but effort.
“Netflix,” Ransom agreed.
Holster sat up, dragging his laptop with him. Rans came and sat next to him.
Ransom groaned but didn’t object. Holster knew he loved it really. He set up the series and played it.
Rans was close enough that Holster could feel how warm he was. Rans was always warm; like a furnace. Holster shivered a little, the contrast between the heat of Ransom on one side and the cool fall air on the other giving him gooseflesh.
“You cold?” Rans asked, moving. He knelt on the bed, and pulled the blanket off his own bed. He fussed and arranged it until they were both covered.
“Thanks,” Holster said, quietly.
“Got to treat my bro right,” Rans said, nudging him. “‘Sides, Jack will kill us if we get a cold.”
It almost reminded Holster of sleepovers as a child, huddling under the blankets watching the scariest film his ten year old self could imagine (The Exorcist). But that had been exciting and illicit and cool. This was warm and comfortable, but not as boring as that sounded.
Ransom walked through the door to the living room, looking like shit warmed up. Holster looked up as Ransom shuffled forward. He paused CoD and dropped the controller onto the sofa.
“Bro,” he said.
Ransom almost crawled over to the sofa, collapsed onto it, and dropped his head onto Holster’s shoulder.
“Bombed,” Ransom said softly.
“You’ll be fine,” Holster said. He lifted his hand and rubbed his knuckles gently along the short shaved section of Ransom’s hair. Ransom made a small noise of distress and shoved his head closer to Holster.
Holster just stayed there, moving his hand back and forth slowly. He’d not really seen Random bomb - his usual post-test routine was to sleep for somewhere between 8 and 16 hours, drink more coffee than is safe for most humans, and then he’s back to normal. This Ransom, this quiet, clingy Ransom isn’t one he’d seen before. He only hoped he was being helpful, just letting Ransom do whatever he needed.
Eventually Ransom pulled back, scrubbing a hand over his face.
“Hey,” Holster said, softly. Ransom shook his head.
“M’okay,” Rans said, looking a bit more like himself. “Just didn’t revise some stuff that came up.”
“That sucks,” Holster said. Rans shrugged.
“I think I did okay enough to pass but not as good as I was hoping.”
“You’ve got assignments to pull up your overall, right?”
Ransom nodded. “Just gonna be tough with the roadies.”
“You’ll have hours on the bus to study,” Holster pointed out. “Just tell Jack and he’ll probably stand guard over you; you know he won’t want hockey getting in the way of school.”
Ransom nodded again, but didn’t look convinced. Holster did the only course of action left open. He threw a controller at Ransom.
“Call of Duty. I think I saw the lacrosse assholes online. Lets shoot them in the face.”
“So good to me, bro,” Rans said, pulling Holster into a hug.
“Any time, man,” Holster said softly, close to Ransom’s ear.
Bitty was in the kitchen, obviously. This time Jack was there, either helping or hindering, Holster wasn’t sure which. He took a seat at the far end of the table to watch. Bitty pushed a bowl of chocolate chunks at him.
“Leftovers,” he said, inclining his head.
“Thanks, dude,” Holster said, taking a piece.
“Not too many,” Jack said sternly. Holster hid a smile as Bitty rolled his eyes behind Jack.
“Yes, cap.” Holster took one more piece then pushed the bowl back towards Bitty. “What’re you making?”
“Pie for our Women, Food, & American Culture class. Final project is a historically accurate recipe.”
“Cool,” Holster said. “How’s it going?”
“Pastry,” Jack said helplessly.
“You’ll be fine.” Bitty replied, looking over to where Jack was trying to pick up the pastry that had stuck to the table. “Come here.”
Holster hadn’t seen Jack this brand of uncomfortable before, and paired with Bitty being in his element it was just hilarious.
“Maybe you should wake Jack up at 6am for rolling practice.”
“Followed by an hour on blind baking,” Bitty replied.
“You two aren’t funny.”
“I beg to disagree,” Holster said as Bitty flicked a piece or pastry at Jack.
“How’s Ransom?” Jack asked, blatantly changing the subject. “He has a heavy workload this semester?”
Holster shrugged. “I don’t really see him during the week. We’ve had to book in bro time.”
Jack raised an eyebrow.
“It was Bitty’s idea; that we should plan our hang out time, given we have about four hours free at the same time during the week. Then Ransom just went all out with it. We have a trello for hang out time.”
Bitty burst into laughter, bent over slightly.
“A trello board? How many lists are there? Wait wait, it’s Rans. Five?”
“About that,” Holster admitted.
“Wow, most couples aren’t that organised.” Jack dumped flour on the table, and put the ball of pastry Bitty had recused on the table. He picked up the rolling pin and squared his shoulders.
“You roll that pastry,” Holster said. Jack’s head whipped up and he frowned. “Sorry, sorry,” he said.
“So is it working? The schedule?” Bitty asked.
“It is.” Holster paused. He watched Bitty watch Jack rolling the pastry, and how focused Jack was on baking and realised who exactly Bitty had been missing.
There was a rare moment of most of the team being in the Haus at the same time when Shitty barged into the kitchen.
“END OF TERM KEGSTER WHAAAAT!” Shitty yelled, dumping a fuckton of dixie cups on the kitchen table.
“Finals got to you, huh?” Jack asked, scooping up some of the cups before they hit the floor.
“FUCK YOU ZIMMERMAN AND PREPARE TO SEE FROGS GET WASTED NEXT WEEKEND.”
“Alcohol inventory!” Rans said, and dragged Holster down to the basement.
“GOOD MEN,” Shitty declared.
“Stop shouting,” Jack said, and Holster heard Bitty sigh before they got completely out of the kitchen.
“Poor Shitty,” Rans said.
“Poor Bitty,” Holster replied.
“I’m pretty sure we maybe have some Bud left?” Holster said, trying to remember tidying up through a hangover the day after the last kegster.
“Ugh,” Rans replied. “Who brought that?”
“I don’t even know. I think it was brought by a non-Haus member.”
“Obviously.” Rans frowned. “Maybe Shitty can make tub juice with it?”
Holster shrugged. “Do we actually know what’s in it?”
“Shitty does,” Rans said solemnly. “And when he leaves the Huas, he will pass the recipe down to a trusted guardian of Haus traditions.”
Holster placed a hand to his chest. “Bro, you are a shoo-in for that.”
Ranson shook his head. “I’m betting on Bitty. He’s responsible and shit.”
“Possibly too responsible.” Holster opened the cooler and checked inside. “Yeah just Bud, we’ll have to do a run.”
“I’ll make a list.” Rans was already typing away on his phone.
Holster closed the cooler and stood up. He looked at Ransom and said “If the kegster is gonna be next weekend, we’ll have to rearrange our standing bro-date.”
Rans looked up. “Oh,” he said. “We could just go earlier? Or another day? I like them, man, I don’t want to miss out.”
Holster smiled, feeling stupidly relieved that Ransom hadn’t shrugged off their plans.
“Me too, man.” Holster pulled up his calendar. “Gonna be tight though.”
“Oh shit, wait, my Tuesday morning is free.” Rans waved his phone triumphantly. “What can we do on a Tuesday morning? Breakfast?”
“Lardo swears by that indie waffle place by the Art building.”
“Swawesome, let’s do that. Okay. So, booze. Vodka; want to get tequila? I hate it but I think someone likes it on the team? Johnson?”
“Wicks,” Holster said.
“Yes,” Ransom said, typing away. “Beer that doesn’t taste awful; mixers; maybe some bourbon?”
“We’ll ask the others what they want.”
Rans held out a hand for a fistbump. Holster didn’t even have to look.
The night of the kegster, Holster was ready. He was going to take Lardo down at beer pong.
“You are not,” Rans said, laughing. “But it’s good to have aspirations, man. Reach for the stars.”
“Fuck you,” Holster said. “Hey, you know that the ladies running team are here tonight?”
“I heard a rumor,” Rans said, slyly. “Wingman?”
“Like you have to ask, bro, like you have to even ask.”
They fistbumped, and continued getting ready. Getting ready consisted of putting on a shirt, and making sure they had ample protections in place to stop people getting up to their room.
“Bitty’s taping up the stairs again so should be okay with just the cordon again.”
Rans nodded. “Agreed.”
Room secured, they were ready for the kegster. They made their way downstairs, following the music. Beyonce was belting out about being crazy in love, so Bitty must have got to spotify first.
The ladies running team were one of the first groups to show up, bringing some leftover spirits from their house.
“We need to use it before we leave,” one of them said, shrugging.
“Swawesome,” Holster replied. “Happy to help.”
Holster and Rans helped them get the bottles on to the booze table, then made a show of pouring drinks. Rans recognised one of the team from one of his classes, and so they soon hit it off. Rans needed no help from him, as far as Holster could see, and so he turned to look at the rest of the group. They were all pretty, and laughing, one of them definitely interested in Holster.
Holster just...wasn’t feeling it. Which was weird. He definitely wanted to get lucky before the kegster started but now? He turned to find Lardo, maybe they could kick off beer pong early?
Lardo wasn’t drunk enough for beer pong yet. “Go bother Rans, I’m trying to get Shitty to tell me how he makes tub juice.”
“That secret is not passed down until my last day, Lardo!” Shitty waved his drink emphatically at her. Holster backed out of the splash zone and went back into the main room. Rans was talking to Johnson when Holster walked in. Or, Johnson was talking at Rans. He escaped the conversation gratefully when he saw Holster/
“Dude, where did you go?”
“Dude, I didn’t want to cramp your style, looked like you were in.”
Rans shrugged. “Alise is great, but we’re friends, man. Don’t screw the crew.”
Holster sniggered. “Who the fuck - is that a Shitty-ism?”
“Shitty would never. It’s an Oluransi original.”
“Say that three times fast,” Holster said. “Man, that sucks, but I see why you’re hesitant. Want to see if we can find someone else?”
Rans shrugged. “I’m alright, man. Don’t want to miss Lardo kicking your ass at pong.”
“Psh,” Holster scoffed. “Tonight is my night, I can feel it.”
Rans didn’t laugh. He was a good bro.
“Bro, I did warn you,” Rans said - or slurred. Holster sighed and leaned into Rans a bit. He was just starting to get lightheaded or dizzy, he wasn’t sure, really. He liked this bit of being drunk. The buzz, just enough social lubrication, but little chance of it being messy the next morning.
“I’m gonna go get some water.” Balance was the key if her was gonna stay this level of buzzed all night.
“Good idea, man,” Rans said.
Holster got to his feet and shuffled through the crowd to the kitchen.
“Hey.” Lardo appeared behind him, like some kind of tiny ninja.
“Oh, hey Lardo. Congrats on the win, pong champion.”
Lardo just grinned. “You were almost a worthy opponent, little one.”
Holster laughed helplessly, until tears streamed from his eyes
“It’s not that funny,” Lardo said. “What were you doing anyway?”
Holster took some deep breaths, and picked up a cup.
“Water,” he gasped, getting his breath under control.
“Sounds like a plan. Gonna get some for Shitty as well. I think he’s found some absinthe.”
“Too good for him,” Holster said, filling a second glass. Lardo was quiet, and Holster looked at her when he’d finished filling the cup. She was looking at him, and Holster was either too drunk or not drunk enough to decipher the look.
“I’m glad you and Rans are putting effort into your friendship,” she said, and Holster wondered just how drunk she was. “Like, you’re so good for each other? And you’ve just - rolled with whatever school threw at you-” Lardo’s voice wasn’t choked exactly, but it was full of emotion and Holster had never seen her like this before. She was normally a happy, hyper drunk.
“It doesn’t feel like effort,” Holster replied, which, if anything made Lardo more emotional. She wrapped her arms around his torso in a short, fierce hug.
“Ow,” Holster said.
Lardo wiped a hand over her face and poured a cup of water. Holster picked up the two cups and walked out of the kitchen.
He walked through the living room door.
“Yo, Rans, you know what-” he stopped as he looked over to Rans who had been joined on the couch by a dude. Like, an interested dude. And Rans...wasn’t saying no, exactly. The other dude had his hand on Rans’ thigh. Holster walked over to the sofa, not sure why he felt the need to interrupt this scene.
“Hey, I got your water.”
Rans and the dude looked up at him.
“Thanks, man,” Rans said, taking the water.
“I should go, sorry,” Holster said, shaking himself. What sort of wingman was he even being?
“Nah, man, I’ll go.” Other dude, Holster literally had no clue who he was, stood up. Holster didn’t move, or say anything. Neither did Rans.
“Sorry, bro,” Holster said, sitting down. “I would’ve left, you know?”
Rans shook his head. “It’s fine.”
“No, really, I mean - I didn’t know for sure you swung that way too, but I can wingman for dudes, I’m sure.”
“Holster,” Rans said firmly. Holster shut up.
“It’s fine, I wasn’t that interested.”
“Huh,” Holster said. “I might tap out early.”
“You okay, bro? You’re not gonna be weird, right?”
“No! Not at all. I’m just tired, and Lardo was weird in the kitchen, so, I dunno, I’m not feeling it?” Holster was not gonna be weird about Rans, but coupled with Lardo being whatever that was in the kitchen and his lightheaded spinny-ness he was done.
“You got the spins?”
“I’ll walk you up,” Rans said, draining his cup.
“You don’t have to,” Holster said, dropping his empty cup onto a side table.
Rans just stood up, holding out a hand. Holster took it and stood up, managing not to stumble. They maneuvered through the crowd and ducked under Bitty’s cordon.
Upstairs was cool, and Holster sighed in relief.
“Emotional,” Holster said, frowning. “She - I said she was too good for Shitty-”
“Truth,” Ransom added.
“I know, right? Anyway, I said that, and then she said - she was glad we were putting the effort into our relationship?”
“It’s no effort.”
“I said the same!” Holster said, probably too loudly. “Like, even with this extra bro-time admin, its not an effort, right? And she - hugged me, but like, painfully, and I dunno. It was weird.”
Rans nodded. They climbed up the last flight of stairs to their room and Holster flopped onto his bed. He felt the mattress dip as Rans sat down. Holster lifted a hand and reached for Rans. He grabbed Ran’s arm and pulled him to lie awkwardly next to him.
“What?” Rans dropped down half on top of Holster, and Rans huffed and wriggled until they were next to each other.
“Listen, I’m not gonna be weird about you being - about the guy thing,” Holster said. “I was just surprised.”
Rans shifted and Holster was pretty sure it was a shrug. “I don’t find a dude I’m attracted to often.”
“How about that dude? Tonight?”
Another shrug. “He was okay.”
Holster nodded. “I can totally wingman for dudes.”
Rans laughed. “You’re the best, man.”
Holster rolled onto his side. Rans did too, so they were facing each other. Holster wa feeling a little shaky and he was pretty sure it was only partly alcohol to blame.
“Rans,” He said.
“Holster,” Rans replied.
Holster shifted forward and kissed him. It wasn’t a good kiss, Holster was the least smooth he’d ever been, and there was funky beer breath and he half missed.
Rans made a noise and pulled back.
“Holster?” He sat up, and Holster pulled himself up into a sitting position as well, heart racing.
“Bro - I,” Holster’s mouth had stopped working entirely, and his brain was sluggish. “Okay, wait.”
“I wondered what your response to finding out I like dudes occasionally,” Rans said, “but this was not a response I imagined.”
Holster shook his head. “It wasn’t solely a response to that,” he said. “I mean, obviously it was, but only because I realised that, well.” He could hear Shitty’s rant about non-heterosexuality in sport and the default assumption that gay men want all the dudes in the locker room. “I’m not kissing you because I assumed you’re into me because I’m a dude.”
“Okay, good to know,” Rans said. “I’m too drunk for this, and really tired. Can we raincheck this until the morning?”
“We’ll be hungover,” Holster pointed out.
“We’ll go out for coffee, and chat away from the haus.”
Holster was tempted by the idea of a do-over of this whole evening, but especially this conversation.
The next morning was awkward, because obviously. Holster wanted to curl up in a ball of shame at the way he’d acted. He owed Rans all the coffee. The hangover was a thankfully quiet presence, but Holster still felt a bit like death. Ransom was tight faced and kept his distance a bit, and Holster wasn’t sure what to do with that.
They snuck out early without being noticed and huddled over a pot of coffee and bacon and eggs in the nearest diner.
“Okay, so,” Holster started once the waitress had left them to eat. “I meant basically everything last night. The kiss, the awkward explanation, all of it.” Rans paused then took a bite of food.
“I know this is sudden,” Holster paused. He’d not really thought too much about him and Rans in this context, but he had thought about it. “And the timing is suspect, but last night - the dude - was more a catalyst than a cause.”
Rans nodded. “Bro, are you telling me you’ve been crushing on me?”
Holster covered his face with a hand. “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it - us, I mean.”
Rans was silent. Holster wasn’t even dying at this point, he was in some kind of purgatory.
“Listen, I get it, we can be bros, last night can be scrubbed from the record, I’ll never even mention it again.” The one thing Holster was pretty sure of was their friendship could survive his fuckup.
“I’m not sure I want to,” Rans said, softly. “Bro, as crews go, you’re the closest. This isn’t something we can just do.”
Holster bit back a smile. He knew that it was an inappropriate response but the words ‘I’m not sure I want to’ were pretty great to hear.
“I’m serious! It’s not just us, man. If we fuck up, the team will suffer, the haus will suffer.”
“We are professionals, and I think our friendship is strong enough to call it quits before we fuck up everything.
Rans still didn’t look convinced. Holster, appetite suddenly back with a vengeance ate a rasher of bacon.
“Okay, suggestion. Our next bro time is a date, a proper one. Shirt, shoes, everything. We see how it works. We go from there.”
“Okay, fine.” Rans said, finally.
It took a lot for Holster to hold back. He got why Rans was nervous, and that they did need to be sure but there is only so much that one guy can take. Their next date two days away and that felt like forever.
That night, after lights out, Holster slid a hand into his shorts, biting his lip. He let himself think about it, him and Rans. His experience was - limited. A few furtive handjobs at parties but nothing more. Holster sighed as he thumbed at the head of his dick and -
Rans dropped down to the floor next to him.
“Dude!” He said. Holster froze, hand fairly obviously down his shirts under the cover. Rans shook his head. “You can’t expect me to deal with this.”
“Wha-” Holster’s brain finally came back online but he barely had chance to get a word out before Rans slid into the bed next to him. Holster shifted his hand finally and moved to make room.
Rans kissed him. Holster cupped a hand around the back of Rans’ neck and deepened the kiss, pretty much instinctively at this point.
Rans made that noise, the one he made when something made sense or Holster made him food while he was studying and Holster groaned.
“I wasn’t doing it on purpose, but I’m not sorry,” Holster said when they parted.
“Asshole,” Rans said, pushing Holster down on the bed and kicking the covers off. He straddled Holster and Holster gasped.
“Okay, okay. So this is where I admit I’m not exactly experienced with dudes.” Holster was more than willing to learn though.
“You have a dick, man, it’ll be fine. Let me know if you need me to slow down but handjob?”
“Christ, did you plan this?” Holster asked. Rans didn’t reply, but pulled at Holster’s t shirt until he sat up a bit to pull it off.
Getting naked in a single bed was awkward, especially bunk beds. Rans almost brained himself getting up to let Holster pull his shorts off.
They managed it though, because they were swawesome, and Rans straddled Holster again. Holster swallowed and put his hands on Rans’ thighs. Holster’s dick was hard and
“Are you sure?” He asked. He really hadn’t planned on teasing Rans, but he he was pretty happy with the current situation.
“I’m sure,” Rans said, moving his hips so their dicks were flush against each other and grinding.
“Ah, fuck,” Holster gasped, pushing his hips up to meet Rans. Rans grinned and leaned down to kiss him.
They broke apart and Holster reached out to touch Rans’ dick, palming the head. Rans dropped his head and grunted. This Holster could do.
“Wait, here.” Holster removed his hand and watched Rans maneuver them and then wrap his hand around both their dicks.
“Oh,” Holster said. Rans’ had wasn’t big enough to fully fit around them both, but it was enough.
Rans moved confidently, and Holster couldn’t decide whether to watch Rans’ face, or his hand moving on their dicks, squeezing just right, and oh fuck, Holster was gonna come. He reached out and rubbed a thumb over the head of Ran’s dick, where it was leaking precum.
Rans let out a choked off noise that Holster was familiar with and came, shuddering.
“Fuck,” Holster said again, pushing his hips up and coming.
They panted for a moment, not moving. Then Rans shifted, moving off Holster whilst also trying to not get come everywhere. Holster huffed a laugh.
“Dude, half of this is yours and I will wipe it off on you.”
Holster leaned over and picked up a pair of shorts.
“Here,” he said.
“Are these mine?” Rans frowned at them.
“I’ll wash them, jeez. I didn’t realise you were such a diva after sex.” Holster was pretty sure chirping was not the best post-coital activity but he probably couldn’t stop if he wanted to.
Well now you know. Next time, rose petals and candles. I’ll write you a rider,” Rans said as he lay down, head on Holster’s shoulder. Holster wrapped an arm around him, closing his eyes.
“Hey,” Rans said softly, just as Holster was drifting off.
“Hmm?” Holster opened his eyes and looked at Rans who was resting on his arm, looking down at him.
“Was that - I mean - I didn’t really give you a choice.”
“It was good for me, too,” Holster said. Rans rolled his eyes. “Really, it was great.”
“Good,” Rans said.
“C’mere,” Holster said, pulling Rans down into another kiss.
End of season was coming up, so their bro time was even slimmer. Their first date date had been a success, with Rans admitting that, all in all, they worked and he was willing to make a ‘don’t screw the crew’ exception for Holster.
“I am way more than crew, bro.” Rans had just looked fondly at him and Holster forgot how to speak for a moment.
The next month they had roadies: hours on the bus without any privacy, but they also had nights in hotels where they didn’t have to worry too much about noise. They hadn’t officially told the team yet, neither of them really sure how or when to tell them.
Holster gratefully collapsed onto the seat of the bus, preparing to start the journey home. He couldn’t wait to get back to the Haus. Rans said next to him, giving his thigh a quick squeeze. Holster grinned.
The rest of the team piled onto the bus, and Rans moved his hand but still stayed sitting close to him.
Holster booted up his laptop. He planned to do work but all he wanted to do was sort out their next date. He opened their trello to see what was next. He then noticed that Rans had quietly updated the title of the board to ‘Rans and Holtzy date nights’.
“Dude,” he said softly, getting Ran’s attention.
“Hm?” Rans said, looking up. Holster turned his laptop so Rans could see the screen and pointed to the new title. Rans shrugged and bit back a smile.
“Felt weird to not call them dates,” he said.
Holster grinned. “I could kiss you right now,” he whispered. He supposed there would be worse ways to tell the team.
Rans hesitated. “Maybe you should. If you wanted, I mean.”
Holster could feel himself gaping.
“Kiss me,” Rans said. Holster almost left his seat in his rush to pull Rans closer.
“I love you,” Holster whispered, and kissed Rans.
Holster wasn’t sure who noticed first, but it was definitely Shitty who cheered. They broke apart but Rans just rested his forehead again Holster’s.
“Our teammates are assholes.”
“They need to get their kicks somewhere, god knows they’re not getting any.”
Rans laughed, but stayed close and Holster really liked making Rans laugh when he was this close.
“I love you too,” he whispered, and gave Holster a swift kiss before pulling back and turning to face their teammates.