Chapter 1: Ryan and Shane.
It was Steven's idea. Of course it was. Steven was just like that, you know? He just ran up to their desks like a little ball of sunshine and went -
"I have an idea."
Shane and Ryan looked up from where they were in the midst of an arm-wrestling contest between them. Ryan was certain he'd win - his arms were quite impressive - but Shane was really giving him a run for his money this time around.
The BuzzFeed office teemed with life around them - people editing, chatting, eating, fucking around. Zach and Keith were playing catch with crumpled paper across eight different rows of desks, Quinta had a small crowd of people entranced by some crazy story she was telling, Eugene and Ashly were going head-to-head against Ben and Garrett over something or other, and Ryan couldn't even tell what was going on over near the kitchen. Needless to say, it was easy to get side-tracked in an office like theirs.
"What's the idea?" Shane asked, not ceasing his grip on Ryan's hand as he pushed against it. He wasn't about to let a little (well, not-so little, height-wise) distraction like Steven Lim get in the way of his victory over Ryan. Ryan, on the other hand, was really bringing his A-game and obviously knew it. He'd went into this challenge as confident as ever, fully aware that he could beat Shane Madej. Shane knew this too, but he was nothing if not stubborn, and initiated the challenge anyways. He liked to think it was a testimony to their friendship of how Ryan humored him every single time.
Shane liked to think that Ryan always agreed to Shane's arm-wrestle propositions because he liked the feeling of beating Shane. Over and over again.
"Can it wait, Steven?" Ryan gritted out, dismayed to note that Shane had actually improved since the last time they'd done this. "Shane's stepping up his game, which means I need to try harder now." Ryan missed the days where Shane's hand would be against the table in mere seconds. This match had been going on for at least a minute, now.
In reality, Ryan really liked to see if Shane would ever get better. Not that he thought that Shane could ever beat him, persay, because he was Ryan Bergara. He had, like, the best arms in the office, probably. Ryan just wanted Shane to keep pushing himself to beat him - they were both unbelievably stubborn, after all. It looked like it was working.
"It can't, because I think you're gonna love this idea," Steven continued, undeterred. Ryan could admit that that was something he admired about Steven. It was hard to forget that balls of sunshine were insistently bright.
Shane watched in amusement as Ryan rolled his eyes before smashing Shane's hand onto the table in the blink of an eye.
"Ow," he said mildly, raising a brow at the shorter man. "What the hell was that? I thought I was tiring you out."
"You weren't," Ryan replied matter-of-factly, wiping his sweaty palm against his jeans. Sure, Shane had proven to be an almost-worthy competitor this time around, but that had nothing to do with the fact that Ryan had been holding back just a little. In his defense, he'd wanted to see how long Shane could last that time. "Anyways, Steven," Ryan continued, finally turning to acknowledge the silver-haired man (although it was really sort of fading into a metallic pink-ish by now), "you were saying?"
This was clearly the moment he'd been waiting for. Steven splayed his hands out before him, holding them for a moment for dramatic effect. To Ryan and Shane, it really had none of the sort. Especially since Steven was visibly bouncing on his feet in excitement.
"Worth It. Unsolved. Put 'em together and get - uhhh, Wunsolved It." He wiped his hand across the air, staring at his imaginary sign in awe.
"Wunsolved It," Shane deadpanned, craning his neck to look over at Steven, who was situated behind his chair.
"You know what I mean," Steven retorted, waving a hand in dismissal. "So? How's about it?"
"You want a crossover?" Ryan asked skeptically, brows furrowing in contemplation. "How would that even go?" Would the four of them have to go eat food somewhereÉ Not that Ryan or Shane were opposed to food in the slightest, but did people really find that idea entertaining?
"Well, first of all, it isn't just me who wants it," Steven retorted, holding up a finger. "Both my fans and yours have been begging for it every day. All I need to know is if you're in," Steven explained patiently, still beaming at the two of them like the sunshiny ball he was.
Shane looked at Ryan.
Ryan looked at Shane.
They knew each other well enough that it was hardly even a question, at this point.
"We're in," Ryan decided, grinning.
"Perfect!" Steven exclaimed delightedly, clapping his hands together in that little Steven way of his. Shane admired his enthusiasm for everything he did. It was infectious. Steven Lim's sunny disposition was indubitably contagious. "I'll go tell Andrew. You guys are gonna love this," Steven assured them over his shoulder before disappearing around the corner and out of sight.
"I'd love it even more if I knew exactly what this entailed," Ryan muttered, rolling his eyes as he wheeled his chair back towards his desk.
"Has Steven ever proposed a bad idea?" Shane mused, looking over at Ryan in amusement. "He took you to get some pretty cool shoes, as far as I'm concerned."
"They were cool," Ryan conceded, remembering his sweet Oreo Jordans, "but he had no clue what was going on. The video's premise was basically me helping him search for shoes to buy."
"Tomato tomato," Shane dismissed, waving an arm in carelessness and nearly missing his monitor. There were two things opened up on his computer - clips for an upcoming episode of Supernatural season three of Unsolved, and a document containing the new addition to the hot dog saga, much to Ryan's eternal chagrin.
Sitting beside Ryan was something so comfortable and familiar to Shane - they'd been sitting beside each other since they'd first started at BuzzFeed as interns, and they'd been sitting together ever since. Ryan had asked Shane to be in one of his very first independent BuzzFeed videos, an honour that Shane still held close to his heart. He and Ryan had been on Test Friends together, and now Unsolved, and really, Ryan was familiar to Shane. He'd feel weird if he ever had to sit by anybody else.
How odd it was that their friendship was measured through the proximity of their desks being beside each other. But Shane really wouldn't have it any other way. Sure, he could be seated beside Keith - a good pal of his - or Jen or even Steven, but Shane figured he wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as sitting beside Ryan.
What if Shane had been a Try Guy? Or What if Steven had asked Shane to co-host Worth It with him? It was kind of weird to think about, not doing videos with Ryan.
Ryan watched Shane contemplate something or other - he never knew what it was that Shane thought about whenever he got that look on his face. After years of sitting beside Shane, he'd learned a few things about the oddity that he called his best friend. Like, Shane wouldn't sit down unless he draped whatever jacket he was wearing over the back of his chair first. Or, he'd always take a pen from Ryan without asking, but would make sure to return it without Ryan having to ask. Or, he tapped his foot to certain tunes whenever he was feeling particularly productive on whatever he was working on. (Ryan pretended it was annoying, but it made him feel kind of happy for Shane - the taller man was always in a better mood after a productive day.)
But most-specifically, Shane got a certain look on his face sometimes that Ryan could never, ever discern, no matter how long they'd been desk-buddies for. Shane would be typing or editing or what have you, then all of a sudden his eyes would get kind of glassy and he'd ... just ... look, for a while. It ranged from a few moments to a few minutes.
It always made Ryan curious, if not a little helpless, because he didn't know what to do. For the most part, the most Ryan could gather was that Shane looked contemplative. And puzzled. Like he was constantly trying to figure something out, but could never get the answer.
Ryan found it odd, because Shane always seemed to have everything figured out. Everything from how he liked his popcorn to how to shut down all of Ryan's arguments about ghosts. Everything from how he liked his desk organized to how to make Ryan laugh with a single word.
But Ryan had more pressing puzzles to solve for the moment.
"What do you think he has up his sleeve?" Ryan asked, arms crossed, drumming his fingers along his biceps.
"Something fun, if Worth It's gonna be involved," Shane replied, and Ryan laughed.
"I think it'd be fun to visit 'three haunted houses at three drastically different price points,'" he said in his best Steven Lim impression. His best … Limpression, if you will.
"That's not a bad idea," Shane considered, nodding his head. "Knowing you, you'll get spooked even at the one with the lowest price point."
"Shut up, Shane."
"I think a crossover's a good idea," Ned piped up from somewhere behind Ryan. Or maybe to his right. The Try Guys’ desks were all situated in a corner, right next to Ryan and Shane's. Ryan beside Shane, and Shane beside Ned.
"You already had your fun," Ryan chastised, waving Ned away. "You guys practically begged us to add a little of our flair to your show."
Of course, Ryan couldn't talk. He'd been more than a little eager to agree to their request - the Try Guys were definitely the most-known BuzzFeed series, so what if Ryan had jumped at the chance for a little promo to their audience? And sure, his and Shane's audience would've gotten a kick out of it, too.
"Zach and Keith did!" the married man protested, rolling his eyes. "Eugene and I didn't get to be a part of it."
"It's not our fault you decided to Glamp It Up that weekend," Shane retorted, poking Ned's arm playfully. Ned was a funny kind of guy, Shane always thought. The two of them always seemed to get along really well, although the rarely interacted in videos. Maybe because Shane always, always asked Ned about his wife. Ned gave brownie points to anyone who mentioned his wife before he did.
"How was I supposed to know you guys would guest-star on our show?" Ned complained, turning back towards his desk, pouting as he effectively ended the conversation.
Shane gave him one last poke before returning to typing.
Ryan shook his head at Ned briefly - he was an odd dude - before relaxing back against his chair. He peered over at Shane's monitor curiously and groaned, filled with instant regret. Why.
"Dude, quit adding more to the fucking hot dog story. Why isn't it over yet?"
"No." Ever-eloquent, Shane was.
"But why isn't it over yet?" Ryan insisted.
"Why didn't Harry Potter end after the Philosopher's Stone?"
"Oh for - you cannot fucking compare your stupid fifth-grade level hot dog story with Harry Potter."
"I can and I will."
"Jesus fucking -”
Ryan and Shane, who had been leaning closer and closer to each other with each quip so that their faces were nearly inches apart, simultaneously turned to look over at Steven, and now, Andrew.
"Hey again, Steven," Shane greeted at the same time Ryan said, "Hey Andrew."
Steven beamed. Andrew continued looking, well, like Andrew. But he graced them with a small nod, so that was something.
"I'm glad you guys agreed to do this," he added in that monotonous voice of his. It kind of set Ryan on edge, if he was being honest. He could never read Andrew or figure him out. Shane just smiled radiantly.
"Of course!" he exclaimed, all big goofy grin and flailing arms. "I have no idea how this is going to work, but it'll be fun!"
Steven rested his crossed arms against the back of Ryan's chair, leaning slightly. Andrew remained standing, his hands tucked into his pockets. Ryan kind of found it intimidating. Andrew was hard to figure out, in his opinion.
Shane watched Steven smiling down at Ryan with an amused expression. Steven and Ryan were always so fun to watch whenever they interacted - Ryan liked to pretend that Steven annoyed him, but anyone who met Steven was instantly enamoured with him. Shane knew that Ryan adored Steven just as much as everyone else did. It was clear in the way Ryan rolled his eyes, attempting to push the other man's arms off the back of his chair.
"I came up with the best idea, and Andrew is all for it," Steven said proudly, shooting Andrew a grin. Andrew returned an indulgent smile, and Ryan noticed that it was almost as if he couldn't help himself.
"Right, so, what's the idea?" Ryan prompted, tilting his head backwards to look up at Steven, still poking at his arms where they rested near his head. It was useless, though, as Steven didn't seem intent on moving them. And, well, at the end of the day, it wasn't the end of the world or anything. Steven could rest his arms there, and Ryan could rest his head on Steven's arms. You know, it was kind of a win-win.
"Picture this -" Steven began dramatically, but Andrew plowed through, straight to the point.
"Co-host switching. I get Ryan, Steven gets Shane. One pair ghost hunts, the other pair eats."
Steven immediately protested, turning to look reprovingly at Andrew, but the blond merely gave an even look in reply.
Ryan and Shane exchanged a glance.
Shane saw the flicker of excitement in Ryan's eyes, the raise of his eyebrows that indicated that he was intrigued. Shane liked to think that he knew Ryan fairly well at this point, and he knew exactly what Ryan was going to say before he even said it.
"I'm all for it," Ryan confessed, shooting Shane a grin. "Unless you aren't."
In all honesty, it was a good idea - Ryan had already been on Worth It, so it only made sense that he and Andrew could ghost hunt. He'd never really interacted with Andrew as often as he did with his other coworkers. It would be fun. Besides, he'd never gone ghost hunting without Shane. The feeling of it would be ... odd. Different, definitely. Ryan had no clue what Andrew thought about spooky stuff whatsoever. Was he a believer like Ryan? A skeptic like Shane? Did he scare easy, or was that impassive face of his just a perpetual thing no matter the situation? It was kind of a funny thought, picturing Andrew's blank face as he stared unimpressed at everything around him. Would they share banter like him and Shane? Would he deny all the evidence Ryan found?
The possibilities were endless. Ryan was eager to find out.
Shane gauged the situation - glancing from Ryan's encouraging smile, to Steven's eager face, to Andrew's ... Andrew. It wasn't that he was against the idea, because he and Steven were great friends, and co-host switching was genius in itself, but ...
He didn't like the thought of Ryan ghost hunting alone. No, not alone - without him. Andrew wouldn't know how to comfort Ryan, how to protect him, how to act. Not like Shane knew. Andrew was stoic and emotionless, as far as Shane was concerned. Who's to say he wouldn't just leave Ryan to fend for himself? What if Ryan got hurt, or what if Ryan got so terrified that he needed somebody? What would Andrew do, then? Just leave him?
Okay, no. Andrew wasn't heartless. Not in the slightest. But Andrew had also never really interacted with Ryan properly before, Andrew didn't know Ryan like Shane did.
Steven was easy. He and Shane and Ryan were all close friends, but Andrew ... was different, in a way. Andrew was best friends with Steven, and sure, he and Shane were fairly close, but in the grand scheme of things, he wasn't so ingrained in their circle. He was more on the outer circle - hanging out with them occasionally and such, but not actively spending time with them. And Ryan had never really made an effort to get closer to Andrew, anyways, and vice-versa.
Shane just didn't like the idea of Ryan being left alone in a weird, decrepit building with Andrew, that was all. Because Ryan was his best friend and he cared for his well-being, and Andrew didn't know how to handle Ryan. Ryan and Steven were different - Andrew's tricks with Steven wouldn't fly with Ryan.
Shane was just concerned. For Ryan. That was all.
Ryan frowned a little at Shane's hesitation, the slight reluctance obvious on the taller man's face. He'd thought that Shane would've been all for the idea. Ryan liked to think that he knew Shane better than almost anyone, and he had no clue what would cause the other man to be so hesitant.
It was fun. The whole premise of the idea sounded awesome, as much as Ryan hated to admit due to it being Steven's idea. But, as Shane had mentioned before, Steven never really proposed bad ideas anyways. Shane'd hate to disappoint Steven, and disappoint the fans, just as much as Ryan would. And Shane, as much as Ryan, would hate to miss out on something this cool. And besides, Shane was always up for weird, out-of-the-ordinary things, things that spiced up routine, things that made life more interesting. So, like, what was the deal here?
"Shane? How's about it?" he prompted, poking Shane's arm for good measure.
Shane glanced up at Ryan - at his small, hopeful smile and sparkling-but-questioning eyes - and knew it wasn't even a question.
Chapter 2: Andrew and Steven.
delay in posting? what delay?
Steven swung his legs underneath his chair in the canteen with little success, considering how long his legs were. Andrew regarded him with fond amusement.
"What're you doing?" Andrew asked, raising a brow at his best friend. "You do realize you're too tall to be doing that, right?"
Steven shrugged in reply, legs continuing to swing.
Andrew rolled his eyes. Steven had been "thinking" for the past ten minutes, and Andrew missed his talkativeness. Often times, it was the only thing that got him through the day. Andrew kind of lived for Steven's enthusiasm.
Steven let the silence go on for another moment or two before turning to face the dark blond man completely.
"Where should I take Shane?"
Andrew blinked at the sudden question.
"Uh, do an episode on iced milk."
Steven laughed, shaking his head. Andrew marveled at the sound.
"I mean, Shane would love that," Steven conceded, giggling a little at the thought of going around drinking iced milk all day with Shane. Personally, he was pretty neutral on the whole debate. Milk was cold, and ice made it colder. There really wasn't anything else to it.
"Waffles," Andrew suggested after a beat or two. "Shane loves waffles better than pancakes."
"How'd you know that?" Steven asked. It sounded pretty accusatory to Andrew, but in reality it was probably just a normal question.
"Ryan mentioned it once in a Q&A," Andrew replied nonchalantly, but Steven positively beamed.
"Andrew, do you watch Unsolved?" Steven asked delightedly, nudging his friend with his shoulder.
"Maybe sometimes," Andrew conceded, shrugging. He wasn't about to go into details. It was funny watching Ryan get scared.
"Are you a Shaniac or a Boogara?" Steven prompted, still nudging Andrew's shoulder with his own.
"What does it matter? You're neither," Andrew protested, nudging Steven right back. "New idea: take Shane to eat some pie."
How had he not thought of pie before? Shane was probably the best pie-tasting buddy that Steven could think of. Shane wasn't hard to please when it came to Steven, but he was pretty judgy. However, he seemed like a great guy to kick back and eat a slice of pie with. He was that type of person.
"Make a decision Steven," Andrew teased; his impassive face didn't change, although there was a small smile twitching at his lips. "Waffles or pie? It's debatable."
"Are you just gonna make stupid references or are you gonna help me?" Steven retorted, but he was smiling. He loved Andrew's dumb jokes. Especially when they were food puns. Those were always the best.
Andrew gave a proper smile, shrugging as innocently as he could. Any time he got Steven to insult his jokes was a win in Andrew's book. He had to properly celebrate the occasion.
"Maybe you should ask him if he wants to do waffles or pie."
"I wanted to make it a surprise."
"Well you're not going to get anywhere if you don't decide."
"I'll think of it soon, I swear."
"Maybe send in a question for one of their Q&A's."
"Ha, ha. Is that what you would do?"
Andrew rolled his eyes, smirking a little.
"You got me," he quipped, spreading his hands out in mock-surrender. "I'm an Unsolved mega-fan."
"Well, where's Ryan taking you?" Steven countered, turning the tables on Andrew.
Andrew got up from his seat beside Steven, stretching briefly.
"Ryan Bergara and I are going on a romantic getaway to the lovely resort of Alcatraz," he said smoothly, leaning back against the wall beside them, arms crossed.
"Sounds super romantic," Steven agreed, twisting in his chair to grin up at Andrew. "Are you excited?"
Andrew heaved a small sigh, causing his whole body to become lax.
"I mean, yeah," he conceded. "I'm really excited. I've never done something like this before, and it'd be super cool to see what goes on during Unsolved. Like, it's not gonna be scary," Andrew added with certainty. "Definitely not. But I think it'd be fun to traipse around Alcatraz for a while and pretend to hear whatever mundane noises Ryan claims are occurring."
Andrew had put quite a bit of thought into this project of theirs, especially ever since Ryan had decided on a location for them to explore. As much as Andrew was interested in true crime, he'd really wanted to go out and actually investigate some spooky places. And hanging out with Ryan wasn't a bad factor, either. They weren't close, but Ryan was pretty cool.
"You're gonna be so clueless," Steven laughed, shaking his head. "Ryan's gonna bust out some obscure ghost hunting terminology and you're gonna be lost."
"'Obscure ghost hunting terminology'?" Andrew deadpanned, glancing down at Steven from his perch above him. "What, like 'EVP', 'apparition', and 'wheeze'?"
Steven snorted, reaching over to shove Andrew and ultimately failing. He was sitting and Andrew was standing just barely out of his reach - what else did he expect? Well, it was worth a shot.
"Shush," he retaliated, turning fully to face Andrew. "I just meant that Ryan will have to be the one to carry you, because he knows what he's doing and you'll be clueless. It'll be less like BuzzFeed Unsolved and more like ... Watch Andrew Flounder."
Andrew shot Steven a withering glance.
"I like to think that I can adapt pretty easily in any situation, Steven."
"Oh, right, I forgot you're an Unsolved mega-fan," Steven snickered. "You've probably tracked down Ryan and Shane's movements to a T."
"Literally what else is there for me to do other than walk around a huge prison?" Andrew asked, exasperated. "I won't be clueless - all he and Shane do is walk around, try and talk to things, sometimes sleep over, then skedaddle. All I need to do is walk around, provoke the spirits in lieu of Shane's absence, and then leave."
Steven's eyes sparkled in interest, crossed arms resting on the back of his chair as he leaned forward.
"You guys aren't sleeping over?" he asked in surprise. "It would be awesome if you slept in a cell."
"I'm pretty sure Ryan would chicken out an hour in," Andrew griped. "Or he'd FaceTime Shane all night."
Steven pondered the idea. It was simultaneously not a Ryan thing and completely a Ryan thing to do.
"You think he'd do that?"
"I have no qualms."
The two sat in comfortable silence for a bit, unwilling to force the conversation but not-minding that it had ended anyways.
Steven was looking forward to taking Shane out to eat somewhere for Worth It. He and Shane were already extremely close, and the dynamic between them would be interesting. This was probably the best idea that Steven had ever had.
He'd miss Andrew, though. Most of the fun was doing cute stuff and having his grumpy friend deflect them. Shane'd welcome Steven's cute stuff with open arms - in fact, they'd both be goofy together.
It'd be a nice change. And in a way, Shane and Andrew were a lot alike; they were both huge dorks, for one thing - their similar sense of humor was apparent whenever they interacted with anyone. They were both snarky - Andrew monotonously and Shane more animated, but both could be scathing if they wanted to. They were both soft when it came to their respective co-hosts. Steven knew that for a fact. And they were both a little odd and unsettling but also sweet - Andrew was creepy on the outside and a sweetheart on the inside, while Shane was a sweetheart on the outside but kind of creepy on the inside. Steven hummed thoughtfully. It was a wonder those two never hung out more.
Andrew watched Steven think for a while, forever curious about what went on in that vibrant brain of his. He could never tell.
"Steven," Andrew said, nudging Steven's chair with his foot, "I can see the gears turning inside your head. Lighten up before you give yourself an aneurysm."
Steven grinned, kicking out a foot to lightly tap at Andrew's.
"You're just jealous because the gears in your head are all full of cobwebs and are rusty from misuse."
"Are you saying I don't think?"
"If the shoe fits."
"I'm not shoe-re it does."
"Oh, no -"
"Now, now, Steven. Don't e-shoe from what you've started."
"I regret it now."
"Aglet you keep complaining, since I know you don't mean it."
"Lace-t ye forget, Steven, this is all your doing."
"I hate you."
Of course, they were both grinning too much for either of them to take Steven's words seriously.
"Have you no sole?"
Steven blinked. Andrew blinked back.
"Sneaker?" Steven parroted.
"I couldn't think of a pun for the word sneaker, so I just ... said the word," Andrew replied, shrugging.
Steven's eyes sparkled and he leaned forward conspiratorially.
"So you're saying you decided to just .... sneaker in there?"
Andrew stared at Steven for a long time, expressionless except for his ever-so-slightly widened eyes.
Steven remained grinning cheekily up at Andrew while the latter dealt with an internal crisis.
Puns were, indubitably, the way to Andrew's heart. He made them often enough that he could appreciate a good one when he heard it, and Steven had just ... Well, done that. Steven had just shown that he was on the same pun-wavelength as him. Andrew shivered at the thought.
"I'm gonna have to marry you for that pun alone," he said eventually, his even voice doing well to hide the turmoil he was experiencing inside. Just when he thought he couldn't possibly like Steven Lim any more than he already did ...
"So it was good? You approved? Was it an Andrew Ilnyckyj-worthy pun?"
"It was almost at my level."
Steven snapped his fingers in mock-dejection.
"Dang. So close. I'll work harder next time."
"The key is to not have to try, it's gotta come naturally," Andrew advised, patting Steven's head. His hair was soft, save for the hairspray he used to keep it shapely. TRESemmé, was it? Andrew couldn't recall.
(That was a lie. He could recall Steven's whole hair routine if he wanted to.)
"So you're just naturally punny, then," Steven said, leaning into Andrew's touch.
Andrew's hand stiffened slightly at the action, and he quickly removed it.
"Yeah, exactly. I was born with this gift."
"Well, I'm glad you could 'present' it to me."
"You were doing so well, why'd you have to ruin all your potential?"
Steven shrugged, resting his head on Andrew's hip, and Andrew was conflicted over whether to move away or stay put.
"You're just jealous because I'm slowly getting better than you," Steven murmured, voice sleepy. Andrew could feel the vibrations of Steven's voice on his hip.
"Like in Cars, his name is Doc, right?" he continued. "The sheriff car who's jealous of McQueen?"
"I guess so," Andrew replied, standing stock-still. In true Ned Fulmer fashion, he had no clue what to do with his hands: they were just dangling there, one of them was right by Steven's head, what could he do - could he touch him? Hold his head? What the fuck was the protocol for this, anyways?
Steven yawned, his head burrowing more comfortably in his quest to use Andrew's hip as a pillow.
Andrew laid a tentative hand on Steven's head, barely resting it there.
Steven gave a hum of content, closing his eyes, and Andrew allowed himself to just look.
Steven looked at peace, and he looked so cozy and pretty - the overhead lights hit is hair just nicely so that it gleamed.
Andrew liked Steven. How could he not? Steven was hard not to fall for, if Andrew was being completely honest. It was kind of inevitable that he'd crush on a guy like Steven Lim.
Unfortunately, it was also kind of inevitable that Steven would never crush on a guy like Andrew Ilnyckyj.
Steven hummed a little as he felt Andrew's hand settle more surely in his hair - before it was hovering, but now Andrew was scratching Steven's head ever-so-gently. As if Steven were a stray cat that Andrew was petting and gaining the trust of. (And Steven had been witness to that many times.)
Steven didn't even think Andrew knew what he was doing, but he wasn't about to bring it up now lest Andrew stop.
It was a nice feeling, having Andrew's fingers card through his hair the way that they were. Peaceful. Steven was content. He was glad that the canteen was essentially empty this late in the evening, because he was certain that neither he nor Andrew would ever be able to live this down if they were seen.
They both hadn't even planned on staying so late - the two of them just always seemed to get caught up in talking to each other.
It was a blessing and a curse.
"Go home, lovebirds," Keith shouted from the doorway before disappearing as quickly as he came.
Andrew and Steven startled apart - Andrew's hand recoiling as if it had been shocked, and Steven straightening up so fast he could've gotten whiplash.
"Fuck you, Keith," Andrew called back, and the distant sound of the tall man's laughter could be heard in reply.
Steven blinked sleepily, still groggy from the brief moment of bliss he'd felt. He had been genuinely close to falling asleep right there against Andrew's hip.
But the moment was over, and it wasn't like Steven could ask for it to happen again. The fact that it had even happened was a miracle in itself.
Andrew rubbed the hand that had been in Steven's hair with his other hand, staring at it, his body stock-still. What had Keith seen? Nothing, right? Because that was nothing. That was Andrew getting lost in the moment, and ... His face had probably given everything away. It tended to do that in Worth It videos, whenever Steven wasn't looking. Luckily, the man in question never noticed. But Adam sure did.
"We should probably go home," Steven murmured, and Andrew's eyes immediately flicked from his hands towards Steven. He tried to ignore the fact that it sounded like they lived together and Steven was asking for them to go home after a long day.
"Yeah, you seem tired," Andrew said in reply, voice giving none of his inner feelings away. It was a gift, really.
"Mmm," Steven hummed in agreement, stretching his arms above his head.
Andrew definitely didn't look at the strip of stomach exposed as Steven's shirt lifted.
Steven relaxed, shaking his head to further waken himself, and flashed Andrew a small smile. He looked like a puppy, in Andrew's opinion. Like Bowie. If Steven were a dog, he would be Bowie.
Andrew told him as much.
"Bowie?" he exclaimed happily. "I love Bowie! Thank you, Andrew. That's nice of you to say, buddy!"
Steven reached forward to poke Andrew's arm, briefly admiring its firmness. Andrew was no Ryan, but he had nice arms. Steven knew this for a fact. An Andrew Fact! if you will.
Andrew Fact! - Andrew Ilnyckyj had very nice arms.
Andrew fought the urge to ruffle Steven's hair indulgently.
"No problem. You and him are both too energetic for my liking," Andrew replied, shrugging nonchalantly.
Steven beamed, standing up finally and stretching his legs. Andrew noticed. Duh. Steven was like, all legs.
"Even so, it's only you who's against it. Everyone else finds us endearing!" Steven retaliated, still beaming as he walked out of the canteen, shooting Andrew a wave goodbye.
Andrew watched him leave, giving a small wave of his own.
Steven was very endearing, and everyone did think so. Andrew included.
"Oh, by the way," Steven added, stopping just before leaving Andrew's line of sight, "I'm spending the day with Shane tomorrow to talk about things for the crossover. I'm gonna assume you either have some Tasty things to make," Steven paused a moment to giggle at his small pun, "or Ryan will steal you away, too."
Andrew suppressed an eye-roll at Steven's unoriginal pun. He didn't actually. He failed.
"I saw that," Steven exclaimed, pointing a finger at Andrew accusingly. "It was a good one!"
"Nothing will ever top the sneaker pun, Steven," Andrew told him firmly. "Tasty puns are unoriginal. And if you didn't know that, now it's some food for thought."
Steven groaned, gently tapping his head against the doorframe.
He and Andrew were practically on opposite ends of the room - Andrew still leaning on the far wall by their table, and Steven leaning against the door. If it weren't so quiet, they'd probably have to yell across at each other.
Steven wanted to close the distance, to stay a while and continue speaking to Andrew, but he knew they both had to go home. This crossover was going to be huge, and they each needed to meet with their respective partners to make it as great as it needed to be.
"Suddenly I'm not hungry," Steven quipped, rolling his eyes.
"You're always hungry for my puns," Andrew protested, crossing his arms. "Don't tell me you aren't."
"Hungry for puns?" Steven parroted incredulously. "Who even says that?"
"Me," Andrew said matter-of-factly, and Steven couldn't help but grin.
"I think you're just hungry for my attention," he teased.
Andrew tensed slightly, an action that luckily went unnoticed by Steven due to the distance between them.
"In your dreams," he scoffed, waving an arm dismissively. "Now get outta here, quit spreading lies."
Steven giggled and Andrew couldn't help but admire it. He was making it so hard for Andrew to keep telling him to leave.
"See you, Andrew!" he chirped, waving one last time before finally heading off.
Andrew slumped farther down against the wall, sighing. Steven Lim was really just going to be the death of Andrew Ilnyckyj.
Chapter 3: Steven and Ryan.
it's been 84 years ...
"Ninety-nine waffles on a stack on the wall -"
"- Ninety-nine waffs on a stack, take a waff down, pass it around, ninety-eight waffs on a stack on the wall."
Steven shrugged. "Sounds fun. Like, 'Hey, want a waff?' That's fun. And 'waffles' didn't fit with the rhythm."
Ryan raised a brow, but his small smile gave away the fact that he agreed with Steven's statement. He clapped his hands twice, short and sharp, and said in his snootiest tone, "Waff me."
Steven grinned. "See? That's what I'm talking about!"
"So we're just gonna ignore the fact that you completely butchered the song by changing up the order of the lyrics, hey?" Ryan said through a laugh. Steven only beamed in return.
Ryan and Steven were out for brunch on a fine, Saturday morning. Steven's idea. Of course. Ryan learned a long time ago that it was always best to just go along with Steven's "Get ready, we're going out" texts without question. Besides, they almost always resulted in food. What self-respecting human would ever turn down food and a friend?
"You're just jealous that I'm taking Shane out for waffles," Steven said smugly through a bite of toast. It wasn't gourmet toast, or toast plated with gold. In fact, none of this food had any gold on it, something that Ryan had teased Steven about when they first arrived.
"Steven, I'd like to file a complaint," he'd said upon looking through the menu. "None of these options include gold."
Steven had simply leveled him with a look.
"If you can afford a golden brunch, be my guest."
Ryan didn't really have anything to say to that.
"I'm not jealous, Shane and I go out for waffles all the time," Ryan retorted, back in the present. Steven was pleased to note the slight defensive tone in Ryan's voice. If there was anything Steven loved besides food, basketball, Worth It, his friends, his family, and his hair, it was teasing Ryan. Especially about Shane.
"Maybe you're jealous that I'm taking Andrew to Alcatraz," Ryan continued, taking a sip of his coffee purely for meme's sake. It was coffee, not tea, but nobody but him and Steven had to know.
"As if. Andrew and I go to weird, decrepit, haunted prisons all the time," Steven deadpanned. Ryan couldn't help but laugh - it was the laugh he often did that was a short, delighted-bit-confused burst, as if he were surprised that the sound even came out of him. It was the kind of laugh that Shane always brought out of him. Steven too, occasionally.
"You're right, how could I forget about your show, Not Worth It, where you and Andrew travel to every single terrible place in the US just to tell viewers it's not worth it."
"And I forgot about Waffsolved, the show where you and Shane investigate every single waffle place in Los Angeles to answer the question, 'Is the best waffle real?'"
"It's the content BuzzFeed deserves," Ryan said, shrugging. "Gotta know if the best waffle exists. Gotta know which US locations aren't worth it. We're doing the world a favour, here."
"I'll drink to that." Steven proceeded to raise his glass, and chugged his orange juice.
Ryan shook his head in mock-disappointment. "You didn't even clink your glass with mine. Harsh, dude. You'd think you'd be so used to doing cheers by now."
"Cheers is kind of an 'Andrew and I' thing," Steven replied easily, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. And really, Ryan supposed it kind of was.
"Of course, how could I have been so stupid," Ryan deadpanned, but it was more than a little ruined by his endeared smile. Really, it was cute that Steven had reserved cheers for just Andrew. Well, okay, Ryan knew that Steven did cheers with other people, but rarely ever. It meant something special when it was him and Andrew, and Ryan knew that.
Ryan was no stranger to sentimental things like that. It was like when he called Shane "Big Guy", or Shane called him"Little Guy"; like how "Shut up, Shane" became code for "You're an idiot, Shane Madej, but I'll be damned if you aren't my best friend. Also, shut up." Like how Shane and Ryan have been desk buddies since they were interns, like how Ryan didn't hesitate before asking Shane to be his Unsolved partner after Brent politely backed out.
Yeah, Ryan knew all about sentimentality. About having something that was just yours and someone else's.
And now, he was kind of just realizing that in a weeks' time, he'd be sharing it with Andrew Ilnyckyj. Suddenly, he didn't quite know how to feel about that.
Steven regarded Ryan inquisitively, still munching away at his food. Ryan had been awfully quiet for a minute or so.
"You get lost sometimes, you know? The world loses you every so often."
Ryan glanced over. "Sorry?"
"You go away for a bit sometimes. I think you get it from Shane, he does it a lot. Then again, so do I."
"There's just a lot to think about. I'm a busy guy with a busy brain, Steve. The ol' noggin never takes a break, I can guarantee you that much."
Steven gave an indulgent smile. "You sound like you're making a sales pitch for your brain. 'It never takes a break, never stops working, guaranteed!'"
"What can I say, Steven, my brain is easily one of the most superior ones in the world."
"If you say so."
"Well, I know so."
"If you say so."
"Don't argue with an expert, Steven."
"... If you say so, Ryan."
Steven suggested taking a walk after their meal, and though Ryan pretended to grumble and drag his feet, he was all for it. Ryan was an active guy. Steven wasn't as active, but he could appreciate a good walk around with a good pal. Ryan was the kind of person that radiated sunlight - Steven would even go so far as to say that Ryan Bergara was the sun itself. Ryan gave off the vibes of both early morning sunrises and midday heat. Ryan was like, sitting at the top of a hill and watching the sun come up and letting the golden rays of its light touch your face for the first time since the day before. But he was also like, the sun high in the sky in midday, full of energy and so unbelievably bright. It was hard to find people like Ryan in the world. Steven was glad to know him.
They didn't talk much as they walked, which was fine. They had the kind of friendship that didn't need constant talking. Sometimes they were most comfortable just being around each other. Being with Ryan was like having the world's most annoying, most coolest, most understanding brother. It was great. Ryan was great.
Ryan wasn't Andrew, though. Neither was Shane, though Shane was probably the most similar to Andrew out of him and Ryan.
Then again, Ryan was probably not too thrilled about having to be with Andrew, either.
Wait. No. No, no. It wasn't that Steven wasn't thrilled to be with Shane, because he was! Shane and Steven and Adam and three different waffles at three drastically different price points, what wasn't to love?
It was just ... You know, different. It would be different, having Shane instead of Andrew. Of course. Duh.
"I'm going to die next week, aren't I?"
Steven turned to look at Ryan, keeping in step with the shorter man.
"When Andrew and I go to Alcatraz," Ryan clarified. "I'm going to die."
Steven laughed a little incredulously. "What makes you think that?"
"It's Andrew," Ryan said, like it was obvious. "He'd kill me."
"If Shane hasn't killed you by now, Andrew definitely won't."
"Andrew would sacrifice me to the spirits in a heartbeat and you know it."
Steven considered the thought for exactly two seconds.
"You're right. He would."
Ryan sighed. "It'll be weird not hearing Shane shout profanity at the demons."
Steven smirked. "You'd be surprised. Andrew's got quite the mouth."
Nothing was said for a few moments as Ryan pointedly raised a brow at Steven as they walked. Ryan really wanted Steven to properly think about the words that he had just uttered, even in the context of the situation.
Steven's hand flew to his mouth. "Oh, wait, no - oh, shut up Ryan, you know what I meant!"
Ryan laughed. And laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Doubled up in the middle of the sidewalk, wheezing, crying, the whole nine yards. Steven was almost embarrassed to be seen with him.
The fact that Ryan shone brightest when he laughed made the stupid spectacle kind of ... Worth it.
"God, why can't it be you and I eating golden waffles while Shane and Andrew hunt some ghosts?" Ryan asked, still giggly from his laughing fit.
Steven rolled his eyes. "You know exactly why. Because those two wouldn't be taking anything seriously. They'd trash talk the spirit box, provoke some spirits, and get themselves kicked out. The security guards would mistake them for some hooligans."
"Ghouligans," Ryan muttered.
"You're a hooligan," Steven retorted.
"Says the one who doesn't have a name for his fanbase."
There was silence for a few moments.
"It's gonna be different, isn't it?"
Ryan didn't have to ask to know what Steven was talking about.
"Yeah, Steve. It'll be different."
"Yeah, especially after."
"But in a good way, probably. LIke, it'll be huge. Everyone'll love it. It'll be good for both our shows," Steven said, a hint of insecurity in his voice.
"Steve, you're not having second thoughts, are you?"
"No! No. Maybe. I don't know."
Ryan stopped walking to face Steven properly. "Buddy, listen. Your idea? It's a good one. Shane and Andrew and I wouldn't have agreed to it if it were anything less than good. You of all people should know that."
Steven shrugged. "Sometimes I think you guys just go along with the things I suggest because you feel obligated to. I mean, that's how I got Andrew into doing Worth It with me."
"And he loves it."
"He does," Ryan insisted. "Besides, we all know Andrew Ilnyckyj is exceptionally good at avoiding things he doesn't want to do. If he really didn't want to tag along on your little food adventures, he would've done a better job at getting out of it."
This was a common thought of Steven's - that his friends weren't really his friends and that Andrew secretly hated doing Worth It with him, and maybe, just maybe, that kind of fueled his idea of switching co-hosts. There was a bigger ulterior motive of course, and a plan that Steven absolutely had to put into place, but he'd be lying if he said that his insecurities were also minor factors of why he wanted to do this.
To see if Andrew enjoyed being without Steven. To see if Shane enjoyed being with Steven. To see if Ryan liked Steven enough to give up Shane and trade him in for Andrew, to see if they were all doing this just to humour Steven. Doing this because they felt like they had to.
They weren't fun thoughts.
Of course, to an extent, Steven knew that they were going along with his idea because they liked it. He knew that.
But, of course, there always had to be that little voice in his head wondering, "What if they don't?"
"You're right." Ryan had a point. Steven knew as well as anyone how stubborn Andrew could be. If he didn't want to do Worth It, then he wouldn't have. And that was that.
Ryan shot Steven a bright grin. "Of course I am. Face it, Steve: Shane and Andrew and I love the hell outta you. I hope you heard that because I am never, ever, going to repeat it. Not even if you begged me to."
Ryan and Shane loving Steven. That wasn't so hard to believe - Steven loved his friends, all of them, with his whole heart. Ryan and Shane loving Steven was easy - it showed in the way Shane would always make sure to reply to Steven in a big group, when everyone was talking over him and Steven felt like he wasn't being heard. It showed in the way Ryan teased him constantly, yet always brought Steven leftovers without even being asked whenever he went out to eat somewhere. In the way Ryan could somehow sense Steven's moods and announce, "We're going for a drive." In the way Shane liked to ask for Steven's opinions on things before asking anyone else, because, "You're just the kind of guy who has great sense, Steven."
Andrew loving Steven.
The thought was almost laughable.
"You won't have to worry about that, I don't think I ever want to hear it ever again," Steven joked, pulling a face. "Gross."
Steven knew Ryan would say it again when Steven needed to hear it, and Ryan knew Steven would definitely want to hear it again at some point. They just kind of got each other like that.
"Thanks for coming to brunch with me, Ryan."
"Like I'd miss it for anything else, Steve."
"You wouldn't. You love me, remember?"
"Don't remind me, you weirdo."
"I'm hardly the weirdo here."
"Agree to disagree."
The two walked for a bit more, feeling content again. Steven scuffed his shoes against the ground, and Ryan whistled a low tune.
Ryan laughed. "So. Waffles."
Steven rolled his eyes. "Shut up. You know what I mean. How are you feeling? Alcatraz, that's like, huge."
"You fuckin' bet it's huge," Ryan replied, and Steven smiled a little at the telltale glint in Ryan's eyes. The little spark he got when he was excited. "Both in size and for the show. Especially since it's a crossover episode. The episode will be awesome, I can already tell you that."
Steven smiled. "If only Shane and I could fly to Belgium to try some waffles."
Ryan groaned. "God, I'd beg you to take me with you guys. Plus, Belgian chocolate - holy shit. I'd ditch Andrew's ass in an instant."
"You'd leave him all alone in Alcatraz?"
"Without a second thought."
Steven whistled. "Everyone thinks Shane's the demon, but my money's on you, Bergara."
That earned another laugh from Ryan, and a wheeze for good measure.
"It wasn't me, it was the Ricky in me, I swear!" He laughed again. "What would you do for a Klondike bar, Steven Lim?"
"Not ditch my best friend in a creepy prison?" Steven suggested lightly. Ryan shoved him.
"Andrew's not my best friend. And don't tell me you wouldn't ditch Shane in favour of Belgian chocolate."
"We have different definitions of loyalty."
Ryan rolled his eyes. "I won't ditch Andrew when things get rough, Steve. If I were that kind of person, I'd have ditched Shane a long time ago. Your Hot Honey's in good hands, Lim."
Steven laughed in surprise. "Hot Honey?"
Ryan blushed a little, swatting Steven's arm. "I thought it was funny, okay?"
"You remembered it?"
"Because I thought it was funny Steven, shut up -"
"Nobody calls him Hot Honey -"
"- I know that -"
"- And you just did -"
"- It was a joke, Steve -"
"Oh, man!" Steven giggled a little. "You're a Worth It mega fan!"
"Wha - no!" Ryan protested. "I've seen like, three episodes. The two that I was in, and the Hot Honey one."
"So the donut one?"
"No, it was the fried chicken one, idiot. At Red Rooster. The donut one is where he tried to get you to share a milkshake, and you called it thick."
Steven smirked at Ryan. "I knew that. How did you know that?"
Ryan held his hands up and sighed. "Guilty as charged, I guess. I'm a Worth It stan."
"No you're not."
"No, I'm not," Ryan conceded. "But I do watch every episode, and I actually enjoy some of them."
Steven grinned. "You're a Worth It stan."
Ryan glanced at him and gave him a small grin.
"Well, maybe a little."
"It's fine, I'm a lowkey Unsolved stan," Steven admitted, and Ryan rolled his eyes.
"You say that like I don't already know it."
There was a beat of silence.
"Shane's a total Worth It stan," Ryan disclosed. "He'll admit it straight up, it's really not even a secret. He likes food and he likes you and he always comes to me after he watches an episode saying he's hungry."
"I think Andrew really loves Unsolved, too," Steven said. "I think he's really, really excited to be on it. He's always been into mysteries and crime and stuff, and he's always been interested in how you guys film Supernatural locations. He's a sucker for film stuff and spooky stuff."
Ryan preened a little. "Oh. Well, I'm honored that he likes my show."
"Loves it," Steven corrected.
"Well, I'm even more honored that he loves it. I don't think Andrew Ilnyckyj loves anything aside from bad puns and cats." Ryan had a funny look in his eyes.
"Right. And pizza."
"Well, I'm honored that Shane loves Worth It, although I'm not surprised," Steven said, taking his turn. "Shane loves food, if that hot dog story is anything to go by."
Ryan winced. "Let's not talk about that."
"Fine by me. Shane loves food, proving ghosts aren't real, and teasing you about your height," Steven continued easily. He eyed Ryan for a moment. "And maybe Sara."
Ryan twitched a little. "He doesn't love Sara, they're best friends, but it's not like that."
"If you say so, Rynosaur."
"Why are we even talking about thus?" Ryan interjected, voice a little strained much to Steven's hidden delight. "Who cares? It doesn't matter who Shane spends his time with. By next week, he'll be spending most of his time with you."
"Try not to miss him too much," Steven advised, smiling beatifically. Things were already working in his favor, all according to plan.
Ryan scoffed. "Trust me, Steve. I won't even know that he's gone."