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i got my tongue between your teeth

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“I don’t think you understand, I need to talk to him!”

In a huffed breath, Ryan tries to look over the broad shoulder in front of him, but fails miserably. This annoys him to no end, but he does not want to acknowledge the fact that he is short. He isn’t, he swears. He is of average height, Shane is just a tall demon.

“And I’m telling you, I don’t know where he is.” The tall dark-haired student replies. Ryan could swear there is some twinkling amusement in his eyes, or is it satisfaction? He doesn’t know for sure, and after a few seconds, no longer cares.

Truth is, he kinda has something against Shane. They never really hung out, they were definitely not friends, acquaintances at best. And still, whenever Ryan sees the tall man, he can’t help but find himself filled with bitterness, a bitterness so strong it feels like deep-ingrained roots traveling up his ribs to his throat and choking him. A few months ago, Ryan had an unrequited crush on Shane, and Shane never missed the opportunity to mock it every time they would cross paths. A smirk here, a mischievous look there. A chuckle when he thought Ryan wasn’t looking at him. One time he called Ryan an idiot. He thought it was awesome, a sign of flirting even, until Brent told him Shane was very clearly interested in someone, whom he liked so much he wouldn't stop talking about flirting with them, with his best friend Keith, even at 3 in the morning. Which annoyed Brent, and then obviously annoyed Ryan, because on top of having absolutely no chance, Brent would not stop ranting about not getting any sleep because of “the moron in love”. The dude had to know he was interested in him, it was pretty obvious. Ryan still can recall very clearly how he used to stammer and try to always hang out in Brent’s dorm in hope he could catch a smile or a quick chat that would turn to light flirting. The rare times Shane was there when Brent and Ryan worked on a project together, he would sarcastically comment and propose ideas, and Ryan, poor fool Ryan, actually took them seriously and thought about using them somehow.

Yet, he still toyed with him by flirting back, winking and smirking at him in the hallways. Sure, if the dude was completely dumb and oblivious, Ryan would not be that mad, but he did know Shane a bit. He was so quick-witted, and smart, and there was no way he didn’t know. And if he was straight, - which he isn’t, because Eugene told Keith, who told Davin, who told Jen, who told Brent who told Ryan that Shane is bi and came out in high school- he would have made pretty clear that he was only interested in women. The fact is, after three months of trying to get somewhere with his crush, getting ignored and not even be worthy of a “sorry, not interested”, Ryan gave up. And then he thought about it, and pettiness got the best of him. Still today, Shane seems to think they’re the same as before and keeps acting like that. It makes Ryan’s blood boil.

Perhaps Shane could see that Ryan is actually serious this time, because his shoulders sink and he sighs. “Listen, he just vanished. He’s not replying to my texts either. I called the dorm office and they said he didn’t sign out for anything yet. I don’t know what to tell you.”

According to Shane’s worried look, Ryan is pretty sure the more the taller man goes on, the more devastated Ryan looks. He can’t handle this right now. This was surely a joke from the both of them.

Shane lets out a cough. “Do you want to come in? You don’t look very well, and I know you guys were pretty close since the beginning of the semester…” He opens the door wider and, caught between despair and Shane’s alluring eyes, Ryan walks right in the wolf’s den. Shane leads him to his own bed, the other, Brent’s, being simply a nude mattress. He lets Ryan sit down and perches himself on his desk chair.

Before Shane says something, Ryan rushes and fills out the awkward silence. “We were supposed to do a project together. It’s a year-long project that I’m supposed to work on and present in the first semester, and film it and give it at the end of the second semester. It’s the final note for this class I have and it’s 85% of my grade. I just cannot fail it. Since he was taking less classes than me, he agreed to be my partner. I already presented it to the class and the teacher loved it. I cannot fail this. ” As he repeats this, the realization that Brent is just gone when they were finally filming hits him harder than ever. Shane is forever silent, and keeps glancing at him, and then at his desk, and back at him.

“Are you talking about the Unsolved Mysteries thing? Talking about crimes and chasing ghosts around?” Shane finally asks. He seems a little unsure of himself. At the shorter man’s nod, he lets out another cough. “I could do it.”

Ryan blinks, and looks at him. He doesn’t look like he’s making fun of Ryan, but this makes no sense for the black haired student. He thought he had made it clear he isn’t interested in Shane like that anymore, and doing this project means more to Ryan than spending some time with his ex-crush. Lost in Shane’s eyes, he forgets to answer. Then he laughs.

“You?” He laughs harder just at the thought.

Shane huffs in mock offense. Ryan can see by the wrinkles around his eyes that he is actually amused. “Yeah, me. Brent told me all ‘bout it, and, I’m a great skeptic. I’m sure I have a Scully poster somewhere in this mess.”

The joke surprises Ryan, and he lets out a genuine laugh. Shane’s shoulders straightens up and he smiles more confidently. “I assure you. I’m the guy you want. And I’m a History major on top of all: besides reading books, arguing and writing boring essays, I have nothing to do. Let me help.” He adds the last part more quietly, and Ryan feels his heart beat a little faster as it feels like air rushes out of both his lungs and the room. This was not what he expected when he came here at 1 in the morning. Instead, he thought he would find Brent pissed drunk, maybe even hungover, because he could have forgotten that today was the first day of filming. He expected to maybe see his friend studying for upcoming exams. He surely did not expect to find his side of the room totally empty, and then for Shane to be so kind to him, and even less for him to ask to take Brent’s place. But as he glances up, and sees the fair-haired man, the words rush out of his mouth before he can think about it. “Sure, you’re in.”

As the sort of weird mix between panic and adrenaline starts to wear off, Ryan finally understands that he’s sitting on his ex-crush’s bed, in his ex-crush’s room. And the said ex-crush is staring at him. He clears his throat awkwardly and gets up. Shane, strangely, stands up too and looks around, searching for something. “I think I’d better go, it’s late and now I’m kinda behind schedule as we were supposed to film today.” Shane continues his search and Ryan hovers near the door. He waits a few seconds, and then, decides to just go.

“Wait! You don’t have my number and, here, you should take this.” Shane says with a hoodie in his hand. Ryan takes it, and he remembers that he only has a shirt on right now. He shivers. Shane’s hand is still extended towards him. “I’m gonna need to text you, give me your phone.”

Maybe too surprised at the events to even protest, Ryan just puts on the hoodie and zips it up, before unlocking his phone and handing it to Shane. He sees the man type in his number and, what Ryan assumes, text himself. He takes it back. Somehow, it feels like he’s cornered by a very hungry wolf.

“I’m just gonna go now. I’m sorry if I woke you up or anything. Uh, later, dude.”

He rushes out without waiting a single second for Shane’s reply, but he’s pretty sure he can hear a laugh. If he was smarter than this, he wouldn’t think of the fact that he did say “dude” to his ex-crush. He feels like slapping himself.

It doesn’t take him long to get back to his own place, or it did, but Ryan didn’t feel the time pass at all. He kicks the door shut, throws his keys somewhere in the dark and checks his phone. Shane sent something. With a trembling heart and hands, he opens it.

Scully , 1:58am

Goodnight, Mulder.

He laughs, a tint of disbelief in his tone. He falls freely on his bed and lets the warm hoodie’s scent embrace him.

It isn’t long before Ryan falls asleep with a light mind, and sleep better than he has in months.

 

*

 

It’s only the day after that Shane texts him again, and from that moment, they never seem to stop. Even though they would have been hanging out just a few minutes ago, they’d already be on their phones. Before and after filming and discussing the assassination of JFK, or ghost-hunting abandoned hospitals, they would talk, and talk, and talk. Jen, who shares most of her classes with Ryan and always sits besides him, once told him to stop acting like a lovesick idiot. Which, Ryan realized with strange calmness, he was. Because Shane caught him once again, and this time, he was falling even deeper than he thought was possible.

 

*

 

Scully , 11:45pm

Doesn’t your boyfriend ever get jealous of us being together all the time?

Mulder , 11:47pm

Bf? What bf?

Mulder , 11:47pm

I do have a pet rock if thats what ure talking abt. But he doesnt get jealous its k

Scully , 12:03am

Oh

Scully , 12:03am

In that case, I love your pet rock. Can’t wait to meet him

Mulder , 12:04am

What abt u tho? Dont u have a girl to chase around? Brent used to go off all the time bc u wouldnt stop talkng abt ur crush or smth

Scully , 12:06am

No, I definitely don’t. No girls, and no pet rocks either.

Scully , 12:10am

There is someone though. But he’s a boy.

Scully , 12:13am

He’s really funny, and cute. When he gets excited about what he loves, like sports or his major, his eyes light up and I cannot help but feel very happy and excited too.

Scully , 12:14am

We actually talk a lot.

Scully , 12:35am

Fuck it

Scully , 12:35am

I really like you

Scully , 12:35am

I’ve had a crush on you for months. Before all of this happened.

Scully , 12:36am

I thought you liked me too, but then we stopped, flirting, I guess? I don’t really know

Scully , 12:37am

It was just a crush, I was bummed out but, you know

Scully , 12:38am

But then you knocked on my door in the middle of the night and when you said you needed someone I couldn’t even stop myself

Scully , 12:39am

And I, Shane Madej, would like to take you, Ryan Bergara, on a date.

Scully , 12:53am

Hey, idiot.

Scully , 12:53am

I hope you’re asleep.

Scully , 12:55am

Goodnight, Mulder.

 

*

 

Ryan wakes up with a start, the alarm blaring in his ears, as his phone was dropped right besides his head. He looks at his screen, groggily, and sees a lot of messages from Shane. The panic kicks in, and suddenly, he’s wide awake. Of course he had to fall asleep right in the middle of a conversation. As he starts to read it, he hopes that Shane won’t sulk too much for that.

Half of the texts in, and his heart stops. And then he smiles. He smiles so big, his cheeks hurts and he can feel a laugh bubbling out. Right between his ribs, where the branches of a bitter tree grew, flowers have blossomed.

He doesn’t wait to answer.

Mulder , 9am

I like you too.