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round about the roundabout (back where you began)

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When Shane woke up it was yesterday.

No, that wasn't quite right.

Shane woke up yesterday. And he woke up today. But today isn't the day it's supposed to be, it's the day before.

Come to think of it he doesn't remember going to bed yesterday.

He remembers this though. He remembers a lot.

His phone hit the floor with the kind of crack that lets you know something's wrong before you even pick it up when he tried to turn his alarm off. That already happened.

His screen had a spiderweb of hairline fractures running from the top left corner down to the date below the clock. Yesterday's date. Thursday the 12th.

It is, it was, it might still be a shoot day. Shane was up late the night before and maybe he's just now waking up from a dream, one of those that feels so real that you question reality in a way that you haven't since you were a freshman sitting in that intro to philosophy class you took because you hadn't fully grown out of your pretentious I'm an adult phase. He's up early now, because it's still a shoot day whether he's actually lived this day before or not and Ryan insisted on driving to the So-est of SoCal at the very brink of dawn.

Shane doesn't think he would remember the justification for being up this early even without the crippling feeling of deja vu he's battling.

And the dissociation sesh he's had with his broken phone has officially made him late.

He wasn't late when he did this the first time.

It leaves him feeling wrong footed as he walks out the door, shrugging on a jean jacket he knows he won't need today because it won't rain like the forecast predicted and he won't want the extra layer to deal with -- but he wore it the last time he lived this and it's ridiculous to make decisions based on dream weather.

Ryan is already waiting outside, phone in one hand to-go cup in the other, patient or maybe just not as eager as he'd been pretending to act yesterday -- two days ago? The 11th -- about this latest haunted location. Shane doesn't remember this, Ryan had pulled up as he had stepped out the door last time. There was a crew waiting and a time table to keep to.

He climbs into the car, folding himself up carefully into a seat that's never got enough room for all of his legs. That at least is familiar for a different reason than the rest of this.

“What took you so long, big guy, worried you'll actually be spooked by this one?” Ryan asks, a welcome change from the frightening similarity that had been the rest of Shane's morning.

“I had to take a moment of silence for a fallen comrade that wasn't penciled in to the rest of my carefully planned morning routine.” Shane said, presenting his cracked screen for Ryan to inspect. Back on script, but that was coincidental.

“Shit dude, that's bad. Does your camera still work? You could probably get it covered as a work expense even though we don't really have to vlog for anything anymore,” Ryan's lips quirked up into a smirk some of the previous seriousness forgotten, “Have to maintain a web presence after all.”

He'd said that already.

“Camera’s fine. The world will still be getting it's normal influx of Shane Madej selfies, no need for any undue panic.”

Ryan laughed, wide smile in place as he shifted the car into gear. “My sigh of relief is as genuine as it gets, don't know what we'd do without your stupid fucking wide eyed selfie face.”

Shane laughed, that's how he remembered this conversation going. Suddenly his heart wasn't really in the teasing.

Here's how this goes.

It's their demon episode. Ryan's only one for the season. Shane thinks it's a step down from some of their others and he says as much at every step of the process. Ryan insists, says it's basically a location straight from the plot of an episode of Supernatural and let's the implications fill themselves. Shane gives in, not because of the crossover promo potentiality, but because its Ryan.

They're headed to some tiny town east of San Diego. Town is a generous descriptor. They're headed to a House of Wonders, it's too small to even get a ™ after it, just Wonders. Shane wonders what could possibly be in it but the wonderful revelation that it's a big, small town con.

Ryan tells the story and the theories with a little less of the stern toned factualness that he will in the VO, but he's telling it in the car so Shane can get the gist before the fun starts. It's the same story the second time, he just stares out the window as Ryan tells it.

People are missing, time is missing, something is missing. But Shane gets why they're going, demons seem to have different powers with every new season.

American folklore is kinda funny that way.

The crew is there first. The crew is always there first. That at least is a stabilizing consistency in a time when consistency is not so stabilizing. They film an intro, they film an outro. They let Ryan look at Shane as some of the riffing falls flat. He's in his own head too much, tries to shake off the nervous, anxious, bone-deep wrongness that this deja vu feeling has left him with. He smirks and tells tumblr he's just tired not possessed. The wink pushes it over, makes it a bit, sets Ryan at ease. The show continues on.

Shane knows the inside looks like a roadside tourist trap. He knew that the first time. He knows the room they're headed to is in the back left and leads without thinking. If Ryan is surprised he doesn't show it until Shane stops him from stepping through a half-rotted floorboard with a gentle hold on his elbow. Shane remembered how it felt sinking beneath him the first time, as he had lazily trailed behind Ryan, sending him falling to the floor. Body naturally curling in to protect the go-pro strapped to his chest and being rewarded for it with a bloody, bitten tongue and a bruised ego. Tourist trap and death trap were too often connected when ghosts were involved.

He doesn't remember where the demon came from, what horrible evil Ryan had told him happened here. He felt and still feels that it was at least partially hyperbolic, if not totally fictional. He trusts Ryan's research, but places like this don't spring up on places that have actual history.

The room is dark and there aren't any windows, disorientation is the name of this game. It's one Shane is losing. He calls the demon a coward, in a desperate grab for balance. Demands proof, leaves Ryan's name out of it this time. This is where he starts to not remember. And he hopes it's a sign that he really dreamed this the first time.

Did he say Ryan's name in the dream?

There's a breeze where there shouldn't be, a smell that's unfortunate. It has to be a disguised vent. He wishes he remembered what the story of this room was.

Shane stumbles on his half step, maybe the con is in the uneven floor. Ryan is nervous, for once it's a feeling Shane shares.

Then there is motion.

His camera is falling. His phone is flying. His camera hits the wall.

Shane is still falling.

Ryan is moving and then he isn't and then he's moving backward.

Ryan looks scared.

Shane hits the ground.

Shane wakes up and it’s yesterday.

He does the day the same way the third time out of sheer stubbornness of will.

Nothing changes.

Phone cracks. Ryan smirks. Ryan laughs. Wind blows. Shane falls. Ryan's scared.

Shane wakes up and it's yesterday.

The fourth time he plays it straight, as if it were the first time. How many levels were in Inception? Fourth time has to be the charm.

He does it the same the fifth time.

And the 6th.

And the 7th.

How many circles were there in hell?

The 8th time he calls in sick. Shane sounds so bad Ryan doesn't even tease him for it. The worry in his voice sends twining feelings of warmth and nausea through Shane’s stomach. He isn't sure if he wants Ryan to offer to come by any way or to hear him accuse Shane of being too scared to show. He doesn't get either. He spends the day in bed nostalgic for the sick days of childhood and for the normalcy of Wednesday the 11th.

On day nine, he wakes up and starts to make a plan.

Shane is a grown man who was born in the mid-80's. So he's seen every Bill Murray movie worth watching at least once. The one he happens to be currently LARPing he's seen several times. So he knows at least in theory how this is supposed to play out.

Except he totally doesn't because this sort of thing doesn't happen in real life.

The time loop is a staple trope, and a good one, but that sort of thing was really just science fiction. Bottle episodes don't happen in real life. They still have plenty of their filming budget left and Shane isn't looking for any dramatic character development. Ryan was really better suited to the leading man archetype anyway, with his strong jawline and good heart and dogged persistence that things would go his way. Shane was more, well he wasn't quite up for the kind of self reflection it would take to decide just what he was - but there was probably a quiz for it somewhere on the buzzfeed site that would tell him. Everyone has a character archetype based on their personality -- here's yours.

If he woke up for day 10 maybe he'd take it.

But, oh, there's the trick. For there to be a day 10 he has to indulge this.

Or maybe he already has. How does the saying go? Twice is a coincidence, three times a pattern, nine times and maybe you're just stuck in purgatory.

Shane has marketed himself rather successfully as the skeptic, but to remain skeptical in the face of proof is to take the sort of fanaticism he picks on Ryan for in the opposite direction. Maybe it is time to accept that something is going on? Time to start asking the big questions.

What would Dana Scully do?

Other than look at her partner with poorly concealed fondness, Shane has seen the gifs and the screenshots, he's got that part down. She indulged Mulder from time to time, far more often than Shane indulged Ryan. They suffered through a time loop of their own, even if Scully didn't remember it. He bet she would be able to come up with some kind of science-y explanation for why this was happening.

But in the time it took to figure that out she would trust Mulder’s lead. Maybe it was time for Shane to try the same thing.

So, what would Ryan Bergara do?

First step, freak the fuck out. After eight days of stubbornly refusing to change anything followed by a day long depression nap, that one could probably be safely checked off the list.

Step two, theorize. The time loop is a stable fixture, a well loved bottle trope, and it’s always played the same way. Either a fatal disaster has to be thwarted, saving everyone, or  someone has to experience some grand character growth.

A disaster would be cooler, but Shane was pretty sure he was going to have to grow as a person somehow.

Gross.

But it wasn’t going to happen with him just lying in bed. He’s got to move on to:

Step three, prove the theory.

Or maybe just support the theory? Shane was more a historian than scientist, it had been a long time since he fulfilled his last science requirement and learned all that scientific method shit.

First task is, well first is getting out of bed because he’s been staring at his ceiling for the better part of 20 minutes like a weirdo.

But then the next move, after picking his broken phone up off the floor, is to start getting ready to meet Ryan.

He’s got 10 shirts that are ideal for filming Unsolved, they look nice and make dealing with the mic and camera setup they need not completely horrible. There are 5 that are workable, and 3 that he can wear if he has to. That’s how he’s going to keep track of how long he’s in here.

He has to know how long he’s been in here.

Losing track of the days when time progresses normally is alarming enough. To look at the calendar and realize somehow it’s the middle of the month or the end of the year, and wonder where the time has gone. But at least that was trackable.

But you have to make do with what you’ve got.

“I’m stuck in a time loop.” Shane jumps in feet first as he climbs into Ryan’s car.

Ryan fumbles with his phone, looking up at Shane startled. “Wha- Dude you can’t just start a bit with no heads up. I thought we said we didn’t want to record on the drive up?”

“I’m not, it’s not a bit.”

There was a part of Shane that expected Ryan to just believe him. “Whatever dude, just don’t pull this shit when we get to site I already get too many tweets about how unoriginal the show is.”

“I’m serious!”

Ryan puts the car in gear, his eyes are on the road as he pulls out from where he was parked, but Shane can feel the hard side eye that he would be getting. “Prove it then.”

“You want-- what?”

“Proof, Shane, you’re the one always fucking asking for it maybe you can show me what the hell it actually looks like.”

“I don’t know what you want from me here, this is the first time I’ve--

“That’s convenient,” Ryan said.

“Skeptic isn't a cute look on you, Bergara," Shane snapped, letting the frustration of the last week, days, repetitions get the better of him.

“Jackass isn’t the best look on you either.” Ryan’s eyes stayed resolutely on the road even as Shane’s bored into the side of his head, his ears tinged pink under the force of Shane’s gaze.

“I’m sorry,” Shane said, sincere as he’d ever been, he hated fighting with his best friend. The air hung awkward and tense between them with nothing but the sound of tires on roughly paved roads adding to the silence.

“Tell me something.” Shane said finally.

“What?” Ryan asked, hesitant and weary in a way Shane didn’t like.

“Just something, I don’t, something you wouldn’t say unless you wanted someone to prove they were in science fiction hell.”

It takes a few days before he gets all of it right.

He lets Ryan get on the road before he speaks.

“I’m stuck in a time loop. No, it’s not a bit. Yes, I’m serious and I know how much shit you get about originality and I wouldn’t do that to you. Prove it? Sure, say something you would never say except in this situation.”

He pauses just long enough to give a gaping Ryan a snarky smile.  “This isn’t what you’re about to say, but eyes on the road.”

If there was going to be an edit of this, you could throw a whip crack sound effect over Ryan’s face snapping back to the front away from Shane.

“So what am I going to say next,” Ryan asked.

“Say it at the same time,” Shane prompted for the first time that repetition, but not for the first time.

“You’ll cheat,” Shane continued. “How could I do that if it’s something you’d never say. I’d find a way? Aw, thanks buddy, I’m touched you think so highly of me

“Eyes, road,” Shane snapped again, “I really don’t want a repeat of last time.”

Ryan’s eyes slid guiltily back to the road. “What-?”

“You don’t want to know.” Shane said. It brokered no argument.

“Same time,” Shane prompted again, “I’ve given you plenty of time to overthink. And ‘I don’t overthink, asshole,’ doesn’t count.”

“Fine, on three.” Ryan took one hand off of the wheel to count them both down.

“The hot doga is an artistic masterpiece.”

“The hot doga is an artistic masterpiece and Shane Madej is like a more handsome Hitchcock or Shyamalan before his twists became so contrived.”

Ryan’s side eye was a very powerful thing, but Shane had long since built up an immunity and just grinned back unashamed.

“I did not say that-”

“Last part, yeah, but I really feel like it was implied. Oh, and the next car that's going to cross in front of us is some blue SUV, and yes, even though I've had this conversation seven times I still don't know anything about cars and at this point I dont think I'm ever going to learn.”

And then on his cue that very same blue car crossed right in front of them as Ryan rolled to a stop at the intersection. Shane could have recited the license plate number too, but that felt like showing off.

Ryan stayed stopped at that intersection until a horn blared behind them. He eased onto his accelerator in silence, not even sparing the brain power to send some choice words back at the car that honked at them. Shane gave him his time.

“Time loop, huh.”

“Yep."

“If, if you would've asked what Murray movie I thought you should live out Groundhog Day wouldn't have even made the list.”

“What, you can’t just say that and not give an example.”

“I would have said like, Scrooged.”

“What, why I love Christmas?”

“Because you're such an ass, I would love to see you try to deny ghosts after getting haunted by three of them.”

Relief tastes like the first genuine laugh that Shane has had in days. It sounds like Ryan's joining his in filling the car. But like everything that has brought him even a little bit of joy in the last 17 days, it doesn’t last long.

The mood sobers as Ryan asks, “So, what are you going to do?”

Shane shrugs and watches the world pass by in the way it only does when you're up before the traffic can fully build.

“I was kinda hoping this would do it,” he said finally, injecting as much dopey optimism as he could into the statement. “What else could there possibly be for me to do or say after I've admitted that I think something vaguely supernatural is happening to me.”

Ryan laughs and Shane hopes he's imagining that it sounds like that brittle nervous laugh he gets at their shoot locations.

“That is a pretty big step for you. What’d you do to avoid it?”

The question all but slaps Shane in the face and the sudden panic it inspires drips down his spine with a numbing chill. He is struck then by the sudden certainty that nothing matters as much as making sure Ryan doesn’t know how miserable this whole experience has been.

“I, uh, I spent one day making sure I had better one liners than you. Stole all your jokes, all of ‘em.”

Sincerity rang out in Ryan’s laugh this time as he threw his head back. “You would, you dick.”

Shane wakes up again and he screams.

A shoe hits the floor of the apartment above him. He spared a second to feel bad for waking someone else up at this ungodly hour before he remembered that he'd woken up like this for the last 18 days.

So he screamed again.

He would be worried about a noise complaint if he weren’t in hell.

All Ryan gets is a text this time before Shane rolls over and goes back to sleep. Today will still be today tomorrow; and if it's finally not he’ll apologize.

On day 30 he misses a step and sends his foot through the rotted floor boards of the building. He can feel the skin tear and the bone break. Ryan's already scared babble takes on a frantic tone in Shane's ear and he hears the crew shouting around him. Nervous hands flutter around him, Ryan's too scared to touch him but Shane appreciates the gesture for what it is: Ryan reminding him that he's not alone. His sock is getting warm and he knows he has to be bleeding. It's the overstimulation that finally tips him over into unconsciousness.

On day 31 he gives Ryan a hug.

He’s pretty sure it’s day 40 when he talks Ryan into skipping the shoot with him. Only pretty sure since he spent most of the car ride the day before arguing with himself over whether to count the original day. He knows he’s spent over a month watching Ryan jump at nothing on floors that weren’t to code when they were built, and after sending his foot through one he knows they really aren’t now. They might not be in high school anymore but seeing Ryan flinch for the thousandth time was one time too many, they’re playing hooky baby.

In the end, Ryan is shockingly easy to convince.

Shane would like to give credit to the fact that he looks much more charming in his nice shirt that Ryan has technically seen three-ish times, even if he can’t remember any of them before today. It wasn’t the shirt’s day on rotation, but it looks snazzy. It might be worth not being able to remember what day it is.

He already can’t remember, so where’s the real loss.

What’s important is that Shane would like to believe that he’s sitting in a dark theatre with Ryan -- enjoying his fucking day for once -- because he’s a charismatic man with a real nifty shirt. And isn’t it hilarious that this time Shane is the one who wants to believe.

Ryan might think he’s dying.

Ryan thinks a lot of things that Shane thinks are kinda stupid, but more than spirit boxes and ghosts and demons this is the one that might bother him the most. Especially since he’s not sure if Ryan is wrong.

He almost hopes Ryan is right. Dying seems better than where he's at now: unsure if he even can.

Whatever is playing on the screen of the tiny, basically abandoned arthouse theatre Ryan found hasn’t really caught Shane’s attention yet. That isn’t an unfamiliar feeling, though now it isn’t just because they’re sitting in a bad comedy with a formulaic plot. It’s becoming easier and easier to just slip away. When you’re living the same day over and over and over and over and over ad nauseam then you start to realize that nothing you do is going to matter. Every day is the same day and any changes he makes or conversations he has, they just                don’t matter.

Nothing matters.

It’s like that feeling you get when you’re doing something you do everyday, and you zone out. The daily drive to work, eventually you just               lose time             and suddenly you’re there and you don’t actually remember how you got there.

That’s what his daily life is starting to feel like.

Shane realized yesterday? He doesn’t even remember now, he would laugh if it weren’t such a scary thought.

Shane realized recently that he could just coast through his day without thinking about it. At all. He blinked awake in the middle of a conversation with some of the crew when Ryan walked up and Shane noticed him at his elbow. A whole conversation that Shane just didn’t remember and never would because his brain decided he didn’t need to.

Ryan was the exception. Maybe that meant Ryan proved the rule. Shane was always very aware of what he was saying when he was around Ryan, even the conversations that were the same just felt different with him.

Like now. Even though the movie had yet to catch Shane’s attention, something else had. Shane noticed everytime Ryan’s arm shifted beside him, the way they would brush together as Ryan reached into his popcorn bag or when he shifted in his seat. The sound of Ryan’s soft movie theater laugh, even though there was no one in the theater with them to bother. Shane wouldn’t have minded hearing that brighter, full body laugh.

He’ll blame impulse. The novelty of the first new thing he’s experienced in over a month. He grabs Ryan’s hand.

He holds Ryan’s hand gently in his, and for the first time since he admitted he was in this fucking cycle of torment, he hopes.

Picking a different shirt had been the final straw that fucked over his counting schedule. He starts over, and on day one he decides that hope might be one more thing he doesn’t believe in. Not until he can prove it’s worth the effort to try.

In college he knew a kid who got so stressed in the lead up to finals that he picked up a smoking habit to relieve some of the anxiety. At the time he thought it was kind of dumb. The science didn’t necessarily support it, and he didn’t really see anything stress relieving about the increased risk of lung cancer, but he wasn’t going to fault someone their own little rituals.

He’s starting to rethink his stance on that.

It’s easy enough to bum one off of someone before lunch. They’re as much in the middle of nowhere as they can be when you’re at a location that used to be advertised on billboards on the side of the highway. So Shane offers to stay behind, stay with the equipment, so they don’t have to pack it all up just to set it all out again.

He wants to say it won’t matter, no one comes anywhere near here and all the valuable stuff is already in the van.

But it’s easier to just smile, remind Ryan that he knows what Shane likes, and for the first time during this whole hellish ordeal wish that they shot a different show. One where the crew was more likely to bring a little pot to set.

The House of Wonders sits in something that wants to be called a field, but with nothing but dirt in sight for about 30 yards it’s really just land. Land that’s dotted with empty food wrappers and spray paint cans and the general refuse that seems to grow like flowers in abandoned locations.

Amusement is an unfamiliar trill of a feeling as Shane moves around to the back of the building to smoke like the the teenagers who sprayed dicks on half the walls.

This can't become ritual, there's no solace in that, but Shane has learned to find comfort in the strange and the disordered. And today that comfort sounds like the snick of a lighter and the deep inhale of his first draw. The acrid taste of smoke immediately takes away from any moment of peace he had found. He doesn't choke or cough but blows it out just as slowly as he took his inhale. Flicking the still lit cigarette away from him in distaste without another pull.

He watches in idle interest as it lands in a in a bloom of grease stained wrapping that catch with a speed you’d expect for California but not for trash lit by other trash.

Idle interest becomes muted fascination as the small flame spread, the piles of assorted debris that clustered around the foundation of the biggest trash that was this building. He’s lost the sharp bite of unfiltered emotion, which makes the chilly lick of an overriding, instinctual  fear so nice before the depression over powers it again and numbs it. Leaving him to just watch and wait for the small flames to snuff themselves out.

Maybe one of the dozens of abandoned spray paint cans ruptures or maybe there’s some abandoned fuel can -- that really should thematically be here in this haunted abandoned, probably cursed location -- but the fire doesn’t go out so much as it spreads in a fiery sort of inferno to the structure of the shack.

If your first thought in an emergency is supposed to speak to your true character Shane wonders what it says about him that he hoped Ryan wasn’t too upset they wouldn’t get to film their investigation today.

Or that it wasn’t until his second or third thought that he stopped to wonder if this would be the thing that finally set him back on the path of linear progression.

He had a lot of thoughts after that, sitting in the dirt just far enough away from the fire to still feel the burn. But once again the first that came to his mind was about Ryan. Shane had lived this day too many times to really keep a certain count but Ryan only remembered living it once. He hopes this isn’t the last loop for Ryan’s sake, and a little for his, the idea of taking something like this away from Ryan brings back the unpleasant feeling of nausea that he hadn’t felt since day 10.

But boy, if there wasn’t catharsis in watching it burn.

He wakes up as relieved as you can feel when your stuck in a hell of someone else's making. But for once this is a chance to do something right rather than just do it again. Today, he's going to make it up to Ryan even if Ryan doesn't realize there's anything to make up.

He's just, not sure how yet.

The thing about Ryan is he likes to collect information. Not in an all knowing, manipulative sort of way, he just has interests and enjoys learning more about them. He likes ghosts so he makes a show where he can learn more about them. Shane likes to think he enjoys the stuff that they talk about in Ruining History and that he isn't just humoring Shane. And he's also in the habit of knowing what's going on with the people he likes around the office.

So Shane hopes that this is enough, whether he’s looking for something enough to soothe his own guilt or something else entirely.

He’s almost embarrassed when his nonchalant offering comes out, hah, as an earnest almost timid thing leaving his mouth.

“I'm bi.”

“Wha?” Ryan said, as much a noise of shock at the silence breaking as it is a reaction to what Shane had just said.

There is no sticking this landing, the most Shane can hope for is to reduce the amount of stumbling he does and hope he can maybe land close to his feet. “Yeah I mean it's not a change. I'm just, I'm usually pretty low key about it, but I was thinking you know you're my, you're, you're my-"

“I'm your?” Ryan prompts, now there's concern on his face.

“My Ryan,” Shane says, it's the only word that comes to mind that even comes close to approximating the relationship he feels they share. “My best friend. I just, I wanted you to know, up front, so I can get the weight of normative heterosexuality off me.”

“Oh” Ryan says, and of all the reactions Shane even thought to expect this odd almost disappointment hadn't even entered his mind.

“Is that a problem?” Shane asks. Misery has already started to settle in the pit of his stomach like a rock in mud, sloshing in small movements as it settles in just a little deeper, just a little more. Ryan may or may not forget this day ever happened, but Shane won’t.

“What? No, of course not! Shut up,” his face tumbles through some interesting acrobatics before he quickly continues, “No, sorry, that was. It was a surprised oh, I could have reacted better or something.”

Shane was ready to leave it at that, Ryan had had his roller coaster of emotions and now his expression seemed to alternate between quietly pleased and deep contemplation. Both involved quick darting glances at him that Ryan probably thought he was being sneaky with. But as with most things Ryan managed to surprise him. “That would be pretty hypocritical since I am also-"

“Bi?”

“N-no, not straight. Demi, actually, at least that's what Sara called it. I looked it up when she told me and it, I don't know, having a label doesn't really matter that much to me. It's the feeling.”

Now Ryan was the one who looked nervous, and Shane was immediately annoyed with himself that he didn't know the perfect thing to say to make it better. The right words were somewhere but instead he went with: “You and Sara went out without me?”

Ryan laughed at least, taking a break from his darting glances between Shane and the road to roll his eyes. “She's my friend too, the world doesn't stop just because you leave a room.”

“Ah, but how will I ever know for sure if I'm not in the room to see it.”

They sit in near silence for a minute, the only sounds in the car are the soft hum of the engine and the warm feeling of Ryan’s dissipating laugh at Shane's last joke.

“Thanks, for telling me Ry,” Shane says after a minute, “it means a lot. You didn't, I didn't expect-”

“I wanted to, you’re my best friend too, dude. You did the same for me, literally like just now.”

Shane laughs, “Look at us connecting emotionally, take that patriarchal expectations of gendered emotional expression. It's enough to bring a tear to your eye.”

“Don't do that, we’ll drown.”

“What?”

“It's a, it's a tall joke, cause you're a giant. Like in the cartoons? Do you not get these on purpose? Never mind.”

Shane does get it, after a second anyway, and only manages to keep his expression blank for a second before he laughs anyway. Ryan chimes in and neither of them can really manage to keep their laughter in for long before it bubbles out of them again and again. One look from the other enough to set them off on a new round of giggles for the rest of the day.

The next day it’s gone.

And Shane is furious .

The emotion hits him with a passion that he hasn’t experienced in weeks, months even. He knows now. He has information about Ryan that this Ryan hasn’t given him. This Ryan doesn’t know, for sure, about Shane and now Shane just has this information. This personal tidbit that Ryan hasn’t felt like he could share. This, this unfair advantage, but it’s not an advantage, it’s a curse. Something has been taken from him and it hurts .

Maybe this time the building will burn on purpose.

Shane spends a day at home, not quite sulking but then that's also not not what he's doing.

A feeling like rage burned hot and quickly and now he was left in bed feeling something deeper. The low ache of loss wasn’t one he thought he would shake away as easily, but that could have as much to do with the source.

That feeling he’d had yesterday had been so blinding, so powerful, so passionate that he let himself get swept up in it without asking why.

Laying in bed with nothing to do but think put the why at the front of his brain.

It’d been the feeling of losing something, hadn’t it, that had set off such blind and sure feelings; but he’d lost things before. There were whole weeks he would remember that no one else would. Thousands of conversations that he’d had with Ryan that only Shane would remember. But this one was different. Different of course for the obvious reasons, but set apart even more so than that.

Shane starts to ask questions.

“If Bigfoot and Mothman got into a fight who would win?”

Because as much as his initial anger had stemmed from that knowledge that he now knew something Ryan hadn’t shared.

“What are your thoughts on Nessie?”

The more solid feeling of loss that the anger had simmered down to was from knowing there were things about his closest friend that he didn’t know.

“If you had an evil doppelganger, what would be the clue that reveals you’re the real you?”

But learning something new about Ryan, something harmless, that was a warm feeling in the bottom of his stomach that filled him. The loss had been a reminder that for everything he thought he knew there were a dozen thoughts and dreams and theories and ideas that Shane didn’t and had never asked about.

“What would it take to get you to refilm the Zodiac episode with me instead of Brent? No other changes and we just don’t mention it’s already been done.”

So he asks now. Because if this experience has taught him anything it’s that he’s selfish.

“What would it take to get you to encounter your worst fear? What’s the one thing that could be on the line that would be worth trying to fight a bear for you?”

He’s selfish and, now, sensation seeking. These conversations with Ryan the only part of the day he even remembers at this point.

“Do you think we have free will?”

Ryan startled, mouth still full of coffee that thankfully stayed there and didn't find the windshield. Shane watches him as he blinks and swallows, a faint blush on his cheeks from the attention. The startled, wide eyed look gets turned to the front, now confused but Shane knows by now what it looks like when Ryan is thinking.

“That's a heavy one.”

For a heart stopping second Shane wonders if Ryan remembers. There's a unique melancholy to the thought. That Ryan might also be living this hell like him. That Ryan might remember like him.

He has to know.

“What do you mean?”

“Just, your usual early shoot questions are: did you get me some or what ghosts are we not going to see?”

That was… probably true. It's hard to identify your own patterns sometimes, Ryan would probably know better than him. He hadn't asked either of them in a while in any case, but it seemed like Ryan wouldn't know that.

“Alright, well, those first if you need to warm up to the big ones.”

“No, the guy you insist can’t make it right was the only one working and I'm not telling you. A question for you first?”

“Shoot.”

“Is there a reason you decided you wanted our trip to be a throwback to Philosophy 101?” Ryan had a laugh in his voice as he asked.

“Maybe I’m missing the good old days, don’t tell me little Freshman Ry didn’t have all sorts of opinions about life and the universe.”

Ryan grinned at that, “And I’m sure you were even more insufferable then than you are now.”

Shane grinned too because Ryan’s was that infectious. “Oh you know it, baby.”

“So what do you want,” Ryan said after a moment spared for fond exasperation, “yes?”

“Maybe you were the wrong person to ask.”

“Shut up, Shane.” More fond exasperation, this time with eye roll and half smile. “What do you want to hear?”

“Something?” Shane said, as honest as he could get without derailing the conversation to somewhere else entirely. “You have theories about Earhart and aliens and Roanoke and zombies, and I know,” he said throwing up a hand to stop the next comment in its tracks, “that those aren't all yours but I guess I want to hear one that is. How can you think we have free will when there's all this shit that keep us from making the choices we might really want.”

“So, okay, maybe we don't have the entire world to choose from,” Ryan said slowly, “and maybe some things are even predestined or we can't choose them or control them; but in between every choice that maybe isn't ours there's a hundred little things we can do or not do that the universe can't care enough to decide for us. And those little decisions build up to the big ones so…” He trails off looking a little uncertain.

“So the end is set but what we do in the middle is all up to us.” Shane finishes, succumbing to the urge for physical contact, but even then all he can manage without overthinking is the light graze of a single knuckle down the arm Ryan has resting between them on the center console.

But even that has the weight of something more.

Shane wakes up and the first thing he notices is Ryan smiling at him. He's been awake for hours. He does the only thing he can.

 The One True Sara

I think I'm in love with Ryan [8:22]

[8:22] Duh

Well if that's how you're gonna be [8:23]

See if I come to you with any more emotional revelations [8:23]

[8:24] ???

[8:24] Revelations?

[8:24] Are you serious?

[8:24] Shane!

Jeez [8:26]

Yes [8:27]

I'm serious [8:28]

He's in the car stop trying to call me [8:28]

 

[8:28] Tell him!

[8:28] Tell him!

What Sara I'm not gonna tell him [8:28]

[8:29] Tell him!

[8:29] Tell him!

[8:29] Tell him!

Are you just copy and pasting that [8:30]

[8:30]

[8:30] Tell him!

Cute [8:31]

[8:31] Are you seriously not gonna?

[8:32] You can't text me with emotional revelations and then not listen to my advice

I think you'll find I can [8:34]

[8:37] Are all men like this or just the ones I've befriended

You say that like you've had this experience before [8:37]

Sara? [8:42]

Okay really? [8:50]

[8:51] Yeah really

[8:51] Just do what I tell you to Madej

I'll think about it [8:58]

“What would you do if you were stuck in a time loop?”

“You mean other than try to fix whatever has me stuck in the situation?”

“You’ve done everything you think would fix it and then a few more things just for good measure,” Shane confirms.

“Then you’d have some fun, right?”

“I’m asking you man, what would you do?”

“There’s no consequences,” Ryan says, his voice doesn’t quite lilt up into a question but at the twitch of a shrug in Shane’s shoulder he continues more confidently. “If the day resets at the end what’s to stop you from doing every stupid thing you want to do.”

You’ll still remember.”

“I remember lots of things, but it- it makes it a lot easier to do things you wouldn’t normally when you know that if it breaks bad it won’t matter tomorrow.”

“So you’d finally tell all the demons and ghosties that they can suck it?” Shane asked. His mouth felt dry and his being unsettled enough that he wished he had that badly made drink just so he had something to solve at least some of those problems.

“Ye- Or more like mundane dangers like, like telling someone you’re interested in them... or yelling at your boss.”

This isn’t where the conversation was supposed to go, or maybe this is exactly where it was supposed to go. Shane tongue feels heavy in his mouth and his head feels light. “You wouldn’t even do a crime? Where’s your sense of imagination?”

Ryan laughs but Shane knows when his heart’s not in it. There was the wrong thing to say and then there’s what he said which was roughly six turns and a bus ride from wrong and a lot closer to fucking stupid.

The worst part is knowing he’ll remember today of all days, after spending the rest of it feeling wrong footed and slow. Every punchline missing it’s hit, the banter less punchy and more desperate, Ryan without the nervous excitement in his eyes. Shane fighting the urge to cut things off early because that was the one line he’d still yet to cross.

He’d get it right tomorrow.

Shane thinks it like a prayer.

Waking comes like a start for the first time in                                 a while. He has a mission now. A goal, a feeling settled deep inside him that he has to act on. ...If he gets the right answer first.

The One True Sara

Does Ryan like me [7:36]

[8:18] Is this anxiety

[8:18] Or did you make Ryan mad about ghosts again

[8:19] He still likes you even if he yelled at you

What? [8:24]

No [8:24]

[8:26] Then wh

[8:26] Oh

Yeah [8:27]

Actually forget I asked [8:27]

Too much time on tumblr [8:29]

Stop calling me he’s in the car [8:31]

Don’t text him either [8:32]

[8:35] Have you considered talking to him about this

Yeah that’s something I’m known for [8:36]

Shane Madej infamous from his short stature and impulsivity [8:37]

[8:39] You should talk to him

Counter: you say yes or no and then I talk to him [8:41]

[8:46] No

No? [8:46]

[8:49] No I’m not gonna tell you

[8:50] Even if I know

So you do know [8:51]

[8:52] Just talk to him

Or I could save myself an awkward conversation that could cost me a best friend and ruin BF’s most profitable show [8:56]

All by having you answer the question [8:57]

[8:59] You’re overthinking again

[8:59] You wouldn’t be asking if you didn’t already have an idea

[9:00] So talk to him

If you answer one question [9:00]

[9:02] Maybe

If I asked Ryan out would he say yes [9:03]

For better or worse it’s still way too easy to get Ryan to play hooky with him.

It goes the same as last time. Same arthouse theater, same movie. Unlike every other repetitive day this one is intentional. Not so much carefully planned as strategically manipulated, but it feels right to be here. Sitting in the same seats where he held Ryan’s hand and felt grounded for the first time in days. Even if Ryan doesn’t know it ever happened.

It still feels like a novelty, grabbing Ryan’s hand in an empty theater. Something bright and new and exciting that Shane is sure he doesn’t deserve and hasn’t earned, but he’s going to try to take any way.

He sits his hand on top of Ryan’s as it sits on the armrest between them. There are feelings now, that Shane can recognize for what they are and he can’t help but give himself an out to take. He keeps them programmed into every day an easy escape route before things go too bad, today is so far from an exception it makes everything else seem like a practice run.

Everything but Ryan is peripheral at this point. Funny, considering Ryan is the one in his periphery. Eye contact would be too much so his gaze stays locked on a screen reminding him to silence his phone and to pick up more snacks. Darting glances and the half flutter of a finger beneath his hand are the only responses Shane gets for a moment. As the house lights dim around them Shane is fighting the urge to tense in an obvious tell of his impending retreat. Ryan’s voice hits him in a soft whisper, still just as oddly respectful for the cinema atmosphere as last time even though it’s still just as empty.

“Is this a date?”

The room has gone dark around them. So the hot blush that now threatens to set Shane alight probably isn’t visible in the light of the trailers on screen.

They both know what this was.

Or maybe Shane had just done this so many times he couldn’t help but expect Ryan to be on  the same wavelength as him. They were so often it was easy to take for granted.

The answer of course was yes.

Maybe.

I had hoped.

But Shane wasn’t as brave as Ryan was. So what actually came out was: “If you want it to be.” So soft he couldn’t even be sure it was audible under the rumbling action of the preview on screen.

Ryan’s hand shifts beneath his and Shane’s brain is half way to processing that rejection and retracting when he feels a warm palm against his and fingers tangling together.

They stay for a second movie, some indie flick doing the festival circuit that Ryan has either already seen or doesn’t particularly care about. Shane quickly finds that even if cared enough to pay attention to this one he wouldn’t have been able to. Not with the quiet commentary Ryan keeps up. His voice warm in Shane’s ear just like his body is as it’s pressed close to Shane’s side. The feeling of every soft wheeze on the side of his neck sends a shiver up and down his spine from pleasure of a number of kinds, especially when it’s his joke Ryan is laughing at.

They share a meal that can’t really be called lunch or dinner. While Ryan does remind him it has a name when Shane bemoans how brunch gets all the best awkward meal PR, nothing about the phrase early bird is especially romantic.

Ryan’s blush, however, is a sight to behold and remember when Shane makes a joke about his worm. The fact that it’s mostly from secondhand embarrassment does nothing to stifle his enjoyment.

They walk to the car together, still hand in hand. Then there’s a moment, somewhere between Ryan teasing him about needing to open the passenger side door for Shane like a gentleman and the heavy lidded look Shane got for asking how long he planned to be a gentleman. Shane, for all his occasionally played up awkwardness, knows what this moment is. What it means.

He starts to lean down.

He can see in close intimate detail as the smirk on Ryan’s lips transitions into something softer.

He curves himself.

The sudden unmistakable spark of fear catching him off guard as he notices Ryan’s eyes flutter to an almost close. An intrusive thought that hits fast as lightning: what if Ryan doesn’t remember your first kiss.

It only takes a soft half turn of his head so that his lips brushed softly against Ryan’s cheek.

The course correct so that he doesn’t have to see the confusion in Ryan’s eyes takes a little more work.

There’s something lacking in the usual line that’s meant to follow this sort of thing. But Shane did have fun. And he does want to do this again sometime. So he says it anyway.

The comment earns him a smile. The fond comforting look of someone who knows him and knows what he means when he says something that dumb.

He smiles back, helpless to do anything but. It’s a dopey, face splitting smile so far from suave   that it’s difficult to believe a face capable of one expression could also make the other. But it’s sincere and it’s love struck and more importantly it makes Ryan blush.

Shane feels warm and happy as they drive home in a contented, familiar silence. The malignant weight of too many day’s anxiety slips off him, leaving Shane feeling light. Light and tired.

He drifts off to sleep to the steady hum of the car, his head against the window. Optimistic.

Shane wakes up in his bed.

Shane wakes up yesterday.

The optimism and memory of the previous day turns bittersweet in his mouth and his mind.

He gives into the impulse to lash out. The clatter and shatter of his phone that had at first brought a feeling of dismay now leaves him satisfied with the control of destruction.

Shane realizes now, lying in bed looking down the barrel of what could be an eternity of Thursday the 12ths, that he has two nihilistic options:

  1. The apathetic nihilism of an angsty vampire movie. Nothing matters, nothing he has done has fixed anything so he might as well resign himself to a new hellish reality.
  2. The optimistic nihilism of a Douglas Adams novel. Nothing matters, nothing he’s done has broken anything so he might as well enjoy the full freedom of a world without consequences now that he lives in this world of possibilities

A lifetime ago Shane said he would try doing what Ryan would do. Well Ryan had told him what he would do and it wasn’t learn if he has what it takes to brood.

So he picks up his phone with its familiar spider web damage and starts to get ready.

Ryan is waiting outside, phone in one hand and to-go cup in the other, patiently waiting for Shane to come out. As Shane folds himself into the passenger seat Ryan asks, “What took you so long, big guy, worried you’d actually be spooked by this one?”

“Yes,” Shane answered sincerely he’d been scared of this building for a thousand different reasons since day 5. “But I had a dear friend suffer a fall and had to help.” He presented his phone for Ryan’s inspection.

“Shit dude, that’s bad. Does your camera still work? You could probably get it covered as a work expense even though we don’t really have to vlog for anything anymore.” Ryan’s lips quirked up into a smirk some of the previous seriousness forgotten. “Have to maintain a web presence after all.”

“Guess I’ll just have to post photos of you and all the other pretty things I see in the meantime.” The line is as outrageous as his smirk and the wink pushes it that much further. Ryan is gaping, flustered, gobsmacked, and blushing and Shane is in love. “Or I would if my camera weren’t fine. Maybe I still will.”

It’s the same day Shane has lived a dozen times before now. The same unsolved supernatural marvel. The same stupid building with it’s broken porch and swear words engraved in the wood beside where they have put up their intro set. The same ghost story.

The difference is that now when Shane wants something he makes sure he gets it. He wants to see Ryan flustered and blushing, he’ll flirt with all he’s got. He wants to see Ryan laugh then he’ll make sure he gets a good punchline in. He wants to see Ryan’s satisfied face he makes sure that he sets up a joke for Ryan to tell.

It comes with a degree of honesty that’s freeing in its own right. It’s easy to miss all of the little lies of repression and omission that get told on a daily basis. There’s a freedom to it. To lose himself in the day again. To say what he wants and not second guess what that will result in.

“I know we usually do this at night, but you don’t want to stay that long right?”

“What’s wrong, big guy, is this the place that’s actually got you scared?”

“It’s not my favorite place I’ve ever been.”

As if bolstered by Shane’s unease Ryan laughs, “Hear that demons you’ve got Shane Madej quaking in his giant boots.”

Ryan slides past him with his teasing, a smiling half skip that puts him in the lead again. Shane doesn’t want and doesn’t bother to stop him. Content to let this work to his advantage for the moment. It’s nice, to lope through this shack that’s almost Scooby Doo like in its current, quiet state. Ryan far enough ahead that Shane can half-listen to whatever it is he’s saying, while paying more attention to the side view of his smile.

          And the way his chest rig is pulling his shirt just a little tighter across his shoulders.

                    And the way it rucks his shirt up just enough that a little bit of skin shows over the top of his jeans.

                              What’s below that is equally distracting.

He’s watching when Ryan steps into that room first this time, but he isn’t really watching until Ryan steps through the doorway. “I think this is the room where the Jane Doe died of unknown causes… Or maybe it’s the demon room? I can’t decide if their interior designer was really good or really bad at his job.”

“Oh! No that’s -- we don’t need to go in there.”

Ryan’s already in the room. Shane’s in the hall. Ryan’s never been in the room.

“What are you talking about?”

Ryan’s moved further into the room. He’s looking at Shane, questioning, waiting. Shane is standing frozen feet from the doorway. This isn’t, he’s not overthinking. He’s stunned. He doesn’t think Ryan has beat him into this room once in the time he’s been doing this.

“Even if it’s not the room it’s the first one that doesn’t look like it will collapse under us.” Ryan continues.

Ryan takes a backward step further into the room. Head and camera on a swivel to examine the room. Another step taken backwards kicks it all off.

The same noxious smell clogs the room, thick and cloying as it slogs in from wherever it came from. Ryan is looking around in confusion, but his fear that glints in his eyes is nothing compared to what Shane is starting to feel.

Ryan flinches back from something or from nothing and then he’s falling. Arms pinwheeling to catch himself. An elbow catches the go-pro on his chest and sends it to the floor while his phone flies out of its hand rig and hits a wall with a crack.

Ryan hits the floor and his head hits something too if the groan is anything to go by.

In Shane’s head, what happens next is a vision of chivalrous fury. Arms stiff at his sides, hands balled into fists, phone on the floor where it fell when his arms went to his sides. And all that matters is the vision in his head since every camera that could see him is broken or on the floor.

He takes a step forward, voice raised, “Demon, leave him out of this.”

It’s not a bad line, or not the worst anyway, but it loses something when half of it is drowned out by the screeching creak of the floor beneath him. It’s an all too familiar sound that immediately brings back memories of rotten wood giving way beneath him. It’s a familiar feeling too. He’s not sure if he should call himself lucky when, instead of sending his foot through termite infested planks, the nails pull up from the ground and he finds himself falling backward as the not-so solid ground he’d just been standing on now didn’t exist at all.

His back hits the board twice. Once as he starts to fall and then the second time as they both rejoin the ground.

But then he doesn’t wake up.

Well, he stays awake. He’s on the floor, and that’s actually pretty gross, but he’s awake. He’s done this and done this and done this and he’s felt himself fall in that room that Ryan is in and never seen what happens after he falls. Between one second and the next that he realizes just what that means. His frantic scrabble to get up from the floor and into the next room is like a scene from a nightmare where no matter how hard he tries he can’t get to his feet.

He manages eventually. Crossing through the doorway in a half-stumble only to watch Ryan pop up from the floor with a look of manic delight in his eyes. “You just talked to that demon like it was real!”

“I absolutely did not do that, you’re fucking concussed.”

“Somebody got that right?”

“No, all the cameras are broken.”

“There’s audio, we’re mic’d who needs video!”

Ryan is alive, and Shane has to assume not also in any kind of time loop, but most importantly he’s elated. If it were any other day or any other location he’d hate the implication, but Ryan’s excitement is enough to keep him joking along, “I'll deny it! All the audio files will be mysteriously corrupted.”

“Who needs a ghost sighting we have something even rarer: Shane Madej actually fucking believing in the supernatural!”

Ryan is still sitting on the dirty floor but if he's noticed he doesn't care. He's talking to the room at large, the ones responsible for making sure the show is something more than just Shane and Ryan making idiots of themselves; but the room really might as well just be Shane and Ryan, the status of their idiocy currently debatable. Ryan's eyes have been locked on Shane's since he ran into save him. They're crackling now with an uncontained mirth and delight that Shane is drawn to without question. Today on Buzzfeed Unsolved we say fuck whatever demon might be here let's talk about if Ryan Bergara is actually a siren. The smile on his face could make Shane drive his ship into the rocky shore. It's bright, it's happy, it's pleased with himself and barely holding back a laugh. And it's really only for him.

“Yeah, well, stranger things have happened.”

“I don't think they have, dude, this really is a rare sighting.”

Shane hasn't gotten this far before. Has never had Ryan replace him in this room before. If he goes in the House of Missing Trademarks the day ends when he falls to this floor and starts over in his bed. He's never found Ryan on the ground before.

“Are you okay?” The missing close-up camera is almost certainly a blessing at this point, and no one else is dumb enough to follow the two of them into the room to get a shot. The audience pays too much attention to Shane's face on the best of days, and he's sure they aren't going to find any signs of demon possession on it now. “This place is a fucking death trap, I really think you might be concussed.”

“Concern too? Wow, shame none of the cameras are working. All that'll have to be the text wall.”

“I'm always concerned about you.”

It’s nothing but straight faced sincerity, but then as far as Ryan is concerned Shane’s bold flirting has seemingly come from nowhere. Shane’s not sure if the go-pro on his chest is still working, given his luck today though he would say there’s even odds that it is, but he hopes that it caught the violent blush that’s now spreading across Ryan’s face -- he knows the editors will include it if they ever see this footage, it’s a happy little thought that he might be able to steal the gifs and screenshots that tumblr will make of that.

“Yeah, well, back atcha big guy. You had farther to fall, how are you feeling?”

“Like we should get the fuck out of here, I hate this place.”

Shane offers a hand to help Ryan up from the floor even as he’s getting laughed at. “Let’s go, all this episode is going to be is an intro and a loop of you talking to a demon ‘cause you think it’s real. And the new outro we have to film where you admit to finally seeing the light.”

“I will film and say anything you want, anywhere you want, as long as it isn’t here.”

Like it’s listening to the conversation they’re having, the floor groans under their feet with all the overstated drama of a bad actor trying out for an even worse horror movie.

“Yeah, let’s get the fuck out of here.”

Shane wakes up and it's tomorrow.

He remembers how he got here. He remembers going to sleep, even if they maybe shouldn’t have

It’s possible this is all a dream but Shane doesn’t think he’s dreamt in months. It’s what he calls a good sign in either case.

Cliche as it may be, if this is a dream Shane doesn’t want to wake up.

Because he’s not alone.

Ryan is across from him, on top of him is probably a better descriptor, really. Their legs tangled together on Shane’s reasonably sized, but not meant for two adult men of above and average height. He’s still asleep, head tilted at the painful angle that couch sleeping demands. He’s here.

He didn’t slip out after Shane fell asleep, even though he could have. Not that it’s the first time that Ryan has indulged him, but stay over with me so we can watch for mutual traumatic brain injury is a hell of an indulgence. But stay with me because I don’t want to be alone in case today doesn’t exist when I wake up tomorrow would probably have been a bridge too far even for Ryan.

But there was no reset.

Shane's been through quite the ordeal, and coming out the other side has left him with a rush of emotions he's been suppressing for a while now. So he can be excused if they're all expressed  through overly romantic thoughts.

Thoughts like, the way the soft diffused light of the morning casts itself across Ryan’s face is maybe the most beautiful thing Shane didn't know he could ever wake up to.

You can always tell when someone is watching you sleep, Ryan is no exception to the rule. He snorts himself awake with all the grace you can when waking up with your head tilted back at a 45 degree angle, looking around bleary eyed as he tries to figure out when it is without his glasses on. He smiles just as blearily at Shane when his conscious brain notices he’s being watched.

It’s charming. Shane is charmed. He’s smitten, beguiled, enchanted. He’s every other synonym and then some. And he’s still riding the high of yesterday’s adventure in total impulsive honesty. It’s a dangerous combination this early in the morning when he can’t fight against it, and instead actually says what he’s thinking like an idiot.

“Go out with me.”

Nothing about Ryan was bleary now. He was in sharp focus the same way a deer seems sharper once it’s in your headlights. His mouth opened and closed as if trying to form words before he finally managed to croak out, “What?” his voice cracking in the middle either from surprise or just waking up.

In for a penny, in for the whole damn thing.

“Go out with me, I like you a lot and I would like to continue to do that in a date type setting.”

There’s a long second where Ryan doesn’t say anything and Shane’s brain goes back to it’s roots and overthinks. Panic is not an expression that is particularly obvious on his face, but Ryan knows him better than most people and must see something there. “Fuck, yes, yeah. I’ll do date type things with you. It was just so romantic, I had to think about what you said.”

That at least was them all over. The feeling and sincerity bookended by digs and jabs.

“Actually, I changed my mind I take it back.”

“No, it’s too late! Just like your belief in the supernatural, you’ve said it no take backs.”

“That was yesterday, it’s not like I could go back and change it.”

“Would you? If you could reverse the earth’s rotation like superman and go back in time?”

“If you change yesterday then you change tomorrow, and I’m pretty fond of where I ended up.”

He had lived yesterday enough times, if admitting that demons might be real is the price he has to pay to live in today he’ll gladly pay it as many times as Ryan makes him. He’s looking forward to seeing how today goes. And every day after, especially if he’s got Ryan by his side.