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One in Five Billion

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When his phone starts ringing at the ungodly hour of three in the fucking morning, Ryan Bergara seriously considers murdering Shane Madej.

All the same, he rolls over and slaps his hand on top of his phone; he curls sleep-slow fingers around it and drags it to his ear. He waits for a moment, before realizing he needs to actually accept the call. By that point, he’s almost tempted to let it go to voicemail and deal with it later. He takes so long in deciding, the call ends and it does go to voicemail.

A notification pops up, but he doesn’t even have a chance to try and listen to it before Shane is calling him again.

This time, Ryan answers it and brings the phone to his ear quickly. “What the fuck, Shane.”

“We have a problem.”

Ryan groans and hides his face in his pillow. “What? What could be a big enough problem that you needed to call me at three in the fucking morning.”

Shane snorts derisively. “As if you haven’t called me freaking out over some spooky YouTube video or shit like that at the asscrack of dawn.”

Ryan grits his teeth. Shane’s not wrong. “What’s the problem?” He asks before yawning. He can’t keep his eyes open and is unwilling to rub the sleep sand from his eyes lest he really wake up.

“Okay, so. Company Halloween party is coming up.”

“Right,” Ryan answers, even though it’s not really a question.

“And the theme is iconic duos, as you know.”

Ryan nods and doesn’t care that Shane can’t see him. He’s only half-listening as it is.

“We have to go as Mulder and Scully, for obvious reasons.”

“Right. For obvious reasons,” Ryan replies without thinking too hard about it.

“But, you can’t be Mulder because you’re so short.”

“What?” Ryan asks, annoyance breaking through the fog of sleep. “I can’t be Mulder because I’m what?”

“You’re too short, Ryan! Scully is shorter than him, and that’s, like, an important detail! It’s cute! Gillian Anderson standing on a little stool or block so that she didn’t look so small compared to David Duchovny. It’s classic!”

“Are you saying,” Ryan starts as he sits up, “That you’re going to be Mulder?”

Silence, then a faint wheeze of laughter. “I mean, yeah. I think I’d make a great Mulder.”

Ryan sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Why don’t we just pick a different duo? There’s no way I’m wearing a wig.”

Shane hums. “I hadn’t thought of that…”

“Of course you didn’t.” Ryan falls back onto the pillows. He can practically hear the gears in Shane’s head turning, and needs to cut him off before this can go any further. “Look, can we tackle this tomorrow? I’m so fucking tired, dude. The party is like, two weeks away.”

“Twelve days,” Shane says seriously.

Ryan groans. “Shane. Please.”

“Fine.” Shane huffs an overdramatic sigh. “Don’t think I’m gonna forget about this, Bergara. I won’t.”

“Good night, Shane.”

“Technically, it’s morning, so—”

Ryan hangs up, mutes his phone, and falls asleep with it still clutched in his hand.

 

 

Shane doesn’t forget about it, but at least he doesn’t bug Ryan about it for the rest of the weekend. There’s two days of near blissful radio silence—all of Saturday, and almost all of Sunday. The only reason the silence breaks on Sunday is because Ryan actually misses the giant idiot and shoots him a text.

to [shane]
so. costumes?

The response is immediate.

from [shane]
i’m taking care of it. nothing to worry your pretty little head over 

Ryan rolls his eyes and ignores the flush on his cheeks.

He and Shane have been approaching a precipice for what feels like ages now. Inching towards it, a slow waltz; they’re taking the long way, Ryan thinks, even if he doesn’t know why. He’s too chickenshit to make the first move and he’s pretty sure Shane doesn’t even realize what’s happening. He’s been lost in his own world a lot, wrapped up in projects of his own and shit like that.

And it’s fine. It’s cool. Even if Ryan is the only one aware that something is changing, that’s alright. He and Shane will get there eventually. Probably.

from [shane]
ten days!!

Ryan smiles down at the text and answers back with a string of emojis: pumpkins, ghosts, skulls and the scared cat face a few times for good measure. He sets his phone aside and ignores the uncertainty itching in his chest. Something tells him nothing good can come of letting Shane work on their costumes unsupervised, but he’s also kind of excited to see what happens.

from [shane]
what do you think the WI boys will do

to [shane]
something disgustingly cute

from [shane]
don’t worry baby, we’ll blow them out of the water

Again, Ryan curses the blush on his cheeks. Maybe Shane isn’t so clueless after all, because moments like those… they feel different. He still isn’t sure what’s taking them so long to get from point A (best friends) to point B (boyfriends, preferably) but he’s content to wait.

Mostly.

 

 

The next ten days go by in a blur. Something about the Halloween season always has Ryan on edge. He loves Halloween, for the most part. Sure, it scares the shit out of him, but what doesn’t? The season always has him more motivated to research cases for Unsolved, and it always puts Shane in a weirdly good mood. For someone who doesn’t believe in the paranormal, Shane has a maybe unhealthy love of Halloween.

Before Ryan knows it, it’s the day of the Halloween office party, being held on the thirtieth. He’s been so swept up at work that it isn’t until he takes his lunch break that he realizes he hasn’t seen hide or hair of the costumes.

And when he tries to find Shane—at their desks, at Ghoul HQ, hell he even checks the Tasty kitchens—the other man is suspiciously absent. He fires off a quick, innocuous text, and while the message shows as read, he doesn’t get a reply.

His anxiety does not ratchet up at that; no, definitely not. He sits at his desk like he always does, with a mug of tea to settle his nerves, and proceeds to get exactly zero work done. He’s been staring at his screen for the better part of an hour when a shadow looms over his desk.

He turns, expecting fully to see Shane towering beside him, but is met with Steven Lim instead. Steven, who’s grinning brightly and a touch smug, too.

“You ready for the party tonight?”

Ryan rolls his eyes. “Shane and I are gonna win it this year, just you watch.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Steven says in a voice full of not-quite-playful overconfidence. “The golden boys are gonna take it, again. I mean, iconic couples as the theme? We got this in the bag.”

Ryan squints. “I thought it was iconic duos. Like, just in general.”

Steven blinks back at him. “Uh, no. It was iconic couples. Like, Ross and Rachel, or Brad and Angelina.”

Ryan smothers his laugh in his hand, even as a sense of curiosity nags at the back of his mind. “Whatever, Lim. You’re still going down.”

Steven sticks his tongue out at him before hurrying away.

Once he’s gone, Ryan pulls out his phone again.

to [shane]
so the theme is couples. not duos.

to [shane]
did you know

to [shane]
hello??

from [shane]
meet me in ghoul HQ at ten to seven. go home and shower. you’ve probably been panic-sweating all day

Ryan replies with a series of angry emojis and doesn’t get anything in response. His eyes flick to the time at the top of his phone screen, 4:03 PM. He knows he’s not going to get anything else done work-wise, so he figures there’s no harm in ducking out early. He saves all his work and shuts down his computer.

It feels a little weird to be leaving without Shane at his side, since they almost always leave at the same time and more often than not grab a bite to eat after work. He puts it out of his mind, puts Shane out of his mind for the first time in several hours. He leaves, meets his uber at the curve, and proceeds to think about nothing but Shane and the fucking Halloween party.

He thinks about it on the drive back to his apartment. He thinks about it when he showers and shaves; he thinks about it as he hems and haws over whether or not he should wear cologne, before deciding no, then yes, then no again.

He thinks about it on the drive back to the office, and as he rides the elevator up to the floor housing Ghoul HQ, and as his hand curls around the doorknob.

“Shane?”

“C’mon, you’re late.”

“It’s literally ten to seven right now, how am I late?” Ryan shouts back as he lets the door fall shut behind him. He wipes his hands on his jeans, ignoring how his palms have gone suddenly clammy. Not at the sound of Shane’s voice or anything like that. Nope.

“Whatever, get your ass over here, Bergara.”

Ryan sighs but obeys. He walks up to Shane where he stands at their desk, costumes laid out across the surface. On a model head perched on a chair rests a red wig.

“I fucking… hate you, so much,” Ryan says with a groan, already shrugging out of his jacket.

Shane grins at him.

“You never answered me about the couples thing,” Ryan says as he takes the outfit that Shane hands to him. It’s all collected on a hanger and neatly pressed. It's a dress shirt, trim slacks, and a nice, heavier jacket. In the pocket of the jacket is a flip wallet with a Dana Scully FBI identification card tucked inside. Ryan rolls his eyes but starts to undress accordingly.

“I know,” Shane answers, stripping down as well.

Ryan pointedly doesn’t look at him, and Shane doesn’t watch him either. They undress and redress in relative silence. Ryan only looks over once he’s buttoning up his shirt. and Shane is shrugging on the jacket, long and bulky.

“I don’t think people are gonna get it,” Ryan says offhandedly. They’re really only dressed in suits, it’s not especially impressive now that he thinks about it. They definitely aren’t going to beat the golden boys looking like this.

“Do you doubt me that much, Ryan?” Shane lays a hand over his chest in mock offence before bending and reaching under the desk. He pulls out a pair of modest kitten heels, ones that look comically large given that they’re Ryan’s size.

“Oh, fuck no.” Ryan looks over to the wig, then the heels, then to Shane’s grin. “No. You get the wig or you get the heels.”

“It’ll really complete the look!” Shane insists. “I even brought some makeup. I think I still remember those skills from that video. Just a real light, natural look.”

Ryan stares, exasperated. “You’re not joking.”

Shane’s grin is the only answer he gets.

 

 

The worst part is that Shane’s right. It really does complete the look. The wig is weirdly high quality, and even though Ryan thinks he’s not meant to be a redhead, it doesn’t look as bad as he anticipated. Shane had actually done a respectable job with the makeup, too; Ryan keeps smacking his lips together and the taste of lipstick is sticking to his tongue, but it’s not the worst thing. It’s a slightly pink shade, very subtle.

The heels even aren’t that bad, which Ryan considers to be nothing short of a miracle given the disaster that was the last time he wore heels They’re only an inch, maybe two, and the insides are soft and cushioned with a closed toe. He comes up a little past Shane’s shoulder in them, and as silly as it feels to say, the extra height does wonders for his confidence.

Hell, by the time they’re done and slipping out of Ghoul HQ to join the party the next floor down, Ryan would say his nerves are mostly gone.

Mostly. Because Shane is still being cagey about the whole ‘iconic couples’ thing and Ryan is too paranoid to get his hopes up, even when it feels like a realization is slapping him in the face.

They walk in to find the party in full swing despite it only being a quarter to eight, and Ryan predicts a long night ahead. There are at least four separate punchbowls of varying colors: one is an alarmingly bright pink, one is a murky purple, another is neon green with… something floating in it, and the last is absurdly orange. Ryan gets the feeling none of those colors in anyway coincide with the actual flavors of the punch.

“You ready for this?” Shane murmurs while they’re still mostly unnoticed.

“As I’ll ever be,” Ryan replies. “You owe me big time for this,” he teases as he elbows Shane in the side.

Shane looks down and smiles after a moment. “Yeah,” he says. “Thanks.”

Ryan swallows. “How’s my lipstick?” He asks before internally cringing.

Shane’s eyes widen in surprise. “Uh, good. Looks good.”

Ryan nods and then he’s tugging at Shane’s sleeve. “Let’s do this, big guy.”

Predictably, their costume gets a few confused stares, sometimes it takes a little longer for people to recognize them. But when they do, oh man, do they lose their shit over it. Shane fields the questions about why they’re swapped—his answers range from “I don’t look good with red hair” to “I’m trying to see things from Ryan’s perspective, in a way”—and Ryan tries to look nonplussed, and very much not in love with Shane.

So, like Dana Scully, he figures.

They’ve been there a half hour and are each a drink and a half in when a commotion by the door ruffles the entire party. Ryan knows what it is without even having to look.

He looks anyway. And sighs to himself.

There are the golden boys, and Ryan hates to admit that they do look good. It’s clear who they are from the start, and while some could argue they aren’t exactly a couple—well, those people would be wrong.

There’s a joke somewhere on the tip of Ryan’s tongue about Steven being the one in command gold, and how it ties into him being a fancy boy, and Shane shoots him a look that says he’s thinking along similar lines. Steven’s really channeling Pine’s Kirk, with the hair spiked up and freshly honey-blond.

Ryan’s at least kind of delighted to see they’re rocking original series pants, with the silly little flare at the calf and boots that end part way up their shin. Very authentic.

Andrew’s dyed his hair brown, and it’s jarring, but he’s nailing the curmudgeonly expression McCoy always wears. He’s got a little first aid kit at his side, which isn’t really accurate—not sci-fi enough, if you ask Ryan—but it gets the point across. He’s wearing a softer blue, with short sleeves and a rounded collar.

Adam—okay, Ryan snorts when he looks at Adam. Sure, he looks good, nails the whole Spock-vibe, but god those ears. Ryan tucks his face against Shane’s shoulder to hide his laughter. Adam’s shirt is a deeper blue and with long sleeves, and he hasn’t shaved, so Ryan feels like he’s sort of cutting corners.

Ryan locks eyes with Steven across the room, and Steven smirks back at him. Ryan raises an eyebrow and gestures exaggeratedly between him and Shane, and Shane flips him the bird for good measure. Ryan snickers into his hand again, especially when Steven’s smug look turns sour.

“We’re gonna win,” Shane whispers. “We’re so on point. We gotta win.”

“I dunno,” Ryan sing-songs. “I think we might lose points for not sticking with our skeptic-believer dynamic.” He flips a strand of orange hair from his face. “God, you really owe me.”

Shane throws an arm around his shoulders. “Yeah, yeah, I know.”

 

 

The best part of company parties, hands down, is the free booze. It’s free-flowing like rivers and Ryan is impressed that he’s managed to stay upright while sloshed and in heels. Sure, he’s maybe leaning on Shane more than he usually would, but this whole thing is Shane’s fault anyway, so.

The party is starting to wind down when Jen clambers onto a chair, Niki holding her steady, and hollers out into the room. “Time to announce the winners of the costume contest!”

Ryan perks up at that; by now he only vaguely recalls little slips of paper being passed out and then collected into Jen’s tophat. He’d voted for himself and Shane, of course. His stomach starts to twist with nerves, anticipation, as he waits for the clamoring to die down so Jen can actually announce the winners.

Eventually, everyone quiets down, and Jen clears her throat. She’s got her phone held in front of her face, and she squints for a moment. Almost unthinkingly, Ryan reaches out and threads his fingers through Shane’s, squeezes.

“We got this,” Shane whispers to him again. His lips brush Ryan’s ear, and Ryan suppresses a shiver.

“In third place,” Jen starts, all eyes snapping to her. “Niki and Kelsie, as Wonder Woman and Lois Lane!” A round of applause ripples through the room, and Niki and Kelsie share a kiss, then a bow.

Jen pauses as the room falls silent again. “Second place…” She drawls, smirking devilishly. “In a shocking turn of events, goes to—Steven, Andrew, and Adam, as Kirk, McCoy, and Spock!”

More applause, and Ryan lets out a whoop of delight. Even if he and Shane don’t win, at least Steven didn’t win again, and that’s good enough for Ryan. Steven rolls his eyes across the room, especially when he looks over to see Ryan grinning wide.

“I think we all know who the winners are, then,” Jen says and applause are already starting. Ryan looks around curiously, and even looks up at Shane, about to ask who else had good costumes—costumes better than the Worth It trio, even.

“Shane and Ryan, as Mulder and Scully!”

Ryan blinks in surprise. “What?”

Jen laughs where she stands on the chair. “You guys won!” She hollers to them.

“Oh.” Ryan turns to Shane and lights up in a grin. “Holy shit! We won!” He throws his arms up in delight.

Shane kisses him.

His hands come up and cup Ryan’s cheeks, and Ryan is vaguely aware of the wig slipping off; his hair probably looks awful, and he wants to fix it, but he’s much more interested in Shane’s lips against his. His arms, thrown up in a cheer, wind around Shane’s shoulders after a moment and pull him closer.

Dimly, he knows people are cheering and wolf-whistling and he’d bet money that there will be at least a dozen Instagram stories of this kiss posted within the hour.

He just really does not care.

He opens his mouth to Shane and licks at the seam of his lips. Shane groans and for a moment the kiss deepens, and Ryan memorizes the taste and feeling of Shane’s mouth before they finally break away. Ryan’s lipstick has smeared across Shane’s mouth, and Shane looks about as flushed as Ryan feels.

Jen is saying something, rattling off their prize, he thinks. Ryan really isn’t listening.

Shane leans in and whispers against his lips. “Scully, you’re not gonna believe this.”

Ryan snorts, but replies, “Oh yeah?”

Shane’s blush worsens. “I’m stupidly in love with you.”

“Funny,” Ryan murmurs, kissing Shane sweetly again. “I find that very easy to believe.”

“Yeah?”

Ryan nods and brushes his nose against Shane’s. “I love you too.”

“Okay, lovebirds,” Jen hollers. “Come get your Chipotle giftcard before we give it to Steven anyway.”

Shane breaks away and uses his stupidly long legs to stride over to Jen and pluck the giftcard from her outstretched hand. He takes a bow as he turns away from her, his long coat flaring dramatically behind him. Ryan watches from a distance, unable to keep the grin off his face.

“C’mon,” Shane calls to him. “Get over here.”

Ryan can feel his ears burning but he walks over anyway, not even slipping in the heels despite the buzz of alcohol in his veins. He stops with some space still between him and Shane, but Shane reaches out and tugs him closer. He stumbles a bit and falls into Shane’s side, but Shane keeps him upright.

“Okay, picture time!” Jen says as she jumps off the chair. She motions for Shane to hold up the gift card and aims her phone at them. “Okay, say, ‘X-files!’”

Ryan laughs rather than saying anything, and Shane shouts, “aliens are real!” instead. That sends Ryan into a fit of wheezing and he tucks his face against Shane’s shoulder again, clinging to his jacket.

“Oh my god, you’re the worst,” he says between gasps for air. The party is dispersing around him; out of his peripheral, Ryan can see plenty of people on their phones, no doubt posting this to any and all social media accounts they have. He should probably feel more anxious about that, but he’s just too giddy.

“Yeah,” Shane agrees. He’s tucking the gift card into his jacket pocket and pulling out his phone. “But you love it.”

Ryan rolls his eyes but poses obediently for the selfie as Shane pulls up the front-facing camera. “I do.”

 

Shane captions the picture, ‘he made a believer out of me,’ and Ryan kind of wants to strangle him, but he kisses him instead.