Shane could not be human, Ryan had decided.
After being picked up in the ambulance, after Ryan watched Shane smile through a flatline , after Shane was thrown into an emergency room to remove the blood and air from inside his chest and lungs, after metal plates had to be installed behind his ribs to solve the nearly irreversible damage there, Shane was being carried in a wheelchair up the stairs to Ryan’s apartment and commenting on Ryan’s strength once again.
“Do you workout?” Shane asked as Ryan adjusted his grip, his breath unaffected by the three flights he’d already conquered.
“You’ve seen me work out, Shane.” Ryan lifted the chair just a little higher just to impress Shane.
“Right! Totally forgot.” Shane’s voice was raspy, flipping between audible and inaudible depending on Shane’s ability to breathe. Ryan set his chair down with a clatter and reached into his pocket for his keys. “Why do I need this stupid chair, anyways? My legs weren’t broken.”
“There’s metal in your body that wasn’t there before, dear. Your body needs to get used to it before you can go back to being normal.” Ryan pushed the door open and stepped around Shane, grasping the cold handles. “Aren’t you happy to have me caring for you like this, though?”
“Maybe,” Shane leaned his head back and grinned through a groan. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Ryan sighed, rolling Shane beside the couch. He knelt next to Shane and lifted a hand, carding his fingers through Shane’s hair, “I’m so sorry.”
“What for?” Shane asked, only because he knew Ryan got frustrated when he did that.
“For everything,” Ryan kissed the back of Shane’s hand that was braced on the armrest. “For poisoning you and for making you uproot your life and for not keeping you safe. That’s what I’m sorry for.”
“I’m not,” Shane went to bend down and peck Ryan on the lips but grimaced and let himself relax. “I’ve got metal in me, right now. How awesome is that?”
“Not very,” Ryan stood and slipped his forearms under Shane’s legs and around the small of his back. Shane fluttered his eyelashes and Ryan chuckled, lifting him up and over to the couch. “They broke your ribs.”
“They sure did,” Shane hummed as Ryan laid the blanket he’d stolen from the motel over the tall man. They’d both agreed that it was the softest thing they’d ever felt and Ryan tucked it away in their bag on the way out. “But I’d do it again. Anytime, Ryan.”
“I don’t want you to ever have to do anything like that again, baby,” Ryan settled beside Shane, an arm around the bony shoulders, tugging him close. “You deserve much better than this. Than me.”
“Oh, shut up,” Shane rolled his eyes, “There is no better than you . I’ve never been in a relationship where any of this has happened. It’s all very… uh, refreshing.”
The shorter man snorted, “Right, totally.”
“I mean it,” Shane said. “I’ll get poisoned, stomped, and thrown into a river a million times over if I have to, just to keep you safe.”
Ryan smirked at the cracked voice. “I’m supposed to be the one to keep you safe.”
“Well, that wouldn’t be fair to you,” Shane turned his head just enough to look at his boyfriend.
“And anyway,” Ryan said, desperately looking to change the subject. He didn’t like when Shane looked at him like that. All loving-like. “My boss wouldn’t let you get hurt again, you know. He really took to you.”
“Yeah, we’re like best friends,” Shane exclaimed, suddenly full of energy. “He was all like you know the rules, Ryan and then he was all just kidding, he can live. What a lil sweetheart.”
Ryan stared at Shane. There was no way that this guy was a human being. He’d been killed, he’d been beaten, and he maintained such an unblemished sense of optimism. Ryan was jealous.
“We should have him over for dinner.”
Ryan blinked, “Uh, no… we should not. ”
“But Ryan, he saved my life!”
Ryan raised an eyebrow, “I mean, technically, yes…. But, still, Shane. That’s not how this works. My job isn’t normal - “
“Uh, I know,” Shane shifted, an attempt to gesture to his situation. “I got that, loud and clear.”
“ - he can’t just pop by for a meal, Shane. He’s never been to my apartment, he’s never… I don’t know. He’s not… Shane, he can’t .”
Ryan groaned and looked away as Shane began to pout. “But pleaaaaase, Ryan.”
“ Shane .” Ryan knows that Shane knows what begging does to him.
“That voice doesn’t scare me, Ryan.” Shane smiled, that smile Ryan hates to love, “Nothing scares me.”
Ryan wordlessly brought out his phone and placed it in Shane’s open palm. “Okay, then call him.”
“Thought you didn’t want me to move so much,” Shane laughed, but unlocked it anyways. “Should I pretend to be you?”
“No, since he likes you so much.”
“Aw, I’m sorry I’m his favorite.”
“Just call him, I’m gonna get a beer.” Ryan extracted himself from Shane’s side, walking around the corner and staying there to eavesdrop. If Shane got his feelings hurt by his boss, he’d probably have to be there to comfort him.
“Yes, hello, Mr. Ryan’s Boss. This is Shane Madej… yeah, they were super broken… mhm… don’t worry about it, I’ve got metal around my lungs now… yeah, it’s pretty cool… mhmm, yup… anyways, I was wondering if you’d like to come over for dinner sometime next week?... yeah, I’ll probably be up and walking by then… thank you so much… yes, sounds great… thank you… oh, yeah, I’m safe… yeah, your guys did a great job… okay, see you then!”
Ryan peeked out from around the corner. Shane was looking at him and smirking.
“Told you,” Shane said, tossing Ryan’s phone. “I’m his favorite.”
Ryan couldn’t form words, simply catching his phone and staring at the love of his life with an amount of awe he’d never felt.
Ryan stumbled into the house, bone-tired and muscles aching. It was dark out, hours later than he’d anticipated to be home. The woman would not quit , trying to run after being stabbed in her carotid artery. Made a mess. He had to call in a cleaning crew under his jurisdiction to clean up the liters of blood that were running down the side of the alley by the time she’d slumped.
He peeled his gloves off and tossed them blindly into the laundry room. They hit the tile with a splat, most likely making a lovely Rorschach pattern of blood that he’d worry about sometime later.
He grabbed an old jacket from the coat rack to stand on as he shed his bloody clothes, but he heard a rustling in the kitchen. In his regular mind, he knew that it was probably Shane. Because Shane loved food. But, as he’d just come fresh off of a contract, he was still in that space. And his hit-mind told him that someone was in the kitchen that wasn’t Shane.
Ryan drew his gun, leaving the one shoe he’d already taken off on his jacket as he crept, unbalanced, down the hallway. He glanced into the bedroom as he moved, finding Shane’s wheelchair empty, his chest contracting as his hit-mind began to scream shoot on sight, shoot on sight, SHOOT ON SIGHT. The distant rustling joined by faint humming.
He pressed his back to the divider wall between the hallway and the kitchen. He slowly placed his finger on the trigger, taking a long deep breath, trying to come up with a plan to get Shane back after shooting whomever was raiding his fridge.
The barrel clicked. The humming stopped.
“If that’s not Ryan,” said Shane’s voice, bored rather than afraid, “my boyfriend is gonna kill you.”
“It’s Ryan,” he sighed, stepping out from his hiding place. He turned the safety on and placed the gun on the table. “I thought you died - why the fuck aren’t you in your wheelchair?”
Shane turned all the way around, his silhouette outlined by the fridge light, “Jesus, Ryan, you’re covered in blood!”
“Yeah, I noticed. Why are you not in your wheelchair. ”
Shane shrugged, “It doesn’t hurt to walk.”
“Yeah, but you’re not ready , Shane,” Ryan kicked his other shoe off, walking over to pick him up and take him back to his chair.
“Am too,” Shane said. He stuck his tongue out. “You need to clean yourself up. You look like you just murdered Paul Allen and forgot your rain jacket.”
“What are you talking about?” Ryan seemed confused.
“Nothing. Oh, also, I got this package from a…” Shane lifted the box up to his face. Ryan stumbled over his feet to hold Shane up, in case he’d fall. “... Damon Cartwright. You know anyone by that name?”
Ryan took the box from Shane’s hands and held it up to his ear, “I don’t hear anything.”
“Did you think it was a puppy?”
“Oh,” Shane nodded sarcastically, “Of course.”
“I’ll put it on the balcony,” Ryan said, tucking it under his arm and balancing it on his hip. “In case it’s a stealth weapon.” He turned on his heel and strode across the living room.
“It was shipped from Amazon!” Shane called after him.
“You don’t know that.”
“The box, Ryan!” Shane leaned on the dining room table, bracing his hand on his side as he did so.
“Could have been tampered with,” Ryan said, sliding the glass door open and looking either way - just in case. He squinted suspiciously at a car that drove by, only one headlight on.
“I - “ Shane threw his hands up, dipping his fingers into a box of Cheez-Its he’d retrieved earlier, “I don’t know why I even try.”
“I’m trying to keep you safe , Shane,” Ryan said, hitman voice activated, and Shane rolled his eyes. “You realize how dangerous this city is, right?”
Shane shrugged, “I’m not scared.”
“You need to be.”
Ryan slid [slammed] the glass door closed, facing away from his tall partner. He murmured something that Shane couldn’t hear.
“What was that?”
“Bedroom,” Ryan repeated.
“Ah,” Shane laughed, “Aren’t I too injured - “
“You can walk,” Ryan’s back was tense. The for now was implied in the way Ryan’s voice had gone deep.
Shane shrugged to no one in particular and began to wander down the hall, trying to contain his excitement. “Yessir, I guess.”
Ryan couldn’t believe he was slaving away over a dish for his boss. He couldn’t believe that Shane had invited him, nor could he believe that the man had accepted. The dress shirt he wore had gotten tight, the dress pants Shane had ordered online came up short on his ankles, and the way Shane had fixed his hair made him look like his father. But he’d do anything for Shane (especially after everything he’d put him through), and if this is what he wanted, then he’d have it.
“Do you think he’ll bring his guns?” Shane asked, bending over and placing his chin on Ryan’s shoulder.
“He’s always got a gun on his ankle, but I don’t know,” Ryan leaned into the kiss that was placed on his cheek. “I’d say it’s likely.”
“Cool,” the warmth of Shane’s chest disappeared from his back as the man went to busy himself with drinks. “And does he name his like you do?”
“Please don’t divulge that information to him,” Ryan said quietly.
“Alright, alright.” Shane came back just to kiss the back of his neck. “Sorry, I’m just excited.”
“How are you excited ? Shane, he ordered me to kill you once, if you’ll recall.” Ryan turned around, hands on his hips. Shane mocked his posture and Ryan scoffed.
“Because he didn’t let you kill me because he loved me so much,” Shane said, holding his hand out to point at Ryan. “And I wanna thank him for not letting you kill me, and I wanna thank him with spaghetti and meatballs.”
“Pretty sure spaghetti isn’t Italian. And I feel like you assumed he’s Italian.”
“He looks like my ex-girlfriend’s dad,” Shane said, reaching over Ryan’s head for the fancy glasses. “He was Italian.”
“I bet he’s not.” Ryan forgot, every now and then, that Shane had dated other people.
“I’ll find out for you.”
“Shane, please don’t.”
“Or you’ll what?” Shane said, challenging him.
“I’ll make you sit in your wheelchair like you’re supposed to.”
Shane just looked away, faux-ashamed, to pour the glasses. “Is he a red or a white wine kinda guy?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never had a meal with my boss,” Ryan reminded him.
“We’ll figure it out.” Shane patted Ryan’s back in a comforting gesture. Somehow, it worked.