Long before they started dating, they'd started using nicknames for each other.
Just small things that denounced their close friendship. And slowly, as they got closer and grew fonder, the names changed and flowed into terms which showcased the soft feelings they had for each other.
There were the standard crutch terms that they've always used, even long before they started dating; big guy and little guy, baby and babe. But slowly their meanings changed and more words were added to their vernacular, began to fall off the tongue without thought.
Ryan will call him long stuff and love and babe, knows they can't encompass the grand scale of how he feels, but they do the job anyway. But Shane, Shane uses variations of my love, hottie, honey. And while they all make Ryan melt, the one that gets Ryan is ‘my lily.’ Shane has this way of softly whispering it to his hair, against his forehead, while holding him close like he never expects Ryan to hear, like it's something he's not even aware of.
And Ryan. Ryan looks at Shane with all the love in his body, like Shane is the stars and the universe. Like he is his favourite thing in the entire cosmos, just looking at Shane makes him feel warm, like he can see a glow surrounding his goofy boyfriend.
He started calling him big guy within a month of knowing him, never really worried about how the nickname, the endearment (because it was most certainly an endearment) would be taken. It felt right, so clearly fit. And most importantly, every time he dropped it, Shane smiled. Not always something big and not always something that lasted longer than a second, more of a twitch, a hitching of his lips, but still a smile nonetheless.
And every twitch, ghost and glimpse of that smile was like seeing the clouds part slightly, a shower of warm rays and brilliance.
Honestly, looking back on how much Ryan longed to be the cause of that smile, he's embarrassed for how long it took for him to realise that he was into the Sasquatch. Doubly so when he thinks about the warm flush that would go through his body whenever Shane would look at him, face soft and eyes crinkling, as he called him “little guy”. You don't respond like that when you're not crushing on someone.
Late at night, when the thoughts of how idiotic he was back then come flooding, Ryan groans and buries his face in the nearest surface, be it his pillow or Shane himself.
Okay so maybe they'd only known each other for a couple of months, and maybe he had to fight down all the stupid things his brain kept spewing. It was like his brain was gushing like a burst pipe, flooding his skull with all the fluffy, flowery thoughts about his desk mate and friend it could possibly think of.
But Shane, Shane was just so fucking great.
He spoke in this chill, quiet voice that made it seem like all their conversations were private, like you were the only two objects around, just floating in an empty black void, pulled in and mutually orbiting because of each others gravitational pull. He was funny and kind, had the same niche interests and weird habits.
With his mind constantly churning out new metaphors for Shane and how oddly graceful he was, how pretty he looked in the afternoon sun, washed amber and glowing; Ryan had to start auto correcting himself when he went to call out to Shane for his attention or in greeting.
Which is why he's just called out to Shane who was ahead of him in the canteen. Which is why when his brain tried to force the delighted cry of “Hot stuff!” through his mental-to-verbal filter, he ended up calling--
“Did you seriously just call me long stuff ?”
Fuck his life.
Ryan recoiled slightly, shoulders rolling in as he sheepishly grinned at his friend who had turned around and paused for Ryan to catch up.
“I did, but then again, you stopped. So really, what does that say about you?”
Ryan watched (most definitely, absolutely not delighted at) the way Shane's face scrunched up comically as he mock thought about his response.
“I guess it says that I'll stop for you no matter what stupid ass name you come up for me."
Ryan's stomach did not just drop down through his ass to splat at his feet. He is positively not internally squirming at the notion that Shane is fine and dandy with anything he calls him, would stop for anything if it meant Ryan was calling for his attention.
He was not.
Fuck, he totally was.
Be cool, Bergara. Be the chill dude in those 90s movies that you always wished you could emulate in times of crisis.
“Aw, big guy, keep saying stuff like that and people will start to think you like me.”
Excellent work as always, Bergara.
The laugh that exploded from Shane had warmth spreading throughout his body. He did that, he caused that laugh. Ugh. Stop thinking like this, he's just your friend. Your best friend sure, but there is no fucking way he is feeling the same.
“Maybe that's exactly what I want people to think, little guy.”
Ryan ignores the “!!!!!!!” that his mind is screaming at him. He doesn't mean it like that.
It's late, sweet Christ is it an ungodly hour of late when Ryan wakes up, cold and grumpy and wondering where the big lumpy space heater he calls his boyfriend is. A myriad of images flicker across his vision: Shane choking on the floor, a demon squeezing his throat and forcing him to be quiet; Shane getting up silently in the night to grab everything and just walking out on him forever; Shane going to get food and just not coming back to bed; that the giant snake he'd just been dreaming of which had been attacking the city had somehow gotten to Shane without disturbing him and had left him to wallow in his loneliness for the rest of his life.
(Ryan really hopes it's the second to last one and none of the others because he really couldn't deal with that right now.)
Flopping onto his front and crawling to the other side of the bed to grab his glasses off the nightstand, Ryan prepares himself for all eventualities as he forces himself out of the nest he'd cultivated in Shane's absence. Out of the blanket’s warmth, goosebumps ripple across his arms and he scoops up a hoodie from the floor as he heads to check the living room.
The hunt for Bigfoot, he thinks and quietly snickers as he steps out of the short hallway. The case no longer remains unsolved.
Shane was sitting at the kitchen counter, face washed white from being slumped over his laptop, glasses reflecting the screen and making his eyes nonexistent. From where he was, Ryan could see the notebook Shane used from his Ruining History notes was open, pen abandoned atop a full page while Shane flicked between tabs and a word document.
When Shane stopped working to look up, Ryan became aware of the sudden absence of keys being hit, hadn't even realised that was a sound in his apartment until then.
Shane looked rough, like he hadn't slept at all despite them having gone to sleep at the same time hours ago. He had the makings of dark circles and without the glare of his screen projected on his lenses Ryan could see how glassy his eyes were.
Could see just how tired and worn he looked.
Frowning slightly, Ryan crossed the room to stand beside Shane, hand reaching to smooth down his hair, wild from hands running through it.
“What are you doing up?”
Shane sighed and twisted to lean his head against the soft fabric of Ryan's hoodie, visually slumping as the tension he’d been carrying leaked from his frame. He couldn't see himself, but Ryan could feel the fond look he was directing to the top of Shane’s head as he buried his face into Ryan's stomach, large hands coming up to loosely hook around his hips.
When Shane replied he sounded just as bad as he looked, only worse, because if Ryan didn't know any better he'd say that Shane had been crying. “Bad dream, didn't want to wake you. Thought I'd do some work.”
Muffled as they were, Shane's words carried and made something hurt deep in his chest. Ryan moved his hands to push through Shane's hair and scratch lightly at his scalp the way he knew relaxed him. Shane's nightmares, when he did get them, had a habit of playing out worse than Ryan's own. Sure they may not all contain his loved ones being tormented, but they most definitely played on his fears in truly horrible ways.
“Shane. Baby. You don't need to worry about waking me up when you have bad dreams, I'd rather have you wake me up than you be by yourself out here.”
Shane didn't respond other than to pull him closer, arms clinging around his hips. Ryan hunched slightly to brush a kiss to the top of Shane's head. It was an awkward movement, but was worth the strain in his back of it meant giving Shane some additional comfort.
“You deal with my bad dreams all the time, babe. You don't let me be alone so I don't get in my head about what I saw. Why would you think I wouldn’t want to do the same thing for you?”
Warmth ghosted across his stomach as Shane sighed against his hoodie. “I don't know,” he lifted his head to look up at Ryan. “I didn't want to bother you.”
Sweeping his hair back, Ryan pecked a kiss to his forehead softly. “When I wake you up because of my dreams, do I bother you?”
Watching Shane's face scrunch up into a frown was always an amusing sight. “Of course n-- why would I be bothered by your dreams, Ry?”
“I don't know, baby. Why would I be bothered by yours?”
Ryan watched his boyfriend roll his eyes before ducking his head back against his stomach, pulled somehow closer to his lanky frame.
Ryan's fingers rubbed through the short hair on Shane's neck as he breathed slowly. The urge to twitch at the rhythmic swampy heat of Shane's breath was strong, each exhale tickled and spread goosebumps.
“You wanna come back to bed yet, or do you want to stay out here a little longer? I can go through your work with you if that's what you want.”
Shane rocked his head from side to side, his “No” muffled and almost lost against the hoodie.
Ryan turned his head and pulled a hand away from Shane's neck to close his browser and save his document before shutting the laptop off.
“C'mon, let's go to bed.”
Stepping back forces Shane to step off the stool and stand up. Though he didn't go far, having dropped his arms over Ryan's shoulders when he'd turned to lead them back to the bedroom.
Ryan laughed as he stumbled slightly at the added weight before regaining balance. He lifted one of the big lump's hands as they walked to press a kiss to his palm before returning it to hang freely.
Back in bed, Ryan tucked the blankets tight around them before pulling Shane down on top of him. Weighed down by Shane on his chest and surrounded by warmth, Ryan hoped that this second time round would be bad dream free for the both of them.
Shane wriggled slightly to get comfortable, slid his leg over Ryan's and sighed softly. “I'm sorry I left bed.”
“Don't be,” Ryan whispered, rubbing his hand slowly between Shane's shoulders.
Shane tucked his hand up by his face, thumb sweeping back and forth across Ryan's t-shirt. “Love you.”
“Love you too, baby.”
Ryan has gotten used to Shane's antics, all of them. Sure they take him by surprise often, like cursing out the ghouls and beasties of their locations and his sudden loud screaming, but to some extent he is always prepared for them.
Shane tapping him in time with repeated words (“But, but, but, but, but, but.”) and chanting his name to get his attention when he wants it is an old hat that's been going on since week two of knowing each other.
Ryan doesn't even turn away from the coffee machine in the empty break room when he hears Shane enter. Technically, ‘explode’ would probably be a better adjective because it sounds like he burst in and slid to an abrupt stop, but it's early and Ryan doesn't care for correct adjectives at this time.
“Ryan! Ryan, Ryan, Ryan, Ryan!”
Ryan reaches for and stirs in the half and half, “Yes, my love?”
“They're going to be doing a special screening of Terminator 2 at the cinema!”
Ryan turned to lean against the counter, finally able to see the blinding excitement on Shane's face. “We've seen it four times in the past two months, babe.”
Shane ignores him. “It's going to play next month and I thought we could go see it for our anniversary and then get burgers.”
“Oh fuck,” Ryan felt his eyes widen, “that actually sounds so fucking dope.”
Shane crosses the room in like three massive steps, hands coming to hold Ryan's waist. “I also kind of want to go because it's the movie we watched when you decided to date me.”
Ryan smirked, “Is that what happened? I remember that going a little differently.”
(A little differently in the sense that Shane had said that he liked him, hands twisting around each other nervously. Actually, he'd said he loved him, his eyes had gone all big because he hadn't meant to let the slip.
Ryan vividly remembers this because he could hear Kyle Reese ordering “On your feet soldier ” in the background as Shane looked at him, eyes full of emotion and nerves before he'd whispered his feeling the same, both moving in at the same time.)
“Well…” Shane shrugged as he twitched his head to the side, “agree to disagree.”
Laughing, Ryan blindly sat his coffee down before hooking his hand around Shane's neck to pull him down. “Sure, love, we'll agree to disagree.”
Ryan loves Shane, has never denied it, never wanted to. He's bright and sweet and handsome as the day is long. He has this ability to radiate calm and such warmth that it makes Ryan want to bask in his presence all fucking day. To just worship at the altar of his life. Which is why it's second nature when the endearment falls off his tongue, why wouldn't it be? Two of his favourite things that fit together so well.
Shane had called for his attention. Probably a couple of times by now but Ryan was balls deep in hunting down their ghost evidence, only had the capacity answer distractedly as his eyes rapidly flicked across the screen looking for movement.
When there was no follow through, Ryan turned away to shoot Shane a confused look, eyebrow ticked up. "Shane?"
The Shane in question was just standing there, wide eyed with the smallest smile Ryan had ever seen on his face. And he was absolutely fucking blushing to the tips of his ears and base of his throat, probably further down.
"You called me sunflower."
Ryan refused to be embarrassed about this despite the heat he could feel in his cheeks. They'd been together for 8 months, he's allowed to call Shane whatever he wants.
Shane met his eyes before looking just past him at the solitary sunflower sitting in an old vodka bottle because they'd broken their last vase. Ryan also looked at the flower, insides quirking at the memory of finding it on his work desk between meetings because Shane had left it there for him.
"They're my favourite."
Shane nodded. "I know."
"You're also my favourite."
The silence that reigned after his statement (the very obvious one in his opinion) had Ryan turning away from looking at the flower only to once more find his boyfriend a blushing mess. To be fair, he'd probably never stopped, but it was certainly darker now.
Amused, Ryan got up and crossed the short distance to loop his arms around Shane's hips, head craned back to look up at the tall idiot. "You do understand you're my favourite right? Co-worker, friend, boyfriend. If I was Forrest Fenn, you'd be the treasure I'd hide away and protect."
He could feel the breath Shane let out slowly as those long tree limb arms slowly lifted to tangle around his shoulders. "Ryan, my sweetest love, how the fuck can you say something like that to me and then expect me to function coherently for the rest of the day."
Ryan absolutely does not think ‘How do you expect me to function when you can say something like that so god damn easily, barely blinking? How do you think I feel, Shane?’
He most absolutely does not get the intrusive thought of ‘I know talking isn't necessary but words are my love language so please just speak your fucking truth.’
(He kind of hates Shane a little bit for introducing him to That's Cringe.)
Rolling his eyes and mentally shaking himself free of the track his mind has travelled down, Ryan dipped his head to press a kiss to Shane's chest. Judging by the soft giggle that vibrated against his lips, the kiss landed on what was most likely Shane's nipple.
"If me saying that knocks you off your game, big guy, I guess I'm not saying it often enough."
A hand carded through his hair, long fingers trailing down to rub gently at his neck. "I love you to the moon and beyond, Ryan, but I really don't think I'd be able to handle you stepping up your romance game."
Seriously, how does he just say these things? If Shane ever tried to step up his romance game he'd probably end up killing him.
"If it makes you feel any better," Ryan pulled back enough to be able to look up at Shane without developing too much of a crick in his neck, "I also think of you as sunflower because you're both too fucking tall. No one and no thing needs to be this fucking tall. And yet here you and those plants are. Being hideously tall and gorgeous, drawing me in and making me feel warm and happy."
"Oh fuck you, Bergara."
The sentiment held no heat, was simply just a vessel for how fucked up and in love Ryan had managed to make him feel.
Shifting up on his tiptoes, Ryan pressed a lingering kiss to Shane's lips, humming softly before pulling away. "Maybe later, hot stuff. I gotta get back to the footage so I can finally shove your face in proof."
Shane looked at him, eyes shifting to look back and forth between his before huffing a laugh. "I highly doubt you'll find anything, but sure. Go back to your evidence."
Shane turned to head into the kitchen before pausing to turn back. "Right that's what I wanted to-- what did you want for dinner?"