Shane knew they shouldn’t have gone out there alone.
"This forest is pretty spooky, don't you think? Maybe Bigfoot will really give us a visit." Shane laughed quietly, cold air coming out of his mouth in white puffs.
It's fairly chilly too, he mused, and then looked up from his phone when no answer came from his friend. He’s been aimlessly scrolling on social media while waiting for Ryan to finish shooting the scenes he wanted. Shane pocketed the phone, glancing around, searching for Ryan. His whole body gone cold when he realized he was alone, that he probably had been alone for minutes by then. Shane called out, panic bubbling up in his chest, knocking the wind out of him. "Ryan?"
Shane knew they shouldn’t have gone out there alone, but Ryan insisted. ‘We can shoot a few cool nature clips on our own, it’s fine’. They promised Devon they wouldn’t wander too far into the woods, and they didn’t. He could’ve easily found his way back from where they were in like five minutes.
Shane should’ve paid more attention to Ryan though, he let his guard down because they were in a forest, not an old prison, or a rural house with harmless ghosts and demons he can intimidate to not even dare as much as glancing at Ryan's way. He didn’t feel any presence in the parts of the forest they explored for the video, so he let his guard down and now Ryan was missing and Shane didn’t know what the fuck to do.
No answer came, just the quiet sounds of the forest around him. The sun was still out, some birds were happily chirping, it was a beautiful day, really. And Ryan was fucking missing.
Shane took a ragged breath, his insides were doing flips, the demon in him going wild. He needed to find Ryan. He could’ve been attacked, or taken by another demon, or a wild animal, or a serial killer or–
Shane didn't realize he was moving, frantically pushing his way through bushes and trying to keep the branches out of his face.
"Ryan, goddammit, where are you?!"
He stopped for a second, trying to think rationally, but his mind was buzzing numbly, repeating the words "have to find him". Maybe he should call TJ. But what if it's a demon who has Ryan? No, he has to do this alone. It’s been only a few minutes, if Ryan wandered off on his own, he could’ve been too far away. On the other hand, if it was some demon who knows where Ryan was at that point.
It was so so dumb, going out there, just the two of them. It was only supposed to be a few minutes. But now Ryan is missing and Shane is freaking the fuck out. How could he be so careless? He always had Ryan in his sight, in every single location they visited, Shane's main focus was protecting Ryan. From nasty demons, and spirits to fucking Bigfoot if he must.
Defeated and worried, he walked back to where they started filming, so maybe if Ryan finds his way back they can meet up. Shane yelled some more, until his voice was hoarse and raw, never getting any response back, nothing. The forest was just as warm and peaceful and still.
And Ryan was fucking gone. That's it, he won't ever see him again.
Scenarios played in his head, Ryan laying on the forest ground, bleeding out, getting mauled to death by a bear or a demon.
Shane only noticed he wasn't breathing properly when actually started choking, throat closing off, and heart hammering in his chest. It felt like he was underwater, gallons and gallons of ocean water pressing down on his lungs. The chirping of the birds and the soft rustling of leaves was replaced by the sound of blood rushing in his ear. He had to find him.
"Shane?" It was faint, just barely picked up by Shane’s delicate senses, but it was Ryan. His Ryan.
"Ryan!" He tried shouting again, long legs already carrying him the direction Ryan's voice came from. He heard his name again, closer this time. Shane broke into a run. It wasn’t graceful, he almost slipped twice, but he didn’t even register it.
And finally, he saw Ryan. He was grinning at him like Shane hadn't just almost died at the thought of losing him.
Shane closed the distance between them with quick, long strides, and slammed into Ryan, arms wrapping around him like an octopus. He nearly knocked them straight on their asses.
"Whoa, easy there buddy." Ryan wheezed, face squished into Shane's chest. "I'm fine, it's okay."
Shane buried his face into Ryan's curls, breathing in his scent, his lungs working properly again. Absolute relief flooded him, rendering his whole body numb. Ryan was safe. With him.
"I was so worried. You were just gone and I-" His voice cracked and his eyes were stinging a little. He wasn’t tired, a little running around in the woods is nothing to a demon, but mentally, he was exhausted.
He just wanted to go back to the hotel and lay on the bed for a few hours. Possibly do all of that without letting go of Ryan at all.
"Shane, look at me." Ryan gently pushed him away, and Shane had to resist the urge to pull him right back. His skin was prickling just to touch Ryan, to know for sure that he's there and it’s not some cruel hallucination.
Ryan stopped talking abruptly, whatever he was about to say flew out the window apparently. His eyes widened, staring into Shane’s own.
He was staring at Shane like he saw a ghost, literally. Shane could sense the fear rolling off of him in waves, and oh it was so delicious, but it horrified him at the same time, putting him on edge. "What? What's wrong?"
And then he realized.
His eyes were black, he must’ve forgotten to get rid of them after searching for Ryan.
"Listen, I can expl–"
Shane was cut off by blinding pain radiating from his nose, spreading onto his cheeks and jaw. He saw white for a moment. His human body could only take so much and Ryan was pretty damn strong. The punch landed just the right way, with a sickening crunch. Fight or flight kicked in, and boy did Ryan fight. It hurt like a motherfucker too.
"Ow, Ryan what the hell?!" He blinked away the tears welling up in his eyes to glare at Ryan, whose expression was a mix between confused, regretful and terrified. Well, Shane could hardly blame him. There he was, one of Ryan's biggest fears standing right in front of him.
Shane was oddly proud of him, even when he tasted blood in his mouth, dripping down his lips and chin in a steady flow.
"Are you– are you possessed? I have holy water, I'm not scared to use it!"
"Yeah, I fucking noticed you're not scared." And he was laughing now, spitting out blood, because this was ridiculous. He never would've thought that Ryan Bergara, when faced with an actual demon, would just deck it in the nose. Shane lifted his hands in front of him, to show he's harmless.
"No, I'm not possessed. I'm a demon. I hadn’t meant to tell you this way, I wanted to ease you into it." His voice sounded stupid, but he did his best to remain serious as he continued.
"I understand that you're scared, and you might hate my guts now, but I'm still the same, Ryan. I promise. I still love doing Unsolved, and I still adore our movie nights, and the Disneyland trips. I would never cause you harm intentionally."
Shane sounded desperate, but he didn’t even care. Ryan was one of the best things in his life, and he wasn’t about to lose him. He was stubbornly staring at his shoes throughout his whole speech, dripping a few drops of blood on it. Aw, shit.
Ryan said nothing for a torturously long minute until Shane finally looked up at him. He was the one feeling terrified himself, of the possibility fucking up their friendship, and the hope of something more, that they danced around for months by then, neither of them brave enough to take the first step.
"Let me see your nose." Is the first thing Ryan said, and for the second time that day, Shane was so relieved. Ryan shuffled closer, already digging through his pockets for some tissue paper.
They sat next to each other on a moss covered fallen tree, and Ryan wiped off the blood from Shane’s face, with shaky hands. He was tense and clearly not comfortable with even just sitting next to him. Shane fucked up so bad, and it hurt more than his nose ever could.
"'M not gonna hurt you, Ry, I promise," Shane muttered, softly. It made Ryan's chest ache. It was just Shane, the guy who yells at ghosts to rip out his spine, and who makes Ryan laugh in the most ridiculous situations. He's tall and gangly, and when they found each other earlier, he was clinging to Ryan like his life depended on it.
"Yeah, I know, big guy." Ryan cleans his face off as best as he can, some of the blood already dried on his chin. Shane stuffed two rolled up tissue paper into his nostrils. It hurt and it was uncomfortable, but soaked up the blood.
"I think I broke your nose, I'm so sorry," Ryan said with a pained expression.
"You know, I can't believe the first thing you do when you face a demon is to punch him in the face. Who are you?" Shane laughed.
"I panicked!" Ryan flushed, embarrassed. "I thought you were going to kill me."
"Well, the jig is up." Shane laughed, there was no humor in it. "I'm gonna be real with you, if you want to be as far away from me as possible, I can do that."
Ryan looked ready to cut him off, but Shane put up his hand.
"Just, let me-- I don't think I can do this again if you interrupt me now."
He wasn't looking at Ryan while he took a shaky breath, desperately scrambling for coherent thoughts.
"I like you." He paused. "No, fuck that, I love you. People don't say that enough, you know. Actually, what do I know? I'm a demon." Shane said, wheezing, but it came out more like a strangled choke, the weight of Ryan knowing his so carefully hidden secret sat heavy on his chest.
"I'm really just rambling now, do you want to go back to the hotel? I wonder what-"
"Shane." It was more assertive this time, and Shane shut up immediately, lifting his gaze to meet Ryan's.
"Listen big guy, calm down." Both of Ryan's hands came up to frame Shane’s face, who was just staring at him, a little dazed. From the blood loss and Ryan himself too. Ryan was grinning, looking like the entire sun, and Shane thought it was so fucking unfair.
"You're an idiot. I'm gonna kiss you, alright?" Shane took three whole seconds to process the question, nodding eventually. One of his hands found its way to Ryan's wrist, Shane felt his pulse going wild. And then Ryan was pulling him down, pressing their lips together.
It wasn’t how he imagined at all.
He thought about it a lot, actually, much more than anyone else would think about kissing their best friend. Sometimes, when he was bored at their desks, just watching Ryan work. He imagined grabbing Ryan's chair, and spinning him towards himself, kissing the surprise off of his face. He imagined holding Ryan close, when they slept at some haunted place, and kissing him until he stopped worrying over the creaks and noises.
Shane thought about their half serious, half banter fights, and how he'd ache to push Ryan against the closest wall, kissing him senseless, just so he shuts up about ghosts for once.
No, when they finally kissed, his nose smashed against Ryan's cheek, sending a jolt of pain through his face. He still tasted copper in his mouth and Shane was sure Ryan could taste it too. When the pain in his nose became truly uncomfortable, he just had to pull away. It was possibly the worst kiss Shane ever had. Ryan was wheezing into his shoulder as soon as they broke apart, and he found himself laughing with him, because despite all of that, it was perfect, it was so painfully them.
Later they’d have to explain to the rest of the crew how Shane tripped, but he’s fine and no, he doesn’t need to go to the ER, it’s okay, while heading to their shared room. And if anyone noticed them holding hands, no one said anything.