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Ancient Bruises

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Ryan’s elbow deep in the produce section of Vons when someone taps him on the shoulder.

“Ryan?” a voice asks. “Ryan Bergara?”

Ryan startles, dropping the bundle of cilantro he’d been holding and turning around. He’s not sure who he expected it to be, but Shane Madej is definitely at the bottom of the list. He hasn’t seen him in four or five years now, not since BuzzFeed Unsolved ended after season six.

“Uhh,” Ryan says, the surprise obliterating his ability to function.

Shane laughs and Ryan hates how his stomach swoops from the familiarity of the sound. “Yeah, I didn’t expect to see you here either.”

“Hi,” Ryan finally gets out and Shane smiles.


A moment passes, years of missed opportunities hanging over them, and Ryan doesn’t even know where to begin to try starting again.

“How have you been?” he asks tentatively and Shane rubs the back of his neck, clearly uncomfortable.

“Sorry, I can’t actually stay and talk,” he admits, glancing down at his watch. “I have a meeting in eight minutes. I just stopped to grab lunch.”

He holds up a deli sandwich as proof and a twisting kind of disappointment works its way through Ryan’s body.

“Oh,” Ryan says, the corner of his mouth quirking as he lets out a huff of humorless laughter. “Guess we’ll have to wait another five years.”

Shane pulls a face like maybe he has some regrets about it. “I’m free this week. We should get drinks. Do you still have my number?”

“No, I — uh — new phone. You know how it is,” Ryan says, but it’s a lie. He’d deleted Shane from his contacts after a few years of silence.

Shane’s expression hints that he knows, but isn’t about to start an argument about it. Instead, he reaches into his pocket for his wallet and pulls out a business card. Apparently, he’s working at a film company now as a media coordinator, at least that’s what the card says before Ryan tucks it into his phone case.

“Text me,” Shane tells him. “It’ll be nice to catch up.”

Ryan can’t help but think that if Shane really felt that way, he would’ve kept in contact in the first place.

“Yeah,” Ryan agrees to be polite. “Sure.”

Shane watches him for a moment, one side of his mouth curled down like he already knows Ryan won’t message him. “Take care, Ryan. It was good to see you.”

Shane pats him on the shoulder and then just as quickly as he’d shown up, he disappears, leaving Ryan staring blankly at the cilantro, no longer feeling at all hungry.


Hey this is Shane, says a text almost two weeks later. Hope this is still your number. I never heard from you, but if you want to grab drinks, just let me know.

Ryan gets it while he’s halfway through microwaving a frozen burrito. Another follows it less than a minute later.

Or I can leave you alone.

It’s tempting not to respond. Shane doesn’t need to know he’s still using the same number. But Ryan knows the guilt might eat him alive.

He gives it a good thirty minutes before responding so it seems less desperate.

Sorry, it’s been busy. Is there a day/time that works for you?

Shane responds before Ryan can lock and set aside his phone. Tomorrow, 8pm?

Ryan can’t help but feel like Shane’s trying to meet before Ryan can change his mind. Sure. Got a place in mind?

Shane sends him a Maps link to a bar about twenty minutes away that Ryan’s never been to.

Cool, Ryan texts back, see you tomorrow.

An uneasy feeling rolls through him and Shane replies with a single backwards smiley face.



Their night out is the only thing Ryan’s able to think about all day at work and by the time he parks nearby, a few minutes after eight, his palms are sweating.

It’s ridiculous, because it’s not like Ryan doesn’t know him. He just needs to get through a drink or two and then they can go back to ignoring each other. It’ll be fine.

The issue is that the second Ryan steps inside, he notices Shane, and his stomach swoops like it used to whenever he had crushes in high school. Shane’s standing at the bar, a head above everyone else around him, and he’s laughing with the bartender like they know each other. Ryan freezes just inside the doorway, unable to look away until someone else walks in and accidentally hits him with the door.

“Shit, sorry,” the guy apologizes and Ryan waves him off.

“I’m fine,” he promises and by the time he turns back towards Shane, Shane’s caught sight of him, attention drawn by the commotion.

Shane waves and Ryan has nowhere to go but closer.

“Picking fights already?” Shane jokes, taking a sip of something dark in his tumbler.

“Forgot how doors work,” Ryan replies and Shane laughs.

“What can I get you?”

“I’ll have whatever you’re drinking,” Ryan says, just to make it easy and Shane shrugs like it doesn’t matter to him.

When the bartender comes close, Shane leans over to make it easier to be heard. “Can we get another, Lucca? Add it to my tab.”

When Lucca passes the drink over, Ryan immediately takes a draw, relishing the burn of alcohol as he swallows.

“Here,” Shane says, setting a heavy hand on Ryan’s shoulder, “there’s a quiet table in the back.”

Ryan doesn’t try to argue, just lets Shane lead him away towards a two-top table in a corner that actually is pretty quiet compared to the rest of the bar.

“Thanks for coming,” Shane says when they sit down, his hands dwarfing the glass between them. “I didn’t know if you would.”

“I said I would,” Ryan points out and Shane shrugs.

“Guess I don’t know you that much these days.”

“That’s not my fault.”

“Didn’t say it was,” Shane says smoothly, but if he’s annoyed, he doesn’t show it. He takes a drink and eyes Ryan over the rim of his glass. “It’s good to see you again.”

“It’s been a while.” It’s an understatement, but Shane just nods.

“It has. You’re doing okay?”

“I’m fine. You?”

“Yeah,” Shane agrees. “I’m fine.”

The silence stretches between them, though it’s thankfully filled with the nearby chatter of other patrons and the gentle thud of music.

“This is weird,” Shane says bluntly, which is exactly how Ryan feels. “We’ve forgotten how to talk to each other.”

“It’s been a while,” Ryan replies and Shane laughs, something that actually sounds genuine.

“Think we already established that.”

Ryan takes another drink and lets out a sigh, figuring that honesty is the only way forward. “I’d hoped we’d just fall back into our old routine. We used to talk for hours about nothing.”

Shane smiles crookedly, like he’s remembering the good times. “Guess that’s what happens when you work together twenty-four-seven.”

“It was weird not working with you after I quit,” Ryan admits. “It still is. Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if we’d started our own channel or something. I think we could’ve done it.”

Shane shrugs with one shoulder. “Maybe,” he says carefully. “Or maybe it was time for a change. Things have been good for me.”

“I’m glad,” Ryan says and finds that he actually means it.

“Where are you at these days?” Shane asks, a careful kind of prying.


Shane’s eyebrows move towards his hairline as he lets out a low whistle. “Nice.”

“I’m working my way up to something good.”

“You always did have high expectations for yourself. You could never settle.”

Ryan laughs, mostly because Shane’s right, and Shane leans back in his chair watching him with a steady gaze.

“What?” Ryan asks, because it looks like Shane’s thinking about saying something.

Shane rakes his fingers through his hair and shakes his head. “It’s nothing.”

Ryan knows to wait. Shane always cracks under pressure, especially when Ryan's watching him, waiting for an explanation.

Shane exhales and says, "BuzzFeed was never going to hold your attention for long. I knew the day would come when you'd leave, I just didn't know it would be as soon as it was. I didn’t see it coming."

"Shane, you were the first person I told after I decided to go.”

“You mean two days before you handed in your resignation? Is that meant to mean something? You still left me.”

“I left the job,” Ryan corrects, wholly aware of the bitterness in Shane's tone. It says a lot that that’s how Shane thinks about it. Not that Ryan left BuzzFeed, but that Ryan left him. “It’s not like you stayed long.”

From what Ryan had heard, Shane had left two or three months after Ryan.

Shane laughs hollowly. “They wouldn’t fund any of my ideas. We were a package deal, remember? I wasn’t worth much to them after you left.”

It’s clearly an old wound that’s been poked and prodded and left to fester and Ryan’s not proud of having accidentally reopened it.

“You never said,” Ryan says gently. “You could’ve called me and maybe I could’ve helped with negotiations.”

“You couldn’t have done anything,” Shane points out. “You had no sway once you left.”

“We could’ve tried.”

Shane passes a hand briefly over his eyes, but after, he seems more focused and a little calmer. “Ryan, I was so angry with you. I kept having recurring dreams about laying you out. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I’d seen you again.”

Ryan raises his brows in surprise. “I don’t think you would’ve hit me,” he says because Shane’s the least violent person he knows.

“I would’ve done something I’d regret,” Shane promises and that Ryan believes.

“Should I be grateful you didn't suckerpunch me in Vons?"

Shane laughs and looks down at the table, smudging a drop of condensation with his finger. “I’m too old to hold grudges, Ryan. You did what you had to. I don’t blame you for that. Not now.”

"So you won't do something you'll regret tonight?" Ryan asks and it's only meant to be a joke, but somehow comes out sounding like too much.

"I didn't say that," Shane teases in return and Ryan feels off balance. They've never pushed at the unspoken boundaries before. "You know, I've thought about this."

Ryan doesn't say anything, fearing he'll accidentally implicate himself.

"I wondered how we'd meet again," Shane continues. "Maybe it would be at a wedding of a mutual friend, or maybe BuzzFeed would finally convince us both of a reunion season of Unsolved."

"How we’d meet, not if?" Ryan asks and Shane shakes his head.

"The industry and L.A. are too small. It was going to happen sometime."

"Vons seems anticlimactic."

"Y'know," Shane starts before stopping, like he's started a thought he's not sure he should continue.


Shane drains the last of his drink before staring into the glass. It takes a moment, but eventually, he says, "I followed you for fifteen minutes before saying hi."

Ryan blinks and clutches at his drink like a lifeline. "But I never noticed.”

Shane nods. “I know. All those years spent talking about horrific murder cases and you never learned a thing about being more observant.”

“You said you had a meeting,” Ryan points out. “It was your own fault you were almost late.”

"I didn't have a meeting," Shane admits. "I just panicked."

Ryan lets out a soft laugh because he should’ve expected it. "Got anything else to confess?"

“Sure,” Shane continues like he might as well go all-in. "I knew you wouldn't text me. The second I left the store, I knew. I paid two hundred bucks to get an old phone fixed because I knew I had your number somewhere on it and I thought the chance was worth it."

"Jesus Christ, Shane,” Ryan says, swallowing thickly, because he doesn’t know how else to respond.

Shane swirls the ice around in his glass and looks up at him, smiling wryly. "How's that for a confessional?"

Ryan watches him silently, feeling off guard, and Shane leans back in his chair.

"I've been here since six," Shane admits. "I've had too much alcohol to safely be around you."

"You're afraid of what you might say?"

"Bit late for that," Shane points out. "I'm afraid of what I might do."

"You already said you didn't want to punch me anymore."

Shane nods. "No punching this time around."

Ryan's not sure he wants to keep pushing the conversation. It's heading in an unknown direction and Shane's always been unpredictable at the best of times.

“I thought it would be easy," Shane says without prompting. "Y'know, being an adult and sitting down with you again. I thought 'what's the worst that could happen?'"

"Shane," Ryan warns and Shane smiles at him like he already knows he's fucked up.

“I thought five years would be long enough to forget how I feel about you.”


“But, it wasn’t even long enough to make it past tense.”

Ryan follows Shane’s lead and finishes his own drink in one large gulp. It burns all the way down, but stops him from immediately losing his mind and reaching across the table to strangle Shane with his bare hands.

“I should go,” Ryan says, resting his palms flat on the table for a moment, needing to ground himself. He takes a deep breath and after a moment, he reaches into his wallet and drops a ten dollar bill beside Shane. He doesn’t have anything smaller, but it’s a small price to pay for an easy exit. “It was good to see you.”

“Ryan,” Shane attempts, but Ryan smiles sadly at him.

“Take it easy, Shane.”

He stands up, but Shane doesn’t try to stop him, just stares down at his empty glass, apparently resigned to the fact that he took a risk and it didn’t work out.

Taking a steadying breath, Ryan doesn’t look back as he makes his way towards the exit, a headache already forming behind his right eye.

Outside, in the cooler air, Ryan finally feels like he can think again. He pauses at the edge of the sidewalk, breathing hard and knowing he’s panicking. He focuses on passing cars, the sounds of nightlife around him, trying his best to calm down. He’s not sure how long he waits there, but he realizes his mistake when there’s a voice behind him.

“Ryan?” Shane asks, and Ryan should’ve saved his panic for the car because now he’s caught again. “Are you okay?”

Ryan turns to find Shane lingering in the entranceway, tucking his wallet into his pocket.

“I’m fine,” Ryan lies, raking his fingers through his hair. “Where did you park?”

Shane moves out of the way of a couple trying to enter the bar and steps closer. “I got a Lyft.”

“You still don’t have a car?” Ryan asks with an exasperated laugh because he’s not entirely surprised.

“I still have a PowerPoint of reasons why I don’t need one, if you need a refresher,” Shane fires back, and for the first time that night, it actually feels like the old times.

Ryan rolls his eyes enough for Shane to see and shoves his hands into his pockets, fingers brushing his keys. He knows it’s a bad idea before he says it, but can’t help but ask, “Want a ride home?”

Shane hesitates, watching him like it’s some kind of trick. “You don’t need to,” he says and Ryan shrugs.

“I know, but I’m offering.”

“I can order a Lyft right now.”

“Shane,” Ryan says gently. “I’m not gonna force you. It’s your decision.”

After a moment, Shane finally relents with a nod. “Sure. Thanks.”

“My car’s this way,” Ryan says with a tip of his head, but as he starts heading down the street, he doesn’t look back to make sure Shane’s following.


Somehow, the car ride isn’t as uncomfortable as Ryan expects it to be.

“It’s a left up here,” Shane directs, fidgeting with his seatbelt. Ryan thinks it might be nerves from being trapped in a small space with him.

As Ryan flicks on his signal and pulls up to the red light, the windshield wipers switch on automatically, detecting the first few spots of rain against the glass.

“Didn’t know it was going to rain,” Ryan says and Shane grunts in acknowledgment.

“Next two days apparently.”

“We need it,” Ryan replies and Shane laughs quietly. When Ryan looks over, he catches a flash of Shane’s grin under the street lights. “What?”

Shane glances at him and Ryan turns back to the road as the light turns green. “That’s such a Californian thing to say.”

Ryan scoffs. “Not sure if you know this, but we are in fact in California.”

“Take a right at the next light,” Shane says, “brah.”

It startles a laugh out of Ryan and he takes one hand off the wheel to give Shane a quick shaka sign. “Hell yeah, bro.”

He makes the turn and the rain picks up, drumming louder against the windshield and bumping the wipers to a faster speed. Ryan slows a little, all too aware of what California roads are like when wet.

“Guess we left at the right time,” Ryan murmurs and Shane hums in agreement beside him.

It falls silent, with Shane giving directions here and there for twenty minutes before they pull up outside an apartment complex.

“This is me,” Shane says and Ryan puts the car in park and lets out a whistle.

“You upgraded. It has luxury in the name.”

Shane laughs and shakes his head. “They’ll call anything luxury these days.”

“You’re probably right.”

“I’m always right,” Shane jokes, picking a piece of lint off his pants. “But you could come up and see for yourself if you don’t trust me.”

Ryan’s stomach flips. “Shane.”

Shane’s silent for a long moment like he’s trying to find the right words. “Am I even in the right ballpark? Or is it just me on the in field playing with myself?”

“That’ll get you put on a list,” Ryan tries, but when Shane doesn’t even crack a smile, he sighs and looks out the driver’s side window. “You’re in the right ballpark.”

“But? You don’t want to play ball? Do you not like ball games?”

Ryan lets out a huff of laughter and looks back at him. “I think your analogy is getting too complicated. I like ball games.”

“We could do this and never see each other again if that’s the issue.”

“What part of that would make this easier?” Ryan asks and Shane shrugs loosely.

“It could give us closure. A proper send-off. There’s no risk now,” Shane points out. “We don’t work together. You can go back to pretending I don’t exist.”

“Sounds healthy,” Ryan says sarcastically and Shane sighs.

“My point is you can do whatever you want after. Whatever helps you sleep at night.”

Ryan waits, trying to collect his thoughts, the rain hitting the roof in a low roar. It would be easy. It would give him answers to a lot of questions he’s always had. Maybe it would be the kind of closure he’s been looking for this whole time.

Turning off the engine of his car, Ryan says, “I should see the luxury for myself.”


Ryan doesn’t see the luxury. In fact, he doesn’t see anything because the second Shane lets him into the apartment, he pins Ryan against the inside of the front door and kisses him.

His mouth is warm and insistent in a way Ryan never thought it would be. In all honesty, he always thought Shane would just bottle things up and would never say anything. But maybe he’s bottled things up for too long and it’s escaping out of him like the fizz of champagne that’s been jostled too much.

Ryan lets out a surprised noise and Shane pulls back just enough to gauge his reaction.

“Should we talk about this?” Ryan asks and Shane shakes his head, apparently having already made up his mind.

“I’ve said enough for one night.”

Ryan lets out a breath, staring up at Shane and trying to judge the risk versus reward. The issue is that they’ve only ever followed each other into things, and he doesn’t know what to do now when Shane wants him to follow after all this time.

Shane’s thumb traces along Ryan’s cheek and Ryan caves almost immediately, hooking his hand behind Shane’s neck and pulling him back in. Shane doesn’t resist, crowding closer and letting one hand drop down to Ryan’s waist.

If he’s going to make a bad decision, he may as well go all-in, but it’s easy to kiss Shane back, letting Shane lean into him, too eager for his own good. His hands keep shifting against Ryan like he doesn’t know what he wants to touch first now that he’s allowed.

“There’s no rush,” Ryan says with a punched out laugh when Shane slips his hands under the hem of his shirt, his palms cold against Ryan’s warm skin.

Shane grunts, like he’s not quite convinced, and kisses him again, just as insistent as before. Ryan doesn’t know what to do with this new side of Shane. He’s seen a lot of Shane over the years, but never this. He feels out of his depths.

When Shane finally breaks away to take a couple of heaving breaths, Ryan lets his head tip back against the door, shutting his eyes and feeling the burn of his face, not sure if it’s from alcohol or Shane’s attention. When he opens his eyes, Shane’s watching him.

“Hi,” Shane says, which really isn’t what Ryan expects.

“Hey,” Ryan replies softly and Shane touches his jaw.

“Nothing was the same after you left.” It’s a heavy admission and Shane doesn’t give him time to respond before leaning in to kiss him again. He somehow seems even more frantic, like he’s reminded himself that this is his one last chance with Ryan.

He’s rougher this time as he turns them, pinning Ryan against the wall opposite, making sure he isn’t going anywhere, before slipping a thigh between Ryan’s legs. Ryan feels off-balance. He’s already stretched thin rising up onto the balls of his feet to reach Shane’s mouth and Shane keeps pushing for more.

Shane,” Ryan moans as Shane presses so perfectly against his dick, with just enough firmness, that it feels like he’s losing his mind.

“C’mon, Ryan,” Shane encourages, both hands moving to Ryan’s hips, gently persuading him to rock against the pressure.

It’s almost too much as Ryan lets out a shuddering breath and clutches at Shane’s shoulders. He presses forward and Shane watches him, his gaze too intense for Ryan to handle. He hides his face in the curve of Shane’s neck and loses himself to the feeling.

“That’s it,” Shane tells him and Ryan lets out a heavy exhale against his throat that turns into a strangled groan.

When he agreed to come up to the apartment, he didn’t think it would be anything close to this. He thought it might be awkward and fumbling, but Shane’s ripping it out of them like he doesn’t care about the five years of nothing between them. It’s just the two of them back together, toeing the line of innuendo, taking bits farther than they should, pushing at each other until it all gets too much.

Ryan clutches at him, fingers digging in probably enough to hurt, but Shane doesn’t mention it.

“I missed you so much,” Ryan blurts out, unable to stop himself, and Shane encourages him on, moves his hips a little faster.

“I want you to come like this,” Shane tells him and Ryan doesn’t think that’ll be a problem. It’s going to happen whether or not they want it to.

Ryan breathes unevenly against his throat, taken aback by his own lack of control, knowing he hasn’t been worked up so much or so quickly for as long as he can remember.

“Let me see you,” Shane orders, and it’s too much. The way Shane curls his fingers into Ryan’s hair and pulls his head back until their eyes can meet, the weight of Shane’s gaze on him, greedy and unabashed.

Ryan lets out a gasping breath and shudders, coming in his pants like he’s a teenager again, his whole body alight. They’ve always been a good team and he doesn’t know why he thought this would be any different.

“Jesus,” he exhales, holding onto Shane to keep from collapsing, his knees too weak to support him. “Fuck.”

Shane squeezes at his hips, his hands feeling too large on Ryan’s body for him to think about too much. He leans down to kiss Ryan, not letting him catch his breath, and Ryan thinks he might have a bit of a thing for this boisterous side to Shane.

“God, Shane,” Ryan says, eventually pulling away, smoothing his hands along Shane’s shoulders for something to do with his hands.

Shane shifts against him and Ryan’s well aware of his interest. He slides a hand up to Shane’s neck, thumb tracing underneath his chin.

“What do you want?” he asks and Shane looks down at him like he doesn’t know what to ask for first. Ryan can’t help but laugh, but stops when Shane pulls away, hands abruptly dropping to the button of his own pants. Shane has Ryan’s full attention as he unbuttons and unzips, shoving at his jeans and underwear just enough to reach his cock.

“Jesus,” Ryan murmurs, and Shane catches his gaze for just a fraction of a second before staring back down, hand working himself with unrelenting tugs. The tip of his cock is already so wet and Ryan thinks it might be because of him.

He reaches down, curling his hand around Shane’s own, not entirely helping, but feeling the way Shane touches himself.

“Did you think about this?” Ryan asks on a hunch and Shane lets out a soft moan and shakes his head.

“I didn’t think you’d agree to come up,” Shane admits, jaw tensing when Ryan drags his thumb through his precome.

“You didn’t think I’d touch you like this?”

“I didn’t think you’d even talk to me at the start of the night.”

Ryan swirls his thumb again. “Instead, you made me come.”

Shane glances up, seeming to realize what Ryan’s doing.

“Do you want to come for me?” Ryan asks, and Shane’s expression crumples, mouth falling open as he draws in ragged breaths.

“Ryan,” he pleads and Ryan lets out a small huff of laughter.

“You don’t stand a chance, do you?” With his other hand, Ryan reaches down, pulling up his shirt enough to show off his midriff. “Want to come on me?”

The noise Shane lets out sounds pained.

“Forgot how much of an asshole you can be,” Shane gets out, pinning Ryan against the wall with one hand, his fist almost a blur as he strokes himself. “You’re so — I just — ”

Shane comes quicker than Ryan expects, the heat of it shocking against his skin. Shane bends forwards, face pressing against Ryan’s shoulder as he heaves for breath, the rest of his come making a mess of both their hands.

“Fuck you,” Shane exhales, though it’s clear he doesn’t mean it, because he gently kisses Ryan’s throat a couple of times before shifting his hand to the wall and pushing himself upright.

Ryan looks up at him with his best innocent expression. “Something wrong?”

Shane kisses him — probably to keep him from saying anything else — but it’s nice and unhurried, and Ryan finds his knees beginning to shake as the adrenaline wears off and he’s left trying to keep himself standing.

“Jesus,” Ryan says when Shane finally pulls away, taking a step backwards and seeming to survey the damage.

Shane lets out a low whistle. “We made a mess.”

You made a mess,” Ryan points out before glancing down for himself. “I have to drive home like this.”

Shane hesitates, shifting like he’s going to say something, but just moving to tuck his dick away instead.

“What?” Ryan asks, even though he knows better. He just can’t help himself.

Zipping and buttoning his pants suddenly seems like the most fascinating thing ever for Shane, who doesn’t meet Ryan’s gaze as he says, “You could shower here.”

“And whose best interests do you have at heart?”

Shane lets out a soft laugh and finally looks up. “It’s very kind of you to imagine me with such an impressive refractory period.”

Ryan pauses, because that wasn’t what he was hinting at, but it’s still in his wheelhouse.

“I thought you were trying to get me to stay,” Ryan admits and the right corner of Shane’s mouth twitches.

“Who said I wasn’t?”

Ryan watches him carefully, but at the heart of it, he doesn’t think Shane’s joking. After a moment, Shane lets out a breath and laughs.

“Ryan, I’m not going to force you to do anything. It’s your choice.”

Ryan feels like he's back outside the bar, trying to get Shane to make a decision about letting Ryan give him a ride home. He thinks about it for a moment, chewing the inside of his lip.

“So, if I wanted to stay?”

Shane doesn’t move, doesn't even blink, like he’s waiting for the other shoe to drop. “I guess I’d have to find you a towel and some sweats.”

Ryan nods, pretending to think about it for just a moment before pulling his shirt off, not wanting to get come across the inside. “Okay,” he agrees. “Where’s your shower?”


It feels strange to be tucked up beside Shane in the same bed again after so many years without Unsolved, but some of the familiarity is still there.

“Do you think there’s something there?” Ryan asks as Shane leans over to turn off the bedside lamp. He pauses and follows Ryan’s gaze up to the ceiling in confusion, but Ryan shakes his head and laughs. “No, I mean between us.”

“Oh,” Shane says gently, turning off the lamp and settling on his back. He has his arms folded in close, like he’s not sure if he’s allowed to touch Ryan again. “Hasn’t there always been?”

“Do you think it’s time to address it?”

Shane looks over, but Ryan can’t see the details of his expression in the dark. “I thought that’s what we just did in the hallway.”

“But is that where it stops?” Ryan asks, carefully rolling onto his side, facing Shane. “Maybe it’ll be easier now we don’t work together.”

It’s quiet for long enough that Ryan begins to wonder if Shane has fallen asleep. But eventually, Shane says, “I don’t want to wait another five years to see you again.”

Ryan reaches out before he can think better of it, but instead of getting Shane’s shoulder, he manages to knock Shane’s jaw hard enough that Shane lets out a surprised noise.

Laughing, Ryan rolls further into his space, cupping Shane’s face with a little more care. “Sorry,” he apologizes. “Forgot how big your head is.”

“Thanks,” Shane replies blandly. “I’m glad we’re having this heart-to-heart.”

Using his thumbs to find Shane’s mouth, Ryan quickly kisses him, an additional apology, and Shane brings his hand up to Ryan’s shoulder, keeping him right where he is.

“How about dinner?” Ryan asks against his lips. “We could start there.”

“You’re sure?”

Up close, Ryan can see the way Shane’s watching him, a silent kind of hope in his eyes. “We have a lot to catch up on.”

“We do,” Shane agrees, and when he leans up to kiss Ryan, a gentle warmth flows through Ryan all the way down to his toes.