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Practice Makes Perfect

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"I feel sorry for them," Michael says, as Ryan hands over a beer. Michael hates beer, but he doesn't turn it down.

"I don't," Ryan says, popping the cap on his. "Spoiled little rich kids turn out to be fucking assholes. Oldest story in the world."

"Nah," Michael says, trying and failing to get the cap off. Ryan takes it and pops it for him, grinning as he hands it back. Michael rolls his eyes. "Just too stupid to know what was really going on, too smart for their age. Didn't you feel restless back when you were in school?" He's pretty sure Ryan did – Michael certainly did, and neither one of them is as smart as their characters are supposed to be.

"What do you mean, they don't get what's going on?" Ryan asks, looking intrigued. "They're pathological. Isn't that type of crazy genetic or something?"

"Not entirely," Michael answers, though he's not sure that's really the question Ryan is asking. "But that's not what I'm talking about. They were in love, don't you see? Didn't you read the script?"

"Oh, that," Ryan waves a hand magnanimously. "Yeah, but so what? It's a crazy sort of love, they don't even know how gay they are."

"I think Justin knows," Michael says, slowly, because he thinks Richard knows too, but he doesn't want to speak for Ryan's character.

"You think so?"

"Yeah." Then something occurs to him and he amends, "Well, about the gay. Not about the kinky."

"Kinky?" Ryan laughs, a dismissive sort of laugh like Michael's talking stupid again. He gets that way sometimes.

Ryan's smart, but he's cool too; he suits his character to a tee – Michael'd be willing to bet he was never awkward in his whole life. But he doesn't always see everything, and Michael thought he might have missed this. "Roleplay. Our first several scenes together. In the classroom, in their hideout?"

"That's not kinky," Ryan says, and Michael isn't quite sure how to dispute something Ryan seems to believe wholeheartedly.

"Come on," Michael says, getting up. "Let's go through it." He goes to stand in the farthest corner of the room, giving them space to go through the blocking. "Justin's waiting, looking over the edge and into oblivion." He doesn't hear Ryan move, so he turns around to look. Ryan's looking at him shrewdly.

"Justin's thinking about him, isn't he? About them, about how doomed this whole thing is."

Michael nods. He's sure Justin's thinking about throwing himself off the side, how hopeless his relationship with Richard is, how it will never be what he wants.

"And Richard is thinking what a good joke this will be, waving a gun around and scaring his friend." Richard make his first finger and thumb into a gun and gets off the couch, setting his beer on the table. Michael turns around and waits to feel the poke at the back of his head. Ryan does and Michael turns around, thinking of Justin's confusion at this point. How he's actually scared because the gun looks pretty real at first glance, how he's also turned on because Richard is threatening him, might do something drastic, might tie him up, might –

"Talk, talk, talk," Ryan says, maneuvering them across the space, and into the other corner of the room.

"Flirt, flirt, flirt."

Ryan's eyes shutter a little, like he's only just gotten that this is kind of sexy, that the way they're playing at danger is hot, and maybe if they went one step further instead of backing away…

"And then I choke you," Ryan says softly, putting his hand around Michael's neck. He feels Justin's excitement there, but it's secondary now to his own; this scene is the reason he took this movie, and prayed they'd get a second actor that he could really work with. He hadn't even hoped for someone as smart and thoughtful and willing to go there as Ryan.

"Your thumb is on my face," Michael says, breathing shallowly, trying not to give himself away, not yet. Justin's getting excited here, and Michael isn't immune to the cues, either. "When I read the scene, I assumed you'd put your hands around my neck, but the way you're cupping my jaw."

"I only have one hand," Ryan says, indicating his finger gun with the other. "I need to get the best grip I can on your skull to keep you still."

Michael smiles, coming out of character for a minute to put his hand around Ryan's neck, the crook of his thumb just above Ryan's adam's apple and his thumb and fingers squeezing Ryan's jaw.

"But the fingerprint line is about your neck," Ryan says, pulling Michael's hand away from his jaw. Ryan's eyes are dark, pupils wide and black in the low light. He puts his hand on Michael's face again, digging his fingers into the back of Michael's neck and pushing him up against the wall. Michael grunts a little and he can feel Justin's excitement ratchet up a notch.

"And then Richard gets spooked," Michael says, putting his right hand on top of Ryan's left, the one that's holding him by the neck. "He pulls away, the moment is over." He can feel Justin's crushing disappointment at the words, even though he and Ryan are still locked into the not-really-a-strangle hold.

Ryan's still looking at Michael, and Justin might never have the guts to make the first move, but Michael's got a little more experience, and Ryan is smart and hot and totally not going to kill anybody, even if he doesn't go all the way with Michael's plan. "But what if," Michael says, leaning forward, close enough to feel Ryan's breath on his face, "what if Justin wasn't a pussy. What if he kissed Richard, just now?"

It's not far to meet Ryan's lips, and Michael lowers his eyes and hopes Ryan will go with it. They're roleplaying on top of roleplaying and half the fun is wondering if things might have been different if their characters had just gone one more step.

Ryan kisses him back, though the whole thing is tentative. Michael can feel Justin in the back of his mind, watching from a distance with something that feels like wonder. The questioning feel of the kiss breaks and he can feel Ryan's hand squeeze his neck. Ryan brings his other hand up so he has complete control of Michael's head, tilting it to make the kiss fit better, pulling him in closer and rubbing his thumbs over Michael's cheekbones. Justin fades into the background and Michael grabs Ryan's shirt and pulls him forward, crushing himself against the wall with Ryan's weight.

"Fuck," Ryan says, pulling back from the kiss long enough to take a couple heavy breaths. "Maybe things could have been different for them."

Michael nods, keeping his eyes fixed on Ryan's shiny lips. "Maybe."