Notes: But-but-but…nothing is resolved yet! Woman, the hell is your problem?
I know. One more chapter with resolution and probably some more sex (I have a special request that I’m considering) and then an epilogue, and then a Ryan’s POV and then done! You keep thinking we’re already there, and I keep pulling the rug out from under you. Wicked, is how my man describes me. And he is totally correct. Sometimes.
Title: Love Letters
Part Thirty-Eight: Great Expectations
Ryan had offered to get a hotel, early on in the planning. He said it was because he didn’t want to intrude on Ben’s home, and Ben had immediately replied that Ryan wouldn’t be an intrusion. After a pause, Ryan had asked, “Are you sure?” like he didn’t quite believe Ben. And yeah, there was something to the idea that Ben would want to keep his home to himself. It wasn’t exactly sacrosanct or anything, Michael had been over several times and Heather pretty much owned the couch these days, but the rest of it was...really kind of private.
At least the mausoleum-like air was dissipating now; Ben was in the process of very carefully packing up the Franklin Letters, to be hand-delivered to Calanthe when she visited the first week of the new year. She would then carry them herself, by hand, back to Boston. It was a kind of ridiculous length to go to in Ben’s opinion, but Calanthe was the one splurging on the plane tickets, so it was her call. She wasn’t even going to stay a full day: fly in in the morning, probably stay just long enough to redo all of Ben’s efforts at packing, and then flying out in the evening. All of the letters and journals could be fit into two small carry-ons, and she probably planned on keeping them within sight at all times. And once she left…that would be that.
So no, Ben didn’t want Ryan staying in a hotel. Apart from the expense and the enforced time apart it would necessitate, Ben felt like if there was anyone he could start breaking down a few more walls with, anyone who he might feel comfortable letting in to some of the deeper parts of his life, it was Ryan. When he felt nothing but pleasure at pulling Ryan through the front door and locking it behind them, when he felt a tinge of anticipation but not apprehension when Ryan took a few steps down the hall, looking around curiously, Ben felt justified in bringing Ryan home with him.
Ryan stopped at the end of the foyer and stared at a blank spot on the wall in front of him. “What used to hang here?” he asked.
“An original Buttersworth painting,” Ben replied, putting Ryan’s backpack down at the foot of the stairs.
“Isn’t he the one who did all the ships?”
“Why did you take it down?” Ryan asked as he turned to face Ben.
“I needed to change my perspective,” Ben said with a shrug. He didn’t add anything else, and after a moment Ryan jut nodded.
“I know the feeling. So.” He looked around with interest. “Can I get the tour?”
“Let me show you your room first.” Ben hoisted up the backpack again and led the way up the narrow staircase.
“For some reason I thought you didn’t have spare bedrooms,” Ryan said, and maybe Ben was imagining it, but he sounded a tiny bit disappointed that he was going to have his own space to sleep. “You always say that Heather sleeps on the couch.”
“I offered a room to her once, but Heather prefers the couch. She says its way more comfortable than any bed.” Ben opened the door to the spare room and winced at how cold it was in there. “Shit, hang on.” He headed over to the radiator and turned it up, wishing he’d thought of that before he left for the airport. A freezing bedroom didn’t exactly scream “Welcome!” “Sorry, I meant to turn it up before I came to get you.”
“It’s fine,” Ryan assured him. “I can always sleep on the couch if I get desperate.”
The last thing Ben wanted was Ryan sleeping all the way downstairs. “There’s always my room, too,” he offered without thinking. Ryan smiled, then got serious.
“Actually, that…okay, I have to ask. What’s okay on this trip?” Ben must have looked a little puzzled because Ryan continued without waiting for an answer, his words tripping over each other. “I mean, between the two of us, like physically, because I know that we’ve been taking a break and I totally understand if you don’t want to have sex, except I would really, really love to have sex with you, or even just kiss you, but I won’t if that’s not okay, you just need to tell me now so I won’t be tempted, though. Okay? Because right now I am really, really tempted.”
He wasn’t the only one. Ben looked at Ryan, squeezing his hat between his hands like he had to keep his fingers wrapped up or they’d be holding onto Ben, pressing his lips together because if he didn’t they would open and affection would come pouring out of them. Ben felt the chill of the room, the fact that he’d “forgotten” to turn the radiator on yet had remembered to change his own sheets this morning, and felt like a thirteen-year-old girl. “Fuck it.” He twisted the radiator knob until it was off again, then crossed the room, cupped Ryan’s face with his hands and kissed him. Not hard, but with perfect assurance. Ryan’s nose was cold but his mouth was warm and he opened up immediately, soft and sweet, a sound like relief thrumming in his throat as he slid his arms around Ben’s waist and pulled him closer.
God, it was perfect. For the first time ever in the course of their bumpy relationship, Ben felt completely at ease. There were no thin hotel walls to worry about, no roommates to interrupt them, no family members to worry about walking in. It was just Ben and Ryan, and Ben was utterly on board with that. So was Ryan, if the way he hitched his hips closer and moaned into the kiss was any indication.
“Okay, guidelines,” Ben said with a little gasp as he finally pulled away. Ryan wriggled with impatience, eyes dark and mouth opening and closing for a moment before it settled on closed. “You’re not sleeping in here unless you really want to, I want you with me. I know we have things to work out but I am done with being on break, I wouldn’t have asked you to come here if I still wanted a break. I just want you, and anything you want to do, that’s fine with me.”
“I really want to go to your bedroom,” Ryan breathed. “Now.”
“Come on.” Ben took Ryan’s hand and led him down the hall to his own room. It was warm and comfortable, not as bright as Ryan’s but lived-in without feeling cluttered. Ryan looked around once in approval before pulling Ben close and kissing him again.
It was hotter this time, a little more desperate, tongues sliding across each other as they struggled to get closer. “Why—did—you—send—me—this damn—wait,” Ryan said between kisses, finally pulling back and getting his fingers around the zipper of his heavy coat. “Fucking layers, and snaps and buttons,” he muttered as he struggled to get out of it.
“Yes, all that fastening technology in one place is sooo inconvenient,” Ben teased him as he slid his own jacket to the ground, followed by his sweater and shoes.
“I hate technology,” Ryan agreed, finally getting the coat undone and throwing it to the side. He got out of the rest of his clothes a lot faster, and in a few moments it was just the two of them, naked except for one of Ben’s socks, falling down onto his bed in a tangle because Ryan refused to let go of him and Ben wasn’t about to make him.
Ben rolled them over so that Ryan was on his back. He took in everything he had missed seeing, the piercings and the gorgeous tattoos that hadn’t been allowed out in public back in Concord. He picked up Ryan’s hand and kissed the emerald-eyed head of the snake that wound down his arm, and Ryan shivered.
“I,” Ben said slowly, stroking his hand up across Ryan’s shoulder and down his chest, feather-light, “am going to touch every single color on your body. I’m going to map them out, I’m going to memorize them until I could find every point of blue in the dark, and every bit of red. I’m going to make you scream and you can be as loud as you want, because there’s no one else to hear.” He brushed his hand lower, skating over Ryan’s stomach and smearing the few drops of precome that had dripped down from the head of his cock. “I’m going to take you apart with my fingers and open you up with my tongue,” he moved his hand down again, slipping over the point of Ryan’s hip and further, between his thighs until he pressed lightly against Ryan’s hole. “And then I’m going to fuck you, and there won’t be anyone to tell us no or anything to make us stop.”
“I’ll never last long enough,” Ryan said, his voice breathy with hard-won control. “I’ve been on an airplane all afternoon, I stink, I’m starving and I haven’t been with anyone since you left and there’s no way, there no, no way I’ll last right now. I’m about to come and you haven’t even done anything yet, fuck, this always happens with you.”
“I said I’d do anything you want,” Ben told Ryan, and yeah, he maybe was a little more desperate than he was letting on.
“Then just—just touch me, just get on top of me and squish me, I don’t care how heavy you are, I just want to feel you.” Ben let Ryan pull him up and settle him on top of his body, and when Ryan spread his legs and wrapped them around Ben’s waist, the wait suddenly got a lot harder.
“Have you—with anyone, since me?” Ryan asked, kissing the side of Ben’s throat as he thrust up beneath him. It shouldn’t have felt so fucking good; they hadn’t even taken the time to grab some lube, and their cocks were hot and sweaty and caught as they rubbed against each other, beside each other. Somehow, though, it felt amazing.
Ben thought of that one night he spent making out with Michael, and Michael’s easygoing insistence that it wasn’t going to go anywhere because Ben was still hung up on Ryan. “No,” he murmured, turning into Ryan’s next kiss. “There’s no one else.”
“Thank god.” Ryan’s arms were tight around Ben’s shoulders, strong and demanding as they pulled him down into Ryan’s thrusts. Ben moved with him, against him, hard and eager and blatantly unskilled, both of them just wanting to get off with the other. Ben had just enough presence of mind to get a hand between them and wrap it around their cocks before Ryan came, tearing his lips away from their kiss with a yell as he pulsed. Ben used his slick hand to stroke himself, to stroke both of them even though Ryan was sensitive, even though he shivered with aftershocks, until he finally buried his face against Ryan’s shoulder and groaned as his orgasm ripped through him.
“Fuck,” Ryan said after a minute.
“Your bed is awesome. Your house is awesome. You are completely awesome.”
“You say that now,” Ben dragged his head up and grinned, “but you haven’t even seen the shower yet.”
Ryan’s eyes widened along with his smile. “It gets better?”
“It absolutely gets better.”
“I can’t wait.”
They lay there a while longer, basking in the afterglow and each other’s company before Ben finally heaved himself off of Ryan. “The en suite’s through there.” He pointed at the door to the left. “You get the shower going and I’ll go grab your stuff.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Ryan said, his eyes half-lidded, unintentionally sultry.
“I like it,” Ben agreed, heading out into the hall. He was naked and sticky and more than a little gross, but he was also happier now than he could remember being for months. Maybe the happiest he’d been since he first met Ryan. The newness, the instability, all the things they hadn’t known about each other—none of it was pressing on him now. There was still uncertainty, there was a lot to talk through and figure out, but Ben felt ready for it. He felt…excited. He felt like he finally knew what he wanted. Now all he had to do was figure out how to talk Ryan around.
“I was wrong!” Ryan called out. “Nothing is as awesome as this shower, not even you!”
“Blasphemy,” Ben called back, carrying Ryan’s backpack into his bedroom and shutting the door to keep the room toasty.
“Come and prove me wrong, then,” Ryan challenged.
And Ben did.