Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Love Letters Post #40


 

Notes:  Oh my gosh, my vacation wasn’t the productive thing I had imagined it to be.  Mostly it was me trailing after my MIL like a baby duck while my husband worked on his homework and her boyfriend cut hair.  The lady likes company and I like her, so it was a good match.  But for fuck’s sake, California, why are you so goddamn cold?  Two hours north of LA and I was freezing all the time.  I got back to Colorado, stepped out into 28 degree F temperatures and sighed with relief.  It’s just different here.  Less humidity, I guess.  Aaanyway…

This is a 3k Ryan POV.  I’m halfway through the epilogue and will bestow it presently.  Enjoy, darlins, and thanks for being patient about my scheduling issues.  The trip was nice, but I’m so happy to be back home, I can’t even tell you.

Title: Love Letters

 

Part Forty: Ryan POV: Breaking Ice

 

***

 

The thing was that, before Ben, Ryan didn’t really understand the meaning of the word “friend.”

Ryan was good with words, he always had been, they came a lot easier to him than numbers ever did.  Not as easy as colors and shapes, constantly blending in the back of his mind as his errant hand leaked doodles onto the edges of his homework, but pretty easy.  He was reading alone by the age of five, and at the age of seven he stole the family dictionary and propped it up in his room and used it whenever he got to a word he couldn’t understand.  When he was in the third grade, Bunnicula became Ryan’s favorite book, and he spent one evening looking up the proper definitions for all the words he didn’t quite get.

Admonish: a mild criticism, warning or reminder.  That one was easy, Ryan’s mom did that all the time.  Admonish, admonish—it sounded better than scold, to his ears, and so Ryan adopted it as his own.  His mother admonished him.  That made sense.

Devious: sneaky, sly.  That was a good one for Brody.  Only he wasn’t as sneaky as he thought he was, because Ryan knew all about the tree house Brody had built in the woods where he took girls sometimes.  It was a noisy place.

Bewilderment: confusion.  The look on Pamela’s face when Father told her she wasn’t going to go to prom with someone like Charlie Jackson, who was a year older than Pamela and black and had given her flowers when he asked her out.  Pamela had been excited, she had already picked out a dress to match Charlie’s suit, but when Father said no, you had to listen.  Pamela was aghast (surprised, shocked, horrified), it was a predicament (a difficult, puzzling or unpleasant situation) but in the end she didn’t go to prom, not with Charlie, not with anyone.  Ryan understood much better after he looked all this up.  Bunnicula had the best words.

There was one of them in particular that he tried to assign to Father: blight.  The dictionary said it was a plant disease, which caused the plant to wither and die.  Ryan didn’t think Father was a plant, but he did wonder if maybe there was a blight inside of him anyway, something tiny and withered that should have been leafy and green and full of life.  That was the only reason Ryan could think of that would explain why his Father was the way he was sometimes.

Ryan didn’t really have friends, nothing beyond classmates that he sometimes did projects with, kids who didn’t mind sitting next to him on the bus and the occasional boy or girl who wanted him to draw them a picture.  Ryan thought that was normal.  Pamela never brought people home, after all, and Brody was too busy playing football and making out with girls to have friends.  It wasn’t until Ryan got ahold of one of Ben’s letters—not that he was looking, he wasn’t snooping for that one, Brody had left it on his desk and Ryan had only been looking for a pencil, honest!—and read through it that he started to wonder if maybe he had it wrong.

Ben wrote about his mother, he wrote about classes, he wrote about living overseas and how much he hated spelling things in German but loved to say the words. 

Schwangerschaftverh├╝tungsmittel is the word for contraceptive.  Can you imagine asking a girl if she’s got one of those before getting it on with her?  Another one I like is lebensm├╝de.  I think it means world-weary, or it might possible mean suicidal.  Either way, it’s awesome.

Well yeah, that was pretty awesome, but what was even better was that Brody had someone who wanted to share words with him.  Cool foreign words, no less.  Wow.

Naturally Ryan had to find out all he could about Ben after that.  Naturally, that led him to the other letters, and naturally he had to read them.  It was all Ryan could do not to write to Ben himself, but he didn’t think Brody would appreciate that.  He probably didn’t want to share his friend.

The letters Ryan could scrounge from Ben were always interesting, fascinating, a glimpse into a life that Ryan had never known could exist.  It seemed like Ben was always traveling, always seeing things, always taking care of himself, by himself, and that was so strange as to be almost impossible for Ryan to conceptualize.  In the Kuzniar household, you did what your parents told you.  Specifically your father.  All of Ben’s words were bright and strange and fresh like a breeze, while all of the words in their home just got duller and drabber and darker.

Things didn’t really change until Ryan came out.  It wasn’t the fact that he was gay that caused problems, really; Ryan was pretty certain his parents already knew and were just ignoring it.  It was the fact that he put the word “gay” out there, blatantly, publicly, in such a way that it couldn’t be ignored, that made it unforgiveable.  Being sent away from his home, as dysfunctional as it was, almost broke Ryan.  Being offered Ben’s letters by Brody, after his brother had so vehemently defended his territory not long ago, patched up a little of that rift.  Brody was the means by which Ryan learned both “friend” and “family” the way he thought they were meant to be understood, and he was forever grateful to his big brother for that.

Ryan moved beyond words into other ways of expressing emotion, into painting, into art, into comics and graphic novels and simple sculpture.  Art became verdant, benediction, even insufflation when Ryan felt like he would die if he didn’t have some way to speak about everything he was feeling.   Doing art led to finding other artists, and eventually to finding Jasmine, and she became the first real person to redefine “friend” for Ryan.

It wasn’t luck that had brought them together to work on Janie and the Phantom; Jasmine had actively encouraged Ryan to go for it, and worked as hard as he did on making it a success.  Jasmine stepped into the role of friend and commandeered a lot of others too: safeguard, sister, mother.  And Ryan let her, because it felt good to be cared about, any way the caring came.

More people entered Ryan’s life, more friends, occasional lovers, coworkers.  He liked his life.  He kept in touch with his family as best he could, but beyond Brody and his kids, Ryan really didn’t care all that much.

Then came the accident.  Then came the funeral, and with it came Ben.

And fuck, that turned into something wild, more than Ryan had ever hoped for when he sent Ben’s invitation, and the intensity of his own emotions frightened him.  He wanted to pick Ben up and fold him into his life, curve him just right so that the last of the empty spaces were filled.  Friend, lover, partner.  And for a while it had seemed possible, and Ryan basked in the glory of Ben’s companionship and ignored the niggles, the wrinkles, the bits that didn’t fit.  Then Maydays happened, and Ben ripped himself right out of Ryan’s life, bringing back the empty spaces and leaving them ragged-edged and bleeding. 

Space was a word Ryan despised.  Latitude, margin, volume…all components of measuring distance, the gap between two things.  Ryan didn’t want a gap, he despised gaps, but he couldn’t close this one on his own.  He’d promised he wouldn’t.

Not that that was an easy promise to keep.

“You need to just take him out of your contacts list,” Jasmine advised from where she was stirring the smoked salmon chowder she had on the stove.  “Take away the temptation to text or call.”

“I’ve got his number memorized,” Ryan pointed out, sliding his finger across the phone.  The picture for the contact was of Ben in a suit, a photo that Michael had sent through a while back.  He looked ridiculously hot, as usual.

“Yeah, but if it’s not in your phone you’ll have to take the time to punch the numbers in instead of calling him with one finger.  Here.”  She set the spoon down and came over to him.  “Gimme.”

Ryan groaned but handed over the phone.  He ran a hand through his disheveled hair as he watched her erase Ben’s information and shut his eyes.  Fuck, but this was a lot harder than he thought it was going to be.  It had been three months since he’d spoken to Ben, since he’d promised to keep his distance and give them space. 

Three months was more than enough time to forget someone, if you really wanted to put them behind you.  Three months was an eternity to live in limbo, but that was what Ryan had said he’d do, so…he’d done his best to keep busy.  He finished the last volume of Janie and the Phantom, thrilled or upset legions of his fans with it, and did his best to help his family get back on its feet.  His mother and Melissa were good friends now, Cheryl was back from rehab and figuring out how to be a mom again, and the kids were happy in school. 

“You’re doing good,” Jasmine told him, handing the phone back.  “Seriously.  This is the best thing you could be doing right now, except for finishing the last damn painting for the Janie guide.”

“You really think a guide to the universe is going to sell?”

“Would I have asked you to do it if I didn’t?” Jasmine asked, one eyebrow raised.  “Do I make it a habit to waste your, and therefore my, time by having you do ridiculous things?”

“Well, you did try to make me cook last night,” Ryan pointed out, the heavy feeling in his chest easing a little.

“And that cornbread was goddamn fantastic, so what does that tell you?”

“That I am but your humble arms and eyes, milady,” Ryan said.  “How long before the chowder is ready?”

“It needs another half hour or so to simmer.”

“Great.  I’ve got a date to help Molly build a scale model of the Parthenon, so I should get on that.”  Ryan stood up, then leaned in and kissed Jasmine’s cheek.  “You’re too good to me, you know that?”

“I know everything,” Jasmine purred, scratching her nails through his hair.  It felt better when she did it.  “Go get your Greek on.  I’ll let people know when this is ready to go.”

Molly was in her room, surrounded by white paper, glue and multiple pictures of the Parthenon for reference.  Lots of paper had already been folded into tubes, which she was painstakingly gluing together so that they were all the same circumference. 

“That’s a lot of pillars,” Ryan said as he sat down next to her on her bed.
 
 
 
 
 

“Forty-six for the outside, twenty-three for the inside,” Molly confirmed, her pale hair falling down and hiding most of her face.  “I think there’s more than that here, though.  Joey wanted to help, so I had him fold the paper around that dowel.”  She pointed at the slender wooden rod up by her pillow.  “He had fun.”

“That was nice of you.”

Molly shrugged.  “Not really.  He’s the one who wanted to help.”

The fact that Molly didn’t understand the favor she’d been doing her younger brother just by letting him help made Ryan want to scoop her up in a hug, but she was focused on the glue right now.  “What can I do for you?”

“Will you help me draw the pediments?”  Molly handed him the stiff white paper she’d precut to be the right size and a pencil.  “I want to do the frieze as well, but in sections so it can be removed and I can demonstrate where the pieces originally were, and then where they all ended up.”

“I can do pediments.”  Ryan looked at the picture, then began to lightly sketch in Athena and Poseidon.  “This is for World History, right?”

“Yeah.  I chose Greece because I like their mythology, and my teacher told me I could use your graphic novels in my report as a representation of modern interpretations of ancient Greek mythology and culture.”

“Wait, you got your teacher to agree to let you use comic books as a source for your history report?” Ryan demanded, looking over at his niece.  She smiled shyly, and he laughed.  “You’re totally brilliant, you know that?  You’re going to rule the world someday.”

“Thanks.”  They worked quietly a little longer before Molly said, “Grandma said you’re going to stay with us, for good.  Is that true?”

Ryan restrained himself from sighing.  Grandma had been bugging him about that for weeks, trying to get him to agree to move back to Concord permanently.  Jasmine seemed to be in the mood for a change and didn’t mind leaving Boston behind, but there was no way they were going to set up shop so close to his family.  Ryan was glad he could help them, but now that they were getting back on their feet he was starting to feel the urge to move on.  Where, he wasn’t sure yet.

“I’ll definitely stay for a while longer,” Ryan replied eventually.  “But I’ll have to move on eventually.  Jasmine and I both will.”

“I thought so,” was all Molly said.

“That won’t change things between us though, Molly,” he assured her, bumping their knees together.  “No matter where either of us go, we can keep in touch.  In fact, I might fade away into nothing like a sad, lonely ghost if you abandoned me completely.”

“We can’t have that,” Molly told him, mock-serious.  She smiled and shrugged.  “I figured you’d have to go.  It’s okay.  It’s a lot better now.”

“Yeah.”  Even if things were very, very far from perfect, they were definitely better.  It was true for Molly; hell, it was true for Ryan.  He might be living in limbo but at least he wasn’t in hell.

Jasmine called everyone down for dinner a few minutes later.  Joey showed up with his mother in tow, which meant they’d been watching a movie together; Joey’s therapist recommended Cheryl set aside some time every day to spend with her son, and she was doing her best.  Ryan’s mother was there, chatting about everything under the sun while she gushed at Jasmine for cooking, and pointedly mentioning all the things she thought they could all do together in the future.

Ryan broke through her monologue about sleighing.  “As long as we do it before the new year, that’ll work out.”

“Oh, there’s no need to be so specific, darling, that’s all months away.”

“Yes, there is.  I’m not staying forever, Mom, you can’t just plan my life out for me without talking to me about it first.”

DeeDee looked stricken.  “I am doing no such thing!” she protested.

“Yes, you are.  And I appreciate you thinking of me, of both of us,” he indicated Jasmine, who winked at him.  “But I’ve got something else in mind.”

“What could be better than staying with your family?” DeeDee demanded.  “Honestly, Ryan, don’t you want to be here for the children?”

Oh, a guilt trip.  Lovely.  And hell no, not anymore.

“Mom.”  Ryan just stared at her for a moment, and she flushed a little and looked down at her plate.

“Tell me something about the Parthenon,” Cheryl said smoothly, looking over at her daughter.  “It was a temple, right?”

“Dedicated to Athena,” Molly said.

“What was Athena the goddess of?”

The rest of the meal was spent talking about history and mythology, and if DeeDee avoided Ryan and swept off to the kitchen to do dishes as soon as they finished eating, well, that was fine, he didn’t feel like confronting her right now.  Eventually he’d have to, but at the moment he had deadlines.  Ryan headed up to his room to get back to work on the last painting for the guide, grateful for a little time alone.  He’d get back to work on the Parthenon later.

Ryan checked his email before breaking out his paints.  Fan mail, fan mail, hate mail, fan mail, hate mail…he’d check those later.  Penis enlargement, and right after that was the equal-opportunity vaginal reconstruction offer.  Fuck, he seriously needed to work on his filters.  Next was—

An email from Ben?  Seriously?  Ryan leaned in and checked again.  No, it was real, Benjamin Franklin DeWitt, right there in his inbox.  The subject line read BOOK DEDICATION.

Holy shit, his hands were shaking.  Ryan sat down at his desk and wavered over the cursor for almost a minute before he finally clicked on the email.

This book would never have come about without inspiration in the form of Ryan, the genesis of my very own love story.

                That was all it said.  No introduction, no sign off, nothing but the dedication.  Ryan checked quickly and saw that Ben had sent it to Linda as well; she must have requested it.  But why send it to him?  Was this an invitation, or was it a final valediction?  Surely if it was a goodbye there would have been more to it…right?

                Only one way to find out.  Ryan fumbled for his phone, checked the contacts and then swore when he remembered that Jasmine had just deleted Ben a few hours ago.  Fucking timing…Ryan put Ben’s number back in, then tapped out a very simple text.

Im honored.

Was it too much?  Too weird?  Not welcome?  Ryan pressed send before he could think too hard about it, then sat back and stared at the ceiling, his heart fluttering in his chest like leaves caught in a tornado.  Oh fuck, please write back.  Please write back, don’t tell me I did the wrong thing, all I want to do is the right thing with you, for once, pleasepleaseplease…

His phone beeped.  Ryan immediately checked the message, then sighed with relief.   As well you should be. Awesome, that meant Ben wasn’t only not put off by Ryan contacting him, he was being playful about it.  Ryan hazarded another message.

Does this mean I can keep texting you now?

The reply came back fast.  Texting only.  For now.

That was fine.  Fuck it, that was Christmas.  Ryan grinned at the words, then looked over at the last painting, only half-done.  It was the one of the Phantom, who had always been the most elusive character in Janie’s universe, for all he was one of the most important ones.  Maybe Ben would be interested in finding out what had happened in the story.  Got it.  How about sending a package?

What’s in it?

Ooh, curious, maybe a little suspicious.  Ryan didn’t want the prospect to be something Ben was afraid of.  Surprise.  Nothing big, I swear, no letters or videos or pairs of my used boxers. ;)

As long as its underwear-free, sure.

Sweet! Thank you. 

And then, because that didn’t feel like enough, he added, Really. Thanks.

My pleasure.

Oh no, the pleasure was all Ryan’s.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Funny Vacation Story...

Hi guys!

So, here's the thing...I know I need to put up Ryan POV or epilogue for Love Letters, I do know this, I'm working on it.  However, I'm also frantically preparing for a vacation starting tomorrow, when my man and I fly to California to visit my mother in law, who is an awesome woman.  Why is she so awesome?  Well, many reasons, but the main one this time around is because we're supposed to be visiting her for Thanksgiving, and when I booked the tickets online I accidentally...didn't check the damn calendar and booked them a week early.  And the fees to transfer them were unbelievable and not going to happen, so!  We're doing Thanksgiving a week early, and she just rolled with the punches, and I'm up to my neck in prepping client files for my fill-ins later in the week.  In other words, real life has hogtied my time.  I'm sorry!  I promise to make it up to you with an extra-long installment of whatever comes next, but I have to leave my people in a good place or I will melt with guilt.  So, darlings, lovers, lights of my life...there you go.  I appreciate your patience.

Something about the above paragraph tells me I may occasionally have bouts of low self esteem...lame!  Anyway, happy Tuesday, guys, I swear more story is coming soon.  Today if I can manage it, but I just don't know yet.  Oy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Love Letters Post #39


 


Notes:  It’s DONE!  *screams into a pillow so as not to alarm the cat*  DOOOONE!

Actually, that’s a lie.  I still have an epilogue to write, and a Ryan POV, but the main body of the story is now done.  And this chapter is a doozy, guys, there’s sex and revelations and more sex and plot development and it ends, not with everything quite wrapped up in a bow, but with hope.  And the epilogue will be amazing, I promise.

So, not quite the end, but still a nice bit of resolution.  I hope you enjoy it, darlins.
 

Title: Love Letters

 

Part Thirty-Nine: Presenting: You, Me, Us

 

***

 

 

They didn’t even remember to get around to presents until New Year’s Eve.

There were the basics, of course, the things that Ben sent along with all the little presents for Ryan’s family.  Warm clothes, a lift ticket for the nearest mountain, the cost of renting skis.  Skiing wasn’t something that Ryan had a natural ability or affinity for, and his first day working on it was mostly spent in a snowplow position or on his back, but he seemed to enjoy it, laughing and reaching out to try to kiss Ben whenever they passed each other, which made for a lot more falling down than was strictly necessary.  Ben was pretty good on skis, but instead of going off and finding something challenging he spent all day on the bunny slope with Ryan, dodging packs of small children taking group lessons and keeping Ryan in his sights.

The tickets to the Museum of Contemporary Art didn’t count either, not really, that was just something to do that Ben was pretty sure Ryan would enjoy, and he did.  They spent an entire morning there, got lunch at a nearby wine bar and then came back for most of the afternoon.  There were nuances to modern art that Ben was pretty much oblivious to, but with Ryan along to appreciate it and to describe his appreciation to Ben, it was easier to enjoy.

“The Pattern exhibition is brilliant,” Ryan insisted.  “It’s a way of exploring visual dynamics within a set system of rules, and I think the objects that some of the artists came up with are fascinating.”

“But repetitive,” Ben said as they walked out, hand in hand, into the cold.

“But that’s the point, to discover ways of being creative and interesting despite the repetition,” Ryan argued.  “Look at it in a wider context and you can see parallels between the artistic rules and the rules of larger society and see it as a metaphor for making a unique place for yourself while obeying…oh, you jackass!”  Because he finally saw the grin on Ben’s face.  “You’re just winding me up, you fuck, why are you so mean?”

“It’s mean that I like listening to you?” Ben asked as they crossed the street to where his car was parked.  “I enjoy hearing you explain things, and you tend to get self-conscious about it if I straight-up ask, so maybe I…coaxed you, a little.”

“You said the entire exhibit made no sense!”

“But I didn’t say it was nonsense,” Ben pointed out as they got into the car.  “I just said I didn’t get it and you took over from there.  And I appreciated the discourse, so thanks.”

Ryan smiled a little.  “You’re just about the only person I know who can use ‘discourse’ in a sentence and make it sound normal.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Ben said, pulling out into traffic.  “Do you want to eat out tonight?”

“There’s still pizza in the fridge, right?”  Heather had been over last night with double the usual amount of pizza and beer, and they’d had a surprisingly good time together.  They had ended up watching episodes of Dr. Who, which both Heather and Ryan had a history with, and eventually getting drunk on Ben’s vodka when the beer was gone.  She’d spent the night on the couch, made a huge amount of coffee in the morning with the Starbucks blend she’d given Ben as a Christmas gift, eaten half a loaf of bread in the form of toast and promised to see them at least once more before Ryan had to leave.

Which, Ben didn’t want to think about.  “Yeah, there’s plenty of pizza.”

“Then how about we just go home and eat pizza and find something better to do with our time?”  There was heat in those words that made Ben want to pull his shirt collar away from his skin, like it was keeping him from breathing right somehow.

“Sounds good,” he said, with just a little bit of roughness to his voice and Ryan smirked, and oh, he was going to pay for that later.

Sex.  Sex with Ryan.  It was amazing.  Everything they’d done before had been good, very good, so very good, and maybe it was more the result of anticipation that had done it to him, but Ben was convinced there was nothing quite so amazing as being inside of Ryan.

It helped that Ryan seemed to agree.  The day after he arrived, once they were back from skiing and more than a little bruised, they’d taken a shower together.  Kissing, stroking, and Ben had been ready to go down on his knees before Ryan stopped him.

“I thought,” he said, a little breathless and completely hard, “that maybe we could do something different.  Because I love your blow jobs but I would really, really like you to fuck me tonight.” 

Ben was a little surprised and a lot turned on.  “You spent half the day falling over, you’ve got to be sore,” he pointed out.

“It just got me in the mood to be on my back,” Ryan joked, kissing a line down the damp skin of Ben’s neck.  “Do you wanna?”

“Yes,” Ben said immediately.  “Holy shit, yes, just…”  He pushed Ryan’s hand away from his cock.  “If you keep touching me you’ll end up having to wait a lot longer than you want to.”

“Yes, having you spend your refractory period opening me up will be absolutely terrible,” Ryan said as he rolled his eyes.  “But you love touching me like that, you love taking your time.”

“Yeah,” Ben said, a little helpless as Ryan touched him again.  “But I can do that without getting off first.”

“You’ll be desperate by the end.”

“You like me desperate.”

Ben knew Ryan did.  He liked seeing the evidence of what he did to Ben, liked seeing Ben lose control for him.  He liked to see that he affected him, deeply, unreservedly.  Ryan loved to make Ben shout and yell and moan, and Ryan repaid the attention devotedly.  But they’d never gone this far before, and now that it was on the table Ben knew the wait was likely to be torturous.  So of course, Ryan immediately agreed to it.

They’d spread out on the bed, lube and condoms at the ready because Ben didn’t like to fumble for them during the act.  Ryan was on his stomach, head pillowed on his arms and one leg hitched up to make space.  Ben knelt between his feet, feeling antsy and spoiled for choice, and he loved it.  “My choice?” he confirmed as he bent down.

“Yeah, whatever you—Ben!”  Because Ryan hadn’t quite been expecting his tongue, it seemed, not if the way his breath caught and his hips rose up a few inches was any indication.  “Fuck, really?”

“Really,” Ben said, absolutely sure.  He hadn’t done this for anyone in a long time—he hadn’t wanted to—but he did for Ryan.  He’d wanted to in Boston but hadn’t had the privacy, he’d wanted to in Concord but hadn’t had the time.  Now he had both of those, and Ben was determined to enjoy them.  “If you want it.”

“Um, yes?”

“Good.”  Ben spread Ryan’s cheeks with his thumbs, leaned in and flicked his tongue over Ryan’s hole.  He tasted clean, still a little damp from their very thorough shower.  Ben licked, not penetrating, just smooth, firm brushes of his tongue over and over until Ryan was completely relaxed and panting against his arm, on the verge of begging for more but not quite able to articulate it.

Once Ben thought Ryan was ready he pulled back and lubed up his fingers.  He opened Ryan slowly, taking in every nuance, every thrust that got him a moan, the way Ryan pushed back eagerly whenever he added another finger.  This part they’d done before, but not with the same intent.  Ben wanted to be inside Ryan so bad his hands were shaking.

“Now,” Ryan finally broke down and begged.  “Now now now, Ben, c’mon.”

He didn’t have to ask twice.  Ben pulled his fingers free and wiped them on the towel he’d also brought to bed with them, then grabbed the condom.  It took way too long to get it on, long enough that Ryan seemed close to turning around and doing it himself, but when it finally worked Ben lay his hands on Ryan’s waist, and his lover eagerly pressed back onto his knees and it only took a moment, just a moment and then…

Holy fuck.  Holy fucking fuck.  And…words, they just weren’t happening.  The act defied Ben’s ability to describe it, which was terrible and wonderful, because Ben wanted to remember how it felt, he wanted to put adjectives to the perfection that was being inside of Ryan because that was how he treasured things, but he couldn’t.  Not now.  Not with Ryan’s sighs filling his ears, his muttered, “Yes, Ben, oh my god, please move,” and Ben’s own helpless obedience.  They moved together, long, slow pushes that somehow never became the frantic thing Ben had envisioned, and it was so good that when Ben came, too soon despite their care, the relentless wash of pleasure that overloaded every nerve in his body left him next to useless.  Thankfully Ryan was close too, close enough that a quick touch of his own hand was enough to set him off, and when they crumpled back down to the bed in a slow collapse no one was left waiting.

Ben hadn’t known what to say about it.  Ryan hadn’t asked, either, which was kind, and they’d spent the rest of the night curled up together, sated and a little fragile.  The next morning had been normal enough, and the next time they made love had been a more coherent experience for Ben, so that was good.  That was perfect.

So yes, sex with Ryan was good, better than ever, and when he brought it up in the car Ben forgot he’d ever had an appetite for anything else and drove them home as fast as he could manage.  His house wasn’t that far from downtown Denver, and they were already clutching each other once they got in through the front door.

“What about the other way?” Ryan asked as he shed his coat, hanging it up—Ben appreciated that—and leaving his shoes on the mat.

“Hmm?” Ben replied, not quite getting it.

“The other way.  Do you like it?”

His brain cells finally connected.  “You mean do I like bottoming?”

Ryan nodded, blushing.

“I’ve only done it a few times, and it’s been years.  I honestly don’t remember much about it,” Ben said, and that was true.  He’d mostly been high at the time, because he’d been a lucky idiot in college, lucky he hadn’t ended up doing something or someone he’d regretted and an idiot because he really couldn’t take credit for that.  “We could try it, though.” 

“Tonight?” Ryan pressed, coming back into his arms and kissing the point of his chin.

“Sure.”  Because why not, if Ryan wanted it.

Ben wasn’t like Ryan in a lot of things.  They both liked foreplay, but Ben didn’t like to be on the receiving end of a lot of close attention, which meant him doing things to Ryan and Ryan letting him and that being good for both of them.  With more time together they’d probably work something out, but right now there was too much need, too much heat and anxiety to spend a lot of time negotiating.  Ben knew Ryan wanted to touch him, to spend time on him, but if Ben was going to be letting Ryan in then he needed to be in control, and Ryan got that.

Ben prepped himself, fast but thorough.  Ryan watched but didn’t touch, not until Ben was ready.  Ben asked if he could ride Ryan, not wanting to be on his back or looking away, and Ryan grinned.

“C’mere, cowboy,” he teased, laying back against the comforter and slapping his own hip.  “Let’s see if you can stay on.”

“Buck me off and you’ll regret it,” Ben warned, but he smiled as he shuffled forward and straddled Ryan’s hips.  His dick was hard and hot against the crease of Ben’s ass and Ben rocked back against it, his breath stuttering a little, ready to take it but not quite, not quite—

“Ben.”  Ryan stroked his hands down Ben’s sides, looking him straight in the eye.  “I love you.  We can do anything, it doesn’t have to be this.  Anything you want.”

Ben sighed and relaxed almost unconsciously.  Love, oh.  Right.  That was what made this different, something worth remembering, not just a new thing to experience for the hell of it.  “I want this,” Ben said, reassuringly, letting Ryan pet him until it was easy to lean forward and get in the right position, and he let Ryan into his body with a hint of pain, but far more of a sense of satisfaction.  It felt…okay, not fabulous, but good because it was Ryan.  And Ryan’s eyes were wide and dark and he looked at Ben like Ben had hung the moon, and when he moved a little it felt better, and then better still.

They didn’t stay slow and gentle, not like before, but it was never rushed.  Ben’s body sparked with pleasure as Ryan moved inside of him and Ryan, well, he looked like he was just hanging on for as long as he could.  He came first, breathless, Ben’s name on his lips and Ben loved seeing him like that.  He rocked slowly against the fullness inside of him as Ryan came down from the pleasure, then slid forward until he was off of Ryan’s dick and above his face.  Ryan sucked Ben’s cock into his mouth without hesitating, letting Ben fuck him until he came a few minutes later with a groan.

Needless to say, presents were the farthest things from both their minds for most of Ryan’s trip.

 

They were going out for New Year’s Eve.  Michael had a party at the hotel that he insisted both of them attend, and in typical Michael fashion he got his way.  New Year’s was inevitably going to be a rough night for Ryan, since Brody had died on New Year’s Day, and Ben thought the distraction might help.  They got dressed up and ready to go, but before they could leave Ben stopped him.

“So, I have something for you,” he said.  “It’s not all of your present but it’s part of it, enough to kind of get the idea.”

“I thought you visiting me was my present,” Ben said, completely honest.  Ryan shook his head.

“No, that’s my present for me.  This is my present for you.”  He dashed upstairs to where he’d left his things and came back down holding something behind his back.  “I didn’t wrap them because that would be strange, considering, and I know this isn’t everything but I didn’t want to bring a suitcase with me on the plane so I’ll mail the rest of them to you, so…here.”  He pulled his hand around and held out—

Letters.  Maybe ten of them, all still in their original envelopes, all written out in Ben’s handwriting.  Ben took them gently, listening to Ryan’s explanation as he touched the yellowed paper.  God, this one had to be one of the first, it was so worn now.

“I thought about it and I realized that you’re really the person who should have these.  They were meant to be something between you and Brody and while I loved reading them, I don’t think I was ever supposed to keep them.  They meant a lot to me when I was young, and they meant a lot to Brody and they were a way for us to, to connect, you know?  But they’re not what I need now, and they never really were mine to need in the first place.  I love them, but I…I love you more, so much, it’s overwhelming almost and it’s not because of these letters, these aren’t you and for a while I didn’t get that, but I do now.  So I want you to take them, because I’d much rather have the real thing.  So.  Yeah.”  Ryan bounced a little on the balls of his feet, too nervous to be still, and Ben drew himself out of looking at the letters—his history, his own personal artifacts—to pull Ryan close and kiss him.

“Thank you,” Ben whispered against Ryan’s lips.  “It’s perfect.”  He smiled.  “I’ll need something to put in the cases once the Franklin papers are gone, so good timing on this.”

“Glad you think so,” Ryan replied, relieved.  He’d taken Ben’s revelations about getting rid of his famous hoard with equanimity.  “Okay, now we can go.”

“Well, not yet.”  Ben put the letters down on the foyer table and grabbed his key ring.  “There’s something I want to give you too.”  It had been on his mind for the past week, and he’d had the spare made just in case the moment arose when it felt right.  And now it did.  “Here.”  He handed Ryan a house key.  “It’s for this place,” he explained when Ryan looked dumbstruck.  “I’m not asking you to move to Denver, I’m not asking you to move in, but I want you to have a key to my house.  You’re always welcome, and I mean that.  I love you.”

“Oh wow.”  Ryan looked at Ben and grinned brightly.  “Is this the right time to tell you that I’m sick of doing this long-distance and actually do want to move to Denver?  Not to move in with you!” he added hastily.  “In fact, Jasmine told me to look at apartments while I was here and I meant to tell you but you’ve been completely distracting this whole time and I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”

Now it was Ben’s turn to be dumbfounded.  “You want to move here?”  Ryan nodded.  “You and Jasmine want to move here?”

“We’re business partners.  And honestly, do you think I tell Jasmine what to do?  Like, ever?  She knew I was thinking about it and decided she likes the sound of Denver and kind of took the angst out of the decision for me by agreeing with me.  We might get a place together, but think!  Just one roommate instead of three!  And you’d still have your house and your privacy but we’d be close anyway, and you and I could be together but not rush it too much, and honestly,” Ryan drew in a deep breath, “I can’t think of a downside.”  He looked at Ben expectantly, waiting to hear the reasons against it.

Ben didn’t have any.  All he could focus on was the idea of Ryan living in the same city as him, not just a voice on the phone or a face on a screen interspersed with brief periods of togetherness.  He was ready for this, he realized.  Ready for something normal, ready for an actual relationship and not a connection he’d never quite known how to react to.  He’d already cleared away so much of the detritus of his past, the heavy weight of centuries of familial expectation.  Ben was ready for something new to help fill in the gaps.

Plus, Ryan was right.  Arguing with Jasmine was a lost cause.

“I can’t think of a downside either,” he said, and Ryan brightened cautiously.

“Yeah?”

“Yes,” Ben agreed.  “Absolutely yes.”

Ryan launched forward into his arms.  “Omigod, this is so awesome,” he said against Ben’s shoulder, and Ben had to agree.

It was a pretty perfect way to kick off the New Year.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Love Letters Post #38


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?”

“Yep.” 

“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. 

“Yeah.”

“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.