[identity profile] clayangel.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] wl_fanfiction
Title: Seldom Second Chances
Author: Clay
Pairing: Ryan/Colin
Rating: NC-17 (for earlier chapters)
Summary: When a freak accident drops an impossible opportunity in Ryan's lap, it's up to him to decide whether to squander it, or to change his fate by going after the one thing he's always wanted.
Word Count: ~2700
Prompt & Author's Notes: I just want to say that my horrible posting schedule has nothing to do with me losing interest in this story and has everything to do with my life being a comedy of errors right now. I apologize to everyone following this story. Again, for the Thon Prompt 33: Strangled by the red string. As always, betaed by [livejournal.com profile] asuka14.

Chapter 12b

Ryan stared at the closed door for a few minutes. He could hear Colin moving around on the other side, but he didn't dare go after him.

"An afterthought?" he said aloud. It was the most ridiculous thing Colin had ever said to him, on stage or off, but at the same time Ryan couldn't help but wonder if there was some truth to it.

There had been a time that Colin was all he could think about, and when he thought about Colin now those were the moments that still came to mind. But had he ever said as much to him? And, more to the point, was it too late to say it now?

For another few seconds Ryan continued to stare at the door, contemplating his next move, then he turned and walked away.

Their rented boat was tied up at the dock, and Ryan went to it, unmoored it, then made his way out to the center of the lake. As he cut through the water, he considered that, had he thought to bring his gear, it would have been a nice time to go fishing. The lake was silent and empty. But he hasn't thought to, and besides, the fish were probably sleeping anyway, so instead he shut off the motor and simply let the boat drift on the calm water. He leaned back and looked up at the moon.

Alone in the dead of night, he found his mind drifting to everything that that had happened over the past week. It seemed like so much time had passed, though in reality it had only been a few days. He counted them in his head and realized that tomorrow was Thursday. By Friday he had to be back in Los Angeles for his hearing, and then what? Was he trapped in the past? He'd been so worried about the future - about getting back there, about changing it, that he barely thought about how he'd live his life if he ended up having to do it all over again. Without the phone, he didn't know how his actions would affect his future. It was both terrifying and freeing.

He stayed there looking at the sky and wondering just what his next move was supposed to be. He never came up with an answer.

Hours passed, and after a while Ryan found himself doing more yawning than thinking. He realized that it must have been well into the wee hours of the morning. It was no wonder he was tired when he had been up before the sun, and the day's events had been so exhausting. So, weary and longing for bed, he started the engine and headed back for shore.

When he arrived, the cabin was dark. He thought Colin had gone to bed until he realized the sedan was missing. Colin was gone.

Ryan considered for a moment that he should have been panicking - he should have been devastated by this revelation - but as he made his way up the steps and through the cabin's front door, all he felt was tired. Colin's luggage was missing, too. The only signs that he'd been there were a few brochures in the trash and a note on the coffee table that simply read "I'm sorry."

Ryan read the note over a few times, then went to toss it in with the other trash. Standing over the trash can, however, his eyes were drawn to the brochures. Right on top he clearly recognized the paragliding brochure, with its gaudy eagle logo. He stared at it for a long moment, then bent down and picked it up. He'd never even considered doing it, despite Colin's obvious interest. Maybe he deserved to be alone.

Scratch that.

He definitely deserved to be alone.

After a restless night's sleep in a bed that still smelled of Colin and sex, Ryan rose the next morning, dressed, and packed. The man at the check in desk called him a cab, and by midday he was back home in Sherman Oaks. Pat was there with the kids. Ryan found that he was happy to see her, but not happy enough to try and make amends. Their marriage was over. The few days apart had done them both good, however, and they managed to sit down and have a good, long talk about where to go from there. Ryan would sleep in the den until Pat and the children moved permanently to Washington in the house that Ryan had bought them last year. What Ryan did with the house in Sherman Oaks after that was up to him.

After things had been settled with Pat, Ryan took another cab into town to rent a car—this time a modest little 4 door. His wild days were over. His next stop was to the police station for any updates on his stolen car. By now it had been recovered—another thing that had been predicted in the police report video—but it was still in police custody for the moment.

Back at home, Ryan spent the rest of the afternoon dealing with reality, as dull and tedious as it was. He contacted his insurance company regarding the car, then he called his lawyer. He would show up to the hearing if that was what he had to do, but first he decided to try and opt for a settlement with the paparazzo, hoping that would keep him out of court and out of the news for a good long while. It took a few hours, a number of conference calls, and a sizable amount of money to quiet the man, but when all was said and done, it was finished, and Ryan was a free man once again.

Late Thursday night Ryan found himself slumped back on the old, worn leather couch in the den, a hockey game playing quietly on the television. There was a box of cigars and a bottle of whiskey right there in his alcohol cabinet, but Ryan didn't dare drink or smoke, not after the video of the police report. At the same time, the idea of staying in that house, sober and essentially alone, wasn't something he could deal with just then.

He eventually pulled out his old Nokia flip phone and pulled up the contact list. It was filled with the names and numbers of people he hadn't spoke to in a decade, punctuated every so often by someone he still knew in the future. One of the latter was of course Colin—the sheer sight of whose name gave him a sharp pang in his chest—and there was Drew, Greg, and Matt, but he couldn't imagine going to any of them for his current problem. While they would take the time to listen to him, any advise they gave would be more on the coldly logical side, and that didn't really mesh with romantic advise.

Disparaged, Ryan kept scrolling through his contacts. Near the bottom of the list was a name he was surprised to see. It wasn't someone he ever talked to on a regular basis, and he couldn't remember having his information. He stared at the name for a long time, considering it.

In his mind, he heard, “...you know I've been there. If you ever want to talk...”, and then before he could change his mind, he tapped the call button.

The clock on the cable box read 12:34 AM. He was probably asleep, and even if he wasn't, going out with Ryan was likely the last way he wanted to spend his night. Ryan was just about to hang up when a sleepy voice answered, “Yeah?”

“Hey,” Ryan said. “It's Ryan. Ryan Stiles. You don't want to go get a drink, do you?”

A half hour later, Ryan was checking into the Sheraton on Hope street, telling himself it was because he liked this hotel, and not in the scant hope that Colin had checked back in after he had left Ryan the night before. He stashed his overnight bag in the room, then headed down to the bar, which was open for about another hour. He took a seat at the counter and ordered a scotch, immediately downed it, then ordered another as he waited. He didn't have long.

Less than a minute later, the stool next to him was taken. Ryan took a deep breath to steady himself, then looked over.

"Hi, Wayne."

Wayne gave Ryan a surprisingly subdued smile, then motioned to the bartender. "Just a tonic with lemon, please." Afterward he looked back to Ryan. "Hi, yourself. Talk about the last person I ever expected to get a call from, much less for a midnight rendezvous."

Ryan didn't have anything to say to that, so he took a sip of his scotch and shrugged. "Not drinking tonight?"

As if on cue, the bartender put down Wayne's tonic, then waved away any attempts at payment for the drink.

Wayne gave Ryan a small, wry smile and said, "I had plenty to drink earlier." Something about the words and look seemed poignant, but Ryan wasn't sure what Wayne was implying, so he let it slide.

"So I guess you want to know why I wanted to talk."

"I think I have an idea."

Ryan raised his eyebrows. "Oh?"

"Well, I'd have to be a hermit to not have seen you all over the news this week."

Oh, Ryan thought, duh.

"But I'm guessing there's more to it than all that."

Ryan responded with a bitter chuckle. "Just a bit."

He proceeded to go over the events of the week, giving a summary of the things he assumed Wayne already knew and keeping any mention of time travel out of it. He went into more detail when it came to everything that had happened in Santa Barbara, all the way through Colin leaving him Wednesday evening. He hesitated before admitting to his and Colin's sexual escapades, but in the end he decided he had to put his full trust in Wayne if he was going to get any honest advice. He had a feeling that, despite Wayne's religious proclivity, he wouldn't judge Ryan's actions but so harshly. Colin liked and trusted Wayne, and that was good enough for him.

Wayne listened to the story with little expression, nodding every so often to assure Ryan he was still listening is he nurse to his tonic water.

When he'd finally finished his story, Ryan downed the rest of his scotch, then ordered another. He waited until the order had been filled and the bartender had stepped away before addressing Wayne again.

"So... I fucked up," he said.

Wayne nodded. "You fucked up."

"Do you have any advice?"

Wayne considered the question. He took a long drink, then set his glass back down on the bar top. "Okay," he said. "But first, why me?"

Ryan frowned, and Wayne elaborated. "Why would you come to me for advice? We're not...friends. Not really. So why would you come to me? Why not Drew or Greg or someone you know outside the show?"

Ryan nodded slowly, considering his answer. He settled on the truth.

"Colin trusts you," he said.

Wayne pursed his lips as though he had something to say to that, but he kept quiet, and Ryan continued.

"You and he are friends and you...you might understand where I'm coming from."

At least you will, Ryan thought, thinking of Wayne's future divorce, but that didn't currently apply. From the speculative look Wayne was giving him now, Ryan considered that there was more than one reason that Wayne could understand his situation, but he was in no place to pry into the other man's personal life. All that mattered was that Wayne was willing to help him now.

"Okay," he replied at last, apparently also choosing to let Ryan’s indeterminate reasoning slide. "What do you think you need to do?"

"If I knew that, I wouldn't be coming to you."

Wayne nodded. "Okay," he said again. He took another long sip of the tonic as he collected his thoughts, then said, "So you left him. You hurt him. You made it all about you when you should have considered his feelings. That about sum it up?”

Ryan got the distinct impression that Wayne was talking from experience. "Yeah," he agreed. "That's pretty much it."

"So I'm asking you again - what do you need to do to make things right?"

"Well, I—" Ryan said, furrowing his brow. "I already apologized. What else can I do?"

Wayne nodded along, then pointed out, "But what good is an apology if you're just going to keep doing the thing you're apologizing for? If you're just going to keep hurting him?"

"But it’s not like I meant to hurt him. I just...I wasn't thinking."

"Then maybe you need to start thinking."

"I—" Ryan started, then immediately cut himself off. He wanted to ask how he was supposed to start thinking, but the question itself defeated the answer. Maybe what Wayne was saying was he needed to figure this out for himself. The point was to learn from his mistakes, and he'd never do that if he kept relying on others to fix his problems for him.

He considered the last few days and what had hurt Colin the most. The answer hit him like a ton of bricks.

"I need to fly," he said quietly.

Wayne smiled. "I don't know what that means," he said, "but if it's what you think you need to do, then I say go for it."

Ryan nodded, both excited and terrified of what he had to do next. It was too late to make the preparations tonight, but first thing in the morning he would set it up, and then call Colin, and—

Suddenly Ryan frowned.

"It doesn't matter," he said, reaching for the scotch and wondering if he could just get the bartender to leave the bottle. "Colin's long gone by now. I missed my chance."

"Don't be too sure about that," Wayne replied.

Startled, Ryan looked back to him, only to find Wayne wearing a small enigmatic smile.

"Who do you think I was drinking with tonight?"

Ryan's eyes widened. "You mean...?"

Wayne nodded. "You aren't the only one who needed someone to talk to tonight. Colin called me earlier and told me the whole story. He was supposed to check back in here, weirdly enough, but he ended up drinking too much and crashing on our couch. I didn't have the heart to wake him."

"And he's still there now?"

"As far as I know."

"That's—that's... Thank you!" Ryan cried. Before he could help himself, he lunged forward and pulled Wayne into a bear hug. Wayne gave a startled laugh before returning the hug wholeheartedly.

After a moment, Ryan pulled back, beaming. "Keep him there as long as you can," he begged. "I'll be over to pick him up tomorrow as soon as I'm ready. And don't tell him I'm coming. I want it to be a surprise."

Wayne nodded and slapped Ryan on the back. "You got it, man."

Hurriedly Ryan flagged down the bartender and paid his bill. He wanted to get to bed so he could be up bright and early.

They made their way out of the bar and back into the hotel lobby, where they parted with a handshake. Before letting go, however, Ryan paused, and gave Wayne's hand a final squeeze. "Wayne?" he said softly.

Wayne looked at him, and Ryan gave him a warm, genuine smile in return. "Thank you. You have no idea what this means to me."

"I think I might," Wayne countered, and once more Ryan thought there was more to Wayne than he'd previously known. He made a mental note to get to know him better this time around.

He surprised them both again by giving Wayne another hug, and then it was off to bed, the wheels turning in his head as he planned for one more adventure.

To be continued...
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