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Author: Indy Baggins
Title: If Roses are meant to be red…
Pairing: Greg/Ryan
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Sixteen years after they met, Greg realizes he’s never let himself want anything quite as much as he wanted Ryan.
Author’s comments: This was my NaNoWriMo novel for 2006. The story of Greg and Ryan has for me, at its core, always been a love story. Needy, fucked up love, sure, but love none the less. And this is my attempt at telling their story, from the moment Greg met Ryan until the moment he let him go.

Beta-duty is done by Clay, for which she deserves many roses *smiles*

Chapter One




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It was over eight months before Greg saw Ryan again, and while he thought back on the evening he had met him as a nice memory, he didn’t dwell on it.

The only thing that had changed was when the name “Ryan Stiles” would come up with Josie or Mike or Clive or anyone else, he’d smile and say something forgettable such as “yeah, he’s fun” or “sure, he’s really good, he should come back sometime.” Nothing grand, nothing special; nobody asked him about it either, and when he heard Ryan would come to London and do a few shows that year he managed to feel as politely pleased but unaffected by this as anyone would have expected him to.

He had gotten married in the mean time, and although his wife and he had agreed on a certain leniency towards those things, he didn’t mean to cheat on her. He hadn’t before (not counting one-night stands, but they were different) and had assured her (and himself) on many occasions that he would never leave her, not when they had it so great together, not when she was the one and only woman he’d ever love enough to be with.

But when he walked onto the studio’s parking lot and stopped right in his tracks to see Ryan standing there, hidden in the shade of the building with his own pack of cigarettes now, offering him one from afar with a small, pleased smile around his lips, he had already known what would happen. Like a film that had been played too many times in his mind, he felt he could predict every move now, every possible way this would go. He knew that he could still, and easily at that, have said no. Instead, he accepted Ryan’s cigarette with a grin, their fingers briefly brushing together as he did, and, talking as if they had known each other for years, they smoked together, the evening slowly falling around them.


Their second and third taping together was marked by a sort of contained glee on Greg’s part that he desperately but expertly talked through and covered up in front of the camera. Ryan was first and foremost a professional, Greg noted, and it seemed to cost him little effort to stay in character, to be the ever steadfast and quick entertainer. But while Greg watched him, Ryan would pause every once in a while, to cast a slow, determined look in his direction.

Partly because of those looks, partly because Greg just swore there was something, something that made every moment too easy, too much fun, too perfect between them, he couldn’t keep his eyes away from Ryan even if he had tried. And he didn’t. By then he had realised it was a fool’s quest to resist this whatever-on-earth-it-was-meant-to-be thing that had built between them in the time it took to smoke one single cigarette, and, true to himself, whatever it was, Greg intended to enjoy it. So he looked. No, he gazed at Ryan, trying to discern every detail, every emotion.

Ryan was just as physical as he had been the last taping; it simply seemed to be his style, to say with touches what he couldn’t always with words, but this time Greg actively sought it out. They shook hands at the beginning of scenes (clasping a little too gentle, a little too long) and then again at the end. They touched while passing each other’s seats, whether they had both been in a scene or not. They reached, hugged, danced and exaggerated whenever they could get away with it, and he felt his heart speed up every time it happened.


When they weren’t taping, Ryan, his stay also regulated by the production team, stayed at the same hotel Greg and the others did. It was a small, bland place with a view on the water that had obviously seen better days, but it was clean, and the food was good, so none of them ever complained about it. Most importantly though, it was within walking distance of the studio, so they didn’t need to worry about much more than just showing up; everything else was taken care of.

While Greg had never hated the idea of the scheduling, (he was too fond of hanging around all day, drinking, smoking and chatting to honestly mind), he had never been quite as enthusiastic about it as when Ryan and Tony serenaded his door that day at nine in the morning, telling him to rise and shine before breakfast was gone. Or when Ryan and Josie acted out the entire second act of Macbeth with wieners at the breakfast table, Ryan insisting on portraying Macbeth as a very dirty, gay old man while lyrically waving a wiener around. For those couple days he found that, around Ryan, either on stage or off, he had a hard time containing his smiles.

They did some sightseeing under the able guidance of Josie (who took them to the Globe Theatre and the main museums) and Tony (who insisted they see the local sex shops and knew a great place to buy crack) and some by themselves too (Ryan asked him along for a beer-run at night, and it took them three hours and directions from a hobo to find the way back), but mainly they just did nothing at all, lying around on their beds, watching tv with a six-pack next to them. In all, Ryan’s presence seemed to make everything new and exciting in its own right, and Greg, as he defined it to himself, was plain happy for those couple days.

Did he think about the kiss he’d shared with Ryan? Constantly. But, never one to break up a great time, he didn’t say anything about it, and neither did Ryan. To Greg, it was obvious they could have been having an even better time, but as Ryan would talk about his new-born daughter with Josie, he’d share a look with Greg that said “not now, not while I can still try and be what I need to be.” And Greg got it, to a certain extent. He was married too, after all.

But then there was the reason they had ever kissed in the first place. All good will and intentions aside, it was always there, hot and urgent between them. On their late-night, mid-day or early-morning walks towards and from the studio, bars, the liquor store, their shoulders would bump together, accidentally, and both of them would pause and then overcompensate, leaving a huge gap between them. When lying on the bed together, watching a sports game neither of them was really interested in, Greg’s hand would travel to lie next to Ryan’s, and both of them would look at their almost-joined hands from the corner of their eye, not commenting.

It was on the last evening they spent together, after the last taping, after much drinking, laughing and somewhere just before dawn, that Greg felt overly daring, overly giddy from yet another taping season well done, and breached their imaginary drawn line of what was all right and what wasn’t by kissing Ryan squarely on the mouth.

They had been outside, together for yet another cigarette break, (Ryan seemed to want to join him every time he went out for one, so Greg found himself suddenly smoking twice as much) under a clouded London sky, dark but with already a hint of velvety blue to it, a promise of yet another vague and shrouded sunrise. They had been contemplating destiny together, Ryan drunkenly arguing that if there was such a thing as destiny, every fucking thing they did, from waking up with a hang-over to taking a crap, was planned ahead by some higher power, and that that was just plain bullshit. Greg, just as intoxicated and slightly swaying on his feet, had loudly agreed and thrown an arm around Ryan’s waist, more to steady the both of them than anything else, but Ryan had felt so warm, so real under his touch, that he had burrowed closer into his warmth until they were flat out hugging.

He had felt drawn to Ryan’s mouth, half-open and temptingly close by, had tilted his head upwards, and somehow that progressed into a drunken, wet and sloppy kiss that had no possible right to feel that good, but it did. Greg’s hands gripped the back of Ryan’s jacket, pulling him closer with a grunt, and then Ryan’s warm and shaking hands were in his hair, and the back of his neck, touching, stroking. Ryan’s leg found its way in between his, and they were moving together, breathing hard, ‘it’s fucking time,’ he thought, and when they stepped apart he faltered a bit, not wanting to lose Ryan’s touch.

“We’re outside,” Ryan absently breathed into his ear, at the same time his hands reaching for Greg’s belt.

“Don’t care,” Greg replied, and he honest to god didn’t, as they shared a quick, heated look and he was helping Ryan’s fumbling hands speed up, longing for the touch, the friction. He shivered, his skin breaking out in goose bumps as his pants fell to the ground and Ryan stepped in front of him, covering him up from anyone who might be watching and wrapped his hand around Greg’s dick, steadying him with the other.

How he touched was rough, on the edge of painful, and Greg swallowed, willing himself not to come too fast, but it felt so damn overwhelming that he wanted to, so bad, and when Ryan laughed a little at his response and then met his mouth in another battle of a kiss, he did, uttering one silent “fuck…” as his orgasm rushed through him, Ryan still shielding him, Ryan’s hands warm and steady as they prevented him from slipping to the ground.

After that, Ryan just held him there for a minute, his tall and wiry form blocking most of the cold of the morning, his arms wrapped comfortably around Greg, the both of them leaning into each other. When Greg pushed him away it was to get his pants back on, and with the idea to (wholeheartedly) return Ryan’s gesture, but he saw a flash of hurt in Ryan’s eyes when he did so, and then Ryan was looking away, eyes on the slowly brightening skyline.

Greg wanted to say something, anything, but instead he reached over to pull Ryan’s shirt from his trousers and ran his hands over the soft skin of Ryan’s back, appreciatively feeling the sharp outline of bones and muscles trapped beneath. He got little response from Ryan, but as he changed tactics and unzipped Ryan’s pants, he did find him half-hard.

As he went down on his knees, Ryan’s hand was on his shoulder, his voice a warning and maybe something else altogether when he looked him in the eyes and said a “Greg…” that made him shiver.

Greg however, smiled, maybe a little cynically, and lowered his mouth over Ryan’s dick. As Ryan breathed in a sharp breath, he smiled a little more and set to work making Ryan forget whatever it was he had been thinking. ‘Nothing like sex to trap you in the moment,’ he thought, just a tad of bitterly, and swirled his tongue over the head of Ryan’s dick, appreciatively tasting him for the first time.

When Ryan came he was completely silent, and Greg swallowed easily before leaving him to tuck himself back in, not looking at anything.


Why they didn’t stop talking right then and there or both went up to their rooms to create some distance, Greg never knew. All he knew was that they leaned into each other, the space between them gone now, and watched the sun rise together, not saying much.

‘And it wasn’t romantic,’ Greg thought, ‘not at all.’

The part of the city they were in was heavily industrialised, with a nasty, irony smell to the air, and the sound of cars passing in the nearby street occasionally breaking the silence. Even the sunrise wasn’t a great one; it was too foggy and clouded to really see anything but the slow change of light from blue to a washed out grey. Both were still in their taping clothes, their faces dry and prickly from the make-up, breath heavy and stale from the cigarettes and beer, hands cold and sweaty, generally shivery and nauseous from the lack of sleep and drinking, on the edge of a fabulous hangover, sluggish and tired with the sexual release. ‘But it was perfect,’ he thought. In that moment, it was.


A couple hours later, as he hugged Ryan goodbye at the Heathrow airport with the ease of an old and true friend, Ryan, to his surprise, warmly whispered into his ear, “See you in New York,” before giving him one last, quick smile, and leaving.


---

Undecided for a moment, he stops at a crossroads, people filing behind him. The slow, chilly rain has picked up in pace to a full-blown rain shower, and he shivers as he stands. It’s still early morning, but the city is waking up, lone people with colorful umbrellas appearing all around him, until they are no longer alone but a mass, a mass of people. Commuters? Tourists? With cups of coffee in their hands, or newspapers or briefcases, ready to start yet another day, ready to lead their life.

He has rarely felt so excommunicated from a crowd as he does today, watching them pass by, none of them truly cheery (it seems to be still too early for that, and he agrees) but none of them exceptionally sad either. Just jaded, callused, used to life and what it demands, not expecting surprises but not entirely unhappy about that fact either.

He remembers looking upon such people with disdain, making fun of their nine-to-five lives, convincing himself he would never become one of them. As he looks at them today though, he almost wishes he had. There’s a sheer normalcy radiating from them, one that attracts him now, one that seems so much more desirable than the life he has lead (fought for?) for the past so-many-years.

He’s cold, hasn’t slept or eaten anything in the last twenty-four hours, and he wouldn’t mind normally; he even welcomes the uneasiness of it, the cold despair, but he does have a goal of some sorts, and he doesn’t care to pass out before he reaches it, and that’s why he halts.

He has many friends in London still, although where they shared small and crummy apartments years ago, most of them have moved on to the suburbs now, to large and oppressive country homes with flowers on the windowsills and, more often than not, children and spouses running around, settling back in a creature comfort kind of life, only occasionally coming back to the noise and excitement of London to perform.

In fact, there’s only one person he knows who still lives in the same apartment she did ten years ago, and his memory brings him to the doorstep of a gorgeous 1920’s building, scanning the yellow-lit doorbells for the one he is looking for.


---


New York turned out to be everything he had hoped it would be, a year ago since he had met Ryan now, and more.

He was slightly nervous as he packed, aiming some snide remarks at his wife and then instantly feeling guilty for them, and picked something from a box in the back of his closet, putting it into his jacket pocket, right before he left.

He took a cab over to the airport and met Clive (who was looking at his watch with a slightly concerned expression) at the entrance. They would both take the Heathrow-JFK flight, and as Clive handed him the tickets, he was surprised to note they would be flying first class. “They’re finally starting to make money from this,” Clive noted with a smile, and Greg agreed, glad they would have some leg space for once.

Thinking about Ryan for the umpteenth time that day, Greg unconsciously reached inside his pocket and fumbled with what was inside, seeing the image of Ryan again, how sated and content he had looked right after coming down his throat. How they had both smiled, nonchalantly but with a hint of something desperate, when they said goodbye. How he longed to feel Ryan naked against him, in his bed.

Clive, as they walked through the sliding door into the brightly lit airport, casually eyed Greg’s pocket, and then, without missing a beat, warned him, “You might have done better not to bring that on a plane, you know.”

Greg, abruptly pulled out of his thoughts, stopped, wondered at his own transparency, and then nodded astutely, “That’s why I plan on smoking it before we leave. Care to join me?”

When Clive had wordlessly looked him over and then had followed him into a mostly-empty corridor, he had been pleased but not surprised. As they passed the joint between them, he realized with something close to interest that there really was more to Clive Anderson than what met the eye. And when that particular flight included a quickie in the bathroom stall, because Greg was just plain horny with the foresight of seeing Ryan again and Clive, well, Clive didn’t get high nearly as often as Greg did and was acting maybe just a little out of character, neither of them ever talked about it again.

What they would admit to was buying all the chocolate the stewardess had available and gleefully bickering over who got to eat the last piece. When Greg lost, he called Clive a “fucked up, British old queen” loud enough for the entire first class to enjoy, and Clive had pretended not to hear him, eyes glittering as he stared out the plane window.

In all it was the most enjoyable plane trip Greg had experienced in years, and when they landed (Clive and he quietly snickering at the buildings that were getting bigger and bigger in an absurd, cartoonish kind of way) he was sure that most of their co-passengers were on the edge of a nervous breakdown, very, very glad to see them leave.

It was dark outside by the time their cab reached the hotel, and they were tired and worn out, comfortably dozing in the back seat, Greg slightly drooling on Clive’s shoulder. In front of their hotel, the cab driver woke them with a loud cough, (Clive woke up with a startled “sorry?” and then threw a dirty look at Greg while inspecting the state of his jacket. Greg yawned a couple times and then grinned sheepishly, not in the least bit sorry) and then left them to carry their own luggage inside, undoubtedly annoyed that they hadn’t tipped him more.

The first taping wasn’t planned until the next day, but it was late and nobody seemed to be around (‘Probably all at a bar,’ Clive said with a certain disdain when he noted Greg’s wistful looks), and so they just checked in and went to bed, separately.

When Ryan was not at his door first thing the next morning, Greg didn’t allow himself to feel disappointed, not really. But when Ryan was not at breakfast, nor lunch, he started to feel as if he had been hoping for too much perhaps. In the end it was a new guy named Brad who informed him that yes, Ryan had checked in, but he had left for the day to explore New York with Colin.

Surprised, Greg turned around and asked “Who’s Colin?”



Chapter Three...



mood: fine

January 2016

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