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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
Chapter Two
Chapter Three




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When Ryan again was not to be seen for the entire day, this time Greg felt almost relieved at that and then questioned himself for feeling that way, easily conjuring up memories of London, how uncomplicated and utterly comfortable it had been to be around Ryan, how often they laughed about nothing at all, how easy the jokes came. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he swore to himself to never get headaches over the man. The sex had been amazing, yes, but they both had a very fulfilling life outside of that and if it was only a one-time thing it was no use to dwell on it after all.

A couple hours later he was walking with Clive and Richard over the busy, over-populated streets of New York, unlike them finding a sort of solace in the constant noise and movement. They had gone to see a rather good art exhibition, and he had found a great amount of pleasure in discussing the merits of a certain contemporary American painter with Clive, the both of them really getting into the argument.

Richard, knowing them well enough not to interfere, had gone off to buy himself a beer and returned a good thirty minutes later, a flush on his cheeks and a catalogue in his hand. All they could get out of him was that “he had run into a tour guide” but Clive and Greg secretly betted where he had had sex (‘in the bathroom,’ Clive suggested, ‘somewhere kinkier, maybe a storage room’ Greg decided), and with which tour guide (‘woman?’ Clive questioned, ‘nah, defiantly a guy’ Greg determined), hoping to be able to get it out of him some time.

They had to be back at the studios rather soon, so they decided to take a cab straight there. Greg, however, busied with the task of hailing them one, had become increasingly frustrated when yellow cab after yellow cab passed them by. It took a good ten minutes, and when there finally was one that stopped, he was plain exasperated to see it filled by Colin, who opened the door and motioned them in with a big smile.

“We just went to pick up Chip at the airport and get him to the studio,” Colin explained. Greg decided he couldn’t care less who this Chip person (was that a real name anyway? “Chip”?) was, and closed his eyes, head leaning back against the smooth leather interior of the cab, fighting back a growing headache. Suddenly he really wished he hadn’t smoked that joint with Clive but had saved it…

“Are you playing tonight Colin?” he could hear Richard ask, and when Colin replied “No, but I think I’ll watch,” Greg found he felt a little better. At least he would have a relaxed Ryan next to him again, not the bundle of nerves he had seen yesterday. At least the taping would go all right. And maybe after… he wouldn’t let himself think quite that far yet, but he did find a knot of tension in his stomach that hadn’t been there before. Ryan… Ryan was rapidly becoming something he longed for, and he wasn’t quite sure whether to enjoy or fight that fact.

As they stepped out of the cab, Clive paying for their fare, Ryan, wearing a bright red shirt, was out in the lobby, stoically smoking a cigarette, doing his best not to look like he was waiting for them. Greg could see out of the corner of his eye that Colin hadn’t been fooled either, a slight frown on his face. When he saw them, Ryan gave them all a general nod, a quick, unreadable flash of eyes at Greg, and then was pulled into a conversation with Colin. Greg noted the casual hand Colin put on Ryan’s side, stressing some point or another, but he stepped past them and to his dressing room, thinking about possibly finishing off that bottle of scotch before the taping began…

He ended up having to hurry, cynically donning himself in an all-black outfit, momentarily snickering at his own prepubescent behaviour before finishing off a full glass of scotch, swallowing a Tylenol for his headache, and heading to the greenroom.

He aimed a loaded wink at Richard there, but before he could get Clive to join him in a lets-get-the-truth-out-of-Richard banter session, they were called to the stage.


The show went well once he got to concentrating on what was a comforting persona, the banter with Clive, the one-line jokes, the clever word plays and high-pitched voices, and he felt his heavy mood lift to be replaced by the focused, sharp buzz of performing.

Later, he wouldn’t remember what games they did that night, but he rarely strove to recall his acting so it didn’t bother him. He knew he was focused on Ryan, maybe more than he should have been, but the audience laughed, so, as he had learned long ago, anything else was secondary.

Somewhere around the middle of the show he had started longing for a cigarette, the curious, aching feeling that was both familiar and annoying, and as soon as the producer stepped up to thank all for a well-done taping, he bolted out of his seat, not even listening to the final applause. He grabbed his cigarettes and stepped outside, through the lobby, onto the busy boulevard and around a corner, to where he hoped he could light up and just be alone for a fucking second.

While he had known that Ryan would follow him, he hadn’t thought he was that transparent when Ryan appeared around the same corner a good minute later and asked “are you done having your five minutes or should I come back later?”

He scowled, and Ryan stepped up to take a drag from Greg’s cigarette, passing it back to him with a shrug that said “we’ve shared more than this…”

Eyes on the floor, tapping his cigarette so the ashes fell on the grey asphalt, Greg asked, “Are the guys doing anything tonight?” Meaning will you come with me, but falling just short of actually implying anything.

“Yes. They, eh, Colin… and Archie wanted to go to… there’s a Blues bar downtown to play pool, it’s supposed to be good.” Ryan spoke softly, apparently determined not to mean anything either.

“Ok,” Greg said while dropping his cigarette to the floor and stubbing it out with his shoe.

“Fine.” Ryan put his hands in his pockets, obviously determined not to even touch him, and they walked back to the studios together, an icy thin sense of… what? ‘Annoyance’ Greg thought, between them, and as soon they were in the lobby (the security guy giving them a polite nod, Greg cynically wondering if Richard had maybe screwed that guy too) they split up, leaving for their own rooms.

Once back in his dressing room, Greg did finish his bottle of scotch and then got back into the hallway, quite positive he’d be able to pester Clive and Richard into joining them. When he talked to them, he heard they had already been informed of the evening’s plans and were quite enthusiastic about it, so he just went to pack his stuff and they were ready to go.

Greg happened to know Clive was a great pool player, so even he felt mildly excited at the prospect of getting Archie, Chip, or maybe Colin to bet against Clive and maybe earn a bit of the profit.

As they filed out in a single line and he held the door for Colin in jest, he saw Ryan looking at them with the same intense look he had seen on his face the evening before —in the taping with Colin— and felt briefly guilty. Apparently, Colin was not to be touched, which was something he could live with but made him even more suspicious of what had preceded between them.

Once at the bar, they fell into their natural groups of Clive playing pool against Richard (Greg mentally betted for Clive, even though he knew Richard wasn’t too bad either) and Ryan, Colin, Chip and Archie at a little table, ordering drinks. When Greg joined them with the request of someone to play against, he had been hoping Ryan would, but it was Archie who took him up on the offer and who was expertly kicking Greg’s ass a couple minutes later.

Clive had once told him he lacked the finesse of a pool player, and he tended to agree as he glanced over to Clive and Richard’s table where both of them where carefully aligning shots, taking at least a minute to aim before doing anything, but when they did, making pretty amazing shots.

Archie seemed to have no such hold-ups as he put down his beer to accept the cue, aimed and without even leaning over the table seemed to be able to hit anything he wanted, afterwards simply going back to sipping his drink. Greg knew he wasn’t much of a challenge to him, and so they stopped playing after one game in favour of watching the others.

Clive and Richard’s game was, however slow, quite spectacular, and they had drawn a small crowd of on-lookers right when Clive carefully scored the last two balls and finished the game, Richard demanding a re-match. Greg, who had seen them play many times already, soon got bored and wandered over to the table where Ryan and Colin were sitting, sans Chip, apparently busily discussing something or another, Colin leaning in close to whisper something into Ryan’s ear.

They didn’t notice Greg right away when he joined them, but when they did they both straightened and looked at him expectantly. At once, he felt like the outsider, the one to break up their little love chat or whatever it was they had been having, and he felt an unexplainable kind of anger rise up inside of him. Determined not to let it show, he asked some general questions from Colin, carefully avoiding any topic that would have been insulting while quietly waging a war with Ryan. Ryan seemed to try and ignore his glances, but when he did look up it was with anger in his eyes as well; he had obviously disturbed something Ryan hadn’t wanted him to, and that served to make Greg feel even more annoyed.

After a while, Colin, maybe not too perceptive but not blind either, looked back from Greg to Ryan and excused himself, mumbling something about “going over there” before bolting to sit at the bar with Chip.

As soon as they were alone, Greg took a sip from his already warm drink and then eyed Ryan, asking with what he hoped was a level voice, “So, are you screwing him too?”

Ryan took a breath, his eyes on the direction Colin had walked in, as if to determine what to say, stalling the moment. Greg, not in the mood for taking anything but a definite denial, said in a low voice, “Don’t fucking lie Ryan.”

When Ryan still didn’t reply, Greg stood up, his chair screeching on the floor, turned around and left.


---

When he steps out of Josie’s building into the street, it’s afternoon, still chilly and overcast, but dry for the moment. The people with colorful umbrellas have made way for those in dark or grey raincoats, the occasional person with a wet, rained-out hairdo passing him by, and of course his mind goes back to Ryan…

The amused Ryan he had met for the first time with the wet, dark curls and had thought comical. The time he fucked Ryan under the shower, clouds of steam billowing in the bathroom, the wet, sloppy sound his dick made plunging in and out of him, the way Ryan’s hand had pounded on the glass shower wall, trickles of water running over his back, how Ryan’s wet hair had felt between his fingers when he pulled him close for a kiss.

Then, again, the memory of the time they had come in from a rainy walk, chilled to the bone; he doesn’t know why it is such a persistent, vivid series of moments in his mind, maybe because they were young then, because time hadn’t altered them enough yet to find everything (love?) totally improbable, because Ryan still laughed then, not in vague amusement but in actual, unadultered happiness, or at least he likes to believe that that was what it was.

He has another memory of Ryan and rain, but he stays away from that one because in a way it’s the most painful and perfect one of all, and he stops himself from straying there, from somehow tainting the remembrance of that particular moment, and he (suddenly, clearly) knows he has aimed all along to go there, to the place from his memory.

So he takes a bus (filled with people, schoolchildren, busily conversing, the bus driver has a comforting accent) and when he pays he handles even the money with a certain painful and hazy nostalgia now. (He’d lived in England for a couple years after all, maybe the best of his life, and for a second he doesn’t recall why he went back to the US at all, until there’s more to the story that he doesn’t care to remember) and so he sits down and stares at the greying head of the bus driver in front of him until he needs to blink a couple times and starts watching for his stop.


---

Ryan didn’t come after him, and he hadn’t expected him to, not really. It’s not like they had had anything exceptional, it’s not like he hadn’t been behaving like a total dick, and when he’s downing his third glass of whiskey in a strange, dark bar, he’s even ready to kind of laugh about it, about himself.

An hour or so later he asked the barman to call him a cab (he wouldn’t have been able to find his way back through the maze of streets they’d passed even if he’d been sober) and passed out in his hotel room, not even bothering to turn on the light.

When he woke again it was only a couple hours later, to a persistent, heavy knocking on his door. He yelled at them to “fuck off!” but it only served to make the knocking grow louder. When he eventually got up, quietly swearing under his breath, and swung the door open to reveal a ragged looking Ryan with blood-shot eyes, he wasn’t even surprised. He had figured Ryan would come by at some point trying to fix things; they had to work together after all, and, most importantly, they did so well; they were friends for so far as the both of them even kept friends.

But when Ryan just stood there in his doorway, reeking of scotch and not saying anything, just staring at him, he didn’t quite know what to say, other than maybe pull Ryan inside, throw the door shut behind him, use his hands to frame his face, and then kiss him, hard.

Ryan kissed him back immediately, like it was the exact thing he had been waiting for, and they struggled, clashing teeth, their kiss all hard tongue and pushing each other away and closer and harder and not quite there at the same time. Greg let himself fall on the bed, Ryan on top of him, and then they weren’t even bothering with taking anything off but pants, rubbing together, groaning suddenly meaningless names and words in increasing desperation. They hurt; they could both hurt together now and he almost wished Ryan would hit him, bruise him, leave a stain on his body that would still be there in the morning.

Before he could articulate such need —he wasn’t even sure he could— Ryan, with shaking hands, took out some lube (did he carry that fucking stuff around everywhere?) and put on a little. When Ryan met his eyes they were wild and dark but not too unfocused; he wasn’t as drunk had Greg had given him credit for, and Greg turned to his stomach, a wild rush of anticipation flooding him.

He was expecting it to be hard. He was expecting Ryan to pound on him, to take him brutally and mercilessly without any indication that he even knew who he was fucking, to make him beg and cry and for it to be in on the edge of detrimental, because that was exactly what they both needed he thought, he knew. But then, when it was none of what he had expected it was even worse, and he ended up burying his face in the pillow, hiding the tears that were threatening to spill over.

When he felt Ryan’s dick he knew right away he was doing it without a condom (and he realized he should have protested that, but then it was Ryan, Ryan and so he just didn’t care, the world be damned) and that he planned to be gentle. Gentle.

It almost felt like a fucking insult right then, and so he moved back hard himself, forced Ryan to take him, but Ryan didn’t seem fazed, grunting, yes, but his hands stilling him, guiding him into a rhythm where he felt every fucking inch, every touch, every motion like it was the only thing in the world. And he bit his lip, scrunched up his face, willed himself not to feel it, but of course he did, sighing, moaning when Ryan bit on the patch of bare skin in his neck, the pain finally stinging and real.

He didn’t think they came together but it wasn’t far apart either, Ryan heavy right on top of him, almost drowning him in the blankets, and he himself… Crying is something he’d never admit to, but drunk and torn and fucked up. Oh so fucked up.

They stayed that way for a couple minutes, their sweat drying, their clothes uncomfortably constraining, Ryan’s come decadently wet and sticky between his legs, and when he pushed Ryan off it was because he had to pee, half-expecting to see him gone as he returned.

But when he did Ryan was still there, sitting on the bed, looking for everything in the world as if he was nineteen and lost and Greg felt like he wanted to hug him, hug him, but instead he shrugged off his clothes and got in the bed, lying on his side, trying not to notice as Ryan did the same and laid down next to him, just a couple inches apart.


Chapter Five...





mood: curious
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