Tyler was starting to wonder when he got that text message. Sorry. You're sorry? For what? ... shouldn't have taken you up on that dare. Wait, wh... Going home.
... Wait, what?
Tyler let the phone drop and dropped his head into his hands for a second, trying to think. Trying to force thoughts through a suddenly blank mind, exclamation points firing out of the top of his head, his heart pounding a mile a minute. First his face felt hot, then his skin felt icy. He pushed his hands through his hair, dropped his face in his hands again. His eyes were burning.
This was a bad idea, that's what it came down to. This had just been a bad, dumb idea. He'd pushed. He'd pushed too hard and Reid had gotten hurt and, dammit, he knew better than that. He knew better than to think Reid would ever be comfortable with this.
Okay, maybe 'ever' was a bit strong, but this wasn't something he should have pushed, not now. He shouldn't have pushed this now, he'd put Reid in a situation where there was no way out and no way to get comfortable, and he really, really shouldn't have done this. Great going, Tyler. Just great.
No, he had to fix this. He had to make this right. He had to make sure Reid knew it was okay, that it'd be okay. And, make sure Reid wasn't mad at him for pushing this. Or upset with him or whatever, anything like that. Just, they were doing all right for little bits of time there, but, no. This wasn't right, it didn't feel right, not quite. It didn't fit yet. Tyler stayed at the restaurant for another fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes, nursing a drink, then a glass of water, listening to the chaos around him. White noise. There was no one solid way to make this right, was there. Except, the usual way.
So he headed back home.
Reid was home.
All he had done had been kicking off his shoes; then he'd curled up on top of his unmade bed, throat dry, eyes dry and open, listening to his heartbeat.
Well, his heartbeat and the noises of the dorm. But at times, the former was eclipsing the latter, thundering in his ears. Time stretched, and as the minutes rolled by, it came to him, over and over again, how badly he'd screwed up.
He'd left his date behind. Worse, he'd left his best friend behind, instead of just going to get him and drag him off, as he usually did. As a part of him wanted to always be able to do. Yeah, big fat chance of that. Idiot.
He'd left his best friend in the middle of all that mess. Which he'd amply helped creating.
Tyler deserved better than that. Better than him. (And that thought cut way deeper than either the prospect or reality of a date, except for the bit where that boiled down to the same thing, in the end.)
Maybe he'd found somebody else he liked, right there. That would at least mean he had fun. Or maybe he'd gone to see the movie anyway. Reid should get up, get ready for bed, get to sleep. He had to.
And he had no desire to stir whatsoever. Or will. Or strength. Flattened still by the knowledge, the certainty that, obviously, he couldn't do this. Except he wasn't squashed by it, not exactly. Just... paralyzed.
Yeah. Like that's a first.
Tyler drove straight back home.
He didn't know what he was going to do once he got there, and that was a problem. There were options. He could come in and make some sort of quip or comment, but that was usually Reid's thing. He could pretend it never happened. But it had happened, and there was only so much pretending they could do. Way to force the issue, you idiot. So, all right. No joking it off, no pretending it hadn't happened.
Just tell him? Tell him what? He didn't even know what there was to tell him. What he could tell him and what he should stay way from to avoid another incident like this one.
He was still trying to think of something to say, anything to say, as he climbed up the stairs. Headed into their rooms, tossing the jacket on one of the chairs, looking in and.
Reid, curled up on the bed. Like he always was. Like he'd been before, with Zach, before, with what's her name. There'd been a lot of what's her names. Reid probably remembered, but he didn't. He remembered Zach because it wasn't that usual that a guy got the blond's attention. And now he was curled up on the bed again and it struck him right then that it was why he felt so sick inside. Because this was how Reid looked when things were over, and things weren't over. Hell, some things hadn't really started. Ever started. Didn't have to start, not if it meant Reid looked like this.
Tyler went over, tried as hard as he could to stop thinking about it and went over and sat down next to Reid, putting an arm around his shoulders over his back and closing the other arm over in front of him after a second and just pulling him in close. Holding on tight.
"Hey." Quietly. Soft, cheek to cheek, like they always were when something ended or something went belly up or something, anything made Reid like this. Tyler came and sat on the bed and put his arms around him, that was what he did. So that was what he did. "Hey. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have pushed like that." Sad and soft and simple, just to be there with him.
Reid's eyes were on the door as soon as he heard the apartment door open and close. And words were on his lips when he did see him there, and then were taken away by the stricken look on Tyler's face. Like... he had done something wrong. ... what? No, that wasn't right, Reid frowned and tried to make sense of that, and then Tyler was there and holding him, pulling him up against him and all the blond do for a few moments was whimper a little, with guilt, and cling.
"Hey. No, not you. I'm sorry." He swallowed, and his arms just tightened a bit more. "I'm so, so sorry, Ty. I was an ass, I shouldn't've bolted like that, shouldn't have left you all alone and in the middle of that, shouldn't have been somebody you had to put up with, rather than have fun with, I'm so, so so so sorry." Maybe he was mumbling a little, the words tumbling out, rushing to be heard, to get the apology out...
He tried to swallow again, but his throat was a bit stuck, and his eyes were burning. Dry, but burning. "I was an idiot. Am an idiot. S-sorry. You weren't pushing anything. I was just..." Idiot. Ass. Not good enough. Sit up and behave properly, Reid. Well, he never managed to do that, did he...
No, he didn't end curled up just when something was over. Guilt, whether self-inflicted or otherwise, would do it, too.
"Hey." Even softer, now, kissing the top of his head, hugging tighter, just kissing his temple and hugging him and running on instinct, hearing the catch in his voice. Hurting because of it. "Hey, hey, babe, hey. It's okay. It's okay, you're okay." Fingers combing through his hair. Oh, Reid.
"It's okay, you know? We're okay. We're just you and me, and, I, I should have remembered that." God, he just wanted to curl up around his poor broken friend and protect him from everything in the world. "And, you know. If s... I should have known better. Something's up, and, you know, I shouldn't have done that. Shouldn't have pushed, made things worse. Shouldn't have gotten us into this mess."
Deep breath. No crying. They'd be okay, he'd said so and it would be true. Don't cry, man. Please don't cry. "It's okay. I got you."
Reid twitched, somewhere in there. Around something's-up, probably. But he didn't let go. He tried to speak, once, twice, before his throat complied. "It wasn't pushing. It should have been fun. It was going to be fun, I meant to make it so. I just..." His breath got stuck again. One arm shifted, rose up across Tyler's back, fingers reaching up to play with the ends of the back of his hair, just a little. Softly running fingers in and out, rubbing the hair between thumb and fingers. Not even fully consciously. Just... not quite daring to touch skin, and not quite managing to keep away.
Then he turned his face into Tyler's shirt and squeezed his eyes shut. "It wasn't you, baby boy. You didn't get us into any mess. It was me, it's always me, you know that." Voice... half guilty-quiet, half suggesting a bit of his usual zing to it. "It's always me who screws things up, remember?" It was always him.
And... somehow, in a small small voice, because that I got you just now got to him... the thought of blurting out about the couple breaking up got swallowed up; but he did say, "'m sorry. Just don't... don't let go." Think of other ways to earn forgiveness. Or whatever. Just not... not away.
"'m not going anywhere, blondie." It was a whisper, into his hair, into the top of his head. "I'm not going anywhere, you know that." Echoing his sentiment of a couple seconds ago. Reinforced by the way he was holding on tight, fingers curling in his shirt. One hand rubbing over his back.
"We both ... it took both of us to screw this one up. So..." Tyler took a breath, swallowed. "So we'll know better next time, okay? We'll know better, we'll figure it out."
Which of course implied that there would be a next time. He hadn't quite figured that one when he'd said it. But maybe it was just, the next time they got all interesting or daring or started pushing boundaries. The next time they started messing around with their normal routine, they'd know better, and they'd figure it out so that no one got hurt. Including the innocent bystanders when Reid exploded.
Tyler sighed. Leaned back a little against the headboard of the bed, tugging Reid with him. He kept bouncing from too many thoughts and things to say to none at all, and right now it was too many and all the wrong things. They'd figure it out. They'd have to. "It's okay. And I'm not going anywhere." One more soft kiss over his forehead. "Not letting go, not ever."
Reid swallowed, leaned and curled in against him, one arm stretched across the front of Tyler's body, the other one kind of holding up behind his shoulder. "Ty..." No, that didn't quite work. He sighed, and said, quietly. "There was a couple when I was going to the loo. They were breaking up. They'd been together for a while, but they were breaking up, and he got up and was crying, but didn't look back. That's what happens when I date. You've seen it enough times. I don't... I can't." Fingers curling into his shirt, bunching up the fabric, a lot. "Not..." Not him.
Shaky breaths. He couldn't... he had to explain, didn't he? But that didn't seem like a complete explanation. The words either ran away, or he couldn't manage to squeeze them out.
He tried to double up on his thoughts, say something that would make it make sense. Maybe. "So... that's why it's my fault. My screws-up, always." When dating. He was the common denominator in those relationship. Whose fault could it have been, if not his?
Tyler... didn't quite know what to say to that. "Are you..." Blink. Blink blink. Where was he going with this? "You can't break up with me, babe. We're not dating yet."
He was pretty sure he hadn't meant to put in that 'yet' part.
"Besi..." His voice choked off for a second. The reality of this conversation catching up with his mind and for a second he wasn't processing correctly. Couldn't form words. The back of his mind screamed at him to hurry up and say something before Reid freaked out again. "Besides." That had been the start of what he would say. What he'd been going to say.
But he didn't have anything to follow that up with and he didn't know what was going on with Reid, entirely. "It's not always your screw-ups," he murmured, thinking back. "Zach was just an ass who wanted to play around without actually having to do anything that might be serious. Slumming it, jerking around with people's feelings 'cause, you know, other people's feelings are less important than getting your rocks off." Not that he was bitter. Or pissed.
"Angie was just... God, I don't even know what the fuck she was thinking." Not bitter. Or pissed. Or angry. "Mickey, Michelle, what's her name? She was just..." Tyler took a breath, let it out slow. Getting angry or upset wasn't going to help right now. "It's not always your screw up. Sometimes it's just... people being jerks, babe. Sometimes shit just happens. Don't worry about it."
Not that saying don't worry about it ever did anyone any good. And he probably shouldn't have said 'yet.' Or 'next time.' Or anything like that. He shouldn't have implied that this was going to become a consistent thing, that wasn't... he didn't know if it wasn't something Reid wanted but it didn't seem like it was something he was prepared to handle. And yet. Here they were. And it wasn't something Tyler knew how to handle. He sighed.
"Blondie, you and me... we're not like that. You know that. You've known me since we were born. We don't have that, so many years, blah blah blah. It's just you, and me, and that's all. Whatever you call it. That doesn't change."
"I don't exactly do the breaking up part." That slipped in before the fully processed the 'yet'.
Which wasn't that bad, since it just fell into the pool of what he had been thinking anyway. The specific reminders though...
They got twitches. Zach a big one, on account of it being so recent. Angie, too, on account of, hell. What not. Just... he didn't want to move away enough to wince or flinch, so it was down to twitches.
It took him a while before he dared speak, after that. Even if... something. The last words were soothing. Eventually, he said, voice almost a hoarse whisper, "It's you and me. And if I go there, and what always happens, happens..." He swallowed, and curled in a little more. He felt almost tired enough to just hang limply, there, but he didn't have the strength to let go enough for that. "I can't."
"I get that. I do." Fingers still sliding through his hair, down his cheek. "It doesn't matter. Whatever happens, whatever we are... that doesn't matter. I'm not going anywhere. It's just you and me. Whatever you want to call it, just you and me, and I'm not going anywhere."
Tyler sighed. This wasn't working, he didn't know what to say. "And... we're not like... we're..." Something hurt. Deep inside, something hurt, tightened in his chest, swelled in his throat. He blinked a little too rapidly. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to, not ever. If you don't want to go there, we don't have to, not ever."
But we're not like them, he wanted to say. We're not like your high school girlfriends, your college boyfriend and girlfriends and I'm not like them. I know you. I'm a part of you. Aren't I?
No, he just left it at that.
That sound to his voice did jolt Reid's head up. To blink up at him, frown, just a little at the way Tyler's face was... twisted. And then stumble over the words, trying to explain, he wasn't understanding, they weren't... he wasn't being clear enough. "You don't g-- It's not-- It's too--" Breathe. Swallow. Try again. "I love you and it's not going away." And. Mouth clamped, eyes widening at actually saying after saying that he couldn't, or wouldn't or whatever he had said about going there.
Breath. And another breath. And another breath. "Uh... so, it's a little late for not doing what I... or for exactly choosing some things."
Point the first. He wasn't taking the words back. Point the second, he didn't say that it was really doing what he didn't want to. And now his throat was tight and he could barely see. But he - he wasn't looking away.
That physically hurt. He hadn't expected that.
Not even a bad kind of hurt but an overwhelming, chest tightening almost can't breathe, throat painfully swollen. "Say that again," he rasped, then blinked, not quite able to believe that he said that. "I... uh."
Wait, whatever happened to no pressure? Why are you being such a damn idiot? Focus. Come on.
"I don't want it to go away," he said finally, quietly. "I don't want to go away. Like I said, I'm not going anywhere. That's always been true, whichever way things are. Just... I, this... it's not what I expected. Doesn't make it bad."
He didn't even know what he was saying. What he meant to say, what he was saying, any of it. He just wanted to curl up around Reid, hold on tight, and hope that made everything all better. He did, a little. The curling up and holding on part. "Whatever happens, okay? Whatever you decide. I'm not going anywhere."
Reid blinked a little, trying to make sense of what of what Tyler said meant what to what part of what he had said. Or maybe trying to make sense of most of what Tyler said. Except the first bit, the stark need in them softening the... the effect of having just blurted it and all.
He swallowed, and his hand rubbed a little where he was holding his shirt. Shirt bunched up in his fist and all. "I love you." It was quieter now, the next bit catching up to him being, it's not what I expected. Which made him look down. Curl down again, as Tyler shifted, breath coming a bit more ragged, blood roaring in his ears.
Reid wasn't making sense to himself anymore. Or maybe it was that the burning in his eyes had gone over the dry and started moistening up. Or more. He didn't know anymore; he just curled up and burrowed and clung.
Of all things, song lyrics were running through his head right now, lyrics from one of the school plays about a billion years ago. School musical. Something. Details didn't matter. This mattered. And it really was the most beautiful sound in the whole wide world.
"I-I love you too." Stutter. Way to stutter. But it had to be said, he couldn't not say it and when Reid had said it it seemed silly not to say it just in case Reid freaked out and even his own thoughts were going in circles right now, half panicked half joyful all confused circles. Round and around and around. Clinging was good. Curling up around him and holding on tight and clinging while he tried to settle his breathing and make sense of what the hell had just happened tonight.
He closed his eyes, though, buried his face into Reid's hair, lips brushing over his forehead. Tears, only a couple of them but still, falling down. One, two. It was starting to be easier to find stillness. One breath, and then the next. And then the third came easier, slower and deeper. Breathe in. Breathe out. Hold on. And he'd calm down in a second here. One of them had to stay calm. He ran his fingers lightly down the back of Reid's neck, over his spine. He liked that. Back up again.
"We'll be okay," he whispered, because it was all he could think of to say. "Hey, babe. We'll be okay."
Reid didn't hear the stuttering; he heard the words. They did relax a bit the hold of I-screwed-up-again-that-was-a-mistake that he'd somehow fallen into; enough for all of a response of a second whimper. At least it wasn't a sob, the way his cheeks were quickly getting wet, and, in a bit, that spot on Tyler's shirt.
He shivered at the touches; yes, he did like them - it was just a general system overload, he was feeling them way more than usually. Not in a bad way. Just... magnified.
But between them and the words, all the words, his fist slowly unclenched. His hand slid further around Tyler's body, hugging him like that. Tight.
In a bit, in a shaky voice, he finally said, "I... I hope so." Swallow, quiet sniffle. "I just hope so, somehow. Because I always screw it up. Always." Another breath, or two. "'m sorry." About crying. About tonight. About fucking it up, in advance.
But not for loving. It was pretty damn precious to be sorry for.
He shifted a little to lean back, to hold him around his back with that arm and be able to brush his fingers down his cheek through the tears. Too soon to do the next thing that came into his mind, but he could do this, for now.
"Don't be. It'll be okay. It's us, we ... we work. I know you, blondie. I've known you for so long..." He kissed his forehead. "We'll work it out. Somehow. No matter how we figure it out, you won't lose me."
He knew that. As a fact, he knew it the way he knew the sun would come up tomorrow. They were, all four of them, Sons of Ipswich, brothers, buddies. Lovers, friends, whatever, it didn't have words. And it didn't go away. No matter what happened, shit like that did not go away. And he wasn't going away. Not from Reid, who needed him too much. And he needed Reid. Keeping each other steady.
His breaths were deep and a little shuddery, but his grip was steady. "We'll be okay. I'm not going anywhere."
Reid didn't get it, he didn't know why he was crying, hell, he usually just didn't cry, no matter how bad things were, right? And this was good, and he heard Tyler, and the words helped, although years and years of seeing himself do that, lose people after he loved them or dated them or had fun with them was difficult to struggle against, but still, this was good, here and now, right? Then why was he crying, dammit?
Besides the idea that screwing this up would lose them both this. And yes, they did need it.
If he could burrow any closer into Tyler, right now, he would have. But it wasn't exactly doable, not without really changing position, and he was out of energy for that.
In a bit, he did turn his face a little and nuzzled into his palm.
And all that loudmouth Reid managed to come up with? Was, "and neither am I." Going anywhere.
He'd just done the bolting away once. Tonight. He didn't like it.
His breath caught again at that gesture, at the words. Not that they hadn't done things like this before but it was different from it had been five minutes ago. It weighed more on his heart.
His thumb traced over the arch of Reid's cheek, backs of his fingers brushing over skin. Reaching up to comb fingers through his hair. He didn't know what to say, and thought that maybe they both needed to calm down some. Just breathe, and hold on. Keep touching, keep holding close, and it'd be okay. Rocking them back and forth a little. No one was going anywhere. Outside, the noises usual to the building, the occasional person walking through the hallways, music from upstairs. Quiet and stillness in their room. Just holding him. Wrapping them in a cocoon of silence and sniffling and sort of shifting of their weight on the bed.
"You're my blondie," he whispered. "Okay? I know... Man, I know you. I know you want to be a doctor because you really do want to help people. I know you hate math. I know you like looking at people, just... sitting and watching, sometimes. I know sometimes, at night, you're lying there pretending to be asleep but you're not, 'cause you wake up and you need to know everything's okay before you go back to sleep. I know how you tense up every time it looks like they're going to fight, even if they don't... ever, I think." Caleb and Pogue. The other two. If they could make it work, so could he and Reid. "I know ..." Fingertips light over his cheek, brushing tears away. "Sometimes you say things you don't mean, and then you get this look on your face. This whole, I-screwed-up look and at the same time this whole so-what look. Like you're digging your heels in. Because you own your mistakes, even when you make them ..." Just thinking of that made him smile a little, enough to show in his voice at least. "They're yours and no one's gonna take that from you."
Deep breath. Slow sigh, hugging him a little tighter and turning his head to rest his cheek on the blond's hair. "I know you're scared of turning out ..." Like your parents. "Like you don't know how to be easy with anyone. I know you kind of want to be like Pogue, a little bit, just knowing what to say and how to be with everyone, easy. I know half the time you do stupid shit you don't even mean to, you're just looking to make things brighter or more fun. And..." There was that smile again. "I know I go along with you, 'cause it is, and 'cause someone has to keep you out of trouble. And 'cause I do love you..." Okay, his voice hitched a little on there because he hadn't said it for so long, it seemed weird to say it out loud. Those words. Even if he'd meant to say them jokingly or, as a brother, or something else, he'd just never had. And now they'd said it and it was out there and things were different. Still, he meant it. And that way, too. "... and 'cause even when you do stupid shit that hurts, that doesn't change. And 'cause I know that if I tell you, hey, that hurts, stop that... you will. And it'll be okay."
Reid had lost it somewhere in the first few sentences, and had curled up more against him and was crying even more. Holding on tight, fingers digging into his clothes, tears falling unchecked, although any kind of sound was checked, held back, because he didn't mean to miss a word of that.
He'd known. He'd always known that Tyler was there, that he saw it all and knew it and did the right thing, the thing that made it easier and better and more bearable and making a little more sense and way more fun, and yes, he was going to tell him this, when he could speak again. For now, there was a puddle of clingy, mellow, melty, helpless Reid, the warmth and love in the words, in Tyler's whole being seeping, making the whole thing where he'd been trying to fight what he felt, what they both felt, for the sake of his own mess up, stupid and hurtful and what was he to do?
Eventually, he got some of the whole thing under control. Enough to look up again, tear-stained face and wet eyelashes only framing the blue eyes as they opened up, clear and, yes, loving, to look at his... well, what they were going to be now. Too early for words. His breath was still a little hiccuppy, and his voice a bit off, but he did find some words. No idea if they were anything like the right words, but... "Ty... I'm - I'm sorry I took so long. And I'm sorry if I do screw it up. But it's..." He swallowed, and kind of licked his lips, not that it helped much, "I didn't mean any of this to hurt. And it's going to get better, okay? I'll, we'll make it better." His arm twitched, at first just making the attempt to move, then managing it so his hand rose to hold Tyler's, twine their fingers together. And squeeze tight, more so than he was aware, really.
"I don't... I'm not sure I can say how much this means to me, okay? But it makes things better, you make everything better." It was important to tell him that.
God, all of a sudden it was important to tell him so much, and the words just weren't coming. He shook a little with that, but it didn't help. All he could come up was... wiggling a little, and resting his forehead against Tyler's. Close, so close, he wanted them so close he didn't know how to get there...
Tyler knew how to get there. Tyler knew a lot of things.
"I know." Soft voice. Soft smile, eyes so bright. Every time Reid said anything to affirm what seemed to be happening to them, with them, around them, it made things a little brighter. "And, you know. We've got time. We've got ... all the time in the world." Or at least, that was how it felt, now. A whole world of possibilities opening up.
Like, for instance, the possibility of being able, given permission, of it being okay to do certain things now that they hadn't before, that he'd meant to do. Wanted to do. But, things that Reid had been uncomfortable with, so he didn't. Not really. But now he could, and for real.
So he did.
Not pushing, not at first, because maybe they weren't ready just yet. But a soft kiss. Lips to damp lips, tasting the salt of his tears, the stickiness, and the softness of his lips beneath that. Gentle pressure, enough to make sure he knew it was deliberate. Lingering, long enugh to ... something. Just to make it be what it was, a kiss. A real kiss, between lovers. And then he'd pull back, if Reid was getting too overwhelmed. Which he might be. It occurred to Tyler somewhere in there that this was a whole hell of a lot to deal with in one night.
Or maybe would have been overwhelming if it didn't feel so freaking right.
Short as the distance he had to move to get to the kiss was, Reid knew, in the split second between Tyler's motion and when their lips met. His eyes widened for a moment - and then the softness of it kind of took his breath away.
They'd kissed before; a time or two before he really figured out it wasn't working; and then a few times when all four of them (or any three of with both of them) had been fooling around. But this was different. It wasn't to shut him up from teasing, it wasn't just them fooling around and kissing as part of that, it wasn't casual or a game.
It was a kiss that was meant to be a kiss. And when it started, he meant it so, too.
A breath's space between their faces, then, and blue eyes meeting blue eyes, and god, yes, that brightness in Tyler's... for a moment, the worry and the fear were wiped clean from his mind. There was the kiss, and those bright eyes, and Reid... smiled. Just a little, soft smile. Which probably looked ridiculous, with the tears not fully dried. But he smiled. Then leaned over and kissed him back.
It was still soft. Ish. There was a bit of a tremble behind it, though, a bit of burning, and his tongue reached out, very slowly, tasting Tyler's lips. Not pressing between them, but just... oh hell. Just letting go and kissing him. It was damn sweet is what it was.
And then, after. Softly. "My Ty."
"All yours." Softly, and with a smile. A bright smile. In response, partly, to that smile of Reid's because, god. He didn't know how much he'd missed that until it was gone and now it was back again. Despite the fact that it hadn't been that long since he'd seen Reid smile. It felt like ages, with all that they'd talked about and done and felt and how crazy things had been.
But there was a smile. And there was kissing. And that kiss, however soft it was, felt electric through him. Felt like he was glowing, or might levitate off the bed with how much energy it put into him. A kiss, from Reid. It sounded like such a simple thing and it so wasn't, had so much history and pent up energy and longing behind it, and it meant a lot. Even if it was soft and trembling.
He grinned, then. Bright and full and wide blue eyes. "See? It's better already." Because it was. Hell, they both seemed happier and better for having talked about it all and figured some things out.
God, he wanted to kiss him again. Wanted to hug him tight and kiss him insensible and shout for joy and hug him some more. He wanted to do any one of half a dozen things but mostly he just wanted to stay here and touch him and pet him and kiss him and make sure he was happy. Because seeing that brightness in Reid made him happy. Because that brightness in the blond was the most beautiful thing in the world. And now you're just getting sappy. He grinned, though, because it was just funny. Amused at himself.
And then he kissed him again. Just because he could, and he wanted to, and he had years of wanting to to catch up with.
"Good." Softly, and the smile was still way, way different from the usual bright, almost but not quite always sharp one. But it was there, and slightly, slowly widening, with the light on Tyler's face.
And then the next words... made a lump sit on his throat again. Because it was always better for a while. It was always good and fun and wonderful. Until something happened and-- he tried to swallow that away. It was too late to avoid any of it and he didn't want, even if he could, to retract any of what he'd said. He almost missed the even further brightening on Tyler's face, looking down; but he didn't. And it helped. It helped refrain from starting to cry all over again; and it certainly helped the next kiss. Which was a little, just a little open, a little deeper, a little clingier.
Well, a little clingier on his part; a little hungrier on Tyler's. Reid's other hand, the one not laced into the other boy's, came up to cup his cheek, oh yes, there was definitely going to be some kissing. It was good, and it was the way to get closer, deliciously, soothingly closer. The blond sat up a little, tucked one leg, folded, underneath himself. It felt like a more comfortable position for kissage. And hugging. Except both his hand were a bit busy, but it was till more comfortable.
When their faces drifted apart, he managed a soft, "not that we ever didn't do that, but I like the thought of getting comfortable around you." Actually, he liked the thought of many and various things around him. With a new...
I love you, too.
Tyler grinned at that, another one of those bright and beaming grins. He thought he kind of knew what Reid meant, at least. This was a new kind of comfortable, was all. Something different to make things feel different, just a little bit, maybe a little bit more than they had before. But that was all. He squeezed Reid's hand a little. "Hey, I like the thought, too. This new kind of comfortable."
He also liked the feeling of Reid's hand on his cheek, and leaned into that a little. Kind of nuzzled into his palm. Blue eyes wide and bright, look, no tears. Only relief and joy.
He could still see, almost feel, some of Reid's lingering insecurity. The worry. But he didn't know what else to say to that and he wasn't sure there was anything else to say, anyway. Time would help. Time, getting used to things, getting settled into a routine of them as they were now. As things happened and Reid would probably do something stupid, because he was Reid and that's what he did every now and then, and Tyler would smack him out of it and then hug him tight because that was Tyler, and that was what he did. Or maybe Tyler would be the one to do something stupid and then he'd flail, and Reid would smooth it over (he hoped!) and be the one to hug him. Whatever. However it went. They'd make mistakes, but they'd fix it, and it'd be okay.
He knew that. He had faith in them. In this.
And the idea that there was a them in that sense of the word just made everything brighter and happier. It seemed a little silly, like it was such a small thing, but it did.
"I like the thought of this being an 'us,'" he said again, quietly. "And, um. I'm glad... you like it too."
Not at all smooth. But very, very true.
Of course Reid would smooth it over. And then make Tyler laugh, either about it or something completely different, making him think of better things or putting it into such an absurd perspective that it would be okay.
Because it was.
And Reid was a lot about perspective. His usually was a bit quirky but way precise. Except, apparently, about this. Here, it was tainted, tilted. But Tyler was there, and... well.
He wasn't the one going away on people. So long as Tyler was there, Reid would be. It's where he wanted to be, anyway.
Bit of a sigh, but his thumb caressed his - his ... an us. - his lover's face, and his lips twitched up, just a bit. "'course I do." Okay, that turned into a full caress, tracing the features of the familiar face, slowly. "Who wouldn't?" Like it. That bit was very softly, and, no, he really couldn't believe that anybody wouldn't. Because it was Tyler.
And now, it was his Tyler. More so. Heh. Now his smile definitely widened. "Well, there always has been an us." True enough. Reid-and-Tyler was sometimes used as a single word, around the Covenant households, as well as, well, those of some of the more usual friends. "It just means something else, now. Something more." A beat, and he actually gave a small wink. Even if his lashes kind of stuck for a moment, drying and all. "We'll just get to figure out what, right?" And because it felt like a thing to say... Well, to think, and he wasn't about to stop it from being said.
"That calls for various kinds of," peck. Teasing peck on the lips, "experimentation, then, doesn't it?"
Soft little laugh from Tyler. God, just seeing Reid this happy, even if it wasn't a really solid happy, when he'd been so upset earlier? That right there was enough to make him laugh and smile. "Oh, I'd say it does." Stealing another kiss back. Because he could. Because that's what people who went out on dates and had sex and had upsets and made up afterwards did, they kissed. And they held each other, and then things were all right again.
And then he kissed him again. Softer and longer this time, pressing just a little bit closer, tilting his head a bit so they could fit together for a longer kiss. Lips parted against Reid's but he wasn't sure how deep to make the kiss so he didn't, not too much so. But he wanted Reid to know. That meant telling him in more than just words, because Reid might not be so good with words, but he really was good with this other stuff. The unspoken stuff. Like kisses.
Soft and long kiss and when it was over, breathing just a little faster. "All kinds of things we could try." He couldn't tell if he was whispering or just being breathless. "See what works for us." There was that 'us' word again. Made him grin.
Yet another quick kiss again. "Right now, I'm thinking kissing's working pretty well?"
Reid's eyes brightened yet more at the laugh. God, yes. That was... a million times better than how his face had looked when he came in. He swallowed, for a moment, then grinned back. "Sounds about right." Seeing what worked for them.
Not like they were not used to things being a little different when it came to them. The two of them, the four of them, whatever. It did always boil down to trial and error, and more trial and, hell, that was going to be fun.
Then he squinted at Tyler. "Ya think so?" And, hey, there's that playfulness to the grin, again. "Let's see what happens when I ... concentrate a bit more."
For all that Reid had been awkward when they first started... experimenting, and for all that he'd avoided kissing his boys later - he was a decent kisser. The next deep one? Was totally way, way better. Reid's arm somehow had wound up around Tyler and pressing him close, too... strange thing, that.
Tyler would have agreed with that if he'd had breath or use of his mouth to speak the agreement. Well, he also figured the non-vocal agreement in the form of enthusiastically reciprocating the kiss worked as well. And snuggling into his arm. And shifting, okay, letting go of his hand so that he could put his other arm around Reid and cup his cheek, sliding fingers into his hair, just. He wanted to be touching now. More actively touching, with this kiss. A lot.
"I think..." he managed, when they came up for air. "When you concentrate on that kissing thing a bit more?"
Okay, he couldn't think of a suitably good pun or innuendo or something there, so he kissed him again. Kissing was better than talking, right now. All the kissing he'd wanted to do for a moment here and a moment there all built up into one long moment where he couldn't get enough of it. The taste of his lips. The taste of him. Chocolate and him, the chocolate dessert taste was coming back and he smiled against Reid's lips, not really managing to suppress laughter.
"I think kissing definitely works for us," he managed, when he couldn't decide between kissing and smiling. On the one hand, kissing! On the other hand, just seeing that brightness in Reid's eyes was everything he could have wanted out of tonight.
Didn't mean he wasn't going to try and maybe nudge a little for more. At least, more of what he was pretty sure Reid was comfortable in giving. "Want to try a little something else?" Not quite waggling his eyebrows, but definitely a suggestive look there. And another kiss. Less deep, but no less loving. "Variation on a theme?" And then, another kiss. This time to the corner of his mouth. Soft, lingering. And then down. Along his neck. Each one clearly delineated from the next, not brushing his lips over skin so much as placing gentle kisses over his cheek, down his neck, down along his collar. Warm breath gentle between parted lips, and as soft a touch as he could manage.
"I think... you're right." Reid's own breathing was coming a little faster; damn right it was working; why hadn't they been doing it sooner?
Oh. Right. He'd insisted on not. Well, not insisted, but-- uh.
Kissing was good now, at any rate. Very, very good. "Variations?" Oohh...
The blond shivered, a little, as the tender lips and warm breath came to and passed a more sensitive spot, then his breathing sped again, air stirring Tyler's hair just so, one arm holding him, the other hand cupping his head, fingers tangling in the dark strands.
"Mmm... yeah. I think your suggested variations vary other aspects of previously thoroughly explored experiences," why, yes, he was grinning now, the suggestion definitely taken to hart and god yes, right now, this was going to be good, "to a varying degree."
Okay, he wasn't just talking, either. His hand slid down along Tyler's back, groping for a moment, then slipping back up, under the hem of his shirt, thumb running lightly along skin, and then all fingers, the whole palm. "And I also think I like that." The variations. The changes. Gyah, he was buzzing.
Another soft laugh, shifting a bit so that Reid had more access to more skin. Breath quickening with those touches. The sound of his voice. As far down as they'd been, as bad as he'd felt before, he was quickly climbing higher again. This was how things were supposed to go. This was what they were supposed to be.
"I think," he murmured, grinning, he couldn't stop grinning, and now his hold on Reid shifted to slide his hands up under his shirt, just to touch skin. To feel that living, solid warmth as he raised his head to look into his eyes and smile. "I think you talk too much." But only teasing. And only as an opening line to kissing him long and deep and happy.
And then, after the kiss and with somehow getting Reid's shirt rucked up under his arms a bit while they'd been kissing. Somewhere in there it occurred to him to actually ask. "You want to go with this?" The foreplay. The undressing. Not that he thought Reid didn't want it, far from it, but he wanted to be sure. After what he'd pushed Reid into doing earlier and how catastrophic that had been for a little while, at least, he really wanted to be sure Reid was up for this before they got to the point where it would be awkward to stop.
Well, it was a little awkward now. They weren't at the right angle for Reid to feel it, but he could reach down and feel it if he really wanted to. But they were still dressed. Not like Tyler didn't have control over himself.
He did kind of want Reid to be okay with going with this. If only because he wanted to know what it felt like.
"You always think I talk too much." Smirkity smirk. "But you know about... I always do. Unless my mouth is otherwise occupied." Wider smirk, and yes, he kissed back, then.
Apparently, the options between them of how to keep Reid's mouth occupied had kind of multiplied, all of a sudden. Or, you know. Finally.
Then he blinked at the question. At the pause. His eyebrows quirked at an angle at Tyler, and his hand dipped into the back of his - mmm, date finery! - pants. "Hell yeah." Fingers wiggling a little, there, and then he moved both hands to the sides of Tyler's shirt, shifted a little, and started tugging up. "We'll have to nudge the rule about no sex when dating somebody, though."
What? Reid sprouting nonsense? Shocking... (Well, kind of nonsense. Reid-level nonsense.)
Actually, while he thought about it, he paused while pulling the shirt off, fabric over Tyler's face. And leaned and kissed him through it, teeth grazing over the full lower lip through the cloth.
And then, well, then he continued with the undressing.
And kissing. It was difficult to stop that, once they'd started. Not that he wanted to.
Tyler laughed, muffled as it was by his shirt. Trying to remember what he was going to say as he helped Reid get him undressed. Oh, right. "Hey!" In between kisses. God, so many kisses, he loved it. Loved him. "I think I'm allowed to have all the sex with my boyfriend I want."
Boyfriend. Man, he had a boyfriend, a Reid-type boyfriend. That was all kinds of amazing.
And deliberately said, too. Apart from the fact that he just wanted to say the word to hear the word, it was also just to remind Reid that they could do this, were doing this. That it would be fine. That Tyler wanted this, at least, if Reid was okay with it. Boyfriends, lovers, whatever word anyone wanted to put to it. They were them. A really kind of horny them.
He helped get Reid stripped of his clothes, in between getting undressed. Taking his time with the roaming of hands and mouths and interspersing the touches with lots of kisses. Definitely taking his time, once they got down to mostly skin. Just to touch, to feel. Like he was learning Reid's body all over again, which, maybe in a way he was. He was learning to send new messages with how he touched and where, and when, and for how long. How to show him how much he loved him, and wanted this, and also learning as they touched and with the choices of touch that they made how different it was being with him when it was just fooling around versus being with him... like this.
Making love. Go on, you can think it.
Reid swallowed, with those words. Then waggled his eyebrows. "Dunno... but I think your boyfriend certainly allows..." and more groping, just because he damn well could, especially since he was already working to undress, yes, lovingly, hell, now that he'd said it, he could allow himself to think it, too, "and encourages that idea. And hopes that it'll keep being something you want plenty of."
Yes, it was still making him a bit wide-eyed. Partly because of fear it would end and all that; partly, uh. Because of the last person he'd called boyfriend.
But this was Tyler. That part wasn't relevant. By a long, long haul.
And then... then it was different. If he spoke, the words - no less nonsensical, at times - were focused into them, here, and now, and Christ, was that ever good. Slightly different; they'd not done much of this, face to face, generally, and it made a bit of a difference; the kissing made somewhat more.
But the most of it wasn't anything as specific as a position or what they did. It was how they were, and as he was coming, eyes open and looking right into Tyler's with pupils dilating and a stream of soft, bad words spurting out of him along with the rest...
He closed his lips and swallowed, and didn't look away as he said it again. "God... I love you, Ty." Right here and now, it mattered more than anything else in the world, too.
Tyler's eyes widened. Just a little. He didn't know if he was energized or drained or coming (well, he knew that part) or going or...
But he knew this. He knew this so well.
"I love you," he breathed, fingers sliding through sweat-slick hair. Bright and glowing. It was different, it was ... high, it was wild, it was things he didn't have words for. But this part, or that thing, he did have words for. "God, Reid... I love you."
And that was what it was. That was it, pure and simple.
It was familiar-unfamiliar physically; more intense (not that it had ever lacked, that way), more demanding, and more giving. But as they slumped against each other, still fitting so very tightly together and hot and sticky and catching their breaths and not really looking away, it was just a fraction of it all. "God, yeah." Smiling. He was also smiling. This was just the best thing ever to hear right now.
The words, no, the meaning behind them, the no-longer-holding-that-back, the release of pent-up feelings, it shook Reid in waves, for a bit, and his throat was too tight to speak, but he wasn't crying again; just clinging, legs and arms and body and all of him. Not hiding away his face, though. Not taking away his eyes.
Hell, he... "I don't want to ... don't want this to end." This-this. And this-this. And no, his thoughts weren't entirely coherent, but that was okay. At least he thought so. His hand rose, running back of his fingers along the chiseled cheekbone, fingertips over the elfin brow. And then he leaned in and kissed. Again. Softer. Sweet. Tasting the fading heat of that-which-just-had-passed on his breath; sharing it, and making it go on just a little longer.
And only then snuggled.
Just right now, didn't burrow. But snuggled, curled into and tangled with Tyler, tugging him down. Didn't plan on really letting go, actually.
"I..." End? Who was talking about endings? He hadn't talked about endings. "No."
Snuggling back, shifting enough to get into a better long-term position, to hold and be held, and then kissing him back and again. Closing his eyes and turning into those touches. Perfect touches. This was perfect, the warm and sticky turning into the cool and sticky didn't register, just the warmth of them together and the way they were tangled up in each other, bodies reflecting hearts and minds.
No, he didn't want this to end, either. "Nothing's ..." It sounded stupid to say it. He closed his eyes for a moment, kissed him again. Softly. "This isn't an ending. This is a beginning. This is beginning something wonderful, that we'll keep on doing and having." He bundled his arms around him, legs tangled up, tightened his grip on his friend. His lover.
"This isn't going to end," he whispered into Reid's hair. "Not ever."
Maybe it was a silly thing to say. Forever was a long time, at least to the end of their lifetimes. But it was how he felt. Like he'd felt this way about Reid for a long time, and maybe even if they were only now getting around to it? He could last this way forever. And maybe he could. Out of all the relationships both of them had had, this felt like they really could. They were friends, they knew each other. They moved around each other, talked and acted and lived day to day with each other. How could they not make this work forever and ever?
Or maybe that was just the endorphins, the really good sex, and the heady feeling of being loved by the person he loved. And either way, this wasn't the time or place for reality.
This was the time and place for true love. And it did feel truer, more right than anything had before, ever.
He took a breath after that wonderful, amazing thought. Let it out slow. Kissed him again. "Let's ... go ahead and rest some, okay? Get some sleep? I'm, this... none of this is going anywhere." I'll be here when you wake up, Reid. I promise..