"You're sure you don't want to come?"
Ryan smiled, very charmingly, at Harper. He hoped it inspired a little bit of confidence in her. He leaned down and picked Will up out of her arms, snuggling him into his chest.
"I'm positive. You know about my crippling fear of animated dragons. I'll never sleep through the night if I go with you to Cecelia's, and you know it. How embarrassing would that be for the both of us, huh?"
Jadyn was standing next to her mother, holding on to one of her hands, looking up at her father very, very pensively. She was such a curious kid. He loved her.
"Mommy," Jadyn started, and that was a tone he had come to fear, because it was so alarmingly similar to the way his wife sounded when she was about to get snarky that it was uncanny, "Daddy's not really afraid of dragons, is he?"
Sometimes, it was very hard for him to come to grips with that fact that he had made this child. How incredible was that? Honestly. Will squirmed in Ryan's arms, and he looked down at him, kissed him on the forehead. He couldn't talk much, but he was pretty great too.
"Terrified," Harper said, looking down at Jadyn very seriously. It was funny how wide her eyes were. Jadyn's face responded similarly, and man, he wished he had a camera, "Once, before you were born, we went to see a movie in the movie theatres, and there was a dragon in the movie, and it spooked your daddy so bad we had to leave. Can you believe that?"
Well. That was not what he'd expected, but he figured it was fair. He'd brought it on himself. Excuses, excuses.
"Daddy, that's so embarrassing."
"I know," Ryan said sagely, kissing his son again on the head again before passing him back to his mother, "Anyway. I'm more than happy to hang back here with my good friend Rio. We're gonna watch a scary movie. Not child appropriate, I'm afraid."
Rio was in the living room, sprawled on the couch, a bowl of popcorn in one hand, and the remote for the DVD player in the other. Ryan and Harper looked over at him, and when they looked back at each other, Harper pressed her lips together and eyed him seriously.
"Please try not to scar him for life. I have a feeling I'll have to answer to at least one member of the Keits family. Cecelia, I can handle. Tom's a different story. Very fragile."
He placed a hand on her forearm, knowingly, "Go, get out of here. Go have a good time with the animated dinosaurs and the girls and my little dude."
Harper leaned in for a kiss, and then shifted Will in her arms and ushered Jadyn out the front door. When they were gone, and he could see their car pulling out of the driveway and turning the corner, he made his way back into in the living room and flopped down on the couch next to Rio.
"It's just you and me now, pal."
Rio looked over at him and gave him a very impressive eye roll. He was good at those. Ryan was a little jealous.
He liked spending time with Rio. It was nice to spend time with someone who wasn't his age or, conversely, wasn't in diapers. A nice happy medium. And Rio was very down-to-earth, for the most part, easy to talk to, open. It was all good. He was a good kid.
"Hurry up and get the movie started. I've almost eaten all the popcorn."
Oh. Yes, movie. Ryan reached over to the coffee table for the remote to the television, then flicked over to Netflix. God, he loved Netflix. There was a list of horror movies sitting in his queue, and he looked over at Rio.
"What do you think your poor Colombian heart can handle?" He asked, very seriously. Rio smacked his arm.
"I can handle anything. I have the heart of a lion inside of me," he countered, looking indignant. There was a popcorn kernel stuck just to the corner of his lip. Ryan smiled. Very lion-esque, "What? Why are you looking at me like that?"
He shook his head and leaned over, flicking the kernel away. Rio had stilled considerably, staying in place long after Ryan had leaned back to his spot and ruffled Rio's hair. He could swear, looking at him from this angle, that there was a tinge of red to his cheeks. When he blinked again, it was gone.
"So. Movie, scary, you pick," he said, handing the remote to Rio. Rio reached over and snatched it away, flicking through the list of movies. While he had his hands full, Ryan grabbed the popcorn bowl. Rio was right - mostly empty. A disappointment, really, but what else was his life? "I'm going to go make some more popcorn. When I get back, so help me god, you better have a movie picked."
Rio was too busy searching to answer, but he took that as confirmation that he'd been heard. Ryan vaulted himself off the couch and took the bowl with him. In the kitchen, he looked for a popcorn package and plopped it in the microwave. He stood there, at the counter, listening to the sounds the kernels made as they popped, and sighed. Ryan was glad he didn't have an open kitchen, because Rio probably would have been uncomfortable if he could see Ryan trying to burn a hole in the wall with the intensity of the stare he was facing the kitchen wall with.
There were things that bothered Ryan deeply in life - most of them were job related, and others fed on his poorly hidden disenchantment with the Canadian government, but then there was Rio. And it wasn't Rio that bothered him, not at all. It was what had happened to Rio. It was hard for him to imagine being a teenager and having his mom taken away from him, just like that, having no one in the blink of an eye. He figured it was awfully brave of him, to keep going in the face of that, and Ryan himself had had his fair share of trying times.
Damn. He hadn't planned on getting this sentimental. All he wanted was some popcorn.
The microwave went off, and Ryan jumped a little, startled. He took the bag out, emptied it in the bowl, and absconded to the living room with both it and a beer from the fridge.
"Here I am," Ryan called, seeing Rio sprawled out, looking like he was melting into the couch, "Have we been blessed by the higher powers with a scary movie to enjoy?"
Rio didn't turn to look at him, but he answered anyway, "I picked The Grudge."
"Disgustingly predictable, but if you haven't seen it, I can forgive you," Ryan flopped back down again, and this time he was a little closer to Rio, enough so that the top of his head was resting on Ryan's knee. That was nice, "Are you sure you can handle all the Japanese terrors? I'm not supposed to scar you for life."
"Of course I can handle it," Rio said, and yikes, there was that little streak of Colombian fierceness. Perhaps making fun of his delicate constitution was not the appropriate way to proceed, "Let's just put the movie on. Okay?"
"Sure thing." Ryan agreed. He balanced the bowl of popcorn in his lap and plucked the remote from Rio's hands, shuffling down to get comfortable, "Go turn the lights off."
"You turn the lights off."
Ryan stared down at him, "You're the guest. It's your duty."
"I don't think that's how it works. Besides, you're taller than me. What if I can't reach the switch?"
Giving in, Ryan set the bowl back in Rio's hands and tossed the remote at him. He stood, went to the opposite wall, and flicked the light switch off, watching as the television bathed Rio's face in a dull blue glow. The shadow under his nose was a dark and perfectly shaped, just above his Cupid's bow, and those were features he should not have been noticing, not at all. Ryan blinked a little and made his way back to the couch.
Rio moved over and Ryan reclaimed his spot, curling one of his legs up underneath his body. Rio hit the play button on the remote, and the opening credits rolled across the screen. They were about five minutes in, watching as a young woman opened up the closet and stepped inside, when Rio tossed the popcorn bowl back in Ryan's lap and reached up with his hand.
He was a little surprised when Rio grasped his hand, but he let him do it anyway, tangling their fingers together and almost laughing at how tightly Rio was holding onto him. Ryan shifted a little bit.
"I thought you had the heart of a lion," Ryan whispered, his eyes focused very intently on the television to keep them from drifting, "Lions don't usually hold hands."
Well. This sure was a thing. Ryan set the popcorn bowl down on the coffee table. If Rio's trepidation at viewing the woman step into the closet was any hint, he would not handle the next few seconds of film very well, and hey – who was he to judge?
He thought about warning him about Kayako, about the face in the closet and the very imminent death, but he didn't have much of a chance to before Rio was jumping, skidding backwards until he was pressed up against Ryan's side, and he felt like he was shaking, but Ryan didn't feel like calling him out on it.
"Still good, lion heart?"
Rio smacked him, still holding his other hand, still pressed against him, and Ryan smiled. He leaned closer to Rio and let his hand drift up to his hair. Rio sort of jumped, nothing like the way he had a few seconds earlier, but a little tensing of his muscles, his shoulders. Ryan ran his fingers through his hair gently, and Rio arched up into the touch, and that was definitely an interesting response. That was something. Rio leaned back against him.
"You okay?" Ryan asked eventually. Rio twisted his head around a little, looking over his shoulder, and it was a weird angle since Ryan still had his hand on Rio's head, but he fixed Ryan with a stare. He was pretty good at reading people, but this was something new that he didn't recognize, "Rio?"
Honestly. He was really good at reading people. It was part of his job to predict behaviour. He was just pretty sure that even he couldn't have been expected to know that Rio was going to twist around, reach up, and kiss him.
To be fair, Ryan didn't really have any experience of dealing with people he had known for years suddenly deciding to make out with him in his repertoire, so he really felt he couldn't be blamed for kissing back, just a little, a tiny indulgence, before gently pushing Rio back by the chest.
They stared at each other for a minute then, Ryan looking a question at Rio that he hoped the other could answer, Rio staring back with a wide eyed look on his face.
"Sorry," Rio said quietly. Ryan kept looking at him, and that probably wasn't helping matters either, but what the hell was happening?
"You've stumped me," Ryan said eventually, not really knowing what to say or do, but knowing with the utmost certainty that he really could kiss him again, and he didn't know if that was problematic or not. Harper had Cecelia, but he wasn't sure that being involved with Rio, of all people would go over just as well. Or at all, for that matter, "What's happening?"
Rio's mouth opened, then closed, then opened again, and it was kind of funny, so Ryan laughed and then immediately felt bad when Rio's face fell.
"No, no, I'm not laughing at you, I'm just," he stopped himself. He was not good at human interaction sometimes, Jesus Christ, "Your face. You looked like I just asked you the meaning of life."
"I'm sorry," Rio repeated, and he really looked like he might cry. Ryan reached forward and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing.
"No, don't be," Ryan shushed him, "I just need to know what's happening. I'm lost."
Rio squirmed out of Ryan's grip, looking a little uncomfortable, and that was reasonable, Ryan could understand that look. He didn't let Rio get very far. He grabbed his wrist and held on tight, not enough to hurt him, but enough to keep him there, and Rio turned around and sighed, looking beat.
"I just," Rio started, looking for words, "I really like you? A lot? I didn't mean to kiss you."
Oh. Okay. That was something, all right. He looked at him pensively, taking in his features, trying not to form any opinions about how Rio looked, because that was not something that would mitigate the situation at all. He let out a long breath.
"I'm nearly twenty years older than you. You know that, right?"
Rio nodded, swallowing thickly, "I know."
"And that doesn't bother you at all?"
Rio lifted a shoulder in a half-hearted shrug, "Not really."
"Come here," he said, and he tugged Rio into his lap by the wrist. Rio came willingly, grabbing at Ryan's shoulders to keep him upright. Ryan looked at him, and there were so many things going through his head that he had to close his eyes for a second before he could go back to looking, "You're sure? Because I don't want things to be weird or a—"
Rio kissed him again, then, and this time Ryan didn't push him away. He lifted a hand to the side of Rio's face and thumbed his cheekbone, and he didn't want to push, because he didn't know Rio like that, but then—Jesus. Rio bit down on his bottom lip and caught Ryan off guard, taking advantage of the way his lips parted to lick into his mouth. That was okay, Ryan figured, sliding his hand from Rio's cheek down to his neck. He could get with that program.
When they broke apart to breathe, Rio was panting, gripping the front of Ryan's shirt in both fists. Ryan dragged his hand up to Rio's hair and ran his fingers through it, scratching at his scalp, leaning forward to kiss his forehead.
"So that happened," he started, watching Rio crane into the hand he had on his hair, eyes closed, "That definitely happened."
Ryan was a good man. Really. He was a good man with a good heart and he tried to be kind and polite all the time, and so he definitely was not going to take advantage of the fact that Rio was sitting in his lap, grinding his hips down into his, because that would go against all of his intrinsic morals and beliefs. Honest.
"Hey," Ryan said, pushing him off his lap, just a little, enough that he could focus, "Okay, hey, hang on. Let's not get ahead of ourselves."
"But I want to," Rio muttered, and crawled back, leaning into Ryan's neck and mouthing at it.
"Okay, and let me just say that I get that, I do," Ryan moved his neck out of the reach of Rio's mouth, "But I don't know when they'll be back. And I mean, we're missing Sarah Michelle Gellar, which really would be a shame."
Rio leaned back and looked at him, his eyes wide and his pupils blown. Ryan was not afraid to admit that he had some difficulties looking at him.
"Fine," Rio agreed, eventually, "Fine."
God. Okay, he had to kiss him again, it was not his fault. It wasn't. Ryan leaned forward and kissed Rio's lips chastely.
"Not a 'no', a 'soon." He assured him.
A scream from the television made Rio jump again, and he floundered backwards off of Ryan's lap, into the cushion. Ryan didn't bite back his laughter this time, just laughed and laughed until Rio slapped his shoulder and he had to stop or run the risk of his ribs hurting in the morning.
This was an interesting development. Ryan figured he could get behind that.