Ryan kicked the tire of the steaming car, frustration pushing him to abuse the hard rubber. Sure, the car had been making weird noises for the better part of a week, but that was no reason for it not to work now. Ryan sighed, returning to the driver's seat and sitting sideways in it, his feet resting on the curb. Well, he wouldn't be putting off buying a new car any longer.
Of course, broken car equaled no way home. Public transportation didn't go out to the suburbs, and taxis would charge an exorbitant amount. And he had no idea what to do with the dead car – he couldn't leave it here overnight, it would be towed, and dead or not he'd have to pay the fees. Plus the time limit before Lexi exploded was very short. So he had about an hour to get home.
"I think you killed it." An amused voice informed him from the sidewalk. Ryan glowered and looked up at the man standing on the sidewalk. Max, the man who lived in the cubicle three down his row and started Ryan's coffeepot every morning before he got there, was laughing at him, the corners of his lively blue eyes crinkling. Ryan wasn't amused.
"It's not my fault." Ryan muttered, resting his head against the seat back. It probably was his fault. But he wasn't going to admit that to Max.
"What's wrong with it?" Max asked, coming closer. He set his coat and bag on top of the short car.
"I don't know." Ryan sighed. "I started it up and was going to pull out when it started smoking. The little arrow thing was up in the red too." Ryan pointed to the dashboard display.
"That's not good." Max replied. "Pop the hood."
Ryan did as he was told, pulling the release lever. The hood popped up a few inches with a loud click. Max moved around the car and pushed the hood up, leaning away at the cloud of smoke that issued from it.
"Steam." Max propped the hood up with the little metal stand. "Were there any symptoms?" Max asked, smiling at Ryan, who had followed him around.
"Symptoms?" Ryan asked, frowning.
"Yeah, you know, anything that could've preluded this?" Max gestured to the steaming… thing.
"Um, I don't know." Ryan demurred. "It was making a few odd noises, but I thought they'd go away."
Max was laughing at him, and Ryan scowled, staring at the mess of metal and tubing in front of them. Cars were not his specialty. He could check the oil, and put windshield washer fluid in. But that was about the extent of it.
"I know this guy who can take a look at it." Max was saying. "He'll tow it for a bit and look at it tomorrow, if we call now."
Ryan frowned. "It's old, I was going to get a new one soon anyway."
"So… you just want to scrap it?" Max asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah, I guess." Ryan sighed again. "Stupid thing."
Max smiled at him again. "Well, the guy? He takes old cars for parts. Or he'll fix it up and sell it cheap. You wouldn't even have to pay for towing."
looked up again. "That would be wonderful."
"Let me call him." Max fished in one of his trouser pocket and pulled out a cell phone. "It shouldn't take long."
"Good." Ryan smiled. "Thanks."
"No problem." Max smiled back and hit a button, turning away from Ryan slightly. "Hey, Ives, got a car for you. Yeah. No, he just wants to get rid of it. Something's wrong with the radiator. Looks extensive. Yeah. Okay. 11th street, it's a dark blue camero. That works. Thanks."
"He'll be by in about an hour." Max slipped the silver phone back into his pocket. "You'll need to stop by his shop tomorrow to do some paperwork."
Ryan nodded and gave the car an evil stare. He'd have to call a cab, but at least he should be home before Lexi could do any damage.
"Can I give you a ride anywhere?" Max offered pleasantly, collecting his jacket and bag from the car's roof.
"That's alright." Ryan declined. "It's too far out for you to bother."
"Really? Where do you live?" Max asked curiously.
"Suonvil." Ryan replied absently, crawling into the car to pull out the few personal things he'd kept in there. Luckily he didn't have much, just a few CDs and the stuff in the glove box. He'd just cleaned the thing a few weeks back, too.
"Really." Max sounded rather amused. "I live out there too."
Ryan sat up, which, kneeling on the seat, he clubbed his head on the top of the car. "Ow." He griped and slid out of the car, shutting the door loudly behind him. "What?"
"I live out there too." Max repeated himself, smiling widely.
Ryan scowled. "Since when?"
"Three years?" Max offered.
"Where?" Ryan frowned. How did Max do the commute everyday? And get there earlier than Ryan did?
"Clifton street." Max answered, taking Ryan's elbow and leading him away from the car. Ryan didn't resist the hand as Max led him down the street.
"Oh." Ryan subsided, confused when he realized that Max hadn't let go of his arm yet.
"And you live?" Max asked with another of those infernal smiles.
"Baker Street." Ryan answered automatically, staring at the very nice motorcycle parked a bit down the street. He'd always liked motorcycles. Perhaps he should get one to replace the car.
"That's not too far out of my way." Max teased. Clifton street was two blocks over from Baker street.
"Thanks." Ryan finally let his manners catch up to him.
"Hold this for a minute, will you?" Max asked, handing Ryan his coat and setting to unlocking the motorcycle.
"You motorcycle?" Ryan blurted out. Oh, but the bike was even nicer close up.
"Yeah. For three years." Max teased, straightening up from the bike and brushing dark curls out of his face. Ryan scowled, feeling his cheeks heat. "You ever been on a motorcycle?" Max asked.
"My ex had one." Ryan replied in way of answer. "Though yours is nicer."
Max grinned. "Aw, thanks." Ryan rolled his eyes discretely. "You want my jacket?"
Ryan blinked, and looked down at the leather jacket puddled in his arms. "No, that's alright. I'll be fine."
"You sure? It gets real cold." Max coaxed. Ryan rolled his eyes, not so discretely.
"Tim made me ride in winter." Ryan explained. "It's a lot colder then. I think I'll survive."
Max's smile was brilliant. Ryan wondered why briefly, but handed Max back the jacket after he stowed his bag in the under seat compartment. "You know what you're doing? Don't touch the exhaust pipes, etc.?"
"Yeah." Ryan accepted the helmet Max gave him. "Don't crash us, okay? I doubt these will be much protection." Ryan tugged on his slacks and buckled the helmet on, accepting the gloves Max passed him too.
Max grinned. "I'll try my hardest." Max stowed Ryan's stuff under the seat as well, then pulled on his own gloves and helmet. "I don't know what Tim's bike had, but I don't have a ride bar, so you'll have to hang on to me."
"Alright." Ryan agreed without protest, letting Max get situated before clambering onto the bike himself. He wrapped his arms around Max's waist in a move that reminded him of the rides with Tim, but not really because Max smelled different, and the leather jacket was softer than anything Tim wore.
"Ready?" Max asked, turning his head a bit.
"Yeah." Ryan nodded, though he wasn't sure Max could quite see him. Seconds later the bike roared to life. Max weaved through the traffic easily and Ryan relaxed. He'd half expected Max to be a reckless driver like Tim had been, but he was much better, smoother with the machine.
Ryan honestly didn't know what to think of Max. Sure, Max was nice. Max made coffee for him every morning for no good reason. Max, on occasion, would bring him cookies or something. They were usually really good cookies too. Ryan smiled a bit, watching the scenery fly by. It was fall, so the trees were brightly colored, and the evening was a bit chilly as they zoomed along.
The ride took forty minutes, and Ryan was happy for it, not wanting to imagine the destruction Lexi would wreak upon the little house his parents had gifted him as soon as he'd graduated from graduate school. Ryan directed Max to the little blue house with the short driveway and the little metal gate around the front yard.
Max stopped in the driveway and Ryan hopped off, his legs a little sore. Ryan took a moment to stretch his legs as Max shut the bike off, before making his way over the small lawn and unlocking the door. He could hear Lexi's skittering paws even as he opened it, so he hoped she'd waited, even as he swung open the door.
Lexi bounded out without looking back and Ryan smiled. She'd waited. Lexi made a beeline for her favorite spot, under the massive oak between his and Mrs. Henderson's house.
"He's pretty." Max commented, handing Ryan his things.
"She. Lexi." Ryan corrected, keeping an eye on the energetic puppy.
"Well, then she's pretty." Max corrected, smiling.
Ryan smiled back. "She is, isn't she?" Ryan turned on the steps to face Max. "Thank you for the ride."
"It was no problem." Max smiled even wider. "Do you want me to pick you up tomorrow?"
Ryan blinked. "I hadn't even thought of that." He muttered. "Yeah, that would be wonderful. I'm sorry to put you out like this."
"It's no problem." Max replied. "So I'll see you around seven?"
"Okay." Ryan agreed without protest, though it was a good hour earlier than he usually left. No wonder Max was there before him everyday.
"See you tomorrow." Max called back as he crossed the lawn to his bike.
"See you." Ryan echoed, his eyes following Max until Lexi yipped from below and drew his attention.
"Good girl, Lexi. I'll get you some kibble tonight, okay?" Ryan murmured distractedly as Max drove away. Lexi barked happily, wagging her tail.
Max smiled happily as he turned into the small driveway that led to Ryan's house. The sun was barely brightening the sky, but Max was in a terribly good mood. He parked the motorcycle and swung himself off it, pausing to make sure it was situated before heading up to Ryan's front door. He'd contemplated taking his car, but he hadn't cleaned the thing in ages, and Ryan hadn't minded the bike, so he'd stuck with it.
"Hey." Ryan murmured, yawning a bit as he stepped out onto the porch before Max could even reach it.
"Hey." Max managed, blinking a few times to make sure he wasn't seeing things. Ryan was wearing leather. All leather. Smooth trousers clung to his legs, following every curve until they met thick ankle boots. A nice black leather jacket rested over one of Ryan's arms, and fingerless gloves covered his hands. There was a small bag dangling from one hand too, and Max guessed Ryan planned to change at the office.
"Max?" Ryan asked, confusion clear in his pale green eyes. Wispy orangey red hair was tucked behind both ears, giving him a clear view.
"Hmm?" Max asked, then realized he was staring. "Ready to go?"
"Yeah." Ryan narrowed his eyes at him for a moment, but let it go, following Max to the motorcycle.
Ryan held onto him a bit tighter during the ride this time, and Max would've been lying if he said he didn't enjoy it, or that it hadn't been part of why he'd decided to ride the bike. The ride to the office was too short, really, though Ryan did seem to notice, just yawned widely as he tucked away the helmet and retrieved his bag.
The office was quiet, like it usually was at this hour. Max didn't know when he'd developed the habit of coming to work early, but he fancied it was sometime around three months ago, when his boss had hired a new cubicle dweller with fiery bright hair.
Ryan slumped in his chair and blinked up through the bright strands at Max. "Could you make coffee? I never seem to do it right." Ryan asked, looking hopeful. Max laughed but moved over to the small coffeemaker on the counter next to Ryan.
"Where's the garage they took my car to?" Ryan asked, pulling a small stack of notes closer to him.
"It's that big place on 53rd, next to the junkyard." Max replied as he measured out coffee grounds. "I can take you there on your lunch break, if you'd like."
Ryan looked up. "It's alright, I can walk."
"But that will take your whole lunch break." Max reasoned. "I don't mind, I haven't visited in ages."
Ryan looked like he was about to argue again, but finally just nodded. "Alright."
Max smiled widely as he poured Ryan a cup of coffee. "Cream or sugar?"
"Both, please." Ryan accepted the cup gratefully. "Thanks."
"No problem." Max replied cheerfully. "I'll be back later." Max took off with his own cup of coffee before he did something stupid.
"Hey." Max dropped his head over the wall of Ryan's cubicle. "You busy?"
"What?" Ryan blinked and looked up from the thick manual he was shuffling the pages of. Max stared.
"You wear glasses?" He questioned before he could shut his mouth. Ryan blushed charmingly and swiped the wire frames from his face.
"Only for reading." Ryan muttered, running a hand through his hair.
"They're cute." Max smiled, then decided that pretending he hadn't said that would be the best option, even as Ryan looked at him blankly. "You ready to go?"
"Yeah, sure." Ryan stood up, shutting the thick book and setting his telephone to forward calls to his voicemail. Ryan slipped on the leather jacket and followed Max down to the street. The bike was where they'd left it that morning, and it didn't take long to navigate the traffic, even though it was lunch hour and people were everywhere.
The garage was a large, booming place, adjunct to the junkyard, a profitable spot for Ives, since he could store car frames there without problems and then have them junked. Max had worked there briefly when he was younger, over the summers when he was at college.
"Hey Ives." Max called out, leading Ryan into the busy and very noisy garage. There were six cars being worked on by almost double that number of techs, and a bunch more waiting in the little parking lot. Max caught sight of Ryan's car in the junkyard, near the street.
"Hey, hey. Maxie, how ya been?" Ives pulled himself away from a pale green SUV to greet Max.
"Not too shabby, you?" Max smiled easily at the greying man.
"Eh, same old, same old. Julie keeps askin' bout ya. Wants me to invite ya to dinner." Ives beamed.
"Well, tell her to call me." Max replied, slightly exasperated.
"Nah, she's shy now, dunno why." Ives chuckled, and turned to Ryan, dismissing Max for the moment. "Yer the owner of the car?" Ives asked, and Ryan merely nodded. "Good, good. Dunno how ya managed it, but you blew a few pistons. I'm surprised yer engines didn't lock down."
Ryan's eyes widened. "Wow."
Ives grinned, gap-toothed. "I don't mind taking 'er in. She's still got a few good parts on 'er. Just sign 'ere, fill this out, and then sign 'ere again."
Ryan took the clipboard and fished a pen out of his pocket, leaning over the low counter to fill them out. Max blinked, and stared for a minute before Ives attracted his attention again. "Ya fancy him then?"
"What? No!" Max hissed, glancing to see if Ryan had heard. But he was still lost in the paperwork, thankfully.
"Oh, ye say that, but I ain't blind." Ives cackled. "Just leave the papers, I got work to do."
"Yeah, yeah, fine. I'll call about dinner." Max waved him off, and wandered over to the counter where Ryan was.
"What does this mean?" Ryan asked, pointing at a box.
"The number off your inspection sticker. Ives'll get that." Max scanned the form, taking note of Ryan's birthday with a smile.
"Done." Ryan muttered, setting the papers down.
"Good, just leave it there, Ives had to get back to work but we don't have to wait for him." Max explained.
"Okay." Ryan set the clipboard down and pocketed the pen, leaving his hands in his pockets as he followed Max outside.
"Would you like lunch?" Max asked when they reached the motorcycle.
Ryan looked thoughtful for a moment, then smiled. "Yeah, sure. But I'm paying."
Max laughed. "That's okay."
"I insist." Ryan stressed. "You've done a lot for me, so I'm sort of paying you back with this."
Max rolled his eyes. "I don't mind. Since I don't mind, it should count against me."
"Ah, but it does. So I'm paying. Do you know where the Italian bistro is? The one on 15th?" Ryan questioned as Max swung himself onto the bike.
"Yeah, they've got great sandwiches." Max settled in.
"Well, head there." Ryan commanded, smiling.
Max nodded. "Sir, yes, sir."
The bistro was rather hectic, but Ryan had no trouble navigating it, pulling Max along by the arm so he wouldn't sneak away to order on his own or get lost in the crowd. "What do you want?" Ryan asked, pushing Max in front of him at the young girl manning the end of the counter.
"I'll take a ham and cheese on rye." Max declared, eying the girl's bright red-orange hair. "Are you related?" Max asked.
"Yeah, that's Jewel, my sister." Ryan answered. "Roast beef, no cheese, please." Jewel nodded and quickly made up three sandwiches, dumping a handful of corn chips next to each one and a couple of pickle slices.
"Here, take this, find a table, I'm going to get my break." Jewel shoved the plates at Ryan, who took them without protest.
"Come on." Ryan pulled Max away from the line, bypassing the register with a wave at the middle aged woman standing behind it.
"You get free food?" Max questioned, sliding into a recently vacated booth, Ryan slipping in on the other side.
"Yeah, Jewel's co-owner." Ryan answered, even as the girl sat down beside Ryan, giving him a one-armed hug and kissing him soundly on the cheek.
"Hey, Ry. What's happenin'?" Jewel asked smiling widely.
"My car died." Ryan answered. "Max has been giving me rides. Jewel, Max, Max, Jewel."
"Nice to meet you." Max smiled politely.
"Nice to meet you, as well." Jewel smiled coyly. "Have I seen you around here before?"
Max fidgeted uncomfortably. "I've come here a few times, so maybe?"
"You do seem familiar." Jewel fluttered her eyelashes a bit and Ryan rolled his eyes.
"Right." Max replied, though he kept the sarcasm out.
"Ry, you forgot drinks." Jewel accused suddenly, and Max startled, utterly discomfited by the young woman.
"Sorry." Ryan muttered, even as Jewel stood and let him slide out. She stopped him before he could go two steps, whispering something in his ear that had him blush and scowl furiously at her. He yanked his arm away from her grip and stalked away. Max stared.
"So. Max." Jewel sat back with an almost sinister look on her face. "Are you Ryan's new beau?"
Max felt his eyes widen. "What?"
"You're smitten." She accused, but was smiling. Well, more like smirking.
Max spluttered for a moment. "No?" He offered.
Jewel grinned. "Ask him to go dancing."
"What?" Max scowled.
"He likes to dance." Jewel smiled charmingly. "Hurt him and I'll poison you."
Max didn't reply, really, didn't know how to reply. Ryan sat down next to him, setting three colas on the table and pulling his plate over, not looking at either Jewel or Max.
"So, when are you going car hunting?" Jewel asked sweetly and Max felt the urge to run. The girl scared him.
"I don't know. Soon." Ryan murmured, eating a few of his chips. "Maybe I'll take a personal day tomorrow and go looking." Max's stomach dropped. He'd hoped for a bit more time with Ryan, really.
Ryan turned to look at him. "Could I ask a favor?" Ryan asked, pale green eyes beseeching.
"Sure." Max agreed, not looking at the smirking redhead across the table.
"I know… well, very little about cars. Would you help?" Ryan asked.
"How'd you get that one then?" Max asked, curious.
"I bought it from my parents." Ryan admitted.
"Oh. I don't mind. You want to go tomorrow?" Max asked.
"Well, when's your next day off?" Ryan demurred.
Max grinned. "Tomorrow."
Ryan smiled a bit. "That's convenient."
Jewel's eyes glinted. "I know a good dealership out in Moorly."
"The one you got the yellow baby at?" Ryan asked, seemingly unaware of his sister's predatory expression. At least, Max thought it was predatory.
"Yep. They're nice, there." Jewel replied.
"I don't mind." Max said as Ryan turned to him.
"Okay then." Ryan pushed away his half empty plate and sipped at his soda. "Thanks."
"It's no problem." Max answered, setting down his half-finished sandwich. He didn't like the look Jewel was giving him, and decided that he wasn't going to come back to this place unless Ryan made him.
"We should go." Ryan murmured, glancing at his watch. Jewel frowned.
"Yeah, I'll see you Friday, though. We can sit for longer then." Ryan promised, standing up and taking the jacket he'd left in the other seat from Jewel.
"Alright. I want to hear all about your new car when then." Jewel grinned, her tone of voice suggesting that it wasn't a car she wanted to hear about.
"Bye, Jewel." Ryan stood passively as Jewel gave him another hug and kiss before darting off behind the counter again.
"She seems… nice." Max struggled for a moment, and Ryan grinned at him.
"Yes, you two seemed to be hitting it off." Ryan laughed.
"Sorry." Max handed Ryan his helmet again.
"It's alright, she comes on a little strong." Ryan reassured him, climbing on behind him and wrapping his arms around Max's waist. Max smiled at that, he liked the feeling. It was too bad that after tomorrow Ryan wouldn't have any reason to come that close.
Max knocked on Ryan's door, the loud metal knocker eliciting no response, even the second time he used it. He could hear Lexi yapping on the other side, but there was no sign of Ryan anywhere. He was debating how rude it would be to try the doorknob when Ryan finally answered.
"Sorry." Ryan panted, opening the door wide, one hand clutching the towel around his waist. Max stared. Rivulets of water streamed down from the soaking wet hair, the color only slightly dimmed by the shower, over a smooth, pale chest and stomach to soak into the dark blue towel. "Max?" Ryan asked hesitantly and Max shut his mouth with a snap.
"Yeah?" Max managed, forcing himself to meet Ryan's eyes. Ryan was blushing, Max noted as he tried to focus.
"Come in?" Ryan asked, and Max moved quickly, stepping inside and off to the side. Lexi started yapping again, running over to him and balancing against one leg, cute puppy eyes staring up at him with glee.
"I'll be right back, make yourself at home." Ryan said. Max only nodded, focusing on the puppy, because the puppy wasn't Ryan, and looking at Ryan right now wouldn't be the best thing. Max heard Ryan's retreating footsteps and couldn't help it. He looked up and took in the back view.
Ryan slumped against the bathroom door, flustered and not liking it. It didn't help that Max, the source of the fluster, was sitting in the hallway, playing with Lexi. It didn't help that he kept seeing the look on Max's face when he opened the door. As if doing so in a towel hadn't been embarrassing enough, now he was assured the man was interested in him. He certainly hadn't looked at Jewel like that yesterday.
He couldn't hide in here forever though. Ryan straightened, pulling the towel off and drying his hair vigorously. A few minutes later he was dressed, if not ready to face Max again. Sighing, Ryan hung the towel up to dry and left the little room, heading back to where he last saw Max.
Max was sitting on the floor right inside the door, petting Lexi right between the ears. Ryan smiled a bit as he watched his puppy soak up the attention. Max was wearing a simple pair of jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, but it looked good on him.
Ryan stood there a moment until Max looked up. He caught the quick once-over Max gave him, but politely ignored it as Max smiled widely.
"Hey." Max greeted, his fingers still skillfully caressing Lexi's ears. Ryan shoved away the wandering thought of what it would feel like to have Max caress his ears.
"Hey." Ryan replied, feeling his face burn again. Well, at least once they were on the motorcycle Max wouldn't be able to see him blush. Except that presented problems of it's own and there was something wrong with him this morning, as the hot feeling in his face refused to lessen.
"You okay?" Max asked, brushing Lexi off to stand up.
"Fine, why?" Ryan asked, pressing the back of one hand to his cheeks.
"You're really red in the face. You're not sick, are you?" Max asked, looking concerned.
"No. It must've been the shower." Ryan managed as Max came closer.
"Are you sure? We don't have to do this today." Max brushed the bangs out of Ryan's face.
"I'm sure." Ryan ducked away, grabbing his jacket from the stand by the door. Max smiled a bit and followed him out of the house, Ryan locking the door behind them.
"I hope you don't mind, I left the motorcycle at home." Max said, heading down the steps towards the silver car sitting in the driveway. Ryan blinked a few times.
"It's okay." Ryan followed, slipping into the passenger side of the car.
"Good." Max smiled and started up the car. The soft engine noise filled the car before a vaguely classical music tinkled out of the speakers.
"You know where Moorly is?" Ryan asked after a moment as they headed towards the city.
"Yeah, been there a few times. Not so good once we get there though, so help would be appreciated." Max smiled a bit.
"Okay." Ryan agreed easily, watching out the windshield instead of watching Max.
Chester knew the moment the silver Accord pulled into the lot that he was about to make a sale. Something about the car screamed, trade in. And so Chester pulled out his best smile and his friendliest persona, determined to milk the deal as much as he could.
Two men stepped out of the car, and Chester lost a bit of hope. Most guys that visited the lot headed straight for either the trucks or the most expensive cars, but didn't buy anything. Still, perhaps they were pricing things out for the future. And a bright and cheerful young sales associate could convince them to come back and ask for him by name, and earn him a hefty commission.
Chester fixed his smile in place and left the car dealership building, determined to be as friendly and cheerful as he could.
Ryan wasn't happy. He hated shopping for anything, and cars were not an exception. Max was smiling though, even as they walked along the rows of shiny cars looking for one that caught Ryan's eye.
Ryan moved away from Max slowly but surely, Max headed towards the sleek convertibles and sports cars near the front of the lot, even as Ryan looked for something a little less obtrusive. A dark green car caught his eye and he wandered around it, finding the price list on the side. Voices caught his attention and he found Max smiling and chatting with a young man over by the convertibles.
Squashing ruthlessly the odd spark of jealousy, Ryan turned back to the car, scowling at the price. He didn't want to buy a new car, they were far too overpriced. And he really would rather have Max over here instead of over there, chummy with the overfriendly sales associate.
Ryan sighed, feeling his cheeks heat again. It wasn't fair. Three days ago he was relatively indifferent to the man and now he couldn't get Max off his mind. Resolutely, Ryan focused on the page taped to the window of the green car. It wasn't bad, really, for what they were offering, and Ryan supposed it was a decent price for a car.
"That's a nice one." Max's voice came from behind him, and Ryan jumped, immediately feeling stupid for doing so.
"You think so?" Ryan asked, feeling hesitant. The sales associate was nowhere to be seen now.
"Yeah, it's a good sturdy model." Max smiled. "It'll hold up real good for a long while as long as you're not reckless with it." Ryan nodded, looking at the car instead of meeting Max's eyes.
"Can we look around?" Ryan asked, frowning a bit.
"Of course. Buying your first car is nothing to shirk at." Max dropped an arm around Ryan's shoulders, steering him away from the green car. "What do you think about this one?" They stopped in front of a blue car that was more boxy than the last.
"I don't think so." Ryan made a face.
"Oh? Why not?" Max grinned.
"It's ugly." Ryan gestured at it, trying to ignore the arm resting on his shoulders.
"It's not ugly." Max protested. "It's…stately."
"Ugly." Ryan maintained, pulling Max away from the car. Max laughed, but followed him without protest. Ryan's smile widened, and he refused to think about why as he examined the next car, a bright yellow thing that Max informed him was an extremely finicky car to care for.
Eventually Ryan settled on the green one, with Max's backing and they searched out the salesman. After mounds of paperwork, Ryan was in possession of a dark green Camry and a small loan.
Max hadn't realized he'd followed Ryan home until after he'd pulled in behind the dark green Camry. Ryan didn't say anything though, just bounded up the stairs to let Lexi out into the yard.
Max was nervous, and looking for an opening. Which Ryan was so helpfully not giving him, distracted by Lexi and not paying the least bit of attention to him. That was better than him asking awkward questions like, why are you hanging around still? Don't you have a life?
Of course, then Lexi the pretty puppy came running over and started begging for attention, bringing Ryan with her.
"She likes you a lot." Ryan commented, brushing stray hair out of his face.
"Well, I like her a lot too." Max answered, rubbing the puppy's ears. Lexi leaned into the touch, her eyes closing in appreciation. When he looked back at Ryan, though, he found him blushing. Which was really weird. Steeling himself, Max met Ryan's eyes. "Do you have plans for tonight?" He managed to ask, his tone sounded almost normal.
"No. Why?" Ryan asked, his pale cheeks still a bit red.
"I was wondering if you'd like to do something this evening?" Max asked, unable to keep the hopeful note from his voice.
Ryan scooped Lexi off the ground, smiling a bit as she licked his cheek enthusiastically. "Like what?"
"Like… a date?" Max suggested, feeling stupider by the moment.
Ryan's smile widened. "Right, I got that. What and where?"
Max blinked. "Um. Dancing? You can pick?"
Ryan's smile bloomed. "Dancing?"
"Um, yeah." Max itched to fidget, but held himself still, waiting for a clear answer one way or the other.
"I'd love to." Ryan practically glowed, and Max beamed back. Ryan let Lexi squirm from his arms. "Do you know how to dance?" Ryan asked, his cheeks slightly pinked again.
"Yeah, enough." Max smiled and moved a bit closer. "When do you want me to pick you up?"
Ryan smiled. "Seven? Can we take the bike?"
"Yeah." Max smiled back, a bit entranced by Ryan. Ryan didn't move away when he took another hesitant step closer, though his cheeks flushed a bit more. Max took this as a positive sign, and sure enough, Ryan didn't move away as Max tilted his head up that little bit he needed to lean down and seal his lips over Ryan's.
He could feel Ryan's lips twitch as though he wanted to smile, even as one of Ryan's hands slid behind his neck and the other buried itself in his hair, dragging him comfortably closer, letting Ryan kiss him deeper. Max let his arms wrap themselves around Ryan, trying to memorize the feel of Ryan kissing him and Ryan in his arms at the same time.
A moment later he pulled back, breathing a bit heavily, even as Ryan did the same, inches away. Ryan smiled sweetly, and it was all he could to, to not kiss him again – wait, no, he was kissing Ryan again, because Ryan was pretty, and Ryan was there to be kissed, and Ryan was kissing him right back, so there was no guilt.
Ryan pulled away this time, laughing a bit breathlessly even as Max tried to kiss him again. "You." Ryan began, then looked down to where Lexi was tugging on his pant leg insistently. Ryan laughed a bit, and Max was captivated by the expression close up, and took the moment to kiss him again, wanting to taste the laughter.
Ryan melted into it a bit, and Max was really not thrilled when Ryan pushed him away again, his hands resting on Max's shoulders. "You need to go." Ryan managed to say, but the wide smile took the sting out of the words and left only confusion.
"Why?" Max asked, well, whined.
"Because seven is in two hours and I need to get ready, since you're picking me up an hour early and we're going to dinner too." Ryan explained with a smile.
"Oh, we are, are we?" Max laughed. "Well, I best get going then, hadn't I?"
"Yeah." Ryan murmured huskily.
"Well, you can't say it like that." Max said decisively, and stole another kiss. Ryan didn't put up much fuss though, and so the chaste kiss Max was planning on instead became quite long-lived.
"Okay, that's it." Ryan managed to say, breathless the next time they surfaced for air.
Max smiled. "Not even one for the road?"
Ryan frowned, but it wasn't even anywhere near real looking. "I don't know…"
"Well, let me help you make up your mind." Max purred, and brushed his lips against Ryan's just a bit. Ryan sighed, sounding aggrieved, then pulled him close aggressively and kissed him harshly, stealing the breath from him, and most of his senses as well, Max barely aware of his arms around Ryan, focused on Ryan's lips and Ryan's tongue and oh that was heavenly.
"Okay, enough." Ryan ducked out of his arms, and Max was suddenly bereft.
"That was abrupt." Max pouted.
Ryan laughed, his hair mussed and cheeks flushed. Max itched to kiss him again, but he was too far away. "Get going, you'll see me in an hour." Ryan directed, gesturing to Max's car.
"Fine, fine. One hour." Max beamed as he clambered into his car, his blood buzzing as he recalled every last second of the kissing on the lawn.
Ryan watched the car drive off, and raised one hand to his tingling lips, smiling a bit as he herded Lexi inside. He couldn't remember ever feeling so… delighted. Dancing, too. And with Max… it was going to be a delightful evening.