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Title: Tie My Hands (6/?)
Pair: Phelps/Lochte
Rating: nc17 for the smutty goodness
Summary: Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte? They were the best worst-kept secret of the swimming world. And Michael didn't like it.
A/N: I know that Ryan more or less recently announced his intent to drop the 400 IM. I also know that, according to Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker's last swim might have been in Beijing (though there has been no confirmation of retirement from Ian himself that I've seen). To both of these allegations, I say: TOO BAD. I'm the coach of this story.

...besides. If my Dragon doesn't get to see Ryan swim the 400 IM she just might cry. I don't want her to cry. She'd get our seats in Indy all salty. Nobody wants that.


Tie My Hands, Part 1: When Hilary Wants To Throw the Calender Away.
Tie My Hands, Part 2: When Michael Starts Running.
Tie My Hands, Part 3: When Ryan's Stomach Doesn't Cooperate.
Tie My Hands, Part 4: When Michael Runs Into His Past.
Tie My Hands, Part 5: When Ryan Realizes Kyle Might Be Onto Something.

Tie My Hands, Part 6: When Michael Hits the Downward Spiral


"Well, dude. Hold still."

"I am holding still." Michael frowned when bits of shaving cream were flicked at his face. He backhanded them away, the motion terse and irritated. He reached a hand out. "Give it to me. I'll finish." Ryan looked at him like he'd just grown another head.

They were standing in the bathroom, Michael naked to the waist. He had shaving cream covering his back in a white sheet—or had. He hoped at least half of it was gone for the torture that he was having to endure. It was the third time that Ryan had nicked him and Michael was starting to get the feeling that it was being done on purpose. It was early, it was the first day of meets, it was becoming a fucking hassle that he didn't need.

"How are you going to finish?" Ryan laughed. "You might be double-jointed but man, you are not that double-jointed." He was holding the razor to the side, like he meant to keep it out of Michael's reach. "You're fidgeting. You're a fidgeter."

It wasn't funny. It wasn't cute. Michael thought that he must look angry but who knew when Ryan didn't seem to respond to body language the way the rest of the fucking world did. "Give me the razor."

Ryan put it behind his back and smiled. "Nope."

Michael closed his eyes and took a very long, very slow breath. If he ended things with Ryan right now—assuming that Ryan understood the English language—it was bound to be a long week. An intolerable week. It wouldn't have been the first time that Michael had broken up with someone. And even if they stayed friends, being in the same room would be awkward, wouldn't it? A little space would be best for everyone involved when it happened.

Of course he'd made this decision just about the time that his dick had been in Ryan's mouth last night, so he almost doubted how sound it was. But it seemed like the best way. Michael was pretty sure that a slow let-down... maybe over the phone...

"Give me the razor, Ryan, or so help me—"

Ryan's eyebrows lifted. "Gonna wrestle me for it, Mike?" He smiled and stepped back one step. "I'll cut'cha."

"You already cut me," Michael growled out, stepping after Ryan. "That's why I'm taking the razor back." At the rate they were going, Michael might just sink the moment he hit the water from the amount of bandaids he was going to have to apply to his back—that was if he didn't die from blood loss first.

Ryan stepped back again.

"Stop it," Michael snapped.

Ryan was still smiling and Michael wanted the expression off his face—it was a shame that he knew no matter how wonderful the instant gratification would feel, punching Ryan would be a bad idea. So he stepped after instead and Ryan stepped back again. Height-wise they were almost an even match and so were their strides.

"Goddamnit, Ryan, give me the fucking razor!"

The tone was a little more than Michael had actually intended. Ryan's face dropped like a rock thrown in water and a surge of guilt filled Michael's belly. He blew out a breath. "Look," he said, trying hard to make it quiet and contrite. The sour feeling in his stomach helped. "Sorry. I just am--"

"Definitely not getting the razor back," Ryan supplied. Michael looked up from his toes and Ryan wiggled his eyebrows before he bolted into the other room.

The guilt disappeared. Rationality went with it. Michael slammed an open palm against the tiled wall and stalked out after Ryan. When he got that fucking razor back, he was going to stick it right up Ryan's ass. Then they'd see who was laughing.

As he got closer to Ryan, Ryan dodged left and stepped up onto the couch, holding the razor aloft. "What, you want this?"

"I'm going to rip your arms off," Michael pushed through clenched teeth. He jumped onto the couch but Ryan only hopped over the back and was moving again—only this time Michael didn't wait to follow. Tripping hazards be damned, half-shaved back be damned. He was going to get that razor. Then he was going to walk down the hall and find someone else to shave his back and Ryan could kiss his ass.

Ryan skipped backward, smiling. "I love it when you talk dirty." He made a kissy face and Michael lunged at him. Ryan got out of the way but misjudged the step backward up onto the bed and fell onto it instead. Michael was over him in a second, reaching for the razor that Ryan had held over his head even as he was trying to backpedal away.

Michael caught Ryan's wrist and slammed it up against the headboard. Amidst a lot a tugging and shoving he caught his other hand, too, and held that one in the same manner.

He could feel the bones in Ryan's wrists as he held pressure against them. Michael looked down at light blue eyes, expecting to find a smile, a laugh. But Ryan was breathing hard, his smile gone. There was a seriousness in his eyes that caught Michael off-guard and for a moment he couldn't breathe at all. It was terrifying. That look in Ryan's eyes was terrifying.

And then Ryan kissed him. Brought his mouth up so hard and fast that teeth clacked together and Michael's bottom lip burned where it got caught in the impact. Ryan's whole body arched up toward his and it was enough to let Michael close his eyes and get involved and just forget what he'd seen. And he wanted to forget. Because Ryan didn't do serious. What they were... Was not serious.

But he kissed Ryan back, meeting the rough intent, keeping the wrists under his hands pinned. Ryan's legs fought to spread under Michael's weight and one wrapped around his thigh. The way Ryan forced his body up made Michael dizzy, the slow, hard grind and they were going to get into trouble with this.

Michael pulled away from Ryan's mouth, shaking his head and dropping Ryan's hands. "We can't. We have to be ready for the pool in less than an hour."

Fingers slid through the shaving cream on his back—a slick, light pressure that stood goosebumps up on Michael's arms and set a slow fire along his nerves. "Come on," Ryan murmured, lifting his head to form the words against Michael's lips. "We can be fast. Like last night."

It was so hard to say no to Ryan, even when Michael knew what the smart thing was. Too hard. "No. Last night we didn't have a swim." He breathed out and sat back onto his heels—Ryan followed him up, fingers slipping over ribs.

Teeth caught at Michael's lip and he could feel the smile. "Come on," Ryan breathed, hedging him back, hands picking at the waistband of his pants.

No meant no. This meet was important. It was more important than a goddamn quickie and Michael was pissed that Ryan wouldn't stop. Today was bigger for Ryan than it was for him, and Ryan was fooling around.

Hands planted on Ryan's chest and shoved. Michael had caught him off-guard and Ryan spilled backward with a look of surprise, shaving cream smearing across the covers. "I said no," Michael said, sliding back off the bed and grabbing the razor from the floor where it had fallen. "And you have the 400 IM today, don't you care?"

Ryan was sitting himself up, not looking in Michael's direction. His toes pushed into the carpet. "I'll be fine."

That was the attitude that had begun to get under Michael's skin. Rationally, he knew that Ryan worked hard at practice, but what did practice matter if Ryan fucked around before the meets? "You don't know that."

Ryan glanced up. "I do."

It was like talking to a brick wall. Michael sighed. "Should I find someone else to finish my back?"

Ryan rubbed a hand through his hair and shook his head. Braced by his arms on the edge of the bed, he gave a dim smile. "Nah. I'll do it."

Michael almost told him not to bother. There was a moment of silence between them before Ryan held out his hand and Michael grabbed it, pulling him up to his feet. If it looked like a truce, it didn't feel like one. Michael's nerves were still humming from the physical contact and the anger and it was even harder to hold still while Ryan shaved the rest of his back down.

He leaned over the counter, hung his head and closed his eyes. A few hours later he was wishing that he'd never opened them back up at all.

Maybe it was the look in Ryan’s eyes from that morning following him, maybe it was the clinging memory of the dream from the plane, but Michael spent the day feeling like he was swimming through sand. It wasn't a new sensation since he'd spent most of 2006 feeling just the same way—having to repeat the sensation made it worse. And standing in the bleachers next to Bob at the end of the night (his coach had made his opinion of Michael's less-than-stellar practice very clear by his silence) Michael watched Ryan win the 400 IM final, looking better than ever. In the water for that race he was untouchable, taking the win by a full five seconds.

In a way, it was an amazing thing to watch.

But Michael couldn't stop himself from wondering how he would have held up in the water tonight and the—almost overwhelming—certainty that he would have really had to fight for first made him feel near crazy. He wouldn't ever have to swim the 400 IM at a meet again but he just couldn't shake the feeling that if he did swim it, if he did, there was some chance he'd place behind Ryan.

If he did.


But he wouldn't, so he didn't have to think about the 'what if's'. And Ryan was still over Michael's world record time from Beijing by a good two seconds. Michael told himself that. He repeated all his facts and figures—how the experts thought that record would never be overturned—over and over again while the crowd around him screamed for Ryan and Bob clapped and Steve Lochte turned red from puffing his chest out.

Two full seconds. But Ryan had to have known how far ahead of the field he had been, so he would have let some steam off at the end if he was hurting, which he certainly had to have been. Michael knew all that. He knew that as surely as he knew that Ryan was going to come even closer to his record at Worlds. Ryan, who wanted a quickie before warm-ups, was his biggest competition.

Records were made to be broken. He'd said that himself. He'd believed that. Now it felt like some bullshit excuse to preen and still be the good guy after a win.

Michael rubbed a hand over his face and took a deep breath. And then another. In the damp, cloistered heat of the Natatorium it didn't feel like he was breathing at all. "I need to leave," he said.

Bob looked over. "You need to congratulate Ryan."

It wasn't going to take much to get Michael angry. "I need to get out of here or I'm going to pass out." Each word was a punctuating snap—and each one asked for a fight. He waited for Bob to blow up, waited for it with his hands in fists and nasty words on the tip of his tongue. You let me train in Florida. You were too wrapped up in Meadowbrook. You should have been keeping track. You should have made sure that I was ready for this.

But Bob didn't rise to the bait. He looked at Michael and then away, watched the swimmers pulling themselves out of the pool. "Do what you need to do, Michael. You're an adult."

Ryan was smiling, was being clapped on the back and congratulated. Grevers—who hadn't even been swimming today, period, was somehow on the side of the deck, was nearly lifting Ryan off his feet in a hug. Michael remembered Ryan saying something about he and Grevers having a good time at the SC Championships last December; it wasn't anything that he'd given a second thought to at the time. Now, his hands tightened at his sides and Michael shoved past Bob and down off the bleachers, walking away from the crowds. Away from the way Ryan was laughing into Grevers' shoulder.

The night air was cool enough and Michael breathed in as he tucked his pass inside his tshirt. It wasn't fresh air but being from Baltimore he wouldn't have known what to do with fresh air anyway—Indianapolis was only missing that dank, fishy smell of a harbor. Michael paced in front of the Natatorium for a minute but knew that he had to leave soon. He might have dodged the media by cutting out early and out the front but it wouldn’t last long. He looked through the green of the campus to the cement and brick beyond, stuck his hands in his pockets, and started walking. He might have spent his life going up and down pool lanes, but he had a good sense of direction. Of course, right now he'd be willing to trade that for a little practical patience.

He could not write get back control of your life on a goal sheet.

The evening air, as cool as it was, was interspersed by hot gusts of exhaust once Michael reached the city streets. He wished he had a hat; people were looking at him with that gleam of recognition that he'd come to dread. He'd made swimming popular, he'd made more money than he knew what to do with, but he'd also made sure that he couldn't walk down the street without someone wanting to shake his hand. And some days he thought that he'd give up all the good just to go back to being Michael Phelps, who? Today the attention didn't help his mood and he kept his eyes down.

He'd left his hat in the locker room, along with his duffel—and his LZR. That was stupid. But he was almost back to the hotel, had forgotten everything because he'd been thinking about getting away from Ryan's win and Matt Grevers' too-friendly hands and, shit. Michael hated feeling stupid. He wasn't stupid.

It was Ryan that was making him stupid.

Training in Florida under another coach. Sleeping two to a bed the night before an important meet—and waking up before the alarm with Ryan attached to him like the world's hottest personal octopus. Erik had been right; Michael made allowances for Ryan that he would never make for anyone else.

At the end of May, tucked between long hours in the pool, Ryan had gotten Michael to the beach and talked him onto a surfboard. Michael was graceful in the water, he felt confident. Being on the water, however—that was another matter entirely.

The bottom line was that he should have never gotten on the board in the first place, but thinking back he couldn't even remember putting up a fight; Ryan grinned and he had followed. Stupid. Ryan made it look easy, just stood up and went with the waves; in the fading sun his wet skin had been golden. Michael had wiped out the third time he'd managed to stand up and was really fucking lucky to have gotten washed ashore instead of drowned in the undertow.

But all Michael could remember thinking, sitting on the beach with sand in his shorts and watching Ryan glide in after him, was that maybe if he practiced enough he'd get good at it.

So. Fucking. Stupid.

"Hey. Mike."

Michael blinked the thoughts away and looked up; Aaron was sitting at a table on the street outside a cafe, one leg tucked underneath him on the wrought-iron chair. There was a beaten paperback in his hands. Michael walked over, looking back down the street. He thought he missed his hotel. "What are you doing out here?"

"Ian's communing with Dylan," Aaron said with a smile. "Not that I don't like Dylan, but my tastes do not extend to repeated listenings, and it's his night to choose."

"My tastes don't extend to first listenings," Michael said with a laugh. He and Ian had come to terms on their tastes in music, which was to say, Ian had mostly given up trying to get him to listen to Dylan, Cash, jazz, funk, soul, blues, etc, etc, etc. Which was also to say that Michael had stopped bothering to argue the merits of gangsta rap. "It's a nice night."

"A little dry," Aaron murmured with an inward sort of smile and pointed to the empty chair at his table. “Were you going somewhere?”

Michael shrugged and stepped around the flimsy fencing that kept the café from the street, slouching into the chair opposite Aaron. "Got lost."

Aaron laughed. "Yeah, you getting lost. That's funny." He dropped his book on the table and picked up his tea to take a drink. "Don't forget that I knew you back when."

"When was that?"

Aaron hung one arm over the back of his chair. "Remember in Greece, when we were supposed to be going to the Acropolis? You walked us around in a circle right back to the boat."

Michael laughed. "That was pretty funny."

"We walked over four miles," Aaron reminded him, smiling. "But at least you finally grew into your ears."

Getting a moment like this with Aaron, it helped Michael's nerves. It let him unwind in a way that all the beer and all the laps in the last week hadn't. Aaron pre-dated drinking. He pre-dated swimming as a life-choice. He pre-dated Ryan.

"At least you finally stopped saying 'sweet.'" Michael said.

Aaron slumped against the chairback and laughed, tilting his face up a little. "Sweet."

"Longhorns swam the surfer out of you."

Surfing. Ryan had tasted like the ocean that day, salt and grit and Michael had used his teeth to scrape every bit of it off of lips and tongue and all the soft crevices of Ryan's skin.

"Yeah," Aaron mused, "went to school for the water and the nearest beach was hours away. And Galveston sucks for surfing, man, just sucks." He reached up and tugged his earlobe. "But I guess I don't mind Texas so much."

Michael raised his eyebrows.

Aaron shrugged and smiled. "I've got the guys." Clubs, after all, became extended families when anyone swam as much as they did. He paused and then tucked his other leg underneath him. "Erik's here, have you seen him?"

And when anyone swam as much as they did, swimming became way too small a world. "Saw him at the airport." Goddamnit.

Aaron nodded. "Did you hear? He's working for Placak now, with the Tiburon Mile."

Salt water. Same ocean, even, but Erik hadn't tasted anything like Ryan. Then again, Erik had never skipped meets to surf, either. Michael itched at his chest where the plastic edges of his ID tag brushed against his skin beneath his shirt. "Yeah. Does that mean you've talked to him lately?" The question tried really, really hard to be casual. Michael was sure that Erik wouldn't say anything to anyone about what had happened. Or he had been until he'd put Aaron into the picture. Unassuming Aaron. Erik might have not thought anything of it, oh yeah I tripped at the airport and fell on Mike's dick

"Not really. Tib does their own thing—they're already so big and set in their ways. I'd like for Oceana to be more than a piggyback." Aaron shrugged.

Michael looked at Aaron for a moment. “You’re really going for it with Oceana, aren’t you?”

Aaron gave a quiet smile that Michael had gotten used to over the years. He gave the same smile when he won video games; it used to be an embarrassed happy, now it was just sort of low-key pleased. "Yeah, I am."

“And swimming?” Suddenly Michael felt like he’d been very out of the loop for the last year. When was the last time he’d talked to Aaron?

“Might be my last year. Oceana’s a good cause, and I’m still young. Might really be able to make a difference, as corny as that sounds.”

Michael wished that he had that outlook on things. Instead, he could feel the inexorable forward creep of retirement—followed by a blank wasteland. And when he swam like he'd swam today the days between then and now seemed to echo inside of him with the hollow and resounding feel of time wasted. He picked up the paperback between them and then put it back down; it was some crime novel.

Aaron took another drink, tapping his fingers against the paper cup. "You were kinda swimming like you were asleep at the wheel today."

"Guess I felt like I was." Michael slouched down further in his chair, sticking out his legs and staring across the street. "Do you ever feel like your life has gotten away from you? Ended up somewhere you didn't want it to go?"

There was a moment of considering silence before Aaron spoke. "I made my choices. I don't regret them." He shrugged. "You're the last person I expected to hear that from. Don't you have exactly where your life is going written on some sheet of paper?"

Michael wondered. Because now he was feeling like he maybe hadn't been making choices recently. Ryan happened. Ryan was. And Michael had just gotten dragged along behind for the ride. How did he not realize that his own life had been so out of his control since Beijing? "Thought I did," he said.

Aaron laughed and patted Michael on the knee before standing up and stretching. "Maybe paper isn't working for you anymore, Mike."

The words stuck in the spaces of Michael's mind between thoughts occupied by Ryan rapping his own lyrics in the shower and his mother telling him that the best pictures were the ones that happened when you were too busy to notice the flash. He scrubbed his face and took Aaron's hand when it was offered to pull him to his feet. Inside the staff were putting up chairs on tables.

"Paper's always worked," he said, but the words tasted sour on his tongue.

Aaron shrugged. "Whatever does it. I've been seeing too much of Ian, you know how he is. The man can make monkeys ponder the meaning of life. I thought I'd grown immune, but obviously I was wrong."

Michael smiled, but didn't really feel the expression. "I know how he is," he echoed.

Grabbing his book off the table, Aaron shrugged. He picked up his receipt and stuffed it into his pocket as they stepped out onto the sidewalk. The two blocks back to the hotel were quiet but once they got into the elevator Aaron clapped him on the shoulder. "Get some sleep, you’ll be okay. And hey, if you need me, you can find me in the House of the Risin' Sun." He gave a good-natured smile.

"I know. Thanks." Michael waved as he got off on the fifth floor and checked his watch as the doors closed behind him. He wasn't welcoming a fight the way he had been earlier, so he decided to skip checking in on Bob all together. They'd both get to sleep on it and would talk at breakfast.

When he let himself into the room, Ryan was sitting on the couch watching TV. His attention turned with the opening of the door and he smiled in Michael's direction. "You left your duffel in the locker room," he said, pointing to the floor near the beds. "So I grabbed it for you."

Michael should have said thank you and meant it. Instead he just grunted assent. He felt like an asshole on several levels—all of which pissed him off a little. Couldn't Ryan just... be a jerk? Lose a race? Forget to smile, or to be nice? An hour ago he'd been blaming Ryan for making him forget his bag, and then Ryan remembered it. Michael yanked his ID tag over his head and threw it on the coffee table. "Are you sleeping on the couch tonight?"

"Wasn't planning on it," Ryan said. Smiled.

Michael glanced at him and didn't smile back. "Then you should clean off your bed."

Ryan seemed to gauge Michael's seriousness before sitting up and going to clean off the right-hand bed, still covered with suitcases and clothes and now damp towels. As he worked to clear the debris away Michael dropped down onto the spot he'd vacated on the couch, still-warm. Ryan had been watching Sponge Bob and Michael zoned out to the sounds of zippering luggage and Squidworth and did not let himself think anything at all.

He didn't think about how it smelled to wake up with his face pressed into Ryan's hair.

He didn't think about Aaron's words or the piece of paper in his wallet, wearing at the folds.

He didn't think about Erik or their quick fuck in a handicapped bathroom, and how he still couldn’t refuse Ryan just hours later.

Eventually Ryan came back, folding his arms on the back of the couch, chin to wrists, and smiled. "Finished." He scratched his cheek with a finger. "Job-well-done sex?" he asked. There was a laugh in his tone that made the suggestion a joke.

And Michael almost said no because he was still thinking about what he’d been trying to ignore in Ryan’s eyes but suddenly instead he could see Grevers in all his idiotic height and bleached hair and Grevers wouldn't say no. He'd pull Ryan in and kiss him. It was too easy to picture big hands pushing into curly hair, to imagine how Matt's head would have to tilt down, how broad shoulders would fence Ryan in. It left a funny taste in Michael's mouth and an acidic feeling in the pit of his stomach.

He thought of Ryan carrying two duffels out of the locker room tonight. Then he thought about Ryan and Matt alone in a locker room together at the Short-Course Championships in Georgia.

Fingers pushed into hair still damp from a shower and grabbed and if it was possessive he didn't think about it and Ryan didn't know because he just laughed and leaned forward across the couch to bring their mouths together. Michael's hands tightened, pulled, and Ryan rolled himself over the back of the sofa and on top of Michael. Limbs tangled and mouths fumbled and Ryan was still smiling—Michael could feel the shape of it against his mouth.

He pushed harder into the kiss and could feel the blunt shape of teeth under warm skin. He caught at Ryan's lower lip and sucked on it; Ryan voiced a quiet moan, his lower body jerking like he'd been given a low wattage shock. It was hard for Michael to deny that it didn't turn him on.

Fingers slipped across Michael's sides, sank into muscles, palmed hot shapes over his skin before Ryan actually bothered to push the hem of his tshirt upward; it crumpled into Michael's armpits. He fought with Ryan's weight to sit up, trying to keep the mouth against his as he tugged the fabric off over his head.

Ryan knew where to put his mouth in order to make Michael's heart race. Hot breath moved against his ear and raised the hair on his arms before lips dragged against the skin behind his earlobe. Michael's breath caught, his muscles tensed. Ryan took advantage and rolled his hips down, grinding them together with an aching sort of pleasure.

Michael pushed his hands down the back of Ryan's shorts, under the elastic of his briefs. It wasn't hard for long fingers to spread flesh and run over smooth skin until Michael found what he was looking for. He stroked fingertips across Ryan's anus and felt the shiver in the body against him. It made him want.

Ryan and Matt would never work, anyway. Matt liked to sit in and read his science fiction, to be on his computer and geek it up with World of Warcraft. He wouldn't have been able to keep up with Ryan.

"Slow down," Ryan murmured, his mouth pressed under Michael's jaw. He pulled back and bit Michael's lower lip, letting it scrape between his teeth before letting go. "You'll miss all the fun."

Michael did just the opposite; he bumped his mouth up against Ryan's, teeth clacking before settling into a rough kiss, lips bruised and slick. He didn't want to slow down, so he tried to remember just how he'd managed this with Erik... But a quick fuck with Erik was like falling downhill. With Ryan it was more like trying to walk back up that hill with his legs tied together and an elephant strapped to his back.

"I don't want to slow down," Michael said against skin. And to prove his words he wiggled the tip of one finger into that ring of contracting muscle and felt triumphant as Ryan's breath shattered against his cheek and hips snapped down. Fingers grabbed at, curled into, the waistband of Michael's pants but were lost a minute later when Michael untangled himself enough to stand. There were always a few condoms in his suitcase.

A single foil square along with a travel tube of lube were dropped onto the coffee table. Ryan glanced at it, scraping his bottom lip through his teeth. He'd rolled onto his back and looked pink-cheeked and unfocused, erection tenting the front of his basketball shorts up to the left. He sat up and stripped his shirt over his head and Michael leaned down over him, running his hands across warm, tan skin. His mouth pressed to Ryan's neck and followed the line out to his shoulder.

"Hey, Mike." Ryan's voice was quiet, words brushing against Michael's ear.

"Hmm?" Michael ran the flat of his tongue over the shallow jut of bone at the far edge of Ryan's shoulder. He scraped his teeth against it. Ryan made a low noise in the back of his throat.

"There was, uh. Something that Kyle said to me the other day." His voice was light, fast, but his hands pushed at Michael's shoulders. "I thought maybe we could, you know. Talk about it."

Michael lifted his mouth from Ryan's skin and looked down at him. He didn't want to talk about Kyle. He didn't want to talk. "Right now?"

There was stillness from Ryan, as if he would push it despite both of their hard-ons and the obvious lack of interest in Michael's tone. Fingers slipped into shorts and Michael wrapped them around Ryan's dick, twisting and pulling up.

Hips came up. Ryan breathed out. He shook his head. "Nah. Not right now."

They stripped down. When Ryan tried to linger with his hands or his mouth, Michael pushed harder, got more aggressive. There was a noise of compliant that was swallowed as Michael dropped his mouth around Ryan's dick; Ryan fell back bonelessly with a short roll of his hips. Nothing worked better to shut Ryan up than a B.J.

The lube was fumbled off the coffee table and Michael tried to uncap it while Ryan rocked into his mouth; coughing, he pulled back and raised a hand to grab a hip and push Ryan back down. Michael gave a long, slow suck from smooth base to tip as his free hand worked the bottle over and squeezed some of the cool lube onto his fingers.

Ryan came off the couch with a breathy whine when a slick digit pushed into him and Michael let him rise; he pulled his mouth away and Ryan's spit-slick dick made a quiet, wet sound as it fell back against skin. Legs spread. The couch was too small but neither of them cared.

Michael pressed his mouth to the inside of Ryan's thigh, watching. Eyelashes brushed against Ryan's cheeks and fluttered with movement every time Michael turned or curled his finger inside that tight clutch of muscle. When Ryan's back arched his stomach muscles tensed and showed. His hair was a mess across the throw pillows, one hand grabbing at the back of the couch hard enough to white out his knuckles.

Michael's teeth scraped, and then bit lightly on soft skin on the inside of Ryan's knee. He tasted soap and the chlorine that never really went away, licked it from the crease of skin. Ryan moaned. It was when Michael went to lick again that he realized what he was doing—waiting, wanting to hear the sound a second time.

The condom dropping on Ryan's chest opened unfocused blue eyes; Michael pulled his finger free. "Open it. Turn over." Ryan's chest was raising and falling in deep, slow motions, the skin flushed under its tan. He looked at Michael for a long moment before doing what he was told, one of his hands spreading on the arm of the couch as he turned onto his stomach. His other hand held the condom and the corner of the packet was put between his teeth.

Michael kneeled behind him, palming Ryan's ass before pushing two fingers slowly back inside the heat of his body. Ryan moved away from the pressure and the condom dropped to the cushions as he braced his other hand against the arm of the sofa, too. “Fuck,” he breathed out, his body tense and tight around Michael’s fingers.

Leaning over the long incline of Ryan’s back, Michael scraped teeth over his shoulderblade. “Shut up,” he murmured against skin.

Ryan breathed out and relaxed, hanging his head, curls spilling over his cheeks. Michael’s fingers sunk deeper, twisting, curling to rub the pads down as they went. Ryan made a little noise in the back of his throat and the next time he moved it was to push back instead of pull away. That was the only go-ahead that Michael needed.

He grabbed the fallen condom and tugged it free of the ripped wrapper, rolling it down over his dick one-handed. The extra lube was spread over the latex with a few quick strokes before Michael leaned over Ryan and used a thumb to line himself up. When he pushed his hips forward Ryan's back arched in tandem motion, lifting him away from the couch and toward Michael. Another roll of hips, Michael grabbing Ryan's dick, and Ryan's whole body bucked, fitting them closer together until he'd pushed Michael back onto his heels, back to chest.

A hand reached up, fingernails scraping against Michael's scalp, searching, before Ryan's fingers wrapped against the side of his neck. Michael curbed the urge to put his mouth to the offered bicep and kept his hand moving. The new angle, the weight, brought Ryan all the way down around him. Michael flexed his hips up with a quiet moan for the fluttering squeeze of muscles, but Ryan in this position was in charge again—and he set a slow rhythm.

Michael made a sound in the back of his throat, annoyance strong enough to momentarily overcome lust, and shoved them both forward again; Ryan had to move his hands from skin to catch himself against the sofa, fingers spread and hitting with a thump. “Hey—“

A rough, deep thrust forward put Ryan's forehead down between them and Michael hedged in close, leaned against Ryan, kept him there. “I said shut up.” To make his point he rocked his hips and got deeper without ever really backing off.

Ryan didn’t argue again. His breath came in short, hard pants and his eyes were closed, head turned to the side and cheek down to the sofa arm. Michael didn't let him move. His fingers slid up and stroked, quick and light, around the hot head of Ryan's dick until he could feel the reaction, the way Ryan's body tightened around him.

Sensation might have been dulled through the condom, but all that Michael needed was Ryan's orgasm—a short shiver and hold of breath before muscles tensed, spasmed, and Michael moaned as he came after, open-mouthed against Ryan's back. Drawing a deep breath, he slid down onto his side, almost too drained to bother taking the condom off. Ryan sank down next to him and kissed his arm, the inside of his elbow. Michael looked over, Ryan's curls a crazy web around his head.

Ryan smiled.

"You're still sleeping in your own bed," Michael said.

Ryan took a moment to kiss his arm again and then shrugged. "Yeah, okay."

Maybe Michael still did want that fight. Ryan's easy compliance annoyed him. He pulled himself off the couch and away on sore legs; the condom was dropped in the trash can as he passed it on the way to his bed. The pillow he laid down on smelled like Ryan; it got pushed off the side of the bed as he pulled the covers up.

Wednesday was cloudy and still dark at six when the alarm went off. Michael smacked it quiet and rubbed his eyes. Ryan was on his back in the other bed, snoring lightly, a yellow headband holding his hair off his face. Instead of sleeping for another thirty minutes, Michael got up.

He felt like a fucking coward when he closed the door behind him, dressed, with Young Jeezy in his ears and Ryan still asleep to a reset alarm. But there was no turning around, Michael didn't go back. He and Ryan had their go last night—now he wanted some distance before the swim today. Ryan would understand that. Of course there was a part of Michael that thought if Ryan didn't understand it, well, that wouldn't be so bad either. If Ryan took the initiative and started the parting of ways... It wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen. It would probably make things smoother, knowing Ryan. They'd share a This isn't working out moment, laugh about it, and stay friends.

Bob was waiting in the mess hall at Purdue. Michael came down the steps and pulled his earphones out—not like he hadn't been expecting whatever he was going to get.

"I hope you got all the bullshit out of your system yesterday," Bob said as they walked toward the buffet without missing a stride. It was no-nonsense. Sometimes they were more than a coach and a swimmer, but not today. Not at a meet.

Michael grabbed a tray and pulled it down onto the running counter lit by the heating lights over the food. "I'm fine." He was really getting sick of saying that to people.

"I didn't ask you how you were doing." Bob grabbed a tray, too, and they pushed on. "I asked you if you were done with the bullshit."

Pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon. Michael focused on scooping his breakfast instead of how he wanted to snap at Bob. If he fucked up with Bob at a meet he lost his best ally, and he knew that. So he repeated that to himself over and over between heaps of eggs and didn't say that he was trying his fucking best, thank you, but his focus was off and Ryan was hooked to his ankle like a ball and chain. Michael just took a breath and said, "Yes." He was done with the bullshit. He really was.

But as the day wore on, it was obvious that Michael really wasn't. He went through his warm-ups feeling like he was dragging weight and keeping to himself was not helping him find the right headspace. Every heat was a struggle. And every time he turned around it was like he found Ryan, laughing with someone. It destroyed Michael's focus and he would put his chin on his chest, close his eyes, breathe—but all he could think about was Ryan, laughing, smiling, the way he'd looked earlier. Michael pushed fingertips into the corners of his eyes and listened to his music and tried to remember how he used to do this. Because he needed to get back there. He needed to get back to where he had been before his life had slipped off the paper.

It wasn't a surprise that Erik was down with the swimmers, an ID tag around his neck like he'd never left. Michael watched him talk to Ian, Natalie... and he asked himself what was different, now. With Erik it had been swimming first, sex second. What had changed?

It must have been Ryan. It must be Ryan.

Michael took first in the two-hundred Free, his first final of the night, but his time was high, far over where he had wanted it to be. He didn’t say that to the reporters he had to face afterward, only smiled and said it had been a good race, that it was great to be back in the water, he was feeling good...

When all Michael was really thinking was that he’d put up a time that was full seconds over what he had written down in January, after that first day back in the pool. He'd been in Baltimore that day. He should have stayed there.

If people had expected things from the Champion of the Beijing Olympics, it looked like they were going to be disappointed. Michael was feeling like the numbers he had written down for Worlds, the goals that he and Bob had decided on, they wouldn't be met. Worlds would come and Worlds would go and Michael would be standing still.

Held back.

And he was still thinking about that when he pulled himself out of the pool with a third place in the hundred Back and Bob frowning at the time on the board. Aaron and Grevers were both off the world record, but they were both still above him.

Michael was angry at himself, at his inability to pull it the fuck together. He was also angry that two lanes down Ryan was rubbing water out of his hair with a smile on his face, laughing over his fourth place. Michael headed toward the warm-down pool, dodging cameras and their reporters and wondering how in the hell it hadn't bothered him before, Ryan's 'there is always a next time' attitude.

Erik was leaning against the low fencing erected to keep fans off the deck area, talking to Jason Lezak.

Because there wasn't always a next time, not for a guy who skateboarded before meets, not even for Michael. Every day was a day further out of his peak and a day closer to retirement. Every single day.

Erik looked good. Had Michael noticed in the airport what a nice tan he had? Erik looked well-rested, his shoulders down and his posture relaxed as he slouched against the metal barrier. He looked exactly the opposite of how Michael felt at the moment.

If every day was one day closer to the end, he couldn't afford to waste them.

Their shoulders brushed and Erik's attention drew from Lezak, who patted Michael's back with an absent, big-brother affection as he excused himself. Michael watched him go before turning his gaze back to Erik, the only guy he'd ever shared a bed with for more than a night or two without ever having any strings attached.

Erik's eyes were dark and steady. They looked past Michael and he knew they were looking at Ryan; he could hear the laughter. "You still single?" Erik asked after a stretch of silence between them.

"Yeah," Michael said. "Yeah, I am."

Tie My Hands, Part 7: When Ryan Goes Through the Looking Glass


( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 26th, 2009 04:05 am (UTC)
I just want to beat some sense into Michael for being such an incredible dick.
But Aaron and Ian <3 I know I have a problem when I read too much into this:
Aaron shrugged. "Whatever does it. I've been seeing too much of Ian, you know how he is. The man can make monkeys ponder the meaning of life. I thought I'd grown immune, but obviously I was wrong."
Jan. 26th, 2009 04:45 am (UTC)
Also (because I have to comment again because I keep remembering things I love) I love the references to Bob Dylan, especially "Get some sleep, you’ll be okay. And hey, if you need me, you can find me in the House of the Risin' Sun.".
I also love Michael's jealousy over Matt Grevers and his hatred of any intimacy, even though it's painful to read.
(no subject) - caelumi - Jan. 27th, 2009 02:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
I think they both have their stupid moments, lol. But all will be well in the end, all will be good. ^_^ <3
Jan. 26th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)
First and foremost, this is amazing. I'm just wowed at the way you can write from Michael's point-of-view. And it's sad because when it's from Ryan's perspective I feel awful for him, but then from Michael's I almost try to justify it. He's still as ass, but eh. Your writing is very persuasive.

Second! Your Aaron is perfect! Please, please, please do something with his character. Please? :<

Third. Knee biting! Was that anyway connected back to the phone conversation he and Ryan had that one time or just a nice coincidence?

I've written a lot, I'm just going to stop now. :)
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
One) Yay! I'm glad to know--seriously glad--that even though MP's an ass, the reader can understand why he's doing it, at least. It's all fear, baby. Scared of love. ^_^

Two) ^_____________^ I'm thinking about it. Any specific pairing you want to see?

Three) I think it was me just, like... recyling. ^^ But we can say that it was MP being conditioned by Ryan. *nodnod* Sexual conditioning.

(no subject) - 24ko - Jan. 27th, 2009 02:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - caelumi - Jan. 27th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - 24ko - Jan. 27th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - caelumi - Jan. 27th, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 26th, 2009 04:51 am (UTC)
Ugh Mike! I finally thought he was going to have an epiphany....

But I loved him getting jealous over Grevers/Ryan. And the porn, gotta love that too!
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC)
Porn's good. I'm all for porn. ^_^

... Is that Obama in a bow?
(no subject) - sexy_cheetah - Jan. 27th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 26th, 2009 05:02 am (UTC)
Sorry to echo the other posters, but you're doing such a great job with this fic. I hate Michael for being such a douche, but it's written very well.

He just needs to realize that he and Ryan are meant to be. =)
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
He will. It's just going to take some time and heartache, that's all. <3333
Jan. 26th, 2009 06:29 am (UTC)
Michael Fred need to stop hatin' on Reezy and start APPRECIATIN'.


Anywho. This fic is so completely awesome, as are you, and I am totally pumped for the next installment! Whoo!
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
*Dances around in a little personal KC-circle*

The APPRECIATIN' does need to start! ... Too bad it won't for another couple chapters. Hang onto your butt. ^_^
Jan. 26th, 2009 08:18 am (UTC)
Oh god, this is just so so soooo good!

Loved the jealousy in this part. <3 Very hot and (in its own way) sweet.
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:30 am (UTC)
Hehehe. Jealousy is a double-edged sword for sure. Or a thin line. Or, yanno. Whatever other metaphor is appropriate. ^_^ <3
Jan. 26th, 2009 12:15 pm (UTC)
I have a dirty little secret: I'm probably more like MP, emotionally and personality-wise, in this fic than I'd ever like to admit. I can understand where he's coming from - where a good friend being him- or herself simply becomes too much to bear at some point, etc. - but it hurts so much to read it happening to Ryan!

I really liked Aaron in this chapter. I have a soft spot for him (something for blue-eyed backstrokers, perhaps?) and the conversation he and Michael had was just wonderful. I hope Michael goes back to him for advice or just to talk. And that Ryan goes to Aaron, too. That would make for an interesting dynamic. It's already been said but the Dylan reference was perfect.

You have no idea how heartbroken I am over the prospect that Beijing was Ian's last swim. I heard he was planning to essentially retire and open up a swim school, but I was hoping he'd still compete here and there for another year or two. And Ryan's plans to drop the 400 IM...*loud internal, guttural "NOO!!"* I understand why he'd do it but still. It's selfish and asking a lot but I wanted Reezy bb to go on a 400 IM winning streak after hearing Michael intends to drop it. :/
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
I have the same dirty little secret, you're not alone.

About Aaron, I'll let you in on a secret--don't get your hopes up. I really liked writing him in this but I don't see him making a huge reappearance. I'm thinking of just doing a completely separate (and shorter, haha) fic with him in it.

As for Ian... it does break my heart. The stuff I read just makes me think that he's not equip to deal with competition at an Olympic sort of level. The cutthroat stress of it. Which is a shame because reading his blog makes me want to sit down and have a conversation with him. Like, Ryan, sure. He's gorgeous. I'd love to play beer-pong with him. But I'd want to just sit and talk to Ian, and there's a lot to be said for that.

And I'm so there about the 400 IM winning streak. You and I are thinking the same thoughts.
(no subject) - lenaorgana - Jan. 29th, 2009 09:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 26th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
Oh hai Matt Grevers!

As horrible as fic!Michael is acting in this story, I find myself hoping his character - broken emotionally and obviously heading for a huge physical break too (from your written part 1) - is going to find a way to become whole afterward. If your sweet, innocent fic!Ryan can find something to love in him, he must have that potential for redemption.
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:52 am (UTC)
Oh hai!!

I hope so too, for all of that. ^^ Not that I can guarantee anything, though, since I only have the next four chapters panned out and mp's still being an ass in those. This story started out being about mp getting physically broken... and then took on a life of it's own. -_-

But there's potential, you're right. He might just have to hit bottom to find it.

(By the way, nice show on GMM! <3)
Jan. 26th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC)
You are definitely writing some fine fiction with this epic. It's not fan quality at this point, I hope you know that.

The sex in this part was vivid and a little gritty and as much the story as any dialog scene, rather than an aside for pr0n. You've hit your stride.

Story and character-wise, everyone is well drawn, clear and 3 dimensional.

On a personal level? I always want happy endings, but after reading this chapter, I don't see Mike "giving in to the LOVE" as a happy ending. Mike needs to stay Mike, and I hope he doesn't end up the villain. Ryan's sweet and adorable and his burgeoning awareness that something special happening is endearing, but real love would include recognizing when something isn't working for the loved one.

It's looking a bit like this is coming to a head where Mike has to choose between keeping his edge, and keeping a relationship that might give him something real and solid for that "wasteland" after he retires.

"Tamed" Mike isn't any more desirable than Broken!Mike.

But all that is subjective and subject to change without notice when I read the next part, ;D

*laughs and kisses and purrs in a pleased and proud kinda way*
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
I love you. You know I do. <#############
Jan. 26th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
Oh no, bb. You are out to get me. Me and my little heart. I knew it.
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:55 am (UTC)
I was just saying today that in the next few chapters that I'm going to break people's hearts. Oh noes. *rummages for the duct tape and tissues to hand out*


And I take your Anderson Cooper and see you a Bob Costas...
Jan. 26th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
I loved it! lol, as usual! Ryan so *adorable* in there! and bb, Peirsol! *gasps*=LOVE!!! :D

Michael was such an ass too! :P
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
And he'll keep being one. It's a trend in this story, lol. ^_^
Jan. 26th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
Ok, really, I HATE Michael right now, I really fucking do.

PLEASE tell me you're going to make this better because knowing what an asshole he's being to poor Ryan, is just ARGH.

You're giving me DREAMS about this LMAO.

I seriously wasn't going to read any slash today and it's all your fault I read it LMAO.

Jan. 27th, 2009 03:00 am (UTC)
I will take that blame, is a-okay. *pins blame-badge on*

Michael's dealing with his issues. He'll work them out. Just be prepared to have dreams for a couple more chapters. ^_^

(no subject) - agape_eternal - Jan. 29th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 27th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)
you are doing an amazing job at writing this... it is all kinds of epic. i love the pace and the characterization is excellent. my only complain is that the chapters dont come fast enough.. but i totally understand. <3
Jan. 27th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
*laughs* How I wish I could help with that complaint. -_- But thanks for hanging with me. <333 Next Ryan chapter will be up this weekend!
Jan. 27th, 2009 07:22 am (UTC)
Yep, this is totally still self-obsessed!Michael, alright. *pets him* Still a dick and blaming everyone but himself, and man, I sort of hope he scrapes himself over the coals a little more, because watching him squirm and hit rock bottom is some damn fine reading.

I mean, yeah, I feel for Ryan, but he's not stupid, he knows what's up, he'll dust himself off and be okay. Mike, on the other hand, needs Ryan like oxygen, and gee, that really sucks for him. *g*
Jan. 27th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
Your comment made me smile so hard. ^_^ Cos you're absolutely right. <33333
(no subject) - azewewish - Jan. 27th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - caelumi - Jan. 28th, 2009 02:20 am (UTC) - Expand
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( 42 comments — Leave a comment )