?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Title: Tie My Hands (10/?)
Pair: Phelps/Lochte
Rating: r (for mature language)
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: Not that I want to doom myself by saying this aloud, but the truth is that up until this point I'd had all this busted out already. Then with putting a chapter up every week I've caught myself up... So I'm looking at writing and editing each chapter within seven days and, yeah. This is a warning that it might not happen, though I solemnly swear to try my best.

THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS

Tie My Hands Part 1 //Part 2 //Part 3 //Part 4 //Part 5 //Part 6 //Part 7 //Part 8 //Part 9




Tie My Hands, Part 10: When Michael Finds Himself in the Doghouse.


"Michael, I just don't understand."

Another shirt was jammed into his suitcase in the most haphazard manner possible; he wasn't worried about being neat, only how fast he could get everything in and ready to go. And it wasn't running away. "Bob agreed. Peter agreed." Michael jammed his sneakers into the outside pocket of his suitcase and zipped it closed.

His mother lowered herself onto the edge of the other bed, her hands folded in her lap. "That doesn't help me to understand."

"Mom." Michael paused in his packing, resting his hands on zippered edges of the Samsonite. "I don't know. Kyle didn't stick around to explain himself." Although it had looked like he might have stuck around to throw another punch if Ryan had let him.

"But Kyle is Ryan's friend," she persisted, and Michael's fingers tightened before releasing the black fabric.

He turned to look at his mother. "So?"

His mother compressed her lips and shook her head. "I just imagine that he had to have a reason. People don't just go around punching other people."

She had given up so much for him, been there through everything. But Michael didn't know how to tell her the truth of this, it wasn't a conversation he wanted, or needed, to have. He shook his head. "Look, I don't know. Like Ryan and Kyle have ever been the most level-headed people? I just want to get out of here." His mother frowned but Michael turned his back to it under the pretense of packing.

Everything considered, leaving was the smartest thing to do. Bob had given it a tight-lipped blessing, and Peter thought an expedient departure the best way to skirt a press swarming. As it was he was having kittens—albeit in the calmest, most constructive way possible.

Michael Phelps Punched In the Face—not exactly the best press Michael had ever gotten. But unless Kyle spoke up with the reason for the attack (and he wouldn't, since it would implicate both Erik and, more importantly, Ryan) it would all spin out as sympathy press for Michael in the end.

He glanced up and looked at himself in the mirror across the room. It wasn't far enough away to obscure the yellow and purple that covered the lower left side of his jaw. Michael had to give it to Kyle; it had been one hell of a punch. Who knew the little shit had it in him. He touched his cheek and then yanked the top of his suitcase closed and got moving when he started thinking about how upset Ryan must have been to have Kyle throwing punches. The bag was zipped up with three sharp jerks of his hand. "Mom. Please." Because he could feel the way she was watching him. She knew that he was avoiding her and he knew that she could make him talk if she wanted to, and Michael didn’t want it to come to that.

She sighed in that way that mothers have—or at least his did—that ooze with disapproval. Michael pulled his suitcase off the bed and put his duffel on the top of it, wrapping the strap around the long handle to keep it in place. "It's a guy thing," he muttered without looking at her. "Sometimes it just happens."

Like when you fuck over someone, and his pit-bull best friend comes after you.

Michael thought he'd feel better after it was done, told himself that when he finally pushed Ryan away last night. He'd seen Ryan win that race ahead of him and just couldn't get over feeling like he was stuck and there had been nothing different in his life between Beijing and now except an excess of Ryan Lochte.

Michael thought that he'd wake up this morning and the sun would be shining and the pool would be perfect. Instead he'd lost sleep and lost another race and lost maybe more than a few friends because he could still close his eyes and see how the guys stood on deck in front of a bewildered looking Ryan—Kyle, Grevers, Jones, Alex. Even Mr Foodie had been back there, looking mutinous, standing against the other Longhorns.

It was Pete that hurt the most, though; he was one of the thoughts that Michael was putting off because he knew, he knew, how accurate Pete's moral compass was. Knew that if he was standing on Ryan's side of the line that there was a good reason for it. Once upon a time Bob had named a horse after Pete, and it wasn't because he was the one who snapped at people.

"Oh, Michael." His mom rose from the bed and gathered her suit jacket up over her arm.

He didn't rise to the bait. Just gave the room a once over, ignoring the scattering of Ryan's things; he’d be here until the US qualifiers all left for Rome together. Michael’s flight out of Indianapolis had been originally booked for tomorrow evening but his family, and now Bob as well, were leaving tonight, would be back in Maryland before the news at 11. Michael just couldn't stay here. He didn't want to see Ryan, or spend another night in this room.

But it wasn't running away, because Peter had been the one to call and book the new tickets. Peter had made the decision.

He pulled the brim of his white hat down as they walked through the lobby, but that wasn't going to make him invisible—he'd learned that lesson in the year since Beijing. Bob warned off the few people who had the guts to try and stop a guy with a purple and yellow cheek for autographs and Peter sweetly strong-armed the press until they got to the car. Michael cycled between wanting to snarl and wanting to hide. He wished that he'd gotten the chance to hit Kyle back even though he knew that would have turned the whole ordeal into a Very Bad Thing.

It wasn't until they were filling their last-minute first-class seats that Bob dispensed with the stoic silence he'd been honing since pulling Michael out of the middle of his protective shield of Longhorns. "Are you going to tell me what is going on?"

The engines wound up for take-off. Michael looked at his mom and sister, sitting across the aisle and up a row. Then he stuck his earphones in his ears. "No."

The headphones worked to stop a conversation with everyone but two people; Ryan, because he didn't think, and Bob, because he didn't care. "Get used to that word then, because it's what you're going to hear when you ask me if we're going to Worlds."

Not even 50 Cent could block that out. Michael's head jerked up. "What?" He tugged on the cords to get the buds out of his ears; they fell into his lap. "That's just stupid."

"So is getting into a fight in the middle of a goddamn swim meet, Michael. Are you twelve years old?"

"I'm the one who got hit!"

Behind his glasses, Bob's face got very tight, and very cool. "And if I were Gregg, Kyle would be out of the Club. Gone. There is no excuse for behavior like that, whether you happened to deserve it or not."

Michael stuffed his headphones into a pocket. The airport slid past their window as the plane taxied. "I didn't. And you're not Gregg."

"Damn straight I'm not. But you see if Kyle doesn't get a nice long suspension; Gregg and I see eye to eye on a lot of things." Sitting back, Bob put fingers under his glasses to rub his eyes as he exhaled like it was all just a little too much.

Michael knew that most of the meet had sucked, from the way he'd been swimming to how they'd left. But now that things with Ryan were at an end, Michael could start refocusing on what was important. He would. But he didn't say it, only read the titles of the magazines in the chairback pouch over and over until they were in the air and Bob took his fingers out of his eyes and spoke up.

"If you didn't deserve the punch, then prove it to me. Tell me what happened." He looked over and waited for an answer that Michael didn't plan on giving.

"It really doesn't matter," he said. "It's done. And Ryan and I won't be training together anymore."

Bob snorted and folded his arms over his chest. "Please tell me something that I haven't already figured out. Like the exact reason Kyle decided in the middle of a meet that you looked like the perfect target. I don't care about the pranks he's pulled or the practices he's missed, Michael, he knows the rules. And I know there was a reason he felt justified in breaking them."

Michael didn't want to have this conversation. He scraped at a seam in the leather of his armrest, fingernail picking at the darker threading. "I don't know."

"Bullshit," Bob sighed, shaking his head. "You don't want to tell me."

"I'm not Kyle's keeper, Jesus Christ," Michael snapped out, fighting to keep a level voice. He was aware of his mother and sister, only a few feet away. "I haven't seen him since Florida."

Bob's face was slowly getting red. "Fine. Then how about you explain why you spent four days looking like you'd only gotten back in the pool last week instead of in January. Because I'd like to hear your answer for that as well."

Michael clenched his teeth. "I was unfocused."

Bob gave a short, sarcastic laugh. "Oh, no. You were focused. It just wasn't on the pool."

The short, heated conversation that Michael had with Bob on deck Thursday came to mind. Making eyes at Ryan. He put his head back on the seat and blew out a breath. "Fine, you're right. Is that what you want to hear?" He looked over but Bob didn't have an answer to that, only silence. "I was focusing on Ryan instead of the water. I figured that out. And I dealt with it."

"Kyle didn’t seem to agree with how that went."

"Fuck Kyle," Michael hissed under his breath, sitting up and leaning in. "He's always sticking his nose where it doesn't belong and one of these times it's going to get snapped off." Kyle did stick his nose into other people's business. Into Ryan's business, he did it all the time.

"Oh, yes," Bob said, "because that would be the smart way to handle the situation."

Michael banged his hand down on the tray between their armrests. "Sometimes there isn't a smart way, Bob. Sometimes you just do what you have to do to make people listen." He fell quiet, fell back, and rubbed his face. "Look, I thought you of all people would understand where I'm coming from on this. You know how important swimming is and really, that's what all this was for because I was forgetting that. Ryan was making me forget it. So I dealt with it, okay? I can get back on track now."

He didn't need to look at Bob to see the frown. Bob was pretty good at communicating a frown with his whole body and it was something that Michael was intimately familiar with. It made the hairs on his arms stand up. "Except for this mostly glorious crash and burn of a meet, Michael, you were always on track."

Michael frowned back at Bob. "What?"

Bob loosened his arms and spread his hands. "First of all, you did beat your world record for the 200 IM last night. And in general, I know what your training times are. I talk to Gregg constantly. You put down great splits in practice—even in Florida. In fact, Michael, your split times are fastest when you train with Ryan." Just facts. Sky is blue. Earth is round. Michael, you're being an idiot.

"He's a distraction," Michael argued right back. "You said so yourself the other day."

There was a moment of silence and Michael saw Bob choosing the words he was going to say. "At this meet he was, but I’ve never seen him affect you like that before.”

“Fuck before,” Michael snapped at Bob. “Before doesn’t matter. There hasn’t been a big meet for me since Beijing. There’s only now.”

The growl of words didn’t seem to bother Bob at all. “So you’re saying that the training isn’t working out. Because it seems to be for Ryan. When he’s training he'll add more resistance just because you do, he’ll do another set when you want to stop. He pushes you in a way that you can't push yourself. Or in a way that you just don't."

The seat belt gave a metal snap as it was jammed open. Michael's temper was fraying. "I thought you'd be the person who would understand where I'm coming from on this. I am a swimmer, Bob, and I know Ryan distracts me from that. That's the point. I trained just fine before I met him, didn't I?"

Bob folded his arms over his chest. "You did. But you train better with him."

Michael shook his head. "Yeah, but training isn't putting up records and wins. The ends have to justify the means. You taught me to be a swimmer. You taught me to use what works, no matter how much it might hurt, no matter how much I might not like it at the time, didn't you?"

Bob didn't look happy at the new twist to his words. "I didn't teach you to treat someone in a way that would get you hit."

Michael looked up at the overhead bin and fisted his hands in his lap. "I only did what I needed to do; Kyle overreacted. If I have to chose between being serious about the pool or being serious about... a person, I'm going to chose the pool."

"I'm not sure I see a reason to have to pick between one and the other," Bob said. "That's part of being a grown-up, juggling responsibility."

That made Michael want to hit something. That, coming from Bob, Mr Do-It-Bigger-Better-More? Mr Seven-Hours-A-Day, Swim-On-Christmas-Morning? "Right, because you've set a great example of functioning relationships outside of the pool."

Silence fell between them. Bob was red-faced.

Michael threw the seatbelt back and stood up. "I don't want to hear about Ryan anymore. I need to get serious. And having things this way is better for me."

The look on Bob’s face made it obvious that here and now he was holding his tongue. "Whatever helps you sleep at night, Michael."

Michael jerked himself out of his seat and narrowly missed smashing his head into the overhead bin, then stalked past his mother and sister without stopping. He wondered just how long he could spend in the bathroom before anyone got worried—and decided he didn't care. The door was slammed closed behind him.

He was sure that Bob would have understood the need for a more focused training so that he could get back into top form. The toilet seat was knocked closed before he sat down on it, leaning forward and putting his head in his hands. When he closed his eyes Ryan's face was waiting, so instead he stared at the floor.

A breath was blown out, long and slow. Because being angry in such a small place would be a bad idea, especially when he didn't own any of it. It wasn't his to break. Michael dropped chin to chest and linked his arms behind his neck, elbows on knees. He told himself that if he felt bad, it was only because he hadn't wanted to hurt Ryan. But what he'd done was still the best thing for him. He told himself that over, and over, whatever Bob said about split times be damned. Because training was only ever training and if he couldn't put up the times when it counted then something was wrong.

There were a small handful of press waiting at the otherwise almost empty airport. Michael had put Bob in a mood; his coach hustled them through the gate with a sharp no comment to the waiting cameras and a hand protectively on Michael’s mother’s back. There were still days before they were scheduled to fly out to Rome, after all, plenty of time to make an actual statement.

Michael got halfway home before the thought of sitting in his condo alone started feeling a little daunting, but he refused to turn around and stay at his mom’s. Herman had spent the week with Matt and Michael called his friend even though it was getting late.

“I’ll come get him.”

“Dude, I’m going out anyway, I’ll just swing by. You home early or what?”

“Yeah.” Michael wasn’t going to explain why. He was getting sick of trying to explain things. “Thanks.”

He’d only had time to get in, stuff a Rice Krispie treat in his mouth, and drag his suitcases to his room before there was a buzz from the door. At least Herman wasn’t going to give him looks.

“Wow. You’ve been holding out on me. Here I thought you were swimming but obviously you’ve gotten into cage fighting.” Matt closed the door behind him as Michael bent down and took a moment to appreciate the unconditional love of his dog; Herman's tail was wagging his whole body. He grabbed the folds of skin around Herman's scruff and let the dog lick his face.

Michael looked up, smacking Herman’s butt fondly. “Look at you. Clean pants. Must be a date.”

“Shut up,” Matt said, handing over a backpack full of dog-type things. “So seriously, what’s up with your face? I know you’re an uncoordinated mother fucker when it comes to standing up, but that looks like a fist to me.”

Michael stood up, shaking his head and following Herman into the living room. Matt came with. “I fell.”

“Sounds like you need to dump the guy.”

That struck enough of a chord that Michael scowled. “Shut up.” He grabbed the remote from the coffee table as Herman jumped onto his dented spot on the sofa and he stared hard at the TV, flipping through channels that he didn’t really see.

Matt dropped down next to Herman and scratched under his collar. “Touchy. Dude, what’s up? Did Ryan...” Michael’s face was on the news and Matt trailed off.

"... right now," the local news anchor was saying to the camera, "no one knows what prompted the fight between the two swimmers. Peter Carlisle, Michael Phelps' agent, has only said that there was a disagreement and that Michael does not plan to press any charges."

Michael turned the TV off instead of watching the boxed replay of him eating Kyle's fist. He tossed the remote onto the coffee table and rubbed his face.

“Kyle? Shit.” Matt laughed. “Looked like a good punch. Think I can catch another replay on TMZ? I’d like to study the technique.”

Michael should have known that someone would get the footage. There was always, always a camera on him. He pushed fingers into the tender skin of his jaw. "Seriously, you are not helping right now.”

Matt covered his mouth, eyes widening in feigned shock above his hand. "Mikey! Is it a love triangle? Did Kyle confess his love to Ryan? Did you guys fight for his honor?”

Michael punched him, hard, in the shoulder. "Shut the fuck up. You need to stop watching soap operas."

Laughing, Matt rubbed his arm. “General Hospital is the best thing in my life right now man. Don’t take that away from me.” Herman made a sound and laid his head down.

“You’re sick.”

“Be that as it may.” Matt shrugged and his smile melted away. “Man, seriously though. Why the hell would Kyle punch you?” He shifted forward on the couch and leaned his forearms on his knees.

Michael crossed his arms over his chest. “I don’t know.”

Matt made a disbelieving sound and shook his head. “Bullshit, Mikey. But if you want to plead the 5th you go ahead.” He dropped his head, rubbed the back of it and stood up. “Guess I should be used to it.”

Before he realized the baiting for what it was, Michael was snapping out, “what the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

Matt spread his arms. “It’s supposed to mean that you’ve been like a stranger for the last month or so, that’s all.”

“Seriously? I was in the fucking pool. Doing my job.” Michael’s back teeth pressed together. He’d wanted his dog, not a lecture from one of his oldest friends. “Can we not do this now? Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

“Yeah.” Matt pushed himself off of the couch. “I’ve got a date. With something that doesn’t have eight lanes full of water.”

Michael snorted. “Whatever.”

Matt shook his head. “I’m just saying that since you started hanging with Ryan, you’ve gotten your head out of your ass a little, man. And by that I mean out of the pool. He’s good for you. I like him.”

“A wonderful recommendation,” Michael said. “You don’t even know that this has anything to do with Ryan.”

Matt looked at Michael in a way that made him feel both angry and embarrassed. “Whatever’s been going on with you all the last month, that has to do with Ryan. Even though you refuse to talk about it. And I’m sure that Kyle now knows what’s up.”

Michael grabbed Matt’s shoulder and pushed him forward to get him going. “Have fun on your date.” He didn’t need this shit. Not from anyone, not from Matt. He pulled the door open.

“I will. Have fun with the pool.”

Michael closed the door just a little harder than necessary and then kicked it for good measure. Twice. And then he turned, pushing his hands over his face and huffing out a breath. His hair was too short to grab but he dug fingers into his scalp.

This was stupid. Ryan would get over it. Michael needed to swim, needed to put everything into it or what did it matter? He wished people would stop jumping to conclusions that Ryan was the abused party; no one understood what the relationship had been doing to Michael.

He put his head back against the door and looked at the ceiling but there was nothing he wanted to visualize except a good night's sleep. On the way to the bedroom he fished an Ambien out of his medicine cabinet and swallowed it dry.

His phone ringing woke him the next morning when the sun was still just a thick strip of orange behind the city buildings. Michael groped blindly, nearly hitting the Blackberry off of his nightstand before wrapping sleep-numb fingers around it and dragging it to his ear. “Hello?”

“I hope you’re getting up,” Bob said. “It’s past seven.”

Michael rolled onto his back. “Shit.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. He’d forgotten. Really, forgotten.

“Michael, get up. Get to the pool. I’m waiting.”

And Bob hung up on him. Just like that. The only thing that rolled Michael out of bed was habit; Herman muttered a low groan when Michael pulled his right leg out from under the sixty pounds of English Bulldog. “Don’t complain," he said to Herman, "you can go back to sleep.”

At least at the pool there was no talk of Ryan, or what had happened at Nationals. There wasn't any talk at all; Bob didn't even show up on deck until Michael was dragging himself out of the pool after finishing only half of the set that he'd been assigned. The sun was shining fully in the windows and Michael couldn't even think he was in that much pain.

"You’re not done."

Michael sat on a block and sucked in breath. His lungs felt like raw meat. His arms and legs felt like lead. "Screw that. I’m not finishing." He pulled off his cap.

"You can," Bob said. "And you will."

Fingers tightened around latex. "I didn't even eat breakfast." This was stupid and pointless; the set that Bob had left on the whiteboard had been intentionally sadistic.

Bob just looked at Michael, his arms crossed over his chest. "You could have if you'd woken up on time. You said you wanted to get serious. This is serious. Worlds is coming up and you told me that you swam like shit at Nationals, so I’m assuming we must have been doing something wrong. Now get back in the pool."

Fuck; Michael hated it when Bob used his own words against him. "I get it," he blew out. "Okay? I get it." He did train hard. Fine. It still didn't mean anything if his head wasn't in the game.

Bob unfolded his arms and tossed Michael a protein bar he'd been holding. Michael caught it and leaned over his knees, putting his forehead down.

"I thought we'd gotten far past the point of you not trusting me, Michael."

"We have," Michael said to the tiles between his feet.

"Then let me assure you that neither I nor Gregg have been letting you slack. If you still feel that's the case you are welcome to come back for another round this afternoon." When Michael didn't speak up, Bob shook his head. "Go stretch or you'll cramp. And I want you back here on time tomorrow morning."

Michael pushed water-wrinkled fingers into the corners of his eyes. "Yeah." It didn't change anything.

It didn't.

Peter had left a message while he'd been in the pool and Michael listened to his agent talk about damage control and correct language and forgiveness while he dried down and changed, like he didn't know the Octagon guidelines back and forth. Like he didn't know what a good image consisted of.

Like he didn't know that he was the wronged party.

He hadn't told Peter why Kyle punched him, wasn't going to open that can of worms. As far as he was concerned Kyle should have kept his big damn nose out of other people's business anyway. So Michael had just pleaded ignorance when he'd been asked for reasons, even though it had clearly agitated his agent. And Peter couldn’t understand why Michael wasn’t going to follow-up legally even though he had ever right in the world.

Not that Peter would want to do anything but slide it under the rug if he knew any sort of potentially image-destroying gayness was involved. Michael had always been pretty much set on fading from the public interest before any of that mattered. More power to Matthew Mitchum, but he'd much rather grace the cover of SI than The Advocate.

There were a few other messages in his box, one from Whitney checking on him and one from his buddy Tyler—most of his was just laughter. "Nice," Michael muttered, pushing out through the doors of the center while thumbing out a text reply of i still look better than ur mom.

"Michael, can you give us a minute?"

He looked up, fingers on his Blackberry, to find a small battery of press waiting for him. "No, sorry." But they followed him across the cracked asphalt toward his car, vultures circling the freshly wounded.

"Are you going to press charges against Mr Deery?"

"It was a misunderstanding," Michael said as he walked, keeping his eyes on his car. "That's all." He unlocked his doors from a good ten feet away and only said a polite thank you before climbing in and closing door and tinted window in their faces. He was only too happy to leave them behind and maybe a little content with the thought that they might catch Bob next.

Michael had only just pulled out of the parking lot when his phone rang from his pocket. The sound of it was like nails on a chalkboard. He checked the screen—ERIK. The last time he’d seen Erik was Thursday night—after Ryan left Erik only stayed long enough to find his clothes before he was gone, too. He hadn’t looked very happy but Michael hadn’t really cared at the time.

He picked up the call. "Yeah."

"I guess your jaw's not broken," Erik answered. "That's a shame."

It was so chipper that Michael had sudden, intense thoughts that included Vendt's ears and an ice pick. This was not something he needed to deal with right now. "I'm hanging up," he said.

"No you—" But that was all Erik got, because Michael did hang up. He didn't need to have that conversation ever, but especially not while his whole body was sore, just off a press-jag, and sweating enough that he was literally sticking to his leather seat. Erik called three more times before giving up; Michael let it ring from the passenger seat.

When he got to his mother's house her Mercedes was in the drive but the lower floor was empty. "Mom," he called up the stairs, "I'm raiding your fridge!" A full stomach could help him cope with anything.

Michael made himself a sandwich and ate it standing over the sink; the protein bar hadn’t done much except take the immediate edge off his hunger. When that was done he made another, this one he put on a plate with chips and grapes and took all of it—plus a glass of milk—to the couch to sit. He turned on the television and stretched his legs out, setting the glass to the side and the plate on his lap.

"...real stand-out during the US Swimming Nationals was Ryan Lochte, four-time medalist at the Beijing games. Perhaps only second in the world to Michael Phelps, Lochte made waves at Nationals, picking up first place in both the 200 Backstroke and the 400 Individual Medley, as well as the 200 Individual Medley, where he broke the world record Phelps set in Beijing. Katie Turner was there to talk to him."

The shot cut away from the ESPN anchor to footage taped maybe Friday night on deck in Indy. Katie Turner was a perky blonde with a reporter's lilt that Michael didn't remember. Next to her was Ryan, his suit rucked down around his hips. He was still damp, his hair sticking out to one side in a wet clump. "I'm here with Ryan Lochte, who has just swept the Individual Medley races, beating out his friend and rival, Michael Phelps. Ryan, there was a lot of buzz last year in Beijing about you being second in the world to only Michael. What do you have to say about that now, after such a great meet?"

Ryan pushed a hand over his hair and shifted his weight. He smiled. "Uh. I mean," and Michael cringed at all the verbal ticks, "I don't know about that. We both... both train really hard, so." Ryan shrugged. "It's just fun to try and hold my own against him."

Katie Turner gave a little smile. "I'd say you did a little more than hold your own tonight, since you just broke his world record."

"Yeah, well." Ryan's face was flushed at his temples and the back of his neck, she must have got him coming right out of the pool. "It was really close, you know? I'm sure he'll just take it back in Rome."

"Speaking of the World Championships, that meet is coming up now in just two weeks. Planning on doing any surfing or skateboarding between now and then?" Oh, she thought she was cute. Michael put his plate to the side and leaned forward.

Ryan cleared his throat and gave an embarrassed, quiet laugh. "Nah. Does Rome have any good waves? Besides, my dad would totally kill me if I got hurt now." Katie Turner laughed.

"Ryan always looks so nice on camera."

Michael nearly fell off the couch he was leaning so far forward. He hadn't even heard his mother come down the stairs. Sitting back, he looked up over his shoulder at her. "Hey."

She ran her hand over the fuzz of his hair. "Your face looks terrible. Did you go to the pool this morning?"

Michael took his plate from the couch and followed his mother to the kitchen, grateful enough to have a reason to turn off the TV. "Yeah. Bob just about killed me trying to prove a point." He slid into a chair at the table.

His mom gave him a look before pulling a pitcher of iced tea out of the fridge and pouring herself a glass. “What point was that?”

"I think it was supposed to be that I should listen to him," Michael said around a mouthful.

Pulling out a chair, his mother sat down across from him and fanned herself a few times with some paperwork that had been sitting on the table, something with her school name at the top. "Was that something you needed to be reminded of?"

"It felt like I was going to die."

"That isn't exactly what I asked." She put the papers down and looked them over.

Michael sat back against his chair and rolled a grape around his plate. "Maybe." After all, they were his words that Bob had used against him. Michael had called Bob a lot of things in thirteen years, but unfair was never one of them. He just hated it when Bob was right so often.

"Have you heard from Kyle?" his mom asked, raising the tea to take a drink.

Michael let the last grape roll away from his finger as he raised his eyes. "Why would I?"

“I thought maybe he’d call to apologize.”

Sitting back, Michael shook his head. “No way. And I’m sure he’s getting banned, so he’ll probably blame that on me, too. I’m not going to hold my breath for an apology.”

His mother shook her head. “Maybe you should talk to Ryan about it.”

"It’s not a problem that Ryan can work out." Michael stood up and walked his plate and cup to the sink. He'd thought that here he would have been able to just chill out without an inquisition, but he was wrong.

“Michael?”

He turned from the sink. “Yeah?” It was resigned.

His mom folded her hands over her papers. “When you’re ready to talk, please remember that I’m here for you.” That was all.

Michael rubbed his forehead. Never got tired, feeling like an asshole. He walked over to the table and kissed his mother's head. "I'll see ya, Mom." She didn’t say anything more, but he felt her eyes on his back all the way to the door.

When Michael was outside he stood against his car and made himself take a few deep breaths.

It had been almost 24 hours now and the only thing that had put Michael in contact with Ryan was the television. He checked his Blackberry as he climbed behind the wheel, swiping a thumb across the screen. Tyler had written back, least my mom can take a punch and Ian had texted him with I hope you're doing all right, but there was nothing from Ryan. Nothing stupid, no questions, no arguments. Nothing at all. He wasn’t sure why he’d expected it.

Michael tossed the phone into the cup holder and started the car to turn on the air. He almost mowed down the neighbor's mailbox backing out of the driveway, never even saw it.

Halfway up the JFK, his phone rang. Michael grabbed for it, muting the song from the steering wheel as he hit SEND without even looking. "Hello?"

"You are my friend, Phelps, but if you hang up on me again I swear to God that it won't be that way for long. And I think that you might need all the friends you can get right now."

Michael breathed out. There was a part of him that had been convinced that Ryan wasn't going to be able to maintain the silence, that it was going to be him on the other line. Not that Michael needed to hear from him. He slouched back against his seat. "Erik."

"Don't sound so happy to hear from me." There was a shuffle on the other end. "You skipped town."

"I was going to be leaving this morning anyway. Peter and Bob thought it best to vacate a little early." He checked his blind spot and moved into the fast lane; someone honked behind him.

"Peter and Bob my fucking ass. And speaking of. I don't mind the occasional romp in the sheets but the next time you use me to break up with someone I'll shove a fist down your throat myself." He sounded pretty serious about the threat.

Michael's temper flared. He banged the steering wheel. "Just wait a fucking moment. In the airport you said that you didn't even care! So when the hell did you grow a conscience?"

"You set that shit up, Phelps. That's playing me as much as it's playing him."

"I didn't know Ryan was going to walk in," he snapped, glancing at the odometer and forcing his foot off of the gas pedal.

"Yeah but you sure hoped he would. Tell me I'm fucking wrong."

There was silence from Michael. He kept his eyes on the road and his fingers tight around the wheel.

"So what I'm saying," Erik continued in a softer tone, "is that I don't want to be in the middle of whatever is fucking you up right now."

"Nothing's fucking me up right now." It was so hot. Michael rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck and wiped it on his shorts, then bumped up the airconditioning.

Erik snorted. "I haven't seen you limp your way through a meet like that in a long time, Phelps. But if you want to go ahead and lie to everyone—probably including yourself—fine. It's not my job to baby-sit you anyway. But you deserved that punch, I hope you know that."

Michael cut back over to the right lane for his exit. "Did you want anything else?"

"Mike—"

"Did you want anything else, Erik?"

"No." It was easy to hear Erik's sigh across the line. "No, nothing else."

"Fine. I'll talk to you later." Michael hung up the phone and punched the steering wheel once he was stopped at a light; it didn't make him feel any better. Big surprise there, since it wasn't shaped like Kyle Deery.

He'd just had sex with Erik, Jesus fucking Christ, it wasn’t like the world was falling down. Michael didn't deserve to be hit, and he didn't deserve to be reamed out over the phone.

He and Ryan, they’d never been exclusive. There had been no promises, no first or last dates... but Michael hadn’t seen anyone else, either. Since Nationals in 2007 until Erik at the airport on Monday there had only ever been Ryan. There was something about that consistency that Michael had come to rely on as much as he hated the dependency of it. He shouldn’t care if Ryan called now or not.

But he’d still jumped for the phone while he’d been thinking about it.

Herman was sitting at the door when Michael got in, his little stump of a tail smacking against the hardwood. "Shit, Herman," Michael murmured. He hadn't even taken him out that morning after Bob's wake-up. He blew a breath through his lips.

The anger of the phone call was ebbing. Michael grabbed the leash from the foyer table. "Come on," he said, holding the door open. "I'm sorry." Herman dragged his back end up and headed sedately down the hall toward the elevator. Michael followed at the same pace.

His mom would have expected him to be apologizing to his friend, not his dog. And Erik did have a right to be mad. Michael hadn't planned for Ryan to walk in on them, but the thought had been there. Maybe he’d been trying to force Ryan into ending things so that he wouldn't have to. Michael punched the down button.

Okay. There was no maybe about it. He'd hoped for it, at least, and if nothing else then that made him a coward, but it also meant he owed Erik an apology. Michael slumped against the elevator wall. Herman leaned against his leg. He didn't understand why it had been so fucking hard to just do it, to tell Ryan that he needed to focus on his swimming.

When the doors opened Herman led the way across the lobby floor. After the chill of the condo and the lobby, walking outside was like walking into a brick wall. Michael felt sweat bead between his shoulder blades and under his arms before he and Herman had even hit the first corner. He loved Baltimore but there was nowhere to go to get away from the heat and humidity that baked up off all the concrete of the city.

"We're gonna make this short, buddy," Michael told Herman. "Like, down the block and back. Don't start sightseeing." He jammed his hat down on his head. As they turned onto Broadway the sun cut through the buildings into slats of bright afternoon glare that wavered in the humidity. Michael ran his thumb over the buttons of his phone as Herman trotted to his destination. After a few building's worth of deliberation, he dialed Erik's number.

"Fancy hearing from you," was the answer.

Michael ignored the tone and got what needed to be said out before he changed his mind about it. "I'm sorry."

"Grown-ups usually talk out their feelings."

"I am seriously not in the mood here," Michael muttered, leading Herman away from a fire hydrant. “Just accept the damn apology, because I mean it.”

Erik barked a quiet laugh. "Fine, fine. Apology accepted and thank you. So are you gonna tell me what's up, too? One big cathartic release?"

Michael shrugged and glanced up into the glare of the sun before dropping his eyes again. He stopped at a red light and waited to cross. The sidewalk was warm through his flip-flops. "You ever feel like a relationship has messed with your swimming?"

Erik's burst of laughter sounded harsh through the phone. "Are you serious?"

"Fuck, I'm so glad I said something," Michael said. He shook his head. "Forget it. Just forget it." He tugged Herman back when he tried to step off the curb. "I'll talk to you later."

"Wait wait wait, come on, Mike." There was still a laugh in the words, but Erik had swallowed most of it. "Look, Ryan, right?"

Michael maintained a stony silence before sighing. "Yeah Ryan."

"Mike, Ryan doesn't mess with your swimming. I thought you had a good reason for going your own way. Cheating is sort of a crappy way of saying 'I don't love you anymore.'"

The cross light changed and Michael squinted both ways before stepping into the road, Herman trotting ahead. "That's stupid. First, it wasn’t cheating. And you keep saying that we're in love, but—"

"He is."

Michael stopped in the middle of the crosswalk. The numbers below the lit man counted down, people stepped past him. Herman waited, looking back up at Michael and panting. "What?"

"He is in love with you.

A laugh worked its way up Michael's throat and it startled him into moving. He elbowed past an Orioles fan and shook his head. "That's retarded."

"You're retarded," Erik said evenly. "That boy is stupid in love with you."

Michael laughed again, but this time it felt like something was stuck in his throat. "No way."

On the other end of the line Erik made a rude noise. "You were there Thursday night too, weren't you? Or did you just close your eyes and pray for it to be over?"

"Don't be an asshole," Michael muttered.

"You're the asshole," Erik said. "I'm serious. Did you not look at him when he walked in, or did you just not see, man? That's why I was pissed off. I figured if you were fucking me then he had to be fucking other people too, but no way. You two were as much as a couple as you could have been without fucking promise rings."

Michael’s stomach cramped, an uncomfortable feeling low in his gut. "I don't know what you're talking about,” he said. “Ryan and I were just sleeping together. There were no strings attached."

Erik’s laugh was low and ugly. “Spare me the bullshit, here. Or better yet, just shut up and listen since you don’t seem capable of owning up to the truth. You guys had a lot more going on then bumping boots, enough at the very least that you stopped fucking me. And that’s enough string to hang yourself with, Mike. You cheated on Ryan. I know so, and I know for a fact that Kyle knows so.”

"Even if I did,” Michael cut in, “it's the same in the end. Maybe I should have done it better but what matters is that he was interfering with my swimming. You watched the meet. I sucked."

Background noises filtered through the earpiece. Murmurs of voices, traffic. Different city, same sounds. Herman sniffed around a stretch of grass at the base of a tree. Michael stood in the dappled, shifting shadows of the leaves with his head down.

"Don't pretend that you haven't had shitty meets before," Erik said. "And the highlight of your emotional investment at those times was my dick occasionally up your ass. Mike, look. I know you, man. I know your swimming." His voice had sobered. "And despite what everyone thinks about you being the golden boy of the aquatic world—and I will never forgive Rowdy Gaines for calling you 'magical'—I know that there are times when you're just off."

"I know that there are times when you can't pull yourself out of your own head. You get so fucking hung up that it's like you're unreachable. It's goddamn OCD is what it is,” Eric muttered. “You get your head around an idea and that's it. That is it. And sometimes it's a great thing, shit, Mike, you did what no one else could do for swimming."

Michael felt a 'but' coming.

"But sometimes it's a really bad thing."

"And you think this is one of those times," he said.

Erik was silent for a moment. A car honked somewhere in Indianapolis. "Yeah, Mike. I do. I think that this is one of those times.” There was a pause. “So Kyle decked you because Ryan told him about us? That was on a delay."

Herman stood up and scratched at some of the dying, yellow grass in the three by one rectangle of what passed for a Baltimore park. Michael scratched at the side of his neck. "Actually I think Kyle punched me because I called off things with Ryan for good."

"That's a fucked-up game of telephone. Wait, you mean him catching you with your hand around my dick didn't work?" The sarcasm on that was thicker than the humidity baking up from the concrete.

"Funny enough, it didn't." Michael tore a leaf off the tree and followed Herman as he turned and headed automatically back toward the condo. It might have been the first time in a month that he'd taken this walk, but he remembered it.

"Jesus, that kid really does love you, Mike."

Ryan in love with him? Really in love with him? Love, love? Michael rubbed his face and tugged down the brim of his hat. "I don't know if I can deal with that."

"So you're scared."

"Fuck you. I just mean that I need to be swimming not, like, picking window hangings."

"Really? One—you're the least queer queer I know, so I doubt a grown-up commitment on your part would involve valences. If anything you two would have the ugliest place ever because I know for a fact your idea of decorating is a flat screen and last night’s Chinese boxes. Two—just because you're with the guy doesn't mean that you have to buy a cottage together and play My Two Dads."

Which is exactly what Michael had accused Ryan of wanting. More or less. "That's what normal people do."

"You really are an asshole. Since when the hell have you ever been normal? Since when have you ever followed the crowd?"

Fuck. But Ryan was so laid back. He missed drug tests. He spread his attention around. He was stupid about being smart when it came to his life. "I don't know," Michael finally admitted. It felt like admittance, anyway.

"Well, maybe you should figure it out." Erik sighed. "And I'm done being fucking Cupid for the day. Get your shit straight, Mike. You got Rome in less than a week and Ryan is gonna be there too because he swam a better meet than you did."

Michael shook his head and yanked on the leash lightly to pull Herman's interest away from a Yorkie across the street. "Thanks for reminding me."

"There's always Worlds," Erik said.

"There's always Worlds," Michael echoed. "I'll talk to ya later." He clicked out of the call, jingling Herman's leash with the other hand. “There’s always the next race,” he said to his dog.

Michael wondered if he was the only one who didn’t believe that. One day there wouldn’t be a next race, one day there wouldn’t be any more races. And his goals were written one year at a time. There was no sheet titled, “After Swimming.”

Michael scrolled through his phone as Herman lead him off the curb. He sent Bob his goal sheets electronically now, and he always sent a copy to himself—one to keep at home and one to keep with him for backup. He pulled it up on his phone and looked over the numbers; times he’d hardly gotten in his sights at Nationals. Nothing he was feeling confident about hitting at Worlds. The next race, right.

The squeal of hydraulic brakes filled the street, screaming and hissing off the buildings. Michael’s head jerked up and the large, squat front end of a city bus filled the view under the brim of his hat. He watched it come, frozen to the spot. There wasn’t even time for his life to flash before his eyes. He was going to die and there would be no more races, ever.

The bus stopped less than five feet from him with the smell of burning rubber. Michael stumbled back a few steps with his heart smacking in his chest, dragging Herman with him. Through the high-set window, the bus driver had a hand over her chest and was yelling something at him but Michael shook his head, taking another step back out from in front of the bus. And another. He was lucky, holy shit he was lucky. He could have been under the bus, under the tires.

Herman barked and Michael looked up. With the glare of the sun at his back he was able to see the car peel out around the bus, but seeing it didn’t change anything. There still wasn’t enough time for his life to flash before his eyes.

That was fine, but then there was nothing to distract him from the pain.



Tie My Hands, Part 11: When Ryan Thinks Everything Just Sucks.


Comments

( 57 comments — Leave a comment )
24ko
Feb. 23rd, 2009 03:55 am (UTC)
The conversation with Erik was fantastic. I'm glad to see the wheels in Mike's head FINALLY turning. Speaking of wheels, the big ol' karma bus (slash car) finally arrived, I see. Can't wait for the next chapter!
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:05 am (UTC)
Well, he can't be a gigantic asshole forever, because then there wouldn't be a happy ending. ^_^ <333
sexy_cheetah
Feb. 23rd, 2009 03:58 am (UTC)
DAMN YUO FOR MAKING ME FEEL SYMPATHY FOR MIKE!


And mad proprs for Erik. He was the voice of reason here, and I am glad that HE atleast feels bad for ryan.


I was big time :( at Mike being sad at the boys choosing sides.


All in all? So SO AMAZING!
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
Thank you! And yeah, I never wanted to make Erik the villain. He was just in the wrong place at the right time. And no ~_^ Herman was not hurt in the accident, don't worry.
sexy_cheetah
Feb. 23rd, 2009 04:00 am (UTC)
PS: Herman better survive the accident!
tragycbeauty
Feb. 23rd, 2009 04:09 am (UTC)
Oh man I was fidgeting so much while he was on the phone with Erik because I knew something bad was going to happen. And when the bus stopped I let out a breath from relief, which completely floored me when the car came.
Also, this was a hallelujah moment for me:
"Really? One—you're the least queer queer I know, so I doubt a grown-up commitment on your part would involve valences. If anything you two would have the ugliest place ever because I know for a fact your idea of decorating is a flat screen and last night’s Chinese boxes. Two—just because you're with the guy doesn't mean that you have to buy a cottage together and play My Two Dads."
Sing it, Erik.
Can't wait for the next chapter!
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
I'm kinda jonesing on Erik being Mike's voice of reason. He has to do something to redeem himself, anyway, lol. And I'm happy to know that the car kinda caught you off guard, because it's hard to write something like that and make someone genuinely surprised at it. Thanks. ^_____^
darklyscarlett
Feb. 23rd, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)
Love, love, love the Erik Vendt parts, especially for calling MP on his shit (and Rowdy Gaines for being an annoying, fawning fanboy on NBC). Glad he wasn't a douche about his part in all of this, and for reading the whole story in Ryan's face in that moment.

Can't wait to see how it all comes together.

Bitty quibble: It's Kyle Deery ;D

Edited at 2009-02-23 04:12 am (UTC)
caelumi
Feb. 23rd, 2009 04:19 am (UTC)
I'm so not even awake to comment tonight, but I went and gave Kyle his proper name. THANK YOU, lol. It makes so much sense now why I could never find him on Google. *head desks*
(no subject) - darklyscarlett - Feb. 23rd, 2009 04:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - caelumi - Feb. 24th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - darklyscarlett - Feb. 24th, 2009 12:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - caelumi - Feb. 24th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - leidy - Feb. 24th, 2009 02:13 am (UTC) - Expand
nilla
Feb. 23rd, 2009 04:20 am (UTC)
OHNOYOUDIDN'T! THERE ARE TWO THINGS SACRED IN THE WORLD! PETS AND MOMS! IF HERMAN DOESN'T SURVIVE I WILL TRACK YOU DOWN AND CUT YOU! REMEMBER, I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE! TRUFAX! *KISSU KISSU*
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
HO HO! 2ND WIFE IS NOT AFRAID OF YOU! <33333333333333
annadraper
Feb. 23rd, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!!!
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
<333333333333333333333
blacksoul89
Feb. 23rd, 2009 04:51 am (UTC)
...oh fuck. I'm in love with this story.
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)
<333 Glad to be of service!!
suomynonakun
Feb. 23rd, 2009 05:05 am (UTC)
!!!!!

Okay so I've been doing the secret obsessive lurk for quite a while with this story here, but that damn ending brought back all kinds of horrifying flashbacks so I had to comment. If you're looking for the inside scoop on how they treat ped v. motorvehicle victims, feel free to ping me, I've got all the good stuff, from the ambulance to the ER! (Yes! Yhey DO do rectal exams after cutting off all your clothes!)

Now that that's said - I just want to take Ryan and squeeze him. He's such a cutie sad panda. And I'm glad Mike might finally be starting to GET it.
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC)
You were waaaaaay too happy to divulge that rectal exam information, that's all I gotta say. That and AHAHAHA I didn't know you swang the swimmer fandom. ^_^

*loves hardcore on my Neut*
(no subject) - suomynonakun - Feb. 24th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - leidy - Feb. 24th, 2009 02:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nilla - Feb. 24th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suomynonakun - Feb. 24th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - leidy - Feb. 24th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suomynonakun - Feb. 24th, 2009 04:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - caelumi - Feb. 24th, 2009 11:55 am (UTC) - Expand
choklit_latte
Feb. 23rd, 2009 06:49 am (UTC)
O.M.G. I think I'm in love with Bob and Erik a little bit in this chapter, but you just fried my brain so I'll have to come back later to give more coherent feedback. Dayam!
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 01:12 am (UTC)
^____^ *wraps brain with aloe padding* I'm a little bit in love with Bob and Erik in this chapter too. Mike just needed to have a bit of a reckoning and they were the men to give it to him. <333
agape_eternal
Feb. 23rd, 2009 10:07 am (UTC)
O_o

You really hate me don't you? LOL I've been waiting so long and then you give me this...TO MAKE ME FEEL SORRY FOR THAT ASSHOLE!

Seriously though, it's great. I hope Mike's ok and Ryan comes to his rescue and all that good shit :D

*pets poor Herman* Sorry bud :/
agape_eternal
Feb. 23rd, 2009 10:12 am (UTC)
oh yeah, and why am I so damn tempted to make a Fanmix for this story? GAH!

All your fault!
(no subject) - caelumi - Feb. 24th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - agape_eternal - Feb. 27th, 2009 10:41 am (UTC) - Expand
lenaorgana
Feb. 23rd, 2009 10:41 am (UTC)
"It's a guy thing," he muttered without looking at her. "Sometimes it just happens."

Like when you fuck over someone, and his pit-bull best friend comes after you.


I wish “girl things” came with pit-bull friends like Kyle. I could use one right about now, heh. ;)

"Get used to that word then, because it's what you're going to hear when you ask me if we're going to Worlds."

Ouch, Mike, burned by Bob, and burned hard. Haha.

Michael bent down and took a moment to appreciate the unconditional love of his dog; Herman's tail was wagging his whole body. He grabbed the folds of skin around Herman's scruff and let the dog lick his face.

Aww, Herman. Seriously, sometime only the unconditional love and a lick from a furry-faced friend is the only thing in the world that can cheer a depressed person up.

"That boy is stupid in love with you."

Michael laughed again, but this time it felt like something was stuck in his throat. "No way."


Oh, Michael. Not seeing the truth in front of him because he didn’t want to. Thank you, Erik, for getting through to him on that one. Thank you for “playing cupid.”


“Mr. Foodie” is so much better than what I refer to GWG…”cooking boy” (when you live with two collegiate swimmers, you quickly learn you need to come up with code names for National/Olympic ones, or they learn of your obsession and make fun of you).

Peter being the moral center, whether that’s how PVK is in real life or not, fits really well. When he and Ryan had their talk on the way to the vending machine a few chapters back, that seemed so in character with him and for Michael to see that too, I have hope that he’ll realize what he needs to come to terms with in order to be happy and to become the person Ryan sees in him.

Debbie is a smart woman and I hope Michael feels he can open up to her soon. She would have some great words of wisdom and advice for her boy, no doubt. Since I have a soft spot for Kyle "The Butler" Deery, I hope he doesn't get banned, just a suspension. He really was only looking out for his best bud...hurting Ry Ry.


(And I’ll have you know I did my reading for tomorrow’s classes in advance, so as not to procrastinate studious work with reading porn. ;P)



…Ryan Lochte, four-time Olympian at the Beijing games

Did you mean medalist?


caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
"Girl-things" do come with pitbulls, you just have to find the right person. I'll rip a throat if it's messing with my friends... however, I haven't ever punched anyone. ^_^ <3 (I do hope that everything's okay...)

The chapter title actually was inspired by that Herman-quote. My editor said the same thing that you did, about focusing on that unconditional love.

"Cooking boy" cracks me up. ^___^ Mr Foodie, I have to admit, is more on a pretentious note. I don't love GWG, but I try not to be unfair to him.

Just listening to PVK makes me think that he's one of those people who just... is naively good to a fault and probably gets shit on for it. And I really did try to write him as someone who's known Mike for a while and understands his faults while still being a good friend despite it.

Debbie has words of wisdom to come. ^^ I'm looking forward to writing it.

And, first, yay you! Being a good student. And second, not porn this chapter. Still not educational, but not porn. ~_^

Yes. I did. Thank you.

pas_un_elephant
Feb. 23rd, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
Erik is so awesome. This story is also awesome :-)
Actually, I like how you're using a lot of other people, and it's not just the Mike and Ryan show, because that's totally how it is during messy break-ups.
I wanted to smack Michael for most of the chapter, but now I'm so worried...
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 01:50 am (UTC)
Putting the other guys in it not only keeps it interesting, but it gives Mike and Ryan different sounding boards. Because you're right, everybody and their mom wants to stick their nose in.

^_^ He'll live. That's all I can promise.
ivebeenburgled
Feb. 23rd, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
The thing is, you've made me sympathize a bit with Mike in this chapter but still, I WANT TO SMACK THE SHIT OUT OF HIM. I cannot wait for the next part, as always. :D
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 01:51 am (UTC)
They're not always mutually exclusive, sympathy and ass-kicking. ^_^

<33333
wendies
Feb. 23rd, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
U=Best writer of Phlocte EVAH!
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
Hehehe. #^_^ Hopefully I can keep it up. Thanks <3
smellyleaf
Feb. 24th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
Oh my God, I cannot write my usual long ass comment because I JUST HAD A HEART ATTACK WHEN MICHAEL GOT HIT BY THE CAR.

IF HERMAN DIES, I WILL CRY. REAL, HUMAN TEARS.
smellyleaf
Feb. 24th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
Oh, I'd just like you to know:

When I read "Get used to that word then, because it's what you're going to hear when you ask me if we're going to Worlds."

I went, "OOOOHHHHHHH, SNAP!" out loud.
(no subject) - caelumi - Feb. 24th, 2009 01:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smellyleaf - Feb. 24th, 2009 02:04 am (UTC) - Expand
cataroo
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC)
Ahh, this just keeps getting better! And seriously, Herman better be ok.

Loved Erik helping Mike see the light through his thick head. Gah, I hope the next chapter goes up soon!
caelumi
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
Herman is fine. ^_^ And *knocks on wood* with what I got written today, it looks like *knocks on wood again* the next chapter will go up on time next Sunday.

<333 Thank you.
entropygoddess
Feb. 25th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
I got nothin' coherent. You rock. If this is not the real character of each of these people, well, in an alternate universe it COULD be - you have no cardboard characters and you never make the reader into a cabbagehead with stodgy exposition. PVK = moral compass = yes. Real LOL at “So seriously, what’s up with your face? I know you’re an uncoordinated mother fucker when it comes to standing up, but that looks like a fist to me.”
caelumi
Feb. 26th, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)
*squishes with love and laughs* Thank you. ^___^ It's just alot of fun to stick the guys in there and try to make them dynamic... A story this long with just Mike and Ryan would seriously be as boring to read as it would be to write.

<333
swimboys
Feb. 25th, 2009 05:35 am (UTC)
I usually just leave short OMG! comments because I'm too busy with work and because I'm usually thinking OMG! but seriously, this is some amazing writing! The story is so real, your writing is so descriptive and has great style! I just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed it so far!

Now, of course, I'm betting you to save Herman, Michael(ever if he's a major jerk so far) and help him find true love with Ryan! Nothing like back seat writers, huh?! lol

Big hugs!!!
caelumi
Feb. 26th, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
^______^ Herman is safe. And at this point while Michael probably deserves like, terrible horrible injuries, they won't be life-threatening.

Thank you! <33 Glad you're enjoying.
azewewish
Mar. 1st, 2009 05:39 am (UTC)
Yeah, I still want to beat the shit out of Mike, although I'm hoping his injuries are enough to make that feeling pass. And that Herman's alright, because he shouldn't have to pay for Mike's BS.

I might still be slightly in love with how stupidly retarded both of these guys are. And still wanting to smack them both upside the head. *g*
caelumi
Mar. 2nd, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
Totally acceptable, wanting to smack them. ^^ And Herman's fine. <333
annadraper
Mar. 2nd, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
It's me again, LOL. Every Sunday like clockwork!

Do you have an estimated time of arrival for the next one? :)
caelumi
Mar. 2nd, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
Really hoping in under an hour because I need to get up early my bed is calling out its siren song...
( 57 comments — Leave a comment )