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Title: Tie My Hands (9/?)
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: A thank-you to all the readers; your love is no small part of what keeps this going.


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

Tie My Hands, Part 9: When Ryan Feels Like a Chew Toy

Ryan walks out.

He just can't think of anything else to do, or say. He's never been hit by a car before, but he imagines that it must go something like this. The surprise of it. The way the pain sinks in slow as your head catches up with what happened. He can't remember the word for it, but he's sure that he's right.

Ryan stops in the hall and curls his arms up around his head, fingers grabbing his hair for a moment. Fuck! What the hell just happened? He drops his arms and smacks the wall with an open palm. The sting of it kinda helps keep away the real hurt that's trying to seep in through the cracks.

Mike fucked Erik at the airport. Monday. Monday he fucked Erik and then he let Ryan go down on him in the closet at the restaurant. That was why he didn't have a condom in his wallet. Closing his eyes, Ryan pushes his forehead hard against the hallway paper, feeling the raised patterns dig into his skin. Monday wasn't what he thought it was, it wasn't and yeah, he gets that now. Mike being quiet and weird at the table wasn't because of the approaching meet. And Mike taking him back to the closet, it wasn't for a quickie.

God, he is so fucking stupid. Ryan pulls fingers against the back of his neck and knees the wall. Mike's been trying to dump him for a week and he goes and asks him to be boyfriends.

Ryan pushes himself off the wall and heads down the hallway. Then he walks back, because he should just storm in there and tell Mike that they were totally more than just fuck-buddies for two years and they both know it. That they might not have been boyfriends or whatever but they were something and that something was really fucking good and Mike should grow up and fucking be happy when Ryan wins a race.

He even puts a hand on the doorknob.

It was my choice to fuck Erik. I wanted to.

Who is he kidding? It isn’t just the race. And Ryan isn’t sure when Mike stopped wanting to be with him, but the thought hurts. It hurts more than all the broken bones and concussions that Ryan has ever given himself.

His arm drops. Blindsided. That was the word. And he feels like an idiot because he walked right into it. Ryan looks at the door like maybe Mike will open it instead. Mike might come out and slide his arms around Ryan's shoulders and be like just kidding. And Ryan would be pissed but... not too pissed.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck. He's mad at himself for even thinking it.

Ryan makes himself walk. He'll go wherever. But still, he's listening as he goes, listening for the sound of Mike's footsteps, his stride wide to catch up. When Ryan reaches the stairwell he looks back.

The hallway is empty.

It's like there's this band around his chest, squeezing, and Ryan makes it down one flight of concrete steps before it feels like he can't breathe and he puts his back to the wall and sinks to the landing. He pushes his head against his raised knees and the heels of his hands against his eyes but he can still hear Mike, can still see what he looked like when he said I don't want to be with you.

The heels of his hands at least help with the way his eyes sting. Ryan wipes his nose on his sleeve and digs fingers into his hair. Where is he supposed to sleep? There's no way he can go back even if it is his room too, though he'll have to get his stuff before the races tomorrow. Except suddenly the races don't seem all that important.

Maybe Mike is right. Maybe he doesn't think. Ryan caught Mike with Erik and maybe he should have been pissed or all-knowing of what that meant at a deeper level, but really, it had just made him jealous. He couldn't be mad because they'd technically never said they couldn’t sleep with other people. Ryan, like a dummy, just hadn't. And it makes him feel even stupider to wonder about the other guys that Mike's maybe fucked in the last two years.

The only thing that Ryan wants is Mike. He loves Mike. And the only thing Mike loves (aside from like, his mom and sisters and dog) is swimming. Ryan feels so fucking stupid.

He rubs his eyes and then picks at his shoelaces. His heart is still beating too hard, like a rock rattling around in his ribcage. And it hurts. Like the rock has all these sharp edges that don't dull down no matter how much it goes around.

He waits, but it doesn't stop hurting, and his ass is cold sitting on the concrete so Ryan eventually gets up. He takes the steps down one at a time, dragging fingers over white-washed brick until he’s on the Gator’s floor; Ryan loves his dad, but his dad doesn’t feel like an option for this. His mom’s not here. And even though the Vanderkaays look out for him, they’re Wolverines.

He knocks on Kyle's door and wipes his nose on his palm.

The smile that his friend is wearing when he pulls open the door falls and Ryan wonders what he looks like. Kyle always says he wears his heart on his sleeve. "Uh. Can I stay here tonight?"

"You're fucking kidding me," Kyle says, and Ryan guesses that means he's taken a pretty good guess at things. Not that it's really all that hard, right, if he's asking to spend the night. "What did he do?"

Ryan opens his mouth to defend Mike again—it's like a stupid default setting or something—but Kyle's looking at him, he looks angry for him, and Ryan feels more like an idiot than ever because he starts to cry.

Kyle pulls him into the room and closes the door. "I'm gonna kill him. I'm going to reach into his big fucking mouth and rip out his heart and... goddamnit, sit down you're dripping snot all over... " He's talking as he walks into the bathroom, coming back with a fistful of toilet paper. “...and then I'm going to set it on fire before I shove it down a garbage disposal.” Ryan takes the wad and blows his nose as Kyle stands in front of him with his arms crossed over his chest.

"I'm okay." Except his chest still feels like Carter's been using it for a chew toy. He folds the toilet paper over and mashes it against his eyes.

"Bullshit," Kyle says.

Ryan crumbles the handful and wipes his nose on the back of his wrist. "I'm okay." He looks around. "Where's Jason?"

"Up with Gregg, lucky for you." Kyle sinks onto the edge of the bed and makes it his job to look concerned.

Ryan pushes a smile onto his face. "Really okay."

"Really bullshit," Kyle just shoots back. "What happened? What the fuck did he do to you?"

And Ryan doesn't want to talk about it. Doesn't want to repeat it all just to maybe have Kyle go I told you so before he remembers not to rub it in. Ryan shakes his head and stands up, throws out the toilet paper and runs the sink to wash his face. He wishes that he had a headband—just another thing left back in the room with Mike. "So I can stay tonight?" He looks back at Kyle over the edge of a handtowel.

"Course you can." Kyle fists a hand and hits his knee lightly. Then he leans back over the bed and picks up the phone off the nightstand. "Hey, yeah. I need a rollaway in 322. Thanks."

Ryan tosses the towel on the counter and rubs his chest. He's quiet. Kyle's quiet. And it just gets a little too quiet so Ryan says, "I mean, you know what you said at home? About us... being together?" He doesn't want to say boyfriends. Doesn't want to say it in his head, doesn't want to say it out loud. Doesn't want to say it anymore at all.

Kyle only nods.

"Well, we're not. That's all."

Kyle wants to pry. Ryan knows he does. But he just shakes his head, calls Mike an asshole under his breath, and sits back against the headboard. "Sit down. We'll watch TV until the bed comes."

It's nice not to have to explain it, nice to have someone who will let it go for now. Ryan drops onto the bed and pushes himself back to sit next to Kyle against the headboard. He doesn't think there's any way that it's going to be an easy sleep tonight, but he's dozing before they've even settled on a channel.

In the morning after an alarm goes off Ryan vaguely remembers someone pulling off his shoes the night before, because they're not on his feet. He rubs his eyes and turns to look over the edge of the bed—Kyle's on the rollaway. In the other bed, Jason's smacking the alarm.


Ryan rolls onto his back and closes his eyes. Maybe he can just... stay. In bed, in the hotel room.

Right. Until Worlds? Until the next time he's bound to see Mike? That's just stupid. He has to get up and swim and he'll figure out the rest as he goes along. Because it's not a big deal. It's just... It's a...

He jams the heels of his hands into his eyes and exhales. It's a big deal. Ryan feels like he's lost a best friend along with everything else. Mike is the guy he calls first when anything happens—good, bad, all of it. Every single bit of it. So to get himself out of bed he tells himself that it might be different today. Mike had a night to sleep on it, maybe, you know. Maybe. Because Mike is like that; he'll flip his shit and then calm down and be rational, apologetic. Yeah.

But Ryan doesn't want an apology. He wants Mike.

Ryan pushes his feet into his sneakers and doesn't look at Jason or Kyle as he soft-steps across the room.

"Where're you going?" Kyle's voice is low, but serious.

Ryan turns in the doorway, rubs a thumb against the edge of the partially opened door. "I gotta get my suit." It isn't a lie, anyway.


"I'll see you on deck." Ryan closes the door behind him. And he tells himself that he's walking kinda fast because he doesn't want Kyle following him, not because of where he's going. But he's got his key out before he even gets off the elevator, flipping it over and over in his hand.

The door opens quick, aided by the shove of a shoulder. Ryan's heart is trying to choke him. "Mike?" The shades are open. Beds empty, one still made. Ryan checks the bathroom. Mike's not here. His deck duffel's gone, too.

Ryan sits on the edge of his bed and put his head in his hands. It's just after six, which means Mike got up and left the room earlier than normal. Probably just so he wouldn't be here when Ryan showed up. Ryan rubs his chest and wonders how he's gonna swim with that dull ache.

It takes him a while to get moving again, to get his deck duffle and change into his warm-ups and flops. He keeps hearing the things that Mike said the night before and he can't shut them off; it's like bad department-store music. They follow him out the door and down the hall. He thinks about them at breakfast, instead of paying attention to his dad and coach. Out the door. To the pool.

Mike's already in the water when Ryan gets on deck, swimming a warm-up. Ryan stretches for too long to the beat of It's not working. He takes his swim two lanes down from Mike with the tune of I'm through making stupid choices because of you pushing him on.

He figures his brain would get tired of hashing up the same ten minutes worth of conversation, but it just never seems to happen. It's like when Devon fell in love with Baby Spice when he was little and put the Spice Girls CD on repeat until Ryan broke it and blamed the dog. Except he can't do that now. Maybe it's karmic.

Mike doesn't say a word to him. Well, doesn't say a word to anybody—he's plugged in. He’s plugged in on deck and he’s plugged in at lunch. Not that it's different than any other day but it feels different to Ryan. Mike sits at a corner table with Bob and keeps his head down and Ryan catches himself looking at Mike even though Mike is definitely not looking at him, he's sure of that. Eventually Cullen blocks his view.

"Hey," Ryan says, unfolding his arms from across his chest and leaning back. He puts down his fork; not like he was using it anyway. "What's up?"

"You've been sitting here and staring at Michael." Cullen says it quietly, at least. "Are you okay?"

Ryan blows it off with a smile. "Yeah, course. Why wouldn't I be?" It's hard to say the words, like he has to pull the lie up from somewhere deep and it leaves a hollow sort of pain behind. But he's still smiling.

Cullen must be finished eating because he doesn’t have a tray. Ryan’s kinda been poking around, truth be told. His dad finally got tired of waiting and left the table a few minutes ago. Cullen takes his empty seat. "Because you've been off for the last two days, man," he says.

Ryan shakes his head and pushes some fries around his plate. "It's all good."

There's silence for long enough that Ryan thinks maybe Cullen will leave. But he doesn't. He takes one of Ryan's fries. "Pete knows something—you can't tell me he doesn't because he's got that look. You know, when he gets worry lines.” Cullen demonstrates by squeezing his forehead a bit. “And if he's worried, then I'm worried. So what’s up?”

There’s no reason to go and tell Cullen, too. “Nothing.”

“If you just tell me then I can stop making up worst-case scenarios in my head," Cullen says, holding up a finger. "Your mom's sick."

Ryan makes a low noise. "No! Dude. Not even."

Another finger is held up. "Your dog's sick."

"No one is sick." Ryan sits back and crosses his arms over his chest. “Don’t jinx anything, man.”

"Tell me what's going on, Ryan, or I'm just going to keep guessing."

Ryan traces the edge of the table with the pads of his fingers. So maybe Pete didn't spill any beans but it looks like he didn't need to. Ryan doesn't want anyone to be worried about him, so. "It's just that Mike kinda..." fell out of his clothes and into Erik, yeah. "Uh. He forgot to stick the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, you know?" The edge of the table is really interesting. Ryan picks at it with a thumbnail.

Cullen sits forward. "Wait. I thought you two had been together for a while now."

That hurts. Ryan tightens his arms across his chest, like the pressure can make it stop. He shakes his head and tries to smile. "Nah, man. We were like, whatever. Don't worry about it." Ryan shakes his head. "It's cool, really."

He doesn't get a smile in return, doesn't get a clap on the arm or an okay—empty or otherwise. "It's not cool," Cullen says. "Who?"

"It doesn't matter who." Ryan raises his eyes; Cullen is looking like he wants to break something, and Ryan’s thinking it's not a record. "It is what it is, okay? Just. Leave it, please." He pushes a foot against the leg of the table.

Cullen pauses before shaking his head like it's totally against his better judgment. "For now. Only because of the meet."

"For ever," Ryan says. "Dude."

Cullen points a finger at Ryan. "You said you were my brother by another mother, right?" And that's pretty completely random. Ryan would laugh but it doesn't seem like Cullen means it as a joke so he just nods instead. Cullen still looks serious, really serious, when he says, "I don't let my brothers get messed with."

Ryan's throat gets tight. "I'm okay."

"Anyone ever tell you that you're a crappy liar, man?" Cullen huffs something that could be a laugh but is probably just disbelief. "Because you really are."

Ryan sighs. He's so not hungry anymore. "Look, just leave it alone?"

Cullen nods as he stands up, but he glances over his shoulder at Mike. “For now.” He turns back and squeezes Ryan’s shoulder. "That's all I can promise."

After he's gone Ryan pushes the tray out of the way and puts his head down on the table. It's not that he doesn't appreciate Cullen getting his back, but he doesn't need to like, call down the Black Thunder for this. Ryan's pretty sure that kicking the shit out of Mike would be a bad idea for a couple reasons, the first of which being that he didn't do anything that he said he wouldn't and the second of which being that he's Michael Phelps and like, there's always a camera or five following him around.

Bad idea. He needs to make sure that Cullen knows that. And back on deck later for finals Ryan realizes that Cullen isn’t the only one who needs to be made aware that he will survive fine without intervention. He’s working on stretching his hamstrings and sees Alex watching him. Garrett’s doing the same thing whenever they’re in a line of sight; Pete too. And Ryan’s pretty sure Matt makes an extra and totally unnecessary circuit around the deck just so that he can check that Ryan isn't being, like, publicly abused or something. His coach reams him out when he finally gets to where he was supposed to be in the first place.

It's a distraction that actually does its job until Ryan is in the ready room and lined up staring at Mike's shoulderblades; it's the closest Mike's been to him all day. Of course now everything from the night before is loud and clear again and that rock is back, rattling around like nobody's business. Ryan rubs at his chest and stares at his toes instead of Mike's skin, because he wants to close the gap between them. It feels weird, and wrong, to not be able to reach out and touch Mike, to laugh, to share a word before the race.

He raises his eyes and focuses on the little birthmark just over the band of Mike’s swimsuit, so light it’s barely there. But he knows about it. It would be so easy to touch it. It’s so close. His hand starts to rise.

Something bumps his elbow and Ryan jumps and glances over his shoulder; Matt’s standing there behind Aaron, hand still half-raised. He smiles. But the line is moving out onto the deck and Ryan just pushes the corners of his mouth up into something that feels like a smile. Matt doesn’t look convinced, but there’s no time for it.

Ryan shakes himself out—trying to shake all the bad stuff out—and drops into the water for the 200 Back. He fixes his goggles before grabbing the block's rung. He glances to his right just once to see Mike's profile, eyes ahead and lips a thin line. To Ryan's left is Aaron, and to Aaron's left is Matt. It's a deep field. Ryan straightens out and pulls himself up to the block.

Do you not care? But Ryan does. He cares about swimming, just maybe not in the same way as others do, as Mike does. Not for the next endorsement, or how far he can push the sport, or even himself. He does it for the friendships, he does it for the adrenaline, he does it for the way it makes his life fuller.

But it isn’t his life. It isn’t the only thing there is.

The gun carries him off the wall and back into the water on muscle memory and reflex and he stops thinking about anything but the execution, about pushing his body. For a little under two minutes, as fast as he can make it, Ryan is able to forget about everything except that Aaron's with him at the first wall, and the second. Mike's on his blind side. For as shitty as Ryan's felt all day, during the race there's, like, a suspension. He just goes. And then goes harder. Lets all everything pour out and push him until he feels like he’s flying.

The wall comes fast and Ryan turns, tugging off his goggles to look. Like it will be proof in yellow numbers that he belongs as much as Mike, that he cares as much in his own way. He doesn't even see the rankings at first, but the times down the list. He's in at 1:54:02, just off his world record. Matt's got 1:54:11 and Aaron 1:54.16.

Mike stands at 1:54:98.

Now Ryan forgets his own numbers, just stares at that fourth place time next to Mike's name. Somebody's reaching over the lane line to pat him on the back but the touch is ignored as Ryan turns toward Mike's lane. Broad shoulders are set, with Mike's face turned into the wall. "Mike—"

"Fuck off."

Ryan recoils from the venom in the words. That something in him that had hoped, that had wanted Mike to grin and be like, good job! I was wrong, Ryan, I'm sorry... That part of him is curling into a ball so tight and it hurts so bad that Ryan can hardly breathe. He's smiling but he doesn't feel the expression on his face, doesn't feel Aaron's hand slide off his back. He just watches Mike forgo the ladder and pull himself up out of the pool. He watches water slide off that body that he’d touched, like, a million times. That he wanted to touch a million more.

His arms should be burning but Ryan feels numb and he pulls himself out of the pool after Mike. It can’t be like this. If he could just get out what he wants to say, if he could just explain it right, Mike would understand.

It's been a great meet, he just won his last race... And he feels so hollow that he doesn't care about anything except making that feeling stop. There are people all around him, some stopping, some walking by for the next race; Ryan sees Kyle in the bottom row of bleachers next to Cullen, meets his eyes, and he's getting up. Ryan's sure he's coming to say congratulations but he doesn't need to hear it because it's not going to fill up that space inside him or make that hurt stop hurting.

Only Mike can do that, right? And he's right there. So Ryan reaches out and wraps fingers and palm around the cool, wet skin of that nearby forearm. Mike's head turns toward him and his mouth makes an ugly shape as he jerks his arm out from under Ryan's hand. That hurts worse than anything else. Ryan sorta wants to die.

Kyle's reached him but Ryan doesn't want to talk to him, doesn't want to make excuses or say thanks or anything else—and he doesn't have to, because Kyle blows right by. Instead he walks straight up to Mike, who's saying something to Eric Shantaeu. (Eric, Erik, Ryan thinks. Maybe he likes Ericks. It's a terrible thought since he's only a Ryan.)

"Hey." Kyle taps Mike on the arm. Or, kinda, pokes him.

Ryan sees the set up too late; as Mike turns Kyle is already cocking his arm back. He waits just long enough to make sure that the punch hits Mike square in the jaw with the most momentum possible; Mike's head snaps to the side with the force of the blow and he staggers back into a block and sits down hard.

There is no silence like it happens in the movies, none of that perfect quiet before everything starts. There's just this gradual swell of noise from normal to overwhelming as everyone in the Natatorium starts to talk at once. The flash of cameras makes everything a little brighter.

Cullen’s there suddenly, grabbing Ryan—like Ryan has anything to do with it—as Matt lunges forward to swing a big arm around Kyle's waist and haul him back as he goes for seconds. And it shouldn't be hard for a guy built like a seven foot brick shithouse to hold onto a scrapper like Kyle, but Matt's having a little bit of trouble.

Mike touches his jaw and stands up and Ryan knows Mike, he's been groomed for the public. For every tough question he's got a great, smooth answer and for every bighead asshole he's got a smile and a rebuke that would make God proud. But he's also got a temper, no matter how long Octagon has made his fuse. Ryan glances around to find the other guy who really knows that and just for a moment he thinks that he finds Bob's eyes from all the way across the deck—and Bob is not going to get here fast enough. Mike is up and stepping into it and Matt is holding Kyle but no one is holding Mike.

Ryan pushes at Cullen but Cullen doesn't move. "I have to stop him," Ryan says, because Mike is not going to find a stupid textbook answer to smooth this over, he's going to give like he got and Ryan has to get over there, has to stop it before it starts. Kyle is only protecting him and Ryan didn't want all this. "Cullen! Dude, move, I need to—"

It's Ian, of all people, who grabs Mike's hand when it's still a fist at his side. Ryan slumps as Ian leans in and says something to Mike through the low roar of the people in the building.

Ryan's never loved Ian's hippie bullshit more than he does right at this moment.

Cullen pushes Ryan behind him and since it doesn't seem like there's going to be any more punching, Ryan looks around. The flash of cameras is crazy, reporters on their feet and trying to press forward through the row of skin that has been erected, a wall of swimmers blocking the way to them. There are Kyle, Matt, Cullen and Peter who have come forward to stand in front of Ryan and Garrett and Alex are at his back. Ian's on Mike's right side and Brendan has taken his left. Ricky and Eric are there, too, on Mike's side.

Mike's side.

His side.

Ryan feels sick again. The distance between them all is closing and maybe it's a press from outside, maybe not. But it's like a bunch of gasoline just waiting for a spark and Ryan finds his fingers digging into Cullen's arm and he's chanting in his head for Bob to hurry up, hurry up...

Aaron pushes into the middle of them, still dripping from the race—as a few of them are—and shoves Ricky back a step toward Ian while his other hand settles on Matt's forearm. "We are all going to walk away," he says, and even standing so close, Ryan can hardly hear him. When no one moves, he adds, "Now."

Ryan pulls away from Cullen—and for one heart-wrenching moment Mike's eyes are suddenly on him. They're pointing blame; Ryan's not stupid. Not as dense as Mike thinks he is. But he didn’t want this. All he wanted was Mike.

He reaches out to wrap fingers around Kyle's arm and tug him backward. Kyle looks back over his shoulder; he's still angry, still looking to protect Ryan but Ryan's putting an end to it. "Come on."

It’s easy to feel Mike's eyes on his back as he pulls Kyle out of the mess. He feels that hazel gaze more than the constant snap and flash of cameras, more than the hands that are trying to block his progress toward the locker room. Gregg is coming around the side of the deck toward them—along with Ryan's dad—but Ryan doesn't wait. They'll follow.

“What the hell?" Ryan drops Kyle’s arm as soon as the door closes behind them. He tugs fingers through his hair. “What the hell, Kyle?”

“You didn’t tell me he fucked somebody!” Kyle looks livid. His face is red, his knuckles red. He’s holding his hand. “I had to hear that from Jones, Jesus Christ, Ry, why didn’t you tell me that?”

Ryan stares at Kyle and the anger just sorta drains out of him. He doesn’t have the energy to stay mad, can’t be angry when he still feels scraped raw inside. He drops down onto the nearest bench and puts his head in his hands. "I don't know. It wasn't important."

"Wasn't—wasn't important?" Kyle's feet pace back and forth in Ryan's line of sight. "Holy shit, are you serious? That fucker having sex with someone in your room and it wasn't important?"

He's yelling. That's the only thing that draws Ryan up and into the conversation. "Shut up, Kyle."

Kyle bristles. "I won't shut up—"

But he does when Ryan shoves him back against the lockers; Kyle shuts up and he stares at Ryan like he's lost his mind. Ryan shakes his head. "Shut up," Ryan says quietly. He drops his hands. "It was important, it was really fucking important, but just... just shut up, okay?"

"Yeah." It's quieter; Kyle nods. "Yeah, man. Okay."

The door opens to let in a blast of noise along with Gregg and Ryan's dad. Ryan slumps back onto the bench. It’s the end of his meet anyway.

It's hard to believe it’s not the end of everything.

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


( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 15th, 2009 06:19 am (UTC)
INCREDIBLE!!!! ABOSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!!!! =D I loved it!!!! <3333
Feb. 17th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
^_____^ Thank you!!!
Feb. 15th, 2009 06:26 am (UTC)
I'm crying here over a damn fic. Jesus. Which is to say, this is really good. You made them be men, for all that entails. I can smell the testosterone and it is evil. For a split-second I thought this was how Mike was going to end up in the hospital, at the hands of his vengeful teammates.
Feb. 17th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
I can't even tell you how I laughed when I read your comment. Thank you for thinking they're all acting like men, I do try hard to keep my males male.

But I'm so just picturing the guys like, kicking the ever-lovin' crap outta Mike now, like, gang-bang style. (Sans the actual... uh... banging ^^) And it makes me laugh. On-deck take down!

I'm glad you're still enjoying-- *gives you tissues and hot cocoa* And thank you, always. <333
(no subject) - caelumi - Feb. 17th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - entropygoddess - Feb. 18th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 15th, 2009 07:04 am (UTC)


Feb. 17th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC)
*... just giggles madly*
Feb. 15th, 2009 08:26 am (UTC)
Okay, so I read the last part of this when it was posted and I had it in my head for days afterward but just never got time to comment. And then there's this part and I'm not even sure if I can articulate how much I love this story.

Ryan's heartbreak... It's just so visceral. I think we all know what it feels like to be cast aside like that, and the way you wrote it was just so perfectly real. And Kyle, I love the way Kyle reacts, the way everyone reacts, how each of these people fit into the picture you're painting. I just... I can't properly put into words how much I enjoy reading this piece of fiction, and how glad I am that there is going to be more of it. So very wonderfully done. All of it.
Feb. 17th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
I was wondering where you were last week... ~_^

I use the word visceral constantly when I critique and damn am I glad that I'm not the only person who whips that puppy out. I love it. So thank you for using it on me, nonetheless, because that makes me happy.

*smooshes* ^^
Feb. 15th, 2009 08:31 am (UTC)
Another great chapter, and I just hang on the hope of new ones getting posted. So much emotion, and such vivid interaction between all the characters here, even the ones we see less of. Nice to know they understand Ryan's heartache, and are appalled and angry in all the ways he should be himself but is too broken to muster.

*sigh* *waits for next installment* :)
Feb. 17th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
^___^ Thank you, thank you, thank you! <3 It's always wonderful knowing I'm hitting character interactions, because they're such fun to write... It's nice having a payoff for it, lol.
Feb. 15th, 2009 11:51 am (UTC)
Just...you kill me, you honestly do. I have been on pins and mothafuckin needles for this and you've delivered because OMG.

This just...heartwrenching and beautiful and everything I can ever say or think all rolled into one.

Mike still needs to come get his ass whuppin from me though, really.
Feb. 17th, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC)
I'm seriously thinking that it's all going to be downhill from the punch, man. I've built expectations so high that I'm totally worried the fallout from here on is not going to live up to it.

... Or maybe that's just me, the Angst Queen. Who wants to see people happy? Che. That's so overrated.

(no subject) - agape_eternal - Feb. 18th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 15th, 2009 12:05 pm (UTC)
I realized the only way to get everything I want to say in my comment is to start it while reading…so here goes! ;)

And Ryan isn’t sure when Mike stopped wanting to be with him, but the thought hurts. It hurts more than all the broken bones and concussions that Ryan has ever given himself.
Amid all the heartbreak I was experiencing and bracing myself for, this made me laugh. Just a little.

The smile that his friend is wearing when he pulls open the door falls and Ryan wonders what he looks like. Kyle always says he wears his heart on his sleeve.
Crying already. This line just sums up Ryan perfectly, I think. He’s so expressive, I doubt he’d capable of hiding any of his emotions unless he tried, and even then, it wouldn’t be a good cover.

Also, Cullen and Peter’s (and Garret and Alex and Matt’s) concern for Ryan is so sweet and makes me teary, though in a good way this time.

And oh, Ryle (yeah, typed that first as a mistake, :P) Kyle! Violence is never the answer but you’re a good friend for sticking up for your friend like that. Awws. <3

Ryan's never loved Ian's hippie bullshit more than he does right at this moment.
Hehe. Oh, Ian, I love you too, so much. Made me giggle through the tears a bit.

Ryan becoming so emotionally drained while talking to Kyle post-punch is so sad and just…I want to give Ry a huge hug and hold him for awhile, telling him it’ll be okay and murmur other promises of how it’ll get better. It is hard to stay continually angry, which is weird, because you wouldn’t think it would be. (At least I didn’t before, heh. Sorry, random tangent from RL sneaking in here.)

Anyway, the way the divide between the swimmers happened and the “sides” they took is disheartening. That can’t bode well for the team...

Poor, poor Ry bb. The wrath of Coaches Troy and Steve can’t be good, but he has Kyle with him and Cullen and Peter and the other boys, so I have faith it’ll be okay…eventually.

I can’t wait for the next installment, with the backlash of the deck fight!

Feb. 15th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
Am I petty for being glad Ryan had more people on his side than Mike?

Bad Berens, going on Mike's side!
(no subject) - caelumi - Feb. 17th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 15th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
I just wish you could have seen the shit-eating grin on my face when Kyle socked Mike. Oh my God, so epic. I don't even know if that was the appropriate reaction, but it was awesome. I'm so excited for the next part! (But how are things ever going to get better???)
Feb. 18th, 2009 01:41 am (UTC)
(I don't know. I really don't. I just cross my fingers and write.)

You know, waaaaaay before I'd written the punch, I was planning for it. Chapters before I was like "DUDE, Kyle is gonna fly across the deck and punch Mike." And it happened, and it was good. ^_^ Unfortunately I didn't plan much past that... so we'll have to see. LOL. But yes. Appropriate reaction, totally. He deserved it and more.

Feb. 15th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
Feb. 18th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
*squeegees goo into a glass and puts it on the CONQUEST shelf. it is a nice addition.*
Feb. 15th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
Ouch! It's been a long while (thankfully) since I had my heart broken, but damn did you manage to bring all the cold-clammy, heartrending jaggedness and blinding shock of it back. And that's a good thing! ;p

Talk about it being on like Donkey Kong... I guess the poor Butler is looking at a long ban from USA Swimming pool decks. What a (very public) mess.

I have no idea how this is going to come together, but I'm definitely enjoying the bumpy ride.
Feb. 18th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
Honestly? I have no idea what US Swimming would do to Mr Derry for such a public display of dislike. I mean... it can't be more than three months, can it? Not like he toked up. *smothers laughter*
(no subject) - darklyscarlett - Feb. 18th, 2009 02:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 15th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
Holy shit, Kyle, holy shit. I can't get over Kyle punching Mike even though I loved it it was just... goddamn.
And thank god Ryan actually said that Mike fucking Erik was a big deal, I kind of wanted to shake him for trying to brush it all off.
I love how everyone else handles the conflict like boys - choosing sides and picking fights. Except Ian and Aaron. I want to know what Ian said!
But seriously, bravo to Kyle. Damn.
Feb. 18th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
~_^ Even I don't know what Ian said, lol. Glad you liked it, and yeah. It was just about time for Mike to get his ass kicked a little bit. <333
Feb. 15th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)



God , I don't know if I'm the only one feeling unbelievable pain at the thought of Ryan having to see Michael get hurt, but I definitely cried when he tried to get away from Cullen and couldn't.

Mostly because I keep holding on to this little piece of hope that Ryan will just grab Michael and all of a sudden, everything will be okay.

Reading this feels like exercise. I'm always short of breath and sore when I finish.

And, once again, I hope you can understand that my comments are professions of love, not hate. They always come out wrong.
Feb. 18th, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
They don't come out wrong at all! Because... yeah. They just don't read like hate, lol. If you didn't love, you wouldn't bother commenting at all, anyway. At least not Nine chapters in, LOL.

<333 Be strong, bb. Love will come to Ryan. ^_^

(no subject) - smellyleaf - Feb. 18th, 2009 03:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 16th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
I'm so bowled over by the awesomeness of this, that I don't know what to say. I agree with what someone above me said about the heartbreak being so visceral. Those feelings came rushing back to me as they happened to Ryan, and it was so... heavy and spot on that I actually had to stop reading and catch breath, clear my head a couple of times.

You're gonna leave us on the edge of our seats every week, aren't you?
Feb. 18th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
Leaving people on the edge of their seats is just an unhappy byproduct of posting a work in progress. You could always wait until it's finished to read. ~_^

Thank you, though. As much as it kinda sucks making people feel the heartbreak, or cry (... who am I kidding? I totally love making people with fic. Sorry. ^^;;), it's wonderful as a writer to know that you're affecting people that strongly. <333
Feb. 16th, 2009 06:31 am (UTC)
ok, Michael so deserved to have his ass kicked from all of them!!!! Is he ever going to be good to poor Ryan?! Please!?!?! lol Seriously, though this amazing writing!!! I read yours and I don't even want to write anything else! I know the good stuff when I see it!
Feb. 18th, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
<333 Thank you! But as someone who also gets intimidated by reading other writers? Write anyway. ^_^

And he will be good to Ryan, lol. Eventually!
Feb. 16th, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC)
I've spent the previous chapters as an apologist for Michael, but at this point, I'm very much "Go Kyle!" I have no idea if that was the desired reader reaction, lol.
Now I can't wait to find out how this will get better...
This story is stressing me out ;-)
Very well done.
Feb. 16th, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
Completely unrelated: I just noticed your icon and shoked on my orange juice. Poe gives good advice.
(no subject) - caelumi - Feb. 18th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - caelumi - Feb. 18th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC) - Expand
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