This is my first attempt at fanfic, ever. Please read and review. And thanks to my awesome beta, amani, and David. I love you kids!
Ah, the disclaimer: I don't own anything. I don't even own a car. I have a dog, but she kinda owns me, and I doubt you'd want her anyway, so no suing. I'm just a girl who loves the HoYay!
Also, if you'll note, in the summary line it mentions that it's Seth/Ryan slash. So, if that's not your thing, don't read it. No worries.
the distance is quite simply much too far for me to row
it seems farther than ever before
i need you so much closer
--"Transatlanticism" Death Cab for Cutie
"I don't dance."
Ryan's face was serious.
"Dude, it's Prom. Marissa's going to expect you to dance. It's what you do at Prom. That, and drink watered down fruit punch from what I will assume is going to be a fountain, and get your picture taken in front of 80 yards of tulle, at least 43 balloons, and depending on the theme, either a fireplace or columns. My money is on colum—"
"Seth." Ryan's voice was still serious, but there was a small smile at the corners of his mouth. He knew this particular rant could go on for a while. Seth was never at a loss for words when it came to mocking high school traditions. Well, Seth was really never at a loss for words.
"I don't dance. Ever."
"Ry, the girls have their dresses. Hair appointments have been made. We have tickets, tuxes and corsages. The prom is tonight. In," Seth glanced at his watch "eight hours, as a matter of fact. I am not going without you, and Summer will kill me if we don't go, and I mean that in all seriousness. There's a chance we could all die. There's no way out of this."
Ryan looked defeated. "Seth—" he began again, but the lanky boy cut him off.
"Look, if you're seriously that freaked out about it, I can teach you some steps. It's not that big of a deal."
"I don't know…" Ryan trailed off, but Seth could tell he was seriously considering the offer. After a moment, Ryan nodded his head. "Fine. Go put on your dancing shoes."
Seth grinned. "Okay, I don't know exactly what kind of person you take me for, but I don't actually own dancing shoes. However, just let me run upstairs and grab an appropriate CD, and I'll be right back."
Seth flew out of the door of the poolhouse, and Ryan sat down on the edge of the bed. He had that feeling in the back of his chest, that fear, the dread of embarrassment that still haunted him after almost a year in Newport. He did not want Marissa to be disappointed at her Prom. Especially since she was social chair, and people would expect to see her dance. So, Ryan would learn to dance, even if it meant dancing with Seth. Suddenly, the image of he and Seth slow dancing in a crepe-paper filled gym leapt into his mind, and Ryan felt his heart lurch. His eyes flew open just time to see Seth bound back into the poolhouse.
If Seth noticed the strange look on Ryan's face, he didn't let on. "So, probably not surprisingly, I couldn't find anything in my CD collection that I could imagine they would ever play at Prom—which, I should add, fills my heart with pride—but, I found a slower song that I think will work." Seth walked over to the counter where Ryan's CD player sat. As he lifted the Death Cab CD out of its case, he noticed his palms were a little sweaty. Was he nervous? Why? He wasn't the best dancer in the world, but he had been to years of Cotillions and charity balls, and he was pretty sure he could teach Ryan the basics. And it's not like if he messed up Ryan would be mad. He couldn't figure out why he was so nervous, but his heart thumped a little faster than usual anyway. Setting the CD player to repeat number seven, he wiped his palms on his shorts and shook his head.
As the first strains of "Transatlanticism" filled the room, Ryan began lowering the blinds on the windows that surrounded the room. For some reason, the idea of anyone walking in on their little dance lesson worried him. As he lowered the last blind and clicked the lock on the door, he noticed Seth watching him with interest. Ryan turned around, blushing, and muttered "I don't know how well this is going to go at first. I don't want an audience."
"Whatever, dude. Let's get this party started."
Ryan laughed quietly, and walked towards him. "So, um…"
"Well, obviously, since you're going to be dancing with Marissa, you will be the guy. Or, you know, yourself. Fortunately, and I never thought I'd say this, many of those years at Cotillion were spent dancing with the instructor while she taught the guys to dance, so I know all the girls' moves as well. I, therefore, will be Marissa, Except, you know, as a guy. Taller, with a more muscular physique." Seth moved quickly before Ryan had a chance to make a joke. He placed his left hand on Ryan's shoulder, and slid his right hand into Ryan's left. "Okay, you put your other hand on my hip, and do the opposite of what my feet do."
Ryan swallowed deliberately and placed his hand gingerly on Seth's hip. He felt his cheeks flush, hopefully unnoticeably. Seth tapped his fingers on Ryan's shoulder a few times, finding the beat, and Ryan focused on his feet. They began dancing, Ryan looking down, Seth mumbling instructions and guiding Ryan around the room. Ryan was surprised at how fluidly Seth moved, but realized he shouldn't be, really. Skateboarding and sailing both required an amazing amount of concentration and grace, and despite his gangly appearance, Seth was very graceful when the situation called for it. Graceful and beautiful, actually.
Did he just describe Seth as beautiful? Ryan jerked his head up, bumping into Seth's chin. "Ow!" Ryan pulled away quickly. "I'm sorry. Did you bite your tongue?"
"Yeth. Ith it bleething?" Seth stuck his tongue out for Ryan to inspect, making Ryan even more uncomfortable. What the hell was going on with him? He took another step back and shook his head, trying to physically expel any thoughts of Seth's tongue.
"No, it's cool. I'm sorry. I just thought…I thought I'd messed up."
Seth rubbed his chin and shook his head. "No, you were doing really well, actually. I think you've almost got that one mastered. Let's try again."
Ryan's immediate reaction was to run. His second was to say, "No, it's cool, thanks, man." But an image of Marissa flashed in his mind, and he knew that this twenty-minute lesson was not going to be enough to get him through tonight.
"Yeah. I was really doing okay?"
Seth nodded as he replaced his hand on Ryan's shoulder and pulled him a little closer. "Yeah. You're a natural."
Ryan smiled as his slid his hand into Seth's and placed his other a little more firmly on Seth's hip. "Thanks."
Seth tapped his fingers again, and they resumed their dance around the room. Ryan was watching his feet, but Seth was watching Ryan. He had never noticed how muscular Ryan's arms were. Well, that's not true, he had noticed. It was impossible not to notice, especially in comparison to his own long, thin arms. But it was like he was really seeing Ryan for the first time. His broad shoulders and his thick, strong arms. The skin on Ryan's shoulders was soft and dotted with freckles, something else Seth had never noticed before. He connected a few of the freckles with his fingertip absentmindedly before he suddenly became very aware of how close he and Ryan were. He froze mid-step, and Ryan's foot came down directly on his own.
"Ow!" Seth lifted his foot instinctively, moving quickly away from Ryan.
"Seth, what happened? You just stopped."
Seth wondered if Ryan had noticed his little game of connect the dots. If he had, his eyes weren't betraying anything except for confusion and concern for Seth's foot.
"Two injuries. I think that's a record for me in an hour." Seth hobbled over to the bed and sat down.
"I accept full responsibility for hitting your chin, but your foot is all yours, man. Why'd you stop? Did I mess up?"
Seth shook his head, but he couldn't very well tell Ryan why he had frozen up. "Sorry, dude, I just realized that were we less than five inches apart and I had spent the better part of twenty minutes admiring your muscular arms and all of a sudden found myself playing connect the dots on your broad shoulders and I keep using phrases like "muscular arms" and "broad shoulders" which is more than just a little minty and I kinda freaked and froze. Sorry."
Yeah. That wasn't going to happen.
"Sorry, I just thought we should maybe try another dance, since you seem to have that one down. Evidently, however, that message didn't make it to my mouth before it made it to my feet." Seth stood. "So, wanna try the waltz?"
Ryan nodded. Seth took his hand, and Ryan felt his heart skip. Goosebumps trailed from his head to his feet, and before he could move away, Seth had already rested his hand on his shoulder. Seth noticed tiny little hairs stand up on Ryan's mus-- arms. His plain, boring arms.
"Dude, are you cold? You wanna put a shirt on?"
Ryan looked up at Seth and blushed. He unexpectedly felt very exposed and vulnerable, standing there in his wifebeater and cargo shorts. He had never felt uncomfortable around Seth before, and he couldn't understand what was going on. But he desperately needed more clothes. Now. Maybe a parka. Or a snowsuit.
"Yeah, that might not be a bad idea. Let me go throw another shirt on."
As Ryan walked to his closet, Seth felt like kicking himself. He plopped down on the edge of the bed. He knew he had embarrassed Ryan by calling attention to his goosebumps, and that wasn't his intention. His intention was to get Ryan to cover his shoulders so Seth could maybe regain some focus and end this dance lesson before things got any weirder. He wondered if Ryan could tell what he was thinking, if maybe he was psychic and had never told them, and had been spying on their thoughts the whole time. Or you know, not. He was being ridiculous. There was no way Ryan could have possibly known what Seth was thinking as he grazed his fingertips over the soft skin of Ryan's shoulders. No way he could know that Seth had been thinking about touching every inch of Ryan's arms, trailing down his biceps—Dude, what the hell? Ryan was practically his brother. Had he lost his freaking mind?
Seth squinted, shook his head and tried to focus on the music while he waited for Ryan to get a shirt.
"I need you so much closer…" Seth's voiced surprised him as he sang along.
Suddenly, Ryan was standing in front of him, smiling slightly. "Really?"
Seth opened his eyes and looked up slowly. Ryan had chosen, much to Seth's dismay, a fitted black T-shirt that perfectly outlined every muscle in his torso. Seth made a silent commitment to never, ever say or think the word "muscle" again, especially in connection with Ryan.
"Ryan, we've got a lot of stuff to do before Prom. Wanna just hurry up and get this over with so we can get ready?" Seth's voice came out a little more annoyed than he had intended, especially since it was himself that was being annoying.
"Seth, if you don't wanna finish, that's cool. This was your idea. I'm just—" Ryan was the one who sounded annoyed now.
Seth stood up quickly. "No, I'm sorry. I just feel like I'm not being much help. I keep getting hurt, and apparently I suck that this more than I thought, and I'm beginning to think all that money was wasted."
Ryan put his hand on Seth's hip and smiled. "No, it's great. I really appreciate it. Just let me master this waltz and we'll get ready to go."
Seth licked his lips without thinking, and could swear he saw Ryan flinch a little at the move. He took Ryan's other hand in his and they began their dance again. Seth tried to focus on dancing instead of the soft cotton of Ryan's T-shirt and the shoulders beneath it. Eventually, Ryan caught on and they began moving in perfect rhythm, though Ryan was still looking down at his feet. Seth could smell Ryan's shampoo, and the clean laundry scent of his shirt, and something else that he couldn't quite place but that was just Ryan. He inhaled deeply, trying to keep the dance going along with the rhythm of the song instead of the rhythm of his heart pounding in his temples, steadily increasing.
Ryan felt Seth's hand tighten its grip on his own. He was afraid to look up, afraid his eyes would betray him, afraid Seth would see something in him and would suddenly be able to read Ryan's thoughts. He was afraid that Seth would see how his stomach had jumped when he felt Seth's finger trace lazily across his shoulder, afraid Seth would see how embarrassed he was when Seth pointed out the goosebumps that his touch had caused, afraid that Seth would somehow be able to tell how his heart kinda flipped when he heard Seth sing about needing him closer, that he could almost swear Seth was talking to him, and before he could stop himself he had crossed the room and now they were dancing again. He was afraid Seth would freak out, run away, never get close to him again He couldn't even explain it to himself, he knew he would never be able to explain it to Seth. He was determined not to look up until they were a safer distance apart than five inches. But when Seth's hand traveled to the back of his neck and rested there, Ryan had to look up.
Seth froze. Somehow, against his will, his hand had slid across Ryan's shoulder and was resting on the back of his neck. This time, however, Ryan had frozen with him, head down, feet unmoving. He might not have noticed the freckle touching, but there was no way he couldn't have noticed this. Seth tried to make a move, step away, put some distance between them, but he couldn't move. He tried to focus on the music and the top of Ryan's head, but something burned behind his eyes. And then, suddenly, Ryan was looking at him, staring into his eyes, and his throat caught. He couldn't quite place the look in Ryan's eyes, but he knew it wasn't anger, which is what he had been expecting.
Ryan noticed the fear in Seth's eyes, and knew there must be fear in his own, but he wondered if his desire burned more brightly. He wondered if he was imagining that Seth's eyes burned, too, with something other than fear. And he wondered why neither of them were making any move to separate themselves.
The music floated around them, the only thing in the room not to have stopped, assuring Seth that he had not passed out or fallen asleep standing up. He really was standing in the poolhouse, dancing with Ryan, his hand resting on the back of Ryan's neck, heart pounding, unable to move.
Ryan knew that if he didn't act now, he would never get this chance again. Risking everything, mustering all the courage he could manage, his voice sang out quietly.
"I need you so much closer."
It was barely a whisper, if you could sing in a whisper, but the words slammed into Seth's head and whirled around quickly as he felt Ryan's grasp on his hip tighten and Ryan pull him closer. Seth closed his eyes.
When his lips first touched Ryan's, he felt his knees buckle slightly, and wrapped his other arm around Ryan's shoulders for support.
When Ryan's lips first touched Seth's, he could swear his heart exploded in his chest. The pounding in his head was almost audible.
And then, the knock at the door. Kirsten's voice.
"Guys, it's almost time to start getting ready."