This is my rifle, this is my gun.
One is for fighting, the other for fun.
Connor's hands are shaking and no matter what he does he can't seen to make them stop. The gun's a lot heavier than it looks, especially when Ryan's had him holding it at arm's length for absolutely ages now. He's trying not to let it show but the ache is building in his forearms and shoulders, and, in spite of his efforts, the gun starts drooping towards the floor, dipping fractionally before he can stop it.
Ryan's big hand comes up to cup Connor's wrists, his fingers wrapping around one wrist with his palm under the other. The calluses on his fingertips rub against Connor's skin and he tries so hard not to shiver. With any luck, even if Ryan does notice, he'll just put it down to Connor being a nine stone weakling who can't hold a gun properly. But Ryan doesn't notice, or at least he doesn't say anything. But that doesn't stop the blood rushing to Connor's face as Ryan gently pushes his hand up until Connor's aiming at least somewhere in the vicinity of the target.
"Just take it easy."
That's easy for Ryan to say. It's considerably less easy for Connor to do, especially not with Ryan just there, watching him and judging him and probably finding him wanting as well.
He'd thought it would be fun when Stephen suggested that he learned how to shoot. In fact, he'd been like a kid at Christmas, convinced that it would be all James Bond hi-jinks and cool machismo. That somehow he would feel right with a gun in his hand, like he was finally a grown up, capable of kicking ass and taking names instead of feeling vaguely like a spare part most of the time in the field, surrounded by big men with big guns, and he does not have penis envy, no matter what Abby sniggers when she catches him watching Ryan.
In actuality he feels more like James Pond - a pixelated tadpole who is completely out of his depth.
Weirdly the thought almost makes him smile. He'd like to share it with Ryan - if he dared - but he'd bet Ryan wouldn't get the reference. He doesn't strike Connor as the type to play videogames, and certainly not the ones Connor used to play as a kid, and there's no way that Connor wants to come across as any more of a geek than he probably already does.
Ryan's breath is hot against his ear and he blushes again, like an idiot.
"Squeeze the trigger gently..."
The gun goes off before he's expecting it and it jerks in his hand, the recoil knocking him back so that he stumbles into Ryan. Ryan catches him by the elbow, steadying him and making sure that the gun is pointed away from both of them, and Connor flushes again, feeling the creeping redness crawl up his neck until his face feels like it's on fire.
He's missed the target, of course. He half expects Ryan to say something about it, something that's probably intended to be kind and will come out scathing. Stephen would have done something like that - completely unintentionally because, for all his faults, Stephen isn't cruel - but Stephen is busy teaching Abby in their off hours instead of Connor. He's left Connor in Ryan's 'more than capable hands, Connor, so stop fussing', but Connor isn't stupid enough to believe that it's for the same reason Stephen wants to be the one teaching Abby.
Although he might be stupid enough to be thinking about Ryan's hands when Ryan's within range of lots of weaponry. The idea is enough to make him go a little weak at the knees.
"Not bad." Ryan's still standing too close to him, his fingers wrapped loosely around Connor's elbow like it hasn't occurred to him to let go. When Connor glances sideways - sideways and up because Ryan's got a couple of inches on him - Ryan's face is thoughtful.
He doesn't look like he's taking the piss, but Connor's not stupid about that either. Maybe a little stupid about Ryan - and who can blame him - but there's no way that Ryan can be serious about it.
He's a little hurt. It would be nice to believe that Ryan wouldn't be cruel - not intentionally - any more than Stephen would be, but it's difficult to believe otherwise, even for an optimist like Connor. And just in case Ryan is being unintentionally cruel...
"I missed the target!" Connor points out.
Okay, it comes out a little bit more like a squawk than he'd intended, but it gets Ryan's attention. A little too much of Ryan's attention, because Ryan moves closer, body pressing up against Connor's in a way that's not doing anything to make Connor feel relaxed as Ryan squints at the target.
"No, Connor," he says, still squinting and he doesn't sound like he's taking the piss. "You missed the bull's-eye. You hit the target."
"Oh." He's a little disappointed when Ryan finally moves away, missing the warmth of his body immediately. "That's good, right?"
Ryan chuckles, low and amused, and the sound just does something to Connor's insides, things that probably make him a total girl.
"Yes, mate," he says patiently, slapping Connor in the middle of his back in a way that's probably supposed to be jovial but still rocks Connor on his feet as hard as any recoil. "That's good. But you're capable of better. I know you are. Again."
He steps back, folding his arms and watching as Connor aims again.
His hands aren't shaking now. All he's got to do is imagine Ryan's fingers wrapped around his wrists, steadying him. He takes a deep breath, like Ryan's taught him, holding it in as he lines up his sight and squeezes the trigger again, gently this time.
It's better - he's ready for the recoil so the gun just jerks in his hand a little instead of knocking him off his feet, and the bullet hole appears closer to the target, still on the white part rather than in the red but at least this time it's in the inner ring.
He's quite pleased about it until he turns, grinning, towards Ryan and Ryan's hand shoots out, keeping the gun aimed away at a safe angle.
"Sorry," Connor says, cringing, and Ryan nods. Connor's expecting an eye roll at the very least, or some pointed, sarcastic comment, but Ryan just smiles at him, his eyes crinkling at the corners.
"Don't get sloppy, Conn," he says, but even his voice is warm, warm as his smile, and it warms Connor by ridiculous amounts. He's still basking in the easy 'Conn', loving the way that Ryan said it, the way that Ryan shaped his mouth around the diminutive, when Ryan leans in closer, his smile going from warm to conspiratorial. "You don't want your gun going off accidentally, do you?"
Ryan has already moved away, staring at the target with a proud little smile playing around the corners of his mouth, before the words sink in, and for a second Connor wonders if he imagined the double entendre, if Ryan even does double entendres. He always seems so serious - hot, but serious.
Connor's left dangling a bit, gun held loosely in his hand, pointing vaguely in the direction of the target this time, wondering what on earth he's supposed to say to that.
"Want to go again?" Ryan says, and even though it's not a suggestion, not even a single entendre let alone a double one, Connor blushes because it sounds like it could be dirty, at least in his head. And he's probably going to be imagining that later, Ryan, muttering those words, sweat on his skin and...
He's not going there. Not now. Not when Ryan really will shoot him.
He gives Ryan a nervous little smile and an even more nervous head duck and, great. Now Ryan must think he's a weird, twitchy geek instead of just a weird one.
"Yes," and it comes out pitched too high. To cover it, he aims at the target again, his deep intake of breath a little more ragged this time, hitching when Ryan moves closer to him, eyeing the target.
"Take your time," Ryan murmurs and Connor's so glad they've gone for silenced rounds, given that there's not even supposed to be an armoury down here, in the middle of Whitehall. It means neither of them have to wear those stupid orange earmuffs and Connor can hear each and every syllable.
Ryan's got that kind of rumbling tone in some of his words, especially now when they're murmured low in Connor's ear, sending shivers up and down his spine. That's probably why this shot is worse than the last.
"Sorry," he mutters, feeling his neck starting to heat again.
"Don't be," Ryan replies, his hand coming to rest for a moment, heavy and warm, on Connor's shoulder. "You're doing really well."
"I wonder how Abby's doing?"
Connor doesn't mean it to come out as a question, and he certainly doesn't mean for it to be as morose as it is, but Ryan grins and answers him anyway.
"She'll be doing fine. Hart's a good teacher." When Connor steals a sideways look, Ryan's grin just deepens. "Good at giving incentives."
It's stupid, the way that Connor feels like he's back in fifth form again, all sullen, bewildered hormones and shy sidelong glances. "You're a good teacher too," he mutters, flushing furiously this time and there's no way that Ryan can miss it, even if Connor does pretend he's busy checking the clip on his weapon - just the way Ryan taught him - to cover it. He steals another sidelong look at Ryan, and Ryan's looking at him in a way that makes that squirrelly, twisting feeling in his stomach come back with a vengeance.
Maybe he's coming down with a bug or something. That would be just his luck. He can throw up all over Ryan and then accidentally shoot him or something while he's apologising.
Then Ryan leans in, and his breath ghosts over Connor's neck where the skin is still burning hot. "Do you need an incentive, Connor?"
And somehow Connor manages not to shoot him, keeping the gun pointed firmly away from Ryan. Well. The one in his hand, anyway.
"What... what did you have in mind?" he squeaks - and it is a squeak, for all that he'd like to think he was channelling gruff, macho James Bond.
"Well, I think Hart's got a very good incentive scheme worked out with young Abby. And I'm all for learning from my colleagues, even the civilians." Ryan sounds serious, intent, and Connor swallows, trying to figure out what kind of incentives Abby would get. She's not much of a chocolate fan, as far as he can tell, and he's never seen her come home with flowers...
Ryan's still watching him, amused but he doesn't think - or hopes not, anyway - that Ryan's laughing at him.
"Yeah?" he asks, and Ryan nods, leaning in again, slow and sweet.
"If she hits the target, she gets a kiss," and this time the blood rushes to Connor's face because Abby kissing anyone, even if it's not Connor, is very hot, and Abby and Stephen is very, very hot, and Ryan...
He takes a deep breath, not wanting to mess this up, please, please don't let him make a complete idiot out of himself.
"And if she hits the bull's-eye?"
His voice shakes a little but it's not a bad, scared shake, at least he doesn't think so, and Ryan grins again. This time it isn't slow and sweet - it's hot and quick and dirty and it bypasses Connor's stomach entirely and goes straight to his dick.
"Hit the bull's-eye, Connor, and I think you'll be ready to play with the big guns."
This time Connor doesn't miss.