Authors: Matthew Burkey
Ryan nodded, he knew that she was right.
“So, what did we talk about as friends?” Elise continued.
“Work,” Ryan said, with a shrug of his shoulders. He idly twirled the straw around in his drink. “And life and how annoying Ethan could be on occasion.”
Elise laughed. “Alright, well I think we can keep talking about work and life, we’ll just leave Ethan out of it.”
Their food arrived a few moments later and the two started eating.
“How are your parents?” Elise asked, after a few moments.
“Pretty good,” Ryan answered. “They’ve been stuck in Europe the past few weeks though.”
“House party,” Elise smiled. “I’m just joking. Has Gabriel said much else about his date with Alex?”
Ryan shook his head and took another bite of his taco. “Not really, I mean we really haven’t had a chance to talk a lot about it. I’m glad that he went though, he couldn’t keep lusting after someone who won’t be named.”
Elise nodded. She understood what Ryan meant. “I thought that he might be worried about what everyone else was going to think.”
“I think he is,” Ryan admitted. “I tried to tell him that the Guardians don’t really have the ability to dictate what we do in our personal lives, at least not as much as they like they think do. I told him that Jonathan might go on about security issues but it wouldn’t be a big deal.”
“And how do you think that everyone else is going to do with this?”
Ryan frowned. “I don’t get what you mean?”
“Ryan,” Elise said, leaning forward to touch his arm. “Do you really think that the rest of the guys are going to be okay with all this, especially after what happened with Anton?”
This certainly didn’t sound like Elise. Ryan has assumed that Ethan had been the only one really harboring that much hate for Anton Valentine and his coven.
“The rest of the guys don’t seem to mind,” Ryan responded. “I know that they were pretty mad at Valentine but I think that they are smart enough to realize that Alex isn’t his father or wasn’t involved in what happened in anyway. Plus, I think everyone just wants to see Gabriel happy. Do you have a problem with it?”
Elise picked up her glass and took a drink, thinking about her answer. She set the glass back down again before responding.
“I just don’t want Gabriel to get hurt,” Elise said, with a sigh. “We both know the reputation that Alex has, did you warn him about that?”
“Who knows if that’s true,” Ryan answered. “Besides, they’ve only been on one date. Gabriel can take care of himself and we got his back. I don’t see Alex doing anything to intentionally hurt him.”
Elise nodded. “Alright, guess I’ll have to trust you on this one.”
“Yup,” Ryan smiled. “I heard that Marissa was trying to hack into Imperial Medical Technology, did she ever actually make it inside?”
Elise shook her head. “No, she said that it was extremely well protected system. Though the thought just occured to me that Imperial would have the resources to create such a hybrid. I guess we won’t know for sure though.”
“Unless we could actually get onto the grounds of an Imperial site.”
Ryan paused before taking another bite. “How did we end up back on work again?”
“I have no idea,” Elise admitted. “It was probably my fault.”
“I think that’s the first time in recorded history that a woman has ever uttered those words.”
Elise shoot him an annoyed look. “Oh please I know when I am wrong and I don’t mind admitting it, I’m just lucky that it only happens once in a blue moon.”
“Apparently,” Ryan answered. “But seriously, can we talk about something other than work. We both know that as long as the vampires are after the lycans we aren’t going to have a lot of time off.”
“You’re right,” Elise said, holding her glass up. “To us and not talking about work the rest of the evening.”
“Do you remember the first time we met?” Elise asked.
Ryan had to think about it for a moment. He had known Ethan, Cody, Everett, Dominic, and Tony most of his life. They had all played together as toddlers, except for Marissa and Elise. The two girls hadn’t come onto the scene until they were older, probably around twelve or thirteen.
“I think so, I had just turned thirteen, right?”
Elise smiled and nodded. “Yup, do you remember how we met?”
Now that wasn’t hard at all.
“As I recall Tony had been hit by some sort of poison during a training routine and was running around Aegis stripping off all his clothes, you came around the corner right as me and Dominic tackled him.”
Elise laughed, nearly spitting out her water as she recalled the image.
“You’re just lucky that he still had his underwear on,” Elise giggled.
“Oh indeed we were,” Ryan agreed. “Although that was hardly the best impression to make on a new teammate.”
“Oh I suppose it could have been worse,” Elise offered.
“You’re right, he could have been naked.”
“I just remember thinking how handsome you both were, even at that young age.”
“Who?” Ryan asked.
“You and Dominic,” Elise answered. “Though to be fair, I think you were cuter, although Dominic did have those piercing eyes, sort of like Gabriel’s you know.”
“Dominic didn’t let Tony ever live that down,” Ryan spoke. “Though to be fair it was pretty damn funny, we used to watch the security video over and over again. At least until Tony bribed Everett to erase it from the archives. Dominic wanted to put it up on Youtube.”
“I still miss him,” Elise muttered, looking down at her plate.
Ryan reached across the table and gave her hand a squeeze. “So do I.”
The rest of the evening they talked about everything but work. They had known each other a long time which allowed them to skip a lot of the first date conversations. The longer that they sat there and talked the more Ryan realized how much he enjoyed spending time with her. She would reach out and touch his arm when she told a story or laugh at his jokes, even when they weren’t really that funny.
An hour later they paid for their food and exited the restaurant, stepping back out into the cool night air. Given the fact that they didn’t know when they would get time off, they opted to take a walk around a lake that wasn’t all that far from the restaurant.
A full moon was out, reflecting off the calm mirrored surface of the water. Ryan and Elise walked hand in hand, stopping at a small pier that jutted out onto the lake.
“It’s so peaceful,” Elise remarked, leaning against the railing.
“Compared how we’ve spent most our nights,” Ryan chuckled.
Elise pulled him in close. She could feel the heat radiating from his athletic form and the hard muscles underneath his sweatshirt.
“Why did we wait so long?” she whispered, stroking the side of his face.
“I have no idea,” Ryan responded. His heart sped up at her mere touch, causing him to blush. He had to make a conscious effort not to move any faster, despite what certain parts of his anatomy were telling him. She leaned forward and kissed him, except this time it wasn’t the quick kiss that they had experienced near the fire, it was something more.
Ryan wrapped his arms around her, doing his best not to let his baser instincts take over. He felt himself almost melt into her, as her hands roamed lazily around his back. After what seemed like an eternity, although in reality was only minute, they broke the kiss, leaving both of them standing there panting like they had just run a marathon.
“Wow,” Ryan finally managed to say. “That doesn’t ever really go away does it?”
“I hope it doesn’t,” Elise whispered. She stepped back, still holding onto Ryan’s hands. “I hate to call this a night but it’s getting late and we both know that Jonathan is going to want us back at Aegis bright and early tomorrow.”
Ryan sighed heavily. “You’re right, as much as I hate to admit it.”
“Now that’s a phrase that I enjoy hearing.”
“Oh har har,” Ryan stated, offering Elise his arm. “Come on.”
She took his arm and the two of them started walking back toward the car.
Ryan dropped Elise off and opted just for a quick goodnight kiss in the car to ensure that things didn't get out of hand. He had a feeling that controlling himself around Elise was going to be harder than he originally thought.
As he drove away he was aware of the stupid grin that was plastered all over his face. Ryan was on cloud nine. His first date with Elise had pretty much been a total success. He couldn’t wait until their next date, and the one after that, and the one after that. Ryan smiled to himself as he pulled into his driveway. Ethan’s truck was parked in its usual place; not surprising seeing as how Ethan spent most of his nights here.
After his parents had been dismissed from the Guardians, Ethan had been spending more and more time at his house. Ryan didn’t really mind, though he suspected that his dating Elise might put a slight strain on their friendship despite what Ethan said. He unlocked the front door and headed inside. Ryan started looking through the house in an attempt to track down his friend.
A short search revealed sounds coming from the back deck, near the hot tub. Ryan groaned, the last time that Ethan had people over without asking him he got a lot more than he bargained for when he stepped out onto the back deck. Including a very naked Ethan and several other girls from school who shall remain nameless. He was just glad that he never really caught Ethan and Elise in a compromising position like that.
Ryan eased the door open and was relieved when he saw only Ethan soaking in the hot tub.
“Well, that ended almost too quickly for anything good to happen.”
Ryan stepped out onto the deck and leaned against the hot tub so that he was facing Ethan, who had his head back and his eyes closed. He opened them and threw Ryan a disarming smile that might have made everyone else melt.
“Are you going to keep making jabs like that?” Ryan asked, crossing his arms.
Ethan considered the comment a moment before responding. “No, eventually I’ll stop, though I have no idea when that will be.”
Ryan tried his best to maintain his composure. Truthfully, although he wanted to make sure that Ethan was going to be fine with whatever happened to him and Elise, he was getting tired of the attitude and the veiled innuendo.
“I’m done doing this Ethan,” Ryan sighed, sliding off the side of the hot tub and starting for the house again. “I’m your friend, stop treating me like I went behind your back and stole your girlfriend.”
“Ryan wait,” Ethan called out. Ryan heard the water slosh as Ethan climbed out of the hot tub.
“When I turn around you better have swimming trunks on or something.”
“I haven’t gone skinny dipping in there since Tony had about half the girls swim team over,” Ethan stated. “But, look this is hard for me to say.”
Ryan crossed his arms and turned around to look at his friend. Normally, Ethan was in total control of his emotions; cool and always calm. He never got rattled no matter the situation and always had a witty comeback for everything. He was not the type of person to ever look like he wasn’t in control of the situation.
However at the moment, there was something different about the young Guardian. He fidgeted with his hands and the strings on his board shorts, he wouldn’t look Ryan in the key and looked like he could barely hold still. Something was up, Ryan had never seen Ethan act this way.
“What’s hard for you say?” Ryan asked.
“Let’s just go inside and talk, okay?”
“Fine,” Ryan spoke, gesturing inside. “After you.”
They entered the house and Ethan headed to his room to change. When he reappeared again he was wearing his typical dark jeans and dark blue tee-shirt. Ryan grabbed water from the fridge and headed into the library, Ethan close on his heels. They both flopped down on the rather large couch.
“So, what is hard for you to say?”
“I’m sorry,” Ethan blurted out.
Ryan chuckled, at least until he realized that Ethan was still averting his gaze.
“Sorry, that was rude. What exactly are you sorry for Ethan?”
Ethan let out an almost exasperated sigh before getting up off the couch and pacing in front of the fireplace. He still wouldn’t look directly at Ryan although he finally did when he started speaking again.
“For the way that I have been treating you and Elise,” Ethan stated, his words coming out in a rush. “I’m an ass and I shouldn’t be saying all that stuff to you guys. I said I was okay with you guys dating and I am.”
Ryan arched an eyebrow. Ethan didn’t very often apologize for anything. Although to be fair, Ethan was rarely wrong, a rather annoying habit that he made sure he pointed out to his team and the populace at large every change that he got. Seeing him like this was rare indeed.
“Um, typically you don’t sit there like a jerk with your mouth open, you should say thanks or something.”
Ryan hadn’t realized that he hadn’t responded yet, he collected his wits before finally speaking.
“Thanks,” Ryan nodded. “But are you really okay with it?”
Ethan stopped pacing and let out a long breath. “Yes, Elise was special to me but not in the way that you are thinking.”
“I figured that,” Ryan answered. “The last thing either one of us wants to do is hurt you, trust me on that.”
“I know, I don’t say it nearly enough but I have no idea how you guys put up with me sometimes,” Ethan stated, hanging his head. It wasn’t a sarcastic comment either but from the heart, also a rarity with Ethan.
Ryan placed a hand on his friends shoulder, causing Ethan too look into his friends eyes. “You’re an acquired taste, that’s for sure. I promise that we’ll keep the lovey dovey stuff to a minimum around you, deal?”
Ethan shook his head. “You don’t have too, really. I’ve got to learn to deal with it the same way that I’ll have to learn to deal with Gabriel and Alex dating.”
“Two guys kissing isn’t that big of a deal.”
“I don’t care about that,” Ethan snapped. “I still don’t trust Alex.”