Giant Leap For Zankind

rylie_icon.png zan_icon.png

Where: Rylie's Apartment

When: September 20, 2012

What: The relationship wobbles, but makes a solid comeback.

First clue that Zan came home earlier than usual would be his backpack. Open but in its usual spot beside the door. Then next is food, made instead of picked up along the way and enough for two. One serving sits on the counter, covered in foil to keep in the heat and moisture. The necessaries for a drink sit beside it, ready and waiting to be mixed and served. And beside those, a pair of tickets? Sort of, closer inspection seems to be an itinerary of sorts, a couple different events listed and others open-ended.

But Zan isn't in the kitchen. And the house is kind of quiet, almost giving the impression that no one's actually inside. Despite evidence that argues otherwise. He is there, in the living room and sitting on the couch, and first glimpse could put him hard at work. Papers with rough sketches and his chicken-scratch notes are set beside him in a couple of haphazard stacks, a pencil is loosely held between fingers that have curled to provide a resting point for his head. The laptop he does all his work upon is up and running with a video looping, sans sound.

Rory doesn't see him, at first, when she makes her way in. She just unloads all her stuff from her first day back at work — since she remember both work and her workaholic nature now, apparently — and heads right into the kitchen. Drink is made, food is grabbed, the list gets tucked between fingers, and then she comes out to plop down next to him.

"What're you up to?" she asks before taking a drink first and then finding a safe place to set it down. "And what's this?" She waves the itinerary in question before actually taking a minute to look it over.

And then, a bit after-the-fact, she leans over to press a kiss to his cheek. "And thanks for making dinner."

Zan's eyes come off the screen to blink with slight bleariness when Rylie returns. He rubs a hand across his forehead, to rub away the effects of staring at the screen in front of him for too long, and starts gathering the papers beside him while she's busy in the kitchen. Those papers are set on the coffee table, making room for her on the couch beside him.

"Working on the movie," he answers when she appears again. He smiles, then sneaks a kiss of his own to her jawline. "That," he continues, nodding to the little list, "is a few events I reserved for us. Couple of haunted trips, couple of concert reservations. Dinner at the top of the Stratosphere. That sort of thing. Dates are all flexible."

Rylie smiles at the kiss, and she leans into it a bit before straightening so as not to spill all over. "How's it coming?" she asks, of the movie. But when he explains about the list, she looks away from the paper to smile over at him. "Yeah?" And then back to the list, which apparently meets with her approval. "These are all amazing. You name the dates, I'll be there. With bells on."

"The professionals definitely make it seem easier," Zan admits. Proof of how the movie is coming along. The looping clip looks to be taken from one of their desert trips, though only stretching shadows can be made out on the gritty, dusty ground. He leans forward enough to put the laptop on the papers. He smiles again, though a touch closer to shy at her approval. "Yeah. You're okay with them? I decided after everything, we needed to do something fun, seemed like a good way to start out."

"The professionals also have teams of people to do all this." Rylie tucks her legs up on the couch next to her as he puts the laptop down. She sets the paper down with it, no doubt going to get lost among all the others, but she needs both hands for eating!

"I'm totally okay with them. And I think something fun is exactly what we need. Not that time traveling and prisons aren't totally great, and all, but…"

"I think we've both been locked up enough for one year," Zan says with a chuckle. "Time travel might be interesting to try again, though I think next time I'd like to see what's going on in the future instead of risking the present. Not that nineteen-fifty-five wasn't awesome. So pick which you want to do first and we can decide on a date."

Sitting back again, he slides an arm around her shoulders. Though eating isn't interfered with. "I have the best musician on my team at least." He smiles then, and shakes his head. "Okay, so that's my day. How was yours? How was work?"

"The future could be awesome. Wouldn't have to worry about screwing up the present from that direction, at least. I think." Rylie settles in against him when that arm goes around her and she leans that way. "Oh, that's true, you do have the world's best working with you." She tilts her head to look up his way, which while a little awkward, doesn't keep her from a crooked smile. "Hectic. Your dad tried to get me to take a half day, but it was all such a mess from that temp, I had to stay."

"Just have to avoid our future selves." Zan grins and looks at her. "Absolutely the world's best," he agrees. "I give you full creative reign in putting sound to this film." He taps a light kiss against her forehead, then looks down at the laptop screen. "Sounds like Dad. But you're okay, didn't overdo it or anything." He's teasing a little, still somewhat concerned, but he covers it by checking her for fever and squinting to look into her ear.

"You don't want to go have dinner with Middle Aged Zan. Oo, what if he likes Alexander better by then?" Rylie teases, of course, and a smile comes at the kiss to her forehead. "I'm okay, nothing to worry about. All ten fingers and toes," she says, smirking as he checks her ear. "I'm a big girl, I can handle sitting at a desk answering phones. I swear."

"Oh, don't say that," Zan says, feigning pain at his given name. "Middle Aged Zan and I would have to have a very long and serious discussion about that." His arm around her shoulders tightens a little, hugging her, and he lays another light kiss to her cheek. "Good. Though I might still worry about you." He glances toward the laptop, and then to the tucked-away sleeping bag he's been using. "I guess can let you have your house back, now."

"That I would like to see. You see? We can avoid future us!" Rylie laughs a bit, setting aside her dish before returning that hug. "Hmm. I suppose you could. It doesn't feel like I'm squatting in someone else's life. Not so much, anyway."

There's a pause there, with her looking at him for just a moment or two before she speaks up again. "You could stay just one more night. If you want."

"Nah, you have a good handle on things," Zan says. "Knew we'd find a way to bring you all the way home." His gaze ticks toward her, then settles on the coffee table. "If it's still weird here, I can stay longer."

He doesn't answer immediately, letting his own offer linger, and after another moment he finally meets her gaze. A little hopeful for staying, resigned to leaving. He half smiles at her offer, and nods.

"I wasn't thinking because it's weird," Rylie says with a soft, but amused smile. "I was thinking maybe you'd just want to stay over just because." She looks down, to where her hand is moving to find his. "Not that I'm asking you to move in or anything, but you are always welcome to stay the night." Which might seem like straddling the line, but there's a distinction for her, clearly.

Zan turns his hand over to take hers, looking down as well. "I'd like to stay again," he says, a grin touching his expression briefly. "Not moving in, no. But I'll stay tonight. Or… Maybe a couple more nights." He brushes his thumb over the back of her hand, and looks up at her. "Basement's not done yet, and I like your floor. Comfy."

Rylie laughs at that, nodding a bit. "Yeah, I got the extra soft version when I had my floors put in." She starts to stand up, still holding onto his hand, though. "I had thought maybe you'd like to stay upstairs this time."

She slides that bit in as casually as she can, and lets go of him to carry her dishes to the kitchen casually as well. Very casually. If there were such a thing as too casually.

"It's better than Tim's couch," Zan says as he starts to stand. His hand drops to his side when she lets go and he angles a glance toward the stairs. "But your music room," he begins as he looks back at her. The thought trails off and he steps around to follow her into the kitchen.

Or at least as far as the kitchen doorway. He stops there and watches her, for a long moment, and without saying anything. Then, quietly, "You sure?"

Rylie gives him a sidelong look when he starts on the music room, but she doesn't clarify herself this time. She just takes a moment to clean up before she looks over at him, leaning a hip against the counter. "Yes. And no, but mostly yes," she says. It's a very clear answer.

"Usually, I just hop right to that part, but I didn't with you because I thought we'd have a chance to be more than. And then I didn't because I got so freaked out by it meaning something and… well, then I forgot all that. And you were here and I thought about asking, but I thought it would be too weird— well, and basically, it's become a thing, so I thought I'd see how you felt about it." And anything Rylie rambles about is definitely a thing.

"Rylie." Zan tries a little too quietly to interrupt. Twice. But it's without any insistence and tones toward putting her concerns at ease. When she slows down a little, he moves out of the doorway and to her, to pull her into a hug. "Okay," he says slowly and more in tone with thinking than agreeing. His arms loosen from around her though he doesn't really step back

"Okay. I never tried, because I wanted to know you first," he begins quietly. "Because going there can change people. I wasn't ever sure if I was ready for that or how it would change things, and I didn't want you to get freaked out. So, yes I do. But also no, not yet. Because I'm not sure I can be okay with meaningless." He takes a steadying breath, giving her a searching look.

"Okay." Rylie's brow furrows, but it's for puzzlement rather than disappointment. "Makes sense." There's just a moment before she smiles at him, a hand going to her hip. "I'm not turned down very often, you know," she adds, her tone more natural there, and teasing.

"But," she says, taking his hands, "you can still stay upstairs, you know. In the most innocent senses, I swear." She adds the last with a crooked smile. "If you want to. If you're particularly attached to the couch…"

"I'm not turning you down," Zan says with a nervous grin. "Not really. More like asking you to wait, a little longer, if you're not sure yet either. Or if you think you might not be ready for it to mean something." He laces his fingers with hers and smiles, a little closer to normal. "We can definitely do innocent," he agrees, pulling her closer. "To start with, to see where things go."

"Alright, I think I can handle waiting," Rylie says, stepping in closer as he pulls her along. "I just need it to feel less like everything hinges on that one thing," she says with a crooked smile, her free hand coming up to touch his cheek, "I didn't mean to make you nervous."

Smiling, Zan turns his head enough to kiss her palm before he leans his cheek into her touch. He slides his arms around her waist while watching her, one corner of his mouth hitching up a little higher than the other. "Think I sort of like it when you make me this kind of nervous," he says before venturing to ask, "Which one thing?"

"Do you? Well, that's very telling," Rylie says, teasing a little, even as she leans in to return that kiss to his jaw. Of course, his question makes her straighten up again, solely to give him an odd look. "Sleeping together? In the less innocent sense? What have we been talking about this whole time?" That, too, is a teasing question, if her grin has anything to say about it.

"It could have been something else." Zan plays the innocent card as leans in to steal a small kiss from her, as defense against the teasing. He tips his head forward until his forehead rests against hers, and for a moment he's quiet.

"Are we more than just… whatever," he asks finally, which sounds more like he's asking if she wants to be. His gaze lifts to look at her, though his head doesn't move.

Rylie returns the kiss, and even settles against him for that quiet moment. By all appearances, she'd be just fine lingering, but he asks a question — possibly the question — and she leans back again, breaking away just a little. Serious talk red flags go up, and it's her turn to look nervous.

"Is this the 'where is this going' talk? Are we about to have that talk? We don't… have to go there just yet do we?" It's the rambling again. "I can take back what I said, I mean, it'll keep until later anyway."

She moves away there, to start poking aimlessly in the cupboards.

"No, it isn't," Zan answers quietly. "…Maybe, sort of. I don't know." He watches her go and putter, looking a little unsure of himself. "I just wondered, since you brought it up." He catches his lower lip in his teeth, trying to figure out his own thoughts on the matter.

But since actions often speak louder than words, he moves to intercept her rummaging around in the cupboards, putting himself between her and the distractions of dishes and dry goods. One hand tilts her chin upward while the other pulls her close, both sure and afraid of his actions. He gazes at her for just a second, like he may say something, and then his head ducks down to draw her into a deep kiss.

"I didn't mean to bring it up, I only meant to bring up the fun part," Rylie says as she moves things from one shelf to another. For no real reason. This whole actual relationship thing is new. And nerve wracking.

So when he grabs her, she isn't quite expecting it, nor does she seem sure of what's coming when he stares silently. Kissing is a surprise, especially the kind of kiss that follows, but she melts into it all the same. It takes a second before her hands slide up to take hold of his shirt, as if needing something to hold onto as she returns it.

Zan's hand moves from beneath her chin to brush over her cheek and come to rest, cupping the side of her neck. The one around her back tenses, as if to pull her even closer, with fingers curling and tangling with her shirt. He lingers in kissing her, part nervous and afraid, part yearning for something more. When he finally breaks away, he continues to hold her to him, lips slightly opened as if he might try speaking though no words actually form just yet.

Rylie takes in a breath when their lips part, and her head tips forward as she leans against him. She lets go of his shirt only to slide her arms around his waist instead. It takes a moment before she looks back up at him to see that bit of potential conversation, but it takes no time at all for her to cut him off by kissing him again. It isn't as long as the previous one, but deep enough to match it.

"Had to get one more out before we started talking again," she says eventually, a smirk on her lips.

Zan lifts his gaze to meet hers when she looks up again. And while he still may have something unsaid remaining or attempting to form itself, it's cut off with her kiss. He seems reluctant to let it end when she pulls out of it.

"I don't want to talk," he says, which is probably not entirely true. Muscles along his jaw tighten and then relax as if feeling a word or two. He draws in a deep breath, slow and quiet, and as he lets it out again, he pulls her into a hug. "It's just…" He begins, and then trails off for a beat. "There hasn't been… but I knew…" Words stall again and he looks toward the floor.

Smirking as he goes ahead and starts talking, Rylie's hold on him softens into something more like a hug. "You're gonna have to actually finish a sentence if you want me to understand where you're going."

But she just gives him a squeeze, an encouraging one, before she adds in a teasing tone, "Or I could just keep kissing you and really throw you off."

The teasing brings color to his ears, though Zan manages a true smile for a moment. His eyes close, gathering himself, or trying to at least. His grip on her looses, though not by much, as if he's afraid to let her go again and resume the reordering of her kitchen. He takes a breath that's not near as steadying as he might wish.

"There hasn't been anyone else," he says, "before… before I asked you. Just friends. There just wasn't… but when I saw you… The first time, it was like… I wanted to know you and… But my dad. And then we started hanging out anyway and you said yes and it's… it's only gotten better." Still choppy and a bit rushed, though he pauses to search for more words. "And I just… I want you. Not just that way but that way too… and I don't want to ruin what we have now. But…"

It's like that idea hadn't even occurred to her. Understanding dawns on Rylie's face, and she runs her hands along his arms to rest at the crook of his elbow. "Hey, don't worry about it so much, yeah? We can wait, it's no big deal. When you're ready, you can just let me know. First times are awkward enough without pressure on top of it," she says, her smile gentle. "I don't want to ruin it, either."

Zan stares at her for a moment, grasping at understanding her response. "Rylie," he starts, then stops himself for a moment. Instead of speaking further he gathers her up, entirely without asking and much like he has so many times in the past with an arm around her shoulders and one under her knees. He watches her with a faint half smile as he starts from the kitchen, walking with her in his arms to the stairs and then upward.

"Oh," Rylie says as he picks her up, and she seems to be agreeable, since she loops her arms around his neck. And she seems to figure he knows where he's going, because she spends the trip kissing him and being distracting. Right up until she has to open the door and kick it shut behind them.

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