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[personal profile] waltzforanight
Title: i think you're swell (but i ain't gonna tell you so)
Author: [personal profile] waltzforanight
Fandom: Alt-Country RPF
Pairing: Ryan Adams/Rhett Miller
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 2,604
Summary: Maybe he can't remember what the next line is.
Notes: You guys, IDEK. Ryan Adams is an asshole. Rhett Miller is the Nicest Guy in the World. Naturally, this is where my brain goes. Title is from the Old 97's song "Stoned", which is not one of their songs about Ryan Adams, though it probably could be. If you tinhat it a little. Thanks to [personal profile] sionnain for beta-ing! <3



The thing about being on the road all the time is that you never know where you're going to end up, or what you're going to find when you get there. Mostly things are pretty constant, and Rhett's learned to appreciate the normalcy when he has it, because when things get weird... well, things get weird. Deep in his mind, Rhett knows that, but he often finds himself falling into the false sense of nothing interesting is actually going to happen here.

It's a reasonable argument. Right now he's in the elevator, on his way down to the lobby to wait for the taxi that's going to take him down to the venue for sound check. After that it's a bunch of press stuff and some dinner, then the show and the after party. All of that is great, really awesome stuff, but the only things he plans to do at the hotel are sleep and shower. It's not unreasonable to think that nothing interesting is going to happen here.

At least, that's what Rhett thinks until the elevator pauses on the third floor and Ryan Adams walks in.

Ryan Adams. Rhett can't do anything but stare in shock as the elevator doors slide closed. It's been ten years since all that happened, and it's safe to say that Ryan is the last person Rhett ever thought he'd bump into again. In an elevator, no less.

Ryan still looks the same, except that now he's blond. That part is trippy. But he's dressed pretty much just like he was the last time Rhett saw him, all the way back in '97: red flannel shirt, ratty white tee, and jeans that have the cuffs rolled up a good four inches. There's a pair of glasses - round lenses, with thick black frames; they remind Rhett of Harry Potter - hooked into the neck of his t-shirt. He's holding onto a beat-up old DiscMan and has clunky recording-style headphones covering his ears.

That makes Rhett smile. Every other musician he knows has switched to an iPod or whatever - the sound is shit in comparison to vinyl, sure, but so are CDs and at least an mp3 player is convenient. He isn't surprised by Ryan's stubbornness to hold on to the past. Ryan never followed the crowd on anything back in the day, that was one of the reasons Rhett liked him so much. It'd be kind of disappointing to find out he'd started since then.

Rhett has no idea how to start a conversation with him, even though he feels like he should. As soon as there's a pause between songs Ryan's listening to, he says the first thing that pops into his head.

"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."

Ryan looks up with a start, shaking his ratty blond (blond, Rhett still can't get over that) hair out of his eyes. It's obvious he recognizes Rhett straight away, but he doesn't say a word. Maybe he can't remember what the next line is.

"Hey," Rhett says with a grin, shoving both his hands in his front pockets so that he doesn't reach out and pull Ryan into a hug or anything. Ryan would hate that.

For a few moments the only sound in the elevator is the thumping bassline and muffled cymbal crashes coming out of Ryan's headphones. The atmosphere in the elevator is turning awkward fast, and that's not what Rhett wanted at all. He's worried that Ryan isn't going to say anything, that he's just going to keep staring until they get to the ground floor and then he's going to run. Again. Which sucks because all Rhett wanted was to say hi, maybe catch up a bit and -

"Why aren't we moving anymore?"

At first Rhett thinks it's some kind of deep, philosophical question about life, or about them, and he thinks that's a pretty loaded question to start off with. Thankfully his brain kicks in and he realizes it's the elevator that's stopped moving before he says anything stupid like it's hard to move forward when someone slams on the emergency brake.

Almost on cue, the bright red emergency phone rings, sharp and shrill in the confines of the elevator. Rhett stares at Ryan for a second, then reaches over and picks up the phone. "Yeah?"

He talks to the guy on the other end of the line for a few minutes, assuring him that they're both fine and that they're not going to sue him for trauma or whatever. Rhett asks the guy to call Murray and tell him what's going on, then covers the mouthpiece with his hand and asks Ryan if anyone needs to know where he is. Ryan stares at him for what feels like an eternity, then shakes his head roughly and starts fiddling with the gizmo in his hands. Thrown and not sure why, Rhett tells the manager that's all and hangs up the phone, then stands there and watches Ryan for a few long moments.

He remembers how they used to be, back on that tour for No Depression all those years ago. Ryan was a moody kind of guy back then (from what Rhett's heard from people, he still is now), but Rhett used to be good at snapping him out of it. It turned out that even though it was next to impossible to make Ryan laugh, if you got him high and told him a really dumb joke, he'd actually giggle. Once Rhett told him the orange you glad I didn't say banana? knock-knock joke and he laughed for twenty-five minutes straight.

They had a good time. Had being the key word there. Now, well, who the hell knows what's going on now. Ryan's taken his headphones off, letting them rest around his neck, but he's still not paying Rhett any mind. For anyone else, that would be rude, but for Ryan - he probably just has some kind of newly developed phobia of Casablanca or something.

Rhett waits a little longer for Ryan to say something. When he doesn't, Rhett sighs and walks over to the corner of the elevator (so, two and a half steps to his left) and sits down on the floor, his legs stretched out in front of him and his hands folded in his lap. He's actually twiddling his thumbs after a minute of awkward silence, so he decides to try the whole conversation thing again.

"What're you listening to?"

Ryan starts to pace. "N.W.A.," he replies gruffly. "Old stuff, back when Ice Cube was still with 'em. In-fighting made shit more interesting."

"You mean like our big nasty feud?" Rhett asks before he can help himself, tilting his head up so that he can watch Ryan walk back and forth.

Ryan doesn't look at all embarrassed, but then Rhett wasn't really expecting him to. He just shrugs and replies, "If you'd gone along with that, we could've been having really great hate sex for the last ten years."

"Yeah, well, hate... it's not really my thing," Rhett points out.

Ryan barks out a short laugh and comes to a stop in front of where Rhett is sitting. "Shoulda known you'd still be a hippie," he snarls, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring down. He puts all his emphasis on the last word, probably just because he knows Rhett doesn't like it when people call him that and mean it in a negative way.

But the thing Rhett's got figured out about Ryan is that pretty much everything the guy does is just for show. It's all calculated to help his street cred, or his bad-boy image, or whatever it is he's working on this month. He doesn't actually mean most of the shit that comes out of his mouth, he just doesn't want anyone to think he's a pussy. Apparently it's okay if everyone thinks he's an asshole, though. Maybe that's just easier.

Rhett doesn't think Ryan is either one of those things. He thinks Ryan is an emotional dude with a lot of pride and no good way to deal with that combination, and he thinks it's a damn good thing Ryan is so fucking great at writing songs because musician is about the only job out there where make people think I'm an asshole is an acceptable strategy for advancement.

He doesn't tell Ryan any of that, though, just stares up at him and says, "Yeah, must be."

Ryan snorts, then moves and sits down next to Rhett, with his arms resting on his bent knees and his DiscMan dropped to the floor in front of them. "Guess some things never change."

"Guess not," Rhett agrees, moving so he's sitting cross-legged. "Could say the same thing about you, but - hey man, nice hair," he says sincerely, changing tracks because he really isn't interested in having a conversation about where it all went wrong. He'd much rather tease Ryan about going blond like a Ken doll. It's as easy to get under his skin as Rhett remembers, and Ryan immediately rakes a hand through the messy tangles and glares sharply. Rhett just laughs at him, happy that things are suddenly feel normal between them again.

"Oh, fuck off," Ryan grumbles, and yeah, some things don't change.

Rhett just shrugs, unfazed. He's well used to Ryan's moodiness and he doesn't take it personally, even now. "Just complimenting you on your bold style choice," he says, still smiling. "You're a brave soul, man."

"That's rich," Ryan snorts. "Coming from the guy who wears velvet suits on the covers of his albums."

"Oooh," Rhett says dramatically, covering his heart with one hand. "That hurts, man." He's laughing, though, and secretly pleased. There's a dozen different reasons Ryan could have ended up looking at Rhett's albums, but only one reason he'd pay that much attention to them. It makes Rhett happy to know that he has. "So how many songs are you gonna write about getting stuck in an elevator?"

Ryan glares at him again, but cracks a small smile at that. "I don't know," he replies. "Depends how interesting things get."

The sharp hint of challenge in his voice doesn't escape Rhett. That doesn't mean Rhett knows what to say to it, though. "What do you have in mind?" he asks, figuring that hitting the ball back into Ryan's court is the easiest way to deal with that.

A good plan in theory, but Rhett wasn't expecting that Ryan would respond by shifting to his knees in front of him. Rhett's mind is suddenly full with memories of every other time he's seen Ryan on his knees, all the backstage blow jobs and that one really great night they actually had a hotel room, and now he's got the feeling that he is in a lot of trouble here. A lot of trouble, but the really, really good kind.

"I think you know," Ryan says slowly. "I think you remember."

Rhett swallows hard and looks Ryan in the eye. His face is flushed from the thoughts in his head and he can't hide that. At the same time, he's feeling kind of reckless in the sense that he doesn't want to hide it. He wants Ryan to know because he wants to know if Ryan will do anything about it. "Maybe you should refresh-"

My memory, Rhett finishes in his head, since his mouth is suddenly busy with kissing. Ryan's tongue is in his mouth right away, no taking it easy or waiting for anything, just deep, hot kisses that taste like cigarette smoke and orange juice. He's got one hand fisted in Rhett's shirt and the other gripping the back of his neck tight, dragging himself closer so that he's practically sitting in Rhett's lap.

All of this is absolutely a-okay with Rhett. He presses his hands to Ryan's back, encouraging him closer as the want flares in his stomach. He uncrosses his legs and shifts so that his feet are flat on the floor, one leg on either side of Ryan's hips. It's more comfortable, and has the added bonus of making Ryan fall closer the next time Rhett pushes against his back.

It feels as good as it used to, but Rhett knows better than to think it's more than it is. Because yeah, he remembers what they were like together before but he also remembers what it was like when it was done, and how good Ryan was at pretending none of it ever happened. Rhett is over it - he's a live and let live kinda guy, and besides that it's been like ten years - but that doesn't mean he's in any hurry to relive the experience.

He's over it, sure, but it still sucked.

So he's not going to pretend like this is a big deal, and that's okay, too. Because Ryan's five o'clock shadow (which he has, even though it's only two in the afternoon) is scraping against his own clean-shaven face, and Rhett can feel the heat from Ryan's skin steaming through his shirts. Ryan is making odd, familiar noises as he sucks hard on Rhett's tongue, then bites on his lip. Rhett groans and yanks him forward, hard enough that Ryan loses his balance and has to brace himself against the wall of the elevator with one hand so that he doesn't fall over.

No sooner has Ryan regained his balance and moved his hand back to Rhett's shirt - this time, he's pulling at the buttons, trying to get them undone without actually doing any of them, apparently - then the elevator lurches violently and they both tilt to the side. Rhett catches his weight on both palms and now he's the one on his knees, looming over Ryan, but he's too startled to do anything about it.

It takes him a second to realize the elevator is moving again. He has just enough time to scramble to his feet and smooth out the front of his shirt before the elevator dings as the doors slide open, revealing a guy in a blue workman's suit, Murray, and a bald dude in a three piece - Rhett figures he's probably the manager. Nervously, Rhett glances towards Ryan, who is already on his feet with his DiscMan back on. He automatically steps aside as Ryan pushes past him and out of the elevator without so much as a nod of acknowledgement.

Rhett watches him leave, ignoring The Suit when he asks if he's okay, and he tries not to feel disappointed about it. You weren't expecting anything, he reminds himself sternly as he exits into the hallway.

"Hey man, are you - was that -" Murray looks at Rhett, then out the front doors, which are swinging shut behind Ryan as he makes his way across the parking lot. When he looks back, his eyebrows are raised so high they might as well be part of the hair on his head. "You've got stubble burn, Miller," he says matter-of-factly.

Rhett ducks his head to hide the blush that he knows is creeping across his face, unconsciously dragging his hand across his face, as if he could erase the evidence of... whatever that was. He's spared having to respond to that by the manager, who trips all over himself trying to apologize. Rhett assures him it was no big deal, he's totally fine, and makes a quick exit. There's a sound check he needs to get to, and a few songs he's gotta make sure the rest of the band is ready to play tonight.
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