His life has never been better…
so why can’t he let himself enjoy it?
It was only a few months ago that Ryan was starving himself, hating his incubus nature. Now he has Chris, his amazing boyfriend who not only doesn’t mind that Ryan’s an incubus, but takes great pleasure in keeping Ryan well-fed. He loves Chris and Chris loves him back. Ryan’s healthier, more energized… he shouldn’t be having problems anymore.
But Ryan’s spent almost his whole life thinking he was worthless, and it isn’t easy to overcome. Throw in a visit from his mother and accidentally meeting Chris’s ex-boyfriend and it’s all too natural for Ryan to spiral back into suffocating self-doubt.
Ryan might no longer be a threat to others… but can he overcome his own inner demons?
Ryan still couldn’t get enough of waking up and not regretting it; not feeling awful and wishing he didn’t have to move. It wasn’t quite the novelty it had been several months ago, but even with it being five months since he and Chris had started dating, Ryan still basked a little in waking up warm and comfortable, with only a normal edge of hunger to start the day. That slight edge was nothing in comparison to what used to constantly gnaw at him, and wouldn’t even be a noticeable nuisance for a couple of days. More, if he supplemented with human food until his next real feeding.
Not that Chris would make him wait that long.
As always, Ryan couldn’t help but smile at the thought of Chris. The only reason Ryan had woken up alone was because Chris had had an outside-of-normal-hours appointment at his tattoo studio. The client was traveling and had specifically scheduled a layover in the area so that Chris could work on her. It’d been on the books for months, but the time slot had to start at six to allow for her to get the tattoo done and then get back to the airport.
Even with knowing he’d have to leave early, Chris had still spent the night. Ryan fell asleep easier now that he was feeding regularly, and it turned out that he was a fairly heavy sleeper when he wasn’t being woken from hunger pains, so it was his own fault that he hadn’t been awake to see Chris off.
Though there was the slight disappointment of not getting to kiss Chris good morning, there was still the thrill of knowing he’d get to see Chris tonight. What with it being Saturday, Chris’s studio was closed tomorrow for Chris’s Sunday-Monday “weekend.” And they’d settled into a pattern where Saturday night was spent at Chris’s house, to be followed by a lovely, lazy Sunday morning.
Ryan liked his own apartment just fine, but Chris’s little bungalow had so much more character. It was full of plants and books and crystals, decorated with pieces of Chris’s own art and artists that Chris admired, and Chris’s open master bedroom was airy and full of light. It was homey and comfortable and had a lot of happiness packed into it. While Ryan’s apartment was perfectly nice, he hadn’t realized how much it lacked feeling lived-in, until he’d met Chris.
Then again, when he’d met Chris, Ryan had also been on the verge of starvation for so long he barely had it in him to keep his apartment clean, much less personalize it. Even though that had been changing now that Ryan had more energy, he was still prone to minimalism.
Of course, objects were only one element. Chris’s house also was home to the ever-chattering Clementine, Chris’s parakeet familiar. Ryan had met her fairly early on because she had insisted, and she was a whirlwind all her own.
He wouldn’t admit it, but it had been incredibly nerve-wracking getting himself ready to introduce himself to a bird. Clementine was Chris’s best friend, his companion, and incredibly important. Ryan had been terrified of making a bad impression.
Clementine had turned out to be reasonable and sarcastic, with a wry sense of humor. Ryan was still getting used to how blunt she could be, but he liked her pretty well. He liked pretty much everything that had to do with Chris’s life, and how much he was letting Ryan be a part of it.
It was incredible, because Chris was incredible, and… Ryan hadn’t said it yet, but it kept wanting to trip over his tongue. Wanting to tell Chris how much he loved him.
Ryan wanted to follow Chris’s lead though. Being an incubus, Ryan had spent a long time worrying about his aura and how it affected other people. And while intellectually he now knew that his aura didn’t work that way and that Chris was warded besides, it was still a habit of Ryan’s to hold back. He hated the idea of pushing himself on someone else. Telling someone “I love you,” even if you were clear that you didn’t need to hear it back… it could put a lot of pressure on them.
Ryan was so, so happy with Chris, and Chris was pretty vocal about how he was happy too. Ryan was perfectly content with the way things were right now.
After a quick shower, Ryan threw on his clothes, as always making sure to put on the talisman necklace Chris had made for him when they’d first met. He took it off to sleep, not wanting to accidentally break it somehow, but it was routine now to clasp it around his neck every morning.
His routine had changed a lot in the past several months. Gone was the temptation to stay curled up in a miserable ball in bed, only pulling himself up to try to get some work done. Now he was happy to be awake because it meant being alive instead of a husk, and he had energy to work on projects and enjoy them.
He grabbed an apple to absentmindedly munch on before going to sit down with his computer. Human food helped sate his hunger in between “real” feedings, and the more he ate regularly, the better his system ran overall. Human food stopped being appetizing if he went too long without a proper meal though, which had gotten him into trouble before. Eating something that only barely scratched the surface of true hunger was still better than not eating at all.
But he’d gotten a lot better about it, making sure to at least start the day with something. And wonder of wonders, not being weak with nausea had really helped his appetite in that respect.
After spending a while sorting through emails, he got down to business on a new project he needed to start‒building a website for a law firm. They specialized in property taxation, and wanted individual pages and information on their most lucrative clients. It had been a lot of back and forth to get all the facts, figures, and images they wanted to use, but he finally had it all together, so now it was a matter of assembling.
He took a minute to send Chris a quick text. Good morning. Hope the appointment went well. Then he settled in to get to work. He didn’t expect an immediate text back, because Chris wouldn’t, if he were busy with a customer. And considering what Chris did, “busy with a customer” could mean anything from doing a design consultation with someone to spending five plus hours tattooing an intricate piece onto their skin.
Several hours passed while Ryan went over layouts and color schemes, changing things as necessary as he inserted pictures and formatted text. When he took a break to stretch, he also used the opportunity to go make himself some tea.
His phone beeped while he was waiting for the kettle to boil, and he smiled down at his phone when he saw it was from Chris.
It went pretty good! We were both really happy with the result. The message was coupled with an attached photo of the tattoo. Followed by another text: How’s your morning been?
Not bad. Ryan replied. Making headway on the law firm website.
Gotcha! Did you have anything for breakfast?
An apple. Ryan sent back, amused. Chris had gotten into the habit of asking Ryan when or if he’d eaten, knowing just as Ryan did that human food still had benefit, but also knowing that Ryan sometimes had trouble remembering that. Making myself some tea now. How is your day going?
Can’t complain. Had to do some damage control with one of Eddie’s clients but aside from that, it’s been a low-key morning.
It took about a minute before Chris’s next message came, which was a good paragraph about how a woman who’d come in with her boyfriend to get her belly button pierced. She’d broken down into tears while Eddie had been sterilizing the area, boyfriend had gotten angry‒it’d been a whole thing.
Ryan poured the now-boiling water into a mug with his tea to steep and sent back, Pretty exciting way for Eddie to start his Saturday.
Haha, yeah. We got it smoothed over in the end though. It takes a lot to rattle me or Eddie.
Ryan had plenty of memories on exactly how true that statement rang. I know. Say hi to him for me?
Will do. Speaking of, I’ve got to get back to it. Don’t forget to have something else to eat soon!
Ryan bit his lip on a smile. And a real meal, when you’re done for the day?
Whatever you want, baby.
That got a happy little sigh, because Ryan could perfectly hear Chris say those exact words. God, he was lucky.
He sent back a few heart emojis along with wishing Chris a good rest of the day, and then went to rummage around for something to throw together for lunch.