Ryan isn't slow but Michael thinks he is because he's always so distracted by Michaels mouth when he talks he never actually hears what he's saying. One day he just can't take it anymore
Michale’s got this mouth. It’s like…all plump lips and crooked teeth and lopsided smile and Ryan can’t help but stare when Michael talks. He’s captivated by the way Michael’s mouth moves, especially when he lisps or stutters, how his tongue presses out against his teeth and lower lip.
Ryan thinks that, to anyone else, Michael’s mouth wouldn’t be so attractive. For some reason, people don’t seem to like crooked teeth and lopsided smiles and lisps. But to Ryan, Michael’s mouth is perfect. So perfect that he gets incredibly distracted every time Mike talks to him.
They’ve only known each other for about a week and a half now, and just about everyone can tell that Michael and Ryan are going to be neck and neck in the pool for the rest of their swimming careers. Mike didn’t think he would ever want a competitor like this. He’s always been the best, wherever he’s swimming, but swimming with Ryan is like swimming against himself. It’s an actual challenge, and Michael lives for it. He also lives for the way Ryan’s disability is lessened after a race. Well, Michael thinks it’s a disability at least.
It’s just that, Ryan is always so slow to respond, and he doesn’t really look like he’s ever comprehending anything Mike is saying. And Michael knows how tough that is, having a disability himself, but something just seems so off about Ryan, unless it’s after a race. Right after they touch the wall, one right after the other, Ryan will immediately swim over to Mike and they’ll do some sort of half-under-water-bro-hug. And Ryan always has on the biggest smile, and Mike guesses it’s probably because Ryan gets the same thrill from racing against someone just as good as him.
It’s actually because Ryan simply enjoys swimming. It’s his favorite sport; his favorite thing to do, actually. It didn’t used to be, it’s been within the last few years that Ryan has really gotten serious about swimming. But it gives him structure, which he definitely needs, not to mention a tight body and good money. Besides all of that though, swimming just makes Ryan feel alive. When he’s gliding through the water, he feels like Superman - faster than a speeding bullet and all that. And that’s pretty cool.
The guys and girls on the team are pretty cool too. Ryan finds that he has a good time with all of them, but he enjoys spending time most with Michael. Granted, they don’t have much free time during training camp, and Ryan freezes up every time Michael talks, but when they’re alone, they’re usually busting each other’s asses at whatever video game is in the console or going halvesies on a large meat lovers.
Michael likes Ryan’s company, sure, but he also finds the guy kinda off putting. He talks in a slow drawl to just about everyone, but to Michael’s ears, it sounds slower than molasses, and he always asks a delayed, “What?” after almost everything Michael says.
Michael lets his mind wander as he thinks about what disability Ryan could have, and Ryan subsequently defeats him in their latest CoD battle. Ryan cheers and Mike sighs as he throws down his controller. They sit in silence for a little, and Michael rolls his head over the back of the couch to look over at Ryan.
“So like…what’s college like?” he asks, because Ryan is a year older and already has half a year of college under his belt, and Michael can’t hide the fact that he’s a little nervous about starting college.
Ryan shrugs and turns to look at Michael. He’s quiet, which is no surprise to Mike. “Parties are fun. Classes are hard though, man.”
Michael frowns and sits up. “Look, Ryan, I don’t wanna sound rude or whatever, but like, I know what having a disability is like and it-” Michael stops when Ryan sits up room obviously confused.
“I don’t have a disability,” he says, slowly, but this time it’s more incredulous.
Mike’s cheeks burn so hot he’s sure he looks like a stoplight. “Shit, man, I’m sorry, it’s just that you always talk so slow and, I don’t know, fuck…” Michael figures that whatever friendship they had is now out the window because he couldn’t keep his dumb, lisping mouth shut.
Ryan laughs and shakes his head, letting it hang as he looks down at the floor. “Nah, man, I just. I like, get distracted by your mouth.” Ryan immediately curses himself mentally. That definitely wasn’t supposed to come out. And certainly not like that.
“Oh…” Ryan doesn’t even have to look up to know that he’s hurt Mike’s feelings; he can hear it in Michael’s voice. “I mean, braces didn’t really work, and we tried speech therapy. The lisp used to be a lot worse, actually, and-”
Mike is cut off again, but this time it’s because Ryan is surging forward, and suddenly, Michael has soft lips against his own. He’s shocked for a second and doesn’t respond. Ryan’s eyes are closed and his lips are moving very gently against Mike’s. Michael ever so slowly relaxes and closes his eyes. But as soon as he does, Ryan pulls back.
“No, I mean, I’m distracted because I always want to kiss you.”
“Oh,” Mike breathes again, this time completely in awe. His eyes flutter open and he sees that Ryan is looking at him with so much doubt and worry he almost looks like he’s about to cry.
Mike’s plump lips stretch as he smiles his lopsided smile with his crooked teeth. “You wanna kiss me again?” he asks, lisp unavoidable.
Ryan grins as well, freckled lips pulling back to reveal perfectly straight, white teeth. “Hell fuckin’ yeah,” he says, and Mike is pretty sure that’s the fastest he’s ever heard Ryan talk.