Disclaimer: It's all Ngozi's.

The first time Ransom catches Holster crying in their attic bedroom, it's fall of their senior year. He's had a horrible day himself and hoped Holster could talk him down from the edge of a panic attack, but clearly that's not going to happen, so Ransom goes and finds Shitty instead. Holster is Ransom's go-to person at times like this, but Ransom knows that Shitty is Jack's go-to. Each person's anxiety works differently and Ransom hates having to go to someone other than Holster, but sometimes that's the only option. Shitty counts for Ransom and walks him through his five senses, and eventually Ransom is okay enough to start working on homework in the kitchen.

The second time Ransom catches Holster crying, it's the night of a kegster. Ransom's going to bed early (ish) because he needs to study tomorrow. He hasn't laid eyes on Holster in about half an hour, but Holster was dancing with March earlier, and Ransom hasn't seen March in a bit, either, so he assumed the two of them went back to March's off-campus apartment. When Ransom opens the door to the attic, though, it's dark, but there's the sound of crying. Ransom isn't sure what to do, and he figures Holster will talk to him if it's something he wants to talk about, so he just gets ready for bed, and Holster's breathing has evened out by the time Ransom has finished showering and is trying to fall asleep.

The third time, it's four in the afternoon on an ordinary Tuesday, and Ransom decides he can't keep pretending he doesn't see Holster like this. He opens the door all the way, steps into the room, and gathers a startled Holster up in his arms. "What's wrong?" Ransom murmurs in Holster's ear, rubbing one hand over his shoulders while the other hand stays splayed on his back.

Holster gulps in a few breaths before getting out, "I think I'm in love with someone, and I don't think they're interested."

"'They'?" Ransom asks, surprised. "Not 'she'?"

Holster presses his face harder into Ransom's shoulder and says, "Well, 'he,' actually."

"Oh," says Ransom. "Holtzy, are you—?"

"Bi," says Holster. "I think I've known for a while, but there have been enough hot girls that it, like, hasn't really mattered? But I'm in love and I think he's straight and—"

"Holtzy, that sucks," says Ransom. "Zero out of ten, would not recommend. I've been there too."

Holster pulls back to look at Ransom. "Like, you've fallen for a lesbian?"

Ransom frowns. "No, a straight guy."

"Wait, you're not—?"

"Straight? What? No, Holtz, of course not!" says Ransom. "Dude. I came out to you at a kegster sophomore year. I mean, I know you were drunk, but I didn't think—you really forgot?"

Holster buries his face in Ransom's shoulder again. "Oh my God, Rans, I'm so sorry."

"Hey," says Ransom quietly. "It's okay."


"Yeah." Ransom rubs Holster's back for a few moments and then says, "So, who is he?"

"Ugh," says Holster. "It doesn't matter. He's so far out of my league anyway."

Ransom shakes his head, his chin grazing Holster's hair. "Nobody's out of your league."

"Not even Mashkov?" Holster asks.

Ransom considers that for a few seconds. "I was assuming you're in love with someone you actually know. Although I stand by what I said. Nobody's out of your league."

"You are, though," Holster mumbles.

"What?" says Ransom. "Holtz, we are in the exact same league, literally and in every other sense."

"Yeah, but you'd never—" Holster starts.

"The only reason I've never hit on you is because this friendship is worth way too much to waste it on a fling," Ransom says flatly. "I'd never want to hook up with you. Shit would get weird. But if you're in love with me . . ."

"Fuck," says Holster. "I didn't mean to tell you. I'm sorry. You don't have to say it back."

Ransom pulls back just enough to see Holster's face and then tilts Holster's head up toward him with a finger under his chin. "You know I love you."

Holster swallows. "Yeah. You're my D-man."

"And you're my favorite," says Ransom. "I'm not talking hockey here. You're my favorite person."

Holster squirms. "What are you saying, Rans?"

"Do you want to be my boyfriend?" Ransom asks.

"Of course!" says Holster. "Do you want to be mine?"

Ransom ducks in for a quick, chaste kiss on Holster's lips. "Of course."

Holster cranes up for a kiss—this is such a weird angle, with Holster hunched on the bed and Ransom taller than he is for once—and this time it doesn't stay chaste for more than a second. Holster's lips part a moment before Ransom's do, but soon enough they both have their mouths open and their tongues are tangling together, probing each other's mouths. It almost feels odd that they haven't done this before—they know every other part of each other, from sharing a locker room, from living together, from helping each other get through drunk nights, so it's odd that they don't know this part of each other. Although that ignorance is rapidly fading as they shift and re-angle their mouths and faces and bodies in order to deepen the kiss and then deepen it further.

Finally, Holster pulls back and whispers, "You're sure you want this?"

"So sure," Ransom whispers back. "I think part of me has wanted this for years. Not that I haven't liked other people, too, but I've liked you more. Pretty much since we met."

"Fuck, Rans," says Holster. "Really?"

"Really," Ransom assures him.

"I wasn't even sure I liked guys until, like, this semester," says Holster. "And then suddenly everything was you."

Ransom smiles. "Are you quoting ABBA?"

Holster frowns slightly. "I don't know. Am I?"

"'Everything is you' is a line from 'Lay All Your Love On Me.' Come on, Holtzy, I know you know this."

Holster nuzzles Ransom's shoulder with his face. "You're distracting, okay?"

"Holtz, you're around me, like, all the time."

"And I'm distracted all the time!" Holster insists. "You're so—just—you're so hot, Rans. And so smart. And so funny. And so strong. You're so all the things I like. It's not fair."

"Well, you're all the things I like, too," Ransom replies.

"Really?" Holster stops nuzzling to draw back and look at Ransom.

"What part of 'you're my favorite person' don't you understand?" Ransom asks.

Holster returns his face to Ransom's shoulder. "How are you real."

"Holtz," says Ransom sternly. "We are in the same league. Stop doubting yourself."

Holster just whines.

Ransom has a feeling he's not going to convince Holster today. But he can do something else to show how he feels until Holster starts believing him. He starts kissing the side of Holster's head and his cheek, which are the only parts of Holster he can reach right now, and he keeps it up until Holster turns his head and captures Ransom's lips.

They miss dinner.