Part 3, R, Ryan/Brendon + Additional Pairings
< Part 2
Brendon’s a little bored and pissy because Spencer blanks him out whenever he tries to ask about what Ryan hasn’t talked to him about (and he has a right to be really because, hello, if it’s about him he deserves to know right) and Jon isn’t telling him anything either though Brendon suspects that’s because he honestly doesn’t know himself.
So in the lecture hall the next day when Gabe taps Brendon on the shoulder he knows it’s the regular announcement of one of Gabe’s crazy house parties which he would normally at least attempt to avoid but this time he has never been more grateful for the distraction.
‘Smoke up at mine tonight, 8.30pm sharp. You in?’ Gabe asks with a wink.
Brendon instantly butts in, ‘Yes.’ And shoots a quick but wide grin at his friend who smiles in satisfaction.
- - -
When Brendon really stops to notice, the SAS is pretty quiet nowadays unlike in the early weeks when they were first getting started and it was hectic destruction and not really knowing or trusting anyone. And in that way, Brendon thinks it’s sort of like war.
He’s formed allies and probably made life long friends. He’s witnessed hate and love and the creation of something beautiful out of a wasteland. But then he remembers that if it was war they’d all have been killed 4 times over so he quickly drops the idea.
Spencer knocks him from his thoughts by slapping his shoulder as he walks by. Brendon quickly regains his balance, leaning against the shovel he was previously leaning against.
‘Get your head out of your ass Urie!’ Spencer calls back but he’s got a smile on his face so Brendon doesn’t put too much venom into his ‘shut up’.
He heads over to the store shed and checks down the schedule before replacing his shovel with a pair of handy gloves. The walk over to the area that needs weeding is pretty long and it’s a hot day so Brendon tucks the gloves into the back pocket of his jeans and allows his sunglasses to drop from his forehead over his eyes.
When he reaches a particularly large patch of ground that needs much attention he pauses and drops to his knees. He’s just about to pull the gloves on when he hears rustling from a large bush to his right.
It sounds too big to merely be a rabbit (which are pains anyway because they dig the whole garden up) so Brendon deduces it either a fox or a badger, both of which are banned as they kill the bird Spencer insists are crucial to the atmosphere.
He stands up and carefully makes his way over to the bush, cautious not to make any noise. Brendon reaches out and pulls one of the larger branches to the side, revealing a patch of red hair dodging around in the space. He’s just about to reach out and grab and fox when it moans instantly causing him to screech and retreat from the bush. A few muttered curses are heard and then two bodies come tumbling out looking severely dishevelled.
‘What the fuck?’ Brendon squeals. He really didn’t need to see that, thanks.
‘Um. Sorry?’ Frank says with a very not sorry but instead slightly smug grin while Gerard avoids Brendon’s eyes sheepishly.
‘Okay. Yeah. Just. Don’t. Um. Yeah.’ Brendon rambles and backs away slowly until he has distanced himself enough. He turns around, shaking his head and tries to dispel the image of Gerard and Frank from his head.
He reaches into his back pocket, ready to pull his gloves on and distract himself with work in a different area of the garden (he probably won’t ever be able to go near that part again) but he finds his pocket empty and the gloves gone.
‘Crap.’ He says and pauses his walking. They were the last decent pair left in the shed and no way is he going back to the scene of the crime to fetch them. He’s just about to turn and slump back to the shed when a hand firmly grasps his shoulder causing him to jump.
‘Hey, sorry, but, um, you work here right?’ A guy Brendon doesn’t recognise asks him and he nods cautiously because he sort of does. ‘Great. So can you take this in? You don’t need to sign for it or anything, just, yeah.’ He thrusts a parcel into Brendon’s arms and calls out a thanks as he disappears round the side of the house.
Brendon watches the delivery van pull away with a stunned expression because he honestly has no idea what just happened. He does, however, seem to connect the parcel with the house and that would involve him being near the house, at the door preferably, so he walks around the corner and up the path towards the front door.
He shifts the parcel (big, square but surprising light) onto his left hip, supporting it with his left arm as he knocks with his right.
He waits a minute. No answer.
He knocks again, slightly more forceful this time, and when no answer comes he checks the small arch over the door for a doorbell or something but he comes up empty.
He knocks once more and calls out a ‘hello?’ He pauses for a moment and thinks through his options. He could leave the parcel at the door but then it could be stolen or something. He could go find Spencer but the garden’s a big place and he’d rather not carry this thing around.
So the third option, he decides, is probably the best. He hesitantly opens the door and steps inside slowly, eyes darting around and looking for a place to set the parcel down so he can get the fuck out of there.
He walks further inside, taking in the classic decorating. The hallway ceiling is a high arch and Brendon thinks he spots a chandelier a bit further down. The walls are a pale green but are covered in various paintings and a few framed records.
The first door he comes to on his right is already open. He calls out another cautious ‘hello?’ receiving no reply still so he steps into the room and glances around anxiously.
There are a few sofas strewn around and some guitars ad what Brendon thinks is a ukulele perched against a small wooden cupboard. He spots a table and quickly heads over to it, placing the package on the glass surface.
He turns and is ready to head out the door when from the corner of his eye a mirror catches his eye. It’s not the mirror itself but rather what’s reflected that draws his attention so he spins in the opposite direction and comes face to face with a beautiful baby grand piano.
Although music held great interest for Brendon, he’d never really taken part in it much as his parents thought it was a waste of time. He does, however, remember his mother spending entire afternoons teaching him to play the piano. Mainly religious hymns or small melodies but sometimes he would play his own pieces that he’d make up on the spot or try to recreate a song his friend, Brent, had been listening to earlier that day.
Brendon glances around the room hesitantly once more before slowly sitting himself on the piano bench and running his fingers softly over the keys, not pressing hard enough to make sound but just enough to be able to feel the familiar weight.
He presses one finger down and listens to the noted echo in the silence. His mouth quirks up at the sides as he repeats the action. He positions his right hand over the keys and plays them in quick succession, bringing his left hand up to join them and before he knows it he’s diving into one of his favourite songs his mother used to plat with him and it’s just as easy as he remembers.
And then the music slows and spreads into open space, Brendon’s mind dictating the next note, next movement, playing something new and original and his and he likes the thought. That this music is his.
He sees something move from the corner of his eye and startles, the music coming to a halt. Ryan is stood in the doorway, head tilted to the side and eyes wide and open. His hair isn’t tied back by the usual bandana but it wild and messy around his face and all he’s wearing is a pair of grey pyjama bottoms riding too low on his hips and the fabric rubs together making a scratchy sound when he takes a step further into the room.
Brendon snaps out of his daze and jumps up exclaiming, ‘Oh shit, I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was… You were sleeping, I, I’m sorry. Really. I’ll just.’
Ryan smiles a small secretive smile, clearly amused by Brendon’s stuttering and shakes his head causing Brendon’s tongue to skid to a halt.
‘That was beautiful.’ Ryan says in his smooth monotone but this time there’s some emotion thrown in there and it makes Brendon feel sort of special, privileged.
‘Um. Thanks. Yeah. Thanks.’ Brendon says blushing slightly and scratching the back of his head awkwardly because he’s stood in this (rich and hot and talented and pretty and kind of perfect) stranger’s house (mansion) in his dirty, mud-splattered, torn jeans with messy hair from combing his hand through it too much and he’s basically just trespassed and then helped himself to Ryan’s stuff and so this doesn’t look so good on him.
But Ryan’s being nice and his gaze into accusing but open and curious and it makes Brendon hopeful that maybe he’s not about to be punched. He could probably take Ryan anyway. The shirtless state leaves Ryan’s perfectly flat, white stomach easily visible, especially the few protruding ribs and. Oh. He’s shirtless.
Brendon’s gaze instantly flicks back up to Ryan’s face as his blush deepens.
‘Uh…’ Brendon trails off, not really sure what to do because Ryan isn’t saying anything and he’s not sure if he should leave but Ryan’s blocking the door.
‘Play me something.’ Ryan says and glides over to the sofa facing the piano and folds himself up, watching Brendon eagerly.
‘Um. Okay.’ Brendon says slightly confused because Ryan’s the musician (famous and successful musician) here and not him but he retakes his seat regardless.
He replaces his hands on the keys and pauses, glancing over at Ryan. ‘Um, anything is particular or…’
Ryan thinks for a moment, just looking at Brendon, before he eventually says, ‘just, like, what you were playing before.’
‘I. Um. I don’t really remember.’ Brendon replies sheepishly and shrugs.
‘Okay. So. Just whatever you want.’ Ryan says, returning the shrug but smiling encouragingly.
Brendon nods and smiles slightly before launching into a hymn, quickly tailing it off into one of his creations again, adding twists and turns and soon forgetting he has company at all.
The music trails off with one last flick of Brendon’s hand and when he turns back to Ryan he finds a wide grin awaiting him, which he instantly mirrors. There’s silence for a moment as Ryan looks at Brendon considering and he’s never been good with the quiet, it’s too flat and dead and it’s uncomfortable so he decides to break it.
‘So. Um. How’s the music going?’ He asks and then flinches and Ryan’s face darkens an almost unnoticeable amount but it’s still there.
‘Not well.’ He replies, not taking his eyes of Brendon. ‘Not much inspiration I guess.’ Ryan laughs but it’s slightly bitter.
Brendon nods in understanding and feels the conversation come to a close. He stands carefully as Ryan watches and walks over to the door. ‘I should get back to, you know, work.’ He says awkwardly.
Ryan nods and continues looking at him, obviously waiting.
Brendon’s about to turn and leave when he remembers what he entered the house in the first place. ‘You got a, um, package.’ He says, pointing to the box. ‘That’s why I was. Yeah.’
Ryan nods and averts his gaze to where Brendon gestured before standing up and walking over to it. Ryan starts opening the box and Brendon hesitates, curious to see what exactly it contains.
Ryan rips it open and draws out a few sheets of paper. ‘Staff paper.’ Ryan explains. ‘I was running low, you know.’ He nods towards a bin situated in the corner of the room, overflowing with screwed up balls of paper.
‘Maybe you just need to get out of the house.’ Brendon says, and at Ryan’s questioning look adds, ‘for inspiration. Like, take a walk or go see a movie. Or. Um. Well my friend’s having a party this weekend and Spencer’s going anyway so you could…’
Ryan bites his lip before replying, ‘Sure.’
Brendon smiles goofily and says, ‘okay.’
- - -
Gabe’s place is already pretty crowded by the time they arrive (late because Jon couldn’t find his keys) and Brendon can smell the smoke from the end of the hall, which he tells Gabe when he answers the door.
‘Fuck man,’ Gabe drawls, already slightly sloppy, ‘you say it like it’s a bad thing when really it means this shit is good.’ He laughs. ‘You’re late, by the way.’
‘We know.’ Jon replies sharing an amused grin with Brendon before pushing past Gabe and out into the living room with the gathering is already in full swing. He takes his dutiful seat by Spencer on the sofa, giving him a peck on the lips as he accepts the joint.
Brendon follows soon after and glances around, taking in the attendees. Andy is perched on the floor by Spencer’s legs while Pete is curled up in the armchair with Alex sat on the armrest. Well shit.
As soon as their gazes lock, a relatively sober looking Alex glares and immediately diverts his attention back to Pete who is jabbering on about parrots.
Gabe trails past and drops onto the sofa by Spencer, leading Brendon’s gaze over to the one available seat next to…
‘Ryan,’ Brendon smiles as he drops down onto the sofa. ‘You came!’
‘I did.’ Ryan says with a small nod and a smile and Brendon spares a moment to take him in. The bandana is back again but a few strands of hair still fall in front of his eyes. He’s wearing a tight grey shirt with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows and, if possible, even tighter jeans.
Brendon takes the joint from Gabe, a grin still plastered on his face and eyes not breaking away from Ryan’s.
- - -
The atmosphere is slowly relaxing as they get more and more out of it. Ryan seems to be the most aware but Brendon isn’t sober enough to even notice that. He’s curled up against Ryan’s side, laughing at anything while Ryan strokes a careful hand through his hair. He’s almost purring as he pushes back into the touch.
Warm breath suddenly hits his cheek and he turns his head to find Ryan a lot closer than before, eyes staring into his. ‘What’s that all about?’ He murmurs and when Brendon shoots him a confused look he gestures over to the armchair Alex has now spread himself over.
Alex glances over towards them, shooting a glare at Brendon and oh. ‘Um…’ Brendon starts, suddenly feeling awkward despite the pleasant buzz running through his veins.
He redirects his attention back to Ryan who’s gazing at him levelly, waiting for a reply but before Brendon can even formulate some excuse and maybe comment on the green and gold flecks decorating Ryan’s eyes, the front door swings open.
‘Travie, mi hermano!’ Gabe shouts, stumbling to his feet and throwing himself at Travie.
‘Gabe, bro!’ He laughs carefully prying Gabe from him. ‘Look what I brought along.’ He says and gestures over his shoulder with a wink before situating himself on the sofa above Andy.
‘Bill?’ Gabe says, a smile spreading on his face.
Bill nods, a sharp look on his face but it doesn’t seem to deter Gabe from grabbing his hand and pulling him further into the room, settling him onto his lap.
- - -
Travis starts up a rap battle with Gabe (‘it’s on motherfucker’) and a slightly less enthusiastic Andy but the atmosphere soon turns to a competitive high rather than just a chemical one. Brendon laughs loudly, subconsciously noting the way it echoes around the room for a few seconds afterwards, as Bill drapes himself over Gabe’s lap, whispering encouragements in his ear. Pete inputs sarcastic comments every so often with a sly grin.
After a few verses about the environmental conscience of cows, Andy surrenders and he and Ryan go hide out on the beanbag in the corner and discuss some philosophical shit leaving Travis and Gabe to attempt a continuation through the fits of giggles.
‘I like William’s hair.’ Brendon notes, twirling a finger through his own dark locks and pouting when it stops just below his ears instead of down past his shoulders. He wants hair like that. It’s all curly too. Like Ryan’s. He misses Ryan’s soft hair and being able to run his fingers through it. Or Ryan running his finger’s through Brendon’s hair. Either way would be great.
‘I like his hips.’ Jon says with a sigh and Spencer smacks him half-heartedly round the head while Gabe knowing strokes his fingers over the body part in question knowingly.
‘I like Spencer’s hips.’ Brendon comments and tips his head back over the sofa arm to grin at Spencer who returns it happily.
‘I like pancakes.’ He then says and attempts to crawl out of Jon’s embrace and towards the kitchen. ‘Fuck, we should make pancakes.’
‘Is it safe? To go in the kitchen? Kiitcheeeeeeeen?’ Jon mumbles, pulling Spencer into his lap once again. Spencer doesn’t try to escape again but instead burrows against Jon’s chest and makes a small pleased sound.
Brendon starts to sing ‘You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties’ quietly, rubbing a rough hand over his tired eyes. He feels a dip at the other end of the couch and looks over expecting to see Ryan perched there but instead there’s a rush of ginger tilting into him.
‘You’re not Ryan.’ Brendon says but proceeds to comb his fingers through Andy’s hair anyway because it’s pretty long like William’s and curly like Ryan’s even if it is the wrong colour.
‘Right now I’m not. But tomorrow I could be.’ Andy says and this is what Brendon means when he says Andy is too logically evolved for everybody (except Ryan apparently) because that made no sense and just what.
‘What?’ He drawls but his mind swings back to Ryan and how it isn’t Ryan’s hair he’s petting. ‘Ryan.’ He says and his head spins slightly, searching the room until he finds the familiar hunches figure in the corner with a notebook sat in his lap, watching Brendon intently.
Brendon frowns and raises and eyebrow because even through the haze he’s pretty sure it’s not normal to just watch people but Ryan simply smiles and shakes his head slightly and then Brendon doesn’t care because Ryan has a nice smile. It’s small and simple but sweet and he doesn’t think he’s seen it enough.
And then all of a sudden there’s another body next to Ryan’s and Brendon doesn’t like that so much, especially not when he realises that the body is, in fact, Alex.
He frowns as Alex leans into Ryan and talks into his ear. Ryan grimaces slightly and snaps his notebook closed but he doesn’t move away and Alex isn’t deterred at all. Spencer glances over when he notices Brendon’s distraction and snorts.
- - -
Brendon loses track of time and the next thing he remembers is Jon shaking his shoulder steadily, seeming more awake than before.
‘Hey Bren. We gotta go.’ He murmurs and Brendon grunts and sits up further. A hand pauses stroking his hair and Brendon glances up and sees Ryan looking down at him with a small smile. Brendon notices that he is, in fact, laying across Ryan’s lap and he thinks that might be embarrassing later on but right now he still has the pleasant buzz so he thinks it’s sort of awesome.
Before he can stop to consider, he leans up, pecks Ryan on the cheek, just a dry brush of lips on skin, climbs up from the sofa and wraps an arm around Jon, calling out goodbye’s as they head towards the door.
When Brendon glances over to Jon and sees the smirk there he doesn’t think anything of it, instead leaning even heavier onto him and mumbling, ‘Pancakes, Jonny. Ryan flavoured ones.’
- - -
Brendon’s head is still fuzzy but he works through it, carefully patting the soil down around the daffodil he just planted and already thinking ahead to when he’ll be able to go home and sleep. Sleep. Glorious, glorious sleep.
He clumsily pushes himself up from the ground and wipes his hands off on the backs of his jean, puffing out a breath. The sun is high in the sky and it’s a particularly hot day so he’s stripped off his shirt. Beads of sweat and already rolling down his chest as he runs a hand through his damp hair.
Brendon jumps and swirls around to face an amused Ryan. The bandana is still in place and skinny jeans cloth his legs but the V-neck has been replaced by a red and white striped tank top, the neckline hanging low and displaying sharp collarbones.
‘Um hi.’ Brendon says with a sheepish smile while Ryan chuckles to himself and Brendon attempts to cover his chest with his crossed arms.
‘I was just gonna go get some coffee. You wanna come? You look like you need some relief from the hard work of playing with flowers.’ Ryan says with a smirk.
‘Kinda warm for coffee isn’t it?’ Brendon replies laughing softly and Ryan just smiles in a slightly adoring but condescending way like a parent would at their child.
‘Iced coffee you dweeb. Come on.’ He turns his back and begins pacing away. Brendon pulls his shirt back on and jogs to catch up.
‘Did you really just say dweeb?’ He asks with a playful tone.
‘Shut up.’ Ryan mutters and swats Brendon’s arm.
‘So is Spencer not available for your coffee run?’
Ryan frowns slightly. ‘No, he’s probably somewhere making googly eyes at Jon.’ He sighs and turns to Brendon with a guarded look. ‘Plus I wanted to ask you so…’
‘Oh. No. That’s cool.’ Brendon says with a grin and it only takes a moment for Ryan to return it.
Only when they are standing outside Starbucks does Brendon come to his senses and realise where they are and whom else they will soon be with. He hesitates slightly, causing Ryan to stop his steps and look back at him with a raised eyebrow.
Brendon smiles sheepishly and scratches the back of his head, glancing inside through the large glass pane and yeah, sure enough, Alex stands there behind the counter with a smile on his face, clearly not having spotted Brendon yet.
Ryan follows his line of sight before returning his focus to Brendon with a slightly more knowing look in his eyes than before.
‘I. Um. I actually know this great coffee place just around the corner so…’ Brendon drifts off and Ryan simply watches him for a moment and then nods.
- - -
‘So you’re a musician right?’ Brendon says as he scoops whipped cream out of his plastic cup with his index finger. Ryan pauses taking in the place in favour of turning his attention back to Brendon.
‘Yeah.’ He says and watches as Brendon sucks his finger into his mouth.
‘So what are you doing now? Are you preparing for a tour or taking a break or…’
‘Uh, no.’ Ryan replies and smiles a little, glancing off to the side and out the window. ‘I’m currently working on a new album.’
‘Oh, cool. That’s. That’s awesome.’ Brendon says and leans across the table to squeeze Ryan’s shoulder. He doesn’t know why, it just felt right.
‘Yeah. No. It’s. It’s not going too well at the moment. Writer’s block I guess. Well, I’ve got most of the lyrics down, and some of the music but it doesn’t. They don’t fit together. It doesn’t sound full.’
‘Well what’s it supposed to sound like? Is there some kind of concept?’ Brendon asks, scooping up more cream while Ryan’s hands wrap idly around his own cup. He glances cautiously at Brendon and then back out the window again.
‘I’m not sure really. It’s just about. The usual stuff you know. Love and life. That kind of crap.’ He clears his throat. ‘What do you do anyway?’
‘Landscaping obviously.’ Brendon says and waits for Ryan to chuckle but he never does, just tilts his head to the side and studies Brendon intently.
‘Have you always wanted to do that? It seems like, a weird thing to want to be. But. Yeah. It’s different.’
‘I’m not sure. I think I probably wanted to go into music at some point in my life but then one day when I was about 7 my dad took me out into the garden to help him trim some bushes, and um, yeah.’ He smiles sadly at the memory.
‘But, you know.’ Brendon continues, ‘Me and Gabe are gonna start up a landscaping business and we’re gonna be big, doing like, fucking celebrity gardens and shit. When we come up with a name that is.’
Ryan smiles and nods and listens while Brendon explains his trade, what he wants from it. And his concentration only flickers when Brendon’s expression falls slightly and his words trail off as he explains how his parents had only paid for his first year at college and that he had funded the rest himself through the money he had saved up over the years previous from working at the local smoothie shop.
‘Why didn’t they pay?’ Ryan asks cautiously with an open and honest face and Brendon appreciates that he doesn’t push but just leaves it up to Brendon if he wants to explain or not.
‘They. Um. We sort of, fought about a lot of stuff the year I graduated high school. They were super religious and I, I don’t really believe in that sort of thing but I’d gone with it to make them happy you know. But then they were talking about planning my mission and I had to tell them that it wasn’t what I wanted and that I was applying to college. Agricultural college. And then it all came out and I told them I was gay and they kicked me out. At first I thought I’d never hear from them again,’ Brendon says and his voice breaks slightly. Ryan’s hand covers his own and Brendon sends him a grateful smile. ‘But then. They told me they’d pay for me to college. They obviously hoped I’d realise it was a stupid dream and that I’d drop out and then I’d go on a mission and they’d ignore the whole homosexuality issue but clearly that didn’t happen so.’
Brendon smiles sadly one last time and averts his gaze from Ryan’s sympathetic gaze over to Shane’s bright grin as he serves a slender, blonde woman.
‘My mother left me when I was a kid.’ Ryan’s voice breaks through suddenly and when Brendon turns to him he can see the slight distance in his eyes. ‘It was just, just me and my dad.’
Brendon nods and doesn’t think about the way both of their hands clasp together a little tighter than before.
- - -
‘Fuck, I do not. I do not need to see this.’ Brendon yells, shielding his eyes and stumbling through the apartment as Jon and Spencer flail on the couch attempting to cover themselves.
‘My innocence!’ Brendon screams one last time before he slams the door to his room and flings himself onto his bed, face down.
He lies in silence for a few moments before digging his phone out and texting Gabe.
urgent need of alcohol
come help me
- - -
‘When you suggested we drag ourselves to Nightscape I presumed you meant to get drunk of our asses, not to admire your boyfriend from a distance.’ Brendon takes another gulp from his drink and tries to ignore the way Gabe is watching William at the side of the stage. He’s busy on the phone and so Gabe had suggested they go get drinks before greeting him.
Brendon scans over the club, eyes landing on a booth near the stage. He recognises Ryan sat with a dark haired woman and they appear to be involved in an animated discussion. Suddenly Ryan looks up and catches Brendon’s eye, smiling and waving.
Brendon hesitantly waves back and is surprised when Ryan stands and starts heading over towards him.
‘Hey.’ Brendon says when he’s close enough, ‘What are you doing here?’
‘My manager, Vicky, wanted to check Bill out before she gives the go ahead for him doing some vocals on the album.’ Ryan replies with a smile and for some reason finding out that Vicky is his manager is strangely relieving. ‘What about you?’
‘Well. After experiencing a disturbing scene on the couch when I got home I decided I needed to get drunk. Like, really drunk.’
‘And that’s where I come in.’ Gabe says with a wink and Brendon dissolves into laughter because he’s sort of tipsy already.
And that’s when William comes storming over with a pained look on his face and just about collapses against Gabe who merely looks confused and wraps his arms around the limp body.
‘Bill?’ He says quietly and confused.
‘I’m fucked.’ Bill says and lifts his head to look at Ryan. ‘We’re fucked.’
‘What?’ Ryan asks with a furrowed brow.
‘Mike totalled his car on the way here and now the police are holding him in custody.’ William groans and hides his head against Gabe’s neck.
‘Fuck.’ Ryan says. ‘Can’t you find someone to replace him? I mean, come on, there’s plenty of guitar players in here. Fuck I’ll even do it.’ William shakes his head defeated.
‘We were doing a keyboard set tonight.’ Ryan’s face falls and Brendon glances between the group anxiously, not sure what he’s supposed to say or do.
‘Brendon.’ Ryan says suddenly, eyes shooting to William.
‘Yeah?’ Brendon replies, confused about his sudden inclusion.
‘No. Brendon. Brendon can play. I’ve heard him. He’s good. He can do it.’
‘He can?’ William says, hope crossing his features as Brendon chants, ‘No, no, no, no.’
Ryan turns his attention back to Brendon. ‘I know you can do it Bren. Your one of the best players I’ve ever heard and you were barely even trying. Come on. I know you can do it.’ And Brendon can’t say no to the small hopeful smile Ryan says so he nods.
‘Awesome!’ William yells, suddenly filled with energy once again as he latches onto Brendon’s arm and starts dragging him over to the side of the stage. ‘We have sheet music you can read from but we only have 5 minutes until show time.’
Brendon tries to take in everything Bill tells him but really his brain is screaming what are you doing’ and ‘you’re not a musician’ and ‘fuck’.
And then he’s on stage and he’s staring at sheet music he’s never seen before and Bill is just to his side announcing something or someone and there are people, so many people, and then there’s silence and. He’s supposed to play. He’s supposed to play now.
His eyes scan the crowd wildly and then they fall on Gabe and then they fall on Ryan and his soft curls and his wide eyes and his easy smile and if he were up here he’d probably be saying, ‘Play Brendon. You know how. Play for me.’
- - -
They come off stage to wild applause and Brendon’s not sure how he feels about that. It’s different and strange but it feels right some how. Like that’s where he should be.
And even though he was completely focused on the music, lost in it, he was weirdly aware of Ryan’s gaze on him. It felt almost surreal. Like Ryan really was on stage with him. Like that’s where he was supposed to be.
He steps off and is immediately engulfed by Gabe’s arms. When he pulls back he glances at Ryan with hope in his eyes and is met by a small smile and Brendon thinks yes.
- - -
Later when they’re sat at the bar and Ryan is keeps glancing at Brendon in something like awe or interest or fascination, he leans over and says, ‘Do you play guitar?’
And Brendon says, ‘No. I always wanted to though.’
And Ryan nods, eyes lingering on Brendon for a moment longer.
- - -
‘Just 5 more minutes guys.’ Jon calls over his shoulder as he carries the tub of cleaning supplies into the back. Brendon props his feet up onto Spencer’s lap and settles further into the sofa.
‘Your shift finished 10 minutes ago.’ Spencer retorts and sighs, absently stroking a hand along Brendon’s ankle. ‘The movie’s gonna start before we even get there.’
Jon shouts, ‘I know but Andy isn’t here yet to take over.’
Brendon shifts slightly, tilting his head forward to look at Spencer. ‘So we’re done at the SAS next week. Gonna be awesome to be free right?’
‘Are you kidding me? I’m gonna miss seeing your mug around there.’ Spencer pauses. ‘Although I guess you’ll still be hanging out there regardless right?’
Brendon’s eyebrows pull down in confusion. ‘What?’
Spencer seems to hold back a smile. ‘Nothing. We, um, we still have the opening ceremony to do though remember.’
‘Yeah. What’s the point in us being there again.’ Brendon throws an arm across his eyes.
‘I don’t know but Ryan’s performing.’
Brendon freezes up slightly and asks, careful to keep his tone neutral, ‘He is?’ Spencer nods. ‘I’ve never heard him play before.’
Spencer nods again and if Brendon weren’t blinded by his arm, he’d see the careful way Spencer eyes him up.
The small bell over the door rings and Jon calls out from the back, ‘finally!’
‘Sorry. We got caught up.’ Replies a voice that very definitely isn’t Andy and Brendon’s eyes shoot open.
‘Oh. Um. I thought Andy was on shift?’ Jon asks, shooting a cautious look at Brendon who remains frozen in place.
‘I can’t do the shift tomorrow night so we switched.’ Alex says and when Brendon looks up he’s carefully tying his apron and talking to Nate. Nate?
The bartender from Nightscape, Brendon remembers, is good friends with Alex but then he leans over and kisses Alex on the mouth and Brendon feels his eyes widening simultaneously with both Spencer and Jon’s.
‘I didn’t know you guys were together?’ Spencer comments and Alex smiles sheepishly.
‘It’s sort of a recent development.’ Nate says with a grin and then says a hushed goodbye to Alex before leaving through the door, bell ringing once more.
Jon collects his stuff while Brendon and Spencer wait by the door and Alex checks the cash register. He doesn’t glance in Brendon’s direction once and Brendon thinks he should maybe feel annoyed or sad or confused by that but he doesn’t.
He doesn’t even care.
- - -
Brendon sees Ryan coming this time. But he still isn’t wearing a shirt.
‘Hey Brendon,’ Ryan says with a small smile in his usual satin monotone. ‘I was gonna catch you earlier this week but you weren’t in so.’ He shrugs and Brendon laughs.
‘You could have just called me you know? Spencer has my number.’ Brendon replies, scooping his shirt from the floor because he still doesn’t quite feel comfortable being half naked in Ryan’s presence and if the way Ryan is avoiding looking at him is any indicator, he isn’t comfortable either.
‘Yeah well.’ Ryan mutters, brightening Brendon’s smile.
‘It’s kind of what phones are for.’ He says, pulling his shirt over his head and then he notices the slight pink colouring in Ryan’s cheeks and the way he’s biting his lip. ‘Shit. No way. You do have a phone right?’
‘Um.’ Ryan says and then Brendon’s gone, laughing so hard he can barely breathe.
‘You are aware that we live in the 21st century right?’ He gasps and he thinks he sees Ryan crack a small smile at that.
‘It’s not that weird.’ He defends and watches Brendon’s hunched over figure as he attempts to recover his breath.
‘Uh. Yeah. It kind of is.’ Brendon grins and Ryan does too but shakes his head to try and hide it.
‘Anyway.’ Ryan says and suddenly he looks nervous and unsure, chewing on his lip in a way that weirdly distracting. ‘That other night at Nightscape, when you were playing. I um. Well I got this idea and. I told you I was having trouble with the album and I’ve got the lyrics but the music. It’s not. But the first time I heard you, you said you were improvising. And you’re a really good player and well. And well, it wouldn’t be a major thing or anything but you’d get a mention on the album and.’ Ryan stops and looks at Brendon like a scared little puppy, clearly waiting for an answer to the question Brendon didn’t even realise he apparently asked.
‘Um, Ryan.’ Brendon says, scratching the back of his head awkwardly, ‘I have no idea what you just said.’
Ryan laughs slightly and smiles a little before drawing a deep breath. ‘I was thinking you could help me out with writing some music. For the album. I mean.’
Brendon watches Ryan with wide eyes, brain not functioning properly. He doesn’t even think over his answer, doesn’t think about what’s he’s getting into or what he’s getting out of it, he just doesn’t think.
‘Yeah.’ Brendon says with a slow spreading grin. ‘I mean. Yeah.’
- - -
‘So, I know we talked about it before. But. It makes the music flow better if you have something in particular in mind. A concept. Something to work with. You know?’ Brendon says and adjusts the guitar on his lap while Ryan folds his legs under himself on the couch.
Ryan had insisted that he teach Brendon the basics of guitar first, before they started working and apparently Brendon was a quick learner.
Ryan looks unsure for a minute, gnawing on his lip again as Brendon has come to realise is a nervous habit of his.
‘It doesn’t have to be specific. Just an idea.’ Brendon pushes and waits with a hopeful expression.
Ryan watches him for a moment before sighing. ‘It’s about love. Or not love precisely, but what could be love. Wanting love. It’s about something different and interesting that catches your attention for no reason. Wanting more of it.’ He turns his head away and gazes out the window. ‘It’s something new and special and perfect and almost love. Maybe.’
Brendon nods silently and doesn’t try to analyse the description too much. They’re Ryan’s words. Ryan’s ideas. Ryan’s life. It’s private.
- - -
‘Less than a week remains until the final deadline for your experience projects.’ Stump announces and Brendon doesn’t feel as relieved as he maybe expected that he’d be out of work soon. He’ll miss the guys.
He’ll miss watching Sisky and Joe spray each other with the hoses before turning on Mikey who’d complain when his book got soggy. He’d miss finding Gerard and Frank locked in compromising positions in a different bush each day. He’d miss watching Gabe pick Pete up and throwing him into the fountain or a particularly large patch of bushes or even once into a tree and they all had to team up and tape 3 ladders together to get Pete back down again.
Gabe, however, seems more than enthusiastic. He leans over to Brendon and whispers, ‘How about it Bden? A party at my place to celebrate the end of slave labour seems appropriate.’
‘I can’t.’ Brendon says and bites his lip, ‘I’ve already got plans…’ Normally he wouldn’t turn down a party at Gabe’s but he really is in the mood for a movie night at home with Jon, Spencer and Ryan.
Gabe raises an eyebrow. ‘With your new boy toy?’
‘Um?’ Brendon says in a puzzled tone.
‘Aw come on Bden. I know you are Ryan are going at it. You could barely take your eyes off each other at my place. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. He’s got hips to rival Bilvy’s.’ Gabe says with a wink and Brendon shakes his head rapidly.
‘No. No. No. Me and Ryan aren’t. What. No. We’re just friends.’ He explains frantically and he’s not sure why he’s in such a rush to disillusion Gabe when normally he’d just laugh it off. ‘I’m helping him out with his music so. We couldn’t. Not that I want to. Like.’
‘It’s cool B.’ Gabe says and turns back to the front with an amused smile.
They sit through the rest of the lecture in silence as Brendon thinks over what Gabe could have meant. As far as he was aware he barely spoke to Ryan at all that night. And sure he doesn’t really remember how he got home but he can’t have forgotten that much. He’d remember if Ryan were looking at him in any way other than platonic.
They gather their stuff together and head down the stairs and towards the door. They pause slightly by the emergence of Pete and Brendon finds himself smiling.
‘Hey Pete!’ Brendon says with a grin.
‘Hey.’ Pete replies and gives Brendon a quick half hug.
‘You busy now? Me and Gabe were just about to go get some coffee, you could join?’ Brendon asks and Gabe nods in agreement.
‘Actually me and Patrick were gonna..’ Pete says sheepishly but Brendon cuts him off with, ‘Your welcome too Patrick.’
Pete glances back to Patrick and raises and eyebrow. Patrick smiles in response and says, ‘Sure.’
‘Awesome.’ Brendon says and, yeah, things are pretty awesome.
- - -
‘For fuck sake Brendon stay still.’ Spencer sighs and throws a cushion at Brendon’s head.
Brendon dodges stealthily and tries to settle again. ‘I can’t. This movie is really fucked up okay.’ Ryan chuckles next to him while Spencer rolls his eyes.
‘Blame Ryan not us.’ Jon says and Brendon turns his accusing glare to Ryan who stares back innocently.
‘Shut up. It was a perfectly good choice.’ Ryan says and Brendon huffs.
‘I get next choice.’ Brendon says with a smile and pokes his toes into Ryan’s ribs to accentuate his point. He hears Spencer snort from behind him and Ryan shakes his head. Brendon’s totally getting next choice.
- - -
He picks Aladdin and it turns out Ryan is more than enthusiastic about this particular movie.
‘Buts there’s no subtitles.’ Brendon says as he leans slightly against Ryan, who’s completely absorbed in the movie.
‘I know.’ Ryan mutters back.
‘And no adultery.’ He adds with a grin.
‘And no mind fuck or homosexual action.’
‘I don’t know about that.’ Jon adds in, ‘The parrot seems a little camp if you ask me.’
‘It has a name Jon.’ Brendon retorts.
‘Fuckever.’ Jon chuckles just as Ryan says quietly, ‘Iago.’
Brendon tips his head back and grins brightly at Ryan who seems slightly startled for a minute before he smiles back hesitantly, his cheeks colouring slightly in the dark. Brendon settles further into Ryan’s side and absently noted how comfy Ryan is despite his prominent bones and sharp angles. Especially his hipbones. Brendon really sort of likes those.
- - -
Brendon’s eyelids flutter a little bit as he feels footsteps draw away from him.
‘What?’ He mutters and snuggles a little closer to the warm soft cushion he’s wrapped around.
‘Jon and Spencer wanted some alone time.’ A smooth deep voice chuckles and Brendon thinks ‘Ryan’ and moves even closer. He feels a comforting hand stroke through his hair and hears soft breathing mixing with the dull sounds from the TV.
- - -
He’s hot. Really hot. Overheating. But he’s comfy and somehow through his subconscious he knows he shouldn’t move.
He tries to anyway but after shifting slightly he realises he can’t. There is an arm wrapped around his chest and it’s tight. Really tight. Too tight. But it’s warm and it smells sort of like honey.
He tips his head back slightly and cracks his crusty eyes open to peer at the face that’s really a lot closer than he expected. Ryan looks sort of sweet when he sleeps. His face is relaxed and holds none of the tension and careful indifference it usually does.
He’s kind of beautiful. Really beautiful.
And then shit. Brendon’s kind of really fucked.
Part 4 >