“Good,” he murmurs, a soft, sad smile dancing on tired lips. “Good.”
One still in a dream.
He can’t remember where he is. Thinking alone, by himself again. Left in that desolate place with no one to hang on to. Smell of IVs and piss. Pale-faced visitors with no tears left yet so much to cry about. Doctors trying to make the worst sound okay.
It’s only a dream. One he is dreading to live, but only a dream.
Someone yells his name, and the other eye shoots open. “Ry, wake up! We’re almost home.”
A familiar face, the most frequent one in the nightmare to filter by. He thinks of the tour ending, of coming home again. Not the most comforting thing. “Bren, let me sleep. I’m tired.” He rolls over. “Get me up when we’re pulling in.”
The younger boy grabs his arm, forcibly lifting him off of the bunk and into a sitting position. “We are pulling in. Come on, silly. Aren’t you glad to be home?” Brendon is so excited, energetic, happy.
Ryan thinks of what coming home means for him. “No,” he says stubbornly, but sticks out his tongue in playful recognition of his defeat. “Okay, maybe a little. But I’m tired.”
“And grumpy,” he adds with a laugh, entwining his fingers in Ryan’s. “I’ll get the rest of our stuff for you, then. You go on in, sleepy head.”
Ryan nods, not quite fully awake yet. It is nice to be home, after all, after such a long, exhausting tour. Home is familiar, a sanctuary in the midst of chaos. It’s a little comforting even amidst the knowledge that there is a high price to pay for it.
He steps off of the tour bus, glad to be leaving it even if he wasn’t ecstatic about being home again. The cool, midnight air is a refreshing change, too, from the stuffy living space. He looks up at the stars and moon, thinking of Brendon and his photographer’s mind; he probably would have been going on and on about how he wished he had a camera.
He unlocks the door, opens it, steps inside, flips on the light switch. A familiar routine. He wanders into the living room, actually a little entrance hall with a couch and television shoved in. The furniture is a little dusty, but in relatively good shape, all things considered. The furniture is clean, simple and modern, the way Ryan prefers things. On the other hand, the walls are all Brendon’s – filled with memorabilia and various knick-knacks. Pictures take up every available eye-level space: strangely beautiful paintings, striking landscape photos (occasionally Brendon’s own work), and an entire collection of scrapbook pictures.
Panic’s first band practice; the first gig they ever played; the day the band got signed. Ryan teaching Brendon guitar. Ryan and Brendon’s first ‘date’. The day they first kissed.
He tears his eyes from the reminders of used-to-be and begins to brew coffee, a lot of nothing that looks like something.
Brendon has dropped the remaining luggage by the door on his way in, and strides over to rest his head on Ryan’s shoulder and wrap his arms around his chest.
“So, I’m your headrest now?” Ryan jokes flatly, attempting normalcy.
“Much more,” comes the soft reply. “I love you, Ryro.”
Ryan sighs, tilts his head to rest it on Brendon’s. “Love you, Bren. Always and forever.” He’s still tired, but a cup of coffee or even a night alone with a lover could cure it.
He breaks away, only to pour some coffee for himself. Brendon grabs his own mug, and heads off to the living room to channel surf. “Want to see what’s on? There’re some movies you might like,” he begins, not realizing Ryan’s lost in his own head.
Ryan finally comes to join him on the couch, curling up next to him. Brendon idly runs his hand through Ryan’s hair with his free hand.
“I was actually considering cutting it,” he says to break the silence and try at normal conversation again.
Brendon seems slightly shocked. “Why? I like it longer.”
Ryan only shrugs. “Ah, I don’t know. For a change of pace, I guess.” To help hide the secret a little longer.
“It’s your hair,” says Brendon, already changing focus. Ryan smiles a little: typical Brendon - he never could stay on one topic for long.
They stretch out, practically stacked one on top of the other but neither really minding. He ends up ignoring most of the movie, content to lie there next to Brendon, listening to the steady thump of his heartbeat.
“Bren,” he says, falling hard into sleep, fighting to say what suddenly is so important to get out.
“Yes,” Brendon replies, yawning and then nuzzling Ryan’s ear.
“You know I love you, right?” he says with a strange sense of urgency.
“Of course I know that, Ry. I love you too.” They embrace, hugging each other tightly for a long moment.
Ryan’s eyes are nearly closed now, something satisfied deep within. “Good,” he murmurs, a soft, sad smile dancing on tired lips. “Good.”
He’s saying goodbye and he doesn’t even know it.