Brendon, if he wasn't pretending to be asleep, would have scowled.
With good reasons, of course. He always has reasons: Jon's snoring. His stomach aches. He's too wound up. He can't fall asleep when they're driving in this kind of shit weather. It's too hot. It's too cold.
And then the footsteps. They’re light, airy, and he knows exactly who they belong to. It's not the heavy-footed thudding of his other two band mates, more like someone trying his damnedest not to wake someone else, despite their ulterior motives. He knows why they're there, and why he's not looking forward to them stopping.
Damn. Not again, not tonight. I'm tired!
If only his mouth would work. He’s in a cursing mood, too.
Ross, if I ever get my hands on you I swear, damnit...
The familiar plop of Ryan falling over his own feet nearly makes him smile. Nearly. He isn't going to give up the façade anytime soon.
"Bren, you awake?" Ryan doesn't shake him, as usual. He doesn’t touch Brendon, his friend, his best friend (a little more? He wishes) at all. He only stares holes into the back of Brendon's head. As if in response, Brendon rolls over on his other side to face the pale-faced boy beside his bunk. He won’t open his eyes, hoping to convince Ryan that he is, for once, sleeping. Tries to ignore the annoyance away.
"Good, 'cause otherwise I might just have to put this thing off again. I really am sorry about the past few weeks, but you're such a light sleeper."
Brendon, if he wasn't pretending to be asleep, would have scowled.
Ryan shifts a little, suddenly self conscious. "I mean, I didn't want to wake you up. Really. I haven’t been sleeping, though I’m pretty sure you’ve no sympathy there. ” A joyless laugh. “You know how it is. I’m not lying about that though, the nightmares. They are real. I’m scared to go to bed in the evenings, even if I know it’s a dream. I hate having to relive that every time I close my eyes. You don’t even know all of it. Some of it I’m not sure I’ll ever tell anyone, not even you. But that's not the reason I'm talking to a sleeping man at one in the morning. You get little enough sleep already, insomniac."
Brendon is genuinely surprised. Ryan, first off, never talks this much. He’s the quiet one, for Pete’s sake! If only he could bother to make sense every now and then. He’s also intrigued, less annoyed now but still smarting at the idea that he didn’t have to comfort Ryan at the midnight hour for the past three weeks. Not that he minded the lengthy cuddling much.
"I'm rambling aren't I? Suppose I'm trying to put it off.” He pauses, slightly worried. “You are asleep aren't you?"
Silence is answer enough.
Brendon’s mind is racing, trying to figure out what Ryan could be going on about. He isn’t drunk. Can’t be. Sugar? Unlikely, as he figured that Jon and Spencer had hidden the stashes well enough that a sleep-deprived Ryan couldn’t find them.
"Okay." One deep breath, two shaking hands, and three long seconds of anticipation. "You're asleep. I can do this. You're asleep, for god's sake!"
Ryan mumbles a bit to himself, looking down at the floor. “Brendon, I love you. You know that, we tell each other that all the time. We’re closer than family. But I don’t mean it that way. I love you, the way you laugh, your smile. I love your voice when you sing; I love how you’re a five-year-old on the inside. I even love it when you push those dorky glasses all the way up against your forehead. I love everything about you. You’re my life, and I have no idea where I’d be without you. I think it’s breaking my heart.”
His hands are shaking even worse now; his breathing is short and he’s close to a panic attack. “I love you so much. I don’t know how I’m ever going to tell you. If I’m ever going to tell you. I had a hard enough time doing this just now. Somehow I don’t think you feel the same.”
Nervously, he puts one hand on either side of Brendon’s motionless body. He’s gotten it over with, but he knows he’s going to have to do it all over again. He studies Brendon’s peaceful face for a moment before leaning in to kiss his forehead.
In that same moment, Brendon leans his head up and opens his eyes, intending to argue with Ryan. Instead, their lips collide, leaving them to stare into the other’s eyes. Ryan’s arms start to tremble violently before they collapse, leaving him paralyzed on Brendon’s chest. Instinctively, Brendon sits up, gently, and wraps his arms around Ryan, propping him up.
He stands up. “Don’t move. Just sit there, or lay down if you’d like. Just don’t leave.”
Ryan is too shocked to do much of anything.
“I’ll be right back.”
What the hell just happened?
Is he that angry?
What am I going to do?
“Here you go. Drink that – it’ll help your nerves.” Brendon hands him a cup of hot tea.
Ryan stares at it, wondering what to do with it for a moment. He’s still not quite functioning properly.
“You should know by now that I’m never asleep,” says Brendon, attempting a feeble joke.
An uncomfortable silence ensues.
“I’m sorry.” Ryan stares at him. He looks like he’s been to hell and back, as if the very strain of talking was tearing him apart. "I'm so –"
Brendon cuts him off, staring him down with a look that could kill. "You've got nothing to be sorry about. If you feel that way, then you do. I don't see why you've got to apologize for that."
"But you don't –"
"Shut the hell up already and listen. I'm not done talking, so shut up, drink your tea, and let me say what I need to. I don't care about what you think I think of you because there's no way you know for sure what's going on inside my head. I know how you feel, and I really don't care about your doubts or insecurities or whatever the hell your problem is at the moment. I don't care because I think I like you." He lowers his voice, cupping Ryan's face in his hands, forcing him to stare into his eyes. "I actually enjoy spending the night cuddling with you when you wake up from that nightmare. I don’t mind it when you use me for a pillow and fall asleep during your favorite move, even if I hate it. I like it when we just hang out together by ourselves. I am glad to be on tour with you because we're hardly ever apart."
Ryan's eyes are searching for any sign of a lie, wildly unbelieving. But Brendon is serious; he won't look away.
"You're not joking," he says, stating the obvious. A ridiculous grin creeps over his face, a feeling of relief, happiness, and maybe even victory replacing the fear and dread. "You are absolutely, totally serious."
Brendon smiles too, setting the cup of tea on the floor. "I never joke." He pulls Ryan into a massive hug, laying down on the pillow and relishing the feeling of togetherness, completeness. "Now, let's get some sleep, shall we?"
Ryan looks at him, grins again. He knows how much sleep they'll be getting tonight.