A year after Ryan and Jon left the band, Brendon can't supress the memories left of his best friend. The italic text belongs to Bruce Springsteen as does the title, inspired by "For You" from Asbur...
Tonight was about the music. Every part of that appealed to Brendon. Music was his life, his job, his entire existence. So, naturally, he should go to shows to listen to music, even if the show happened to contain the ex-members of his band. Of course, Ryan and Jon weren’t exactly ex-bandmates. There was no fight, or fall out, or break up. They just left. His friends left for the music. They didn’t leave him and Spencer, only the music they’d created together. No big deal.
Brendon closed his lap top, got up off the bed and padded into the kitchen. He stopped in front of the microwave, staring back at his reflection. Dark eyes and dark hair deepened his face. He took a moment to rub his eyes, wiping all sleep and exhaustion away. It didn’t matter what he looked like tonight. He could wear anything, but he didn’t want to dress like a slob, that would leave Ryan and Jon under the impression he didn’t care or was a mess. Who cares what they think though? They’re only his old friends, his best friends. Ryan wears those ridiculous pants, striped and tight enough to cut off circulation. He shouldn’t feel pressured to look nice. Though those pants fit Ryan so well…he shook the image out of his mind. Twisting his hair mindlessly, he threw some old bread in the toaster. He didn’t let himself think too long about how it had been Ryan’s hands that had once twisted his hair. However, Ryan wouldn’t let you touch his hair for all the scarves and guitars in the world. He didn’t let himself hold the smile, when it jumped upon his lips at the memory.
Memories are funny things, he thought. When times are great, you want to cling to them like a familiar hand and never let them go. But when it’s all over, when things change, all these memories burn themselves into your brain as if they’ll never fade. You can spend all the time you have trying to push them away, dull and smother them with whatever methods you chose – alcohol, drugs, shutting down, building walls, faking smiles, or all of the above – but they’ll always flicker by right when you least expect it. And you’ll cringe uncomfortably. Brendon understood this, and promised himself he’d make peace with them. Making peace with memories was stupid because they were never at war. Well, they attacked him but he didn’t put up a fight. So he’d put them behind him, make new memories, and let the old ones simmer in his brain. And maybe they weren’t all put out, drenched in time, and maybe when Ryan’s face would split through his mind, his heart would skip a little like lovesick teenager, and it would pull at his core. But, seriously, it was nothing.
The toast popped out of the toaster, making Brendon jump slightly. He grabbed it and stuffed one slice in his mouth, before padding back into his room. He pressed the shuffle button on his IPhone. Music filled the room, and that voice spilled from the speakers. Brendon turned his back on the stereo, not hiding when he bit his lip. That voice. It was monotone and listless, and it echoed through his mind hollowly. Ryan was never one for vibrato or dynamics, or any kind of drama for that matter. Brendon continued nibbling on his toast. Tonight was for music, he thought, for music.
Driving through the city in his blue Audi, Brendon took his time. Black Wayferers blocking the golden California sun from his eyes, he wasn’t pulling off the inconspicuous look very well. The windows were down, the top open, a classic rock n’ roll station on. The disc jockey’s voice broke through the car, ‘From the early days of the Boss, it’s ‘For You’ Los Angeles,’
The cars rushed by tonight, while all Brendon wanted to do was let this drive never end. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, walking in that room and watching them play. It should be nothing, so simple, the way it always seems with him. While Brendon doesn’t fake the smiles, the laughs, the energy he radiates, he understood the pain around him. He knew reality. And as the chorus of the song hits, he couldn’t help but think about how much he missed Ryan. He couldn’t deny it. He grips the steering wheel till his knuckles turned white.
The sun was setting by the time he parked the car and strolled down the sidewalk to the club. It was slanted in the sky, low and bearable with a breeze winding its way through the city. It was a beautiful night, like a starlit dream of Hollywood. Kids dreamed of this. What was it worth living a dream without the one who dreamt it though?
Stepping in the club, he knew this was a mistake. There were groupings of kids, older than a lot of them at Panic! shows. A few heads turned when he stepped in, and he knew he’d be recognized in a matter of seconds. Casually, he slipped to the back of the club, wondering why he’d came. For the music, he reminded himself, but then again he could’ve simply listened to their album. Why did he need to hear them live? Why was I here?
He turned to leave, kids watching him all the way. He internally prayed they’d let him escape without making his existence know. He wanted to go home and forget this ever happened, call Spencer and maybe go out somewhere. Back out into the sunshine he went, skirting by people quickly. He rounded a corner and slid down against the wall in an alleyway between the venue and the next block. A few inhales and exhales later, Brendon had recovered all composure. His mind cleared and his motivations became clear. He’d come for Ryan. Not just for the music or because he was bored. It was for the person he considered to be closest for four years. And even know, it was as if everything was frozen and unbroken, but that was worse than having it all ended. We’re still friends, only because we don’t hate each other, yet we haven’t talked in a year. That was more than hatred could amount. At least with enemies you were definite. With Ryan now, we were just aged memories. And now Brendon needed to see him because he missed him. Maybe it was simpler then he thought.
Walking back into the club, he ignored every glance he received. Eyes on the ground he counted the second till the stage was taken by four well dressed men. Jon took his place, hair unruly and long. From afar, Brendon felt himself blend in with the crowd. Everyone cheered louder, and then Ryan walked nonchalantly to the microphone, skinny as ever, hair clinging to his face. A dulled smile lingered on his lips.
Maybe he’s finally happy, Brendon thought. Now he’s built his own new world of 60’s sound and harmonies. This is what he wanted. Not Panic! Not Brendon and Spencer. It shouldn’t hurt him.
The music was enjoyable, simple, short, and catchy. Brendon mouthed along to “Take a Vacation” and tapped his foot along to “Die Tonight.”
“This next song,” Ryan began, dull drawling into the microphone, “is about growing up, moving on, and, ultimately, changing. And those of us who never have the strength to do it.” The words chafed against Brendon like a paper cut. Ryan wasn’t bitter, he just didn’t care. Brendon couldn’t stand it. He was just so emotionless, so unreadable, so opposite of Brendon. He wanted to shake Ryan so hard that all the thoughts and feelings he held inside would just pour out. But wouldn’t hurt Ryan for the world. Good friends don’t hurt each other.
Brendon hoped, subconciously, that maybe Ryan was that broken boy the fanfictions portrayed him as. He hoped that Ryan wanted him back, wanted the life they had back. He hoped Ryan wanted Brendon the way he did when he couldn’t sleep at night because it was either too hot or his mind raced too quickly.
Hoping is shit, he thought. Ryan was happy, fine with his new hipster friends, and Brendon should be, too. And he was happy and fine. But all he could do was miss Ryan. The music ended, and Ryan was smiling that clever smile that lingered through old memories. New hair, new clothes, new band, Ryan might’ve thought he was a new person, but his smile and dimensional honey eyes were still the same. Brendon found himself smiling at that.
The show was over in about 45 minutes. The fans lead a mass exodus out the front door, leaving Brendon standing there like a wind up doll, frozen and strong. It was not surprise when Jon noticed him and whispered closely to Ryan. They exchanged a few moments of curious looks before Ryan’s eyes turned outwards and found Brendon. He shuffled awkwardly, the moment too set up and big to deal with comfortably.
Jon called out, “Hey, Brendon.” He waved blankly, putting down his guitar and climbing off stage, right into the bar. He pulled Brendon into a soft one sided hug. Brendon smiled laughing genuinely.
“Hey, man. Just thought I’d stop by and see the show,” Brendon said.
“I’m glad. You should’ve called before or something. We could’ve done something afterwards. We were just going out with the guys from Foxy Shazam and Ryan’s bringing Z. You should come,” Jon said.
Right, Brendon thought sardonically. “Yeah, maybe next time. Sarah’s coming over tonight. Pretty sure were making tacos,” he lied.
“Oh, gotcha,” Jon said. At his point Ryan had wandered aimlessly over to them. He held up a hand in a still wave, and gave a slight lip upturn. That was his idea of a friendly gesture and greeting though other’s probably thought it was him being a douche. Though, come to think of it, maybe it was always him being a douche, but Brendon didn’t want to believe it.
“Brendon stopped by to see the show tonight, Ry,” Jon said, pointing at him.
Ryan gave him a look like ‘No shit’ and nodded.
“Well, I’m gonna go shower, so, uh, nice seeing you again, Bren,” Jon smiled and turned on his heels. Ryan stood with his arms behind his back.
“Nice seeing you again,” Brendon said, offering a smile. He wasn’t quite sure how he thought things were going to plan out tonight. Just to admire Ryan from afar didn’t make sense, but talking to him was even more ludicrous.
“Yeah, you, too,” Ryan responded blankly. That’s a lie, Brendon knew it.
There was a moment of silence, as awkward as a couple on a first date except deepened with years of a notorious friendship. “Why’d you come here tonight?” Ryan asked.
“To hear you guys play. I love the new record,” Brendon said, shrugging.
“Really,” Ryan said. His tone was flat; Brendon knew he wasn’t buying any of it.
“I guess,” Brendon began, “I guess, I just wanted to see you guys and-,”
Ryan cut him off, “Don’t even start, Brendon. You miss us, right? Well, that’s great because it doesn’t even matter. Move on from Panic, and your past. From us.”
Brendon opened his mouth to say something, but his throat caught a bit. He’d always known he should move on, and he has moved on from Panic as the four of them. He has yet to move on from Ryan though. “No, I was going to say I miss you.”
Ryan looked down at his brown leather pointed shoes, his favorite ones. “So you came here for?”
Brendon finished his sentence. “I came for you. Not here your voice, or to stare at you from across the room like all these other girls. Not even for Jon. I came to your show, like a complete idiot because you’re my best friend, or were, because I don’t even know what the hell this is.”
“You shouldn’t have,” Ryan murmured, not letting himself look Brendon in the eye.
The words lingered in the air, and Brendon tightened his jaw. “Obviously, you don’t care about what we had. All those years and you don’t care. You’ve finally found your cool friends, and the girl, and the music, and the life you’ve always wanted. Well, what about the fact that you’re all I’ve ever wanted?” Brendon threw his hand out in front of him, eyes wide open. He couldn’t believe what had just lept form his mouth. It was a year’s worth of thoughts exploding all over an unprepared Ryan.
Ryan cleared his throat, “I’m going to go.” He bit his lip and turned his back on Brendon.
“No, I’ll leave. You’re right, I shouldn’t have come,” Brendon slid his sunglass back on and turned to leave. “You can ignore your past, but you can’t erase it, Ryan. I know maybe the fact that we slept together doesn’t matter to you, but what about Spencer? Your best friend for 17 years? Remember him? Even if the band wasn’t mine, it wasn’t yours either. Spencer was there through all of it. You can’t expect us to disappear and hang our heads forever. Get over yourself,” Brendon said, voice cutting through the club. Everyone in the room had heard that, but it’s not like either of them would’ve cared. Brendon walked out of the club, leaving Ryan to play nervously with the hair on the back of his neck.
Storming down the sidewalk, Brendon threw himself in his car, flew out of the parking, lot and sped onto the freeway. All he could think about was the stupid look on Ryan’s face when he’d mentioned the time they’d slept together, like Oh, no, my hipster friends are gonna think I’m a fag now. It was just another memory to burn in his mind. This time he was happy to watch them play through his mind and end it on that. On that note, he turned up the radio, and let his past fade to black.
So you, left to find a better reason than the one we were living for
And it’s not that nursery mouth I came back for
It’s not the way you’re stretched out on the floor
‘Cause I’ve broken all your windows and rammed through all your doors
And who am I to ask you to lick my sores?
And you should know that’s true
I came for you, for you, I came for you, but you did not need my urgency
I came for you, for you, I came for you, but your life was one long emergency
And your cloud line urges me, and my electric surges free