Ryan immediately called Brendon to come pick him up. Brendon didn’t ask why Pete had left him in the middle of town or why he was crying. He just said he’d be right there. Meanwhile, Ryan slipped down into the nearest alley, half-hiding behind a garbage can. He pulled it out of his pocket, staring at it for a long time. He’d promised himself he was going to stop. He’d promised Brendon, too. But he needed an escape after the cutting remarks Pete had said to him. He needed his Zen. He pressed it to his tongue and held it there for a while before swallowing. He felt a little better, knowing that he wouldn’t have to be here much longer, in this place. He wondered if Brendon would get here first. He didn’t feel like moving from the alley, so he just sat there, slumped against the wall, waiting for Brendon, waiting for escape. He closed his eyes, suddenly aware that he could hear the footsteps on the sidewalk, the cars on the main road, the exact words of the passerby’s conversation. He knew it was starting to kick in, and he was happy the wait hadn’t been long.
He opened his eyes, marveling at the beauty of the world around him. The individual granules of the brick wall in front of him were particularly breathtaking , sparkling like diamonds when the sun hit them. He looked at all the different colors that made up the bricks. This wall, once so mundane, was now a mesmerizing, beautiful work of art. Until it started moving. Ryan gasped as it started moving towards him, slowly but surely. Ryan scrabbled backwards, pressing him against the other wall as hard as he could, trying to escape the impending doom coming towards him. Soon the wall was right on top of him and he could feel it squeezing the life from him. He tried to scream, but to no avail. And then the alley started flooding with water.
Ryan started swimming up, trying to reach the roof so he could escape the walls, but the water flooded in too quickly, the torrents pressing him down and holding him under the water. He started drowning. He flailed hopelessly, desperately trying to kick to the surface, but he knew it was too late. He could feel himself dying. He only wished he could see Brendon one last time. He clutched at his throat, trying to stop himself from drowning, flailing and flailing and flailing and flailing against the waters. Choking and choking and choking and choking. Brendon. Brendon. Brendon. I love you. Brendon. And then, a voice. Calling to him through the dark depths that were his demise. “RYAN? RYAN? WHERE ARE YOU?” it screamed. I’M HERE! FORGIVE ME, BRENDON! He screamed back silently.
And then, pounding footsteps. The waters suddenly parted, allowing someone to come through and reach him. Ryan turned on his side, gasping and choking on the water in his lungs. “Ryan? Ryan, baby, are you okay?” Ryan continued to choke, trying to clear his lungs. He finally managed to turn and look at Brendon, sitting in front of him, hands fluttering as he tried to figure out what to do. But it wasn’t Brendon. It was… a demon? Whatever it was, it scared the hell out of Ryan and he swung out at it. “GET AWAY FROM ME!” He screamed. Brendon/The Demon stopped, staring at him in confusion. “What are you talking about, Ry?”
The older man continued crawling backwards, trying to put as much distance between himself and the Brendon Demon as possible. “No! I want my Brendon! I love him! You’re not him! Get away from me! Give me my Brendon back!” He sobbed. And then the demon wrapped his it’s arms around him and Ryan blacked out.
The hallucinations followed him into his dreams. They were horrifyingly vivid. But he could not escape.
Brendon sat in the alley, desperately clutching Ryan, tears streaming down his face. He’d known as soon as he found Ryan and seen him what he’d done, but he didn’t want to believe it. So he just sat there, holding Ryan in his arms.
His trip, while bad, was not as long as normal. Only 4 hours. When he finally awoke, he was still sitting in the alley that had supposedly tried to crush him. He sat up slowly, looking at Brendon, who’s lap his head had been in. Brendon had tears running down his face and Ryan felt his heart breaking. “I’m so sorry, Bren,” he whispered. Brendon looked up at him, wiping his eyes with the heels of his hand. “Bad trip?” he asked quietly. Ryan nodded slowly. “It’s the worst I’ve ever had,” he said. Brendon nodded. “It seemed pretty bad. You screamed a lot. I thought you were dying once. You were clawing at your chest. I had to hold you down so you wouldn’t hurt yourself.” Ryan remembered that. He’d thought giant spiders had been sitting on him, so he’d been trying to get them off. He noticed that Brendon’s hands were shaking. He moved forward, taking Brendon’s hands in his own. “I’m so sorry, Brendon. Pete and I had a fight and he said some pretty nasty things. Some eye-opening things. And I just couldn’t handle it alone.” Brendon nodded.
“It’s okay, Ryan. I know. I know.” He sighed and stood up. “Come on. Let’s go,” he said, gently pulling Ryan up. He kept his hand in Ryan’s as they walked back to the bus. Ryan couldn’t help but giggle. “You drove the bus here?” he asked. Brendon nodded. “Yea. I couldn’t wait. You sounded really upset and I wanted to get here as fast as possible,” he said as he climbed up the steps. Ryan followed suit. He followed Brendon into the cockpit and sat down in the passenger’s seat. His fingers were still twined in Brendon’s.
“You know, people have died before, Ryan. The hallucinations have caused their heart to just shut down in fear. I thought you were going to die,” he whispered, fresh tears streaming down his face. “And then you were afraid of me. And it broke my heart, Ry. I thought I was going to die,” he said, the laugh he emitted sounding more like a sob. Ryan pulled at his hand and Brendon fell into his arms. Ryan let go of his hand so he could wrap his arms tightly around the man. Brendon pulled his legs up, curling up in Ryan’s lap. Ryan stroked his hair gently.
“You’re all that’s left for me,” Ryan whispered. “I love you, Brendon. Always.” He picked Brendon up and gently placed him back down on the seat. He grabbed Brendon’s hand as he crawled into the driver’s seat, starting the bus and heading back to the cabin.
Ryan made up some excuse about how he and Brendon had gotten distracted by the shops in the town and had grabbed lunch. Jon and Spencer seemed to buy it, so Ryan pulled Brendon back into the bedroom they were sharing. Brendon curled up on the bed and Ryan lay down next to him, the hand that wasn’t still holding Brendon’s resting on his hip. Brendon put his free hand to Ryan’s face, his palm against Ryan’s cheek. They laid in silence like that for a long time before Brendon finally broke the silence.
“What did Pete say to you?” Brendon asked finally. Ryan felt his heart skip a beat. He took a deep breath and then proceeded to recount what Pete had said. Brendon stayed quiet for a long time after Ryan had finished his story. Ryan could tell he was deep in thought. “What’re you thinking, B?” he asked.
“I think that, in a sense, Pete is right. But I don’t think that it’s you dragging us down. It’s me. You are so inspiring, Ry. You are incredible. But you aren’t nearly as amazing as you could be if I weren’t standing in your way. I think you could be amazing if you weren’t here. But I don’t want to let you go.” He paused for a moment, closing his eyes. “They say that if you love something, you’ll let it go, and if it returns to you, it’s yours. I don’t believe that. I believe that you’ll always be mine, Ryan. No matter who you go on to love. No matter where you go in this world, no matter what you do. I truly believe that even if we never meet again, you will always be my Ryan. My Mona Lisa.”
Ryan stared at Brendon, tears in his eyes. He had a feeling he knew where this was going, even if he didn’t want it to be true. “What’re you saying, Brendon?” he asked, his throat thick with tears. Brendon started to speak, but Ryan stopped him with a finger to his lips. “Wait. I want to kiss you. I want to kiss you, Bren. Let me kiss you,” he whispered. Brendon nodded, tears in his eyes as well. Ryan pulled Brendon closer to him, one hand moving up to brush Brendon’s hair back. It trailed around his head, running down the back of his head and to his neck so that his thumb was on Brendon’s jaw and his palm holding his neck. He pressed his lips to Brendon’s, the kiss starting sweet before Brendon grabbed Ryan’s face and moved so that he was straddling him. The kiss got passionate, all of their ardor and fervor for each other coming out in that kiss. And then it turned desperate, their hands constantly moving over each other, trying to memorize every detail of the other. Their tongues explored each other’s mouths, twining together as their teeth clashed together whenever the kiss deepened. They were kissing like their hearts were breaking. Which they were.
When they finally broke apart, Ryan pressed one more soft kiss to Brendon’s lips before reaching down to clutch his hand. “Okay, I’m ready now,” he said. Brendon nodded. He took a deep breath. “I love you, George Ryan Ross the third. I have since the moment I saw you. It was always you. You’ll always be my Mona Lisa,” he said, pausing and squeezing his eyes shut. “I think that you should leave Panic, Ryan. I think that you shouldn’t be in this band anymore.”
Ryan sniffled, knowing it had been coming, but still heart broken by Brendon’s words. “You’re kicking me out?” he asked. Brendon started to shake his head but stopped after a second. He nodded slowly. “Yea. I guess I am,” he said. Ryan felt hot tears rolling down his cheeks. “Is this what you really want, Bren? Because if you say the word, I’ll go.”
Brendon wanted desperately to say no. He wanted to stay here with Ryan forever, just hold him and love him with his entire being. But he couldn’t Ryan would go on to do exceptional things on his own. Brendon couldn’t deny him that. “Yea. I want you to leave.”
Ryan nodded. “Alright,” he said. He took a deep breath and sat up. “Let’s go tell Spencer and Jon,” he said, pulling Brendon up and through the door.
A/N: So, I'm not entirely sure if I believe that Ryan was on LSD and that contributed to him leaving, but I do believe something like this conspired. I think it works for the story though. Anyway, R&R, lemme know what you think!