“What’s left to lose, Ryan?”
2004 - Summer
The two boys lay on the porch stairs, gazing up at the expanse of blue above them. It was a clear day in Nevada, not a cloud anywhere to be seen. A comfortable silence enveloped the two boys. The only noises were that of their slowed breathing. Neither knew how long they had been there but it had been long enough for the sun to travel from one end of the sky to the to the other. It was a regular occurrence for them to spend a whole day like this in silence; words weren't necessary between the two. They recognized a language of looks and touches and didn't need to speak. Spencer knew something was troubling Ryan, and he also knew that there was no use in asking him about it. It would take a while but in the end, when he was ready Ryan would tell Spencer.
Sure enough as the sun starting hiding behind the hills Ryan's voice was heard.
"He's sick." It was rough from the lack of use over the day but it still rang clear to Spencer. He didn't need to ask who, there was only one person who would cause this much trouble just being sick for Ryan. It was always him. "T-they took him to the h-hospital," Ryan continued, stuttering. Spencer reached out, placing his hand next to Ryan's. Ryan quickly latched it to his own, grasping tight. Spencer returned the grip, reassuring Ryan that he would always be there to hold onto.
That night like many before Ryan stayed over at Spencer's, still holding his hand under the covers. Spencer listened as Ryan told him about how he'd found his father, sprawled on the floor amongst the empty bottles. It was a sight Ryan had never wanted to see, and would soon be all too familiar with.
2005 - Fall
"I should probably go now." Ryan murmured as he continued to gaze up at the stars. He had spent the day just lazing around Spencer's house with him. They had migrated outside onto the porch steps after dinner and watched as the sky slowly turned to black.
Ryan didn't want to leave. He wished that he could just stay at the Smith's house forever and never go back to his fathers house. He was close to doing so in fact, but he would always have to go back at some point. Spencer sighed; he didn't want Ryan to leave either. Both leaned back on their hands as they spent one last moment looking up to the vast darkness above them. Spencer shifted his hand a little closer to Ryan's, their pinkies intertwining.
"See you tomorrow?" Spencer asked hopefully.
Ryan nodded. "Of course."
Slowly Ryan forced himself to remove his hand from Spencer's and stand up, turning down the path to the sidewalk. Spencer stood up at the same time and made his way up the porch. When he got to the top he turned around, leaning on the railing as he watched Ryan's retreating hunched figure, illuminated by the dim street lights.
It didn't take long for Ryan to get back to the house. The stench of alcohol greeted him as he entered through the front door. Cautiously Ryan made his way into the house, worried about what he might find. He just had to check to make sure nothing was wrong. Ryan found him in the sitting room, empty bottles and cans surrounded him. His eyes were glazed over, unseeing as he gazed at the blank television screen. Ryan hated him like this. He cast his eyes downwards, not able to stand the sight in front of him. He was supposed to be the adult, the mature one who would help Ryan with his homework and ask him how his day was. Instead he sat in the chair at all hours and drank. Tears welled up in Ryan's eyes.
He could remember when things had been better, before the drinks. The two of them had gone to the park and played ball. He had taught Ryan how to ride a bike and how to swim. They had even gone on the clichéd fishing trip, and although they had caught nothing it had been one of the greatest days of Ryan's childhood with his father. And now he was being forced to slowly watch the man he loved disintegrate.
"H-hey dad," Ryan stuttered, moving towards the chair slowly. "I'm back f-from Spencer's." He faltered as the awful scent of beer grew stronger with each step.
Ryan's dad turned to look at him. The gravity of his gaze forced Ryan to glance up. He hadn't wanted to; he didn't want to see what had become of his father but he couldn't help it. Once their eyes connected Ryan couldn't look away. His father's eyes may have been glazed over but it was impossible not to see how utterly lost and defeated the man felt. There was a moment when there was no noise, no movement, as if the world had been put on pause.
It was broken when the man spoke, "What's left to lose, Ryan?"
The words hit Ryan hard. It was confirmation that his father had given up, that there was no more hope to hold onto. The tears started to run from his eyes but he still couldn't look away from his father. Everything, Ryan wanted to say. Me. He wanted to yell at his father, ask him how he could do this to himself, to them. How he expected Ryan to handle this, to make everything better again. He wanted to scream and blame him for everything, blame him for making
Ryan grow up faster than he should have. Blame him for making Ryan worry constantly about how they were going to pay the bills and wondering if he was going to be able to afford food for the next week. Everything was his fault. But as Ryan continued to look into his fathers eyes he could see that there was no need to say it out loud. His father knew, he understood that this was all on him and now Ryan was left to deal with everything.
It got to the point where Ryan couldn't take it anymore. With a great amount of will he cast his eyes down once again, blinking rapidly as he tried to be rid of the tears. It wasn't enough to just look away though, he could steel feel his fathers eyes on him. He could still smell the alcohol, swallowing him whole and suffocating him. Ryan needed to get out of there. He just needed to get away. And so he ran. He booked it out the door, sprinting down the sidewalk and kept going. There was no direction in his steps, no destination. Just away, anywhere that was far away. Street lights blurred in his eyes from the tears, everything he passed melting into the dark black of the night. It wasn't until he reached the fields of the park that he realized how far he had made it. He was seven blocks away from the man in the chair, still awaiting an answer.
When he stopped he doubled over. He put his hands on his knees, gasping for air. It didn't work, his knees buckled underneath him. He hunched over, his head hung low near the ground as his arms curled around his neck. Sobs began wracking through his body, making it impossible for him to catch his breath. He had come to a realisation while he had stared into his fathers eyes. He hadn't just given up on getting over the addiction, he had given up on life. His father was going to die, and there was nothing Ryan could do about it.
2006 - Winter
Fog whirled around Ryan as he timidly walked up the creaking steps. He didn't know what he was doing there, barely even remembered how he got there. But as it were there he was, on Spencer's porch at just after two o'clock in the morning. The only thing he knew was that the one thing he wanted at that moment more than anything was to see Spencer. With a shaking hand he lifted the mat and took the key he knew would be there. It took a few tries before he finally managed to slide it into the hole and twist it. As he slipped into the Smith's house Ryan drew his arms around himself, trying to hold himself together while shutting the door quietly. Tears leaked out of his eyes but he didn't take notice, his vision had already been blurred by his thoughts that had captured his entire mind. His bare feet padded softly as he climbed the stairs, barely managing to stay upright with how badly he was now shaking. By memory only Ryan made his way down the hall to the last door on the left.
Here he paused, looking at the door that almost seemed to taunt him. On the other side was the boy he so desperately needed to see. The one that would make everything better. Taking a deep breath he pushed the door open, taking small steps inside and cautiously looking over to the bed. A mop of light brown hair was rested on the pillow, a steady rise and fall of the boys chest visible from beneath the blankets. The door closed with a click that echoed throughout the silent room, louder than Ryan had anticipated. Spencer turned over at the sound, eyes looking widely at Ryan who stilled by the door.
"Ry?" Spencer's voice was thick from sleep but the slight worry was still audible.
As Spencer continued to take in his best friend he realized that Ryan's eyes were puffy, streams of tears flowing down his cheeks. His thin form was visibly vibrating from the effort he was putting into keeping himself together. While he took the sight in Spencer slowly began to sit up on the edge of his bed. Ryan didn't reply; he was too scared that if he opened his mouth all that would come out would be a sob.
There was a pause where the two just sat in the silence, nothing seeming to move in the world for a second. Then it was over and Ryan broke. Spencer launched himself off of his bed, catching Ryan who had collapsed into his arms. He gripped his arms around the smaller boys waist, Ryan's cries muffled by his chest while his sobs shook both of them. Slowly they sank to the floor, Spencer wrapping himself around the small boy sobbing into his shirt collar. He knew not to say anything, not to ask what was wrong or how he could help no matter how much he wanted to at the moment. There had been times like this before, where Ryan would come crying to Spencer in pieces. It was a routine that Spencer had gotten used to, carefully picking up the pieces of Ryan just so they could get smashed down again by his father or sometimes Ryan himself. As soon as Ryan was finished crying he would tell him everything, that's what he did every time. Until then Spencer would hold onto him, waiting for Ryan to let everything out.
Neither knew how long it took until they were in silence, but it was clear to Spencer that it had taken longer than usual. Ryan sat in Spencer's lap as he rested his head on his shoulder. Both could still taste the salty tears that were slowly drying. With a small sigh Spencer shifted and pushed Ryan gently up so that he could stand himself. He led Ryan to the bed, climbing in himself and flipping the blankets open so that Ryan could slip in beside him. Ryan burrowed himself into Spencer, nuzzling his neck. Spencer moved his arm around the thin boys waist, pressing him closer.
Absent-mindedly Ryan let his fingers play across Spencer's shirt in random patterns while he let nothing but a blank numbness swallow his mind. Spencer looked down at him, watching patiently as Ryan's fingers danced lightly on his covered chest.
"He's dead." It was merely mouthed against him, not even a whisper.
Spencer heard it nonetheless. He froze at the words, his first thought was 'What now?' This would change everything. Spencer knew that after this night things would be set into motion, people would talk about Ryan as though he were an unwanted object and there was a chance that he would be taken away. Instinctively Spencer's hand tightened slightly on Ryan's waist. He wouldn't let anyone take Ryan away. Spencer needed Ryan as much as Ryan needed Spencer. When he looked back down to Ryan he saw the he hadn't stopped tracing light patterns on him.
Ryan wasn't thinking about it; he couldn't think about it and so he chose to think about nothing. Spencer saw this from the blank look in Ryan's eyes, the way that no emotion showed on his face. Slowly Spencer let himself unclench as he focused on the patterns that Ryan drew on his chest, deciding that Ryan was right to become numb. It was the only way either of them could make through the rest of the night. Not a word was spoken after that. There was simply too much and yet nothing to say. Anything or nothing could happen the next day, and both ways could have horrible endings.
The two boys fought against the sleep that tried to win them over throughout the entire night. It wasn't until the sun had come halfway into the sky that they were dragged unnoticeably into slumber in each other's arms.
AN: Based off of 'On Your Porch' by The Format.
Disclaimer: I do not own nor am I in any way associated with Panic! At The Disco or The Format. This is a piece of fiction meant for enjoyment purposes only... Please don't sue me