It wouldn't be easy, and it wouldn't be pleasant.
Ryan dragged the brush dipped in purple down his cheek, finishing yet another intricate design. He blinked a few times, moving his hands in waving motions to dry the wet ink. Putting his hands onto the counter, he watched himself in the mirror.
His hair was perfect, falling onto his forehead and sticking up straight in back. His make-up was beautiful, another piece of art that he couldn’t quite explain. But he loved doing it. Letting his true colors show on his skin. He just sat and stared at himself. Hoping he would like what he saw. But every second he spent looking into his own eyes, the more he wanted to smash the mirror onto the floor. He gripped his fingers onto the counter top to restrain himself.
Jon watched Ryan cautiously from the other side of the room. They hadn’t spoken the rest of the night, or all day. Ryan seemed to float around from place to place, not conscious of anything around him, including Jon. Jon could handle being ignored. He could handle when someone pretended he didn’t exist. But for some reason he couldn’t handle Ryan not speaking with him... Because it seemed like he wasn’t doing it on purpose. This wasn’t Ryan being angry with him, this was Ryan being... dead. Or something like it.
Spencer paced. He had told Brendon to be down in the dressing room by 7. It was 7:10 now. Was he alright? Was he throwing up again? Spencer kept fighting the urge to go check on him. But he wasn’t even sure where he was. He and Brendon had come to the venue early, walking the short distance from the hotel. Ryan, Jon, and Zack took the van to get there by 5 for set-up and sound check. By that time, Brendon had done his sound check, and dismissed himself with a “I’ll be in the dressing room later.” But where was he now? Spencer couldn’t help but pat his hands on his thighs to the beat of Time to Dance. It was his nervous twitch. His hair and make-up were done, his wardrobe just right. Normally they’d all be relaxing and preparing themselves before the show, but no one said anything. They all just sat waiting.
The door opened, and Brendon strode inside.
“Sorry, I’m late.” He excused himself flatly. He walked straight to the closet, pulling out his outfit for the evening.
Ryan tried to stop himself from watching him in the mirror. He stared down at the palette of red stage make-up in his hand.
“Where’d you go?” Spencer asked, walking over to Brendon as he buttoned up the front of his military style jacket.
“Around.” Brendon dismissed the conversation, looking into Spencer’s eyes. He got the message. Brendon didn’t want to talk about it in front of them. Spencer nodded in understanding, and backed off. Brendon walked over to the mirror, right beside Ryan. He ran his hands through his hair, and then reached for the can of hairspray sitting on the counter. He sprayed it furiously, forcing it to stay as much out of his face as he could get it. He placed the can back down and looked at the spread of make-up. He grabbed the black liner and went to work on his eyes, knowing they would probably look like shit. He was no good at doing make-up. But eye-liner was simple enough. He put it back down and looked around for the red paint he used on his cheeks. He shuffled the products around, unable to find it. Finally he glanced down, to see it in Ryan’s hands.
“Can I have that?” Brendon asked, his voice shaking a little. Damn it. He had planned on sounding unfazed. He couldn’t let Ryan know that he was still hurting. Ryan glanced up, realizing that Brendon had spoken to him.
“Oh, uh, yeah.” He held up the red make-up. Brendon took it from his hand, and then looked around for a brush. He wasn’t sure what Ryan used normally. He studied the brushes, and reached for one that looked promising. But once he grabbed it, he saw that the end was too small. Frustrated, he put it back down. He took in a sharp breath, and gave up.
“Ryan?” He asked. Ryan looked up again.
“Can you, uh,” He held out the red make-up again, “Can you just do this for me?”
Ryan took the palette and stood up from his chair, “Yeah, sit here.”
Brendon sat in his chair and closed his eyes. He didn’t want to be doing this. He couldn’t handle being this close to him. But he would have to put the facade back on once they were onstage anyway, so why not start now?
“I just use my fingers.” Ryan explained, rubbing the red into his fingertips. He held the palette in one hand, and put his wrist under Brendon’s chin, forcing him to look upward. Slowly, he painted the red onto Brendon’s cheek.
Brendon held his breath. Ryan tried to move quickly, feeling Brendon tense up underneath him. He rubbed the color onto both of Brendon’s cheeks and backed away.
“There.” He said. Brendon opened his eyes and stood from Ryan’s chair.
“Thanks.” Brendon said, walking away coldly. Ryan put the red down on the counter, and sat back down. He looked at himself in the mirror, and reminded himself one more time that it was his fault they all were where they were. It was all his fault.
The crowd exploded as Brendon proceeded into his famous speech.
“Have you ever had that dream...” he began. He looked towards Ryan, the words still coming out of his mouth automatically. He marched across the stage arm extended towards him, “The wind is whipping through her lovely lavish locks.”
Ryan’s heart was pounding as Brendon closed the space between them, running his hands through his hair. He stared into Brendon’s eyes, those eyes he loved and dreamed about. But inside of them was not the playful adrenaline that usually danced through them during a show. Instead, Brendon stared back at him with a burning disgust. Brendon moved his hand to the back of Ryan’s neck, pulling his body closer.
“You embrace for that perfect, passionate kiss...”
Ryan almost gave in this time. He wanted to badly for Brendon to kiss him. His whole body seemed to tremble with the desire.
But just like he always did, he backed away from Brendon’s sweet lips and struck a dissonant chord.
“Well this is not that dream.” Brendon stared at Ryan as he backed away. “This is hard, sweaty, angry, crazy, monstrous...” Brendon turned around, looking towards Jon this time, “fucking.”
Brendon began to sing the lyrics with his eyes closed, careful not to show the crowd how much his insides were screaming, “Is it still me who makes you sweat? Am I who you think about in bed?”
The song continued, and Ryan’s stomach squeezed into knots. He watched Brendon was weary eyes, every lyric killing him a little more.
“I’ve got more wit, a better kiss, hotter touch, a better fuck, than any boy you’ll ever meet sweety,” Brendon looked over to Ryan deliberatly, “You had me.”
Brendon returned to playing to the crowd. The screams growing louder as he ran his hand down his chest.
“Exchanging body heat in the passenger seat,” Brendon turned away from the crowd, taking it back towards the drums. He glanced at Jon, but returned his stare to Ryan, “No no no, you know it will always just be me.”
Ryan pressed his lips to his microphone, “Let’s get these teen hearts beating faster faster!”
Spencer watched Brendon carefully, evaluating his every move. He was not in control. His emotions were running high, and he was losing it.
Brendon belted out the chorus, dancing around the stage as he usually did, stopping back by the drums a few times. Once Spencer mouthed, “Keep it together.” but Brendon disregarded him.
He just continued to perform. That’s what he was here to do right? Perform? Please everyone else? Pour his heart out onto the stage not care who pisses on it.
“Dance to this beat! Dance to this beat!” Brendon belted harder, not noticing the eye liner that was beginning to drip down his cheeks. He didn’t care. The fan’s wouldn’t know why it was there. So it didn’t matter. This was his chance to shine. This was his chance to feel loved.
Ryan felt his stomach twirling. He knew he needed to fix this. He didn’t know how he would do it. He didn’t know if anything he did would work. But he would try. As soon as physically possible.
“Let’s get these teen hearts beating faster faster, let’s get these teen hearts beating faster.” He whispered the last lines of the song. The lights came down, and Brendon watched the crowd begin to jump and scream. He put the mic on his stand, and walked back to the drum kit to get a sip from his water bottle. The lights were still down, as he reached for the bottle. Suddenly, something grabbed his arm and spun him around, and pair of lips came smashing down onto his own.
He knew those lips too well.
His brain was thrown into a summersault, and too quickly the lips tore away from his as the lights came back up. He walked back up to his mic, his eyes burning into Ryan the entire time.