Brendon’s stomach was killing him, but it was a good kind of hurt. The kind of mind-numbing hurt that made him forget. No, not forget. He could never forget. It just helped divert his mind away from him. From Ryan. George Ryan Ross the Third. His pale skin. His large, round, beautiful hazel eyes. His slightly curly, dark chocolate hair. The “holier than thou” smirk that constantly graced his face. His mild stage fright and how he would close his eyes, unmoving aside from his hands as he changed chords and played. How his adrenaline high would cause his pupils to blow up, covering the majority of his iris and his lips would tremble as Brendon would taunt him, teasing him into interaction.
Brendon loved it when he would talk to the crowd. When his eyes would open on their own accord and he would engage with their audience. The crowd loved bold Ryan just as much as shy Ryan. They especially loved him during the “Perfect Passionate Kiss” skit. How he would pull away at the last second, lips quivering with desire. It went unnoticed by the fans, Ryan’s frustration. But to Brendon, it was in neon lights.
He loved teasing Ryan, getting him wound up. To the audience, Ryan remained apathetic to Brendon’s advances, but Brendon could see the subtle differences in Ryan’s posture, demeanor and eyes. And Brendon would go out of his way to tempt Ryan. He would drag himself across the floor to Ryan, grind against his guitar, grab his hair and press their foreheads together, lips millimeters apart. The fans called it stage gay. Brendon and Ryan called it love.
It was desire. The tension got to Brendon too, of course. It was really quite maddening for him, having Ryan so close but not being able to truly touch. Not being able to show his love and affection. They made up for it offstage. They became inseparable, their hands constantly on each other. Brendon was simple, preferring to have his fingers intertwined with Ryan’s or his arm around his waist. Ryan, on the other hand, would practically carry Brendon if he could, not that Brendon would really allow it.
They had to be careful in public. They never knew if a fan or the paparazzi were around so it always came down to stolen moments in the backs of stores. When they could, they wouldn’t even leave Ryan’s room, preferring to stay entangled in each other’s arms. They would lay there, their fingertips constantly moving over some part of the others body, like the couldn’t go without the physical contact.
And there was that time when Ryan found out that his father had passed away right before they’d had to go on for an interview. He’d been trying to keep updated with his family and the interview had rudely pried the phone from his hands, telling him he’d give it back later. Brendon could see how devastated Ryan had looked, something the interview had not caught and had held out his hand for Ryan, who had taken it. Brendon pulled it into his lap and rubbed it gently. The fans had seen it as a caring gesture. Ryan had seen that hand as lifeline, clinging to it with all his strength, knowing that Brendon was silently saying he was there. That he loved him and he cared.
Later, when they were alone, Brendon held him as he cried. He and his father hadn’t been close, but it was still his dad. The man who’d raised him. Brendon rocked them back and forth, singing quietly. It was then that he came up with what would later become the chorus to “New Perspective.” Ryan sniffled.
“What was that, Bren?” he asked.
“Hmmm… I dunno. I just kinda made it up.”
Ryan smiled a little. “Keep going, babe. I like it.”
Brendon smiled, singing the last line again before pausing to thank about it. Ryan snuggled against his chest while he played absent mindedly with a lock of his hair.
“Taking everything for granted, but we still respect the time. We move along with some new passion knowing everything is fine. And I would wait and watch the hours fall in a hundred separate lines. But then I gain repose and wonder how I ended up inside,” Brendon sang quietly. Ryan looked up at him, the slightest hint of a smirk on his lips.
“Can we fast forward til you go down on me?” He sang back. Brendon grinned. “Was that a lyric or a request?” Ryan shrugged.
“A lyric?” he asked, putting his hand to Brendon’s face and running his thumb along Brendon’s lower lip.
“Really, babe? You sure?” he giggled playfully. Ryan’s smirk grew.
“Why don’t you find out, sugar?” Brendon pushed Ryan off of him and down onto the mattress. He wrapped his fingers around Ryan’s hips-
Brendon was jolted from the memory, his heart thumping painfully in his chest. He grabbed at his pectoral muscle, trying to make it stop hurting. God, he just wanted it to stop hurting! But it wouldn’t. It never would. As long as Ryan wasn’t with him, his heart would keep beating, cracking and bleeding. It would never mend. It would never heal. It would just…. Bleed.
He quietly locked the door between the adjoining room. He knew that it wouldn’t do much good, Jon would just go around to the front and use the spare key he’d requested, but he just couldn’t stay here right now. He made sure his key was in his pocket and he quietly slipped out the door, down the hall and into the elevator.
He didn’t relax until the hotel was out of sight. Ryan shoved his hands in his pockets, strolling through the streets of Los Angeles with a smile on his face. He had no destination in mind, but knew that he’d know it when he saw it. And he did. He saw the club in the fading tendrils of sunlight. His grin broadened as he approached the doors, the loud music vibrating the ground beneath his feet.
Being a celebrity, he was recognized and granted immediate access. The bouncer opened the door from him and Ryan entered a swirl of fog and strobing lights. It was slightly overwhelming and Ryan felt a little intimidated as he plunged into the crowds of people. But he shrugged off the feeling, marking it down as anxiety. He should’ve listened to it. It was intuition.
Jon was frantic. It was 4 in the morning and Ryan was missing. He wasn’t answering his phone either. In a panic, Jon did the only thing he could think of. He called Spencer.
“Jon, I can’t ask him to do that,” he said, rubbing his temples.
“Spencer, if Ryan is alright, he will answer the phone if it’s him.”
Spencer sighed. “He hates me, Jon. And he’ll hate me even more if I ask him to do this.”
Jon choked back a sob. “Alright, Spence. I’m sorry. I don’t want him to-“
“But, I love Ryan too. And I don’t want to lose him either. So I’ll ask him. But I don’t know if he’ll do it.”
“Oh, God. Thank you, baby. I love you!”
Spencer smiled. “I love you, too. I’ll call you back, honey.” He hung up and took a deep breath. He procrastinated for a few more minutes; going to the bathroom, tidying the living room. But nevertheless, he found himself in front of Brendon’s door. He tooka deep breath, knocked and opened the door.
Brendon heard Spencer come in. “Brendon. I know you’re awake.”
Brendon rolled over, momentarily surprise. “How’d you know?”
Spencer laughed. “You sprawl when you sleep,” he said simply. Brendon smiled. “I always wondered why I’d wake up in strange positions.” Spencer laughed and sat down on the bed next to Brendon.
“Bren, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean anything I said. I was just… scared. And upset and hurt. I’m so sorry, Brenny. Please, forgive me?”
The smaller man looked at Spencer for a long moment. “Of course I forgive you, Spencer. You’re my best friend.” Spencer smiled for a moment, but it quickly faded. Brendon sense the change immediately.
“What happened?” he asked. Spencer sighed. “Ryan’s missing. Jon said he thinks he’s been gone all night and he won’t answer the phone for him. He thinks that if he’s alright, he’ll answer it for you.”
Brendon didn’t even hesitate. He pulled his phone from his pocket and hit speed dial number two. The phone rang. And rang. And rang. And rang. And then it went to voicemail. “Hey, it’s Ryan. Leave me a message and I’ll deliberate responding. Thanks!” “Ry? It’s Brendon. Just, call me back, okay. I’m really, really worried about you. Lov- Uh. Bye?” Brendon closed his phone and looked up to Spencer.
“I’m sure he’s fine. He’s probably just got it on silent. He’ll call back in a few minutes.”
They both sat there and stared at Brendon’s phone. It didn’t ring. Brendon tried it again. Still, no answer. Brendon figured Ryan was just ignoring it because he didn’t want to talk to him. He marked down the feeling in his gut as anxiety. He shouldn’t have. It was intuition.
The silver Sidekick lay on the sidewalk, unnoticed in the darkness that shroud the city. It rang, “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison” playing, sounding tinny through the speakers. A few minutes later, it rang again. A crowd of people walked by, and yet the phone still went unnoticed. As did the trail of blood next to it.