“There are a thousand reasons for someone to smile. And there are nowhere near that many reasons for me, though. But you, Brendon Urie, are definitely one of the few of them I have.”
His pale hand moved at sixty miles an hour, scribbling words upon words on sheets upon sheets of paper. The pile beside him was stacking up higher and higher with every sheet he finished. But Ryan was not finishing his history report any time soon. It had only been assigned that morning, but as soon as Ryan stepped through his front door, he knew he had to get cracking on it.
His arm was aching; his hand numb from the pain, but that was no reasons to take a break. Ryan had missed dinner and was probably going to work all through supper, as well, but he wasn't very hungry. Nothing was going to disrupt his constant pace of flowing knowledge.
The night drew in and the sun disappeared, Ryan had not long written his last word before realizing how long he had spent writing his essay. Something that would have taken a normal teenager five minutes to knock out something decent had taken Ryan seven hours to write something that was guaranteed to give his the grade he deserved. The grade he needed.
Struggling to keep his balance, Ryan took one step at a time down the staircase, his arms outstretched, carrying his essay. Before turning in any piece of homework, Ryan had to have the approval of his parents. More importantly, the approval of his father. If Ryan was to ever turn in a piece of homework that was not up to his standards-Well, Ryan did not wish to ever find out. Not once had Ryan ever broke the unspoken rule of showing his parents everything school related before they found out another way and-Ryan didn't want to think about the consequences.
The teenage boy watched his father’s cold eyes intensely as they scanned over page after page for hours and hours, well into the morning. Ryan was growing tired, but he was not allowed to leave. He had to stay seated, his posture up right and his hands neatly held on his crossed knees. Anything less perfect and Ryan was afraid of what may have happened to him.
"NO!" The old man barked, his brow sweating from the blazing fire beside him. His tone was dictating Ryan's worst fear. His father reached out his sleeved arm and dropped the stacked essay straight into the fireplace. Ryan winced, his eyes watching in terror as his hours of hard work disintegrated into nothing more than ash. His biggest fear was coming true; his father was once again disappointed in Ryan's efforts.
He directed his pointing finger at Ryan, curling it up a few times to motion for his son to come closer. Ryan had always feared his father and what he could do to him. He was a very stern man who never cracked a smile and always wore hard, cold suits. Not once did Ryan ever have a memory of his father hugging him, buying him an ice cream cone, tucking him into bed and reading him a fairytale as a child. It was as if he didn't care about anything but his education.
The boy did as he was told, getting to his feet and standing before his father. He towered over him, which only made him more intimidating. Ryan's clouded eyes stared upwards; he knew what was coming next-
Pushing back the pain, pushing back the tears, Ryan fell to the floor. The red hand print on his cheek showed up very clearly in the dimly-lit room. It glowed under the power of the fire, but the hurtful man didn't bat an eyelash before reaching down and dragging Ryan back to his feet by his collar. He bared his teeth, their faces practically touching.
"You better do a better job on that essay if you want to hand it in on time, GOT IT?" The man snarled and Ryan promptly nodded his head. He tossed his fragile body to the side of him, towards the door. "Get out of my sight!" He yelled, taking a swig straight from his liquor bottle, "I CAN'T STAND TO LOOK AT YOU!" He angrily turned and Ryan knew it was best for everyone if he scurried out of these right then.
"What happened to your cheek, Ryro?" The brown-haired boy asked, rubbing his thumb over the purple mark over Ryan's cheek. He had tried his best to cover it up, but it only stayed on his skin for so long and Ryan hadn't brought any with him to school.
"It's none of your business!" He quickly snapped at him, grabbing his lunch tray and stalking off to find a table to sit. It wasn't that he didn't trust Brendon, one of his closest friends, but he was scared of the consequences. Ryan was always scared of the consequences of his actions. Of everyone else's actions. Ryan had been living his life that way for far too long for it to be as easy to just open up and pour out his heart to just anyone.
Brendon watched as Ryan walked away. He watched his moves, the way he refused to touch anyone else in the cafeteria. If someone came within an inch of touching him, he would quickly squirm away from them. Brendon had always noticed that about him, but had always assumed it was a pride thing. Ryan had a lot of pride and it did often get the better of him. But, what Brendon was starting to realize, is that it was a lot more than that.
The two had known each other since the dawn of time. Their entire lives they had grown up on the same street, their entire lives they had always gone to the same school. They were always in the same classes, always paired up for school projects and assignments. It was only natural for the best student to be paired with the worst. At first, Ryan hated him and Brendon wasn't very fond of Ryan, either. But, when you spend so much time with someone, you get to know them better; you get to understand a lot about them. And then came the friendship. They both had mutual friends; they had always had Breanne and Jon who were constantly sucking face. They had Janelle and Spencer who were the oddest couple since the pair themselves. So, with this friendship, things seemed a lot easier between them.
And recently Brendon had started to notice the little things about Ryan. The way his long sleeves, even in the summer, would always be pulled down to his wrists. Granted that they did live in the north and the 'warm' climate was nothing to wear shorts over, but Brendon found it unusual. Ryan never wore shirts for gym, and he had an excuse note from his mother complaining of a skin rash that he would better not show off. Ryan was never open about himself. He found it strange that any of these things applied to Ryan, but, not being as big of an idiot as everyone seemed to think he was. Brendon could fit two and two together.
"I think we need to talk, Prince." Brendon whispered in Ryan's ear. Prince was the nickname that Ryan had been given by the boy because he lived in a 'palace' in his perfect 'fairytale' life. The truth was that Ryan's parents were both overly successful lawyers and he was a spoilt brat when it came to possessions. Ryan was given anything and everything regardless of the price or otherwise. But, what most people didn't realize was that it was just a way to buy their sons love. There was nothing sentimental behind anything that Ryan owned. In fact, Ryan would have much preferred to have the cheap things like everyone else in life, but his parents refused to hear of it.
"About what?" The boy asked, not really thinking about what was being said between them. His concentration seemed to be on his cupcake, but he was really trying to not think of the pain in his cheek. And, with every breath that Brendon gave, he blew warm air over his skin, only making it worse. But Ryan couldn't tell Brendon that, he was already too suspicious of the situation as it was.
"I think you know."
His eyes stared out into the night, the darkness of it all mixing together to form shapes that weren't really there. Ryan's mind never usually lingered on his injuries for long, but this time was different. This time someone had actually noticed it. This time Brendon had seen the bruising on Ryan's cheek and now he was very paranoid.
The abuse had been going on for many years now. Ryan was only nine when he received the first blow.
Stuffing the crumpled piece of paper under his pillow, the young boy wiped his chestnut fringe from his pale face. The struggle to keep his grades up had gotten to Ryan. His mother was forever insisting that Ryan go along with her whenever he was never in school. It wasn't for bonding time, oh no, it was so Ryan's mother could get in good with her clients with children. Ryan had grown up playing with children he would be friends with for weeks at a time. As soon as Ryan's mother won the case, the children were never to be seen again.
All of the going out and all of the sleepless nights were really taking its toll on Ryan's young body. He was unable to concentrate during his spelling test and had ended up with a B instead of the A that he should have been getting. There was not a chance that Ryan was going to tell his parents, they would have been too disappointed in their little boy and Ryan hated it when his parents pulled that act on him.
"Where is it?" The man standing in the doorway had only just got home, but he had known that Ryan had had a test that day. He wasn't interested in what the test was; he was interested in the grade. His son was not allowed to have anything lower than an A whilst he still lived under his roof.
Ryan panicked, his eyes fluttering around like caged butterflies in their sockets. His father’s eyes met the pillow just as his did the same. They both knew that was where Ryan hid his secrets and there was definitely where his test was hidden.
Unfolding the paper, Ryan could see his father’s eyes light up in rage.
"Dad, I'm sorry! I-" But Ryan never got to finish his sentence. He was knocked backwards, his head hitting the floor and his leg getting caught on the end of the bed. He burst into tears; his father had never done anything like that to him before. He had no knowing of how to react to that situation, so he cried. But, over the years, Ryan had learnt not to cry when the abuse came, it only hurt him more.
"Summer vacation is here!" Brendon shouted with just a little bit too much enthusiasm. He pumped his fist into the air, landing it directly (softly) on Ryan's shoulder as a joke. But Ryan didn't find it funny. His breath caught in his throat, his eyes clenched and his whole body tensed up as he waited for the pain. But there was none. Brendon wasn't mean enough to hurt his closest friend.
"I-I'm going to class." He stammered too quickly, tripping over what he said. The boy turned away from Brendon and peacefully walked towards his final class of the day. Luckily for his, Brendon was supposed to be on the other end of the school during last period.
"Okay, Prince!" Brendon chimed, wrapping his arm around his neck. Ryan didn't quite freeze up as he had done before, but he certainly felt uncomfortable. He didn't like contact with other people, all the years of abuse had done that to him.
"What, Brendon?" Ryan asked, shrugging away his arm and reaching into his bag to retrieve his car keys. It wasn't that Ryan didn't have time for Brendon or that he didn't want to have time for Brendon, he just wanted to get home as fast as possible.
"So, the thing is, my parents are whisking me and my brothers and sisters off for a week's vacay somewhere in the forest." Ryan had no idea what that had to do with him, it wasn't as if they ever talked outside of school, anyway. Ryan had no internet access and never had a cell phone. They were too 'distracting' from what was important in life; studying.
Brendon turned to face Ryan and he did stop for a moment to look at him, too. There was something in his eyes, something about the way he looked at his that made Ryan realize that there was definitely something more to Brendon than anyone ever thought.
"I asked if you could come too...And they said yes."
The best part about the cabin was definitely the fact that Ryan was hundreds and hundreds of miles away from his parents. The wooden house was even better than Ryan had ever thought.
There was a deck of some sorts running the whole way around and the place was completely secluded from anywhere around because of the wild growing forestry that surrounded the whole place.
It was a very good thing that it had been Brendon's mother talking to Ryan’s mother. I it had been any other combination of parents-Well, neither of the two would have been lounging around on the deck in shorts and t-shirts at that moment.
The abuse from Ryan's father had stopped since school had got out. The only reasons being he had gone on a business trip the morning of the last day and he kept on having to have the date extended on it. Ryan wasn't stupid; he knew it was that woman from his office building.
His mother had no idea, but Ryan had witnessed it for his own eyes. That was how Ryan had gotten himself a black eye and a bruised shoulder blade.
The teenager was very happy to be so far away from all the pain and all the agony that he had been suffering from. It felt nice to be able to relax for the first time since-Ryan couldn't even remember. It was just very relaxing to be able to lounge around on a deck chair and play cards with people who had taken you in as family.
"Straight flush!" Matt smiled, peeling down his cards on the table slowly for extra effect. It was the sixth time he had won and everyone knew he had to be cheating by now. Brendon's siblings-Matt, Lucas, Dana and Cassie-were a lot of fun to be around and it made Ryan yearn for his own. His parents hadn't wanted children to begin with and Ryan was the result of the morning after pill not working. His parents were never going to have any more children and Ryan had thought that was fine growing up, he had his parents full attention on himself, but seeing how much fun having siblings was, Ryan wished for some of his own.
"BEDROOM INSPECTION!" Mrs. Urie called out playfully. The four eldest ran for cover, leaving Brendon and Ryan smiling on the deck. Ryan had been doing a lot of that ever since they had arrived; smiling. It was something he never seemed to be able to do at home, but out there, in the middle of nowhere, he found he had a lot of reasons to smile. Number one reason being Brendon.