A night of reminiscing. A night of change.
Beside him is the boy that he loves, that he’s loved for a very long time. They’re both in hoodies, lying on their backs, looking up at the sky, side by side. They’ve been best friends for a very long time too.
He has a very important question to ask of the boy beside him but he’s not ready to present it yet, for now he wants to sit and stare at the stars.
They’re lying on a grassy overhang that you can still see the lights of Las Vegas from. There are trees that line the whole slope and they’re lying where the trees have started to thin out and they only have a few right above their heads.
“Ryan?” the boy beside him asks.
“Brendon?” he responds, looking through his peripheral vision to see the boy with his head turned to look at him.
“Do you remember how we got here?” he asks.
Ryan knows exactly what he means and he’s taken back in time to what Brendon is talking about. Of course he remembers how they got here, to this point in time.
“I remember all of those times when we would just start laughing because we were trying to keep from going insane, we were trying to forget about those things that made us insane,” he says, turning his head to look into Brendon’s eyes. They’re reflecting the sky and some of the stars, making the dark brown in his eyes disappear.
“I always felt invincible whenever we did that, like I couldn’t be touched, not as long as we were facing everything together,” Brendon agrees, staring back.
Ryan felt like screaming but instead he was laughing, and his best friend was beside him, laughing as well. Nothing had happened, they weren’t really laughing at anything, they were really just exaggerating the hilarity of something one of them said. But this was much better than screaming and crying and succumbing to his life.
Thinking about it always pushed him to the brink, that was when he always started laughing and Brendon would always join in because Brendon knew what he was doing and would do the same thing that Ryan was doing with Ryan laughing along.
Doing that always helped them to forget for a while and though it wasn’t usually long, it was enough.
It was always late at night when they did this and they would stand up on the couch, as if they were drunk even though they weren’t, throw their arms around each other’s shoulders, and keep laughing. They were there to face life with each other and they would never let the other one stumble or fall, literally and metaphorically.
He stood under his best friend’s arm and he laughed, pushing all of the pain away.
“We would just sit on the couch together and talk all night long, we never checked the time once. And we always had the TV on but we had it on mute and we didn’t have any other lights on,” Brendon says.
“That’s probably what kept me here on Earth,” Ryan answers, glancing back up at the heavens with the twinkling lights.
The room was dark and Ryan’s dad was asleep, thinking that they were asleep; nothing could be further from the truth though.
They had the TV on and it was casting its bluish white light over the floor directly in front of it and the brown couch where they were sitting. The TV wasn’t making any noise though; they’d turned the volume way down so it was muted.
Instead of watching the moving images on the screen, they were looking at each other, talking. Well Brendon was talking, telling Ryan why he’d come over and why he felt like dying tonight.
“They probably don’t even know that I’m gone, it wouldn’t be the first time. They’ve left me in restaurants and rest stops so many times I’ve lost count. I don’t think they even remember that I exist sometimes. They’re probably hoping that they can get far enough away that they don’t have to come back,” Brendon said with tears in his voice.
“They’d probably be happier without me; that’s what they’re trying to do, subtly get rid of me. I bet they’ve been counting down the days until I’m eighteen for years now, waiting until the day I’ll finally be gone,” he said, with one of the tears breaking and snaking down his cheek.
He was looking at Ryan with wide, helpless brown eyes that were so sad Ryan almost wanted to cry too.
“They don’t deserve to have you if they want to get rid of you so badly,” Ryan comforted, knowing that Brendon probably wasn’t going to buy it so soon. He was surprised that someone as perfect as Brendon could possibly fall apart like this.
“Or maybe they’re right, I’m not worth remembering or having around,” the boy across from him said miserably, looking down.
“If you’re not worth that then why am I here? And if you’re not worth having around why did I welcome you into my house? Bren, it doesn’t matter what they think, you have me, the important thing is that I think you’re worth everything,” Ryan said, pulling Brendon’s chin up so they were looking at each other.
Brendon’s lip trembled and he fell into Ryan’s arms, clutching him tightly around the shoulders.
Ryan merely wrapped his arms around Brendon’s waist, and let him cry into his shoulder. Out the window he could see the faint hints of the sun rising.
“And remember the mindless nighttime drives we took? In those times when we were so damn confused and we just drove as long and far as it took to forget our lives?” Ryan asks.
“We were past the point of laughing and we didn’t know if we should try that or just give in to the tears, I could never forget those drives. And we always vowed to stand together forever,” Brendon answers, smiling a little bit, obviously remembering every single one of the many drives.
He looks over at the boy beside him with his full lips and his pale skin that’s shining white in the starlight. He’s looking up at the sky and Ryan can once again see his dark brown irises and the few pinpricks of light that are reflected there.
It was late, the sun had just set and he had tears running down his cheeks. He opened his phone and pressed the first speed-dial button that he had. It was number two since the phone had the voicemail programmed as number one. But this person would be the number one if that was an option.
The ring back tone barely registered. It was only the voice of the person that he wanted more than anything else that brought him back out of his own mind with a simple word.
The sound of his name coming out of his mouth made him choke out another sob. “Come pick me up, Brendon please,” he pleaded into the phone.
He heard the sound of a car door slamming and Brendon’s voice returned. “I’m already on my way. I’ll be there in a minute or two.”
Ryan closed his phone and pushed it into his pocket. He sat down on the curb and wrapped his arms around his legs as if that would help hold the tears in.
True to his word, exactly ninety-seven seconds later, Brendon had pulled up and had leaned over to open the passenger door. “Come on, Ry, I’ve got you,” he said consolingly.
Gladly Ryan crawled through the open door and into Brendon’s waiting arms. He didn’t question how Brendon had known where to find him because he was blocks away from the house; he just crumpled into his strong arms and let him hold his body close.
It was a few minutes later when he pulled away and his tears were drying a little. He was confused, and he recognized why, it was one of those moments where he didn’t know if he should keep crying or start with the laughing therapy that they’d both adopted.
“Brendon? Can we just drive?” he asked, looking at the boy beside him.
“Where?” Brendon asked, looking over at him.
“Anywhere else. We can figure it out somewhere along the way. Let’s just drive until we forget about all of this,” Ryan said.
“Okay,” was Brendon’s answer as he shifted into drive and they left the city limits ten minutes later. “Are you going to be okay?” he asked when they were five miles outside of the city.
“Maybe,” he wasn’t ready to feel better yet.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“What is there to talk about? He went out, got so drunk he forgot who I am, then he came home and beat me while yelling at me to get out of his house, except that he actually prevented me from leaving by pinning me to the wall,” he said in a monotone, wanting to wallow in the misery for a little while longer.
Brendon didn’t reply and Ryan didn’t expect him to. What was he supposed to say? Sorry? He had nothing to do with it and there was nothing that he could do about it, no matter how much he wished there was, and Brendon knew it. But, Brendon did reach out and take his hand, holding it tight.
Once they were about twenty five miles outside of Las Vegas, Ryan was starting to let the fact of his life drift away and was instead focusing on the wind coming from his open window that was blowing his hair around his face.
They drove for hours, getting farther away, eventually they were in California and they pulled into a hotel and split the money for a room for the night.
“And when one of us wanted to stay away from a fight and we would go to the other’s house and we would just listen to the radio and sing and talk and lose track of everything,” Brendon says, shifting onto his stomach and looking over at Ryan.
“Those things got me through some of the hardest nights of my life,” Ryan remembers rolling onto his side to look back at Brendon.
Ryan doesn’t see anything but peace and a hint of pain in Brendon’s eyes and something that he can’t quite place, maybe nervousness?
There was a knock on the backdoor that was in the basement and Ryan got up to open it. He had a good idea of who it was, probably the only person who ever used that door.
When he opened the door fully he found that he was right. Brendon was standing outside looking in at him. “Can I please come in and stay the night?” he asked.
“Of course,” Ryan answered stepping aside to let his friend in.
Brendon walked through the door and sank onto the couch. It was about nine-o-clock and Ryan’s dad was gone for the night, staying at the office because of some late meeting.
“What happened?” Ryan asked, sitting down beside Brendon.
It was silent for a moment before Brendon sighed shakily. “I got in the door, just home from school and everything kind of went down from there. My mom yelled at me for not doing anything. My dad yelled at me for getting in the way. My oldest sister is in town for a few days and she yelled at me to let her enjoy her time at home. My brothers freaked out on me for moving their stuff in the garage because I couldn’t back out. I just got sick of it, it never seems to end, there’s always something to yell at me for. I’ve always done something wrong somehow and I just can’t handle it anymore,” he said sounding mad and hopeless.
He knew that there was nothing he could say to make it better so he simply reached out and put his hand on Brendon’s arm to let him know that he was there and that he was happy with him.
Brendon stood up and moved to the entertainment center where a speaker system was set up. He pressed a button and switched the mode to ‘radio’ and went back to the couch.
They sat on the couch and listened to the radio with the lights off. Neither of them fell asleep, but they didn’t talk much either. They sat close with their sides pressed together and just listened and sang quietly.
The two of them sat their vigil all night until the sun was shining pink and orange and yellow on the horizon.
Brendon turned to him and said, “You probably saved my life.”
“And you mine,” he answered and they went back to listening to the radio.
“You know, the fact that you were always there for me was probably the only thing that kept me from doing something drastic and possibly stupid. You were always the one thing standing between me and that something else,” Ryan says, watching Brendon’s face carefully.
Brendon nods. “I feel the same way. I guess that’s the thing with pain, it brings people together, pain and darkness.”
“Yes, darkness; by day we look perfect and fine but once the sun sets we fall to pieces. And we always have each other to trust with the pieces,” Ryan says. The question is beginning to burn at his mind and he knows that it’s almost time for him to ask it.
“Those nights were the best of my life despite the things that brought them on,” Brendon says.
Ryan nods this time. “And we have them in our memories. Those nights are ours Brendon; we get to have them forever.”
“And we can look back and remember that there’s nothing wrong with us, we just grew up in less than ideal circumstances. I sort of wish that every one of them lasted forever, every night we have, that’s the only time when good things happen to us.”
Ryan thinks about that and realizes that Brendon’s right. Nothing good has ever come for him from the daylight. He reaches out and takes Brendon’s hand, lacing their fingers together.
Brendon responds by inching closer.
They look at each other and smile, leaning together to press their lips against each other.
This is why he loves Brendon so much. Brendon is always there whenever he needs him and knows what he needs. And Brendon is the only person who can make his stomach jump and make him instantly happier by his presence. Brendon is everything he wants to be and is everything that he has.
Brendon moves to his side and puts a hand around Ryan’s back to pull them closer together.
Now it’s time, Ryan knows it. Now he’s supposed to ask his question.
“I have a question for you,” he says, but at the same time that Brendon says the same exact thing.
They smile a little.
“You can go first,” Ryan offers, thinking that his question should probably wait.
“How about we go together? On three,” Brendon suggests.
Ryan likes the idea and nods.
“One,” they both say, Ryan removes his hand from Brendon’s cheek and Brendon moves his arm from around his waist.
“Two,” this is say in unison as well. Ryan dips his hand into his pocket, as does Brendon. He frowns in confusion, wondering what Brendon’s doing.
“Three,” they say, both whipping their hands out of their pockets.
“Will you spend the rest of your life with me?” “Will you marry me?” they ask in unison, both holding gold rings in the tips of their fingers.
Ryan feels his own eyes widen and excitement rise and sees Brendon’s body having the same reaction. A smile breaks out on Brendon’s face and then on his as well.
He takes the ring that Brendon is holding and gives Brendon the one that he has. Experimentally he slides it onto his left hand. It fits perfectly. He holds out his hand to look at it from a distance.
It’s a simple gold band with silver right on the rim on both sides. It’s quite beautiful and he can tell that it wasn’t cheap.
He looks up to see Brendon’s full reaction.
He has the ring on his finger finally and is staring at it like he can’t quite believe that it’s there.
Ryan smiles, “I was planning on getting engaged tonight but I wasn’t expecting to be proposed to. And you haven’t answered my question: Will you spend the rest of your life with me?”
“Why would I ask if I didn’t want to?” Brendon answers, finally looking up from the ring and into Ryan’s eyes.
The ring that Ryan picked out isn’t anything special. It’s a gold band and on the inside he had engraved: ‘My life is yours’.
“Will you spend the rest of yours with me?” Brendon asks.
“I can’t imagine why not,” Ryan answers.
The two of them are young, eighteen and just graduated from highschool, neither of their families will like it and they’ll have some rough nights ahead. Ryan just smiles at the thought and wraps Brendon into his arms, resting his head on top of the other boy’s while the boy buries his head in Ryan’s chest.
They know how to get through the night.