There it is and there they are. A lot of learning done, both professional and personal.
They made it. The four of them made it into the music business. Pete Wentz loved their stuff and began to set things in motion for them to get a record deal and membership onto a record label. Before they knew it, they were on an airplane bound for Maryland almost directly after Brendon graduated.
His parents were still upset, but they did go to his graduation, probably to persuade him one last time to go to college. He almost wavered that day, but then he remembered how Ryan dropped out of his first semester of college, having gotten early graduation, and the fight he’d had with his father about it. Spencer and Brent were still in school, but they packed up and went too, choosing to finish online.
In Maryland they rented an extremely small and cramped one bedroom apartment to stay in because they didn’t think they would have to stay for too long. They were wrong. The four of them ended up staying in the apartment for about five and a half weeks, running solely on cereal, ramen noodles, and Red Bull or coffee.
As soon as they were in Maryland, the pressures of recording were on. Beside that, Ryan had to buckle down and write more songs so they could fill an album. It was stressful and Ryan may as well have had a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on his forehead when he was writing because if someone did mess with him, it was likely that their life would end.
It was kind of like how Brendon imagined Hell might be. It was cramped, they slept on bunk beds, and they had no breaks in their fourteen to fifteen hour sessions. The four of them fought over everything: personal space, food, possessions, time, lyrics, and music. The fights could stem from anything: someone ate someone’s cereal that morning, someone took someone else’s spot on the dinky couch, someone played a wrong note or messed up the rhythm, etc.
When the recording was over, the stress wasn’t quite over though. After meeting a ton of amazing people, the four got to go back home and they had about two weeks to learn how to be a band. They’d never played live before and they didn’t really know the inner workings of touring so they had a lot to do in another incredibly small amount of time.
Despite it all Brendon was feeling great. No it wasn’t fun to be cooped up and drawn to the last of sane consciousness, but it was happening because they’d made it. They beat the odds; they came out as the champions. Everyone was ecstatic about it even though it wasn’t always apparent, and all of them felt it inside, sometimes deeper down inside than other times.
They had a small tour at the very beginning where they opened up for The Academy Is… and it was a great experience. All of the guys were extremely nice and they helped the new band by teaching them a bit about life on the road. It was nice to get closer to people on the same record label, too. Pete had advised them to make friends and to keep them because friends in the music business were important.
After that first small amount of time, they got another small break when they prepared themselves for their own tour. It was something of a dream to all four of them. They all had an idea and when they ran it by tour managers they got the okay.
There was one thing that had to be taken care of first: Brent. As time had gone on, he started showing up to less and less rehearsals, deciding instead to go to parties and have a hangover the next day even if he wasn’t even close to being legal. Spencer was the first one to bring the problem up and both Brendon and Ryan somewhat reluctantly looked and saw that they were feeling the same way. After a bit of debate and just general conversation, they decided that if Brent wasn’t going to take it seriously he wasn’t going to be a part of the band.
Spencer was the one who made the call, but he put it on speaker when both Brendon and Ryan were around. They listened and didn’t say anything, only exchanging glances with Spencer and each other. Spencer handled it very well and it was clear that he regretted having to do it—they all did—but they also knew that it had to be done if they really did want to be successful. Needless to say, Brent was pretty pissed.
A good thing about the whole ordeal was the replacement for Brent, Jonathan Walker of Chicago, Illinois. The older man fit into the group perfectly, so it was almost like he’d started out with them. When they first met, he and Brendon ended up listening to Brendon’s iPod and singing the Aladdin soundtrack together.
They all felt lucky to have found him, a talented bassist who took his position seriously but was still awesome to be around. With the addition, they had to tweak the show plan a little to incorporate Jon but it wasn’t much of a problem.
“Ryan could you get me some water?” Brendon groaned, rolling over onto his right side and covering his head up with his pillow. From the table, Spencer snickered and Jon smiled subtly, but they continued to play their card game.
“While I’m up, do you need anything else? This getting up and down and up and down is annoying,” Ryan said, unfolding himself from the chair he was sitting in and standing to look at Brendon’s pitiful form on the couch.
Brendon thought about the question. “Could I have some crackers? Just a few though, I don’t need a lot.” Ryan nodded and went to go get the requested items while Brendon fell back on the couch.
“You aren’t going to throw these up are you?” Spencer asked, beating Jon again at poker. Jon still hadn’t learned not to play cards with Vegas kids. He didn’t lose all of the time just most of the time.
“Shut up, it’s not that kind of sick,” Brendon groaned. “I thought that people were supposed to be nice to the person who’s sick.” He was sick again, running a fever and generally feeling terrible. Brendon got sick a lot, sometimes it was big and sometimes it was just a one day thing, but it was always sickness. They’d found out quickly on tour that his immune system was complete shit.
“Most people are, Spencer’s just a dick,” Jon said, turning to look at him sympathetically and missing the bird that Spencer flipped him.
Ryan came back out with the bottle of water and a box of crackers, handing both items to Brendon and going back to sit in his chair. “Ry, I told you a few crackers,” he whined. Ryan was really the only one who put up with him when he was like this, not forever but longer than anyone else. Jon would smile at him but he didn’t actually do anything when Brendon reached the whining, though he did do some before that. Spencer normally did nothing except smirk.
“That will save me multiple trips. Eat however many you want then put the box on the floor. When you want them again, pick them up. I think it’s a good idea and that you’ll be okay,” Ryan said nicely, picking up his book and proceeding to ignore Brendon.
Brendon took a drink out of the bottle and dug around in the box for a few crackers, eating them slowly while watching Spencer deal out another hand and Ryan turn a page while Jon picked up the cards he had. Absentmindedly he examined Jon’s cards, immediately knowing how to play them. While he watched the game he would smile or silently shake his head at each move on Jon’s part. It was strangely entertaining.
At some point during the time, he fell asleep on the couch. When he woke up again he was still there, curled up, blanket pulled up to his waist, bottle of water set against his stomach, box of crackers on the floor, head hurting. It was dark outside and he could see the moon and the stars. A lot were visible because the bus was on the interstate in the middle of nowhere, and Brendon was mesmerized. There was a sound then, coming from the other side of the little space.
He looked over and saw Ryan sitting there, still reading by flashlight. After a few seconds Ryan looked up and set the book aside when he saw Brendon awake. “Hey, how are you feeling?”
“My head hurts but I don’t think that I feel hot anymore.”
Ryan stood and crossed the space in one step. He bent down and felt Brendon’s forehead with the back of his hand. “You’re right; I think that the fever’s gone. What about your stomach?”
“Fine. I don’t feel like throwing up at all.”
“Good,” Ryan answered, standing up and picking up the box of crackers, opening it and putting one in his mouth. “Spencer and Jon are in their bunks. It’s about eleven-thirty now. You’ve only been asleep for about six hours.”
“Did I miss anything?”
“Jon lost two more times, then he won once. Then I joined in and beat the both of them and that just ended the games.”
“Damn I wish I’d seen it,” Brendon said, imagining it. Ryan was generally the better card player. It had a lot to do with his monotone and the bland look he was able to pull on his face all the time. Most people thought that that was how he always was. Brendon had seen the older boy light up, though, and he’d seen Ryan angry many times before. Anyone who said that he didn’t express emotions was wrong.
“It was pretty good. You know how frustrated Spencer gets when he doesn’t win.” Brendon nodded, he’d seen that too. Brendon wasn’t the best card player, he knew how to play and he was good when it came to that, but the poker face was not a trait that he owned. If they could play with things covering their faces he would probably win a lot more. “Anyway, now that you’re up, I’m going to sleep and this time you aren’t going to stop me.”
Brendon looked closely, Ryan did look exhausted, and once again it was because he was waiting for Brendon, waiting to make sure he was okay. In response Brendon nodded and watched the tall figure walk back to the bunk area and crawl in, drawing the curtain behind him closed. It was silent for a while and Brendon just looked out of the window at the night sky. He got bored quickly though and went to get the laptop they all shared.
When he opened it, he noticed that Ryan was still logged in and he moved to log out and get on his own but the website that was pulled up caught his attention. As usual for Ryan there were several tabs up at the top and the one that was open seemed to be some kind of poetry website. Since he was a curious person, Brendon read the poem that must have been the last one Ryan was looking at.
At the top it said The House Was Quiet on a Winter Afternoon by David Young. He read through it, skimming more than reading, and when he hit the bottom he felt like he was missing something so he went back up to the top and the second time through he actually read it. He soaked in the words and he marveled at the fact that this, this was Ryan. The poem was part of Ryan, part of how he was feeling or what he was thinking.
All Brendon could do was sit there a moment and let it sink in. Ryan talked to them and he wasn’t a completely closed book, but he didn’t offer information about himself readily and it was rare to see something so raw. Music was one of the things that Brendon thought gave Ryan away a little, but this poetry, it did a lot more. Or maybe it made it more obvious. Either way Brendon knew that he’d found something incredibly important and private.
He knew that he could never tell anyone about it, or let Ryan know that he’d seen it. So, still in his daze he logged Ryan out and went into his own account on the computer. He surfed around for a while, unable to get that poem out of his head, or what it might say about the skinny boy that was his best friend.
Brendon looked calmly around the dressing room, taking yet another drink from the water bottle in hand. It was almost show time. He ran through the script in his head as he watched the other people who were getting ready to put on another incredible show.
These shows still amazed him. It was a little boring to work scripted every performance but he couldn’t say that the result wasn’t impressive. The theatrics, the abilities of the other performers, the lights and costumes, the way the show flowed and moved; it was all incredible. Sometimes when he thought about the shows and everyone’s reaction to them, he realized that it was a good thing that the band did this right off the bat. They were coming into the world with a bang, a loud, colorful, amazing bang that people didn’t know exactly how to describe. No one would be able to forget this.
“Places in fifteen guys,” the manager called into the room. Everyone let him know that they heard him and he left again to oversee something. Celeste, one of the dancers, walked over then.
“Brendon, honey, let’s do your makeup now so that it has a chance to dry before you go out and sweat most of it off. The drier it gets, the longer it’ll last,” she said with a nice smile. He smiled back and followed her to where she sat him down and started to work on applying stage makeup to his face. It was kind of fun. He got to feel how theater people felt, got to go through what they probably went through.
Over Celeste’s shoulder, he watched Ryan applying his own makeup, drawing on his face with liquid eyeliner. At the beginning he’d basically used the design under his eye that Alex DeLarge from “A Clockwork Orange” had. Eventually, though, Ryan had started coming up with his own things and Brendon vaguely recognized some of the designs that Ryan had drawn a lot in art class or in the margins on his papers.
Ryan was good at it. Everything that he came up with looked great sitting there on his face. Sometimes he had a face on like Brendon did but more often he drew designs by his eyes, stretching across his face with varying shades of eye shadow as a backdrop.
For some reason it was fascinating to watch the other boy, concentrating so intently on the details. He was so focused and determined to make every show worth a fan’s time and money. The boy never seemed worried, obsessed, or completely fixated on it, but it was clear that he found it important. And Ryan’s sure face as he drew another line of black on his cheek was something reassuring. Brendon didn’t think that he’d ever seen Ryan look unsure.
“There you go, hon. You might want to watch the wandering eyes,” Celeste said quietly. He blushed in spite of himself and looked away. It was no secret that people thought he was gay or that Ryan was gay or that they both were gay. It was annoying, but Brendon could think of a lot worse people for others to think he was in love with. Besides, he didn’t really give people any reason to think otherwise.
Brendon got up and put the boots that he wore onto to his feet. Already the makeup was beginning to itch and he started to anticipate the feeling of it as it melted under the lights and began to run. He took another drink of water and started watching again.
There wasn’t any anxiety anymore. He was used to singing in front of large groups now; in fact he’d started to love it. The emotion that replaced the nerves was more like eagerness or anticipation. He was excited. All of his nerves were tight, ready to experience the thrill of the screaming fans and the lights. The adrenaline had already started pumping, his heart was beating faster, and he felt restless and energized as if he hadn’t taken his medicine. Tonight was going to be a good show.
Directly after the show, as they were walking back to the dressing room, Brendon grabbed Jon around the neck and jumped up, forcing the older one to catch him. Jon didn’t care though, he was laughing along with everyone else in the resulting excitement and remaining adrenaline that followed after every show they did.
It was in these moments that Brendon realized that he would rather die than give this up. The life that he’d gotten a hold of and clung to stubbornly was something that he never wanted to let go of. Doing something that he loved, and giving people his talent while doing it with all of his friends, was fulfilling and satisfying and he didn’t want his life to be any other way.
Spencer and Ryan were both walking on either side of Jon—who still had Brendon in his arms—and they were giddy as well. Brendon reached out and high-fived the both of them, whooping in sheer happiness, grinning at their returning sounds. And this feeling, this high that came afterwards, was something that he couldn’t live without now.
Just outside of the door to their dressing room, Jon dropped him and he bounced in place as soon as his feet hit the ground. Someone was saying something about going out to eat and they were all in favor of that idea. Jon and Spencer pushed into the room first, leaving Brendon and Ryan behind. While they waited for the two idiots who were stuck in the door, Ryan looked over at Brendon and grinned.
This was also something worth seeing. Ryan wasn’t extremely depressed or anything, but it wasn’t often that he grinned. It was the performing high. It made Ryan’s eyes light up and it made him smile and look like he was in the exact right place and like he wasn’t planning on going anywhere. The look always made Brendon’s smile that much bigger because he loved seeing his friend so happy after finally reaching his goal.
“You did good Ross,” Brendon commented, putting a hand on his shoulder for a moment, and going through the now-clear doorway.
“You too, Urie. Now, I doubt anyone would believe us if we told them that you used to be shy to sing and perform,” Ryan responded, walking through the door after him, shaking his head and running a hand through his sweaty hair.
Brendon just smiled in response and pulled his shirt off, taking care not to disturb the wires which he carefully removed next. Everyone else was in the process of undressing, and then they would all hang around in their underwear until they were able to take their shower. Afterwards they were all going to some restaurant that Zack had found down the street.
At his turn, Brendon got in and out as soon as he was done with soaping and shampooing. He’d learned early on that just getting in under the water didn’t do much to get rid of the feeling of the sweat being everywhere on his body.
He got dressed in new clothes and went to sit on a box while Ryan went in to take his shower. It wasn’t unusual that he was the last person to shower. Everyone else was faster to jump on the opportunity and Ryan always sat on something and stared off into space for a while, thinking, though no one knew what about.
Shortly Ryan came back out, threw new clothes on, and they were out the door, having had all of their instruments and other equipment taken care of already.
Outside it was nice. Since it was about ten, the air had cooled down considerably and it was the perfect temperature to feel like bliss on their skin, still hot from performing. By this time there was barely anyone in the restaurant, so they found a table relatively quickly and had a waiter also relatively quickly. It was just a normal burger place and they all ordered some variation of the hamburger or chicken. Even though it was simple, it still felt like a celebration. The table was filled with the normal laughter, jokes, and general conversation as they ate their food and wound down after the show, and by the time they left they were all feeling the fatigue.
On the bus, Brendon went straight to his bunk, pulling his shirt and jeans off on his way. He climbed in and rolled over, falling asleep to the sounds of the others doing the same and the feeling of the bus as it started up to take them to their next destination.
It was late when he woke up, or early if he wanted to look at it that way. At one in the morning he woke up for some indescribable reason. Brendon lay on his bunk for a minute, staring at the bottom of Jon’s bunk to try and figure it out. He wasn’t hungry or thirsty, he didn’t have to go to the bathroom, and his muscles were still sore so it was obvious that his body still needed rest, so what was it?
Without finding the answer, he slipped out of his bunk, rubbing his eyes and making his way to the “living room”. He sat on the couch feeling as if there was something wrong. It hit him in a second. It was too quiet.
There were still the sounds of breathing and snoring but he couldn’t hear the normal sound of tossing and turning mixed in with tiny, barely audible whimpers, the sounds that usually came from Ryan’s bunk. They were quieter now than they had ever been in his house but the nighttime sounds were still there. To say the least, it concerned Brendon as it always had.
Every morning Ryan woke up looking exhausted, like he hadn’t slept at all. He was also always really quiet in the mornings and barely looked up at other people until after a certain point. The whole time he was silent there was always a sort of haunted look on his face, too. Brendon had no idea what it was that was keeping the older boy from a good night of sleep but whatever it was, it had to be terrible. He didn’t bother asking about it, though because he knew that he wasn’t going to get an answer.
“Brendon?” a quiet voice asked from the other side of the room. Brendon jumped, yelped quietly, and looked toward the chair on the opposite end of the bus. It was occupied by none other than the boy he’d been thinking about, which also explained the lack of noise from the bunk.
“Thanks, give me a heart attack,” he said, calming down slowly. Ryan smiled a little.
“Well if you wouldn’t sit there like a shadow and maybe make just a little bit of noise we wouldn’t have a problem. But no, you insist on sitting there in the dark, completely silent and motionless. You sir, have issues,” Brendon said making Ryan smile a little bit more, though it didn’t seem to look quite right.
“Again, I’m sorry, especially now that you’ve figured out that I did it on purpose,” Ryan responded with an eye roll. “What are you doing awake?”
“I don’t know I just woke up. How about you?”
“Couldn’t sleep to begin with,” Ryan answered playing with his hands and looking down, something wasn’t right about that.
“Really?” Ryan nodded. “So what have you been doing?”
Ryan shrugged. “I read for a while, looked around on the internet, and I’ve been staring out of the window for probably the last half hour.”
Brendon wondered briefly if what Ryan was reading or looking at on the internet was more poetry but he let the thought pass through. “Sounds exciting.”
“Oh trust me, it is. You don’t even know.”
“You should have gotten me for the festivities.” The two of them laughed after the stupid joke and it fell silent. It wasn’t uncomfortable, Brendon didn’t think that he would ever be uncomfortable around Ryan, it was just there and neither of them minded it. After probably fifteen minutes Ryan broke it.
“I’m going to go lie down and try to sleep; I’ll probably need it at some point later today.” Brendon watched him stand up and walk to the bunks, hoisting himself up and swinging in above Spencer.
The black-haired boy waited a little bit and went to get the laptop from where it was resting on the floor. He pulled it into his lap and opened it up. This was a bad idea and he knew it, but he couldn’t help himself, he had to know.
As soon as the start-up page came up he clicked on Ryan’s name and it took him into the boy’s account. From there, Brendon got on to the internet and looked at the list of recently closed tabs. There it was, he recognized the name of the website and clicked on the link. He was redirected immediately to the website and the last poem that Ryan had looked at.
It was addicting, this knowledge that he could find out so much from a few words at a time. Now that he knew about this, he didn’t think that he was going to be able to stop thinking about it. It was an invasion of privacy, he knew that very well, but he couldn’t help himself.
The page finished loading and he was presented with the last poem that Ryan had looked at that night. It was a poem by Jeffrey McDaniel called The Scars of Utopia. Brendon settled back with the laptop propped on his knees to read the poem that Ryan had found meaning in earlier.
One particular line caught his attention in the middle of his reading. “There ought to be a Smithsonian for misfits…” and even though the poem went on from there he stopped and just looked at that line. It may not have been what Ryan had found meaning in but it was something that Brendon did. Eventually he snapped out of it and continued to the very visual ending.
When he was done, Brendon knew what he’d found but he didn’t know what Ryan might have found in it. All that he knew was that this was another piece of Ryan Ross’s mind, his thoughts, his feelings. Once again, Brendon felt that small weight of new, important knowledge and the fact that it was secret knowledge that he had to protect.
He got out of the site and logged out of Ryan’s account. For a while he looked out the window and let his thoughts wander, often coming back to the poem and to this Ryan and poetry thing. At some point he fell asleep in the chair.
The next morning Brendon woke up to the sound of moving somewhere around him. He opened his eyes and blinked lazily, only making half an effort to actually look around. Spencer was up and about, getting breakfast for himself quietly. Brendon was awake and he opened his eyes fully, watching the boy slightly younger than himself move around to get cereal and coffee.
Spencer didn’t notice that he was awake or if he did he didn’t say anything. All he did was get the coffee-pot ready and pour his cereal into a bowl, staring at the machine and eating. It made Brendon wonder if Spencer always got up earlier than the rest of them because what he was doing looked pretty routine. Of course he wouldn’t know, by the time he usually got up Spencer was always awake.
Somewhere in the middle of the brewing of the coffee there was a noise from the bunks and Jon came out a few seconds later. He instantly walked toward the kitchenette and the coffee-pot, taking a spot against the counter and staring at the thing too. That at least made sense; Jonathan Walker was addicted to coffee. He was always drinking something and that something was either coffee or alcohol. Since he couldn’t have alcohol nearly as much as the bitter black drink, it was normally coffee.
Brendon watched, amused and somewhat fascinated, as the coffee was finished and the other two men filled their mugs automatically, almost robotically. For some reason watching it was entertaining.
Eventually, Brendon got sick of sitting there and watching the other two so he got up out of the chair and paused to stretch his muscles that had cramped up sitting and sleeping curled up. Jon and Spencer noticed him when he started moving and simply looked over and nodded. Brendon returned the nod, knowing that they wouldn’t appreciate him talking just yet. He got his own cereal and some milk, not wanting coffee yet. Then he took his own place at the counter because he didn’t want to go to the trouble of pulling out the table.
The three of them stood there and got their morning fuel, not talking, not really looking at each other, just standing there. It was about seven-thirty, though, so it didn’t take long for the feelings of drowsiness to wear off. All of them were used to being awake early to do something or other, so it didn’t take long to adjust anymore.
When breakfast was over, they went to their normal places. Jon put some movie in and Brendon half paid attention while he got onto the computer to check any email he might have. Ryan was still asleep for some unknown reason and it felt like something was thrown off a little, even if the older boy didn’t say or do much. Usually he got up fairly early, or close to when everyone else did, something that Jon pointed out.
“Think we should go wake him up?” he asked, taking another drink of coffee and looking over at the door to the bunks.
“I don’t know,” Spencer said. “He’s looked really tired lately. Let’s let him sleep for a little bit longer.” He looked worried. Spencer and Ryan had been friends since Ryan was five and Spencer was four, they were so close they were practically inseparable. Spencer always did look out for Ryan. He was one of the first people to knock down rumors and he knew when Ryan needed to be alone or when he absolutely needed someone with him. It was a sweet and strange bond that Brendon admired. He even envied it.
Jon nodded and the two turned back to the movie. Silently Brendon agreed and he went back to his business.
It was another hour or so until the door to the bunks opened and Ryan came out. He walked straight to the kitchen area to get his food and he didn’t look up at anyone. Brendon did look up, though, and he caught a glimpse of the dark circles under his friend’s eyes and the slight red they had in them. It looked like Ryan had been dragged to hell and back without any chance to sleep at all.
Ryan disappeared and started getting himself fed while everyone else continued as normal. Brendon was still wondering about the obvious exhaustion, though. Every morning Ryan looked like that until he took a shower and had a chance to cover stuff up. Brendon didn’t like it. Something was going on.
After a few minutes, the skinny young man came back through the room on his way to the bathroom. Brendon knew that when Ryan came back out there would be no proof that something might be happening to the boy.
It was the middle of the afternoon and they were almost to the city where the next show would be. Spencer was sleeping in his bunk, Jon was texting his girlfriend Cassie, not paying attention to anything around him, and Ryan was sitting on the couch, reading a book by Stephen King. Brendon was slightly bored because he’d run out of things to entertain himself with and he might have forgotten to take his medicine again, but he didn’t care enough to check.
He was considering napping or just relaxing and listening to his music so that he could save energy for the stage. He wasn’t tired though and he knew that he’d be able to pull energy from anywhere if he happened to be worn out later.
With a sigh, Brendon sat down on the couch next to Ryan. The other looked up at him for a moment then nodded, in response to his thoughts probably, and he started reading again. Brendon didn’t care, he just wanted the closeness.
They’d taken to sitting close to—and sometimes on—each other. It didn’t take long to develop but they hadn’t been doing it for very long. For the most part, they just hugged a lot and were very comfortable cuddling up to each other on the couch or in a chair. Brendon loved the contact; he was a touchy person to begin with, and there was just something about Ryan that made him extremely comfortable to get close to. The other boy seemed to like the contact too, or he didn’t mind it.
Brendon dug his iPod out of his pocket and turned it on before moving closer and laying his head on Ryan’s shoulder, his favorite position to be in. Before the iPod started, he looked up a little to the face of his best friend, set in that look he got when he was reading, the look that meant he wasn’t currently in the real world. So Brendon tapped him lightly on the cheek, getting him to glance down.
“What are you reading?” he asked, partly to get the other boy to talk.
Ryan looked down at him fully. “A Stephen King book called The Dead Zone,” he answered quietly in his normal monotone. Brendon nodded. He knew that of course, he’d looked at the cover enough to have it ingrained in his memory. He wanted to hear Ryan talk, though.
The iPod was on now and Ryan had turned back to the book, so Brendon was left with the music in his hand and the comforting presence of the older boy right beside him. As the first song started playing, he moved even closer to the skinny young man, shifting him over a little. If Ryan minded, he didn’t show it, in fact, he moved in a little too.
Ryan was cold, all the time. A lot of the time when he cuddled up to Brendon it was because he wanted to get warmer since Brendon was warm all the time for some reason. The black-haired boy liked to think that Ryan wanted to be closer though, too.
That was how they sat for a few hours. Brendon listened to music and leaned against Ryan or read over his shoulder even though he had no idea what was going on. He even slipped off to sleep at some point. Ryan stayed there, barely moved, didn’t talk, didn’t give any indication of life besides the constant back and forth movement of his eyes and the page turning every minute or so.
Eventually they were pulling into a city and Ryan put the book down. In that time that they’d been on the couch, Spencer had woken up again and was texting his girlfriend while Jon napped in the chair with his phone dangling from his hand.
Without warning, Ryan got up to go to the bathroom, causing Brendon to fall over. He picked himself up though and stood. There was so much energy pent up that it probably didn’t matter whether he’d taken his medicine or not. He could feel another amazing show coming up.
“Brendon, come on, I want to change and eat something. Get off of me,” Ryan said, pushing again at his chest.
“But I’m tired and I can’t walk anymore. You have to carry me Ry Ry,” he responded, holding on tighter. If he wasn’t trying to hold on, Ryan probably could pry him off. The other boy was much stronger than he looked.
“Too damn bad, I’m tired too. And whether you believe it or not, you’re heavier than you look, especially when you aren’t doing shit to keep yourself up. Now, get the fuck off of me,” Ryan said, pushing harder and managing to get him off.
“You suck,” Brendon replied, flipping him off quickly before straightening and running off. He could imagine the eye roll he got from that. Ryan was obviously tired, that was why it was so fun to bother him, to piss him off. It would wear off later.
Brendon was first to take a shower, which was nice, and he was in and out just as everyone else came in. He was also right about Ryan getting over it. As soon as he was out of the shower, Ryan sat down practically on top of Brendon and rested his head on top of Brendon’s, closing his eyes.
While everyone else was showering, Brendon felt Ryan actually fall asleep there on top of his head. At least that’s what he figured from the slow moving of the other boy’s chest after a while of being in that position. It got sort of uncomfortable but Brendon couldn’t bring himself to move and disrupt Ryan’s sleep. The boy never seemed to get any so this was his chance.
It lasted longer than one might think, but eventually he had to turn and shake Ryan gently awake. The older one blinked groggily and yawned, then he cleaned his eyes out and stretched too. Brendon found it amusing to watch and he waited while everyone else was going out to the bus.
“Sleep well?” he asked.
Ryan nodded scratching at his head and shaking his hair out. “Surprisingly yes, it was really nice.” He stood up and stretched his back out. “I’m sorry for making you sit there like that. Thanks for letting me lay on you though.”
“Hey, it’s fine. You were tired and I happened to be there when you fell asleep. Stuff like that happens,” he responded, also getting up to stretch. His neck felt a little numb. Ryan looked over at him, looking amused.
“Does it happen to you a lot?”
“All the fucking time.”
Ryan smiled and put his arm around his shoulders and they walked out of the room together to the bus and everyone else.
“How do you feel now?” Brendon asked. It was a terrible question to ask because it was quite clear how Ryan was feeling.
“Like shit,” Ryan answered, his voice coming out as a hoarse whisper. They’d learned earlier that anything above a whisper produced more stomach contents and both of them were tired of sitting by the toilet.
It was Ryan’s turn to come down with the stomach flu as it had passed through all of them within that week. Brendon got it first because of his lack of an immune system, then Jon got it, then Spencer, and now Ryan, the person who never got sick, had it. He’d spent the better part of the day in the bathroom with his head in the toilet. Brendon, like the wonderful friend he was, sat there the whole time too to help him hold back his hair and tell him that it would be over by the next day.
Several times Ryan had tried to get Brendon to leave, but so far it hadn’t worked. Brendon felt obligated to do it. He didn’t particularly want to sit by a toilet but Ryan helped him so much when he was sick that he felt he owed it to him.
“Anything I can do?” he asked. He figured that since he’d already had the stomach flu he wasn’t going to get it so soon, but he could always be wrong.
Currently it was eleven at night and the other two were in bed because they’d very recently gotten rid of the flu and were still exhausted from staying up all night, throwing up. Ryan nodded, “Could you just stay out here with me?”
Brendon nodded in response and slid down so he was no longer sitting on the back of the couch but right next to the guitarist. Almost immediately Ryan leaned into him and put his arms around him. “You’re soft,” he mumbled tiredly.
“Are you calling me fat?”
“No, I’m calling you soft. There’s a difference. It’s the exact way that my head is laying on your shoulder or maybe it’s the fabric of your shirt. Either way, you’re soft.”
Brendon knew that the other boy must be sick to be talking like this or to be this touchy. Usually Brendon was the one lying on Ryan or sitting with his arms around Ryan, it was an interesting change. And before he knew it, it became the second time ever that Ryan had fallen asleep on him, about a month after the first time.
The phone was ringing. It was almost five in the morning and his cellphone was ringing. Brendon picked his head up off the pillow in his bunk and glared at the little device. He reached out and turned it so that he could see the screen, and just because of the ID he picked it up. “Why are you calling at such an ungodly hour of the day?” he demanded.
“Good morning to you too, Sunshine. I was calling to tell you the exciting news, but since you’d rather sleep I’ll just hang up.”
He pushed himself up into a semi-sitting position. “I’m sorry, what is it?” he asked, trying to put more enthusiasm than he was actually feeling into his voice. He hoped that no one else would wake up because of this. Listening closely he could tell that Jon and Spencer were both fast asleep and unlikely to wake up even if the world started to end, and he could hear the usual shifting around from Ryan’s bed. Hopefully the talking wouldn’t wake him up.
“I had my baby earlier this morning,” Kara said happily, making Brendon wish it was a little later and that he’d been more enthusiastic earlier.
“My God! That’s awesome Kar. Details,” he demanded, sliding out of his bunk and making his way to the “living room”.
“It’s a boy, his name is Aiden. He looks kind of like you when you were a baby, too, which is kind of weird. It’s like holding you all over again. Anyway, Bren, I’m so happy. He’s perfect and beautiful and I never want to let him out of my sight. Maybe I’ll put him in a bubble.” Brendon sat on the couch and tipped his head back.
“Please don’t do that to the poor thing. Don’t be a suffocating parent, please. I’ll take him from you. Oh, and don’t plan out his future for him. That’s also a bad idea that will end with him coming to live with his rock star uncle.”
Kara laughed a little, not taking him seriously, something that Brendon had mixed feelings about. “How’s that going by the way? I’ve read things about you guys on the internet and in magazines, you’re right about Ryan, he’s hard to miss, and he’s not too bad looking either.”
Brendon chose not to comment on his sister’s opinion of his best friend’s looks. “It’s amazing Kar. I couldn’t have asked for better. It’s different than I thought it would be, it’s definitely harder and a bit more stressful, but it’s incredible. I love it and I’m so glad that I kept going with it.”
“Worth getting kicked out?”
“Totally. And to be doing it with my friends makes it better. The older looking one with the beard is Jon by the way. He’s newer because Brent wasn’t cooperating. But Jon’s amazing too, it’s like he belongs with us.”
“I’m so glad B, you guys deserve this. You need to have a show here in Seattle so I can come and see you. Maybe you can come to the house and meet your nephew too.”
“Probably not, we usually have to get right back on the bus after a show. You can totally come and hang backstage though, that would be fun. How are you feeling?”
“Much better, especially since the medicine is out of my system. Giving birth hurts like hell and I’m so glad it’s over. Aiden’s worth it, though. I have to send you pictures. I’m really tired but I just had to call you and tell you. Mom and Dad are here along with the other siblings. The siblings send their best, by the way.”
Brendon tried not to let it bother him that his parents didn’t have a message to give to him, that they didn’t have anything to say to him. It didn’t matter, he was where he wanted to be in his life, that was what mattered. “Tell them I love them too and that I’m waiting for when we can all get together again. It’s been a while.”
“They’ll get over it B. They still love you, you know. Just, head up,” Kara said sadly. Of course she knew exactly what he was thinking.
“I know. It would just be nice to hear it from them.”
“Keep going. I’ll tell them that you love them, though.”
“Okay,” he said. He was officially done talking to family members now, it just brought back feelings that he didn’t want to dwell on.
“Bye, B. Come to Seattle soon, and remember, I’m proud of you.”
“Bye Kara. Send me some pictures of my nephew.” Then the line ended at the flip of his phone.
After their first show, Spencer had encouraged him to call his parents and rub in the fact that he’d made it when they said he wouldn’t. Brendon had been tempted and he’d had the number most of the way dialed when he’d looked at Ryan to see him shake his head slightly and he shut the phone.
Brendon looked at the bunks and took a breath. He had the life he wanted and he was around some of the best people on the planet. Nothing could bring him down.
Reading through this, I realized that this chapter seems to be kind of ADHD and random. All of it is very important later on, though, and I think it's kind of funny. This chapter also isn't quite up to par with my normal writing but it's a bit better. And it's late because I've been working on two school projects due later this week. YouTube-http://tinyurl.com/8o9llbb