Pretty. Odd. is released and celebrated, so is the weight of Ryan's mind.
Pretty. Odd. Two perfect words for their new album, two perfect words for the band, two perfect words for them as people. All in all, they’d found perfection in their expedition in the mountains. There were some long nights, some interesting nights –like the Night of the Burning Guitar—and some really stressful/frustrating nights. It all ended well though and they came down from the mountains with an album.
When they were back with the rest of civilization, they got right back into the process of recording. It was better the second time, none of them felt like killing each other, and it was actually fun. After a few more months, they were finished and were ready to set a release date.
Brendon was happy. He was around his friends, his life was going well, and Ryan was all his again. He’d accepted the fact that he was very likely in love with his band mate and decided to sit back and let it be to see where it would take him. When he decided to do that, he realized just how deep in he truly was, and how much he liked it.
It was clear that Ryan was bothered by the break up with Keltie, but he wasn’t as upset as someone who had been in a relationship for a year and a half should be. He insisted that he was fine and he told Jon and Spencer that he would rather not be with a girl that talked badly about his friend and questioned his life choice, basically using the same reassurances that he’d used on Brendon. Not long after he let all of them know about it, he seemed just fine and Brendon decided not to be worried.
The cabin was great. They were up in fresh air, it was just the four of them, and everything around them was beautiful. Almost every chance they got, they were outside, enjoying the grass and trees and the fresh air that existed up on the mountain. All four of them fell in love with the environment and had definitely been reluctant to leave, though being back around other people was appealing. That was probably the only reason they didn’t extend their stay, that and the fact that it was cold up on the mountains at night.
All of them healed. The bandage around Brendon’s head had come off, and the stitches out, a day or so after they left the hospital, though he was told to still be careful with it. Jon could eventually get rid of the crutches, having to limp around until one day he could put pressure on his leg and walked again. The bandages on Ryan’s face came off first, revealing new, pink skin that soon matched his complexion. Then the bandage wrapped around his head and the three inch long gash was peeled away, soft brown hair having started to grow over the scar. His ribs were pronounced healed a day or so after the head covering came off, and Ryan could sing without worrying about his diaphragm cracking them again. And when his wrist was whole again, he was allowed to play guitar.
Brendon enjoyed the whole process in the mountains and in the studio and was glad to see their plan for the album turn out so well. Pete promised them a big release party with other Fueled By Ramen/Decaydance bands.
It wasn’t typical, but the Fall Out Boy guys treated them like younger brothers, especially Pete and Patrick. Brendon thought it was because they helped the most with the first album. Besides, Pete had said, it was the least they could do after Panic! blew up so much and had more people check out other Ramen bands.
They didn’t mind, of course. The four of them got along with most of the other bands on the label. Hell, they’d met and toured with enough of them. Once Pete got their solid approval, he made his plans in the open and set the date for the day of their first show on tour, right after the show.
Brendon was psyched. He was going to see people he hadn’t had a chance to see since the tour they met on. Even Ryan, who wasn’t a huge partier, was looking forward to the celebration.
“So, the party’s going to be in one of the rooms at the hotel you’re staying at for tonight. Everything’s set up and all you guys have to worry about is showing up, got it?” Pete asked over the phone. Brendon smiled a little.
“Yeah, we got it. You know we’ll be there on time, give or take,” Spencer said, also smiling at the phone on the table.
“I’m just saying. Because, we aren’t going to wait for you if you’re late, letting all of the good food and alcohol go to waste would be sinful.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now would you get off the phone so we can finish getting ready and make it to your damn party on time?” Jon asked, exasperated.
“Of course, of course. No need to be rude, Walker,” Pete said, before he hung up.
“First show of tour everyone. Who wants to bet that almost everyone’s already got all the lyrics memorized?” Brendon asked, standing up and buttoning up his shirt before sitting down again to lace up his shoes. He flashed a grin over at Ryan, who was sitting in a chair. Enough people were already calling Ryan a lyrical genius from the first album.
“Guys, put the phones away and let’s go,” Zack said, stepping into the room and looking at them, sternly since he’d called for them once before. When he felt like it, he could be quite fatherly, a good thing because of how little attention the four of them paid sometimes.
Brendon, along with the others, followed him through the hall and backstage where the opening act was just finishing up. They had a few things that they needed to check and when that was done they were ready for their first show since the release.
When the lights went off, the four of them moved onstage and quickly got their things together. Brendon grabbed the microphone off the stand, the cue for the light people to bring the lights back up, and the screams started. He let them go for a few seconds before he yelled into the microphone –in order to be heard—“Well, hello there. You guys miss us?” Deafening screams. He put his hand over his heart. “Thank you. I assume that most of you have heard our newest album, Pretty. Odd. and if you haven’t, well, here’s your heads up.” More screaming. “So, this is our first night of tour,” screaming, “so tonight you’re going to hear our old stuff and our new stuff, exciting, huh? And without further ado, we bring you the sound of Pretty. Odd.” Then they launched into ‘That Green Gentleman’.
When they got off of the stage, they were pulling their wires off along with their shirts so when they got into the dressing room all of them were in their boxers. Showers started up right away and took as little time as possible.
After everyone had redressed in clothing that wasn’t sweat-soaked, but dry and ready to wear, they went back to the hotel and the party that was starting. William was waiting for them in the lobby when they walked through the doors. He smiled and greeted all of them before gesturing for them to follow him. Then he turned and walked to one of the hallways off the side of the lobby.
William stopped outside a door and gave them a smile. “Are you ready?”
“Hell yeah we are.”
“You said it,” William responded with a grin, leaning over and opening the doors to the ballroom and the planned chaos that awaited them. As soon as the door was opened they could hear the incredibly loud music playing through the speakers. A cheer from the gathered people pulled them through.
It was dark and there were a lot of people. The music was loud enough that everyone had to yell to be heard or had to lean really close and talk that way. People were dancing and standing around talking, or they were drinking from the open bar that was set up at one side of the room. It wasn’t long before Jon was steering that direction. Everyone they came across stopped to smile and congratulate them on an “excellent” album. It was all great and once Pete found them he stayed with them for a while to talk.
An hour or so later, Brendon was still having a great time with all of the people and the dancing and the alcohol. He was finally legal, though it hadn’t stopped him before. Even Ryan was having fun, sitting on the couch and watching everyone, the introvert that he was. Brendon could tell simply by the way the man’s eyes were alight and the small, unchecked, smile on his face.
He was taken away from his Ryan watching though when a girl insisted on dancing with him. He was already on his way to drunkenness so—while he wanted to continue staring at Ryan—he followed her onto the dance floor where the speakers vibrated the floor even more than on the carpet.
Brendon wasn’t sure who the girl was and he knew that she was hoping that he would want to know, but he couldn’t give her that. That would mean taking away from Ryan, and though Ryan didn’t know about what it was that he had, Brendon still didn’t want to do that to the boy. So eventually, he excused himself from the girl, finding another guy for her to dance with. She was drunk enough by that point that she didn’t seem to really notice. When he was rid of her, he went back to the bar for a while.
About an hour later, the party was still going strong and it was well past midnight. It was a good thing the room was padded; otherwise their festivities would have been cut short. The party was great but it wasn’t much of a release party. A few of their songs were played over the speakers and people cheered, then Pete made a drunken speech and more drunk people cheered, and the party continued. So, it wasn’t really about them, but Brendon had suspected from the start that it was just a way for Pete to get the whole label together.
Ryan was still on the couch. Brendon had seen him get up to get a drink or two and join a few dances before he sat back down and resumed watching people. It was a little strange and Brendon wondered how the hell it was so interesting to watch other people have a good time around you. So he decided to find out.
“Heya Georgie!” Brendon exclaimed, sitting down by Ryan and putting his arm around his shoulder. Ryan wrinkled his nose and moved out from under his arm.
“Brendon, you know I hate it when you call me by my first name,” he said patiently, looking at Brendon suspiciously.
“I know, that’s why I called you Georgie!” Ryan groaned and looked away.
“You’re drunk again aren’t you?”
“Yep! You got it.” Brendon replied, beaming. He tapped Ryan on the nose and pulled him closer into his side. He hadn’t realized before just how drunk.
Ryan pulled away and got away because he was pretty strong and he wasn’t drunk. “You reek of alcohol. How much have you had to drink?”
Brendon shrugged. Even if he had been keeping track, there was no way he’d be able to tell Ryan the number in his current state. Ryan sighed again and got up. “I can’t see this going anywhere good.”
“Come on! Stay! Drink a little! I mean, I can see why your dad did it so much, it’s fucking awesome!” Brendon exclaimed, holding his arms out and up.
Ryan had frozen and was staring at Brendon with wide eyes and an open mouth. Brendon vaguely registered that it was a look of shock and disbelief and something else that he didn’t get. Then, the only distinguishable emotion was anger, burning anger. “When you find out why he came home and beat me every night make sure you let me know that too,” he said coldly, narrowing his eyes to glare at Brendon for a second before he turned and stalked toward the door to, undoubtedly, go up to their room. Brendon instantly knew that he fucked up.
He’d learned though, with Ryan, that whenever he was pissed it was a good idea to just leave him alone for a while. If he didn’t, and immediately ran after him to try and fix things, he was likely to have something thrown at him and the guy had good aim and a good arm. So, he uncomfortably settled back into the couch and waited for sobriety to catch up with him.
After a half hour Brendon couldn’t take it anymore and he left the couch to leave the room. No one noticed him slip out of the door, and he was glad. There was absolutely no need for anyone to know where he was going or why. He didn’t even really know where he was supposed to be going since it was only an assumption that Ryan had gone back to the hotel room that the two of them were sharing.
When the elevator chimed that he’d reached the fourteenth floor, he hurried down the hallway and to their room at the end, anxious to see what kind of mood Ryan was going to be in. Now that Brendon was sober, he thought back to what he said and couldn’t believe himself. Part of him didn’t want to go into the room because he knew that if he were Ryan, he would still be pissed. Brendon knew, though, that he had to check on Ryan and apologize. He really needed to apologize.
Taking a deep breath, he reached up and knocked on the door. “Ryan?” He knocked again. “Ryan? Are you in there?” After another silence, Brendon reached down, dug his key card out of his pocket and slid it in the door. He stepped through and looked around as if he were expecting Ryan to be hiding behind the door.
The room was completely dark. The only light was from the windows that let in the city lights. There was no apparent sign of Ryan Ross being in the hotel room, but Brendon knew about the other boy’s abilities to be absolutely silent. So he walked through the large hotel room, up the little step that led to the two bedrooms, and he checked everywhere that he could think of looking.
Stepping into Ryan’s bedroom, the first thing that he noticed was that it was dark there, too. The second thing that he noticed was the fact that there was a cold stream of air running through the room. Frowning, Brendon turned to the glass door that led out to the little balcony, the whole reason Ryan wanted that bedroom, and was shocked and happy to find that it was open.
“Ry?” he asked cautiously, walking out onto the balcony and into the cold night air. Sure enough, Ryan was there, standing on the little wall, looking down at the city street below him. Brendon could feel his heart rate suddenly pounding.
“Ryan?!” he squeaked, his voice coming out tight and panicked. He cleared his throat. “Ryan, what are you doing? W-whatever it is, we can talk it out or something b-but first you have to get down and come inside,” he said, voice shaking, slowly walking closer.
The tall guitarist on the wall didn’t appear to have heard him because he didn’t react at all. He continued to look down at the traffic below, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was standing on a ledge about a foot wide, several hundred feet in the air.
“Ryan, I’m serious. Don’t do it.” He was happier to hear that his voice was stronger, firmer. Brendon could only hope that the idiot heard him that time.
Much to Brendon’s happiness and surprise, Ryan turned to look at him, a quizzical look on his face. “What are you talking about?” he asked, sounding almost exasperated which was much better than the anger and the yelling that Brendon had been expecting.
“You’re standing on the wall of the fucking balcony and we’re fourteen floors up,” he said, as if that explained everything. “I came up here, looking for you and I see you standing there, what do you think I was going to immediately assume?” he asked.
“It’s fascinating,” Ryan whispered, catching Brendon by surprise again. He’d turned his head back out and he was now surveying the traffic below.
“What’s fascinating?” Brendon asked, leaning against the very wall he was trying to talk his friend off of, completely forgetting that he should keep doing that.
“The fact that I can stand here and if I shift my weight even the slightest bit forward, I’ll fall straight down, just plummet to the ground and end up as a pancake on the sidewalk. But, if more of my weight is toward the back, I’ll fall back to the floor, safe and sound.”
“Ryan, if you lean forward I swear to God I will kill you. I will bring you back to life and I will kill you,” Brendon interrupted, not liking where the conversation was going. Ryan ignored him and continued talking.
“Right here I am in complete control of what happens next, it’s entirely up to me. And both of the decisions are so easy. I just have to lean a little bit one way and everything works itself out. If I only could stay here all the time, then nothing would happen that I didn’t want to.” Brendon could tell that Ryan wasn’t talking to him. He was talking to himself. Then the tall boy turned to look at him, the lights catching on the moisture in his eyes. He leaned forward then… hopping down onto the tiled balcony.
Without question, yet, Brendon walked forward and hugged Ryan. Then he turned and walked back into the bedroom. He deposited the older boy on the edge of the bed and went to turn the light on. When that was done, he joined Ryan on the bed. “You know, you scared the shit out of me when I saw you standing there.” Ryan didn’t react. He seemed lost in his own world, which wasn’t all that odd, but it didn’t look like it was nice to be in Ryan-land at the moment. He put a hand on Ryan’s arm and that got the boy to look up and at him, wide-eyed and more vulnerable looking than when he told Brendon about his past with his dad. “Ry, I’m sorry about saying that about your dad. I realize that I am a total dick for saying that and being drunk just makes it worse.”
Ryan looked away again, getting the look back in his eyes that indicated that he was slipping back into his head. Since there wasn’t any yelling or cold glares, Brendon could tell that he was forgiven. There was definitely something wrong though if Ryan didn’t say so out loud.
“My dad died,” he said quietly, still distant, saying it out loud for what Brendon figured was the first time. “I got the call earlier today. All that time and thought wasted, thinking about everything that happened, and now it’s over just like that. One breath and my whole childhood is gone. The fucking bastard got out of it again.” Ryan’s voice was laced with disbelief and anger, but his face didn’t reflect any of that. “And the part that pisses me off the most is that I feel bad about it, like I’m sad. I hated the asshole and yet I’m fucking grieving.” He turned back to Brendon, again with that vulnerable look in his light brown eyes. “Brendon, I’m losing my fucking mind. Everyone’s left me, and they keep doing it. First my mom died, not that that’s her fault at all, it just is what it is. Then I lost my first girlfriend because I apparently wasn’t good enough for her. Then I lost my second girlfriend, even though I was the one that ended it, and I’m increasingly glad that I did, it doesn’t change the fact that I lost her. Then the fucker that’s haunted me my whole life went and left, as if he had the right.” Ryan slumped forward and put his head in his hands, threading his fingers through his hair. “I just can’t wait to see who’s next,” he muttered to the floor.
Brendon moved closer, trying to put his arm around the other boy’s shoulder, but Ryan twisted away from him and stood up, pulling his hair as he began pacing. “I’m losing my grip on sanity. I’m just going to go off the deep end and leave you all here to pick up the fucking pieces.”
“Ryan,” he said from the bed, watching the frantic moving. “Ryan,” the boy still didn’t stop. “Hey, Ross,” he said, standing up and moving over to step in front of the other boy. Ryan just looked at him with wide eyes. There was no wall, there was no shield, he didn’t have a mask on, or armor, and Brendon needed to protect him now.
He put his hands on the taller boy’s upper-arms and looked him in the eye. Ryan returned the grip, tighter and more desperate, as if he realized that Brendon was what he should cling onto to keep from drifting out to sea. “Ryan, I don’t care about everyone else, they don’t matter right now, but I absolutely mean it when I say this: whoever walks into your life, I will never walk out.” Then he leaned forward and in a split second realized that he was moving toward the other boy’s lips. Quickly, so as to disguise the unanticipated, potentially embarrassing slip-up, he moved his face upward and, instead, kissed Ryan’s forehead.
In a very un-Ryan-like gesture, the other moved forward and bent down to bury his face in Brendon’s shoulder, wrapping his arms further around Brendon. Brendon just held tighter and tipped his head up so the soft brown hair fit under his chin. Ryan wasn’t crying, he was obviously just done with life for the night. So, Brendon backed them up to the bed again.
It was about two in the morning, so Brendon moved up to the head of the bed and lay back on the pillow, Ryan following right after him, not removing his arms from their places around Brendon’s torso. The taller boy pulled himself closer and settled into both Brendon’s side and the mattress. The two of them lay there for a while, neither speaking, just lying there, and eventually Ryan’s breathing evened out, him falling into the evasive land of sleep that he never seemed able to visit enough.
Brendon waited a while, until he was positive that Ryan wasn’t going to wake up easily. Then Brendon carefully moved out from underneath Ryan’s unconscious body, leaving him sleeping off the doubts that were suddenly—or maybe not so suddenly—surfacing.
When he was out, he grabbed his phone out of his pocket and moved into the main room of the hotel suite, already dialing. The phone only rang three times before it was picked up. “Hello?” a deep, groggy voice asked.
“Oh, uh, hi Mark, could I talk to Kara? I need her advice on something.” He remembered the fact that it was past midnight and his sister was probably busy at the moment with the baby and everything.
“Yeah, whatever, sure, here she is.” Brendon could tell that his brother-in-law was barely awake.
“Brendon? Another call really early in the morning? Is this about your love life again?” Kara asked, sounding wide awake.
“Yes it is. Is Mark out of the room? I don’t really want him to know all of this just from your side of the conversation.”
“He went back to bed, don’t worry. Now, little brother, what’s going on in your complicated rock star world?”
“Too much. Way, way too much,” he sighed, then proceeded to catch her up on the events in the Ryan love saga. He only mentioned the fact that Ryan’s dad was dead and that he was a little on edge. Brendon didn’t want to go into detail because there was an unwritten agreement between him and Ryan that that topic was never discussed unless Ryan brought it up, and never with other people. Brendon did mention the almost-kiss though.
“Oh, honey, you have it bad. It’s a good thing you didn’t kiss him.”
“You’re right, and that would have been hard to explain to him. He would probably think I was just trying to comfort him more if I did that.”
There was a little silence, then, “Brendon, sweetie I love you and I hope you’re right, but are you sure that he feels the same way?”
“Kara, I know there’s something between us, whatever that something is, I know it’s there and I know he knows too,” Brendon said with more confidence than he knew he was actually feeling. Brendon thought that he really did feel it and know it, though.
He could practically hear his sister’s sad smile on the other end. “I hope you’re right, B.”
“Are you saying that I shouldn’t follow through with it, that I should just forget it?” he asked. He was pretty sure that she would never say something like that to him, but her tone implied it.
“No, Brendon no. Don’t give up, especially not if this is real love. True, deep love is always worth fighting for. And I really do like Ryan from what you’ve told me about him.”
“Good, because I wouldn’t have given up anyway.”
“You always have been stubborn,” she said fondly.
“I just don’t know what I should do about the whole thing, like how to let him know.”
“B, if you really do love him. Tell him. Forget about the rules or your fear of looking ridiculous.” The thought both encouraged and scared the shit out of him. He opened his mouth to reply when there was a loud yell and a crash from the other room. Ryan.
“Thanks, I have to go Kara. Talk to you later.” He didn’t wait for her reply before shutting the phone, tossing it onto a chair, and running into Ryan’s bedroom.
On the bed, Ryan was thrashing around as usual and Brendon saw a pillow on the floor that had knocked over a lamp. He hurried over to the bed and put his hands on Ryan’s shoulders to stop his moving, and he shook him lightly. “Ryan, Ryan wake up, it’s just a dream. You’re okay, just wake up.” He was rewarded with a backhanded slap that caught him on the nose. Brendon blinked and shook his head. Not to be discouraged, he climbed on the bed and straddled the guitarist. Beneath him, Ryan continued to struggle, still asleep. Brendon didn’t want to know what he was dreaming about.
“Ryan Ross! Wake up!” he yelled close to the other boy’s ear. Ryan jolted and his hazel eyes snapped open wide, his chest moving up and down rapidly, breath coming out raggedly. Brendon sat back until Ryan calmed down and he slid off the boy’s waist, too worried to think about anything but the other boy.
“Brendon?” Ryan asked, sitting up and wiping his hair away from his sweaty forehead, still breathing heavily.
“Right here, Ryan. I’m right here,” he said, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“Did you wake me up?” Ryan asked, sounding a little worried.
“Yeah, you were thrashing around and yelling and you did that,” he pointed to the pillow and lamp. Ryan winced and moved his hand to rub the back of his head. “Ryan, I know that you do stuff like that every night when you’re asleep. I can hear you whimper and mumble things and kick and turn in your bunk.”
“Fuck,” Ryan said under his breath, dragging both of his hands through his hair and shaking it out again. He raised his head to look up at Brendon and he sighed. “I’m sure you want to know what happens.” Brendon nodded at the statement and Ryan sighed again, rubbing his face with a hand. “Nightmares.”
“There has got to be more than that,” Brendon said immediately.
“There is, I was taking a breath. Every night, since I was fourteen, I’ve had nightmares. Every nightmare is about my dad. All of the nightmares are vivid, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if it really happened or if it was something that my mind came up with. No brand of sleeping pill works for some reason and I can never get rid of them. It usually happens all night, sometimes I wake up but I’m so used to it that I don’t always. Even when I do wake up I can’t get rid of the fear. And this fear isn’t like what little kids feel when they’re in a dark room, or what you feel when you’re all alone in a strange place, this fear, it feels like it’s reaching way back into my core. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s almost animalistic,” Ryan’s eyes were unfocused, reliving the feeling, not connected to the room or anything in it, just talking about this thing that was plaguing him.
Brendon could feel anger boiling in his stomach and all he could think about was how Ryan’s asshole of a father was lucky he was dead. He clenched his fists in the sheets to help control the shaking. Ryan wasn’t talking anymore; instead, he was still staring at nothing and shivering. Brendon bit down on his anger, forcing it back to its pot. He leaned forward and put his arms around Ryan. “I’m sorry I never woke you up before,” he whispered, voice coming out much gentler than he himself was feeling.
Ryan snapped out of his trance and turned to look at him. “It’s not your fault Brendon. You shouldn’t be expected to do that.” He leaned his head over so it was resting on top of Brendon’s. “It’s my problem, not yours.”
Brendon looked up. “That’s not true Ryan.” But the other boy wasn’t listening to him.
“You must think that I’m weak for constantly dwelling on what happened to me seven years ago, or for knowing the exact amount of time since the last time it happened down to the months, weeks, and days,” Ryan said dismally, getting up from the bed with some difficulty and going back to pacing on the floor. Apparently he’d lost all of his inhibitions because this was not the Ryan Ross that Brendon knew, but he loved him all the same, and realized that it would be the perfect opportunity to tell him so.
“Ryan, you have every fucking right to dwell on that. You were abused by your only parent for fourteen years, and the only reason you got out of it was because he broke your ribs and you ended up in the hospital. I don’t think that you’re weak at all, you’re the strongest person I know, and that’s one of the reasons why I lo-”
“I’m just so fucking helpless sometimes. I’m a bona fide mess with my emotions. You have absolutely no idea. God, even thinking about them all just makes me sick.” The other boy stopped to shake his head and look out the window, dragging his hand through his hair yet again.
Brendon stood up to join him. “Hey, don’t be ashamed of what you feel. You have the right to feel any emotion that you want.” Helpless was the last thing Ryan ever struck him as, even when he was being emotional.
He still wasn’t sure if Ryan had heard a word that he said because the tall brunette had started pacing again and it looked like he was on edge. “The whole fucking world makes these rules that you can’t show your true emotion, you can’t show when something bothers you or pisses you off. You only get to let those things out when you’re with a friend or by yourself. And when you let out your emotions you’re breaking these unwritten rules and the people who see it terrorize those who can’t follow the rules.” He turned to Brendon, eyes blazing. “Who says I can’t express my emotions for what they are? Why the fuck do I have to be happy all the fucking time?!” Ryan’s voice was rising in volume, but Brendon was intrigued and he quietly joined the rant.
“Why do I have to keep things bottled up just in case they would bother other people?” Ryan grinned at him. It was a deranged grin, showing the fact that he wasn’t completely in his mind, but it was a grin and it made Brendon grin back.
“Why does the world have to be so judgmental? Why can’t people be the way they were fucking born to be?”
“Who says I can’t be a musician, and play whatever kind of music I feel like?” Brendon yelled, getting fired up. He’d never really been allowed to let that emotion out, and it was then that he really understood just exactly what his friend was saying. After he’d cried about everything that happened because he decided to be a musician and he’d gotten down to the core of what was bothering him, finding anger, it had been too late to react.
“And who says I can’t wear eyeliner and have long hair?”
“Why can’t people just be there for you and stay there?”
They both broke off there and stood looking at each other, breathing hard. Both of them had small smiles on their faces and Brendon could feel the new connection between him and Ryan.
“Hey, that was something letting things out like that?” Ryan smiled distantly in response. It wasn’t a crazy smile like before. Instead it was happy, actual happiness and he turned so he was facing outside again, standing in the doorway of the balcony. Brendon joined him.
“It really was.”
“It sucks that we can’t do that again.” Brendon said. And it did suck. There wasn’t another time that they were probably going to be alone together or have the opportunity to do that again. “Life’s too hard without being able to do that regularly.” Ryan nodded.
“I wonder if we woke anyone up with all of that,” Brendon said quietly. The atmosphere around them now was peaceful, quiet, and he didn’t want to disturb it by talking too loud.
“What does it matter? What we were doing was perfectly within our rights as human beings. We did nothing wrong.” Ryan was still looking out over the city and he rubbed his eyes.
Brendon yawned. “You know, it’s getting kind of late.”
“I was just thinking that. I’m not sure about sleeping though.”
“I could stay in here and wake you up when you start having your nightmares. I’m still going to sleep, but you’ll wake me up, then I can wake you up,” Brendon suggested, feeling overwhelming sympathy for his best friend.
“You would do that?”
“Ryan, aren’t we kind of far into our friendship to question what I would do for you? Besides, you pulled me off the bottom of a pool and let me stay with you when I was kicked out, I’d say that it’s the least I could do,” Brendon replied.
“Whatever, so, uh, it’s a king size bed, I think we’ll be able to sleep in it without there being any awkward invasions of space,” Ryan said, turning to look at the bed. Brendon shrugged because he didn’t care one way or another, he’d be happy to be pressed up against Ryan, but for the sake of things staying relatively normal it was probably best that he be on his own side.
“Looks like it. Since it’s your bed and all, pick your side,” Brendon offered. Ryan nodded his head tiredly and yawned, moving over to the bed and sitting down on the one side, then almost falling over to lie down and pull the blankets over himself. Brendon frowned a little as he walked around to the other side, pulling his shoes, jeans, and shirt off. Ryan was obviously exhausted.
Brendon watched the other boy as he sat down and as he lay down and pulled the covers on his side up to his shoulders. Of course, though he was really tired, he didn’t fall asleep right away. It wasn’t long before Ryan was asleep, and he could have been mistaken for dead if it hadn’t been for his deep breathing. Brendon had been sure that as soon as he knew Ryan was asleep, he would be able to drift off, but no.
Leaving obviously wasn’t an option so he stared at the ceiling and counted the minutes. Soon it was a half hour since Ryan had fallen asleep and still there was no noise from him but the almost inaudible sound of his breathing and he hadn’t moved an inch. Brendon rolled over onto his side and closed his eyes, focusing on slowing down his breathing, trying to get used to the feeling of there being someone else in the bed.
He heard a hitch in his companion’s breathing after a few minutes. Brendon turned over again and reached out to wake Ryan up. When he was back in his original position, though, Ryan was quiet again. He frowned a little and rolled over so he was facing Ryan instead and he was closer. A few minutes passed and nothing happened, so Brendon settled down and closed his eyes again, resuming his practice to get to sleep.
Later, Brendon woke up to find that sometime earlier he and Ryan had moved even closer. Closer as in, they were almost on top of each other. Brendon thought that was probably just what happened when you slept next to someone, never mind the fact he was perfectly happy with his position. It wasn’t like he’d never thought about it before.
They’d never shut the doors that went out to the balcony, so little raindrops kept flying in occasionally, dampening the carpet. Brendon sat up a little and looked to his right, at the still-sleeping form of his troubled best friend. Carefully, he got up and went to the doors to close them, taking a moment to watch the near downpour.
When he was done he turned back and saw that Ryan was still splayed out on his stomach, his body a distinct shape under the blanket, and his arms reaching out in different directions. He didn’t seem bothered as his back moved up and down rhythmically. Brendon smiled sadly at the sight and hoped that the sleep he’d gotten was good for a while, but then again, Ryan did have a lot to catch up on.
Quietly as possible, Brendon went out to the main room that had a small kitchenette in it and he got something out of the refrigerator for breakfast. As he ate, he looked at his phone to make sure there were no messages, and then he sat down with the laptop.
He checked all of his own stuff first, then he went to the poetry website. It had been a while since he’d been there, assuming that Ryan was over it. Last time he’d checked, the poem Ryan had looked at last was the Jack Gilbert one. But this time there were a lot more.
The one that was after the Jack Gilbert was called. Keeping Quiet and it was by Pablo Neruda. It was dated to have been looked at a few days after they got to the cabin after the accident. The one after Pablo Neruda was looked at a few days later and it was by Jane Hirshfield, called Not Yet.
Brendon stopped on that one and read it over a few times before cautiously moving on to the next one, dated a week from the last one, entitled, The Thing Is, written by Ellen Bass and he had to stop again. He knew that everyone thought the brown-haired young man was depressed, but he hadn’t ever thought it was true. He swallowed and continued on, expecting to find something like a suicide note.
The next poem Ryan had looked at two weeks later. It was called The Good News by Thcih Nhat Hanh and he smiled a little. Obviously things were getting better. Brendon clicked on the one that was a day later: The Secret of Poetry by Jon Anderson. He frowned. Around all of them, Ryan was lonely? But he understood that perfectly.
Next up, three days later, was Life and Death and Knowledge, Gabriel Gadfly. After reading it, he nodded, frown lightening up a little, and he moved on. There was only one left and it was Let It Go by e. e. Cummings, read only two days before last night.
When he finished reading, he sat back and just looked at the poem without reading it. It was a perfect end to the little story that had been built up since he’d last checked the website. Brendon tried to think back, to remember if Ryan was on the laptop as much as this showed he’d been. It was hard to tell and he realized that sometimes when he woke up Ryan probably didn’t go back to sleep. Then he would have all of the time and privacy that he wanted.
Brendon also felt bad. How could he not have noticed all of this that was going on? From the rant last night, to all of the things revealed in the poems, Brendon realized that maybe he was paying too much attention to the physical Ryan and not as much to the real Ryan. And maybe he was too fixated on his feelings, trying to hide them and figure them out, that he was ignoring what was going on with the person he was supposedly in love with.
“Brendon? What do you have there?” a tired voice asked him. Quickly, using speed and clarity he didn’t know he had so early in the day, Brendon exited the website, leaving the Google tab up, and he clicked on his email.
“Just checking email,” he responded, with a calmness he knew he definitely wasn’t feeling. Ryan sat down beside him, looking well-rested for the first time in a long time. “You look like you had a good night.”
“That was the first night I’ve slept through in longer than I can remember,” Ryan said in that voice that people got when they’d just woken up from a deep sleep. He sat down next to Brendon and blinked a little before the sleep was gone from his eyes and they were back to their bright hazel color. “Thank you.”
“How did you sleep?” Ryan asked, sounding a little worried. “I didn’t move around or anything did I?”
“No, I slept fine. You didn’t move at all. Once you were in one position, you stayed there. Well, actually there was a time when you moved a little, but I turned over and you were better,” Brendon answered.
Ryan looked like he was about to think about that, but he looked up and nodded. “Weird.” Then he got up and went to the kitchenette for breakfast. Brendon noticed that Ryan didn’t seem haunted anymore and he was glad, but there was still that bubbling of anger down in the pit of his stomach. Ryan didn’t deserve any of the shit he got.
Back on the bus, things were great. Everyone had gotten good sleep for once because even though they’d all stayed up late and partied, the rooms they had were really good for sleep. Brendon looked out of the window as they went down the interstate and he smiled at the thought of tour, but then the thoughts about Ryan came back and the demons—or demon—that he faced every night.
It was a problem, a big one, but Brendon was determined to fix it, though he didn’t quite know how he was supposed to do that.
Another of my favorites, I hope you enjoyed it. Here's the YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/8o9llbb And in case you're wondering, though you probably aren't, I'm not using a schedule for this story anymore, I simply can't keep to it.