With a terrible home life and less than admirable social standing, Spencer Smith is struggling to make it through high school. It all changes when someone unexpected lends a helping hand.
The sharp breeze picked up and ruffled Spencer's clothes, easily penetrating the cotton and seeping through his skin to his bones. He shivered. Las Vegas never got terribly cold during the winter, but once the wind started, the 40 degree temperature felt like 10 below zero. Spencer pulled his hoodie closer and tried to pretend that the stone bench he was sitting on wasn't turning his butt into a block of ice. His school - Bishop Gorman High - was more of a penitentiary than a school. A religious penitentiary. So basically church-jail. Only the richest of the rich kids went there, or else had a scholarship for outstanding athletics. Well, Spencer was neither of those. He was the one freakishly smart kid that the school needed to keep their averages up, which was one of the reasons he was such an outcast. He never would have been able to go there in a million years otherwise, with parents who could care less about his future and only made him go there because the location was convenient.
The bell sounded and he almost smiled in spite of himself, fumbling to wind his headphones into a neat pile in an effort to get into the warm hallways. Suddenly his bag was on the ground, and his books were strewn out across the concrete, and he was surprised that that morning they'd caught him off guard. "They" being Brendon Urie and the rest of his posse. Urie was the typical rich kid - the nicest car, biggest house, best parties, the most friends, the hottest girlfriend. All the girls wanted to date him and all the guys wanted to be him. And it wasn't hard to see why, really. He had this girlfriend named Audrey, with bubblegum pink hair and porcelain skin. She basically worshipped the ground Brendon walked on. Brendon's best friends were Ryan Ross and Jon Walker. Ryan was kinda quiet and the artsy musical type. He had a quick wit and a sharp sense of sarcasm, which is why Spencer figured Brendon kept him around. You know how there's always that one kid who manages to break dress code and never get in trouble? That was Jon. He didn't wear his uniform once the entire time he'd been going to the school, instead opting for jeans and t-shirts and flip flops. He had that i-don't-give-a-fuck attitude and liked to spend his time making out with his girlfriend at Starbucks or beating up the weird kids. Urie never paid Spencer much mind (why would he?) but Spencer kind of turned out to be Jon's favorite punching bag, which meant Brendon was never really too far away, some snide comment prepared for the occasion. They were all seniors, while Spencer was stuck at junior status.
Spencer just ignored the group as they walked past laughing, looking down and gathering all his things up. The wind kicked up again and bit at his fingers and his nose and his ears, making his actions more clumsy and stiff. When he finally managed to get all his books back into his bag, he rushed into the hallway and then to his classroom, taking his seat in the very back corner of the room. The teacher shot him a dirty look, already having started his lecture for the day, and a snickering from a few seats up let Spencer know that Jon had noticed. He just took out his history book and stared at the page that the teacher was lecturing on, rereading the same sentence over and over to tune out and make the class end. Something hit him in the side of the face, and he glanced down to see a little piece of crumpled up paper. Ignore. Then a little piece of eraser came. Another paper ball. A paper clip.
"Would you stop?" Spencer hissed, glaring up at Jon, who'd turned to the front again, shaking in silent laughter.
Spencer looked back down at his book, and was soon hit by another scrunched up paper ball.
"Fuck you, Walker," Spencer said, a little too loudly. The professor glared at him.
"Mr. Smith, this is the fourth time you've been late to my class this week, and the second time I have caught you using inappropriate language directed at Mr. Walker. Take your things and go to the dean's office."
Spencer huffed and pushed his book into his bag, walking down the isle of desks and out the door. He honestly didn't understand what he'd done in life to warrant this type of harassment. He'd been to the dean's office at least five times that month alone just because of Jon and Brendon and Ryan. Opening the door to the dean's office and plopping down in one of the hard plastic chairs, he picked at his nail beds and waited for the dean to come in. The school dean kind of hated Spencer, which was fine, because Spencer hated him too. It was nearly 20 minutes before he came in and sat behind his desk, straightening his tie.
"Spencer, I've just gotten off the phone with your parents."
Spencer froze. His life flashed before his eyes. Well, not literally. But the fact that the dean had actually called his parents was enough to send Spencer into mild cardiac arrest. He didn't speak, couldn't.
"They're on their way to come pick you up. You've been suspended for three days, seeing as this is your tenth visit to my office this year."
"You've got to be kidding me," Spencer forced out. "You can't have called them. Fuck."
"Don't use that language with me," the dean said threateningly. "I'll suspend you longer."
Spencer just sat there, staring at the ugly carpet and ripping up the rest of his nail beds. Nervous habit. When his father appeared in the doorway, he nearly jumped, dropping his gaze to the ground and bowing his head slightly. The dean excused him and Spencer stood, keeping his gaze down as he followed his father out of the school and out to the parking lot. He sat in the back seat of the car, and as his father started driving, he wondered if he was in the clear. There was no yelling. But as soon as he thought it, he seemed to have jinxed it.
"What the fuck were you thinking?" he asked, harshly.
Spencer shrunk down. "I'm sorry," he responded in a small voice. "Sir," he added quickly.
"If it weren't required by this stupid ass country that I have to send you to school, you'd be out of here so fucking quick. And I'm not carting you off to some school god knows how far away, so you better straighten the fuck up."
Spencer nodded hastily and stared at his feet.
"Your mother is furious." Spencer's dad pulled the car to a sharp stop outside the house, and Spencer waited for him to get out and walk up to the door before following. He went inside after his father and slipped up the stairs, hoping that his mom wouldn't notice and leave him alone. Spencer dropped his things on his desk and sat on the bed, tapping his foot and chewing on his nails. Nothing about this situation was good. Getting suspended was almost the worst thing he could do, besides letting his grades drop below an A.
The door flew open.
When Spencer returned to school three days later, he was not a happy camper. Sign in took forever, and the dean had to give him yet another lecture, so by the time Spencer finally made it out of the office, it was fucking lunch time. He filed into the already-full cafeteria and looked around for a place to sit. Almost every table was full. The only one devoid of other people was in the far corner, right next to, you guessed it, Ryan, Brendon, Jon, Cassie (Jon's girlfriend), and Audrey.
"God damn it," he mumbled under his breath. Having nowhere else to go, he ducked his head and went to sit at the table, immediately opening his math book. It'd keep him distracted from the jerks at the next table and maybe he could get some of his makeup work done. Well, that was a pretty funny joke.
"Hey Smith," Brendon called. "Smith, what's that on your eye? Boyfriend get a little rough last night?" The entire table laughed.
Spencer's hand automatically went to his face, covering up the deep bruise spreading across one eye and down his nose. He wished he'd had the time to steal some of his mom's foundation so he could cover it up. Obviously it didn't come from Spencer's boyfriend (imaginary) but rather his angry parents (very very real). Not that they needed to know that. Spencer ignored him and tried to focus on the book. Unfortunately, Calculus AB was just not doing it for him.
Pete Wentz chose that moment to sit down at the table with the others. He was a douchebag and a major asshole to the nth degree, but for some reason, he was the only one at the school even somewhat nice to Spencer. He kind of wondered if he was being set up, or maybe if it was just some way to torment him more, but Pete had kinda stuck around since freshman year. Not that they were tight, but he'd sometimes break up Jon's little lets-beat-up-Spencer episodes or call everyone's attention somewhere else. Spencer honestly didn't understand it but hey, he wasn't complaining. Pete sat down at the table and brought up some other topic that Spencer couldn't care less about, taking the attention off him and giving him the opportunity to scoot to the way opposite side of his separate table and bury himself in his book. He hardly knew anything about Pete, but he did know that without him, school could be a whole lot worse.
After school, Spencer decided to hit the park before he went home. He figured his parents might cut him a little slack, even though they'd told him to be home directly after school as their number one rule when he started going to Gorman. Spencer knew he was probably lying to himself, but he really just didn't feel like going home, and the park was one of his favorite places to go. He walked down the sidewalk, scuffing his shoe along the pavement and every once and a while kicking a pebble or a pinecone. It was a cold day, and there weren't many people out. He saw some lady walking her german shepherd on the other side of the street, and in the distance a runner was crossing the intersection. There weren't many cars out either, which made for a nice quiet afternoon. Spencer turned and headed down the path into the park. Basically the only green thing that actually thrived in Las Vegas, pine trees filled the park. Spencer was always a little disappointed by that, which meant no fun color changing trees or jumping into leaf piles as a kid (maybe he always wanted to do that as a teenager too, but he'd never admit it).
He set his bag down next to a bench and sat, pulling out his sketchpad and a pencil. He then stuck his earphones in his ears and turned on his iPod, blocking out all other noise. He leaned his back against one armrest and kicked his feet up, half-lying on the bench. This was where he felt most at peace, in the park with his music and his pencil. Spencer had always been more interested in music than art, but it was so much easier to pick up a pencil and paper rather than save up for a drum set, which he always thought he'd be good at playing. And anyway, there was just something about sitting in a place and capturing a moment in time on paper through your own hand. It never came out perfect, like a photograph, but more like an interpretation of what you see and feel at the time. Spencer thought art was pretty cool that way. The longer he sat there on the bench drawing, the more he began to zone out. The sun started to set a little, but he didn't really notice. Soon, and not by his own volition, his eyes started to droop, and he dozed off.
It was kind of disorienting to close your eyes when it's light outside and suddenly open them to find the whole world dark. It took Spencer a minute to realize that he'd fallen asleep on the park bench, and his earphones had fallen onto his shoulders. He sat up and rubbed his head, yawning. He had a vague feeling of being watched, which was a little creepy. He yawned again and looked around sleepily, still not entirely awake. He was jolted the rest of the way there, though, when his phone started to ring. He fished it out of his bag. The screen told him that he had 43 missed calls from Dad, and the incoming call was from him too. Spencer swore and answered.
"I'm not even going to ask you where you are," a deadly calm voice said from the other line. "But if you are not home in five minutes I will make you wish you'd never been born."
"I'm sorry," Spencer blurted. "I fell asleep, I didn't mean to, I'm s-"
"Get home, now," his dad said, hanging up.
Spencer threw his stuff into his bag and jumped up. "Fuck, fuck, fuck," he breathed, slinging the bag over his shoulder and running full-force down the path. Being late was already a terrible situation, but if he didn't make it back within the five minutes his dad had set for him, he might as well just go jump off an overpass and end his life quickly rather than let his parents punish him.
Brendon watched him run off and then hopped out of the tree he was sitting in, adjusting the camera hanging from around his neck so that it didn't swing into the tree. He walked over to the bench and picked up the iPod and headphones forgotten there, clicking the middle button and finding Round Here by Counting Crows stuck on repeat. The kid was an idiot, there was no doubting that. He was annoying and too involved with schoolwork and never had a girlfriend as long as Brendon could remember. Not like he was keeping track, but it's just one of those little things you come to notice after going to school with someone for four years. He raised his camera, removed the lens cap, then zoomed and took a picture of Spencer's quickly shrinking silhouette down the street.
Spencer flipped up the hood of his jacket as he walked into the school, trying hard to cover up the line of stitches along his hairline and at the same time look casual about it. His eyes darted around. No one was staring or whispering or pointing, which was always a good sign in Spencer's book. He sat in his normal morning spot on the bench in the courtyard, kicking his heels against the wall behind the bench and waiting for the bell to ring. It always seemed to be the longest part of his day, though in reality it was only about ten minutes. He'd given up long ago trying to make it look like he was waiting for someone, or texting someone on his phone. Everyone knew he was a loner, and mostly everyone just left him alone about it. Mostly.
Pete hopped over the armrest of the bench and sat next to Spencer, folding his legs criss-cross-applesauce style and flipping down Spencer's hood in one fluid motion. "I don't know if you've noticed, but it looks like someone tried to knit a sweater in your face," Pete commented matter-of-factly.
"I just, um," Spencer stuttered. Conversation wasn't his forte.
"Uh huh. What happened, then?"
"I just. Clumsy. I fell."
"Fell on what, a switchblade that happened to be sticking straight up from the ground?"
Spencer shrugged and flipped his hood back up. He didn't know how to talk to people, especially Pete, who was the closest thing he'd had to a friend his entire life (and they weren't even friends). He didn't wanna say something that would make the one nice kid at school hate him.
"You fall a lot," Pete said. "Was it the stairs this time? Maybe get hit by a door? Fall and hit your head on the table?" He was throwing out the commonplace excuses of abuse victims and they both knew it, but of course Pete had no idea about Spencer. He forced a laugh.
"I tripped and hit my head on a park bench when I was walking our dog last night," he lied, pretty efficiently in his opinion.
Pete gave him a look like he was about to say something, but then something behind Spencer caught Pete's eye and his entire face brightened up. He jumped up and ran, and when Spencer turned to look he was wrapped around a slightly shorter blonde kid in a cap. That was Patrick, and he and Pete were about as gay as you can get. Anyone else would have gotten shit for it, but Pete was known for beating up anyone who even looked at Patrick wrong. Pete caught him in a passionate kiss, and Patrick pulled away, blushing. He adjusted his glasses and mumbled something Spencer couldn't hear, but it made Pete laugh and he tweaked Patrick's nose.
Spencer didn't really pay special attention to anyone, or purposely delve into people's lives, but he was kind of that wallflower that just noticed things but never really talked about them, just noticed and thought a lot. He'd never admit it to anyone, but he was and kind of always had been jealous of Pete and Patrick's relationship. He knew they really loved each other, and when he watched them and saw the way they looked into each other's eyes, he figured they'd probably end up spending their lives together. There was just something about them that sort of clicked with one another. Their personalities fit together like inverse puzzle pieces.
Spencer didn't creep, honest. He was just a thinker.
The bell rang and Spencer collected his things, walking into the hallway and into his first period class. His day went as it always did, getting harassed by Jon and Ryan in first, sitting through agonizing calculus second, sitting alone through lunch, and then dealing with Jon again in third. Fourth block was the only class he liked. It was Art, which meant he could sit in the back of the classroom and draw and listen to his iPod. And even though Brendon was in that class, he pretty much left Spencer alone and did his own thing. When he walked into the art classroom, there were only two or three students in there, milling about and waiting for class to officially start. As he walked towards his usual spot, Spencer frowned, seeing something sitting on his desk. It was an iPod; his. He was sure he'd lost it somewhere in the park the night before. So how was it here? Spencer looked around, confused and slightly freaked out, before hesitantly picking it up and sitting down. He looked at it. It wasn't broken or scratched or anything, exactly as he'd left it.
He figured there wasn't much he could do to find out what had happened with it, so he pushed it into the back of his mind and plugged his earphones into the music player. Class started but nothing really changed, the teacher just waved them off and mumbled something about charcoal that no one paid attention to. Spencer flipped through his music, trying to pick a song. Something caught his eye. A playlist. He was pretty sure he didn't make a playlist called "Something Radiates", yet there it was on his iPod. He clicked it and looked through the songs. Most of it was in pretty good taste, though he never remembered putting any of it on his iPod. He glanced around the room, sufficiently creeped out. He pulled the headphones out and decided to go without music that period.
That night, he fell asleep with the playlist on repeat.
Spencer was positive that he had a stalker. He found himself walking home from school with the feeling he was being watched. He felt eyes boring into his skull when he was in the very back row of the classroom. He kept his blinds closed at night in fear that he'd be watched when he was sleeping. It was a pretty disorienting feeling, and just another load on top of his already huge pile of problems. Whenever he was at school and felt it, he could usually look around and find Pete suppressing laughter. A few times he winked at Spencer. He knew the gaze wasn't coming from him, because even when Pete looked away Spencer still felt the eyes on him. It was confusing and weird and creepy and Spencer didn't particularly like it. Based on his past experience about what happened when people watched him, it made him jumpy and skittish.
At lunch on Friday, Spencer was bent over one of the tables in the courtyard, working on his Calculus homework due next period. He was so into it that he didn't even notice someone walk up behind him. At least not until Pete put his hand on his shoulder, and whispered 'boo' in his ear. Panic coursed through him and he jumped a mile into the air, spinning around and stumbling away backwards and regarding Pete with big eyes, breathing hard while Pete laughed.
"Why," Spencer breathed. "Why."
"Cause I thought it would be funny and I was right."
Spencer shook his head and sat back down.
"So," Pete started, hopping up and sitting on the table.
"So," Spencer repeated. "What's up with all the staring and laughing and winking lately?"
Pete laughed. "You haven't noticed, which is funny in itself."
"I know there's someone watching me, and following me around, and if this is your friends' idea of a funny joke, ha ha, joke over. It's terrifying."
Pete giggled in response. That's a manly thing for a guy to do. Giggle.
"I know you know who it is," Spencer said.
"Yup, but i'm not tellin' you." Pete got up and ran over to where Patrick was sitting with his lunch, sitting next to him and cuddling into his side. Spencer shook his head and went back to his calculus. If he ignored it long enough it'd go away.
Spencer huffed and sat under the oak tree in the front of the school. His parents had called him and told him they were going out for the night, and he wasn't allowed to be at the house alone. The shade of the tree was nice, so Spencer figured he'd just hang out there for a few hours and read or something. He leaned against the trunk and pulled out his book, flipping to his page and beginning to read. When Spencer read, he tended to get entirely caught up in the story. The fiction world became his real world. Needless to say, it was about two hours before he was snapped out of his book by someone yelling at him. He looked up, and Jon was standing in front of him, flanked by Ryan, Brendon, and Audrey. Spencer looked back down, hoping that if he didn't make eye contact they'd eventually get bored and walk away. No such luck.
"What you reading, Smith?" Jon asked, pulling the book out of his hands. He didn't even look at it before tossing it to the side.
Spencer sighed. "I really don't feel like putting up with you today."
"No one cares. C'mon now, what's a friendless fat lump like you doing sitting out here all alone? Oh wait." The whole group laughed.
A culmination of everything that had happened to him lately, Spencer sighed sharply and stood. "Jon, I'm so sick of your fucking bullshit," he spat at him, sounding a lot more confident than he felt. The group started a loud croon of "oooooohhhhhhh".
Jon didn't take very kindly to that. His face twisted up. "Oh, yeah? You wanna fucking do something about it?" He hit Spencer square in the face, causing him to cry out and fall and hold his nose. He sat on Spencer's chest, pushing his hands away and just pounding his fists into his face one after the other. Each blow sent pain splintering through Spencer's face, and he tried frantically to push Jon off. He tasted blood. He lost count of how many hits Jon got in, was only aware of the throbbing pain in his face, of the warm wet that seemed to be coating his skin. And then suddenly it stopped, and Jon was off him. Brendon grabbed Jon's arms and lifted him off, pushing him away from Spencer.
"That's enough," he spat at Jon. "That's enough. You took it too far."
Jon looked livid. "Since when the fuck do you care?" He glared, obviously restraining himself from punching Brendon too.
"Just get outta here Jon. You're pissed off and acting like a jackass."
Jon glared once more and stormed off in the opposite direction. The others walked off in the direction opposite of Jon, not wanting to get caught up in either of their drama.
Spencer felt something on his face and opened his eyes as much as he could, swollen as they had become. Brendon was kneeling over him. He'd taken off his jacket and was now mopping up the blood that came from Spencer's nose and mouth and newly opened cut on his head. Spencer swatted his hands away and sat up. "it's fine, i'm fine," he slurred.
"You're bleeding and your face is about twice its normal size," Brendon said. "You need help."
"Like you care," Spencer retorted. "I've had worse anyway. Don't ruin your jacket on the likes of me." He shrugged out of his own uniform cardigan and pressed it to his nose, the source of most of the blood. He pushed back tears, not wanting Brendon (one of his common bullies) to have another reason to make fun of him. He stood, and was promptly met with a headache of biblical proportions. He swayed as dizziness overtook him. An arm around his waist steadied him, and Spencer couldn't help but hold onto Brendon's shoulder.
"At least let me drive you to your house. You're not getting anywhere like this," Brendon said quietly. Before Spencer could refuse, Brendon helped him along to the parking lot and sat him in the passenger seat of his convertible. Through the fog Spencer noticed that the car was amazing. A sleek black little thing with leather upholstery. It was almost a shame to bleed all over it. Brendon hopped into the driver's seat and drove off down the road. Spencer gave him a few vague directions on how to get to the house. He tried not to think too hard about why Brendon was helping him. The bottom line was that he was hurt and there really was no way he was getting anywhere when he could barely stand by himself. And though his parents had specifically told him not to go home, he figured that this was okay, since he was bleeding and bruised. They finally made it to Spencer's house. He figured that Brendon would probably just drop him off and go home without a thought, but when he helped Spencer out and into the house, he was kind of put off. This was extremely uncharacteristic for him. But Spencer wasn't in much of a position to be complaining. He sat at the kitchen table while Brendon got a towel and ran it under warm water from the tap. He closed his eyes as Brendon started to carefully dab at his face.
"Why are you doing this?" Spencer asked. It was almost a whisper. He was kind of scared to ask.
"Jon's a dick. And I have a conscience sometimes."
Spencer didn't respond. He wasn't sure he believed Brendon's answer. You don't just suddenly, one day, save the kid you've tormented for four years, take him to his house, and start cleaning him up. Not that he wasn't grateful, because he was. Very. The entire situation just confused him and he was a little hesitant to accept his help. What surprised Spencer more than anything, he thought, was how gentle Brendon was being. He always kind of saw him as this brash, arrogant kid. But the warm towel pressing against his skin barely hurt at all.
"Open your eyes," Brendon told him. When Spencer did, Brendon started dabbing underneath his eyes. Spencer couldn't help but notice how close Brendon was to him, how deep and rich the color of his eyes were, how they were intent and focused on the task at hand. They looked like the kind of eyes that you could fall into and get lost in and never find your way out of. He noticed that Brendon was humming, so softly that he could barely hear him. He couldn't place the tune, but it sounded familiar.
"You know," Brendon said, "I think people would probably notice your eyes more if you didn't always have them cast down at your feet. They're pretty."
Spencer could feel the heat rising in his cheeks. Brendon laughed breathily and continued his soft humming. Spencer closed his eyes again. The towel was starting to cool and it felt good against his skin. Suddenly, Spencer's eyes snapped open as he heard a noise. A key in the lock of the front door. He jumped up. "Fuck." He blinked, trying to gain his balance, then grabbed Brendon's wrist and dragged him upstairs. "Fuck, fuck fuck," he mumbled under his breath. He pulled Brendon into his room. "Just stay in here until I come get you, okay?"
"My parents are home, just stay here."
He closed the door and ran down the stairs, two at a time. He wasn't quick enough, though, because his parents were standing in the kitchen, regarding the blood drops on the floor and reddened towel sitting on the table. They looked at him when he came in. His mother's lips pressed into a hard line, but it was his dad that spoke. "We told you not to be home."
"I'm sorry," Spencer apologized immediately. "I, it was an emergency, these kids at school, and, my face," he gestured to his face, bruised and red. "I couldn't just wander around like that."
His mother stepped toward him and Spencer almost wrinkled his nose. She smelled of alcohol and cigarettes. "You purposely disobeyed your father." She slapped him and he flinched hard, biting his lip. "Again."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he apologized again. "It won't happen again, I swear."
"Whose car is out front? Do you have someone over? In MY house?" his dad demanded.
"No! Of course not. No. It was just, there when I got here. I don't know whose it is."
Spencer's dad shrugged out of his jacket and tossed it on the counter. He looked around. "You need to have this mess cleaned up in ten minutes. And then I don't want to see you for the rest of the damn night." He gave him a look that could boil blood, then walked into the living room with Spencer's mom. Spencer let out a deep breath - grateful that things hadn't escalated into a fight - and started cleaning up. He slunk back up the stairs when he was done, slipping into his bedroom. Brendon was sitting at the desk, looking through Spencer's CD's. He didn't look up.
"Your parents don't seem very nice," he commented.
"You heard that?"
Spencer sat on his bed and scuffed his heel against the carpet, looking down at his shoes. He was starting to feel dizzy again, and was really starting to feel the pain in his face.
"Is that where you got that black eye from? your parents?" Brendon asked after a considerable silence.
"No," Spencer responded too quickly. He didn't think he was fooling anyone, but as always, his main tactic was to deny vehemently. No one could know.
"It's almost eight, you should probably get home," he told Brendon quietly. "I'm sure you probably have any number of parties to go to." A little venom leaked into his voice, but he didn't try to hide it. "Don't go downstairs though, go through the window." He slid it open, turning to look back at Brendon, who was standing there with his arms crossed. He stared at him for a minute, then sighed. "You need to ice your face," he told Spencer. "Goodnight." Brendon walked towards the window and climbed out. "Thank you," Spencer said, looking at Brendon before he let himself drop down. Brendon just smiled (a dazzling thing, really, Spencer noticed) and dropped down to the ground. Spencer closed the window and drew the blinds, sitting back on his bed. He chewed his lip. Brendon was one of the worse people who could know about his parents. He'd probably tell the whole school and then Spencer knew he'd be the center of negative attention for a long time. But somewhere, in the back of his mind, Spencer knew Brendon wouldn't tell. Maybe before today, he would have. But Spencer saw something different in the guy that he'd never seen before. He saw his genuine caring which he never would have suspected was there, considering how he acted before.
Spencer sat there thinking about it for a long time, but when that started to hurt his head, he changed into his pajamas, turned out the light, and climbed into bed, letting sleep claim him.
Saturdays were when Spencer's parent's left early in the morning to go to Reno. They did it every weekend. So Saturdays meant sleeping in. Saturdays meant breakfast, Saturdays meant being able to do whatever he wanted. Saturdays meant a day for him to rest and recuperate. Saturdays meant freedom, for Spencer. He woke up at 11, stretching and rolling out of bed. He went into the bathroom, looking at his face in the mirror. It wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. He had dark bruises circling both his eyes and down one side of his face, but honestly, he thought that when he woke up his face would have been the size of a watermelon and permanently black and blue. He shrugged and went downstairs. Coffee was like liquid gold to Spencer. It was delicious and warm and always put him in a better mood when he drank it. He went and curled up on the couch and flipped on the tv. He found the Saturday morning cartoons and settled down to watch. Spencer loved cartoons. As a kid, he was totally deprived and never got to watch them. He thought they were funny and entertaining and all-around great. Same with Disney movies. If he could find one on tv, that was pretty much cause for celebration.
After a few hours of that, Spencer figured he should probably take a shower at some point. He could smell himself, which skeeved him out. He set his coffee mug on the table and went upstairs into the bathroom, turning the shower on as hot as it could go. While it heated up, he examined his face in the mirror again. He thought he could probably cover most of the bruises up easily enough. He undressed and regarded himself in the mirror again, poking at his ribs. He made a mental note to eat something after his shower. He stepped into the shower, flinching back a little when the water hit his skin, then settling back into the spray. He liked his showers to be blistering hot. He liked the way that the scalding water relaxed his muscles and left his skin bright scarlet and stinging afterwards. Spencer scrubbed his hair with shampoo and rinsed it, then ran through it with conditioner. He was in the process of rinsing that out when he heard the doorbell go off. Spencer frowned. Who would be at his house at what, 4 in the afternoon? He figured he'd ignore it and the person would go away. He was showering. But the person didn't go away. They just kept laying on the bell. Spencer huffed and turned the water off. "COMING!" he yelled, hopefully loud enough that they'd hear. He grabbed a towel and quickly dried off, pulling on his sweatpants from the night before. He dried his hair with the towel as he walked down the stairs and opened the door.
"Your parents aren't home, right?" were the first words Brendon let rip, quickly followed by "good morning" and "how are you" and "can i come in" and "i'm coming in" and "you don't have a shirt on" and "i'm picking out your outfit" before he ran upstairs into Spencer's room. That had all happened in the space of about ten seconds, and Spencer just stood at the door, dumbfounded, for a few seconds before he closed the door and walked upstairs.
"What are you doing here?" Spencer asked, going into his room to find Brendon poking through his closet.
"I'm having a party tonight," Brendon chirped. "And I figured you could use some cheering up, so you're coming. Jon won't be there." He picked out a few shirts and held them up against Spencer one after another, eyeing him.
"Uh," Spencer managed, smart as ever.
"Uh," Brendon mimicked him. He laughed.
Out of all the things Spencer expected to be doing that night, going to a party - Brendon's party - was not on his list. He'd never been to a party. And there would probably be alcohol there. Spencer had never had a single drink in his life. And there would be people from school, and dancing, and Spencer just didn't think it sounded like a very good time. It sounded like a long time of him trying to pretend he fit in and pretend he was having a good time and pretend that he knew (and liked) the people there. "Brendon, I don't think that's a good idea."
"Oh, boo," Brendon hushed him, pushing an outfit at him. "Now go get dressed in this, and then come back, and I'll do your hair."
Spencer just looked at him. Brendon's eyes were bright and cheery, and he was smiling, his left leg jiggling slightly. If Spencer didn't know better he'd say Brendon was vibrating. "How many energy drinks did you have today?"
"Doesn't matter! Six. None! Shoo!" Brendon ushered him out of the bedroom, which left Spencer to go to the bathroom to change. He sighed and put on the outfit that was picked out for him. Dark wash jeans and a charcoal grey v-neck shirt that had Blink 182 plastered across it. He shrugged. It was a common enough outfit for him. There was a knock on the door and before Spencer could respond, the door opened, and Brendon bounded in. He then proceeded to talk, at an increasingly fast pace, about what he was doing to Spencer and how much fun the party was going to be and all that stuff, all the while doing Spencer's hair and covering up the bruises with makeup without making it look like Spencer was wearing it and spraying him with ungodly amounts of cologne. The entire time it was happening, Spencer's main thought was, "what the fuck is going on?" He tried a few times to stop Brendon or at least slow him down enough to ask why he'd even want him at the party, but Brendon was having no part of that. Eventually, Spencer just gave up.
They got to Brendon's house at 9 that night. Tons of people were already there, cars lined up around the block. His front door hung open, and Spencer got out of the car hesitantly. "Don't your parents freak out at you over this stuff? Having so many people at your house?"
"Nah," Brendon said. "They don't care. They lemme have as many parties as I want as long as they're allowed to stick around and drink with us." He laughed.
Spencer forced a chuckle and followed Brendon into the house. As he assumed, the house was huge and beautifully decorated, every furnishing screaming money. Everywhere there were people, some dancing, some making out, all of them drinking. Spencer just followed closely behind Brendon in the hopes that he wouldn't get lost in the crowd. Brendon led him to the bar area, where evidently he'd hired a bartender for the night. "Drink?" Brendon offered.
"I, um," Spencer hesitated. "I wouldn't know what to order."
Brendon laughed. He did that a lot, Spencer noticed, and he vaguely wondered if he was just really stupid looking or something, for Brendon to be laughing so much. "You don't drink, do you?" Brendon asked. When Spencer shook his head, Brendon ordered a Vodka Red Bull and a Sex On The Beach. Neither of those sounded particularly good to Spencer. Brendon turned and presented him with a fruity looking cocktail. "Cocktails are best for first timers, in my opinion. Taste so good you don't even notice the alcohol til later." Brendon smiled encouragingly at him. He didn't want to disappoint, so he took the drink and took a sip. Surprisingly, it wasn't bad. He smiled, then something came to mind.
"Brendon, none of these people are 21. Isn't it illegal for this bartender to serve us?"
"We pay him off to keep his mouth shut." Brendon winked and took a long drink from the glass in his hand. Spencer sipped at his, and before he knew it it was gone. The vodka in it hadn't done anything to him, so he ordered one after the other. They tasted fantastic. On the other hand, Brendon ordered a wide variety of drink mixes, but once in a while would top it off with a Vodka Red Bull. Spencer stuck to his fruity drink.
"Let's go dance," Brendon said, pulling him away from the bar. Spencer had loosened up enough, so he followed him onto the dance floor. On the way, the alcohol seemed to hit him all at once. His mind seemed to fog over and suddenly this whole party business didn't seem like such a bad idea. He liked the way the loud music assaulted his ears and he liked the way he didn't have to focus on the bad things. But mostly he liked the way Brendon's arms encircled his waist and Brendon's body moved against his own. The guy's hips were dangerous. They were the perfect mixture of bone and flesh and ground into Spencer's in a way that he wouldn't even have guessed was possible. Spencer was to inebriated to discern right from wrong, didn't even think about what he was doing when he grabbed Brendon by the hair and crushed their mouths together. It seemed to be what Brendon was waiting for, because then Spencer felt his back hit the wall, and there were hands roaming his chest, and the fog in his head made it too hard for him to even be surprised at this new turn of events. Brendon was biting at his lips and doing ungodly things with his tongue. Spencer might as well have flipped the power switch to his brain, because it's not like that's where his blood was flowing to anyway.
And then Brendon was off him, and all Spencer could see was bubblegum pink, and he had to assume that it was uh… what was her name again? Brendon's girlfriend? Well, pink-head started yelling, and hitting Brendon in the chest and maybe she was crying too, but Spencer couldn't quite tell. He could only laugh at the scene in front of him. He didn't know whose drink sat on the table next to him, but he knew he was thirsty, so he picked it up and drank the remaining half-glass. It was good. He realized that Brendon was just laughing and babbling nonsense, which made Spencer laugh more, and then pink-head was hitting him, and it didn't hurt but it was certainly funny. The last thing Spencer remembered about that night was being pulled up the large spiral staircase. Flashes in his memory of skin on skin. A scalding hot shower. And then nothing.
Spencer awoke to a pounding headache and a cold sweat and a churning stomach. He groaned and curled up, pulling the fluffy white comforter tight around him. Spencer opened his eyes. His bed didn't have a comforter on it. He blinked and pulled the blanket away from his face. He looked around the room. It was huge, with elegant chestnut furniture and posters plastered around all the walls. A whole section of the room was given just to a horde of at least 20 guitars, and any number of flat screens and computers and designer clothing was strewn around.
This was definitely not Spencer's room.
His stomach twisted and Specner rolled out of bed. Immediately, though, he fell to the floor in pain. His tailbone felt like it had been shattered with a hammer, glued back together, and then shattered again. He resigned himself to lay on the floor while the pain subsided. The carpet was soft against his bare skin. …bare? Oh yes. Spencer wasn't wearing clothes. Lovely. He frowned and got himself to his knees and peeked over the edge of the bed, praying that he didn't see a certain someone there. But he wasn't so lucky, because there twisted up in the sheets, was an equally naked Brendon.
"Oh, fuck," Spencer said to himself, his voice hoarse. He'd known right from the start that this party was a terrible idea. He knew he shouldn't have come. He couldn't remember a single thing that happened last night and now he was in an unfamiliar place with a naked Brendon. Ignoring the pain in his ass (which, considering the circumstances, he decided not to think about for the sake of his sanity) he got up and scrambled into the bathroom, shutting and locking the door. This was the classic scenario they taught you in the DARE program in elementary school, and the same one they taught you in sex ed, and the one they taught you in high school health. Kid doesn't really know other kid. Kid goes to party. Kid gets drunk. Kid makes out with other kid. Kid wakes up hungover and no longer a virgin with other kid in other kid's swanky mansion. Sounds about right.
His stomach lurched and he flew to the toilet, emptying the contents of his stomach into the bowl. He retched a few times, then flushed and stood back up. He still felt like shit, but that definitely helped relieve some of the queasiness. He sighed and stared himself down in the mirror. He always thought of himself as a good kid. But now look at the mess he'd gotten himself into. Spencer really wanted to put some pants on, but those were outside the bathroom, and if he went out, he ran the risk of waking up Brendon. He shifted from foot to food, and decided maybe to look for some aspirin first. Honestly, he felt like he could sleep for another good four hours, but that wasn't happening. Looking through the drawers and cabinets in the bathroom (and finding all sorts of interesting things) Spencer finally came across a bottle of Advil. He took two and replaced the bottle. He was in the middle of trying to figure out what to do about the pants situation when he heard a rustling, and then footsteps. Brendon was awake.
Spencer froze. Any thoughts he had of leaving before Brendon woke up were now ruled out. He'd have to face Brendon at some point, which made Spencer's heart jump into his throat. What he really needed was time. A good long time just to think and consider and try and figure out what had happened. Spencer looked himself over in the mirror, rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, cleared his throat, and then before he could chicken out, opened the door enough to peek his head out.
"Brendon," he said, trying to keep his face free of the emotional torrent going on inside him. "Can I use your shower?"
Brendon just smiled and nodded in the affirmative while he pulled on some sweatpants. He informed Spencer that he was going to make coffee, and Spencer quickly retreated into the bathroom and locked the door. A shower would give him thinking time. Plus, he could get clean. He turned the shower on and stepped inside once the water was burning. He let the spray pummel his back. It massaged the ache out of his muscles and helped him relax until his thoughts made him tense up again. Spencer was pretty sure he was not gay. But then again, he'd never taken a special interest in any girls (or any human being in general if he was going to be honest). But Spencer had never thought about the possibility of liking someone the same gender as him. The thought seemed foreign and unwelcome in his mind. The appeal of a dick up his ass seemed less than zero, to him. But the sharp ache in his tailbone told him that that's not what he'd thought last night. Spencer decided that the alcohol had obviously just clouded his judgement. Still, Spencer had to admit that even though Brendon had been one of his common bullies, he had enjoyed his company, of late. He enjoyed the sound of his voice and the way he smelled, and the deep pools of brown that were his eyes, and the way his skin felt against Spencer's when they accidentally touched. (And, from what Spencer remembered of the previous night, not so accidentally). And then there was the way Spencer's lips burned and veins filled with adrenaline when they kissed. Spencer had never kissed anyone before, but he thought he'd read enough about it and seen enough movies to know that that feeling didn't happen every day.
Of course, he might just be a victim of his own desperation to be loved.
Spencer was not crazy about the idea, but he figured the only way to get answers was to actually talk to Brendon. Spencer was not the type of person who liked confrontation. He liked to just let things fade away and forget about them, but that wasn't happening in this situation. Resigning himself to a terrible day, he turned off the shower and grabbed a towel off the rack. He dried himself, and as he did, he heard something from outside the bathroom. Movement, signifying that Brendon was back in the bedroom. But something else, too. Singing. It was the same tune he'd heard Brendon humming, but Spencer wasn't able to place it until now, when there were words.
"She looks up at the building, says she's thinking of jumping," Brendon's singing. "She says she's tired of life. She must be tired of something, round here…"
Something clicked in Spencer's mind and he immediately felt shaky and pale and trembly. The song was what he was listening to that day when he lost his iPod. The day it was returned, a playlist called "Something Radiates" was there. Then Brendon humming the tune at Spencer's house, and then singing it now. There's no way this could be a coincidence, not when Brendon was acting so strangely and so differently towards Spencer. The turn of events made Spencer's determined resolve to talk to Brendon crumble, and he had a hard time tying the towel around his waist, fingers fumbling as though they'd swollen to three times their size. The next challenge was opening the door, but when he finally managed, he was rewarded with a half-naked Brendon tidying up the room. He seemed generally unaffected by the alcohol that had passed through his system, which was baffling to Spencer considering the fact that Brendon had had more than a few drinks last night.
Spencer meant to bring up the topic of what the fuck had been going on lately, he did, so when the words "How much alcohol did you have to drink to get your tolerance this high?" leave his mouth, sounding not quite as bitter as Spencer wanted, it kind of comes as a shock. And when Brendon's eyes turn to him, he feels vulnerable and exposed in his towel, a feeling that Spencer really doesn't like.
"A lot," Brendon answers simply with a shrug. He hands Spencer a folded pile of clothing, obviously Spencer's from the previous night, but Spencer doesn't turn back to the bathroom to get changed. He wants answers while he still has the balls to seek them. "I like your singing voice," Spencer tells him. It's meant mostly as a compliment (because Brendon's voice honestly is angelic, in Spencer's opinion) but it has an underlying tone of "i heard you and i know what you were singing and i'm on to your game".
This makes Brendon smile, and maybe blush a little, because even the most confident singer could get a little embarrassed to be caught singing when they thought the other person was to wrapped up in a shower to hear. Spencer just stares him down, giving him this look to make sure Brendon knows that he knows, and it seems to make Brendon uncomfortable because he shifts from foot to foot. Spencer decides just to come out with it. "I also like your playlist. Fall asleep to it every night."
Apparently Brendon didn't think that Spencer had caught on that far yet, because Spencer could see the surprise in his eyes and in the way his body tensed up. Spencer lays it on thicker.
"And when were you going to tell me it was you that's been following me around?" He raises his eyebrows at Brendon, who just stares back. "I'd honestly like some sort of explanation about why you've been acting so differently towards me, when for the past four years all I've been to you is the kid that Jon harasses constantly."
Brendon's eyes get cold at that, and he lashes out. "You've always been more than that. It's why I've got Pete keeping an eye on you. Since freshman year you've had my attention. When you showed up to school the first day and you didn't look scared of anything, like you could take on the world. It changed a lot though. Quick. And I always wanted to know why. You've just always…fascinated me. You're not shallow like the others. Preoccupied with material things and fake smiles. You don't talk to me like I'm just some kid to know for the perks and the parties. You don't see dollar signs when you look at me. You're so real, and its a refreshing change from the plastic world I live in."
"I suppose all the awesome insults and injuries and displays of my public humiliation were signs of affection, then," Spencer says sarcastically, and he finds himself getting angry with Brendon. Until.
Until Brendon's stepped forward and cupped Spencer's face in his hands, more gentle than Spencer would have expected. And Brendon ran his thumb over Spencer's lips, which parted slightly at the touch. And Brendon's lips met Spencer's, whose eyes fluttered closed, and he was surprised to find that Brendon didn't taste like alcohol in the slightest, like he thought he would. But the thought is fleeting because he has more important things to focus on, like the way Brendon's tongue probed at Spencer's lips until he was allowed access. Spencer realized that despite the whole he was a boy kissing another boy thing, he really honestly liked it, and he found himself pressing up against Brendon and trying to get more of their skin in contact. Spencer's free hand found Brendon's hip and held on, needing something to anchor him down to reality.
When Spencer pulled away, his lips were red and raw and bruised, swollen, victims of Brendon's teeth. Breathless, Spencer reached up to stroke the stubble just beginning to form along Brendon's jaw. He doesn't really know where they stand, but they both know that things are different now, can see it in each other's eyes.
"Round here," Spencer mumbles breathily, and he doesn't know why, but the two words seem to punctuate the scene perfectly.
Things were different between them at school. Brendon was still the rich kid, was still the popular handsome one with the girlfriend he'd placated with tales of tricking Spencer in a wild prank. He didn't talk to Spencer. He laughed at him when Jon tormented him, still tripped him and swept his books off his desk in passing. His eyes offered no clue as to what he was really thinking, because the usual wide windows to his thoughts were cold and shut off. It confused Spencer, but mostly it just irritated and angered him. That Monday he ditched school halfway through, making a beeline for the park. He needed his safe haven, his place of peace where he could think. He easily climbed his favorite tree, a towering pine that was probably older than any other tree in the park. He sat in one of the lower branches and swung his legs back and forth. Of course he hadn't given any thought as to how they'd act at school. He'd just assumed they'd carry on and not care who saw them. But Spencer wasn't the popular one, wasn't the one in the spotlight. Brendon was. And it was pretty obvious that he liked it there. Spencer felt stupid to have thought that he'd ruin that just for Spencer. Spencer, who meant nothing in the long run, who had no measurable talent and was mediocre at best in the looks department. He picked off bits of bark from the branches. Spencer was dumb and had let himself get too emotionally attached too quickly. This kid meant nothing to him, couldn't mean anything. It just wasn't practical. But as Spencer's first crush, Brendon had the ability to make Spencer ignore all reason and embrace insanity.
Spencer didn't like that.
He heard the footsteps before the felt the shaking of the tree, and the familiar gait and breathing pattern told Spencer who it was before he emerged on the branch next to Spencer. Brendon poked him in the side. "So you ditched. Not as much of a goody goody as I thought, huh?" Brendon was trying to lighten the morbid mood Spencer was projecting. It wasn't working. He leaned on Spencer. "C'mon Spence. You tell me what's the matter."
Spencer shrugged him off. "You act like nothing's changed. You still date that girl with the pink hair. Make jokes at my expense, encourage the jackasses that pick on me. Ignore me. This entire thing is obviously a huge ruse, some joke you guys concocted. I don't want to be a part of it. I'm getting out early." Spencer crosses his arms and wonders for a moment if he's being irrational. Maybe he is, but the whole idea of liking Brendon in the first place was irrational. They're in two separate classes. Two separate worlds, really, and it's something Spencer will never understand.
"Spencer," Brendon said softy. He took one of Spencer' hands in both of his own, stroking his skin. "You know I can't just come out as gay at school. Which I don't know if you caught on, but I am," he confessed, sounding guilty. He seemed so sure about himself and it made Spencer wonder how he could be so sure of anything in a constantly changing world. "You know I wish I could be with you in public. But look at where we go to school, look at the people we go with…" And just like that, Brendon erased all doubt in Spencer's mind. The problems he created were obviously imaginary. It wasn't a joke, wasn't a dream. Brendon did like him after all, and Spencer let a smile curl up at the edges of his mouth. "There, that's what I like to see," Brendon teased in a happier tone. He gently turned Spencer's face and leaned in. Spencer could smell his breath, a mixture of spearmint and red bull (a smell which he'd quite grown to like). He readied himself for the gentle pressure of Brendon's lips, but instead of that, he was greeted with a sharp shove to the back, and then he was falling the ten feet to the ground. He hit hard with a sharp cry, and then there was laughter. Brendon jumped down and landed easily next to him, joining the group that Spencer hadn't even heard approach.
Through the haze created by his fall, Spencer could hear footsteps going away from him, and laughing. Always the laughing. "He actually thought I was going to kiss him," he was exclaiming to the others, still laughing. Spencer felt anger and betrayal bubble up inside him. He'd been a fool. Believed that Brendon, this boy who had always helped to make his life miserable, cared for him. It sounded ridiculous now, in those terms. He'd learned long ago that he couldn't trust his parents, but this, this newfound betrayal and slap in the face hurt worse than that. Brendon had purposely tricked him into caring for him, and then when he was at his most vulnerable, he had humiliated him yet again. He was angry, but hurt was quickly replacing it and he felt tears threatening to push from his eyes. He forced them back and sat up to assess if he had any injuries. Both his wrists hurt, but he could move them and he was sure they were just sore from the abrupt stop on the ground. Spencer sighed and decided that even though his parents were likely home and they'd know he skipped out early, it was better to be there than out in the open where someone (like, god forbid, Brendon) could see him start crying. Which he was terrified he might do.
Spencer quickly gathered his things and walked off towards home. He felt hurt and betrayed and mostly frustrated. With himself, for letting himself get attached, for hoping that anything would come of it, for thinking for a split second that Brendon wanted him for anything more than a quick joke. He felt the tears start to brim over and he rubbed them away with the back of his hand before any of them could be noticed. Kicking a pebble along the sidewalk, he scolded himself again for how stupid he was. Why did he let his wall down so easily? Why was he so quick to trust Brendon? Brendon. Even the name felt like a spear through his chest, and he scuffed the concrete angrily with his shoe. Everything was stupid and everyone was an asshole.
"Spencer!" A voice was calling his name, accompanied by fast footsteps. And because Spencer recognized the voice, he broke into a run.
Brendon ran after him, still calling Spencer's name. But Spencer was quick, and his house wasn't far, so before he knew it he had thrown open his front door and disappeared inside, locking the door behind him. The pursuit brought up all the emotions he'd stored away, and they escaped in long, heaving sobs. He could hear Brendon outside the door, swearing and breathing hard, and he idly wondered if Brendon could hear him too. He didn't have much time for that though, because that was the moment Spencer's father chose to come into the room, obviously drunk though it was only midday. At that point Spencer would usually run and hide somewhere his father would never find him, but his energy was drained (physically and emotionally), so instead of hiding himself away he just let his father do as he pleased.
Which, it turned out, was a terrible idea.
Spencer didn't know how much time had passed between his father barreling towards him with a beer bottle and when he woke up in an unfamiliar place. No, not entirely unfamiliar. He'd been there before. Once, maybe. He couldn't tell. His eyes wouldn't stay open long enough for him to get more than one or two seconds of a very hazy look at his surroundings. He tried sitting up a few times, but each time he did, a warm and insistent hand would push him back into the mattress and he'd drift off again, which wasn't so bad. This pattern seemed to go on for an eternity. Wake up, blink, sit up, be pushed back down, go to sleep. He had no awareness of time. It was a foreign concept to him in this place that consisted only of foggy vision and sleep and warm hands.
It could have been days or weeks or seconds for al Spencer knew, but then he found himself awake and able to keep his eyes open, sitting up and able to grab onto the hand that tried to push him back down. He looked at the hand, then followed the arm up to a face, which he stared at for a few seconds before his eyes connected to his brain and he recognized Brendon standing by his side. He looked around and yes, he was in Brendon's room again. The clothes he wore - the sweatpants and t-shirt - were slightly too long, which told him they were Brendon's. Spencer had no idea of what was going on, of what had happened, when a deep, gnawing pain throbbed through his head, he was pretty sure it wasn't good. He assumed his parents, but who could know? Spencer looked up at Brendon and met his gaze. He meant to speak, but only sound of distress left him, and he pulled on Brendon's hand until he was low enough that he could throw his arms around Brendon's broad shoulders and anchor himself to him. His nose found the crook of Brendon's neck, and he buried in, pressing close, needing the comfort as deep sobs built in his chest. He couldn't decide exactly why he was so upset, but he knew he wanted Brendon's comfort. So he clung to him until Brendon just finally climbed into the bed next to him. Each sob he allowed himself sent pain through his head, but there's no stopping them now, and he cries shamelessly into Brendon's shoulder, knowing that he looks (and sounds) pretty pathetic.
Brendon's hand strokes the back of Spencer's head, smooths down his hair, and he murmurs quiet things in his ear to calm him down. He keeps one arm around Spencer, and it makes Spencer feel safe and warm. Brendon's strong arm is an anchor that keeps him in touch with reality. When he finally calms down enough to hear, he realizes that Brendon's humming quietly, and it calms him more. His voice is melodic and soothing and his humming is no different. Spencer curled his fingers into Brendon's shirt and looks up at him. He realizes for the first time that Brendon has a long line of stitches stretching down his face. He frowned, but Brendon just leaned down to kiss him on the forehead. "Round here," Brendon murmured. "Something radiates."