Those pesky little epiphanies. Annoying, but helpful, bastards.
There was a word or a name in Brendon’s mind, it was right on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t think of what it was. For some reason the name was dodging his consciousness. Brendon was waking up, slowly, and he was getting frustrated trying to chase this word so he just decided to let his mouth move and tell him what it was out loud. Frowning and barely conscious, he whispered the name that was on his tongue. “Brendon Urie-Ross.”
Nothing registered with him at first, then the name sunk into his brain and he jerked to an upright position, eyes wide. Brendon rubbed his hands over his face and shook his head, not knowing what was going on or where he was. He looked around, noted the interior of his familiar bedroom in his apartment, part of the kitchen through the crack of the door, and finally, Sarah still sleeping next to him.
Brendon felt his breathing calm and he relaxed back into the pillows, holding himself up on his elbows. Everything was okay, everything was as it was supposed to be. He didn’t know what was going on in his head or why that name just suddenly popped out, but nothing else seemed out of the ordinary. Still, despite knowing that he was “safe”, Brendon felt insecure and shaken and he suddenly couldn’t stay still anymore.
He shifted out of bed and pulled on a pair of sweat pants that was on the floor. Brendon ran a hand through his hair and stepped into the room outside of the bedroom that was the kitchen and living room. He didn’t know why a thought like that had decided to pop into his head now, a little over three years later, and he didn’t know how he was supposed to figure it out. Brendon sank into a chair at the kitchen table and put his head in his hands.
The word wasn’t so much what bothered him, usually he would just laugh it off or shake it out, what was bothering him so much was the feeling that he got as soon as he whispered that word. Brendon wasn’t even all that sure what to call the feeling. It felt like everything else bottomed out and something rammed into his chest and was now pulsing steadily. He could already tell that this was going to drive him crazy.
Brendon’s head was driven up by the sound of his phone ringing, loudly. Quickly, he snapped forward and answered it to shut off the ring, glancing back at the bedroom as he did so. “What do you want, Spence? It’s, like six thirty in the morning. If Sarah wakes up, I’m telling her it’s your fault.” He hadn’t used his voice for anything but whispering and it was scratchy.
“Hello to you, too, I was calling to remind you that we have to be at the venue by eight so we can start getting it set up and make sure it’s what we want.”
“You couldn’t have called later?”
“We both know that you need to be reminded of things well ahead of time. Don’t tell me that you don’t love hearing from me.” Spencer sounded oddly awake for it being six thirty in the morning. Brendon thought he could even smell the coffee over the phone. He just shook his head, once he got out of this little fog he would be the same way.
“Fine, okay, thanks.” He shook his head again to get his mind refocused on the subject they were talking about and he smiled. “You excited? It’s going to be quite a show isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it’s going to kick ass.” Brendon could hear Spencer’s smile. “It’ll be a nice break from the studio and the writing. Plus, really great Friday night party.”
“Definitely.” Work on the fourth album was steady and it was great, but it was still even nicer to take a break. That was why they scheduled a little local show at a theater downtown. They posted the info on their website: Tickets would be available upon arrival, first come first serve, the show was going to start at eight and doors would open at seven, and it was just a little show for kicks which was why the tickets were cheap and there wasn’t further notice about it.
“Alright, I’ll let you get back to your morning and I’ll see you later. But first, why are you up so early? You answered your phone pretty fast so I know you were already up.” Spencer sounded curious and suspicious. Brendon sighed to himself and rested his head against the table.
“I just had a weird dream and I woke up. It’s nothing, actually it’s probably best that I be awake now, anyway.”
“Right, I’ll see you later.” It didn’t sound like Spencer really believed him, but the line clicked off before Brendon could offer any details about this “weird dream” that woke him up. He sighed because it didn’t matter. Spencer didn’t know what the real thing was, so there wasn’t anything to worry about from him. As long as he kept it to himself, Brendon didn’t have to do anything about it or explain it.
“Hey, what are you doing up?” A soft voice asked from the doorway behind him. Brendon turned to see Sarah standing there, looking at him curiously. Brendon’s smile felt shaky, but he still flashed it, holding his arms out to his fiancé. She came forward and he put his arms around her to help pull her into his lap.
“Spencer called and wanted to talk about when we should go down for the show. I don’t know why he’s doing it so early, but knowing him he’s already starting to go through all the things that we’re going to have to do.”
Sarah smiled a nodded. “You’re probably right. We love him anyway.”
“Yeah. But I love you more.” He smiled again, but the words felt empty, like they weren’t real and all of the meaning was sucked out of them. Horrified, he tried even harder to bury whatever else he was feeling and focus only on his woman’s beautiful blue eyes and the love that he felt for her all the time. Still it eluded him and he felt like he was on the verge of some kind of break down.
“I love you, too,” she whispered back. Brendon just held onto her tighter, willing the remnants of that feeling to go away. “Alright, you’re going to get dressed and I’m going to make breakfast.” She got up and pulled Brendon up with her. Then she pushed him back toward the bedroom, making her own way into the kitchen.
Brendon smiled back at her as he walked the rest of the way to the bedroom. As he got dressed, he let his guard down and he sighed again. Why, after all this time, was he thinking about Ryan Ross? And why was he thinking about him…like that? And why the fuck was it so damn impossible to get rid of the thought? He could already tell that it was going to be a long day.
“Brendon! I’ve got toast and bagels! The eggs are on their way.” Then there was Sarah, only nourishing the guilt. He had to figure this out, get these thoughts about Ryan out of his head. He just had to work on that, and then he would be able to feel better about being around Sarah.
“Cool,” he replied, fixing a smile on his face and going back out to his breakfast, lovingly made by the woman he loved. He was in love with Sarah and he was going to marry her and he was going to keep repeating that to himself and he was going to forget about Ryan, again.
The plan was great but it didn’t work for shit. Brendon was a mess, even more so than earlier that morning. The only good thing was that Sarah wasn’t around so he was able to try harder to fix this problem and he didn’t have to try to hide the fact that something was wrong. Spencer and Dallon noticed, of course, but they didn’t say anything, probably guessing that he was just stressed about the show going right. Brendon didn’t really care, he just wanted to get this worked out. If the others were giving him weird looks or were talking about what might be wrong with him, it didn’t matter.
It was like he was being haunted. He couldn’t get the image of Ryan out of his head and there were times when he glanced in a direction and swore he saw the skinny man. Then there were the never-ending thoughts about when he’d been around Ryan all the time. All of the other man’s habits came into mind and memories circled. Brendon thought of the bouts of silence that he would always try so hard to break, the times when Ryan would hole up in a corner and write in a battered up notebook as if his sanity depended on it, or when Brendon would just sit by him and feel better about what he was doing with his life.
All throughout the day it just got worse and worse. He was getting tired of this state that his brain was in and he was getting frustrated with the whole situation. Brendon had no idea what was going on, why all of this was happening, or what he was going to do about it.
“Hey Bren.” Brendon jumped and some of the beer in his glass sloshed out onto the upholstery of the couch. “Jesus, dude.” Dallon came around and sat by him. “What’s wrong with you today? You’ve been acting stranger than you usually do. Like, it’s strange for you, so doubly strange for most people.”
“Gee, thanks buddy.” Brendon deadpanned, trying to dry off the beer that was on the couch.
“You know what I mean. I’m just wondering what’s going on. It seems like something’s on your back and you can’t shake it off.” Then there was a friendly arm around his shoulder.
“That’s one way of putting it,” he acknowledged, looking up from the spill that was already soaking into the dark couch. Dallon’s head was tilted to the side and it looked like he was actually interested, not just shitting him.
“You should tell someone about it so they could help you get it off,” Dallon suggested. It didn’t even look like he was hinting that Brendon should unload onto him.
“I actually want to keep working on it on my own for now. If I need help later, I’ll get it. Thanks, though, for the advice and for caring. I’ll let you know.” Dallon nodded and clapped him on the shoulder as he got up.
“Show starts in about forty-five minutes. Opener’s going on now,” Dallon called as he left the room. Brendon nodded and showed that he’d heard, and then he leaned back into the couch, staring up at the ceiling. There was another noise from the doorway, followed by the sound of someone settling down.
“Brendon Urie.” Brendon leaned his head back up to see Spencer kneeling in front of him. “I demand that you tell me what’s going on. You’re not acting like you.”
“That’s the word.” He was looking Spencer straight in the face.
“Tell me what’s going on, Bren. You haven’t acted like this for a long time.” Spencer’s blue eyes were searching his own and it looked like he was really worried. “You’re acting scattered and you’re jumpy and you look stuck.”
Brendon sighed and leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “Spence, I don’t want to talk about it right now, okay? I’ll come to you if I need anything, I just want to be left alone with it.” He tried to put as much of his desire for privacy into his voice and his expression as he could. Spencer looked at him and it looked like he was thinking. Then he nodded and moved away, standing up.
“Okay Bren. I’ll let you keep it to yourself. But please, come to me if it gets bad, or worse, and don’t, don’t do anything stupid.”
“No problem. I’ll be out watching the local band that’s opening, just come out whenever you’re good.” Then he left the dressing room and Brendon was alone. He let his head fall forward and he sighed. Ryan was still there, in his head, refusing to leave and plaguing his thoughts, making him doubt himself and overthink everything. The bastard was even making him question his relationship with Sarah.
Now that Ryan was in his head, the feelings were cycling. He loved Sarah, he knew that, but now he wondered just how much and if it was enough. It sucked and Brendon couldn’t believe that it was one word, name, that launched all of this. Brendon. Urie…Ross. Brendon Urie-Ross.
He went to his acoustic by the wall, pulled it into his lap, and sat down on a stool that was right there. Brendon sat there for a second and played a few random notes, and then he started playing a song that he’d taught himself a week ago.
Ryan woke up roughly to a loud, annoying alarm clock that he was honestly considering smashing. He slowly raised his head from his pillow, eyes half-opening. With a groan, he reached over to turn the damn thing off and turned onto his back when it was silent again.
The room was half-dark and that was mercy on his eyes as they were still adjusting. When he was finally ready, he got up and shuffled out into the hallway that led to the living room. He glanced at the clock going into the kitchen and wasn’t really surprised to learn that it was late morning.
There was something bothering his sub-conscious. Ryan had no idea what it was or what it could be, but it was nagging at him nonetheless. He set the coffee on and leaned against the counter. He probably just needed to wake up some more. Whatever it was wasn’t bad, it was just there and it wouldn’t go away and it was annoying because he didn’t know what it was.
The coffee machine stopped and as he was pouring, the annoying thing burst into his consciousness, almost making him lose his grip on the coffeepot. Ryan steadied himself and poured the rest of the coffee, then he rushed to the laptop to look a few things up.
Right, Panic! was having a single show at eight, doors at seven. That was what he thought. When Ryan had gotten the email from the Panic! website a week ago, he’d skimmed it and largely ignored it, deciding that he would see if he was doing anything else that night. Apparently his sub-conscious was much more interested in it, though because it held onto the date and brought it up again. Ryan nodded slowly to himself, and now came the biggest part, the big thing that was on his mind.
Brendon Urie. Ryan hadn’t seen him for a little over three years, and now the guy was suddenly the only thing that he could think about. All the other stuff that was going on in his life, that he needed to think about and be focused on paled and only lasted a few seconds until Brendon came back to the forefront of his mind.
Ryan wasn’t disturbed by this fact like he probably should have been. Instead, he was interested. Why was Brendon on his mind after all this time? And why wasn’t he just a passing thought? Why was it this sudden fascination that he couldn’t shake? Still mulling it over, he walked back to the kitchen to continue the routine of getting ready.
He probably should have been talking to Danny about the band that they were working on, but Ryan couldn’t bring himself to. That wasn’t right. He was more excited about the new band than anything else and he had all kinds of material for it. To not want to talk about it or work on it was very wrong and it raised several warning lights in Ryan’s mind. The wrongness was all due to that dark-haired singer, too.
Ryan hadn’t thought this much about Brendon Urie since the day—and the weeks following—that he was a complete coward and suggested that they stop with the single best relationship he’d ever had. That day that Ryan was so scared of losing Brendon at all that he’d let the boy go entirely. Now look what it got him, the occasional email and a tweet on his birthday.
Clutching the coffee cup closer, he walked back to the computer. These thoughts weren’t just thoughts about a friend/former band mate and a former flame and it was a little strange that he should suddenly be thinking about Brendon Urie this way. Ryan didn’t run away from the thoughts, though. He was way too interested to see where they were coming from to shut them down. Besides, he wanted to explore it a little more, to understand what it was that was going through his mind.
For one thing, thinking about Brendon and remembering what they’d been through even before that month-long romance that seemed better than the whole year or so that he’d dated Keltie, made him feel better than he’d felt in a while. Ryan remembered feeling that he could always tell Brendon about anything. He didn’t always do it, but he felt like he could. He’d never worried that it wasn’t safe to tell Brendon about things like his dad or the few insecurities that he ever told Brendon about. Being with Brendon always made Ryan feel relaxed and comfortable.
Thinking about Brendon made all of those feelings resurface and Ryan was aware of them again. They were faint, but they were there. It was stupid, but he couldn’t help trying to expand on it. Last he knew Brendon was engaged to Sarah. If Smith was to be trusted, that was still happening, too. Ryan really should have been trying to shut it all down, but he didn’t.
“Hey Ry!” Ryan jumped, turning immediately to the door and staring at it until he remembered that Alex was coming over to get a ride with him downtown to meet with Danny. They were going to get some more work done on what Ryan had handed over so far for new material. The grand total of three songs was all that he was absolutely comfortable with at the moment, but it was still enough to lay the ground work for what was to come later.
It was a good thing that he hadn’t decided to sit there and think about these new—or maybe not so new—feelings and that he’d at least gotten ready while he was doing it. Ryan went to the door and opened it to reveal a waiting and ready-looking Alex Greenwald. “Ready, dude?” The other man looked expectant.
“Yeah, let’s go.” Ryan grabbed his keys off the table by the door and headed out to the tiny driveway to get his car. Alex was right behind him and he was being strangely quiet for Alex, especially since they hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks and normally the other man wanted to recount every minute of every day to Ryan. It wasn’t necessarily annoying. It was just routine and its absence was noticed.
When they got in the car, Alex started talking again, and Ryan let himself stop worrying about whatever Alex might be thinking. For the most part he tuned it out, but Alex was far gone enough that it didn’t really matter that he wasn’t paying attention. Even the distraction of Alex Greenwald wasn’t enough to jar his thoughts from Brendon Urie, though.
Ryan pulled into Danny’s drive and probably interrupted Alex when he said, “Alright, let’s get some more of this bitch out of the way.” He said it to try to drag his mind away from Brendon and it wasn’t really working.
“That’s the spirit Ry.” Then the other man was out on the pavement and Ryan turned the car off. That was what he liked about Alex. He probably noticed that something was up, but he let it go. The only time that he asked about anything was when Ryan was acting really out of character and he was doing it for a long time.
Danny opened the door when they knocked and ushered them inside. The house was nice as always and the drinks were already on the coffee table along with notebooks, pens, and a dry erase marker board because Ryan had made it clear that he wasn’t fucking around and this was Danny’s way of working with that.
“So, are you ready to crack that artsy head of yours open over this?” Danny asked, sitting down and stretching out on the couch.
“I don’t know why people keep asking me if I’m ready since I’m the one who called the two of you and I’m the one that has the idea. Isn’t it safe to assume that I’m ready?” Ryan couldn’t help himself. His mind didn’t want to detach itself from Brendon and Ryan was so distracted by trying that he couldn’t help the sarcasm that he didn’t usually skewer his friends with.
Both of them noticed but neither said anything. Ryan just held the beer bottle against his head to feign a headache as the reason for his snapping. “Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s get to work.”
It would have been so much better if Ryan could focus, but as it was, his brain was determined to only take half or less of its attention away from the dark-haired, pale boy that was Brendon. Ryan wouldn’t care if it had been at any other time on any other day, but the day’s concern was something that he wanted to focus on at least a little bit more.
Ryan knew all of the music too well to mess up in that way, but he spaced off a lot and he never did that when he was working. Then there was a tight feeling in his chest that Ryan could only describe as something straining and that also distracted from the music that he was trying to work on.
Danny was the only one who would really care all that much with the music, but Ryan wasn’t concerned. Danny was an easygoing guy who let things go as they needed to go and Alex wasn’t even in the band, just helping out.
Ryan was the only one who was bothered. Under any regular conditions, the lack of attention would only slightly annoy him, but since this was something that he needed to pay attention to because it helped him, he was getting frustrated.
“I’m thirsty, anyone else want something?” Alex asked, getting up and slowly making his way to the kitchen so they could provide their input. When he was gone, Danny moved over so he was sitting by the distressed Ryan Ross.
“Dude, you know that I respect your privacy and that I understand that there are some things that need to be kept close, but Ryan, there’s something seriously wrong and both of us can tell. So come on, who is she? Or he, it’s not like it matters in this case.”
Ryan looked up. “How did you know that it was someone else? And, wait, did you say ‘or he’?”
“Come on, you can’t honestly think that you fool anyone into thinking that you’re completely straight. You might have other people going, but not one of your closest friends. And yeah, I know it’s someone. No one gets this upset and this distracted over anything that isn’t a romantic interest. I’m not going to ask for more information, and I’m not going to tell you that you should tell whoever it is how you feel, but I do think that you should see them.”
“You mean, like, visit?” Ryan decided to overlook the insinuation that he was perceived gay/bisexual by most of his friends.
“Yeah, or call them up. It’s obvious that you and this person need to do something because I haven’t seen you this spacey in a long while.”
“Maybe you’re right...” Ryan muttered, falling silent to think about it. He felt Danny’s hand on his back and he looked up again.
“If it’s worth anything, I think that whoever it is happens to be an idiot for letting you go either permanently or for however long it’s been since you’ve seen each other.” Ryan let himself smile a little bit and he nodded.
“I’ll see about that.”
“Good. Now do you think that you can focus just a little bit longer?” It was clear that Danny was already thinking along the same lines that Ryan was and he didn’t seem surprised when Ryan stood up. Actually, he looked pretty satisfied with that result.
“No, I think I’m going to go home.”
“That’s my boy. Be safe, know where the condoms are!”
“You’ll have to take Alex home.” Those were his last words as he walked out of the door and went back to his car.
Back at home, Ryan paced back and forth across the floor. His thoughts were crashing around and frankly driving him crazy. All of the thoughts were centered on one person, though. One minute he was thinking about Brendon Urie’s hair, then his big, dark eyes, then his smile, and his lips. There was also Brendon’s low, smooth voice that actually changed pitch as he talked almost as if he were still singing. Then Ryan’s thoughts tore away to the younger man’s pale skin, his fingers. It probably wasn’t healthy, but Ryan couldn’t stop himself even if he wanted to, and he kind of did so he could maybe try to actually think.
All of the feelings that he’d had three years ago were there, too. They’d risen up out of that box that he’d stored in the back of his mind, and now they were circling around in his head and making his pulse pick up.
Ryan looked at the computer that was closed on the table and he bit his lip. Sometimes his memory could be a real bitch. Now that the thought had entered his mind he couldn’t get rid of it or think of a better idea, so he sat down and opened the computer again. Thoughts continued swirling as the computer started up and Ryan just let it all go because he knew what he was going to do now.
The song was beautiful and it made Brendon relax even at the first sounds of it. His eyes fell closed and he felt his mind start to clear. The words poured out, and that was all that it was. Brendon was singing and playing the guitar, what he was made to do.
Now that he knew how to play it, Brendon focused more on the lyrics. With the lyrics, came an understanding. It was like earlier that morning, though, when he couldn’t put his finger exactly on what it was. The epiphany was dancing on the edge of his mind but he couldn’t for the life of him figure out what it was that he was suddenly realizing.
It wasn’t until he got to the end of the song that he got it. The song ended in the repeated phrase ‘she’ll be home’. The phrase was repeated in its entirety, ten times, along with variations. Brendon faltered on one of the “she’ll be home’s” when he let the realization finally burst into the forefront of his mind. He dropped his head in resignation. It was exactly what he thought it was. He’d been fighting it all day and he was finally done. He had to accept it.
Brendon took a breath, preparing to let loose the last five words of the song and he moved on from the note that he’d been holding. “He’ll be home,” another small breath, “he’ll be…” The last notes rang out in the empty room and Brendon lifted the guitar off of his lap, setting it beside the stool, head still bowed.
Everything was silent until the hesitant clapping coming from the doorway. Brendon’s head snapped up and he had to blink to make sure that he wasn’t hallucinating or his eyes were playing tricks on him. He had to be sure that he was really there.
Ryan looked a little uncomfortable but there was a small smile on his face. It looked frozen, though, because his eyes were fixed on Brendon and it didn’t look like they had any intention of leaving. Brendon stood up a little, not able to move his eyes either. “Ryan.” The statement was barely over a whisper and it was more of an observation to himself, but it seemed to affect Ryan who blinked.
“Brendon.” It was delivered with the same tone.
They both moved forward at the same time. Brendon was only aware of them being face to face, and then he had his hands on the sides of Ryan’s head and their lips were pressed together. It wasn’t just a kiss, though. All the craziness from the day climaxed then and Brendon pretty much took it out on Ryan’s lips. It seemed like Ryan was doing pretty much the same thing and they were both just attacking each other. Underneath that pure need, though, was a feeling of liberation like Brendon had finally deciphered some kind of code and set himself free.
The kiss was hot, Brendon had to admit that, and the heat only intensified when Ryan’s tongue met his own. Brendon briefly thought about how bruised his lips were going to be later and how fast his heart was beating while he responded to the new contact.
Then, either he was backing up or Ryan was backing him up because he felt them moving toward where he knew there was a chair in the room. Once it hit the back of his legs, he sat and they parted a little while Ryan settled into his lap.
Brendon leaned back and looked up at the man that he hadn’t seen for over three years. Everything was still like he’d been imagining it all day, except for the shorter haircut. Ryan’s brown eyes were the same and they were looking at him with an intensity and a passion that Brendon had only ever seen in those eyes. It looked like Ryan was doing the same thing, looking over Brendon, and Brendon wondered what the other’s thoughts about him might be.
When they were apparently done looking at each other, their eyes met again and Brendon thought he felt some kind of electricity or static in the air. Their lips connected, but this time it was more hesitant and they barely brushed together before separating again. Brendon repositioned his head and they kissed again, still softly yet still with that indescribable feeling underneath it. It was quiet and calm and more controlled than the first reunion, but it was just as good because even if it wasn’t hot, it was still something and it still felt incredible.
He had his hands on Ryan’s hips and the other boy’s hands were clutching the front of his shirt. The long Ryan Ross legs were on either side of Brendon’s and Ryan was sitting in the middle of Brendon’s thighs, bent down slightly and head angled in because he was still slightly taller than Brendon. The position was comfortable and it was almost like they fit together that way perfectly. Brendon tried to block those kinds of thoughts out, but it was to no avail.
“Brendon, I have to talk to you.” The voice cut off as soon as it was in the doorway. Brendon and Ryan broke apart instantly, but Ryan was still in Brendon’s lap and Brendon still had his hands on the other’s hips. Sarah stood in the doorway, looking at both of them again and again. Ryan was completely still and it looked like he’d also gone into some kind of shock/paralysis. Sarah looked shocked and Brendon was frozen. He couldn’t think of anything to say or do that would help at all, so he waited for her to make the first move.
“Um, I guess that this is a good enough lead in to what I have to say.” She looked at them and, oddly enough, she didn’t look that bothered by the sight that she was seeing. It looked like she accepted it and Brendon could tell that Ryan was just as confused as he was.
“I don’t think that we should get married. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, too. It’s just, for the last few months, it’s felt like something’s missing and it was really obvious today. I still like you but I don’t think that I can marry you anymore and you’re obviously feeling the same way.” The little speech was delivered in a slow and measured tone so Brendon could tell that Sarah wasn’t really sure how she should proceed either. He knew that she meant the words, though because of the look in her eyes.
Brendon nodded a little bit because, honestly, he’d felt it too. “I know what you mean and I think you’re right. I uh,” he wasn’t about to say that this with Ryan was an accident because it wasn’t and he knew that it would only piss Ryan off. “I still like you, too, and I’m sure that we’ll still see each other.”
“Yeah… so I’m going to go out to watch the show. I’ll see you later, Bren.” Then she left and Brendon watched the doorway until he heard her footsteps fade down the hallway. Brendon turned to look back at Ryan who was shifting in his lap as if he were trying to get off.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“I’m getting off your lap because what just happened made me uncomfortable.”
“No you aren’t. Stay.” Brendon tightened his hands on his hips and Ryan sat back again, folding his arms over his chest. Brendon just smiled and kissed him, smiling even more when Ryan’s hands returned to his shoulders.
“You know, you should probably go out to your show now.” Ryan whispered when they’d parted again. Brendon leaned away and actually started considering it, but what if Ryan was gone when he came back? “Don’t worry. I’m just going to be in the crowd. I’ll see you after the show.” Ryan angled his head in again and kissed him firmly before standing and holding his hands out for Brendon to take.
When Brendon was standing up, Ryan pushed him a little toward the door and said, “I promise. Now go out and perform your show. The only reason that I got a ticket was because the fan girls outside saw me and moved aside to let me go before them.”
“We would have let you in anyway,” Brendon responded as he walked out the door and started going for the backstage area. Ryan was in the hallway and waved at him before going his own way to the outer area where the show was going to be.
Brendon smiled to himself. His mind was quiet and things felt right now. Smiling wider, he ran to the doorway that led to the stage. Finally he felt connected to the rest of the world and he was ready for this. Spencer and Dallon looked happy to see him acting better and Brendon just waved off their questions.
The show went great. Brendon wasn’t distracted anymore and the show was the perfect way for him to act on his new elation. After the show, on the way back to the dressing room, he was pulled aside and wasn’t surprised to see Ryan in the little side hallway.
“Hey, I just have to go back to the dressing room and I’ll be out and we can go somewhere. Or, hey, you should come back to the dressing room, too. Spence and Dallon will be thrilled to see you.” Brendon was grinning, still high on adrenaline and happiness.
Ryan just shook his head and he glanced out into the hallway again. It was empty and he moved out of the little side hall that they were in, taking Brendon with him. “Just come with me.” Brendon wasn’t going to question, he just followed Ryan through the hallways and out a back exit so they wouldn’t be mobbed by people that might still be around the venue.
As they walked away, Brendon realized just how fast and strange all of this was. Ryan showed up, they made out for an acceptable amount of time, Brendon was suddenly no longer engaged to be married, and then the two of them parted ways for the show. Now, Ryan was—as per usual with Ryan—taking him somewhere without telling him anything. Suddenly they saw each other and they were maybe back together. They hadn’t even really talked in all that time that they hadn’t seen each other, so Brendon had no clue what was going on with Ryan or where they stood.
They slowed and Brendon was able to tell that Ryan’s train of thought had just run along the same track. “So, uh, it’s nice to see you again,” Brendon said awkwardly. “I, what inspired you to come to the show?”
“It’s nice to see you, too. Um, I came because of some advice from a friend that seemed like a really brilliant idea at the time, but now I’m starting to think he was overreacting.”
“I think that it was a good idea,” Brendon said quietly.
“I’ll have you know, it wasn’t originally in my plans to kiss you. I was just going to go back there and see you before the show, or after if I had to, but then that kissing thing just happened.”
Brendon nodded to himself. “How did you get back there?” There were other questions that were probably better to ask, but that was the one that came out next.
“Zack still knows me. He saw me and was like, ‘What’s up, Ross?’ and I said I was just going to see you guys later or something and he told me to just go ahead backstage to the dressing room.”
“Right… so what were you planning to do when you got back there?”
“I don’t know. I was just going to play it out, which I guess I did anyway.” Ryan laughed a little bit. His hands were in his pockets and he was more focused on the city around them. Brendon was behaving similarly with his work on staring holes into the ground.
“So, why did you come to see me specifically?” That must have been the million dollar question because Ryan stopped and it took Brendon a second to realize that they weren’t going forward anymore. Ryan turned to face him and Brendon looked directly into the other’s eyes for the first time since before the show.
It looked like Ryan was thinking carefully about his answer. Something in his face changed and he let out a breath. “It seemed like the only way to get you off of my mind.” Brendon stilled.
“What?” He wasn’t asking so much to get the explanation again, he wanted Ryan to elaborate because this sounded familiar.
“You’ve been on my mind all day. Seriously, you’ve been the only thing that my brain seemed willing to focus completely on. It was only until the meeting for the band that I’m working on that I finally got a solution: the idea to come and see you. I don’t know what it was supposed to do, but I do feel better now.” Ryan looked genuinely annoyed by the single-mindedness that he’d apparently been forced to endure all day.
“That sounds just like what you’ve been doing to me all day. I was about ready to punch a hole in a wall. Everywhere I looked I thought I saw you and I was just freaked out all day because I woke up with thoughts, mostly about you, piling up in my head.”
“Interesting.” Ryan was just looking at Brendon, as if he were studying him. Brendon smiled and reached down for Ryan’s hand.
“You haven’t changed much. You still look like the whole world’s a mystery that you have to crack. I don’t know about anything else, but that’s always been a big thing with you. And from Twitter it sounds like you haven’t changed much either.” They were walking again. Where, Brendon had no idea, but he didn’t care and he looked over at Ryan to see what the other boy’s reaction might be to his observation.
Ryan just shrugged and kept walking, letting a silence fall between them. “What happened to you?” he asked quietly after a while. His tone was heavy, like it was a big question and it was something that had been weighing down on him for a while. If Brendon wasn’t mistaken, it sounded like disappointment.
“What do you mean?” Brendon felt like his heart dropped, which was probably bad because it meant that he was getting really close to falling all over again, really fast.
“What happened to the innocent, naïve Brendon that I knew three years ago? Now you’re harder, more obnoxious, a little bit of an ass, I don’t know how to describe it but you’re different.”
Brendon was quiet for a moment. “On the outside,” he said softly, not sure if Ryan heard him or not. When he saw the other boy’s face out of the corner of his eye, Brendon knew that he had. “I had to grow up so that I could keep taking care of myself and the band since our security was cut in half. I don’t know, I just had to step up and start managing things and I wasn’t able to be naïve anymore. But, I’m still the same, Ry, I just have to cover it up and keep it down so I can do what I have to do.”
Ryan stopped them and Brendon met his eyes when Ryan turned them toward each other. They stood for a few seconds, looking at each other, then Ryan put his arms around Brendon’s neck and moved in so they were kissing again. Slightly startled, Brendon put his hands on Ryan’s waist, kissing Ryan back right there in the middle of the street.
When their lips separated, they were still in the same position and Ryan was looking at Brendon as if he were still thinking. “Do you want to do this again, too?” Ryan asked. He sounded somewhat breathless and his eyes were wide, more vibrant than Brendon remembered them usually being, and they were searching Brendon’s.
It was Brendon’s turn to blink and be speechless. His mouth hung open for a second and it looked like Ryan was getting anxious. The ability of speech failing him, Brendon nodded, vigorously. To further emphasize the point, he leaned in and kissed Ryan again, deep and hard, not hesitating at all to lean into the other’s body so they were even closer.
Ryan sighed, kissing back, and Brendon could almost feel the relief and the satisfaction coming from the other man. It was one of the sweetest feelings in the world. Brendon finally pulled away and looked directly into Ryan’s eyes.
“Yes, I really, really do.”
“Come on then.” Ryan took Brendon’s hand again and started pulling him along down the sidewalk.
“Where are we going?” Brendon asked, keeping pace with the determined young man, somehow.
“We’re going to my place. I live just a few streets away. It’s been three years and we have a lot of catching up to do.” Brendon got a little thrill at the idea.
Spending a whole night alone with Ryan Ross, the boy he was still in love with after three years, sounded like a really good idea to him.
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