RYDON. AU in which Pete Wentz is in charge of a gang of lost boys who steal things. Brendon Urie is one of those boys, and he steals Ryan Ross before the rest of the world can.
In and out Pete had said. Spencer will be waiting for you he'd said.
Well now here Brendon is, a diamond necklace in his pocket and approximately five thousand dollars in cold hard cash in a bag fastened to his belt. Oh, and an unloaded handgun in a holster, the nozzle pressing tightly against his thigh through his black skinny jeans. And, naturally, Spencer Smith is nowhere to be fucking seen. Here Brendon is, outside an up-market jewelers with the security alarm going off behind him and Spencer Smith, his freaking getaway driver, isn't here.
Sirens sound in the distance and Brendon starts jogging down the sidewalk that little bit faster. It isn't supposed to happen like this. Pete Wentz, his boss and big brother-figure, told him it would be simple. Told him that it would be like taking candy from a baby, only less cruel and far more rewarding. Then again, Brendon should probably know by now to take anything that Pete says with an entire sack of salt, never mind a pinch.
But then he sees it. A clapped-out red Fiat Punto and, next to it, a skinny boy, keys still in hand as he locks the driver's-side door. The boy looks up at the blistering sun and his sleek, silky chocolate-coloured hair falls out of his face to reveal a nasty-looking black eye. Brendon would see it, if he wasn't so busy fumbling to get the completely harmless handgun out of its holster. Harmless because Pete has a No Collateral Damage policy. Before Brendon had come to them, Jon Walker (another of Pete's thieves, like Brendon) told him that there'd been a man among the ranks who'd punched a woman and knocked her out during a robbery. That man was soon shown the door.
His heart is thrumming like an out of tune guitar in his chest and he can feel the sweat gathering on his forehead. Why can't Pete just let him be like Patrick? Patrick Stump whose key role in the Band of Boys is to play medic, maid and mediator. Oh, that's right. Brendon can't do that because he isn't sucking Pete's cock like Patrick is. Not that he'd want to. Pete's too much like his brother for that. Not to mention that he'd never, ever purposefully come between Pete and Patrick. Brendon doesn't think that he's ever seen two people so in love. So in love that it makes Brendon jealous. So in love that it makes Brendon ache to have something like that, like what Pete and Patrick have.
He shakes his head. Theft. Sirens. The very imminent threat of, god, jail. And the skinny boy with the keys to the red Fiat Punto. The boy with the key to Brendon's escape. The boy whose fringe is back in place, blocking the black eye from Brendon's line of sight.
Brendon, in his slightly intimidating get-up of all black, including black Doctor Martins and a black leather jacket with the hood well enough over his face to hide his deep brown pools of eyes and cast a shadow over the rest of his pale features, struts forwards, towards the oblivious boy who appears to be humming an old Beatles' song to himself.
The second the gun is held up and pointed at the boy, a woman in the background screams and clamps her hands over her young son's eyes. Brendon winces. He doesn't want to scare anyone, not really.
The boy gasps and looks around to see Brendon's gun an inch or so from his face. But then he relaxes and the boy smiles. He just fucking smiles and Brendon's not sure how to react to that. It's the oddest thing he's ever seen, how this kid isn't just accepting his apparent fate but is happy about it, and that's saying something considering that he lives with seven of the weirdest guys (criminals) on the planet.
"Do it." The boy's soft voice whispers just loud enough for Brendon to here before Brendon has a chance to even utter a syllable about the goddamn car keys. "Shoot."
"You're not supposed to say that." Is the theif's dumbfounded response and Brendon isn't all that surprised when a touch of concern bleeds into his voice. "You're meant to scream or cry or beg. You're not meant to want me to shoot you."
But then Brendon looks properly passed the gun gripped tightly in his shaking hand and looks directly at the Fiat Punto's owner. The kid looks young, maybe matching Brendon's seventeen years, but those brown eyes look so tired, so done. The boy twitches awkwardly, nervous, and the hideous black eyes is revealed in all of its grim glory. It almost looks like a toddler has decided to smoother the boy's eye with dark purple eye-shadow and made a right hash of it. The poor boy looks like he can barely open the eye and something in Brendon's heart twinges. Now that he looks more closely he can see the faint yellow of a fading bruise running along the boy's jaw. Curious and, despite his occupation, more than a little bit concerned, Brendon drinks in the image of the rest of the boy before him.
His legs are like matchsticks with the wood scraped off and Brendon doesn't like how he's wearing a hoodie (a purple one, the same colour as a Cadbury's wrapper) despite the blazing sun, a sun that's so hot that Brendon's surprised that his skin hasn't melted straight off of his bones already. Brendon, already having a grim idea forming in his head, lowers his gun and uses the nozzle to nudge up the left sleeve of the boy's hoodie. The boy gasps and flinches, eyes going wide in panic.
Brendon immediately sees why. There's a scar on the underside of the boy's wrist. Self-inflicted Brendon thinks. Not fresh though. Gently, with more compassion than a criminal should really show his victim when police sirens are getting ever closer, Brendon uses the gun to fully turn the thin wrist over. The air is sucked from his lungs when he sees one long, thick scar running from the boy's wrist and up to where the sleeve is bunching at the elbow; a lightning bolt of death. There are bruises too, circling the thin appendage like yellow-gold bracelets green with rust.
"I'm not gonna hurt you." Brendon whispers and it sounds like the most stupid thing he's ever said but, honestly, what else is he supposed to say when he's pointing an unloaded gun at such a broken human being? Well, the boys always say that Brendon has a penchant for being attracted to broken things, like the scraggly stray dog he bought back to the den a few months back. "I, um, who hurts you?"
"None of your business." The boy snaps back, although there's something in the back of his throat that sounds suspiciously like a sob. Brendon wonders if anyone else has ever bothered to ask the boy. "Now, are you going to shoot me or what?"
"I told you I wouldn't hurt you." A man shouts in the background, something like put the weapon down! and Brendon forces himself to focus on saving his own sweet bacon. "But, uh, I'd be really grateful if I could have your car keys. Because, y'know, I kinda really don't wanna go to jail."
Something flickers in the boy's eyes and he holds up the key, right in front of Brendon's face. He makes sure that the thief is watching as he tightens his grip on the small metallic object and Brendon can see that the kid is practically shaking with fear, with courage.
"Take me with you."
Both look equally as shocked at the boy's murmured request. But then Brendon looks down at the arm, at the black eye, at the way the boy looks like he needs someone to look after him. God only knows what Brendon would be sending the boy home to if he refuses. And, God, Pete's going to go absolutely mental, even more so than when Brendon bought Hobo the dog back, but, well, Brendon just doesn't think he'll be able to live with himself if he refuses.
"Yeah. Okay then."
It's about seven in the evening when the beat-up Fiat Punto rolls up outside a set of huge, black, wrought iron gates. Brendon's been trying to make conversation for the past four hours but the boy hasn't said a word. Well, that's a lie. He's said one word. Brendon asked his name and, figuring that it was probably a fair enough request to know exactly who you've just kidnapped/taken-in, the boy answered.
The boy is called Ryan. That's all. Ryan wouldn't give away his surname, not yet. Brendon thinks he likes the name. Somehow it just sort of seems to fit the broken boy riding shotgun.
Currently, Ryan is asleep. He's leant against the cool glass of the car window, his arms crossed protectively over his chest and the softest snores, more like snuffles, are coming from him. Brendon looks over at him as he pulls up outside those gates. In the first faint rivulets of moonlight Ryan looks stunning. The black eye is out of Brendon's line of sight and the hoodie sleeves are down, covering even Ryan's balled fists, and like this Ryan looks normal. More than normal Brendon thinks; /angelic/.
Sighing, Brendon slams his hand down three times on the car's horn. Ryan jolts awake, a bit of drool clinging to his chin, just in time to see the huge, Gothic gates creaking open.
"Hey there, Sleeping Beauty." Brendon smirks, more than a little bit disappointed when Ryan doesn't reply. The boy looks like he's about to smile though, but he catches it before it can escape. Brendon eases his foot down on the gas and they start crawling up a ridiculously long driveway. "Now, I feel like I should probably warn you about the others."
Ryan nods slowly, taking in his surroundings. There's grass on either side of the driveway, bordered by seven-foot evergreen trees. He looks ahead of him and sees a huge house. Not quite a mansion, but definitely bigger than any house Ryan's ever been in before. Brendon pays close attention to the boy's lost, frightened and stoic expression, gnawing on his lip and wondering if maybe he's just made the worst mistake of his entire life. Ryan is wondering exactly the same thing.
"Right, okay. Well, Pete's cool. He's our leader but he's more like a big brother than a boss. He might seem a bit scary, but he's a softie really. Just don't get on his bad side. Then there's Patrick, Pete's boyfriend. He does all the cleaning and plays medic, that kind of shit." Brendon gauges Ryan's reaction to 'boyfriend' carefully and smiles when the boy shows no sign of repulsion. "Then there's Gabe, he's a thief like me and he manages contacts. He's part Spanish, I think. Steer clear of him when he's in one of his moods. Frankie steals and cooks, although I don't see why 'cause he always manages to burn everything. He calls it Cajun. William's a thief. Don't call him Bilvy. Only Gabe gets to do that. Spencer is a getaway driver, a shit one, and does accounts. Lastly, there's Jon. He's a thief too."
Ryan makes a sharp intake of breath, nervous. Brendon think's that his companion has gone a few shades paler, those brown eyes gone a few millimeters wider. He curses himself for frightening the boy. The adorable skinny boy with the bruises and scars who'd rather runaway with a gun-wielding criminal than go home.
Brendon's got so many questions. Too many. He won't ask them though. The kind of things he wants to know, they aren't the kind of thing someone can just ask. They are the kind of things that have to be told, knowledge that has to be given and not taken.
"They're good guys, the lot of 'em. We give three quarters of what we steal to families in need." Brendon tries to sound reassuring and Ryan nods, eyes fixated on the looming house ahead. "None of them will hurt you, if that's what you're worried about. Pete wouldn't allow it. I wouldn't allow it."
Ryan nods again and Brendon sighs, knowing that Ryan most likely doesn't believe him.
"Hey, Bre-" Pete Wentz stops his sentence at the sight of the boy cowering behind Brendon. His expression of happiness and contentment blossoms into one of fury. "What that fuck, Brendon?"
"Pete, this is Ryan." Brendon says as calmly as he can, stood in the large hallway in front of the staircase. Pete's the first person they've bumped into, which is probably both a blessing and a curse. He hears Ryan whimper behind him and can't help but smile; it's hard to think of anyone being scared of Pete. Angry Pete, maybe, but not Average Pete. "I, um, I put what I stole in the safe."
"You stole a person." Pete pushes Brendon aside with more force than necessary and puts his hands on Ryan's bony shoulders. The boy flinches away from him and Pete scowls, noting the black eye. He turns to Brendon and glares. "You know the rules. Don't hurt anyone. And, for fuck's sake, don't take any fucking hostages!"
Ryan whimpers again and Pete's face softens, kind of like he's holding a new born baby that he desperately doesn't want to start crying. Brendon looks on them with the eyes of a guard dog, despising the way that Ryan looks like he's on the brink of bawling or puking or having a panic attack or all three. Ryan's eyes dart around like frantic minnows, searching for something that doesn't exist.
Brendon pulls Pete from Ryan and stands in front of the boy. He feels a huge sense of responsibility for the kid and if he has to get in trouble for him then, well, that's exactly what he'll do.
"I think..." Brendon scrambles to find the right words, slightly distracted by the seething Pete in front of him. "There's something wrong, Pete. He wanted me to shoot him. And he's all bruised up and there are these marks, scars, on his arms and-"
"I am here, you know." A soft, deep voice pipes up, making Brendon jump. He turns and Ryan's looking down at the floor, arms crossed. "You don't need to talk about me like I'm not."
"Sorry." Brendon says and he's not really all that sure what he's apologising for. "But, Pete, look at him. You're not going to make him leave, are you?"
Pete runs a hand tiredly through his black hair and Brendon does his best puppy-dog eyes. The last time those worked was when he bought Hobo the dog home and Pete had told him he could keep the dog just as soon as he found Pete a flying pig. He's just praying to a God he doesn't think exists that it will work again. Sure, Ryan is a bit bigger than Hobo but the principle is the same, right?
"How old are you, Ryan?" Pete asks gently. He has more than enough experience in dealing with broken teenage boys.
"You have any family?"
"My d-" Ryan stops himself, shakes his head and takes a deep breath in. He looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights. "No, sir."
"My name's Pete, Kid. Not Sir." The oldest boy grins and Brendon does too, knowing that this battle is won. Hell, it already looks like Pete's taken a shine to Ryan, something that can only be a good thing. "We don't have any bedrooms going free. You'll have to share with Brendon."
Brendon fails to see how this could be possibly be a problem. He wants to be close to Ryan, to protect him and nurse the kid back to both full health and full confidence. The bed in his room is a double, a fucking comfy bed too, but he'll sleep on the floor until Ryan trusts him enough to share or until Brendon is happy that Ryan's fully rested and uninjured and they can take turns sleeping on the bed.
He shoots Pete a look so full of gratitude that it takes the man aback. It's like watching a toddler with a new, frightened puppy, the way that Brendon is grinning and cooing over Ryan. It'd be sickening if it didn't remind Pete so much of him and Patrick in their early days. He makes a mental note to tell Patrick to check Ryan over for other injuries like the black eye at some point.
"You don't mind, do you?" Brendon grins and it must be infectious because a small smile sprouts on Ryan's lips, not quite reaching his eyes but it's enough for Brendon. "Sharing, I mean. You can have the bed. C'mon, I'll show you! Or do you want something to eat? We've missed dinner, but I can make you an omelette or something. Or you can just wait until breakfast. You'll meet everyone at breakfast. They'll love ya, Ry! Can I call you Ry?"
"Brendon." Pete chips in, voice firm but far from unkind. Brendon stops and looks at Ryan, who looks frightened and close to tears again. "How about you two just head up to bed?"
Ryan nods eagerly and yawns. It's a catlike yawn, all wide mouth and scrunched-up eyes. Brendon thinks he hasn't ever seen anything cuter. He gestures for the stairs and nods, telling Ryan to start on up. The boy complies like an obedient child and Brendon struggles to believe that Ryan really is a whole year older than him.
Before he follows, he turns back to Pete.
"Where was Spence?"
"Told him not to go." Pete smirks. "It was a simple job. I wanted you to be resourceful. It was a test, I guess."
"You're a dick and I hate you."
"Yeah, yeah. Love you too." Pete looks up and Ryan's already at the top of the stairs, looking more than a little bit lost. "Now go take care of your new pet."
Brendon doesn't sleep. He just watches Ryan and listens to the relaxing sound of his breathing, like waves lapping gently at a golden beach.
Ryan doesn't sleep either. He pretends. He's too scared to sleep. What if were to wake up screaming? He doesn't want to risk his place here, with a thief named Brendon. Something about it just feels so right.
The worst part is that he has no idea why.
The dining room is bustling with boyish life. Pete is, as always, sat at the head of the vast oak table with his converse-clad feet resting on the table next to a plate of toast (the one thing that Frank Iero can't burn) crossed at the ankle. Patrick's at his side, leafing through a newspaper and tapping his toes to a made-up rhythm that no one else can hear apart from maybe Pete. Jon and Spencer are at the opposite end of the table, fighting about who lays claim to the last pancake. Frank is moaning about having to do both the cooking and the washing up. William's sat quietly next to Patrick, staring into the dark abyss of his coffee, possibly contemplating the meaning of life. Gabe is pacing the room, half-eaten apple in hand, ranting about something that none of the others care about. Even if they did his argument, half in Spanish, would be pretty hard to follow.
None of the above stops when Brendon strolls in, fashionably late as always, with Ryan traipsing nervously behind him. Brendon's got a sneaking suspicion that Ryan didn't really sleep at all last night but he can't really rag the kid about it, not when he didn't either. Ryan's borrowing a pair of Brendon's jeans and they hang loosely, like a sail, on his hips, but this bagginess is successfully hidden by the over-sized purple hoodie.
Ryan takes in the ragtag group of boys (ranging in age from Brendon and Spencer at seventeen to Pete at twenty-five) with timid trepidation and feels relieved when he sees that none of them have noticed him. He's never been good with crowds and this crowd looks rowdier than most. Brendon notices Ryan's discomfort and offers the boy an easy smile, unable to dispel the image of those abused, scarred arms from his mind or the one of the black eye staring right at him. The older of the pair looks like he's about to bolt, only Ryan isn't sure that he has the courage to, and so Brendon reaches out and grabs the boy's hand carefully in his. Ryan has to bite his lip and swallow hard to stop himself from protesting or whimpering; whimpering is definitely the most likely.
The boys look down at their linked hands and red taints Brendon's pale cheeks. The last person he held hands with was his mother, back before she and her father kicked him out two years ago. It feels good to be the bigger hand, the stronger hand, the hand encasing and protecting the littler hand in his. It feels like a lock has been clicked, one that will tie Brendon Urie to Ryan Ross for the rest of forever.
Gabe has just launched into a long string of Spanish expletives when he decides, for no real reason whatsoever, to look up. He stops still and gawks at Ryan before striding over to meet the new boy. Impulsively, Ryan squeezes Brendon's hand and takes a step back, fearful.
"Hey there, Little Fella." Gabe says and it sounds like he's talking to a baby. "I'm Gabe. You must be Ryan. Pete's told us all about you."
At Gabe's too-loud voice the rest of the table looks up. Frank, Patrick and Spencer smile. Jon offers a small wave and William doesn't even look up, just continues to search for the answers apparently swirling in his bitter black coffee. Pete swings his legs off the table and turns to look at Ryan, a look on his face that is both comforting and terrifying.
"Welcome to the zoo, Ryan." Pete drawls and Patrick kicks him under the table. "Don't worry, we don't bite."
"Much." Gabe adds in, a smirk curling up the corners of his mouth. He decides to take it upon himself to introduce everyone, pointing to each man-boy as their name is called out. "You've already met Pete. That's Patrick, he's totally fucking Pete, if you catch my drift. Then there's Frank and William, and Spence and Jon on the end there. Hobo's about somewhere, too."
"Hobo's Brendon's dog." Frank says helpfully, smiling in a way that makes his lip ring glint in the morning sunshine. "Hey, Pete, how come Brendon gets a dog and a boy when you won't even let me get a puppy?"
"Because Brendon doesn't ask first." Spencer chips in before the addressed can. "He just, kinda, does."
"He's spontaneous." William says out of nowhere, finally looking up from his coffee. His eyes find Ryan with a friendly sort of indifference. "He only gets away with it because he's Brendon."
Brendon laughs and tugs Ryan further into the room, mindful of how tightly the boy is clutching at his hand. It would make him kind of happy, if only he knew it wasn't because he's the lesser of two evils. Ryan's scared of the other boys and Brendon's someone he sort of knows, or at least knows well enough to understand that he isn't an immediate threat. Brendon wonders what the hell could have happened to make a seventeen-year-old boy so jumpy and frightened. But then he thinks that maybe he rather wouldn't know.
The pair are followed around the room by Gabe, who is acting as though his coffee was made with Red Bull instead of water this morning. Pete watches them carefully with omnipotent eyes as Brendon pulls out a seat for Ryan, which the older takes, and then Gabe and Brendon sit on either side of him. Pete can't help but notice that Ryan looks trapped.
"So, Little Fella, whatcha doing slumming it with us lot?" Gabe asks, reaching out and stealing the last pancake. He wolfs it down, Spencer and Jon looking set to kill him all the while.
"Mind your own business." Brendon snaps, a fierce urge to protect welling up in his chest. "Help yourself to food, Ryan. What's left of it, anyway."
Frank looks at the burnt pancake on his own plate, half-eaten, nods to himself and then slides it across the table to be in front of Ryan. The boy looks up, unsure, and if Frank is surprised by the black eye then he doesn't show it. He just smiles, nods again and Ryan dares to smile softly back.
The pancake is really nothing more than a pile of ash (Frank always gets landed with the most burnt bits of his cooking) but Ryan is hungry, starving, and he looks up at Brendon, silently asking for approval. Slightly confused, Brendon hands his new charge some cutlery and watches intently as Ryan slowly, slowly nibbles at the burnt abomination of a 'pancake'.
"Do you want anything to drink, Ryan?" Patrick asks in a melodic sort of voice. "William makes the best coffee you'll ever taste."
"Hey! I'm not your personal barista, y'know."
"Yeah, you are, Bilvy." Gabe purrs and William glares at him. Ryan watches the exchange, fascinated by the friendliness of it all. "Go make Little Fella a latte. Do you like lattes, Little Fella?"
Ryan nods cautiously, like giving the wrong answer will result in certain death. Brendon frowns and reaches for the plate of toast in the middle of the table. He's golloped down three slices by the time William hands Ryan the coffee with a reluctant but genuine smile. Ryan tries to smile back, but it looks too pained and frightened to be true.
"Did Brendon's snornng keep you awake all night, Ryan?" Spencer asks, noticing the tense look on Ryan's face and trying to do something to alleviate it. "It's been said that his snoring can cause earthquakes, y'know."
"Fuck you, Spence." Brendon huffs but everything in his expression tells the world that he doesn't really mind at all. "That's the problem with Spencer, Ry, he thinks he's just so funny."
"I'm a fucking comic genius, Urie."
"Whatever you say." That's Jon speaking, a playful smirk on his face. "Just ignore them, Ryan. None of them ever actually have anything intelligent to say. Apart from Pete. Sometimes Patrick."
And then they all start talking over each other. Pete and Patrick saying deep, low things that the others can't nor are meant to hear. Jon and Spencer start arguing about something trivial like who spends the most time in the bathroom in the mornings. Frank yaps on about dogs and all of the possible names he'd call his puppy if Pete ever lets him get one, William pretending to listen as he resumes his staring contest with his coffee. Gabe dips in and out of the different conversations and Brendon just stays silent, eyes fixed surreptitiously on Ryan.
Ryan, for his part, has never felt more intimidated and unsure in his entire life. Okay, so that's a lie. He has felt a lot more intimidated than this before but this is right now and therefore, presently, it feels worse. His hands are in his lap, fingernails digging into his thighs in an attempt to anchor himself. He can feel his breath hitching painfully in his throat, his chest and lungs all of a sudden not nearly big enough.
"Little Fella, you alright?" Gabe asks and, being a person who thrives on human contact, he slaps a friendly hand onto Ryan's back.
It's just too much. All of it. Ryan yelps and almost falls out of his chair, eyes burning as tears blaze their relentless tracks down his gaunt face. Immediately, Gabe recoils and Brendon's holding Ryan's hand, glaring an entire swarm of daggers at Gabe. The entire table is looking at the trio, even William, and Ryan all of a sudden becomes very aware of that. He scrambles, trying to get away, but Brendon keeps him in his seat, the concern in his eyes bleeding into his expression, into his actions, his hands.
"Easy, Ry, easy." Brendon coos, one hand gripping Ryan's and the other carding through the older boy's hair. At first, Ryan flinches from the contact but it just feels so gentle, so caring, so good that he soon finds himself leaning into it. "Nobody's gonna hurt you, not here."
"I'm sorry, Little Fella." Gabe whispers in a voice so quiet and crestfallen that none of the others can quite believe it, apart from maybe Pete who has seen all of his boys at their worst as well as at their best. "I didn't mean to scare ya."
Ryan wants so desperately to say that it's alright, that it isn't Gabe's fault, not really, but everything is just too fucking much right now. Too much for him to vocalise. Too much for him to be able to cope with when all he can think about is things that he'd rather not. He can feel Brendon's hand squeezing his, if the soft application of pressure can be called a squeeze, and, for a reason that Ryan can't comprehend, it makes him feel that little bit better. The hand in his hair is a strange sensation but not one altogether unwanted; it's the kind of sensation that Ryan has never felt before and he wonders if this is what it feels like to have a friend or, at the very least, someone who cares about you.
Eyes down, ashamed, Ryan nods his acceptance of the wholehearted apology. Nobody's ever really apologised to him before, not over the important things anyway.
"Are you okay?" Pete asks with an authoritative yet gentle voice, the voice of a worried parent, almost. Not that Ryan would know what that sounds like. Few of the boys really do. "Brendon, why don't you take Ryan to the library?"
"That sound good, Ry?" It's painfully obvious that Brendon's begging for a verbal reply.
Ryan just nods.
When Brendon goes into his- No. When Brendon walks into his and Ryan's room, he sees the boy sat on the bay window seat, a copy of Tolkien's The Hobbit clutched in his hands. Brendon's about to pierce the steady silence of the room when he hears a snuffled sort of sound and he walks stealthily over to Ryan's perch to find the boy asleep.
Other than the breakfast incident, the day has been rather uneventful. Brendon spent the morning with Ryan in the library, silently suggesting all of the best books for the older boy to read, if he would so like. Then when Ryan got lost in the pages of a heavy, dusty tome that nobody has read since Pete's great grandfather was still kicking, Brendon had slipped away to see to his chores. At about three pm he managed to get into a small spat with Gabe, still upset that the older boy had frightened his adorable new friend, but Pete had put a stop to it with a threat of letting Frank blowtorch their next five meals. Ryan hadn't been at dinner, but Patrick (second in command after Pete) had told him to let Ryan adjust and that Ryan had been told there was food if he wanted it.
And now here Brendon is, it's half ten at night and he's staring at a beautiful faraway boy sound asleep in the window. For a moment he considers just letting Ryan sleep where he is, but then he remembers the last time he did that and how he'd woken up in extreme discomfort. He doesn't want to wake Ryan though, not for the entire goddamn universe.
So gently, ever so gently, Brendon pries the book out of Ryan's hands and sets it aside on the window sill. He smiles to himself when Ryan's head droops forward like a daisy bending in the wind. The kid is well and truly out for the count. Brendon hooks one strong arm under the skinny boy's legs and another around his shoulders, lifting Ryan up bridal style. And then he just holds Ryan for the longest minute, cradling the waif to him like he never wants to let go. There's something tragically beautiful about Ryan and Brendon knows that he won't stop until it's just beautiful, all signs of tragedy gone without a trace.
He lays Ryan down atop the bed, deciding that it's too warm to be under the thick blanket anyway, and ponders whether or not he should undress his roommate. He quickly decides against it, knowing that it wouldn't be at all fair to Ryan, not knowing what he knows.
Brendon's soft fingers smudge a strand of hair out of Ryan's face and Brendon isn't sure if it's real or just wishful thinking when the sleeping boy leans into the touch. He wonders when the last time that Ryan got touched like that was, the last time when Brendon ever gave a touch like that. He doesn't think he ever has and there he has the answer to both questions.
Brendon wakes to the sound of screaming, keening, fear.
He's on his feet before he can catch his breath, all sleep gone from him in an instant. All he can think is Ryan, Ryan, Ryan, ryanryanryanryanryan for that is who is making the hellish noises. Brendon punches the switch of the beside lamp and throws himself to the bed, sat on the edge next to Ryan's thrashing form. It doesn't seem right; Ryan was fine a few hours ago, nodding off in the bay window with The Hobbit in hand.
Brendon doesn't know what to do. Ryan's having a fucking nightmare and Brendon has no idea how to make it stop before the Band of Boys descend up them in a fit of good-natured worry. That wouldn't be such a band thing, if only Brendon wasn't acutely aware of how much they frighten Ryan.
"Ryan? Ry?" He tries, voice cracked with sleep and concern. "You're okay. It's just a nightmare. I know you don't really know me but, well, I'm here. I'll protect you." It sounds so stupid but Ryan seems to be calming slightly (or is it just wishful thinking again?) so Brendon counts that as a win. "Yeah, that's right, I'm here. You're safe. Whoever hurt you, they can't get you anymore, Ryan."
Emboldened, Brendon puts a careful caring hand on Ryan's shoulder and squeezes a little. Ryan's eyes snap open almost violently and Brendon isn't sure whether he should be happy or fearful.
"Please." Ryan moans, still more asleep than awake. "Please don't. Please. Hurts. Hurt. I'm hurt. Please, Dad."
Something snaps in Brendon and he thinks he gets it. The bruises, the black eye, this; Ryan came with him to get away from his father. It infuriates Brendon, burns him to his very core, that Ryan's own father could make the poor boy like this, so skittish and frightened and terrified of trust.
"He's not here, Ryan." Brendon forces himself to say, fighting back tears at the thought of Ryan, the youngest eighteen-year-old he's ever met, getting hurt by someone whose supposed to love him more than anything. "It's okay, he's not here."
Slowly, painfully slowly, Ryan's keening stops and his breathing starts, his eyes blinking away the evil veil of sleep. The first thing his pupils fixate on his Brendon, his saviour, the one who got him away from his nightmare. And, okay, so maybe Ryan is a little bit in love with the idea of being rescued, at the idea of having a hero.
Brendon smiles at him in the most reassuring way that he can manage when there are tears threatening to slip down his face. Like earlier, Brendon wipes away a strand of Ryan's hair and Ryan lets him, fighting back the flinch that comes with the contact and he can't help but a little bit proud of himself for it. The contact feels good, like those soft, gentle, warm fingers can rub away all of the bad, all of the fear, all of the abuse.
"It was your dad." Brendon asks, only it's not a question. "He hurt you."
"Yes." Ryan whispers, voice fragmented and small. Brendon smiles though, glad that the kid is talking to him at least.
"He won't anymore. He can't. Nobody will. I won't let them."
And, just like that, Ryan burst into tears, gut-wrenching sobs and hitching whimpers. It's not just pure sorrow though, oh no, part of it is relief and disbelief, hope and longing. Ryan gasps when he finds himself wrapped tightly in the younger boy's strong, caring arms and yes, he does flinch, but Brendon holds him tight and Ryan lets him, reveling in the feeling of being held, of being protected. Of being something worth being held and protected.
Brendon finds himself lying down next to Ryan, arms still encasing the trembling boy, and Brendon can't think of a better thing he's ever done. It's somehow both selfless and selfish at the same time, the way he wants to just hold Ryan forever, but right now the only thing he cares about is how good it feels.
"Go to sleep." He murmurs into Ryan's hair when he's sure that Ryan's calmed down as much as he's going to and he is certain that Ryan doesn't mind being cuddled like this. "I've got you. Sleep."
And Ryan does, lulled into it by the steady pulsating thrum of Brendon's heartbeat.
The next day passes much the same. Brendon does his chores, socialises with the other boys, winds Spencer up about nothing, winds Pete up about Patrick and spends two whole hours playing with Hobo in the garden (also whilst hiding from Pete).
Ryan stays in the library. Only peeping out at around lunchtime when he finds Brendon, who smiles at him and holds his hand as he makes Ryan a sandwich. Brendon solemnly asks if Ryan would like the crusts cut off and Ryan laughs for the first time in years.
That night, when sleep comes, it comes with them both cuddled together in Brendon's double bed.
Ryan doesn't have any nightmares.
"H-hi." Ryan stutters, heart fluttering nervously and bouncing off his lungs as he takes a seat in the garage on top of a crate of something-or-other. "Can I-I sit here?"
Spencer Smith looks up from the bonnet of a Toyota, sweaty oil staining his face, and grins at Ryan in an understated sort of way. It's the first thing that Ryan's ever said to him in the kid's week here and Spencer gets the correct impression that it's something of a big, massive, deal for Ryan. Ryan who has been stuck to Brendon's side like glue whenever he's not hiding from the world in the library.
"Sure you can." Is the friendly reply as Spencer swaps a spanner for a screwdriver and wipes some of the grime from his brow. "You like it here then? In the house, I mean."
"Yes." Ryan says stiffly, terrified of saying the wrong thing even though, in the deepest depths of his mind, he is fairly sure that Spencer won't hurt him. Or, if he does, then Brendon would come and rescue him. "It's nice."
"That's one word for it." The younger boy laughs and disappears under the bonnet once more. "It's good though, here. We're a family. We look out for each other. We've got a home here."
Ryan makes a non-committal noise in the back of his throat. This place isn't like any family he's ever known, but then again the family he's known isn't exactly the same as Spencer's idea of one.
Spencer gives a frustrated grunt and slams down the car's hood. The aggressive action makes Ryan jump and thus Spencer holds back the kick he was about to land to the car's wheel. He drops the screwdriver into the toolbox resting on a stack of tires and walks around to be near Ryan. Not near enough to scare the boy, but near enough to let Ryan know he still wants to talk to him. He leans back against the car, trying to look nonchalant. The last thing he wants right now is to scare Ryan off, not least because that would most likely incur Brendon's wrath.
"Brendon's nice, y'know." Spencer says, trying to find something that they can both talk about, a sort of common ground. "He and Jon are my best friends here."
"Yeah." Everything, years of hurt and fear, are telling Ryan to just shut his stupid mouth. But Brendon likes it when he talks, so talking can't be all that bad, right? Just so long as he doesn't say anything wrong. "Brendon's very nice."
"He likes you." It's stating the obvious, but it makes Ryan smile that little, cautious smile all the same. "I haven't seen him so enamored with someone since he bought Hobo home."
Ryan nods and thinks about nothing at all. It's nice, in a frightening sort of way, this place. He hasn't been shouted at once, nor hit or anything like that and he's not entirely sure what to do with that. He doesn't know his place here other than being Brendon's responsibility, and that scares the living shit out of him. At least at home he knew how everything was. He feels like he's standing behind a horse, waiting for it to kick out at him with a fatal blow.
"You okay?" Spencer says and Ryan thinks that maybe Spencer's been talking this entire time and he's been too lost in his own thoughts to hear him. "Ry, are you okay?"
"Fine." But then there's something in Spencer's big blue eyes tells Ryan that it might just be okay to tell the truth. Biting down his fears, he forces himself to sound not as scared as he is. "Confused."
Spencer nods to himself and Ryan thinks that Brendon will probably be hearing this conversation in its entirety later on from Spencer's mouth. Oddly enough, Ryan doesn't think he minds all that much. In fact, it makes him feel cared for.
"It gets better, Ryan. Everything gets better, even if they have to get worse first."
Ryan's in the library, engrossed in a book, when Patrick comes in with a friendly look on his face. He wonders briefly if Brendon's sent him. Brendon's been doing that sort of thing with Spencer lately, ever since Ryan started talking to him two days ago. Brendon and Ryan are still cuddling at night and Ryan hasn't had a single nightmare since that first, horrific one.
He looks up at Patrick and dares a smile before looking straight back down again into his book. He doesn't like how careless he's gotten. Carelessness gets you hurt. Especially carelessness around people.
"You're allowed to smile." Patrick says, wearing an easy one of his own. He looks down at Ryan's book. "You like reading?"
It's a stupid question because they both know that the answer is yes, but it's a question that Ryan's grateful for nonetheless because it's one that doesn't require a verbal response. He nods, eyes still down, still afraid of everyone other than Brendon and even then that's a close thing.
"When Pete found me I was quiet too." The older boy says, perching in the armchair opposite Ryan's. "Used to drive him up the wall. Pete can talk enough for an army, but it's not the same when the other person doesn't talk back. It took him a month to get me to talk to him in proper sentences."
"Really?" Ryan asks, daring to look up through his fringe.
"Really." Patrick grins and he sort of reminds Ryan of a teddy bear. "You can talk here. And smile. Nothing bad will happen, Ryan. I know it'd make Brendon very happy."
"It would?" Ryan's stunned, extremely interested in this information. For reasons outside of his comprehension making Brendon happy is one of the things that he wants to do the most in this world. It does make sense though; Brendon saved him, took him away. Ryan owes him. "I want to make him happy."
"You do." The older boy's voice is soft, like velvet, and Ryan finds it hard not to relax. "God, Ryan, you don't know how happy you make him."
It's a Sunday and, whilst none of the boys are particularly religious, that means a day of rest. Pete's taken Patrick somewhere, Spencer is watching television with William, Gabe is winding Frank up about his (lack of) cooking skills and Jon has gone on a five-mile walk to nowhere at all.
Brendon has dragged (not literally) Ryan outside, insisting that the boy needs to lay out in the sun for a while in order for Ryan to get some kind of sun-based vitamin. So now here they are, splayed out on the lawn behind the house, propped up on their elbows and making shapes out of the few clouds decorating the azure sky.
The sun is high in the sky, beaming down at them like a proud mother and Ryan lets himself pretend, just for a minute, that his life has always been like this, that he's always lived here with Brendon, that he's never known pain and fear like he has. But then the memories come flooding back, casting a grey storm cloud over their perfect sky. They always do that, the memories; they sneak up on him just when he thinks he's forgotten them.
"It's hot." Brendon comments out of nowhere with undertones of concern. Ryan's still wearing that over-sized purple hoodie, Brendon's never seen him without it. Ryan even wears it in his sleep. In the back of his mind Brendon wonders how it hasn't started to smell. "You could, y'know, take off your hoodie."
"Would it make you happy?" Ryan's quiet voice replies and Brendon just looks at him with wide, proud eyes. He grins at the older, smaller boy and nods almost excitedly. "I want to make you happy."
"I want to make you happy too, Ry."
Ryan pulls himself into a sitting position and pushes out a shuddering breath. Brendon watches, giving Ryan his full attention. He wants to see all that there is to see, to be able to have a comprehensive map of Ryan's body, to know everywhere that the skin has been broken. But then he's scared too. What if it's too bad for Brendon to be able to soothe away?
Slowly and with crystaline tears forming in his eyes, Ryan pulls his hoodie, his shield, over his head and throws it in a heap onto the grass. Brendon gasps before he can stop himself and one of those crystals frees itself, rolling down Ryan's face only to shatter after catapulting itself off of his chin. The younger boy cups his face with a hand so full of love that Ryan isn't sure how to respond. Two sets of brown eyes meet and Ryan isn't sure what he wanted to see, but he finds it.
Brendon's hand drops and he looks down at Ryan's exposed arms. Each one has a thick, sickeningly long scar running up from wrist to elbow on the underside of the arm. There are a few fast fading bruises and burns rashing his skin, but it's those two long scars that break Brendon's heart.
"I didn't have a problem." Ryan murmurs, shattering the fragile porcelain of the silence. "With cutting, I mean. Just once."
"You tried to kill yourself." Now Brendon's the one who looks and sounds lost and Ryan hates himself for putting Brendon into this position, for making Brendon sad. "You're life was so shit that you'd rather die than live it."
"I couldn't even die right." It's meant to sound funny and light, but it comes out a little bit like a sob. Before another one can rupture, Brendon's got his arm around the boy and is hugging him close to his chest. "Brendon."
"Shush, it's alright. I know, Ry." And it really sounds like Brendon does. "You're okay now though. You're here. You're with us. With me."
Ryan rests his head against Brendon's chest, wondering when he got so comfortable and relaxed with the thief but then finding that he doesn't much care. Brendon saved him, bought him here and Brendon is the only safety that Ryan has ever known. He thinks, not for the first time, that he might be very much in love with Brendon Urie.
"I remember, when Pete found me, I was broken." Brendon starts, hoping that if Ryan knows more about him then he will see fit to reveal more of himself to Brendon. "I was raised a strict Mormon. Mormon and gay don't really go together, not according to my parents anyway. I got kicked out at fifteen. I didn't think I'd ever trust or love anyone ever again."
"I don't understand Pete." It's true; he doesn't. That's part of why he finds it so frightening here. He doesn't understand any of it. "What does he do?"
"His parents died when he was sixteen and he was looked after by an aunt. She left as soon as he came of age. Said he couldn't stand him." Brendon sounds sad, like the sorrow of the story is his as well as Pete's. It's not just sympathy though, no, it's empathy too. "He had nothing outside of this place. No money. Just a big ol' lonely house. Then he found Patrick."
"They love each other."
"Very much." He agrees and he smiles; he's never known two people to deserve and love each other as much as those two older boys. "Then he just got into the habit, I guess. Next was Gabe. I think it was Gabe who gave him the idea to raise funds like we do. We only take what we need from those who can spare it. And a lot of it goes to other needy people."
"You don't have to justify it to me." Ryan whispers, still very mindful of his exposed arms. "I know you're good people."
"You're good too, Ryan." Brendon leans in close to Ryan, their noses touching in a way that sends fireworks exploding through their bodies. "So good and you don't even know it."
"Yeah, you are, Baby."
Both sets of eyes widen at the pet name but Ryan doesn't reject it and neither does Brendon backtrack. It feels right to have this level of intimacy between them, it feels comforting and Brendon has never loved this much nor has Ryan ever felt so loved as he does right now, sat on the grass with the thief who is fast stealing his heart.
Brendon pulls away and it is a testament as to how much Ryan has forgotten himself that he lets a small noise of protest escape him. Brendon smirks, not unkindly, and takes Ryan's hands in this, thumbs running over the knuckles. He turns Ryan's arms to be scar-side up and he looks at them for the longest time with sad, grieving eyes. It scares him how close the world (he) came to losing Ryan Ross.
Without letting himself think about it any more than he already has, Brendon leans down and presses his lips to each of Ryan's wrists, letting them linger on each long enough to commit the taste of Ryan's skin to memory. When he rises again, Ryan's looking at him as though he's seeing an angel.
"You're here, Baby." Brendon smiles, emphasizing the name and drawing it out. It makes Ryan blush and smile like he's never smiled before. "And I'm not letting you go."
"Don't. Please. Don't."
"Hey there, Little Fella."
Ryan gasps and looks around, seeing Gabe Saporta leaning against the doorway to his and Brendon's bedroom. It's still Sunday, late afternoon, and he's sat here in his bay window, thumbing through a yellowed copy of Alice in Wonderland. He's not paying it any attention though; all he can think about is Brendon, those lips on his scars, Baby. Brendon is out walking Hobo and, as pathetic as it might sound, Ryan misses him.
"Can I come in?" Ryan nods and Gabe does, flopping down on the edge of the bed nearest to Ryan. The younger boy shuts the book, leaving Alice trapped down her rabbit hole. "You've been here a month now, right?"
"Tomorrow." Ryan finds himself answering, even though it could have been answered with a nod or shake of the head. He's not sure if it feels good or terrifying, how much he wants to talk and how much he has to say all of a sudden. "Month tomorrow."
An encouraging smile grows on Gabe's face and he taps his hands restlessly on his lap, seemingly always bursting with too much energy. Ryan dares to look at him and offer a small smile of his own before looking at at particularly interesting spot on the cream carpet. Gabe laughs at that, just a little bit and not unkindly, but it's enough to make Ryan's cheeks burn.
"Aw, c'mon, Little Fella, look at me. Smile a little." Gabe's voice is light and tuneful and Ryan finds it impossible not to comply. He looks up, that trepid, nervous tilt of the lips still in place and Gabe positively beams back at him. "That's more like it. Life's too short to not smile."
And Ryan can't help but think that Gabe might be a little bit right.
There's something about the kitchen that scares Ryan, which is probably why Brendon has sent Frank to talk to him. It's sort of cute, really, the way that Brendon sends his friends (mainly Spencer and Patrick) to talk to Ryan. Ryan thanks him for it every night when they cuddle each other to sleep.
Frank's plopped in the armchair opposite Ryan's in the library, legs swinging back and forth in the way that a bored child's does. He's grinning, he always seems to be, and looking at Ryan with expectation shining in his eyes.
"Hello." Ryan starts and it sounds odd in his mouth, the way he's starting a conversation. It's odd, but not frightening. Not quite.
"Brendon sent me to talk to you." Ryan raises an eyebrow at the blunt honesty of it. "He wants me to ask you what your deal is with the kitchen. I'm not gonna ask that though. I just wanna talk to you. Be a friend."
"Oh." It's the only thing he can think to say. "Um, thanks."
"I want to put a red streak in my hair." Frank runs a hand over the area he is thinking of and Ryan nods along, taken aback by the normalcy of the current conversation. "What do you think?"
"That'd be cool." Ryan likes this, the way that Frank isn't acting like he'll fall apart at a touch. Which, to be fair, at a touch he probably would, provided that touch wasn't Brendon's. "Awesome."
"I like you, Ryan." The older boy declares in a tone that leaves no room for arguments. "You don't moan about my cooking."
"Well, I've eaten worse." Ryan smirks darkly, remembering all of those times when he ate nothing at all. He's passed the point of being upset about those times; now he's just plain pissed with regards to the neglect. The abuse, well, that's a different story. "And thanks, Frank."
"No problemo, Kid."
"I... If Brendon asks, tell him I got burnt." His voice has shrunk, is small and darting again, but he feels like he needs to say this. More for Brendon, than for Frank or himself. "If he asks about my kitchen thing, tell him I got burnt one too many times."
"Okay." Frank says softly, no longer wearing his perpetual smiling expression. "For what it's worth, that wouldn't happen in my kitchen. The only thing that gets burnt there is the food, not the people." He swallows, eyes deep and grave. "Nobody would ever dream of hurting you here, Ryan."
"I know." And he does.
Brendon can't sleep. He's laid out in his (and Ryan's) bed, one arm draped lazily around the older boy, but sleep just won't come. There's something in him that just wants to watch Ryan sleep all night.
He starts humming a tune that he can't remember the name to. In the back of his mind he knows where it is from (it is the lullaby his mother used to sing to him every night) but he isn't interested in thinking all that deeply about it. A hand cards through Ryan's hair and Brendon savours every part of Ryan that he can feel against him through their clothes (boxers and t-shirts). It's like he's holding some big secret when he holds Ryan to him like this, something great and fantastic that is his and his alone.
Sometimes when he looks at Ryan he sees a glimmer of confidence and true happiness. Other times, he sees a scared, scarred, abused kid. The worst times are when he doesn't see Ryan at all; just sees what some people would have Ryan believe that he is. At night though, like this, he only sees Ryan as Ryan truly is.
He presses a soft kiss into Ryan's hair and it feels like bliss. Right now Ryan is his and Ryan is content. Everything is just as it should be. Apart from the scars. Apart from the way Ryan jumps when someone (even Brendon) touches him without warning. Apart from how Ryan sometimes just doesn't talk to anyone for hours, sometimes days. But Ryan's still his and Brendon isn't about to give up on the boy with the red Fiat Punto just yet.
Ryan makes a soft noise in the back of his throat, on the tip of his tongue, and he squirms in his sleep. He turns around so that his chest is pressed flushed to Brendon's and Brendon chuckles, adoring how Ryan is always trying to be as close as possible to him, even in his sleep. It would be perfect if only a part of Brendon's brain wasn't acutely aware that Ryan is only like this with him because Brendon was the one to get him out of his old life. If it had been any of the others (Jon or Spencer or William or Gabe or Fank or Pete or Patrick) then Ryan would probably be with the them like this. The thought makes him shudder.
As though he can sense Brendon's distress, Ryan nuzzles into Brendon's chest and his eyes slowly blink open, still thick with sleep. He smiles up drowsily at Brendon and the younger boy's responding beam is instantaneous. It used to be an effort to get Ryan to smile; now all Brendon needs to do is be there.
"Go back to sleep, Baby." He murmurs, lips brushing against Ryan's forehead with each syllable. "I'll be here when you wake up."
"Is it weird that I miss them?" Ryan's voice is tight with exhaustion and nerves and Brendon's smile falters slightly.
"My mom and dad." The words are so quiet that Brendon would have missed them if he weren't listening. But he was. He always listens when Ryan has something that he deems important enough to say. "My mom left when I was six and my dad he... But I still miss them."
"I miss my parents too, Baby." Apart from my dad didn't beat me to a bloody pulp and burn me and do God only knows what else. He doesn't say any of that though, not to Ryan. "But then I look at everything I've got here. The guys. The house. This room. You."
"You, Baby." The disbelief on Ryan's face breaks his heart just that little bit more. "Now, how about we get some sleep, huh?"
Ryan quickly falls back into his deep, blissfully dreamless slumber cradled in the security of Brendon's sturdy arms. Those arms are like his castle, protecting him from the terrifying dangers of the world outside its all-encompassing walls.
As soon as those snuffle-snores are drifting through the serene silence of the room Brendon presses a kiss to Ryan's cheek with a soft smile on his face.
"I love you."
Ryan wants to make Brendon happy. Of course he does. He spends his days thinking of ways to make that happen. He smiles. He talks more (to Brendon at least). He helps Brendon with the younger boy's chores. But he just feels like he should be doing more, so much more.
And so that is why he's sat in the dining room opposite William Beckett, trying to think of a way to start this conversation. Once more, William is looking into a cup of coffee with the intensity of a dragon guarding its hoard of treasure. Ryan wonders what his story is, how he ended up here, but he daren't ask.
His plan is this: Brendon loves coffee. Or, to be more specific, he loves William's coffee. The coffee machine is, for some reason, in the dining room rather than the kitchen so, Ryan figured, why not? He wants to learn to make coffee like William so he can add it to his too-short list of things he does to make Brendon happy.
He regards William with semi-frightened eyes, caution in everything about him. The others have already gone about their daily business; it's just the two of them and Ryan wishes that Brendon were here with him, to protect him from the Big Bad Coffee God.
"You just gonna stare at me or are you gonna say something?" William says suddenly, eyes still drowning in his coffee, and it's so out-of-the-blue that it makes Ryan jump. "You're jumpy, aren't you? Like a rabbit."
"Chill, Ryan. I didn't mean anything by it." William downs his coffee in one and then gives his full attention to Ryan, a smirk teasing at his lips. "What can I do for you on this fine morning?"
"Can you teach me to make coffee?" Ryan asks quickly, words racing out before he can change his mind. "Please?"
Ryan doesn't even need to think about his answer.
"I want to make Brendon happy."
At least it makes sense this time and Ryan's expecting it. After all, Jon Walker is the only one of Pete's Band of Boys that he has yet to hold a proper conversation with, something that is shocking considering that he's been living there for fifty-three days now. It's not that shocking when you think about it though, not with how Ryan still gets short of breath if he's surrounded by too many people at once or someone other than Brendon (sometimes Spencer too) touches him.
He's sat in the library, reading the parable of the Good Samaritan out of an ancient copy of the Bible when in struts Jon Walker. Ryan looks up and meets him with a smile. If Jon is surprised by this response then he doesn't show it and Ryan's grateful for that. He doesn't need to be reminded about how fucked-up he is when it comes to social interaction.
"Heya, Ry." Jon greets as he flops into the armchair opposite Ryan's. "Whatcha reading?"
"You're religious?" There's a note of surprise in his voice. "Didn't have you down for the type."
"Oh no, I'm not religious. I just think it's sort of interesting, y'know." He shuts the book. "I like reading. I couldn't really, before... I didn't have time."
Jon looks at him sadly and Ryan tells himself that it's not pity he sees in the boy's eyes. The only person he can take pity from is Brendon because with Brendon he can tell that the younger really does mean it and there's nothing he wouldn't take from Brendon if Brendon wanted him to have it. He'd do anything to make that boy happy.
"You and Brendon are adorable. Always holding hands everywhere and shit." Jon lets out a chuckle and Ryan blushes although he can't deny that he likes what he's hearing. "You're giving Pete and Patrick a run for their money."
"Oh, we're not-"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever."
Pete Wentz is thoroughly regretting sending Brendon Urie on tonight's raid but hey, he's running a (sort of) business here.
Why is he regretting it?
Because he currently has a wheezing, crying, panicking Ryan Ross at his dining room table and only Patrick is around to help him. Apart from Patrick is off doing Patrick things (namely playing the piano in the attic) and Pete feels like he should be able to help Ryan through this like he's helped the other boys before.
"Hey, Ry, it's alright." He tries but it sounds way too flippant and Pete is looking for the right thing to say before this escalates to a full-blown panic attack. He gets up from his chair, walks around to Ryan's and crouches next to it. "He'll come back. Brendon'll come back. My boys always do."
Ryan looks at him with watery eyes and he just needs someone to hold him. So, without thinking about it, he catapults himself at the omnipotent and benevolent in equal measures older man. Pete makes an 'oof' sound but he understands immediately, maybe even better than Ryan understands it himself, and he wraps his arms around the eighteen-year-old just loose enough to make escape viable if Ryan should so wish it.
He clutches at Pete's shirt, his panic both increasing and decreasing at this turn of events, but if squeezes his eyes shut tight enough maybe, just maybe he can pretend that it's Brendon he's clinging to. Apart from Pete's heart beats to a different rhythm to Brendon's and he smells different. It's still comforting though, in the way that a big brother's embrace might be.
"He'll come back." Pete says and, for the first time in a long time, he wonders if he really is doing what's best for his boys. "He loves you too much not to."
And, for reasons that Ryan doesn't even want to understand, Ryan then proceeds to cry himself out in Pete Wentz's arms. Pete Wentz lets him, remembering when something similar had happened two years ago, only then it was Brendon Urie sobbing in his arms.
The boys return about five hours after Ryan's breakdown to Patrick opening the door. Spencer, Jon, William, Gabe and Frank bustle on in, laughing and trading stories as to how things unfolded from their perspective. Brendon, however, turns immediately to Patrick with worry in his eyes.
"Is Ryan okay?" It's sounds more desperate than it's meant to but less desperate than he actually feels. "Where is he? Where's Pete?"
"Ryan's fast asleep, Brendon." Patrick replies with a knowing smile. "Pete's upstairs, watching over him."
Brendon's sprinting up the stairs three, sometimes four, at a time before Patrick can finish his sentence. His heart is sick with a cocktail of worry, longing and this aching need to hold Ryan in his arms.
He bursts through the door to his and Ryan's bedroom to see Ryan, as Patrick had said, fast asleep, curled into a ball around Brendon's pillow. Pete is sat cross-legged on the bed next to him and he greets Brendon with a smile. Before any words can be exchanged, Pete is gently shaking Ryan by the shoulder.
"Hey, look who's here, Ryan." Pete whispers as heavy brown eyes blink slowly open. "Told you he'd be back."
Ryan whips his head around and, sure as hell is hot, there's Brendon stood there with a smile on his face and his arms open. Ryan's running to him, clinging to him before Pete is even fully out of the room. Brendon clings on back, needing the contact as much as Ryan does. It briefly crosses his mind that maybe they're are becoming too co-dependent but he quickly shakes that thought out of his head.
Brendon walks them over to the bed, Ryan still clinging to him like a limpet, and sits down, pulling Ryan down with him so that the older boy is in his lap. Looking into Ryan's eyes right now there's only one thing that it seems right for him to say.
"I love you, Baby." The words are nothing more than a breath, a breath that makes Ryan's heart stop. Nobody's ever said that to him before, not even his mother, and he would cry if he didn't feel so wonderful. "I love you so fucking much."
"I-I... I love you too."
"C'mon, Pete, it's time to go to bed." Patrick whines as he comes up the stairs, the thieves still celebrating downstairs. "I'm tired."
Patrick frowns and walks up to where Pete is staring through a crack in a door. A bedroom door. Ryan and Brendon's bedroom door. Intrigued, he lovingly shoves Pete out of the way and has a look for himself.
There's just enough light in the room for Patrick to be able to make out the two boys sat on the bed, lips locked in an unbreakable promise. Ryan and Brendon are kissing, but it's more than that, it's like looking in on pure, unadulterated love.
It's like seeing two puzzle pieces slotting together and completing the picture.
Patrick turns away and drags Pete with him, wanting to give the younger couple some semblance of privacy. They're still in earshot when they here Brendon saying:
"You're the best thing I ever stole."
I haven't posted on here in forever!
This took me an entire day to write and it damn near killed me in the process. I sweated blood over this. I'm not entirely sure if this is the best or worst thing that I've ever written. Or both.
If you guys like this, then I'll probably make it a trilogy of one-shots. The next one would look at the Rydon relationship developing romantically and the third would involve some major shit getting real. Or something.
Thank you very, very much for reading this and please let me know what you think! :)
Also posted on my tumblr and deviantArt.