"happy birthday brendon urie. love, your bandmates"...it hardly seems enough for someone you're close to...unless the reasoning behind the message was something hardly anyone could understand.
So, the basic idea of this story started with the fact that I thought Brendon's birthday message on panicatthedisco.com was pretty jank...but then I thought, what if the reason behind it was something like this?
The only sounds on the quiet streets of the outskirts Vegas are two sneakers, alternating taps on the pavement below them.
That's what time Ryan Ross is ambling down the stairs of his brand new house, feeling the walls of the dark hallway, his hands searching for a light.
When he finds out who's banging on his door at this time, he's going to kill them.
You know, unless they've come to kill him first.
But when he gets to the door and looks through the peephole, there is only one thought in his mind.
You've got to be kidding me.
He opens the door and sighs. The boy outside smiles and waves timidly before sticking his hands back in his hoodie and throwing his head back to knock the hood off, sending his short black hair into a frenzy. His eyes are shining through his red-rimmed glasses as he smiles again and speaks in a singsong voice.
"Happy birthday to me."
"Are you for real?"
"Well yeah, unless my mom's been lying to me my whole life."
Ryan runs his hand through his hair and rubs his eyes before opening the door further, allowing the other boy to enter. He closes the door and flips on a light in the main hallway, causing both of them to squint.
"Seriously, Brendon, what are you doing here at 12:00 in the morning?"
He looks confused, like Ryan didn't hear him the first time, so he reiterates his message.
"It's my birthday. April 12th."
"Yeah, I get that, asshole."
"You can't talk like that to someone on their birthday."
"I don't give a shit what you think I can and can't do. You woke me up in the middle of the night."
"This could be my last birthday ever, Ross. Then, how horrible would you feel?"
"It's about to be your last birthday ever if you don't tell me why the fuck you're here."
"Well, I looked on the website and I don't have a birthday message in the journal from you guys yet."
Ryan blinks a few times because he can't believe what Brendon's just said. Finally, he shakes his head and puts a hand up to stop Brendon before he can speak again. He'll worry about logic in the morning. Right now, he's exhausted.
Brendon smiles and waves again, moving toward Ryan's couch to grab his favorite blanket. He settles down into the couch and cuddles into the blanket, closing his eyes and remembering the last time he had held that blanket. He and Ryan had been watching a movie and they had fallen asleep together, hands interlocked, Ryan's head buried in the crook of Brendon's neck. Spencer found them the next morning and the first thing he had said was, "Sometimes you two are so cute that I literally want to vomit."
And as angry as Ryan is right now, he can't help feeling like that's how he feels about Brendon, no matter what.
The next morning, Ryan, Spencer and Jon are all sitting at Ryan's small white dining room table, drinking coffee and waiting for Brendon to wake up. He's still on the couch, his face buried in the perfect blanket. Spencer and Jon are making jokes and laughing like normal, but Ryan's just sitting there, sipping his coffee and staring in the direction of the living room.
"Hey, Ryan, you okay?"
"He showed up on my doorstep and told me it was his birthday. He hadn't even been 20 for 10 fucking minutes."
"Wait, Brendon wasn't here until midnight? I just assumed, you know..."
Jon's trying to choose his words carefully, but Ryan just snaps.
"What, Jon? You just assumed that Brendon and I had a pre-birthday fuck, he said something stupid, we fought, and I made him sleep on the couch? What kind of a person do you think I am?"
"A bitchy one?"
Ryan glares so hard that Jon can feel his face melting. Spencer tries to take over before Ryan jumps across the table to strangle Jon.
"So, what did he want? Presents? A hug?"
"He told me that he looked on the website and he didn't have a birthday message."
The trademark blinking brought on by this statement occurs and Ryan picks up his cup to finish his third cup of coffee that morning.
"Yeah, so I'm sure you can understand why I'm a little upset."
"He wasn't just fucking with you?"
"He's still on my couch, Spencer. What do you think?"
"I think you guys need to work this out before we leave. I am not spending God knows how much time in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with the two of you bitching everyday. So, why don't you go apologize to him?"
THUD. Spencer and Jon can both swear that they feel the table move when Ryan slams his cup down. He's practically hissing at them.
"I'm not the one who woke someone up to tell them he wanted a fucking online birthday message 10 minutes into the day. Don't tell me I should apologize, Spencer Smith, until there's something I should truly apologize for."
The three of them turn around and Brendon Urie is standing in the entranceway to the dining room, smiling sheepishly right at Ryan. He turns back to Spencer and Jon, giving them a look that says, "Come up with something for the journal." Ryan shakes his head exasperatedly and gets up, walking slowly toward Brendon.
"Come on, idiot, let's go take a walk."
And just like that, the two of them are walking toward Ryan's front door, grabbing hoodies and sunglasses and walking out, Brendon muttering.
"I told you, you can't talk to people like that on their birthday."
"And I told you, you gave up those rights when you showed up on my fucking doorstep at midnight."
Spencer just looks at Jon and instantly, one word pops into both of their heads.
"So, seriously Bren..."
The two of them are walking to God-knows-where, just talking. This feels like something that should be happening, something that's just good. They turn down a side road and Ryan tries again.
"I'm being serious."
"What, Ryan? What do you want?"
Normally, he can't get Brendon to shut up and that's about stupid things like how great Guitar Hero is or how he can't wait for Guitar Hero III or if Ryan thinks one of their songs will be on the next Guitar Hero.
Like Ryan fucking cares about any of it.
But now, this is honest and Brendon can't handle it. He can't handle talking about things that actually matter.
"I just want to really know what you were doing at my house at midnight. Were you fucking with me about the internet thing?"
Brendon mutters quietly and Ryan is actually concerned for a minute. Brendon is never quiet. Ryan wants to say something again, but that's before Brendon interrupts him to explain his grief further.
"I just...I don't want to lose you."
"Why would you lose me?"
"I've never really had anyone, you know. I mean, my parents wanted me to be a hardcore religious kid growing up and well..."
Ryan smiles and intertwines his fingers with Brendon's, finishing the statement.
"That didn't happen."
"No, and I never had anyone at school. Everyone just sort of fit somewhere, but I didn't. I just sort of wandered around and when I wasn't invisible, I stood out to be ridiculed. Then, I had our band, and suddenly, it seemed like I might get somewhere, you know? Like I might have people who really cared about me."
He and Ryan are walking through a creek now, hopping from stone to stone like little boys discovering a whole new adventurous world together. They get to the other side and walk through a small park.
"But then, you and Spence had each other and that was a closeness I was never going to have. And Brent, well...I couldn't get him to ever say anything that mattered when it was just the two of us. I was helpless again."
They've stopped now, and Ryan starts to turn and face Brendon to comfort him, but Brendon insists on walking some more.
"Please, just let me finish."
Ryan nods, but squeezes Brendon's hand a little tighter.
"Then, he left and Jon came and I wanted to show him up. It sounds completely retarded, but I wanted him to know that I had you guys before he did, and he wasn't ever going to be close with you like I was. But then, he just sort of fit. I envied how easy it was for him, but then...I don't know...it just seems like I sort of fit too after that."
Back over the creek and down the gravel road, they travel, not saying anything. But when they get to the end of the road, Brendon stops and sits down on the curb, motioning for Ryan to follow suit, and he does.
"So, last night, I was on the computer and I figured you guys would have left me a note before you went to bed. And, you didn't. So, I waited until after midnight. And when nothing showed up, I freaked. Before I knew it, I was at your house and then I felt really stupid."
Brendon stops, like he can't figure out the right words to say. He's never been great with words like Ryan is. But Ryan waits and eventually he starts again.
"I just don't want you guys to forget me, like forget that I'm there. I've never felt like I've belonged with the title of son or friend or boyfriend but I think...I think I could be a really great bandmate, you know?"
Ryan smiles and suddenly, everything Brendon's ever done to piss him off doesn't even matter. He leans over and places a hand on the side of his face to move him closer. Their lips brush and tease slightly before connecting in a slow, but intimate kiss. What they're feeling is private, even though they're expressing it in broad daylight. Ryan feels the softness of Brendon's lips move away from him and he sighs contentedly, opening his eyes, but still keeping his hand on Brendon's cheek.
"I just want you to think I'm a really great bandmate, Ryan. That's all I want for my birthday."
Brendon smiles back as Ryan talks quietly to no one but him.
"It's already done."
"B is for boisterous, R is for rambunctious, E is for exciting, N..."
"Spencer, shut up."
"I don't see you coming up with anything, genius!"
"Okay, how's this? Ahem...roses are red, violets are blue, have a happy birthday Brendon, because we love you."
"Oh real original, Walker."
"Says Mr. Let's-Anagram-His-Fucking-Name. I'm sure you'll get a ten for creativity on that one."
Spencer is about to argue back, but then, he hears the door open and he scrambles to shove all the tiny Post-It notes sticking to the table underneath it. When he only sees Ryan, he breathes a massive sigh of relief.
"Went home to see his parents. You guys come up with anything?"
Ryan can tell by the blank expressions on both of their faces that the answer is clearly no.
"Jon's a fucktard, Ryan. I can't help it that he stifles my creativity."
"Bite me, dickface. I'm sure I would have gotten this done if you weren't here distracting me the whole time."
"Guys, it's cool. Don't worry about it."
Ryan reaches across the table and scribbles on a Post-It note, ripping it off the pad and handing it to Spencer.
"Think you can handle that?"
Spencer looks at his best friend in disbelief.
"This is what you want it to say? I think Jon's "roses are red" poem is better than this, Ryan. No offense, but this looks like we really don't give a shit."
"Trust me, we give a shit."
Spencer shrugs and Jon smiles proudly, but Spencer does like Ryan tells him and puts the Post-It in his shirt pocket.
"Come on, Jon. Let's go put this on the site."
Jon gets up and the two of them walk out, towards Spencer's house and Ryan just stands at the door laughing. Brendon was right. Now that Jon was in the picture, they all just sort of fit.
Later that night, after Spencer and Jon have come and gone, it's just Ryan and Brendon sitting on the couch, wrapped up in their favorite blanket, watching Office Space.
"I'm sorry I didn't get you anything."
Brendon smiles and looks at his friend and confidant, the one he trusts above all others.
"Just because I can't hold it, doesn't mean you gave me nothing."
"Well, I do have a little something, but you can't hold it."
Ryan reaches over and grabs Brendon's hand, holding it in his own as he whispers.
"I think I love you, Brendon Urie."
"That's cool. Maybe next year, I'll get it without the 'I think'."
They laugh, but both of them can clearly tell that those three little words mean something more powerful than anything material that Brendon could have ever received.
Brendon hears the clock in Ryan's main hallway chime midnight as he's lying in the dark, Ryan snuggling next to him on the sofa bed. He knows that he should just turn to his side and put his arms around Ryan's waist, but there's something he has to see first. Something he just needs to make his birthday complete.
So, he walks over to the desk where Ryan's main computer is sitting and gets on the internet, immediately heading to his destination. He clicks on the Journal tab, and although Brendon is unaware of it, Ryan's standing in the hallway next to him, observing as Brendon's smile outshines the dim light of the computer screen as he reads the message posted for him.
"happy birthday brendon urie
love, your bandmates"