Take the stage, take the lead. Don't be afraid. You're all I'm waiting for.
Dedication x2!!! Since we are nearing the end of our little tale, I decided that two people needed to get recognized this time. They are...
kristina1: You're amazing. You always review for me, and you always encourage me to write more! Thanks for always being there for me!
And...xSoMeOnEx: You're an awesome reviewer because you always leave me quotes and things that you liked (which is my absolute fave). I'm really glad you like the things I write, and I hope you continue to review for me!!!
Only a couple chapters left...will you get a dedication soon?
Brendon sighed and tossed his sunglasses to the side, staring at the house in front of them.
"It'd probably be best if you stayed in the car. I'm not exactly going to be polite, and it's going to be uncomfortable as it is."
"It's fine, Brendon. Trust me, I've had more than enough rough dealings with my mom to know that it's not always easy to admit something huge."
At the same time, they turned to each other and thought the same thing. Her mother finding out about her career had been the toughest thing she had ever experienced, and he was honestly starting to feel some sympathy for her.
"You know, they think their so fucking saintly. But my mom's done her share of lying. I could always tell too. Did your mom have a...thing?"
Melody looked puzzled.
"What kind of thing?"
"Like something she did that you made you instantly know she was bullshitting?"
Melody laughed and remembered all too well.
"After my dad left, she told me that she had never loved him and that she stayed with him for me. Then, she'd go wash her hands, like...I don't know, she was trying to wash off the dishonesty or something. Then, two months later, she tried to tell me that she and her boyfriend Rick were just really good friends. Afterwards, straight to the sink. That's the weirdest thing, isn't it? Like, who washes their hands after a lie? Most people twitch or stutter, but improve their hygiene? I never really understood it."
Brendon laughed and shook his head, like he couldn't believe such a story was true. But then, he realized, after the kind of life Melody had, anything was possible. Melody smiled and turned to him.
"What did your mom do?"
Brendon shifted in his seat and ran his hand through his hair.
"She'd, uh...she'd talk about Ryan."
He sighed, laughing nervously, and continued.
"I mean, she obviously didn't do that my whole life, considering I haven't known Ryan that long. I guess that's why I could never really catch her lying until he came along. I'd ask her why she always came home late from work and she'd just give me some noncommittal answer, and then pretend to be interested in what to cook for dinner the next time Ryan stopped by. I guess she knew that he took my mind off of things, even back then."
"Don't let her do that to you today."
"It's funny, Melody, because today, that's all we're going to be doing. And it's going to be the most honest conversation we've ever had."
He opened the door and started to walk up the driveway to the front door when he turned around and came back to the car.
"You know what? Fuck it. I need you to come up with me. I'm 20 years old and I can't even face my own mother."
Melody laughed but got out of the car and walked around to stand beside Brendon. Then, the two of them walked up to the door and Brendon rang the bell, waiting anxiously. After a few moments, an older woman opened the door and the look of shock on her face couldn't have been more evident.
"Brendon! What are you doing here?"
"To say the least. Who's this?"
"Oh sorry about that. Mom, this is Melody Porter, Ryan's girlfriend."
He emphasized the last word and his tone was laced with malice. He knew that his mother always held a grudge against Ryan because she believed that he was the one who had tainted her precious son and turned him against the "pure" values of love.
"Girlfriend? Really? Well, it's a pleasure, Miss Porter."
Melody smiled and shook hands with Brendon's mom. Then, the light moment was over and things instantly became awkward again.
"Are you surprised that Ryan has a girlfriend? You seem shocked."
"Brendon, let's not do this."
"What, mom? You always wanted to talk about Ryan before. What's changed?"
Melody is scolding him with her harsh tone of voice. They aren't there for Brendon to pick petty fights with his mom. They're there to find Ryan.
"Sorry. Um...has Ryan been here?"
"Shouldn't you know where Ryan is? He is in that band of yours."
"He left for a while, but he didn't tell us where he was going and I'm worried about him."
"I'm sure he'll come around. You're just overreacting."
"Mom, this goes past overreacting. Ryan wants me to look for him. I'm just trying to find out where he is."
"Well, Ryan's a big boy, Brendon."
Brendon sighed harshly. He was getting frustrated and impatient, but he tried to keep his voice as calm as possible.
"Okay. You may not get this, and you may not want to, but that really doesn't bother me anymore. I'm sick of trying to win your approval, even after all that I've done to upset you. What I'm about to say may make you want to denounce me as your son, but it's so worth it."
Brendon's mother put her hand on a table that was sitting by the front door. She looked as if she were bracing herself for something strong, and her son didn't disappoint.
"I am in love with Ryan Ross, plain and simple. I've done a lot of things that I really regret now, and that's why he's missing. I am a complete asshole, and right now, I'm doing everything I can to make this up to him. I came to you because I knew he'd go to the last place I'd expect him to be and that's here because you've never understood him, and I guess you've never understood me. The way I feel may seem wrong to you, and you probably want to slam the door in my face right about now, but before you do that, I am simply asking you to tell me if you know anything about where he could be right now. If you did, you'd be making your son the happiest kid on the planet. And isn't that all a parent ever wants?"
Brendon's mother's hands were shaking as she reached into her pocket and pulled out a small folded piece of paper, handing it to him. Her eyes were brimming with tears and she looked at Brendon as if she were letting her son go forever. It was like she barely even knew him anymore.
"You said what he needed you to say. Now, take it and leave. I can't have you break my heart anymore, Brendon."
She shut the door quietly and Brendon stood for a minute, staring at the ground and processing everything that had just happened. He had finally done it. He finally had the courage to stand up and tell his mother everything he had felt for so long. Now, he felt liberated, like he could tackle anything. Even the challenge written on the small piece of paper in quick scribbled handwriting.
When the sun has set on this charade
Will we be friends (or enemies)?
Brendon held out his hand toward Melody and she laughed, taking it as they walked to the car.
"Come on, babe. We've got another stop to make."
Brendon and Melody only had to ring the doorbell once and there he was. On his cell phone. Whining.
"I told you, Patrick, I don't give a shit what's on it. Just as long as it's hot and steamy and here in 20 minutes. No, dumbass, I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about the pizza. Fine, whatever, get pepperoni. Look, I gotta go, Brendon's here. I don't know why, I haven't asked him yet because I can't get your ass off the phone. Okay, that's fine. Bye."
Pete Wentz snapped his phone shut and grinned.
"What's the occasion?"
"Wait a second. Am I being punk'd?"
Brendon and Melody looked at each other and back at Pete, confused.
"What are you talking about?"
"You are Melody Porter, aren't you?"
Melody smiled and nodded, still completely confused by this situation.
Pete stuck out his hand, still smiling.
"I'm a big fan of your work. Huge, actually, if you get the pun."
"Oh god, you didn't just say that to Ryan's girlfriend."
Brendon honestly thought he was going to have to pick Pete's chin up off the ground.
"Wait, Ryan Ross?"
"Yeah, but don't worry, we're not really together anymore. In fact, that's the reason we're here to talk to you."
Melody wasn't going to let Brendon get off track. He needed to focus on getting Ryan back. He nodded and concentrated on the task at hand.
"Listen, I need to know if Ryan's here, or if he's been here recently."
"Why would you think he'd be here?"
"Well, besides the obvious, I talked to my mom and he left her this note and the note led us to you."
Brendon pulled the note out of his pocket and handed it to Pete, who read it chuckling. He handed it back to Brendon.
"Kid's a clever fucker, isn't he?"
Brendon was about to say something more when they heard a car door slam and saw Patrick walking up the driveway with pizzas in hand.
"Dude, how the fuck did you get here so fast?"
Patrick stopped and smiled proudly.
"All due to my awesome use of celebrity status."
Brendon and Pete both looked at him doubtedly. The normally pretty shy and reserved Patrick Stump who disguised himself to go into a convenience store for a pack of gum used his "celebrity status" to get pizza?
"All right, it was dead in there. They opened ten minutes ago. Can't even let me have a little glory."
They laughed and Brendon realized that two of the people in this group didn't know each other yet.
"Oh, sorry. Patrick, this is Melody, Ryan's ex-girlfriend."
He didn't even question why Brendon would be standing on Pete's doorstep with Ryan's ex-girlfriend. He simply smiled and motioned inside.
"Nice to meet you. Can I interest you in a breadstick?"
Melody smiled. Someone was finally being genuinely nice to her. Someone wanted to take care of her for a change.
"I'd love one."
The two of them went inside and Pete yelled after them.
"Um, I'd love a breadstick!"
Patrick yelled back, "They'll be inside!"
Pete turned back to Brendon.
"Assholes. So, listen, Brendon, before I can tell you anything I may or may not know, I need to know what the hell is going on. Why is Ryan leading you on this wild goose chase? What made you desperate enough to talk to your mom?"
"I screwed up, Pete. I wanted Ryan to tell me, you know, how he felt about me because I didn't want to do it first. I was scared, I was afraid he wouldn't feel the same, I just...I didn't know what I was doing. So, we met Melody and I basically paid her to be his girlfriend, so that he'd get sick of lying and sneaking around and he'd just tell her to fuck off and admit his feelings to me. But then he found out what we were doing and the whole thing just turned to shit. He left, but clearly he wants me to find him if he left my mom a note and led me to talk to you. I never meant to hurt him, and I just really need to tell him that I'm sorry because, more than anything in the world, I love him. I just think he needs to know that, so if you have anything at all from him, please just give it to me."
Pete sighed and reached into his pocket, pulling out another small note. He turned to walk into his house and get some pizza before it was all gone, but before he did, he turned back to Brendon with a small smile.
"Hey, kid. Don't break any hearts tonight."
Brendon smiled, and read the scribbled message on the paper with newfound determination.
Take the stage, take the lead.
Don't be afraid.
You're all I'm waiting for.
Ah, yes, another end with Ryan's cryptic words only to be understood by the one who knows him best. What will this mean for the end of the story (which, sadly, if everything goes as planned, will be in two chapters)? Hmmm...I'm pretty sure you'll find out...when you review!!! (oh, come on, you knew I wasn't going to reveal anything...)