Categories > Celebrities > Panic! At The Disco > The Gilded World

Act 4

by GealachGirl 3 reviews

Performance day, the day that the whole week has led up to. How's Ryan going to do, his first time on stage?

Category: Panic! At The Disco - Rating: R - Genres: Drama,Fantasy,Romance - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2012-06-04 - Updated: 2012-06-05 - 9498 words - Complete

Watching the crowds moving to the meeting place for the weekly meeting while he was sitting with the Performers was much different than with the Satisfiers. For one, he was on a whole other side of the auditorium and surrounded by white. Mostly it was the difference in how they were looked at. People were staring, but it was with awe and respect. Ryan didn’t feel the desire to hide somewhere to escape people’s eyes.

“I don’t know why but every time we do this, it feels like it’s the first performance,” Brendon whispered excitedly into his ear. He was a little breathless and simply looking at the Performer’s face it was easy to tell that he was thrilled to the point of no return. It was all exhilarating.


Two days before, he’d met Erik, the music section leader. Before that though, Jeffry took Brendon off again and Mike and Laura appeared at Ryan’s side.

“Could we have a word with you Ryan? Just over there where there aren’t so many people.”

Cautiously, Ryan nodded and followed the two older Performers to another side of the room. He bit back on the memory from the previous night. Besides, he trusted the two of them, inexplicably. On the side of the room, Laura and Mike stopped and turned to face him. There was some sort of expression on their face that he couldn’t read and it made him a little nervous.

“Ryan, don’t panic when I say what we have to say, alright? The two of us like you and we aren’t going to hurt you in any way, do you understand?” She paused and waited for him to nod. Then she went on. “We know that you aren’t a Performer.”

He could feel his eyes widen and he backed up a little. “Yes I am. Brendon told you, my parents are over-protective and insisted on having me for a long time.”

“That’s understandable, but seven years? Isn’t that a little much? And Ryan, we know. It isn’t a guess. The two of us know that you weren’t born a Performer.” He took a few more steps back but Laura moved forward and put her arms around him.

“We aren’t going to tell anyone and we aren’t going to ask any questions. Just, be cautious.”

Ryan clung to her, for some reason trusting her. “Does anyone else know? Is it obvious?” His voice was shaking in a way that he didn’t like.

“Not as much as we know, dear. We want you to know that we’re on your side though, we know and we can help you.” Then she drew away and held him by the shoulders. “You’re doing very well hiding it though, and it’s no doubt that you are genuinely talented.” She tilted his mask up and he had to physically keep himself from flinching or turning away, being too used to what happened when his mask was resting on the top of his head. The woman leaned in and kissed him on the forehead.

“You’re safe with us,” she whispered, slipping his mask back down over his face. Mike came behind him and patted him on the shoulder as well, offering his own silent encouragement.

Ryan didn’t know what to make of it, he craned his head around to get a good look at both of them. He had allies, though what else could he expect from Brendon’s friends? All that he could bring himself to do in his shock was nod, trying to keep his mouth closed.

“We don’t know what you really are, if that makes things better, and we aren’t going to ask you,” Laura assured him, putting her hand on his other shoulder. “Now, you better get to Brendon, he’s waiting for you,” she whispered. Ryan spun his head around and saw that, sure enough, Brendon was standing there on the floor, obviously waiting for something.

He pulled away from the two but turned to say, “Thank you. For not telling anyone I mean.” It could have been serious trouble for him if they had. Mike waved at him and motioned for him to go. At that, Ryan turned and went off to Brendon.

“Oh good, there you are. I was worried that you’d gone off with someone else. I wanted you to meet someone. Then we should go see what Alistair has decided you should do for the company. After that we’ll practice what we’ve already got on our plates,” Brendon said as soon as he saw him, grinning the way he usually did as a greeting.

“Sounds like a busy day. And why would I go off with someone else?” Ryan replied, confused as well as trying to get his nerves under control. When Brendon had said that, he’d sounded genuinely relieved and worried at the same time. It was like he was really concerned about that.

“Well yes, in two days we’re going to be getting onstage with what we have. Tomorrow is all about practice, the opportunity to learn more is over. That’s a long day, starts earlier in the morning and goes later. It has to be perfect. I don’t know, there could have been someone else who wanted to show you something, so you followed them and started going around with them.”

At the tone near the end, Ryan’s stomach did the peculiar thing that it always did lately. “I don’t see why you Performers need to practice so much, you’ll do it perfectly no matter what. It’s your talent; it’s why the Lights made you Performers. I wouldn’t go around with other people. You’ve been the one and only person to show me around, I’ve gotten used to you being around.”

Brendon smiled at him. “You might have a point, but we’re the biggest perfectionists you’ll find. Except for maybe the Creators and the different Instructors, since both have to make sure that what they do and what they teach is as correct as possible. And thank you, I have that effect on people.”

Ryan laughed a little. “I hadn’t noticed.”

“Which one?”


Brendon was still smiling and he put an arm around Ryan’s shoulders. “Come on, let’s go introduce you to Erik, if he’s got his head out of his music that is.” Then Brendon led him off to a part of the room that he hadn’t been in. It was amazing just how big the room actually was.

“Erik! Hey Erik, I have to talk to you!” Brendon yelled quietly. He turned to Ryan. “The man is rarely attached to reality, always off somewhere in his head. But we love him. And there he is!” Brendon turned back out to greet a dark-haired man with a half mask that wasn’t much taller than Brendon. “Erik, this is Ryan. Ryan, this is the highly acclaimed lead musician, Erik.”

“Hello. I’ve heard a lot about you and I’ve seen a lot, Ryan.” His voice did sound a little far-off but his eyes were focused and it was obvious that he knew what was going on.

“Brendon’s mentioned a lot about you, too. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Do you know how to play anything? And Brendon, are you ready with what you have?”

Ryan shook his head at the same time that Brendon said, “I’ll practice a bit more today and tomorrow. I’m sure that I could perform it today though if I had to.”

“We’ll have to see about that,” Erik said to Ryan, then he turned to Brendon. “You’d better make sure of it, Brendon.” Then he seemed to be addressing both of them. “How about you go and practice; and I’ll see if I can get the new one here to play anything?”

Ryan exchanged a glance with Brendon. The shorter Performer shrugged in a way that told him it was up to him. Intrigued, Ryan nodded and Erik beamed. “Great! Follow me!” He turned away and they followed. They went through a kind of tunnel that seemed to go further back into the building. Ryan realized just then how big the Performer’s building was.

Eventually they came out in another room. It was like the other room with candles sitting everywhere to illuminate the space. There were other people at work on other instruments, but the room still managed to be extremely quiet. Brendon must have seen the look on his face because he nudged him with his shoulder and pointed up.

Up on the ceiling, it shone like there was some kind of liquid there. Brendon tilted his chin up just a little so he could say into Ryan’s ear, “It’s a sound-proofing thing that the Creators made. It somehow radiates down here and it makes it so that only the person touching the instrument can hear it as they play. It’s useful for when we’re writing and practicing our music.”

“Our? You mean, you’re a musician too?” Ryan asked. The boy was everything. He danced, he acted, and apparently he played music.

Brendon looked a little embarrassed but he nodded anyway. “Yes. I can play most of these instruments and I’ve written a few things. The only thing that I can’t do is write stories or skits. I sort of tried once and it wasn’t working. Besides, that part’s important but it’s hidden. None of us really knows how many writers we have or who they are.”

That seemed a little odd to Ryan that a group as close as the Performers wasn’t aware of such a vital part of their society. It wasn’t his business though, and all of the Performers seemed to respect whoever the writers were. Besides, maybe the writers didn’t want to be known. So he nodded and kept following Erik until they came to another part of the room by a table that had various instrument parts and instruments themselves on it. Then, Erik turned to Brendon.

“You know where the piano is, Brendon. Ryan?” With that, Brendon nodded to the two of them and went off in another direction, leaving Ryan alone.

“So, you said that you don’t know how to play anything.”

“That’s right. But I haven’t ever tried or anything, so I guess it’s possible.”

“Of course it’s possible. Almost everyone has the ability to play an instrument. There are some that simply can’t and there are ones that don’t try, though. Can I see your hand?”

“What?” he asked, taken aback.

“Your hand. You’ll want to remove the glove.” Obviously he wasn’t going to explain. So, Ryan cautiously took the glove off of his left hand and set the hand in the musician’s. Erik held his hand up a bit and felt his fingers, spreading them apart a bit and Ryan stood there. It was awkward and he didn’t really know what was going on until the strange young man let go of his hand and motioned that it was okay for him to put his glove back on.

“I think I know what instrument I want to start you on. Come with me.” Then he turned away and started walking somewhere, giving Ryan no choice but to follow. They came to a stop a few feet away and the man knelt down, bringing up a guitar. “I would go for piano but I believe all of them are taken. Your fingers are long and thin so they’d do well on the keys, but I think that you can probably play this pretty easily as well. I can tell that your hand will be able to move quickly so I think I’ll show you a bit more complicated of a melody to start you off, is that alright?”

Ryan didn’t know why the expert was asking him but he nodded, making Erik smile. He took the guitar in his lap and went through a quick instruction of how to hold his hand, the chords he needed for what he was going to be shown, and the rhythm. After all of that, Erik stepped back, keeping one hand on the bottom of the guitar so he could still hear it.

“I love it when new people have confidence in themselves. Most people just want easy things at the beginning even though I know that they can handle more. Brendon was kind of like that. He took something that was probably moderate level at the beginning. He moved quickly up though. That boy’s confidence is something to be admired, much like yours. Anyway, enough of my talk, you can start whenever you’re ready.”

Ryan put his fingers on the right strings to start off what he learned and he paused a moment to marvel at what the musician had just said. Confidence? And admirable confidence, at that? He couldn’t wrap his head around it. There was a sudden desire to not prove the man wrong though and so he started.

When the song was over, Erik nodded and clapped a little. There was a smile and, just like the other leaders, a calculating look on his face, evaluating his performance. So Ryan sat there awkwardly, waiting for the verdict.

“That was very good. I’m going to show you something harder to see how you can handle that. You’ll be moving down the neck, and you’ll have more chords. Are you comfortable with that?” Again, Ryan nodded and took in the next lesson.

Erik was grinning when he was done playing. “I think that we’ve found you a talent. Now you can say that you’re able to play an instrument. In fact, I would like you play what you just did for the performance. What do you think?”

Ryan couldn’t help but smile. He’d just learned something else completely new, and it was probably his favorite thing. “I think that that’s a great idea. Do you think I’ll really be ready by then?”

“Yes. Come back and practice tomorrow and I can guarantee that you’ll be ready for the performance,” Erik answered in absolute confidence. Ryan didn’t know what to say to that, he just smiled in his shock. Erik put a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s go back to find Brendon. I know that both of you have other things you have to work out. I have to thank him for bringing you to me, and ask him why he didn’t do it sooner.”

They went somewhere that seemed complicated to get to and Ryan knew that he wasn’t going to remember it until they found the black-haired Performer sitting at a black grand piano. He was playing and it was clear that he was wrapped up in it, but there was no sound that they could hear. Erik was standing with his hand on the body of the piano though and he was smiling. He reached over and took Ryan’s hand, setting it on the piano.

Sound erupted around him. He heard the intense power of the low notes and the way that the higher notes seemed to float over them. It was a steady, driving rhythm that the notes followed, powerful and very beautiful. Ryan felt as if it were a kind of march, urging him on to do something. The boy was playing expertly, staying on beat and never hitting a wrong note. The talent was incredible.

Time escaped and eventually the piece came to an end. Brendon looked up and seemed startled to see them there. It even looked like he blushed a little. “How long have you been here?” he asked, focused on the keys.

“From a minute into it. You were right Brendon, it does sound ready to be performed. You’ll come back tomorrow though to practice for yourself and for Ryan. He’s found his calling in the guitar. He’ll get on the piano sooner or later but the guitar is strong.”

Brendon flashed Ryan an encouraging smile. “Thank you Erik. We’ll see you tomorrow then.” He came around to the side of the piano and took Ryan by the arm, leading him out of the sound proofed music room and into the room that he was familiar with.

As soon as they were just outside the exit, Brendon turned to him. “The guitar? What happened with the guitar?” So Ryan recounted the story of how his “talent” was discovered. At the end, Brendon was still smiling. “I knew that you could do something. See what a little confidence will do?” Ryan shrugged and Brendon laughed, putting an arm around him, escorting him off to the other things they had to be at. But he could, he could feel what the confidence was doing to him.


Ryan leaned over to Brendon. “Doesn’t the material ever get old with how much practice goes into it?” Brendon looked at him in shock as if he’d just said the most blasphemous thing possible, which he probably had in the Performer’s eyes.

“It doesn’t. When you’re up on the stage, showing these creations to other people who aren’t like you, it’s different. It’s like you’re doing it for the first time because you connect to the audience. After all, it’s their first time seeing or hearing it. I don’t think my explanation does it justice, just wait and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.”

Ryan nodded and leaned back into his own space, trusting what the Performer said. He glanced down the row of seats to Mike and Laura, having a conversation with one another using their hands. Laura had shown some to him and he was able to sort of converse with Mike. As if by feeling his gaze, Mike looked up and over at him, he gave him a smile and sign of encouragement with his hands.

On his other side, Mason, Alistair, and Erik sat together. Their heads were bent in together and it looked like they were talking about important things. He watched them make gestures to people and turn back to each other to discuss something. Planning, that’s what Brendon said they were always doing. They were always planning for the next week and trying to find ways to combine their talents. Brendon said that the three of them were more the Heads than the actual Head.

Thinking of him, Ryan looked around to the last place where he’d seen the ominous young man. He was still there, arms crossed over his chest, squinting out at the group of Performers and the other arriving groups. Every minute or so Ryan had felt something on the back of his neck and he saw that it was because the Head devoted his gaze to the back of his and Brendon’s heads. When Jeffry saw that he was looking at him, he glared darkly, making Ryan turn back around.

When he was able to move again, when he couldn’t feel the harsh gaze on the back of his head, he looked at all of the professions that had gathered already.

The Performers got a spot by the stage since they had to go there quickly at the end of the meeting. Right behind them in their cool blue and gray were the Creators, those that made the world a better place with what they came up with, saving lives and making them easier. Next to them were the Providers, the people who grew and made the food that everyone ate, clad in dark and light orange. On the other side of the auditorium-type setting, the white and red decorated Informants were filing in. They were responsible for sharing news around and making sure that everyone knew what was going on around them. The Workers were at the back in their tan and purple. They were all well-built people, muscular from the work that they did. Their jobs were to do the maintenance things for the city and to set up things for ceremonies and festivals. Next were the Instructors, in red and yellow. They were the ones who were experts in the different professions and taught the children younger than ten what it was they were going to do, brought them up knowing everything about it. The people responsible for the care of the sick and wounded were the Medics, dressed in black and purple. The ones in smoky gray and black were the Enforcers, the people who made sure that everyone followed the law and took care of those that didn’t. Ryan knew that the Assassins were hiding somewhere in the rafters. They caused too much of a panic among the people so they installed themselves in the ceiling since every profession had to be there and in their born skin. Ryan expelled the last bit of the rule from his mind and kept his eyes pointedly away from the Enforcers.

From the corner of his turned eye, he saw the last group, the Satisfiers walk in. All eyes were drawn to them the way all eyes were drawn to the Performers. It would just work out that Ryan would get the other most eye-catching skin in the world.

After a stillness, the great curtains parted and the color green was seen. The servicemen of the Head of Heads came out. An old man that Ryan had never really liked the look of stepped up to the microphone. “Welcome people of the city. We regret to inform you that the Head of Heads is feeling unwell and didn’t think he was capable of coming to today’s meeting—”

“Just like last time,” Brendon interrupted by his ear. Ryan smirked. It was true.

“We will tell him everything that comes along today though, not to worry. As always, he is very interested in what’s going on with his people. He wanted to come but it was simply impossible. And now, let the meeting commence.”


They were backstage. It was kind of hot and he was already riding on the emotions of everyone else so it felt like he was floating, but not in the good way. The lights were dimmed almost all the way down, something that the Creators made possible, and Jeffry was out on the stage, getting the people ready. He wasn’t giving them an order of events or telling them what they were going to see. Instead, he was setting a kind of mood on the audience, one that reminded Ryan of the practicing room.

The first thing that the audience was going to see that week was Brendon on his piano. The boy was already at the black instrument on stage. He was behind the lights so no one could see him and they would rise as he started playing.

After that it was going to be a long succession of acts that were going to seem to him to only last an instant. That was the way it always was when he was in the audience. All of the performances captivated him and he got so caught up that the next thing he knew, he was being led off by the hand to some other strange place.

The excitement, though, was unbearable. It swelled and it rose up and it made it feel like electricity was running through his veins, the way his skin was tingling. There was this immediate sense of invincibility and extreme fragility that settled over him and he found that he was looking forward to experimenting with the balance.

There was silence on the stage and Jeffry ducked through a curtain to the backstage area. The silence didn’t last long. Soon the notes of the piano rose up with the curtain. It was a hundred times more powerful than the first time he’d heard it. The notes had a certain depth and driving power to them. They grabbed you and mercilessly forced you to go with them, not that anyone in their right mind would protest. Somehow the notes crescendo-ed, building to a seemingly impossible degree, then they just dropped off and the song ended after a good couple of minutes.

The applause was deafening and Ryan could picture the grin that would be on Brendon’s face as he made his way backstage. He moved to a place that Brendon had shown him earlier where he could watch what was going on onstage and not be seen. If the schedule permitted it, Brendon would join him. All that Ryan knew was when he went on. It was all that anyone was allowed to know, though Brendon seemed to know it all anyway.

All of the lights were between bright and dim and there was one lone spotlight on the stage. After only a small pause, both Mike and Laura appeared at opposite ends of the stage. They stood there in a pose for a few seconds before moving to the area lit by the spotlight. When they were there, they started the dance that Ryan had seen the day he met them. Somehow, like Brendon’s song, it seemed grander on the stage than it had on the floor, but still not quite as amazing as seeing it up close and watching them work together. It was obvious that the crowd remembered them, having started cheering as soon as they were recognizable.

At the end of the number, they received thunderous applause that left his ears ringing. There were two more pair dances, then he was being called down for the group dance.

The only thing he felt was the electric buzz shooting throughout his body, making him shake a little with the energy.

The people in front of him moved out on the stage and the only thing he could do was follow and get into his place at the back. His heart was thundering and he was kind of nervous but he had the feeling that it had more to do with excitement. Everyone leaked into position and there was a pause before the music for the piece started up and it began.

Ryan lost himself. Everything just happened without thought and it was eventually over with Brendon standing apart from the group, the group pressing almost on him, and Ryan sticking out partly from the rest of the group, concerned only with hiding. After a few seconds of holding, the crowd erupted again. He could hear the clapping and the cheers and a few whistles. As soon as it began, a smile, true and genuine and big, spread itself across his face and everyone scattered, leaving another pair dance on stage.

The dance with Brendon was next, so Ryan stayed close to the wings of the stage, ready to enter as soon as the applause started for the current couple. He hadn’t really been able to see or talk to Brendon yet, but he didn’t mind. For some reason it seemed better that he was living through all of this on his own.

There was applause and Ryan ducked down and ran out onto the stage, seeing Brendon do the same on the other side. They met in the middle, hands together and held at head level, their chests touching. The two of them looked in each other’s eyes and Ryan could still feel the electricity. Brendon nodded and Ryan nodded back and the two of them began their dance at the same time the music started.

Somehow Ryan could feel the audience’s reaction. He wasn’t really sure what it was, he just got the feeling that something had changed and that less people were breathing. It wasn’t something that he focused on though, it just came to him in passing and he made an observation. The dance carried on and he was engulfed in it. More than the audience, he could feel Brendon. He could feel his pulse and his breath and the little bit of sweat on his skin. He could feel the energy coming from the other boy as their bodies moved with and around each other. It was honestly the most incredible thing that he’d felt yet and he understood what the pair dances were about.

By the end, when they parted barely and looked at each other, he wasn’t sure what had been there before or what they’d just done on the spot. It hardly mattered though because the audience was applauding and it was louder than what he’d heard before, except for Mike and Laura’s dance. Brendon’s grin was blinding and Ryan returned it with a smile, and then they turned to the audience and bowed before running offstage again.

Something else was already taking place onstage behind them. Brendon turned to Ryan and threw himself at him, latching his arms around his neck. Ryan caught him and put his arms around the other boy’s back, though he wasn’t quite sure what was going on and it felt strange. Brendon was laughing and—arms still around his neck—he said through an audible grin, “That was amazing, Ry! It was brilliant; I wasn’t able to keep my eyes off of you.” He pulled back, still smiling, and looked at him. “You did well,” he said in a more serious tone, their eyes meeting.

No one was allowed to stand around in the wings that people exited to so there wasn’t anyone around. Ryan nodded once, “Thank you. You were better though, of course. I’m sure everyone else was looking at you.”

“You’re being modest. Honestly Ryan, you did really good, better than you have before. The energy, it was there. The match-up was perfect. It was better than anything that I’ve ever done with Jeffry even though it’s much simpler than those things. Ryan, did you hear that applause?”

Ryan shrugged and gave him a look. “You get applause for everything that you do. It’s not that big of a deal. I was there in the crowd when you and Jeffry did your dances together and you were applauded each time.”

Brendon put his hands up on Ryan’s shoulders and looked him closely in the eyes. “Ryan, you don’t understand. That applause,” he gestured out to the stage where another dance was in the works. “The applause that we got when we left, it was different. Didn’t you hear how loud and enthusiastic it was? You and I both know that it was more than it usually is. They liked our show especially and it’s partly because of you.” At the end of the last sentence Brendon poked him in the chest.

“I doubt it, I’m the newcomer.”

“Stop it. That’s almost more reason to pay attention to you. They want to see what you can do. Ryan, I’m going to say this one last time. The audience loved our pair dance and you are some of the reason. Yes, they were watching me, but they were watching you too because we were both part of it. I’m not saying any more about it because I want it to sink into your head, so I’ll leave you alone with it.” With that, Brendon walked off to get into place for the group skit.

Ryan wasn’t a huge fan of the tingling feeling he felt when he thought about people watching him specifically and liking something because of him. It seemed too strange to be real and the feeling was uncomfortable. Brendon was absolutely convinced though. He shook his head and went to get in his own place.

The part itself wasn’t huge, he didn’t have a whole lot of lines, but Alistair had been more than generous to him. His character was important to the show, though he wasn’t onstage very much. It was the one part that he’d read for that fit the best, seemed the most natural to him and it was the part that ended up tying everything together. Ryan wasn’t entirely sure what the story was about. Alistair’s main directing philosophy was to simply have the actor bring their part to the show. He wasn’t concerned that everyone know the whole story, just the few people who absolutely needed to. That was why there wasn’t much practice before performing.

Ryan couldn’t complain though. The shows always worked out and were very good quality, so not knowing exactly what was going on only bothered him a little bit. He had a place in the wing and he watched the story unfold onstage, going over his part in his mind.

After the performance there was a fair amount of applause and he bowed with all the others. Alistair looked at him down the line and nodded at him with a smile. Mason did the same from the other side because apparently he dabbled in acting when he wasn’t doing his dancing. Brendon even caught his eye and smiled, even though the younger boy was in the center of the line.

Then everyone disappeared and he went to get the guitar that Erik was holding for him just offstage. When he had it in his hands, the beautiful weight, he put it over his shoulder and Erik wished him good luck before going backstage. Ryan turned and walked to center stage where there was a lone spotlight. He stepped in and put his hands on the instrument in the positions that now seemed so familiar to him, though he’d learned the instrument itself two days ago.

Ryan took a breath, and then he started. There were projection devices in front of him so he didn’t have to worry about his volume, and all that was left was to play without error.

At first he was aware of the crowd, of their eyes focused solely on him and what he was doing, but after long enough of keeping his head bowed to the guitar across his body they all fell away. It was easy. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Ryan distantly felt a smile on his face at the simplicity and the beautiful feeling of it all.

Then it was over. The first clichéd thought that came to mind was how much that felt like he imagined flying felt. The next thing that he noticed was that he was grinning. At the applause, he bowed at the waist and paused a minute before turning to go backstage.

All of the musicians flocked the stage. They always had a song or two to do just by themselves. He was still smiling a bit and he was carrying the guitar in his hand now when he was absolutely engulfed. There were people all over him and for a moment he panicked and tensed up, squeezing his eyes shut.

The feeling passed when he opened an eye and saw the uniform of a familiar Performer, a few familiar Performers. Mason, Alistair, Brendon, Mike, and Laura stepped away from him, all of them smiling at him. Brendon, Laura, and Alistair were beaming while Mason and Mike had small smiles on their faces and nodded at him.

“Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. How could you doubt yourself? That was one of the most amazing things I ever heard, and Brendon said you learned it two days ago. That is what we call talent, and you have it. Honestly kid, you might be in line to be the head of the music section. Erik will definitely want you involved in more of the music. You won’t be able to get away from him,” Mason said.

Ryan could feel his cheeks color and he opened his mouth to protest, but Brendon gave him a look and Alistair talked before Ryan got the chance.

“Erik told us that you can do much more than just that song. He also told us that you didn’t meet for very long. You’re the second person to pick up an instrument like that that quickly. You’re extremely close to the person that’s first, though. There’s no way you’ll be able to convince us that that’s nothing.” The red-headed Performer put a hand on his shoulder and his green eyes held a serious tone to them that Ryan knew he couldn’t argue with.

“Let me guess, the fastest was Brendon, right?” he asked, in an attempt to change the subject. They all caught on though. Performers were highly sensitive to changes in pitch and tone, body language, and facial expressions. It was part of what made their shows so flawless and it was something that they just picked up, naturally, not able to be taught, which made it part of the reason the Lights made them what they were.

“That’s right, but you’re not getting out of this, Ryan. Just accept the compliments and we’ll move on,” Brendon answered. Ryan knew that they wouldn’t move on but he nodded anyway.

“Thank you, all of you. You may all have points about the subject. That’s all I can believe right now.”

“You’ll be convinced when we do our skit,” Brendon said. “Don’t worry. I’ll convert you to the Performer mindset.”

The musicians were wrapping up and they all had to get out of the wing. It was the time for more solos and the smaller skits that were offered on the table that first day. Ryan wasn’t sure exactly when his was taking place, but he knew that Brendon knew so he resigned himself to the place up by the lights where he could watch and not be seen.

When he was safely and comfortably seated, he was lost in the shows that he was looking at the top of. It took away some of the effect, but he still found himself entranced. The shows were still brilliant from above. After some time, he moved and climbed back down, somehow knowing that his skit was going on soon. Brendon was at the bottom and seemed surprised to see him, but he still smiled.

“Are you ready?” he asked quietly, looking fascinated.

“I’ve been ready,” he whispered back.


There he was, standing in the garden, waiting. Bayeel—Ryan—moved forward, toward the boy who’d told him to meet at that spot. It was late, like it always was when they met. There was something strange though. Jevair was standing stiffly and there was impatience to the way he was moving, just bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet. Still, Bayeel moved directly to him.

“Jevair?” he called softly, knowing that anything louder would probably scare the other boy. He whipped around and looked at him with a mixture of relief and sadness, making Bayeel a little nervous.

“Bayeel, oh I knew that you would come.” The boy unfroze and came toward him, putting his arms out and pulling the two of them close together. He rested his head lightly on Bayeel’s shoulder and held him closer than normal at the beginning of a meeting. It always took the boy of higher status a bit of time to relax.

“I always come, Jevair. What’s going on? Something seems wrong,” he was suspicious. There was something that Jevair wasn’t mentioning to him, and it was something important. “Did you think that I was going to suddenly abandon you?” he asked jokingly. Jevair picked his head up though and looked him sadly in the eyes.

“Tell me what’s going on,” Bayeel said immediately.

Jevair swallowed, looking uncomfortable, but he nodded. “As you know, my parents have been looking for a suitor for me,” he said slowly and quietly, not making eye contact. He’d also drawn away a little, sparking concern in Bayeel.

“I know. Go on. What about this is so bad? They’ve been looking for two years.”

“They found one,” the younger boy answered quietly. He backed away then and put his arms around himself, looking down at the ground. “My parent’s friend’s son, you’ve met him, Gonvee.” He was speaking in a measured tone and his hands were clenched by his side.

“Don’t tell me that you love him, now,” Bayeel responded drily. He wanted to know what was bothering his long-time love.

Jevair looked up, looking scandalized, and he moved quickly and the next thing Bayeel knew, Jevair was kissing him, holding his face between his two hands. It lasted probably six seconds and their foreheads were together. Jevair looked him fiercely in the eyes. “I don’t love, and couldn’t love, anyone but you. You must know that.”

“I do, and you know that I return the feelings wholeheartedly.”


Bayeel narrowed his eyes. “There’s something else that you aren’t telling me.” The eyes of the boy in his arms widened and he stepped back again. The mood instantly went back to darkness.

“I’d forgotten. Gonvee has been with our family for about two months now and I’ve been promised to him by my parents, much to his delight,” he broke off and swallowed, Bayeel waited. Jevair looked at him, his eyes sad and urgent at the same time. “He knows about us. Bayeel, he knows.” Jevair’s voice was strained and Bayeel stiffened.

“Has he said anything?”

“Nothing to anyone but me,” Jevair responded with a quick shake of his head.

“What did he say to you?” He asked cautiously, keeping his voice checked. He didn’t like the rough, older man named Gonvee. They’d met when Bayeel was working in the yard and Jevair and Gonvee came by, walking together. Bayeel knew that Jevair was merely entertaining the guest who was the son of his parent’s friends. Jevair had stopped and introduced them and they had a bit of a conversation. Of course, he was looked down on for the entire conversation because he was of lower class than the other two and Gonvee didn’t overlook it the way Jevair did.

“He stopped me on the stairs and told me that he knew what I was hiding. Of course I asked him what he was talking about but he only gave me a look and said, and I quote, ‘I believe that the help in the garden has taken on another position. I suggest you tell him to resume his original hired duties or I shall have to take it up with the master of the house’.”

Bayeel felt the fire rise up in him at the threat against himself and his Jevair. He stepped forward and took Jevair’s hands in his own. He couldn’t think of anything to say, oddly enough, so he simply leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the younger boy’s forehead. “I promise that nothing is going to happen to us.”

“Do you often like to break your promises?” a new, yet familiar, voice asked mockingly. The two of them turned as one toward the sound. Gonvee was smirking at the both of them, looking smug.

After some quick thought, Bayeel decided on a course of action. “I do not,” he answered firmly, looking the other directly in the eyes.

“It’s a shame then that that must be the case. Whenever a man must do as he dislikes it is a disgraceful situation,” the older boy said, walking toward the two of them.

“What do you want from us? You don’t even want me, our parents arranged everything,” Jevair said, and Bayeel could see and hear the anger.

“I want you only because you are legally my property, and I do not like to be stolen from,” Gonvee said angrily, stepping forward again. Bayeel implanted himself between the two.

“Perhaps I don’t like being stolen from either, Gonvee. Like you’ve said before, the poor have got to hold on to what riches they have, and protect them as far as they can. It just so happens that I was with Jevair first.”

“It just so happens that you have no right to be with him. You’re as common as dirt. Besides, if no one knows, there’s nothing that’s to be done about it. Besides, do you think that our families are going to step back and let the two of you be together because it’s what you want? This is for money and property, it has nothing to do with anyone’s will.”

“Don’t you have plenty money and property? And if you don’t care about being with him, why fight this so much? Why not just put up appearances?” A desperate stab at logic could be effective, though it was doubtful and he knew it.

“I do and I’d like to add to it. As for the fighting, he’s been declared mine. Whether I care about him or not, he’s mine and I’m not sharing him or letting him be stolen from me by someone who sleeps in the shrubs and can be found a dozen the same of in town.”

Jevair seemed to have gotten out of his shock and he stepped forward. “Stop, both of you, let’s work something out-”

“Stop referring to him as your property,” Bayeel growled, interrupting Jevair midsentence. He wasn’t interested in compromises or in peace. Even if he still got to be with Jevair—which was extremely unlikely—Gonvee would mistreat him under his hand. Already the young man showed no regard whatsoever to Jevair, he was like cattle to the oldest boy.

“Would you like to see the documents making him my property? It’s the only title I can bestow upon him in our present situation,” Gonvee said haughtily. Then he turned to Jevair, “Call down your dog.”

That made Jevair step forward and get close to Gonvee, anger radiating off of him. “Don’t call him that. And I will not go with you back to your estate. I do, after all, have some say in the matter.”

“And are you going to propose that thing,” he gestured to Bayeel, “as your suitor? Tell me, how will your parents take that?”

“It’s none of your concern as you will be gone by the time I make any proposal,” Jevair answered stiffly. He was tense and Bayeel himself felt up to this challenge of sorts.

“Don’t worry Gonvee, I’m sure anyone would want to snatch you up for your charming manner and needlepoint wit,” he said. Bayeel could see the way the remark made the other man’s blood boil, and it amused him.

“If that’s as far as you’ll go to protect your “riches”, I’m afraid that you’re going to lose anyway,” the man’s tone was dark and he looked suddenly bigger.

Bayeel matched the look and said, without looking away, “Test me.”

Gonvee’s hand slipped out of sight for a moment, but it came back with a glinting piece of metal in it, a weeding knife. Before Bayeel or Jevair could act, Gonvee had Jevair pinned to him by the chest, his knife touching the flesh on his neck. “If he were to die, I’d still get his money and his name. His death is no consequence to me. Wouldn’t you rather he live?”

Bayeel was frozen. The anger in him was erupting against the insides of his head, telling him to strike out and save the only person he ever loved. He knew, though, that Gonvee would be quick to act with the knife and that he wanted that reaction. He held himself in place and waited a few moments for his anger to calm down, meeting Jevair’s eyes. Jevair was standing perfectly still and there was no expression on his face. He was going to leave the decision up to Bayeel.

“It sounds as if, either way, I lose,” he said quietly.

“That’s the point. After all, you asked me to test you.”

“Under what circumstances would you use that?” he asked, gesturing to the knife. He wanted his options, his path of travel.

“If you don’t act, the knife will only go further and further along his skin, keeping along the point it’s at,” Gonvee said with a cruel smile. Bayeel checked and Jevair would die; still the boy didn’t look concerned. He waited and determined that Gonvee wasn’t going to reveal any more of his plans.

Jevair let out a cry and Bayeel was able to see that there was now cut on the pale neck, it was deep and it was already bleeding more than he was comfortable with. At the sight, he snapped and all reason or caution was thrown away. He leapt at the older man and successfully drew his love out of the man’s arms. There was a jolt in his side and he knew immediately that it was the knife even before the pain set in.

He fell to the ground, his connection to his legs failing. Bayeel heard Jevair let out another cry and felt him drop down beside him, on his knees. He sighed in relief that the other boy wasn’t injured any more.

He wasn’t completely sure what was going on as he couldn’t really get a hold on his surroundings, the only thing that he really knew was that only Gonvee was still standing and Jevair was kneeling down by him. The next thing he was aware of, Jevair said, “Why?” His tone was tight and angry, still fighting, and Bayeel would have smiled to himself if he could.

“He had it coming to him, now get up!” Gonvee said and Bayeel could hear him coming closer and grabbing Jevair, pulling him up to his feet. From his place on the ground, he saw Jevair pull his arm out of the grip of the taller, older man. Painfully, he rolled himself onto his back so as to be able, in his final moments, to watch Jevair.

“No. I’m not going with you. I’m never going with you. When they try to drag me away, I’ll tell all of them about how you murdered Bayeel in cold blood because of your greed. I’ll tell them how you stabbed him and left him to die, just so you could get me. Then they’ll know what you really are and you’ll lose your claim to everything.” His voice was shaking a little in a mixture of anger and holding back tears and his hands were clenched into fists by his side.

“Well, in that case.” Bayeel watched, horrified, as Gonvee stepped forward, grabbed Jevair by surprise, and pulled him toward his knife. The two of them watched as the younger boy fell right next to Bayeel. He was gasping for breath and he looked up at Gonvee only to spit out blood. “Like I said, your death is of no consequence to me.” Then he turned, threw the knife into a rosebush and walked away, leaving the two of them bleeding to death.

Bayeel—the injury in his side starting to take greater effects—reached out weakly for Jevair who, because his wound was more serious being in his stomach, struggled to lay into his side. Bayeel put a hand on Jevair’s head and drew the boy into his chest, his black hair resting just below his chin.

Jevair was failing quickly, chest heaving, body shaking. Bayeel did all he could to make him comfortable and to steady him. At the same time, he could feel himself becoming more distant to the environment around him. “I love you, Jevair,” he whispered as his vision began to tunnel.

“And I love you, Bayeel,” Jevair gasped out, going limp in his arms, not dead quite yet. That was when Bayeel’s vision went completely black, though, and he relaxed himself into this new sleep.


The lights went down and Brendon pushed himself up a little as Ryan sat up. Brendon flashed him a smile seconds before the audience went up in applause and cheers. Ryan took Brendon’s offered hand and pulled himself up to standing. Brendon kept a firm hold of his hand and they walked to the edge of the stage where they bowed together. Then, Jeffry joined them from where he’d exited and he got his chance to bow by himself. Brendon stepped out and bowed by himself, and then he gently nudged Ryan into taking his spot to do his individual bow.

It seemed like the applause and the cheers and the shouts intensified as he bent at the waist in front of them all. There were people screaming Bayeel’s name and he couldn’t help the tiny smile that jumped to his face. It seemed much longer than the mere seconds he was bowing, and when he stood up, Brendon motioned for him to follow.

They went backstage with the audience still erupting behind them and he could tell that the lights went down. Brendon turned to him, looking awestruck. “That was the best Bayeel we’ve seen. Ryan, you were breathtaking. I don’t have the words to tell you what an incredible job you did. You don’t need me to tell you, though. Those people are still cheering, most of them for you by the sound of it.”

Mason, Alistair, and Erik came up just then. They, too, looked like they’d seen some kind of miracle performed. Alistair wrapped his arms around the both of them, pulling them both into his skinny, tall frame. “I am so proud of the two of you, you especially Ryan. I teared up at your death. It’s not possible for me to count the number of times I’ve seen a stage-death.”

“Me too. That was heart-wrenching. You made me want to go out and kill that son of a bitch, not that that’s an unusual thought for me,” Mason said. His eyes were gleaming and he looked proud as well. “I’ve taught myself how to separate my emotions and control them. While you two were performing I wasn’t able to tell the difference between how I was really feeling and how I was feeling for the show, though.”

“I think,” Erik said, “that we should honor this success, especially of our newest member who has gotten uproarious applause at every one of his performances, at the celebration.”

“Yes, definitely, there’s no question about it,” Mason said, smiling between Ryan and Brendon.

“Celebration?” Ryan asked.

“Yes. After the performance every week we go back to the building and have a celebration to a successful performance. We also honor different people every week, those that have done exceedingly well,” Brendon said. “The last part is nothing really official and it’s not in front of everyone, but it does mean something.”

Laura came over then, Mike behind her. She gave Ryan a soft look, expressing everything that she had to say to him in it, her pride in him and her congratulations. “What are we waiting around for? It’s time to celebrate another successful performance!”
Three things (there's probably more):
1. For an idea about the way I've pictured M&L's dance, go here: but make it less slutty, angry, and obviously no lines. And I picture the parts where the girls are dancing with the guys.

2. This was supposed to be at the end of the last chapter. My bad. The Head Satisfier's mask:

3. Thank you, all, again for the reads, the support, the comments. It all makes me feel really good about what I'm choosing to spend my time on. (Nice going to anyone that guessed that Ryan's identity would be discovered soon, but especially to ReddyDevil who shared the thought.)

I'm forgetting something, but I'll go now because this is extremely long as it is without all of my rambling. As always, Rate and Review?

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