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

Act 5

by GealachGirl 2 reviews

He's got his experience and life's finally treating him well. There's still stuff to learn though. There always is.

Category: Panic! At The Disco - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Romance - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2012-06-10 - Updated: 2012-06-11 - 8518 words - Complete

I remembered the other thing that I was going to say. If anyone can tell me who Erik is modeled after without Googling it, you're awesome and you get, like 300 points. I won't obviously know if you cheat or not, but you'll know if you deserve the points and the added awesome-ness and I'm trusting guilt. To the two people who have said that I should turn this into a novel: Maybe. Maybe. There's already something that I'm planning on doing book-wise, but I'll think about this. And thank you, that is a serious compliment and it made me really feel good. Thank you to everyone who rates and reviews and even reads this damn thing, I'm talking to you, shy people. Since others might be wondering: As of right here, right now, the only people who know about Ryan are Spencer, Laura, and Mike. That's it. Enjoy!

Three weeks and three performances later, Ryan stood in the practice room during his third celebration for the most recent performance. The music was loud and lively and people were dancing and talking and the energy in the room ran high. Ryan smiled to himself and tipped his glass of champagne back a little. The bubbly drink wasn’t his favorite but it matched the mood in the room and Brendon always insisted that he have at least one drink.

The two of them had completed another week of a skit together and another pair dance that was the biggest and most complicated yet. It still had the elegance and grace to it of the first one, making it clear that Mason worked really hard on tailoring it to the two of them.

A group moved past him and it was still startling to see all of the Performers with blank faces. During the celebration it was custom to remove your mask and your make-up since there was no work being done and they were all in the privacy of their own company. There wasn’t anything really incredible about it, it was just a little strange since he’d grown up believing to avoid seeing them that way. Nothing bad had happened to him yet, though.


The first celebration it freaked him out. As soon as they walked through the doors, Brendon had removed his own mask and started scrubbing the make-up off of his face. It was Creator-made so of course it came off easily a certain way. Ryan didn’t know what was going on so he just watched. When Brendon was done, he took Ryan’s mask off and told him how to remove the make-up.

“We’re supposed to take it off?” he asked, unsure and not wanting to break any rules or offend anyone after the successful performance.

“Yeah. Right now we’re people and we’re around our family so it’s natural to be ourselves with our family. You wouldn’t believe how good it feels,” Brendon responded. Without the make-up the other boy looked younger and even more innocent. His skin was as pale as the rest of him and his lips were full. Having the mask and make-up off made his dark brown eyes more pronounced and somehow deeper. All in all, Ryan liked him without having things covering his face up.

So, Ryan started removing the make-up, no matter how good it felt to be covered up and protected. When it was off, it was kind of nice though. He looked up and saw Brendon staring at his face. “What’s wrong?” he asked, worried. Was he being recognized or was there something in his face that showed that he wasn’t a Performer somehow?

“Nothing’s wrong. You just look really good without the mask and the make-up. I like it.” He had a small, shy-looking smile on his face that Ryan wasn’t accustomed to. It still gave him a tingling feeling though, just like his wide grins.

“Oh, you too.”

Brendon’s smile grew and he laughed a little, taking his hand. “Come on, let’s go into the party. You don’t even know what you’ve been missing out on.”

It had been wonderful. The food was great, the atmosphere was alive, and Ryan felt completely at ease around the Performers, even with his mask off. A lot of people came up and congratulated him and told him that he did very well for his first week. It was all really flattering, especially when they did the informal honoring.

The whole time, just like during the week, Brendon was right by his side. He explained some of the different things and how it was supposed to just be a party where everyone relaxed and celebrated the successes that they might have had. Ryan noticed, though, that Mason, Alistair, and Erik were missing. So he asked about it.

Brendon sighed. “As I’ve told you before, the three of them never stop. They’re probably in the music den coming up with more new ideas, for the week after this next one. They never stop planning. They do mess around, though. Suffice to say, the three of them are interesting, hard-working people.”

“The Performers do benefit from having them,” Ryan observed.

Brendon nodded. “We do. Every idea they come up with is great anyway. It’s a strange mixture of serious, never stop working, and older brother, always there for me, always involved in everything. I decided a long time ago that it’s exhausting being them and I’m not going to crack my brain trying to figure out how they do it.”

Ryan had to smile at that. “They’re good people. That’s all that matters.”

“You’re right. They’re good people and they do good things.” Then Brendon turned out and they watched the other people again for a little bit until Brendon pulled Ryan into a dance at one point and they got into the party.

Later, much later, when the party was over, Ryan was walking home and he was hoping to see Spencer again. This time there was going to be more than just a few pleasantries, though. He had questions. The world decided to work with him and he did happen to come across the other boy.

“Hello Ryan. How is your life going, now? Well done today,” Spencer said with a smile. He’d dropped down from a rooftop right in front of him so Ryan had to assume that Spencer had been looking for him.

“Thank you, and it’s been going well. I have questions though and I expect answers,” he responded. The younger boy just raised an eyebrow.

“You’re going to make demands of an Assassin? Your life must be going well. Then again, you’re also the only person to pin an Assassin against a wall without thought,” Spencer said contemplatively. “Okay, what are your questions?”

“You said that the disguise stops working when you act ‘true to your nature’, right?” Spencer nodded. “Then why, when I danced with Brendon, and he kissed me onstage, why didn’t my skin change back? It’s been like that all week. The dance does have us really close together and then there’s that one kiss during the skit at the end, but my skin didn’t change.”

Spencer seemed to think about it for a second, then it looked like he knew exactly what it was. “Okay. The Performer skin is more durable because of all of that. There are times when you might have to pretend to be violent, so for me, it would be better that it didn’t change back to this when I went to perform that. It’s just stronger than the others. Somehow it’s able to tell when what you’re doing is for show or for real. If any of it is real, if you were really kissed or something, it changes back.”

“Oh, I know,” he muttered. Still, Spencer must have heard it because his eyes widened and he asked what happened. “It was late at night and it involved a drunk man. It’s nothing.”

“No seriously, I don’t have anything to do right now, tell me about it.” They were still walking and Ryan thought he recognized the street, he couldn’t remember what for though. He just raised his eyebrow and Spencer gave him a look. “Last time you told me about your problems, your life got a hell of a lot better.”

Ryan couldn’t argue with that logic. “I was basically walking out when a drunk Performer grabbed me and pulled me into his room. Nothing happened. I was on the bed and I pushed him away, but he pushed me down on the mattress on my stomach and held my head down while he set it up so I was in a ready position. That was when the skin came off and my real one came forward.”

Spencer nodded and was quiet. Then he looked at Ryan. “Well, keep going, tell me how it ended. You obviously haven’t been arrested. What did you do?”

“I hit him. Since it was dark I figured that he probably couldn’t see the change, and the fact that he was probably too drunk to notice anyway,” he said, shrugging. He’d gotten over it. It was an accident and he’d pretty much pushed it completely out of his head.

“There’s still something,” Spencer said suspiciously, eyes narrowed, mouth in a thin line.

“What are you talking about?” Ryan asked.

“There’s still something on your mind. It might not be something wrong, but it’s on your mind and it’s picking at you. Come on, you know I’m right,” Spencer prodded. Ryan sighed and tried to think. Almost instantly, he came up with what it was, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to admit it to the Assassin. He barely wanted to admit it to himself.

Spencer had stopped walking and talking and was simply looking at him. His eyes made it look like he was thinking hard about something. “That Performer boy that you danced with and were in the skit with is pretty cute,” he said off-handedly, starting to walk again.

“Brendon? Oh yeah, and you should see him without his mask on,” the realization dawned on him and he looked over at the other boy. “Fuck you.” Spencer was just looking smug.

“So… I was right. There is something else, or someone. Care to talk about this one?”

“No, I don’t. Actually I want you to completely drop the subject,” Ryan said, not looking at Spencer. He could see the look of concern in his peripheral vision and simply narrowed his eyes into space.

“Be careful Ryan. You know that nothing can happen between the two of you,” Spencer warned quietly, voice completely serious. He’d stopped and turned to Ryan, so Ryan did the same thing. He met the other boy’s eyes and saw the sober light to them. Quickly he shut down his feelings, not wanting the onslaught to deal with.

“I know,” he said tonelessly, going back to looking straight ahead. Spencer bit his lip and it looked like he was thinking again. Then there was a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t say that this was a perfect solution. You’re strong though, I know that you’ll be okay no matter what happens,” Spencer said softly. He was standing still and he didn’t move until Ryan acknowledged the words with a nod of his head. “Alright, I have to go, now. I’ll see you some other time.” Ryan only nodded again and Spencer was off.

He turned and saw that he was in the place with the fountain. Suddenly tired, he sat himself on the edge of the fountain, feeling the light spray on his back. He hadn’t changed out of the disguise yet and he knew that he needed to but he didn’t want to let go after such an incredible day. The idea made him feel like if he didn’t hold onto it for as long as he could, it would just fade into all the other days of his life. Ryan’s subconscious told him that he needed to get back to the Satisfiers’ building, and he couldn’t go there dressed the way he was.

With a heavy sigh, he tugged at the collar of his shirt and watched as he was suddenly dressed in black and gold again with a little cube sitting by his feet. Ryan looked at it and let the day play through his head, the performance and the celebration. He relived every feeling he’d had all day, the fear, the excitement, every feeling that he’d had with every performance. Then he remembered all the events of the celebration with the people he was tentatively calling his friends. Ryan tried to remember the light feeling he’d had around them and when he was up on the stage, performing.

With another sigh, Ryan bent down and picked the little cube up off of the ground, turning it in his fingers. He braced his hands on the wall of the fountain and pushed himself up, turning to look once at the shooting water before leaving.


That was three weeks ago when everything was brand new. Now he had experience under his belt, though he was far from being an expert. Brendon treated him like one; he treated him like a master Performer just because he’d been through three successful performances. Ryan tried to get him to stop; telling him that just because he hadn’t completely screwed anything up didn’t mean he was good. Then Brendon would remind him of the applause he got.

“There you are, I was wondering if you were hiding from me,” the black-haired, dark eyed Performer said, coming up to him. Ryan had gotten used to the look of his eyes, the way to read them and the different things that they expressed.

“I wouldn’t hide from you. Why would I hide from you? Is there something that I would get from doing it?” he asked, trying to soothe the other boy’s worries. For some reason there were times when Brendon seemed anxious that he was going to leave or break completely away from him. It was strange and Ryan wondered why the confident boy ever felt that way. He had other people around him that liked him and were his friends, so Ryan didn’t know what was so important about him or why Brendon felt insecure about his staying around like the others.

“I don’t know. I just like to know that you’re still here. Especially since I know that you understand. I mean, we are friends, right?” The boy didn’t elaborate any further and looked around the room.

Ryan nodded at the question, knowing that it was rhetorical. It was more for his own sake than for Brendon’s anyway, a way of knocking sense into himself. That statement was true though, at least he hoped. Ryan knew that he wanted to be Brendon’s friend, and he knew that they were probably friends now. He had to wonder how long they had been though. That was the part about friendship that he didn’t like, it wasn’t always clear when it happened and you weren’t able to ask the other person.

The reason he thought that they were probably friends was all that they went through together. Still, after three weeks, they did everything together. They always ended up getting the same skit scripts and—because of its convenience—they were still partners for the pair dances. Ryan could feel the hatred that that invoked in Jeffry, too.

The Head Performer’s hatred just grew day by day and he insisted on doing things with Brendon and Ryan. Every day, when everyone first came into the practice room, he took Brendon aside, even when Brendon might protest. It set Ryan on edge.

Brendon didn’t like the other Performer, but he didn’t think anything more of him. Ryan, though, he knew people better than all the other Performers did. He knew about the dishonesty and the corruptness that people outside of the Performers’ building could have. He knew about the people who would do anything that could benefit themselves. He didn’t trust the Head Performer.

Still, Ryan admired and kind of wished for the unsuspecting nature that Brendon had. Ryan knew that Brendon was probably suspicious of the Head Performer’s intentions, but he didn’t really expend too much thought on the matter and chose to just not trust the man instead.

He could still remember the last week, when Jeffry really started to make his might known.


It was the first day back after the first performance and the first celebration. All of the sounds and sights, and the way everyone looked without a mask or make up were still in Ryan’s mind. Approaching the Performers’ building was more exciting than usual. Now that he knew what everything he did led up to and how it felt, he couldn’t wait to get back to work.

Walking through the doors, he was only a minute or two ahead of the crowd but he wasn’t worried. Brendon was at the front and as soon as he saw him, he broke away and threw himself at Ryan, arms around his neck. Surprised, Ryan returned the hug, but let go as soon as Brendon did. Brendon was still holding onto his upper arms though.

Brendon was smiling and there was something in his eyes that Ryan wasn’t sure of. “Are you ready for this week?” Brendon asked, sounding the same and making Ryan catalogue the look as ‘just a Brendon thing’, a file in the back of his brain that was getting bigger and bigger.

“Yeah, how about you?” he asked.

“I’m always ready for everything that we do here. I’m ready for everything that goes on in the walls of this building,” the boy said confidently, eyes shining. Ryan kind of doubted it but he couldn’t help laughing at the way Brendon said it.

The doors opened and they walked into the practice room together, still talking. That was when Ryan could feel the drop in temperature at his back and when he turned to see Jeffry standing there behind him and Brendon.

“Brendon, come here, I have to talk to you.”

“Can’t it wait? I’m talking to Ryan about something.”

Jeffry’s gaze just got colder, though the flame in his eyes jumped brighter. “No. Come with me, now. You can maybe talk to him later.” The Head Performer picked up on the way that Brendon was more naïve and the last part, along with the look, was directed at Ryan.

When he finally came back, it looked as if some of the light had been sucked out of Brendon’s usual attitude. He didn’t say anything about it, though. All he said was, “Come on, let’s get to work on something.” Then he walked over to another part of the room with Ryan following.


“Brendon, come over here. I have to talk to you.” Jeffry’s inevitable voice floated over to them, over the sounds of the party. Of course when Ryan was thinking about that, it would happen. Brendon looked pained and like he wanted to pretend he hadn’t heard it, but at the impatient sound of Jeffry clearing his throat, he straightened and went to him. Ryan watched him go, feeling pained for him. He glanced around the room for Mike, Laura, Mason, and Alistair. Erik was probably in the music den but Ryan still kept an eye out for him.

Ryan wished that he knew what the Head Performer said, but Brendon never talked about it. He didn’t even brighten up until an hour or so later. Ryan knew that Laura and Mike noticed and that they were enraged. He also knew that Mason saw it because there was always a point, usually before he got back to Ryan, where Mason went over to talk to him. Their conversations lasted a while, too. Sometimes, Alistair would come up to Ryan and start working with him on something or talking to him until Mason and Brendon were done.

This time, though, Ryan wanted to wait. Now that he knew Brendon better—and now without his mask on—he thought it might be easier to read what had happened in the boy’s face.

It was a while; it even seemed longer than usual. This time, Brendon only spoke with Mason a little before moving back to Ryan. Instantly, like a true Performer, Ryan was able to tell that Brendon was covering his facial expression up. The Performers all knew how to do that. They knew that everyone else could read their thoughts on their face, so—though they weren’t all that good at it—they worked to cover up their facial expressions. Still, Ryan observed that Satisfiers—him especially—were much better at it.

“Hello again Ryan. So, how do you feel about the performance? I know that everyone else thought it was good and they thought you did well. How do you think you did?”

Ryan rolled his eyes at the last part, but he was kind of confused and alarmed at Brendon not even offering a fake explanation as to why Jeffry called him over. He might not say anything about what they’d talked about, but he always had some reason ready to be told.

“I don’t know. All that I know is that it still felt amazing. Everything still felt brand new. I really love the guitar. Even more than the first time that I played it.” He tried to put as much enthusiasm into the answer as he could.

“Erik says you’re doing really well. Apparently you’re moving along faster than anyone he’s ever taught, even me. You’re doing really complicated things already and you’re learning it in minutes.” Brendon was smiling and it wasn’t fake, but Ryan thought he saw something different in his eyes. It looked kind of like worry.

“I don’t know, I guess. I don’t know that it’s that big of a deal.”

“It is, trust me.” It was all gone, now. Any sign that Brendon might be unsettled was no longer visible. It was the great disappearing act, the one that Ryan was the master of. Brendon was performing it very well, though. Ryan tried not to frown.

“Come on, let’s go celebrate. It was another good show.” And with that, he and Brendon moved out to actually do what they were supposed to with everyone else. It was a time to relax and not worry about the next week unless you were Mason, Alistair, or Erik.

Ryan was having a good enough time. The dancing was fun, the music was good, and the food was the best he’d ever had. It was all the same as the first one and the second one but it was still great and Ryan could tell by looking at Brendon that that never changed. He was worried about Brendon though. The Performer never looked troubled; he always seemed to be walking on air and Ryan didn’t like the idea of something bad happening, especially to Brendon.

A little bit later, Ryan was watching a small group of five Performers doing some kind of routine dance that involved acrobatics. He’d never seen anything like it and he was enthralled. He felt a tap on his shoulder though and that got him out of it.

Brendon was standing there and he motioned for Ryan to follow him. Only somewhat reluctantly, Ryan did. They stopped on the other side of the room and Brendon turned to him, there was a small smile on his face and it lifted Ryan’s spirits a bit. “Come with me,” he whispered, before going out the door. Ryan followed, curious.

As they walked, though, he figured out where they were going and he smiled a little as they climbed the second set of stairs and went down the hall. Brendon opened the door for him and Ryan slipped inside. The box was just as wonderfully peaceful as the first time he’d seen it. Brendon walked up to the edge again with a faint smile on his face.

Ryan followed him and leaned on the edge. “Why are we up here and not celebrating?”

“I’m not in the mood right now.” Ryan straightened. “Can I talk to you?”

“Yeah. Brendon of course you can talk to me. What is it?”

Brendon sighed and turned to sink back into one of the old chairs that people would sit in to witness these performances. There was another beside it that Ryan lowered himself into. He waited for Brendon to start but it looked like he was just thinking. “Is there something wrong? I’ve never seen you like this,” he prompted.

“No, I don’t think anything’s wrong. I wanted to talk, though. I, just, I, you’re my friend and I don’t know all that much about you like I do about the others because I haven’t grown up with you. I don’t know, um,” Ryan had never seen Brendon stutter or stumble. “We could ask each other questions or something,” he said, looking at Ryan. “I just want the quiet and I don’t want to be interrupted or overheard. Sorry if this is weird.” He must have caught the look on Ryan’s face.

“It’s alright. It just seems kind of random, that’s all. You’re right though,” he said, swallowing past the apprehension that rose up at the thought of talking about himself. “We don’t know much about each other.”

Brendon seemed to relax at the thought of Ryan understanding what he meant and a smile spread onto his face. It just held like that for a moment or two and something about the smile and his eyes seemed to soften a little. He snapped out of it before Ryan could be sure. “I’ll start?” Ryan nodded and motioned for him to go ahead. “Alright. Well, you already know about how I’ve been here since I was little. I should summarize the years, starting with the first day. Trust me, you’ll always remember your first day at the Performers’ building. Everyone does.”

“I can understand that.”

Brendon laughed a little. “It’s quite a memorable experience. I was about seven when my parents died so I already knew about what it was that Performers were supposed to do here because of the Instructors. Being orphaned, the Head Performer was in charge of me, it was his decision whether or not I continue going to the Instructors or I just learned from here. He said that the best way to learn about the Performers was by experience and by being around them, so I came here.

“The deaths were really recent so I was still upset, though no one ever told me they’d died, I knew. I was also kind of excited because I wanted to see my mask and I was proud that I got to be there so soon. Still, I was seven so I was even more scared than most ten year olds are. The last Head Performer met me at the door since I was dropped off by the late Head of Heads and because I’d met him before and trusted him. It was all really nice, he sort of hugged me and he just talked to me, asking if I was alright and if I was excited. Then he told me that I would be okay and he brought me into the building.

“All of this was while everyone else was practicing so it was just the two of us. He took me to the room where all of the masks materialize and he gave me mine, putting it on my face and telling me that it was one of the most important things that I would ever own.

“Then he took me to the practice room. Here’s something that you’ll never guess. The three masters, Alistair, Erik, and Mason, they were all early additions too. It was because they were so ahead with their Instructor and a Performer went to see them at his recommendation. So they were brought here when they were only eight because of their talents. By the time I got here they were nine.

“Anyway, everyone was taking a little break and Alistair bounced up, dragging Mason behind him. Yes, Mason was shy back then,” Brendon said, noticing Ryan’s look of surprise. “Erik was right behind them, head in his music and walking a little slower. He looked up though when they stopped in front of me. They were the first people I met and I’ll spare you the details, I’m sure you can imagine how it went. They pretty much dragged me off and practically adopted me after that day. I’ve been under their wings since.

“Then there was Laura. She and Mike weren’t together then, obviously, since they were probably eleven. I was completely overwhelmed and Alistair wasn’t helping. Mason had warmed up to me, being the most protective already, and Erik was there but he was being his spacey self. Laura came up and shooed them away, though, telling them to go work their hyper asses at doing something productive, those words too. She knelt down in front of me and asked me my name and if I was the new Performer that they’d been hearing about.

“Since day one she’s been my mom. She always made sure that I was being included and that I was okay. She’s probably the person who knows the most about me.

“Then there’s Jeffry. He came along when he was ten, so it was a year later and all of the Performers in the building loved me by then. They all taught me stuff and they loved watching me practice whatever they were doing. Jeffry was especially interested in me for some reason. Then, when I was nine, the Head Performer died and Jeffry became the new one.

“I never paid him much attention and I tried to avoid him. Well, it came to bite me in the ass. When I was fifteen, so he was seventeen, he claimed me as his. That way, I couldn’t ignore him anymore. And that brings us to here and now.” Brendon finished and there was a sadness and a vulnerability that had crept in at the end. Up until then, he’d been practically glowing, talking about everything that had happened and meeting all the people that he loved. Now he seemed sad and distant and Ryan felt a strange ache in his chest at the sight.

Ryan opened his mouth to speak but Brendon interrupted him. “It’s your turn now. I’m intrigued to learn why your parents kept you so long, or what you did that long.”

The wave of nervous nausea that washed over him was overwhelming and he could only sit there to get a grip on his nerves and his words. That was when there was a sound from down on the stage. It was the sound of the voice projectors being turned on. Brendon sat upright.

“Shit,” he whispered. He looked over the edge and grabbed Ryan’s hand. “Come on, we have to go, fast. Jeffry told me that he was going to make an announcement.” Then they were running.

Ryan didn’t know how, but they were there before Jeffry began whatever announcement he had to make. He was breathing hard and so was Brendon, but at least they made it.

“It’s getting late now. Actually, it’s time for the celebration to be over. I just wanted to make a quick announcement before you go back to your rooms or back to your homes for those of you that are paired off and have left us. The announcement has to do with rooms, actually.” Everyone was restless, they were milling around by the door, obviously wanting to get to bed so they could be ready for the next day. Something about all of this made Ryan nervous.

“Tonight, there will be another vacant bed as tonight, Brendon will be joining me in my room. After all, it is about time.”

Beside him, Brendon had stilled. His back was ramrod straight and he was stiff, staring into space with a blank look on his face. There was a little tremor that was barely visible, but Ryan could see it. It was almost like the other boy was vibrating. Ryan didn’t dare reach out to touch him. Instead he looked at the stage and was able to see that Jeffry was standing there, smirking and looking quite pleased with himself.

“You are all dismissed to go to your beds. Brendon, stay behind so I can show you the way.”

The crowd started to move and Ryan knew that he really had to get back to his real life. Brendon was still standing stock still and now Ryan reached out to touch his arm lightly as a goodbye, moving toward the doors. It didn’t look like Brendon had even noticed the touch. Ryan bit his lip but he had to go, there was no question of stalling anymore.

It probably wasn’t going to be easy slipping out among all of the people. Usually he left a few minutes before everyone so it was easier, but no one was really paying much attention. Most of them seemed to be exhausted or slightly to severely drunk. Slipping out may be easier tonight than he thought.

Sure enough, the amount of people by the doors was ridiculous and Ryan was very easily able to go through without being noticed. He started walking toward the place where his bed—or rather, his corner—was.

As he walked, he noticed that he was pretty tired himself. Not for the first time, he considered finding somewhere to sleep and staying there. Then the rational part of his brain kicked back in and he kept walking, taking the long route.

It was too late for anyone else to be out. After all, it was long past curfew and the only people out would be the Performers walking back home, the Assassins and him.

While he was walking, he thought about the story that Brendon had told him. It was one thing to never know your parents, but to be seven when they died, to be able to remember them clearly, was something else. Brendon was fortunate in the way that he had the Performers to go to, though. They all welcomed him with open arms and they loved him and he was raised with all of the care and love that two parents could provide, just with more people. All in all, his story worked out to be happy. Well, until now.

Now Jeffry decided to force Brendon into his bed. He shuddered, no, he wasn’t going to think about that. The thought was too disturbing. He couldn’t dwell on the fact that the dark-eyed Performer wasn’t going to be the same anymore.

Ryan really wished that Spencer would drop down and talk to him so he could be distracted from this train of thought that was going to make him crazy. There wasn’t much point in wishing though so he kept walking. He shook his head at himself. When had wishing ever gotten him anywhere?

Once again, his mind drifted back to the talk in the box. Brendon wanted to know his history. That was just brilliant. Ryan almost thanked Jeffry for calling his announcement when he did, it saved Ryan a lot of trouble. Then he pictured the look on Brendon’s face at the actual announcement and he took it back.

Ryan had known all along that, if he wasn’t already, Jeffry was going to ask for something more. It wasn’t just going to be the kisses and holds during practice. And, since he was the Head, he was going to get whatever it was that he wanted from Brendon. Ryan only wished for him to be gentle and that he wouldn’t be cruel about it, for Brendon’s sake.

With a heavy sigh, he sat down, feeling lucky that there was a bench there since he hadn’t known about it prior to sitting. Obviously he wasn’t going to be able to get the drama that was going on at the Performers’ building off of his mind. Unreasonably, Ryan kind of hoped that the Head Satisfier was going to be waiting for him when he got back, just to give him something else to think about.

Ryan took the whole thing as a lesson. Life wasn’t fair and it wasn’t going to do you favors. You could have a life of absolute shit for most of your life until you found happiness, like Ryan. You could also have a life of happiness for a long time until it started to go downhill, like Brendon. Or you could get power and have influence over everyone under you like the Heads had. Even the Head of Heads, the person who was supposed to make sure things were fair and that life was semi-tolerable, had power but he didn’t do anything. As far as anyone knew, he didn’t know what was going on with his people. No one had even seen him since the Masking Ceremony.

Disappointment. That’s what you got when you expected things or when you tried looking for the “right thing”. That was Ryan’s experience anyway. He was actually kind of thankful for the reminder; it would keep him from developing any more feelings for people he wasn’t even supposed to know.

There it was. He’d finally admitted it to himself. Ryan let his head drop. Spencer had warned him, but hell, he shouldn’t even know Spencer. He shook his head a few times, uselessly. Why did things have to be so complicated?


Ryan’s head snapped up in disbelief. No, it couldn’t be. But when he looked, he saw the silver and white clad body standing about fifteen feet away from him. He stood up, sure that his mind was playing tricks on him now. But, no, the Performer was moving toward him.

“Brendon? What the fuck are you doing out here?”

“I could ask you the same question.” There was a smile on the Performer’s face though, showing that he was only teasing.

“But, Jeffry, and how long has it been since the end of the celebration?” Ryan had the haunting feeling that more time had passed than he realized. Now it was imperative for him to know, so he could maybe make an estimate about what was going to happen next.

Brendon looked like he was thinking for a second. “Maybe a half hour? Give or take a few minutes. It might be longer,” he answered with a shrug.

That didn’t tell him anything even though he started at the information. A half hour? He’d been out for a half hour, maybe longer. “What happened?” Ryan asked. Things weren’t making sense and only Brendon could tell him what was going on.

Brendon walked closer and they started walking, the two of them. “Everyone was leaving, the room was pretty much empty, and I was still standing there because I’m a good boy. He got off the stage and came over to me.” Brendon closed his eyes. “Jeffry put his arm around my waist and he kissed me. Then he started to turn me toward the secret door that leads to the Head’s room. He took me up the stairs and into the room. It is a rather pretty room even for the person who owns it. Jeffry started unbuttoning my shirt.” Brendon shuddered a little and opened his eyes again. “I couldn’t let anything happen, so I told him that I had to use the bathroom. There’s one connected to the room and he let me go to it, telling me to be quick.” Brendon paused and seemed to be trying to rid himself of the memory now that he’d lived it out loud.

Ryan’s skin was itching. The idea alone was enough to drive him crazy, but now that he was actually being told what had happened it was becoming too much. Feelings and thoughts were mixing around in his head. There was anger and irritation, but there was also a heartsick feeling. All of his thoughts went to picturing the scene and wondering what would have happened if Brendon hadn’t done something, even though he knew.

“There’s a window in the bathroom. It’s high on the wall, but I climbed on top of a small cabinet and was able to reach the bottom of it. It took effort, but I managed to pull myself up onto it and I dropped out onto the roof. I didn’t really know what I was going to do, but taking a walk didn’t seem out of the question. It’s after curfew but I didn’t think that anything bad was going to happen to me, I mean, no one’s out right now except for maybe Satisfiers.”

“No, all the Satisfiers are back by now,” Ryan said, without realizing it. Well, not until after he’d said it.

Brendon gave him a strange look and it looked like he was going to maybe ask him how he knew that, but he shook his head. “Besides, there are other Performers going back to their homes. I planned to walk around a bit before trying to sneak back into the Performers’ building. Then I thought I saw you, a few minutes ago. I had no clue what you would be doing out here, so I decided to ask you. I mean, you could just be doing the same thing that I am, in which case I’ll be glad for your company. We can sneak back in together.” Brendon offered him an awkward smile.

Ryan kept walking, not responding yet. His heart was beating harder, he could feel it. Fear returned, not the kind that he was used to, but a new kind and it blossomed in his stomach. He was almost found out. It was a miracle that he’d decided to walk around a while first and that he hadn’t changed back into his real skin yet.

He told himself to calm down. Brendon hadn’t discovered it, and that was all that mattered. His secret was still safe. Brendon was looking at him and he looked concerned. Obviously he was waiting for a reply. “Yes, I’m just taking a walk before bed. I’m not quite tired yet. Sneaking back in together sounds like fun.” Ryan tried his best to make it look and sound like his nerves were fine and that nothing had changed.

Brendon nodded and looked back at the path that they were walking on. Ryan listened and thought that he heard the sound of running water. He looked around at the buildings and—though he tried not to remember its placement—he thought recognized where they were.

Brendon gasped when the fountain came into view. Ryan smiled a little at the reaction. The other boy was looking at it wide-eyed, as if he’d just set his eyes on the most glorious thing he’d ever seen. He looked at Ryan and gaped even more. “You knew about this?”

“Yes. It’s one of my favorite places in the city,” he answered, walking closer and putting his hand in the water coming down from one of the platforms. Brendon followed his lead, looking like a little kid.

“Of course you would know about this. You haven’t been in the building as long. You’ve been able to be in the streets and find things like this. As you know, Performers only leave the building for performances and if they have outside homes. Every other person in this city gets to be outside at some time. There’s probably a lot that I don’t know.” He’d seemed to gain some composure back and Ryan could only laugh a little.

Brendon stepped back and they were standing side by side, looking at the fountain and the way the lights around the space shone through the water, making it look all the more beautiful. Ryan realized that Brendon had his box to go for peace, but the fountain was his place for everything to slow down and be quiet. Time didn’t ever seem to even exist anymore when he was there. It didn’t matter what was going on or what age he was, all he had to do was go to the fountain and everything would be on pause while he calmed himself down.

“There’s another reason why I couldn’t let Jeffry do what it was that he was planning on doing,” Brendon said quietly, looking at him. Ryan looked over.

“What is it?” he asked at the same level, not wanting to spoil the mood that the fountain set. Ryan observed that Brendon looked uncomfortable. He didn’t seem to have his confidence at the moment and Ryan wondered what this could be that was reducing the Performer to this.

Brendon paused and looked back at the fountain, chewing on his bottom lip before looking back at Ryan. “You,” he answered, simply and quietly. He looked down into the fountain as soon as he’d said it, as fast as if he’d just touched a lit candle.

Ryan blinked. Had he heard the other boy right? “What?” he asked, just as quietly.

“You’re the other reason why I had to get away from Jeffry,” Brendon said, looking up at Ryan. He looked desperate. His eyes were wide and looked pleading. His hands were clenched into fists and he reached up to push the mask on his face to the top of his head.

“What do you mean?” Ryan asked. Now he was getting a little worried. Why was this happening? And why was it happening now? It wasn’t like he didn’t want it. Deep down he knew that it was probably what he wanted the most, but now wasn’t a good time. He realized that he should be extremely happy about the fact that Brendon was here with him and that he wasn’t with Jeffry, but he couldn’t bring himself to be. Images from the first performance, from the first skit he’d ever been in, flashed through his mind accompanied by images of where he lived and what happened there, what he really was.

“I mean that you, Ryan, you’re probably the main reason why I had to get away from Jeffry and what he was going to do to me. When I was up there in his room, I knew that I couldn’t let him do anything because you’re here, in my life now. Since you’ve been here, I haven’t been able to pretend like I was able to at the beginning. You’re fucking with my head. You won’t leave, especially not whenever I’m around Jeffry. It sucks. And everyone who’s close to me has noticed, even Erik has noticed that I can’t function anymore. You have to be involved in anything that I do. All of them have told me to be careful and I tell them that I will, but then you show up and I can’t. I just can’t.” Brendon was breathing harder and he looked even more desperate than before, half-crazed even.

Ryan’s chest felt lighter than anything, though. It felt like there was something inside his ribcage that was trying to escape and it was making his heart beat faster and harder. He couldn’t believe his ears. Did Brendon really tell him that he couldn’t be around Jeffry anymore because of him? That’s what it sounded like.

The boy still looked distressed and Ryan wanted to comfort him or try to reason with him, but all he could do was smile and hope that that thing in his chest wasn’t going to escape anytime soon. Brendon was still looking at him, looking like he couldn’t really believe what he’d just said.

“It’s not funny,” Brendon said resentfully. “And you could do something else besides stand there and smile. Say something.” His gaze and his tone lightened little by little. All of the trouble was disappearing from his composure and he was slowly calming down. “Please say something, Ryan,” he said.

Ryan searched for words. “I agree with you.” Brendon looked confused and Ryan elaborated, “I can’t do anything without you. You won’t leave my mind. The thought of Jeffry doing anything to you makes me sick,” he said, carefully.

Brendon stilled, just looking at him. Soon, though, a grin broke out on his face, making Ryan almost sigh with relief. He’d wanted to see that grin, the one that meant that Brendon was okay. It dimmed down to a simple smile after a few seconds, but it was still warm and soft.

Then Brendon moved forward and in one motion he’d slid Ryan’s mask to the top of his head and put his other hand on his cheek, pulling his head down a little. Their lips connected for real. It was a real kiss and it made that thing in his ribcage explode.

That wasn’t the only thing that happened though. The world around him burst into colored strands of light, surrounding him.

Rate and Review? Oh, and this is so quick because the chapter that follows this one was written in four days (which is a record for me). Yes, I like to stay one ahead, no I'm not completely sure why. No, I'm not going to change it. By the way, the next chapter is fucking awesome, you're welcome for telling you and making you wait for it =). (7 will probably go really fast, though, too, so there you go.)

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