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

Act 7

by GealachGirl 2 reviews

Now they've crossed the line and something needs to be done. Time to make a plan.

Category: Panic! At The Disco - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Romance - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2012-06-21 - Updated: 2012-07-21 - 8685 words - Complete

Ryan was still pacing, at this point he couldn’t stop if he wanted to. It was kind of like the running he always used to do at the end of the day to get back to the Satisfiers’ building before someone else found him and wanted him. The memory of that nightly ritual seemed so far away now as he hadn’t been servicing nearly as many as before his encounter with Spencer.

All of these thoughts, he had to stop them. They were eating away at him and they were going to make him crazy if he let them inhabit his brain. So, Ryan changed the number of steps a little and changed which foot led.

The sound of a door thudding shut made him start. He stopped completely, tensed up, not daring to move. There was no sound following it, though, and Ryan decided that it was probably his paranoid imagination. Nothing was beyond thought, now.

There was a little knock on the door to his cell, though. He tried to ignore it, telling himself that it was his paranoia again. In fact, he looked down at his feet moving across the ground, resolving himself to focus only on that if he couldn’t keep his mind from wandering.

“Ryan, hey, asshole, look over here.” A harsh whisper drifted into the cell. The voice sounded familiar, but he didn’t think that that made sense and he couldn’t place it anyway. Once again, he cursed his overactive imagination. If it was this bad now, he couldn’t wait to see what it would be like a few hours later.

“Goddammit. Ryan, look over here.” There was a clanging sound then, like metal striking metal. It was also really loud and it made him jump. The sound did indeed make him look toward it. And much to his surprise, he saw the familiar face of Spencer.

He stopped pacing and froze there for a moment, trying to process what he was seeing. “Spencer?” He asked quietly, still not really believing it.

“Wait a second, you do know him?” Another voice asked. This one was even more familiar and Brendon was suddenly visible.

“What-what’s going on? Are you two really here or I am I starting to see things?” he asked, getting nervous and excited at the same time. In all reality, he wasn’t sure what exactly to think.

“We’re really here, darling,” Spencer said. His voice was tight and it sounded like he was exerting himself doing something that Ryan couldn’t see.

“We’ll tell you why in a second. Spencer’s trying to get in and apparently he’s failing,” Brendon said. He wasn’t looking into the cell anymore. He was looking down, the direction that Spencer had disappeared to. Ryan nodded, putting his arms around himself again.

“I told you, lock-picking isn’t exactly my specialty. Would you like to try it? I’ll at least get it at some point.” Spencer’s voice drifted up and Ryan swallowed down the laugh that bubbled up by clapping his hands over his mouth. It was really happening. He couldn’t imagine that tone of voice that was purely Spencer’s. No, Spencer and Brendon were really there, or Spencer was anyway.

“That’s okay with me, I’m sure you will get it sometime. You know, I just thought that for a person whose specialty is getting into places they shouldn’t to quietly and effectively kill someone, I thought that by picking locks not being your specialty you just meant that you weren’t so fast. I didn’t think that you meant that you really weren’t good at it.”

“Again, would you like to do it instead? We’d be lucky if he was out before the Enforcers came back. Leave me alone and let me do my job or you’ll be pinned to the wall with a knife,” Spencer threatened. It sounded distracted, still, and Ryan had no doubt that Spencer really would do that, but it didn’t sound serious. Ryan couldn’t help smiling at the way Spencer was reacting to Brendon’s teasing, though.

“Okay, okay. Work. Sorry,” Brendon said.

Only a second or two later, there was a loud clicking noise and the door was pushed open. Brendon ran in and threw himself at Ryan. Ryan caught him and pushed his head into the younger boy’s shoulder, loving the feeling of him and his presence. Brendon kissed him hard and they stood like that for a good few seconds. Then, he stepped back, a hint of something—maybe wonder?—in his eyes. Spencer stepped forward and hugged him, too, taking Ryan completely by surprise.

“So, what are you two doing here?” he asked when Spencer was back just standing again. The boy looked a little embarrassed and surprised himself, like he didn’t believe what he’d just done either.

“We’re breaking you out,” Spencer said with a shrug. “Obviously.”

“That’s illegal.”

Spencer had a weird look on his face at that answer. “Not as illegal as you might think, not for me anyway. Besides, you did a few things that you knew were illegal. I’d say that you get the least say in illegal matters.”

Ryan scowled at him. “You gave me the means of all of the illegal things I did. You encouraged me to do one of them,” he pointed out. There was a hint of a smile on Spencer’s face at that and Brendon was looking between the two of them, obviously confused, but he was wearing a small smile. That brought him to another thing that he was wondering.

“Why are you two together?”

“That’s actually part of the reason why we’re here. It’s kind of a long story, too,” Brendon said, looking at Spencer. “We have to get out of here first, though. We’ll fill you in later.” Spencer nodded and it was apparently settled. Ryan knew for a fact that Spencer was younger than him, but he was obviously in charge. He only nodded.

“So where are we going to go?” he asked. That was the only part that he wasn’t sure about and the only part that he wasn’t so comfortable with leaving up to ‘we’ll show you’ or ‘you’ll find out’.

“To my home,” Spencer said. “By the way, were you wanting this back?” He was holding out the disguise cube that Ryan had started to think of as his own. He reached out and took it, loving the familiar feeling of it being tucked into his palm.

“I don’t know what good it’ll do me since I’ve been caught now, but yes, I really do want it back.” Ryan answered, closing his hand completely around the cube that was his life. He looked back at Spencer. “Thank you, both of you, for being here.”

“I’m not letting you die. Are you kidding?” Brendon asked. His arms were crossed and one eyebrow was raised. The boy wasn’t wearing any make-up. He had the mask resting on the top of his head and Ryan had to smile a little at what the sight of that meant.

“I don’t think that I’d be able to let you die, either.” Spencer said. It sounded kind of distracted though as he was looking into the hallway, probably checking to see if any Enforcers were coming. Brendon looked at him oddly, though.

“But you’re an Assassin. Does death really even affect you?” Brendon asked in complete curiosity. Ryan winced a little at his naiveté and his bluntness. Sure, he didn’t really have any reason to think otherwise and Ryan couldn’t hold that against him, still, he could be a little more careful.

When Spencer turned around, though, he didn’t look bothered. In fact, it didn’t even look like he’d heard it. Assassins were probably the masters of hiding their emotions, though, so Ryan didn’t even really know. “Well, do you want to still die? If you do, feel free to stay here. Come on,” he said looking impatient in his concern, the concern that was pretty well hidden, but Ryan thought he could see it.

Ryan walked over to Spencer, Brendon following behind him. “So how did you get in, exactly?” he asked. Granted, he’d been a little out of it when they’d brought him down here, but he didn’t think that he’d seen any holes in their security system.

Spencer seemed to read his thoughts and he only gave Ryan a ‘really?’ look. Ryan only shrugged in response and Spencer shook his head. “You’ll see. It’s quite fun. Ask Brendon.” Ryan looked at Brendon to get his input and the Performer just rolled his eyes. Spencer smirked. “Come on.”

Ryan followed Spencer down the hallway and up to the entrance point in the basement of the holding area. The upper floor was more for paperwork and processing while all of the prisoners were kept in the cells in the basement. Then the floors above the floor for paperwork and processing held the rooms that the Enforcers slept in.

Enforcers took shifts though, that much Ryan knew, so that meant that there would still be some in the room that was behind the door they’d stopped at. He looked over at Spencer quizzically. The Assassin just smiled a little and pointed up.

There was a hole in the ceiling. Ryan couldn’t tell if it had just been made or if it had been there. The ceilings were low so getting into it wouldn’t be a problem, but Ryan couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. He’d been picturing something more complicated than a hole in the ceiling.

“I’ll go first so no one gets lost because, yes, it is possible. It gets really dark, so you’ll want to try to stay close to the person in front of you,” he said. He was grinning and Ryan guessed that he was about to find out what Spencer’s idea of fun was.

The Assassin reached up and pulled himself into the opening in the ceiling and eventually his feet disappeared. Ryan followed and found that it was really easy. The hole turned into a tunnel and it was easy to pull himself into it. Spencer was waiting right there, and he nodded at Ryan. They waited for Brendon, then they were off.

It seemed like Spencer knew exactly which way to go without once having to think about it or guess. Ryan wondered if he’d maybe done this before but couldn’t think of a reason why. It was while they were doing this that Ryan realized just how lucky he was to have met Spencer and to have, apparently, won his friendship.

“Alright, we’re almost to the end. A little more complicated than just a hole in the ceiling, huh Ryan?” Spencer asked. Ryan didn’t know how he kept doing that and he didn’t think that he wanted to know the answer. So he just nodded, not missing Spencer’s smirk before he continued on.

“Being out here, you have to move fast and try your absolute hardest not to fall, okay? And you have to try to keep up because it’s getting close to morning and I don’t really want to be seen and have to deal with all of that,” Spencer said, looking at him and Brendon. Ryan nodded and looked past Spencer to see the tell-tale signs of a new day coming up. “It’s also rather steep right here so hold on.” Then Spencer took off again and disappeared once he got to the top of the last stretch.

Ryan exchanged a look with Brendon and Brendon shrugged. “I’m glad you’re okay, Ryan,” he said, eyes melting so Ryan could see the worry that had been almost snuffed out. Ryan just stepped forward and hugged the Performer. There was no doubt in his mind that Brendon was most of the reason why Spencer knew about his capture and why he was being rescued now.

“When we’re back wherever Spencer lives, I’ll say the same thing,” Ryan said, catching Spencer’s signal that he sent down. He pulled away from Brendon and kissed him softly. “See you in a few minutes.” He turned to this last stretch of tunnel and started climbing.

Spencer was right about it being steep. Ryan had to dig his fingers into the rock just to stay in the same place. To actually climb it was worse. All of his muscles were protesting and after a few feet his fingers were threatening to come off and let him fall back. The tunnel wasn’t completely vertical, but it was pretty close and when he got to the top, he fell out onto the pavement.

The Assassin was there to smirk down at him and Ryan pulled himself up to a standing position, brushing himself off. As he stood there, his muscles trembled a little at the effort that they weren’t used to. Spencer was looking down into the hole, probably watching Brendon’s progress, but Ryan knew that the boy would be able to handle the climb. So, while the other two were focused on that, he looked out at the still-sleeping city. It was still rather dark out and light was maybe just on the horizon, though there wasn’t much evidence of it, yet.

Brendon came up then, gasping. “Fucking hell,” he breathed, lying on the ground. Ryan moved over to help him up and the three of them stood there.

“Okay, now that the two of you have your breaths back, follow me and be fast,” Spencer warned. He then turned to the side of the building that they were next to and started climbing up to the top, using the stones that were jutting out of the sides to grip. It didn’t take long before he was up at the top, looking down at them and motioning for them to join him.

“You go, I’m still trying to recover from that last climb,” Brendon said, motioning to the side of the building. Ryan nodded and braced himself for another climb, this time one that really was vertical. Apparently, this was Spencer’s idea of fun.

Since the hand and foot holds were easier to get a grip on, it wasn’t as hard on his muscles. He still had to try to hold on, though since the stones weren’t quite far enough out to qualify as stairs. Still, it was much easier than the first climb and it wasn’t long before Ryan had joined Spencer on the roof.

“So, why are we up here?” Ryan asked, watching Brendon’s progress while he did so.

“This is an easier place to get up on the roofs and we need to be up here at some point so it’s better to get it over with,” Spencer answered, also watching Brendon come up.

“Okay, now where do we go?” Brendon asked upon his arrival on the roof. Ryan could tell that he was excited to see where the Assassins lived and Ryan had to admit that he was curious too.

“Just follow me and you’ll find out,” Spencer replied.

What followed next was a series of jumping from rooftop to rooftop. Occasionally they had to get across another way when the jump was too far, so the little fixtures that buildings had on their sides was helpful. It seemed to take forever and Spencer was extremely focused, not pausing or slowing down once. So Ryan had to make sure that Brendon kept up since he was staring at everything around them, taking it all in.

Ryan realized that out here, out of the Performers’ building, he was the expert. He knew these streets much better than most people, especially the boy who’d never seen much more of the city besides what was on the streets on the way to the meeting and performance center. Ryan felt bad about the fact that this first time Brendon was really out on the streets he wasn’t getting the chance to really see anything. There was always later, though, especially if they got away from the holding place fast enough.

Eventually, Spencer stopped and Ryan nudged Brendon’s shoulder to get him to pay attention and stop looking around the area. What surprised Ryan the most about the area they were in was the fact that it was a place that he passed all the time. In fact, if he was right, it was only a few blocks away from the fountain.

“This is the building that I live in,” Spencer introduced, motioning to his feet and the roof that they were currently standing on top of. “The reason why we’re up here is simple. The only way to get in is easier to find and actually use from up here than from down on the street. I mean, it’s possible to get in from the street but it’s much harder.”

“Are we even allowed in here?” Brendon asked, looking down at the roof and sounding awed if Ryan wasn’t mistaken.

“It’s not encouraged to bring people back, but it’s not strictly prohibited,” Spencer answered. Ryan narrowed his eyes. There was something more to this boy than was immediately obvious. He couldn’t put his finger on it and he realized that most people were that way, but this felt different, kind of like his own situation.

Spencer took a breath and moved over to the side of the building. He lay down on his stomach and reached over the side. Ryan and Brendon followed him over to the edge but it was hard to see what it was that he was doing. Ryan resolved himself to wait and Brendon kept looking, trying different positions to try and see what it was that the other boy was working on doing.

It wasn’t long before he was lifting himself up and was kneeling instead of lying down. “Okay, this is easier than from the ground, but it’s not exactly easy, well, it won’t be for you two. It’s just because you haven’t ever done it before. One of you is going first, though. I have to stay here to make sure you both get in okay and to tell you what to do. There’s nothing to worry about.” Spencer must have seen the look on Ryan’s face. “I promise. Now, which one of you wants to go through first?”

“What is it that we’re doing exactly?” Ryan asked.

“Basically, you’re swinging into something like a window from the edge of this building. The only hard part is that it’s lower than you are so the swing down isn’t exact. There’s a way to do it, it’s just kind of difficult,” Spencer said, motioning for them to have a look.

Sure enough, there was something that looked like an open window that was just above the center of the wall. A fall from this height would definitely mean death. Ryan could see how it would be difficult to “swing into”. Actually, it looked impossible. He turned to tell Spencer that.

“Yes, well, most people don’t get it on their first try, but we don’t have the time for practicing it and trying over and over. You get one shot. With that kind of pressure, it’s easier to succeed.” There was a small smile on the boy’s face and Ryan couldn’t help but not look forward to this.

“Can’t we just talk up here?” Brendon asked. He seemed to be having the same thought about the entrance being impossible.

“No, this building is the most secure building you can find in this city. Really, once I explain how you get in, you won’t be worried anymore.” Spencer stepped over to the edge again and pointed. “See that little pole sticking out of that building, the one for flags? You jump off of the side here and you aim just above that pole and grab onto it since you’ll be about there when you can, you might be slightly above it in which case you just lean into the wall until you’re able to reach it. Then, you use your momentum to kick off of the wall and sort of vault into the opening. It sounds more complicated than it is.”

“Sure it’s not complicated to you, you’ve probably done it hundreds of times,” Brendon said. “I’ll try it first, though, to see how easy this really is.” There was the Performer in him showing up. Ryan knew that if the Assassins were able to do this it shouldn’t be too hard for either of them to do it either, but he didn’t quite trust in his abilities.

“Are you sure?” he asked Brendon nervously.

“Yeah, I’m serious.” Brendon stepped to the edge and looked back at Spencer. “So, talk me through this,” he said.

Spencer looked kind of impressed if Ryan was reading his facial expression correctly. He repeated that Brendon needed to jump to just above the flagpole so he could grab it when he slid down the wall. “It’s really important that you don’t kick off on the wall until you have ahold of the pole. And make sure that you lean into the wall, that’s how you’ll stay on its surface.” Brendon nodded and turned his body.

Ryan was torn between looking on and turning away. In the end he decided to watch. For one thing, he wanted to make sure that Brendon was okay, and he really wanted to see if it would work. Brendon took a steadying breath and jumped off. Ryan’s own breath caught in his throat a little and he looked over the edge to see that Brendon was holding onto the flagpole.

“Quick, turn your body a little and kick off toward the window. You’re coming in from above so try to angle your body a little. If you want to slow yourself down, grab onto the top of the window and just drop in.” Spencer also sounded kind of amazed and he was looking on eagerly like Ryan was. His eyebrows were almost lost in his hair when Brendon made it into the building.

“Damn, Performers are talented. Now it’s your turn,” Spencer said, looking back at Ryan.

Ryan swallowed and took his own deep breath. He held it a second or two and let it out. His nerves were tight and adrenaline was already leaking into his bloodstream. “You’re sure this will work?” he asked Spencer over his shoulder.

“Yeah, it’s how all of us get into the building,” Spencer’s calm voice answered him. Ryan nodded and braced himself. It would be best if he just did it without thinking about it or planning on when to do it. So he let go, and after a second or two he found himself against the wall.

Amazed, Ryan looked up and over to see Spencer standing on the top of the opposite building. The adrenaline was rushing now and he smiled to himself.

“Ryan! The flagpole!” Spencer’s voice entered his mind again and Ryan looked around for the flagpole that he’d forgotten about. Panicked, he realized that it was already above his reach and he strained for it, knowing that it was probably pointless.

Suddenly struck with an idea, he closed his eyes and used one of his feet to push against the wall while reaching up. It covered just enough distance that he was able to wrap the tips of his fingers around the cold metal. Since he was holding onto it, though, he was able to get a better grip as soon as his body had come away from the wall. He took another breath and saw Brendon’s anxious face in the window across from him. He smiled a little to show that he was okay but Brendon still looked tense.

“Okay, well, now you just made getting in harder for yourself.” Ryan looked up to see Spencer pacing on the roof of the building.

“What should I do?” Ryan asked, looking at the distance between himself and the window doubtfully.

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out, give me a minute,” Spencer answered.

“So why does getting in have to be this hard anyway?” Ryan asked, wincing at the tingling feeling in his shoulders.

“Alright, so if you swing a little bit, you’ll gain momentum. It’ll take a while, but you’ll get there,” Spencer said, completely ignoring his question. It sounded like he was talking to himself to figure it out and Ryan resigned himself to hanging onto the flagpole for who knew how much longer. “Then, pushing off the wall should get you close. If you do it this way you’ll probably be at the bottom of the window.” He looked over the side. “Brendon, you can help pull him up, right?” Ryan watched Brendon nod, then looked back up at Spencer. “Okay Ryan, this will probably work. You lucky shit.”

“I’m not a huge fan of the ‘probably’ Spencer,” Ryan said, renewing his grip on the bar again.

“Would you rather have ‘not’? Just, go along with it. Start swinging side to side until I tell you to kick off,” Spencer replied. Ryan could see that he wasn’t completely sure about this course of action, but anything that would get him off of this flagpole sounded good to him. That was why he did what Spencer said, swinging side to side.

Two minutes passed before Spencer told him to kick off and told him to keep swinging if he couldn’t get his feet in the right position on the wall. Ryan rolled his eyes and did what Spencer said. When he planted his feet on the wall, he tried his hardest to kick off and reached toward the bottom of the window. His fingers didn’t make purchase at first, but Brendon was right there to grab his hands and help pull him safely into the building.

Once his feet were on the floor, he was crushed against Brendon’s chest. The adrenaline was still pulsing through his body and his breath wasn’t as steady as it could be. His first reaction was to laugh and when he let it spill out of his mouth he was pulled tighter into the Performer.

“Are you okay?” he asked, sounding anxious. Ryan couldn’t even move his body in the grip of the worried Brendon.

“Brendon, I’m fine. Seriously. That wasn’t even that bad.” Ryan managed to pull himself away and he smiled at Brendon a little, rolling his shoulders. “Really, I’m okay.” He bent down a little and kissed the other boy softly. “I’m glad that you’re okay.” Brendon just smiled back at him.

Spencer came in through the window then. His momentum carried him a few steps after he landed, but he was grinning. The window closed by itself behind him. Casually, he straightened his clothes a little and looked back at them. “That never gets less exciting,” he said breathlessly. Then, returning to seriousness he fixed his gaze on them and said, “Come on, follow me again.”

They followed him out of the room and they were being led down hallways again. Ryan walked close by Brendon, aware of the fact that Brendon was still a little shaken up by the whole thing that happened. To calm him down, he moved a little closer and deliberately let their hands brush, looking over when Brendon did. “I’m fine,” he mouthed.

“That’s good, it was different on my end though,” Brendon whispered back. “This isn’t the Performers’ building. I don’t know that everything’s going to work out just fine.”

Ryan smiled at him sadly. “Well it did this time,” he whispered back.

“If you two are done, maybe you’d like to come into the room?” Spencer asked, standing in the doorway of whatever room he’d been taking them to.

The room was completely dark and he was so used to it that it took his eyes only a minute to adjust. Brendon was holding onto his shoulder and Ryan knew that it would be longer for him. Meanwhile, Spencer was moving about the room freely. Ryan started walking around curiously, not able to tell how big the room was in the near absolute dark. Brendon gripped his arm tighter and moved with him.

“Oh, you two probably need some light,” Spencer observed. Ryan could make out that he was stopped on the other side of the room and that he was messing around with something on a table.

“Yeah, some light would be nice,” Brendon said, still holding onto his arm. Ryan winced a little and tried to move his arm just a little. Brendon caught on and loosened his hold, smiling nervously. “I don’t like not being able to see,” he said quietly by Ryan’s ear. Ryan smiled a little and just put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

A little burst of light flared up over where Spencer was standing and it expanded to light up the whole room. Spencer was squinting and held his arm over his eyes, taking it away after a minute. He looked around and sighed. “This room is not supposed to be lit up.”

“I think it’s perfect,” Brendon said, letting go of Ryan’s arm and going over to sit at the table that was suddenly visible to him. “I can actually see things. My eyes aren’t adjusted for the dark the way your eyes are,” he said, looking at Ryan and Spencer.

“Here the rooms are completely dark,” Spencer acknowledged, also sitting down. “I’ve just gotten used to it.”

“Well, you’d have to be,” Brendon observed in an off-hand tone.

“Oh yeah, here’s another thing. I won’t be able to handle the two of you thinking that my sole purpose in life is to kill people, especially not you since you bring it up almost all the time,” Spencer said, directing the last part toward Brendon. “I’m not an assassin. That’s what we’re called, but it’s not what we are.” Ryan sat down in a chair and barely had to prepare himself for whatever this was, he’d had enough excitement and new knowledge in the last twenty four hour that he’d be able to handle anything.

“We’re like the Enforcers, dealing with crime and punishment, and justice, and whatever. The only ones who know this are us, the Head of Heads, the people who work under him, and the two of you since you’ll also be working closely with me. We’re Secret Authority. We go around and investigate things and figure out most of what happens dealing with a few certain crimes or suspicions that have been reported, but we do most of our stuff at night so it’s quiet. You see, we sort of have a special privilege though. That’s why I wouldn’t be really in trouble if we were caught taking you out of Holding, Ryan, I just didn’t want to deal with all of the shit that we’d have to go through with that because this is kind of urgent.”

It looked like he was going to go on but Ryan raised a hand. “Hold on, let us digest this bit first before you throw something else at us,” he requested. Spencer nodded his consent.

So it looked like Spencer was in a disguise, too, though it wasn’t clothing, it was a lie. All of the Assassins, or Secret Authority, lied, or let people think something so that they had a cover, which was better. Ryan had to admit that that was probably a good idea. Their success rate with catching people was probably higher if no one knew exactly what they were doing.

“How many of you are there?” Ryan asked.

“Not many, seven. You can’t have too many of us or it doesn’t stay much of a secret. Besides, with everyone thinking that we’re assassins, people would freak out if there were many babies born and skinned black. That would lead to chaos.”

“Okay, I think I’ve got this. It’s okay with me if you move on. Ryan?” Brendon addressed him.

“Yeah, go on Spencer.”

“We haven’t been in contact with the Head of Heads since the last one. I wouldn’t know that, of course, since he’s older than I am. I’ve heard the others talking, though, about how they aren’t even sure if this one knows about us. Usually it’s custom for all of the Secret Authority to go meet the new one and introduce ourselves, but none of us have ever seen him. All of the people that work for him claim that he’s unwell, all the time. If that were the case, though, he’d have to be with the Medics at least some of the time and they say that they’ve never examined him.”

“So what’s your point?” Brendon asked, eyebrows knitted together in confusion. Ryan still didn’t want to tell him that the world outside of the Performers wasn’t necessarily a nice place. He didn’t want to tell him about how it was full of people who wanted power because he loved the fact that Brendon wasn’t suspicious.

“I think that they’re lying. I think that the people who work for him directly have done something to the Head of Heads and that they’re keeping him away from the people he’s supposed to be protecting. I think this because people shouldn’t have to wear fucking disguises to be happy. And people shouldn’t be arrested and put to death for trying to be happy.” He looked directly at Ryan while he said the last part and Ryan could feel his camaraderie, the friend that he had in Spencer.

Honestly, Ryan had always kind of thought the same thing. He’d always thought that it was weird that the Head of Heads was sick all of the time and that that was all they were ever told. He never really thought that it was a conspiracy to keep the Head of Heads away from the people, he just thought that it was weird.

“Wasn’t he made Head of Heads really young though?” Brendon asked. “They were probably just teaching him what to do and protecting him.” Ryan saw that living with the Performers was the best way to get to know them, but it also kept you away from what was happening in the rest of the world because Brendon didn’t sound sure about what he’d just asked.

“Yes, but he’d have to be about nineteen or twenty now. There would be no reason that he shouldn’t know everything that goes into his job or that he would even need to be sheltered and protected the way he was when he was little,” Spencer pointed out. It was obvious that he’d thought about this a lot, or that it was brought up enough that most everything had already been thought through.

“After you meet him the first time, do the Secret Authority ever meet up with him later on?” Ryan asked.

“Yes. It’s normal that he want a report from us about how things are going and the different things we’ve observed that may need to be brought to his attention.”

“So none of you have ever seen him,” Ryan clarified.

“That is correct.”

“But the people that work under him know about you?”

“They do because most of them worked under the last one. And that is why it’s so weird that we’ve never met the new one because it means that they’re keeping us from him on purpose.” Spencer looked relieved that at least one of them was getting the point.

Ryan nodded and turned the information over in his head. All of it was certainly strange. Considering all of the factors, he couldn’t come up with anything but the fact that the people who worked under the Head of Heads must be intentionally keeping them away. If that weren’t the case, the world wouldn’t be the way it was. People wouldn’t have to hide, they’d be able to make requests or report problems. There also wouldn’t be this constant struggle for power and for contentment.

Lately the Informants, who were actually, literally incapable of lying, were telling stories about how the latest Head Provider had passed away and that there was confusion about the revealing of the new one, resulting in a mad fight for power. Normally those people were somewhat peaceful. Having power in the Providers wasn’t much, but apparently it was enough to fight for. It was the first time a fight for power occurred and the Enforcers had to be called. There were other things like that going on, though. All over it was just a general discomfort that was now able to be felt.

Spencer met his eye and nodded, obviously realizing what he was thinking about. The reason fights like that never happened was because the Head of Heads made people feel secure enough that it didn’t really matter who the Head of their division was. Not knowing that there was a power that was above all divisions made people more aware of the Head of theirs, made them focus on them and look to them for the security that the Head of Heads was supposed to offer. Also, the Head of Heads had absolute authority. He could change anything that he wanted to, he could make things better, things that regular Heads weren’t able to do.

“So, I think it’s obvious to me that we need to reestablish that connection with the Head of Heads and we have to bring him out here and show him that the people really need him,” Ryan said.

Spencer beamed. “I’m glad that you think so, too. I was hoping that you’d come to that conclusion and I wouldn’t have to tell you.” He looked at the two of them. “So let’s get to planning how we’re going to make that happen.”


It wasn’t safe for either of them to go back to their respective buildings, so when they were done coming up with a plan to get to the Head of Heads, Spencer took the both of them to one of the empty “guest” rooms that the building had. Apparently it wasn’t unusual for the Secret Authority to have people residing at the building, not that the person remembered if they had or not. Spencer said that the only people who came were either serious criminals or they were so traumatized by whatever caused them to stay there that they forgot all about being in the building.

The room wasn’t big, but it was big enough. It was like all of the rooms, very dark and the light that there was didn’t give them much. It didn’t matter, though. Pretty much as soon as they got into the room, all Ryan wanted to do was lie down.

He’d been in and out of Holding, he’d gotten into and seen the inside of the Assassins’—Secret Authority—building, and now he was one of the most essential elements in breaking into where the Head of Heads lived and confronting him.

Brendon was lying with him and telling him about what happened after he’d been arrested to fill him in about how he met Spencer and how they rescued him.

“They took me back to the Performers’ building and Jeffry was there waiting for me. Everyone else was up and present, too, except for the Performers that live away. Mason looked like he was about to throw up, Alistair just looked worried, and Erik looked concerned. I’ve never seen Erik look concerned about a person before, he’s usually sure that they’ll be okay so he doesn’t spend time worrying about them. That probably threw me the most.

“The Enforcers left after they dropped me off and Jeffry took me back to his room after dismissing everyone else. He was in the bathroom and I ran off again because I had to do something. Mason, Erik, and Alistair were there, of course. That’s why you were in for so long. My whole plan was to somehow get you out. I wasn’t ever sure how, but I was determined to do it. I gave them some excuse about why I had to leave again and they said that they would cover for me. I was out, wandering the streets, completely lost, and I was coming up with plans out loud. Then, suddenly this black blur dropped out of the sky.”

“He does like to do that,” Ryan acknowledged with a small smile.

“Apparently he’d heard me say your name and he started asking all these questions. He was really worried, Ry, you should have seen it. I’ve heard of the Assassins, or, I guess I can’t call them that. Anyway, I’d heard of them and I was kind of scared. It took Spencer forever to convince me that he wasn’t going to hurt me, then he started asking me those questions about where you were, if you were okay, and things like that. I told him what happened to you and he sort of freaked out. Then he took me with him to the opening to that tunnel that we went through. He sort of explained that he knew you and that he was going to get you out and it turns out that part of their initial training is to go through those tunnels and memorize them. I insisted on going with him. He was reluctant at first but I think I proved myself when I was able to go through the tunnels without any problems and when I was able to do some of the climbing that it involved. While we went, I explained everything in detail. Not-not what we did, of course, j-just the fact that I found out about your real skin and that we’d gotten caught and you’d been arrested. Then we found you and you were okay.” Brendon pulled him closer and Ryan let himself be pulled.

“Thank you,” he whispered. It was all thanks to Brendon that Spencer knew that there was a problem. It sounded like Spencer had maybe almost figured it out, but Ryan knew that it would have been too late by the time that Spencer did have it all worked out. “You saved my life.” He leaned forward some more, pressing into Brendon and kissing him.

Brendon returned the kiss and smiled a little bit. “I couldn’t let anything bad happen to you. I love you,” he said, kissing Ryan again. “So how do you know each other? Why does Spencer care so much?”

“Well, I ran into him one night and through some failed persuasion he gave me the little disguise cube in return for not killing me. After that, I guess we just became friends. I ran into him some more, not literally anymore. He’s saved my ass several times and he helped me meet you. I guess I owe him a lot.”

Brendon smiled. “Something tells me that he wouldn’t accept re-payment.”

“I think you’re right,” Ryan said vaguely. Everything was better now. Sure, he couldn’t be seen out of the Secret Authority building, but all in all, he was safe. They were going to start to act on their plan the next evening. They had all day to sleep while most of the others in the building did the same. The Enforcers operated during the day and they were functional.

“Are you tired?” Brendon asked curiously. “I got a little bit of sleep and you haven’t had any.”

“No, I couldn’t sleep if I tried. I’m just thinking about everything that we all discussed,” he answered. “How are you feeling about being away from home?” The thought just occurred to him. The Performers were supposed to be working on their new things.

“It’s weird and I feel kind of anxious, but I’d much rather be here,” Brendon answered, shrugging a little. Ryan knew that he was telling the truth. “What about you? How do you feel not being there?”

“I’ve been with the Performers for three weeks out of my seventeen years. Trust me, I’m fine. It’s a little odd, but I’m not really as used to it as you are.”

“That reminds me, you never told me about your history. Now you can actually tell the truth, too. I’m assuming that most of what you said to me about your past wasn’t true.”

“Brendon, can we do this after we’ve talked to the Head of Heads? I just, I want to focus on doing that. I don’t want to think about anything else,” Ryan said, sighing. That was true, and, he wanted to put it off for as long as he could, too.

“Okay,” Brendon said quietly. “I can respect that. Oh, hey, all this talk about the Head of Heads and how the world is apparently falling apart at his absence reminded me of something that Mason and Alistair always talk about.”

“I’m listening,” Ryan answered, sighing inwardly. He was so glad that Brendon wasn’t going to push him for his story.

“It’s about Jeffry and Mason’s suspicions that he’s not the real Head.” Ryan’s eyes widened and Brendon smiled. “I knew you’d be into this. So, the last Head Performer got sick, really sick. Everyone was taking turns watching him and making sure that he was okay and he died when it was Jeffry’s turn. He came down to where all of us were half-heartedly practicing and he was holding the mask that he wears now in his hands. As you know, when a Head dies they learn who the next one is going to be and they’re able to announce it as the new mask is materializing so whoever’s attending knows who it’s supposed to go to. So Jeffry came down, holding the new mask and when everyone crowded around him, he said that it was him that was the next Head, he’d heard it himself.”

“So where’s the suspicion?” Ryan asked.

“You have to take into account Jeffry’s personality, even then. Mason told me that he wants power and he wants to control people. I never really thought of it that way, Mason’s kind of cynical for a Performer, but I guess that he’s right with all that I’ve heard tonight and now that I really think about it. Mason’s never liked Jeffry, says that he’s a liar and that he’ll do anything to get ahead or if it turns out well for him. Jeffry’s also not the most skilled Performer. He’s pretty good with acting but Mason always cringes when he watches him dance or, when we were paired together, when he gave him a dance to do. And I’ve never seen him play an instrument.

“Mason thinks that he hid the real mask and made the one that he has since the masks of the Head Performers are generally more…elaborate or…ornate than the one that Jeffry wears. Apparently he’s proposed enough evidence that Alistair believes him. Erik doesn’t care. He doesn’t like Jeffry at all and wishes that he weren’t in charge but I don’t think he cares whether or not he’s the real Head so Mason’s given up on him.

“When he has enough proof he wants to get him overthrown and have the rightful Head put up.”

“How is he going to find the rightful Head?” Ryan asked, frowning and turning the idea over in his head. It was weird but he believed Mason. The whole time he’d been at the Performers’ building there was always an undercurrent that something wasn’t quite right. Usually his bliss at being there covered it up, but now he couldn’t deny it. He wanted to hear some of this evidence from Mason to see if his belief was well-founded.

“I don’t know. I think he was planning on getting it out of Jeffry. Or maybe he’s going to find the real mask and see who it fits. Either way, he’s determined to do it. Alistair helps him come up with stuff. It’s not really an active thing, Mason just really believes it and I think that he’s got a plan that he’ll put into place at some point. I don’t really know when.”

“What do Mike and Laura think of it?” Ryan asked, smiling at what he figured it was going to be.

"Laura thinks he’s being ridiculous but I think she wants to believe him. Mike doesn’t say anything about what he thinks and backs Laura’s opinion. He told me once, though, that he believes it and that he wishes it was a little more sound so he didn’t feel so dumb believing it.” Brendon was smiling a little as he said the last part. “That’s kind of the way I feel, though I’m not sure that I do believe it.”

“It would be interesting to see if anything comes out of it,” Ryan mused, not offering his view on it.

“How do you think this thing with the Head of Heads is going to turn out?” Brendon asked. “If it works it’ll obviously make things better in general.” He stopped there, mid-breath, swallowing whatever it was that he was going to say next.

“Maybe, if he’s a good leader he will. If he actually cares about his people, things will get better. As for us…” Ryan trailed off. He knew that this was the part that Brendon didn’t want to say. “I don’t know how it’s going to work out for us. Hopefully it will be okay,” he said, trying to sound as optimistic as he could. Brendon looked like he was wavering between talking and not saying anything. Ryan just put his arms around him and drew him closer, pressing a kiss to the top of his head.

“No matter what happens, though, I love you. We’ll work something out.” He murmured, resting his chin on Brendon’s head. He felt Brendon nod against his chest.

“I know. I know we will.”

Eventually Ryan was able to drift off, still holding Brendon against his chest. He figured that he should try to get as much sleep as he could. Later, after all, he would be helping to change the world.

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