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

Act 8

by GealachGirl 2 reviews

It's time to make the Head of Heads see the light. And change will come.

Category: Panic! At The Disco - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Romance - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2012-06-29 - Updated: 2012-06-30 - 8998 words - Complete

Night came fast. Ryan felt like he’d gotten an hour of sleep before there was a knocking at the door and Spencer was standing in their room. Ryan was actually able to get up though, unlike Brendon who had to be poked and prodded and practically thrown off of the bed before he actually woke up and was able to participate in intelligent conversation.

Spencer said that he’d been talking with his superiors just to get the affirmation on the status with the Head of Heads. He didn’t tell them the plan or exactly what they were doing, he just explained the appearance of the Performer and the Satisfier by writing them off as friends who needed some help. Spencer was supposed to be patrolling and had apparently told the others that he would finish up with Ryan and Brendon during his patrol later in the week while he investigated their problem now.

They got some food before leaving—really good food—then they were free to go. Of course the way out of the building was so much easier than getting in. It was through the same opening since it was the only opening in the whole building, but getting out was easier and safer.

When all of them were on the ground, they started walking toward the dwelling place of the Head of Heads. They stopped in a corner a few blocks away to review the plan and for Ryan to get his disguise back on.

He was ready for this. It was going to be a little rocky, probably, but he was ready to do it. Ryan was ready for things to change, ready for the world to be the way it was supposed to be. He’d heard stories about how things worked before, under the last Head of Heads. Everything was good, most everyone was content and there was little problem with power struggles or cruelty. Back then, whatever any Head said was law and no one cared about having to follow it. Ryan was ready for something like that.

Once the lights had done their job by cloaking him again in the beautiful Performer skin that he’d missed having around, he glanced at Brendon. There was no guarantee that they would still be allowed to be together once they had the Head of Heads clued in to everything, but it was a chance worth taking. Besides, there wasn’t going to be any way that he was going to give Brendon up.

“Remember,” Spencer started when Ryan had finished checking everything. “You two are going to go in first and try talking to him. I’ll be up sooner or later regardless of how it goes. If you can make him see reason, great, if you can’t—and don’t feel bad if you can’t, he’s been raised away from his people all this time—then we’ll deal with that. Just try to hold everything together and not get arrested before I get there, okay?” Spencer asked. Ryan rolled his eyes. Spencer knew that they were able to do this. He just apparently got into this mindset whenever there was an assignment to do.

“We know, Spence. All of us came up with this plan. And come on, you’ve got two Performers here, we can handle ourselves,” Brendon said, arms crossed, bored look on his face.

“Two Performers? No, I believe there’s you, then there’s the one disguised to be a Performer,” Spencer corrected. Ryan rolled his eyes again. The two of them weren’t really sure yet how to get along.

“In my eyes, Ryan’s as much a Performer as anyone in the building. He has genuine talent that some of the actual Performers don’t have,” Brendon replied, looking between Ryan and Spencer with a serious look on his face.

Spencer nodded and looked at Ryan. “Yeah, I’m at all of the performances, he is very good.”

“Can we stop talking about me like I’m not here, please? And can we get moving? It’s getting late and I don’t want to have him go to sleep and us have to do this tomorrow instead,” Ryan cut in, starting toward the building so the others had no choice but to stop talking and follow him.

The other two caught up and before long they were all in the front, Spencer hiding out in the shadows and getting something hooked up, Ryan and Brendon under a window. They were going to get in and find the Head of Heads to talk to him. Spencer would come up later when he was done patrolling around the area and neutralizing anyone who would potentially disturb their negotiations. According to him, it would be better and less chaotic if they started everything, too, considering the way he was dressed.

There had been a map at the Secret Authority building of the whole inside of the house. Ryan had taken a lot of time studying it while Brendon asked Spencer a few questions about the workings of what they were dealing with and how they were going to get the Head of Heads back to where he was supposed to be. Ryan figured that he had the whole map memorized and he also knew that that would be useful during this important part of their operation. Getting caught was not an option.

“Okay, you ready?” Ryan asked, turning to Brendon. Spencer had already taken off to go around the house and scan the grounds before coming inside.

“Yeah, ready as I’ll ever be, I guess. This is so weird. I’ve never really been out here until yesterday and I don’t know how anything works and already things are changing.”

Ryan smiled a little. “Well, now’s as good a time as any for things to change, and you’ll be learning with everyone else now,” he returned. Brendon smiled and nodded at the thought. Seeing him so enthusiastic to be outside and participating in the world was nice. He was the only person who Ryan had honestly ever seen so excited to be out in the world.

Leaving his thoughts behind, Ryan turned back to the window and started pushing it up. “Alright, let’s get started.”

Once the window was up, they dropped into the room. It was really kind of pretty. There was rich carpeting and furniture and impressive pictures on the wall. Ryan tried his best not to gawk and made sure to keep a close eye on Brendon who was far more likely to stop, stare, and almost touch just about everything in the room.

“Come on, we have to go find him,” Ryan whispered, pulling Brendon behind him by his wrist.

“How will we know who he is?” Brendon asked.

“Just like everyone else he’s got a color and a mask. For the Head of Heads and all of the people working under him, it’s green. And his mask will be like any Head’s, bigger than normal ones and more impressive-looking,” Ryan answered, moving out into the hallway after making sure that no one was coming. “The Head of Heads might be the biggest authority, but he looks, or he’s supposed to look, just like everyone else.”

“Okay. It’s just so I know what to look for. I didn’t know if it was different or something,” Brendon said, standing in the doorway with him.

“Let’s go, this hallway’s clear. And you’re fine, everything’s okay,” Ryan said, looking at the dark-eyed Performer with a small smile. He would have kissed him if that wouldn’t have made the disguise come off. It looked like Brendon understood and Ryan moved then to go down the hallway with Brendon following behind him.

It happened like that a few more times. They would stop at the end of a hallway and check to make sure that there wasn’t anyone coming that would notice them. There were a few close calls and a few times where the two of them had to separate to avoid being seen, but it all worked out and they got to the floor that Spencer said was most likely to have the Head of Heads.

Apparently, the man didn’t occupy much of the rest of the house for very long and stayed primarily on the one floor. Spencer and Ryan decided that looking there was most important. If Ryan and Brendon hadn’t found him by the time Spencer came, he would check the floors that they went through and somehow let the two of them know.

“Here’s where we have to be really careful. If we freak him out and he calls for guards, we’re pretty much screwed,” Ryan reminded Brendon quietly at the top of the stairs where they were crouching. Brendon nodded and got up. They’d agreed that he would cover one side of the floor, and Ryan would get the other.

Ryan took off right after Brendon, ducking into a room on his left. It was empty of people, that much he was sure of. Still, he had to look around a little first. The room was well furnished and it was rather extravagant. It looked like a guest room or some kind of room for gathering and Ryan wondered, not for the first time, what the Head of Heads needed this much space for. He shook his head, though, and left the room again, moving on.

He was about to look into another room when Brendon made a noise. Ryan looked over and saw the boy pressed against the wall beside the door, eyes wide. When their eyes met, Brendon motioned for him to come over. Cautiously, Ryan moved to the other side of the hallway and positioned himself on the other side of the door. Brendon pointed to the interior of the room and mouthed, ‘I found him. I think it’s his bed room.’ Ryan nodded and looked inside for himself.

The inside of the room was decorated like all of the others. Sitting on the bed was the one person that they’d come to see, though. He was dressed in various shades of green and he was holding a book on his lap and looking at it intently. Or, Ryan thought it was a book until the young man moved his finger across the thing’s surface.

Ryan looked up again at Brendon and nodded. He signaled that he was going to go into the room first but that Brendon should follow right behind him. Brendon nodded and Ryan took a breath before moving so he was in the doorway and walking into the room, feeling Brendon right behind him.

The Head of Heads didn’t notice them, still lounging on his bed and staring at whatever it was that he had in his lap. Not only was it strange that he wasn’t aware of their presence, so focused was he with the thing he was holding, but he also wasn’t wearing his mask. His face was kind of young-looking, but it was obvious that he was about nineteen or twenty. He did have a little bit of stubble on his face, making his age a little more obvious. All in all he was well built, not super skinny and not fat, just fit. He had brown hair that grew over his forehead and, from what Ryan could see, brown eyes.

Brendon looked at him with a question in his eyes. Ryan only shrugged in response. It was awkward, standing there without being acknowledged, and Ryan knew that they had to get things moving. After considering a few options, he chose the most basic one, clearing his throat in an obvious way.

The man’s head snapped up, eyes wide and alarmed before he seemed to recognize that they were just people and relaxed a little. Still, he frowned in confusion and set the thing he was holding beside him. “Who are you? And, it’s late, what are you doing in my room?” He sat up a little straighter still frowning at the two of them.

It was Brendon’s job to do the introduction and he stepped up to the job. With a smile on his face, he bowed elegantly at the waist, looking up again, smile still present. “My name is Brendon and I’m a Performer. This is Ryan and he’s sort of a Performer. We’re here because we have something very important to talk to you about. I’m sorry about the time of night. It was the most convenient time for us,” he said confidently, the picture of friendliness.

The Head of Heads was still looking at them, looking like he was trying to figure out what to say. Eventually he’d decided and opened his mouth. “What do you mean ‘sort of a Performer’?” he asked, sounding like he might not want to know the answer to this question.

Ryan sighed to himself. Well, better sooner than later. He pulled Brendon to himself and kissed him hard because if he was going to do it he might as well make it worth it. The lights erupted around him, wrapping around his body and revealing his real skin.

The Head of Heads was gaping, looking dumbstruck. He shook himself out of it though and just looked at the two of them for a moment before opening his mouth. “Well, I guess while you’re here, think you could blow me?” he asked, pointing down at his crotch.

Ryan raised his eyebrows and blinked, fisting his hands at his sides and biting down on his immediate response. It seemed that Brendon was speechless, looking between him and the Head of Heads, cheeks coloring a little.

“No, I don’t think that I could do that,” Ryan said through gritted teeth, deciding to handle it. “I also don’t think that you should suggest anything like that again, or anymore because it isn’t going to happen and I’m not going to take it as well if you bring something like that up again,” he warned.

“You’re not taking it well now,” the young man pointed out.


“And don’t you kind of have to do it? Isn’t that the law?”

“You should know that, considering the fact that you’re the Head of Heads,” Ryan said, still seething, but glad for the chance to swing the conversation back into the point of the visit.

“My advisors handle the laws. They always have. That’s what they’re here for,” the young man said with an unconcerned shrug. That left Ryan shocked and Brendon was looking on, seeming to sense that there was something wrong.

“That’s exactly what we thought,” he said, but he turned to Ryan and whispered, “Right?” Ryan nodded, still looking at the man in front of them in shock.

“I don’t understand your reaction. This is how it’s supposed to be. I don’t know what you were expecting.”

Spencer came into the room then and the Head of Head’s eyes widened and he just looked on as Spencer approached them, eyes following every movement. For the meantime, though, Spencer ignored him.

“So, did you get to talking to him?”

“We talked to him, but we didn’t get to the more important part. He kind of insulted Ryan and it’s gone downhill from that point. We learned that he doesn’t know any of the laws though, says that it’s the job of his advisors,” Brendon answered.

Spencer frowned a little. “So it’s what we thought.” Ryan nodded.

“So, if he won’t do anything for me, I’m assuming you’d be willing to do me a little favor?” the Head of Heads said again, obviously addressing Spencer and motioning to the spot between his legs again.

Spencer only smirked and walked closer to him. “I’m not a Satisfier. I’m an Assassin,” he said through the same little smile. “You can probably take care of that yourself anyway,” he said, nodding down at the same spot. The Head of Heads just stared at him, mouth open.

“Well, good news is that we found him. Bad news, we’ll have to take him back to the building since nothing’s been covered with him and there are people around everywhere.”

“Not my fault,” Ryan responded with a shrug. “He was just determined to get me close to his dick. I can’t help defending myself now that I can.” Spencer rolled his eyes but there was a little smile on his face. He turned back to the Head of Heads instead of answering.

“So what’s your name?” he asked.

“Jon. Yours?”

“Maybe later. There are more important things to do first,” Spencer replied, grabbing the Head of Heads by the upper arm and dragging him up to a standing position. Jon reached out and caught hold of his mask before Spencer started steering him to the window. Brendon looked bemused and Ryan just followed the first two to the window, smirking.


It was a bit of an ordeal getting the Head of Heads to the Secret Authority building. He was resistant and tried to get them to answer his questions. Brendon looked out of his depth, Ryan was just amused by the asshole’s predicament, and Spencer seemed unaffected.

Eventually they were inside, going up from the street. It was harder than from the roof, but it was apparently the more friendly thing to do to Jon judging by his reaction when Brendon asked why they weren’t going in from the roof.

When they got inside the building, Spencer led them to a totally different part in the near dark. They came to a room and he turned the lights on, squeezing his eyes shut for a few seconds and blinking for another minute after that. Jon just looked petrified, obviously not in love with the idea about where they were. Still, Spencer made him sit down in a chair and motioned for Brendon and Ryan to sit while he started pacing.

“Here’s the deal, Jon. Life in this city sucks right now and it’s largely because you’re not around and people don’t know who you are. Obviously you aren’t deathly ill like the people who work for you always claim. I don’t know what they’ve done to you and I don’t know what they’re doing, but here’s the thing: You need to step up and lead your people. Bad things are happening because no one’s ever seen you,” Spencer said, stopping and making eye contact with the Head of Heads. Jon only stared back.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. “I’ve never heard that anything was wrong.”

Spencer motioned for Ryan to stand up and talk, which Ryan did gladly. “I’m evidence that something’s wrong. Obviously I was born a Satisfier for whatever reason. Here’s the thing though, I hate it, always have, always will. When I first met Spencer I begged him to kill me for running into him and then pinning him to the wall for calling me a whore. Back then, about three weeks ago, all I wanted was to get out of this life that I’d been living. Instead, though, he gave me this.” Ryan held up the little disguise cube. “Through this, my life got infinitely better because it got me away from what it was that I hated to do.” Ryan stepped away and opened the cube, letting the lights re-dress him as a Performer again, he took the mask off and rubbed the make-up away. “For the past three weeks I’ve been able to live as a Performer and I met Brendon. But, you see, it’s illegal. The only way in the entire fucking world that I could be happy was by doing something illegal that I would be killed for if I was caught. Long story short, I was caught and I was put in Holding. These two rescued me though and I’m working on being okay again.

“That’s a sign that something’s wrong. I would have died for trying to make my life better. You see, normally a person would be able to make a report to the Head of Heads and all of it could have been avoided. You’re never at the meetings though and we aren’t able to take our concerns or our questions to your advisors because that goes against regulation. I don’t even know about all of the problems in other divisions but there are mad grabs for power and people are losing confidence because they don’t have a real leader.

“You need to show your people that you’re here and that you’re going to help them. Obviously this mess has been stirring for a while. People need your help, yours, and your “advisors” standing in your place is not going to help them, it will only create more discontent.”

Spencer picked up right where Ryan left off. “I think that the people who work for you are trying to take over. I noticed that you weren’t doing any work and your room looks well lived in. I’d guess that you don’t ever do any work and that you spend most of your time in your room, letting them run things. So you need to shake them off and start leading for yourself.”

Jon’s arms were crossed over his chest and his eyes were narrowed at Spencer and Ryan. “And what if I don’t want to? Why would I want to do that work when my advisors will do it for me?”

“Because the world is crumbling under them,” Spencer growled, planting his hands on the arms of Jon’s chair, their faces only inches apart. “If you don’t do something, it will fall apart completely.”

The Head of Heads looked a little scared and possibly shocked that someone was talking to him that way but he regained his composure. “I’ve lived this long away from the rest of the world, it’s not going to affect me.”

“Except for the fact that it will,” Ryan hissed back, anger rising.

“Listen to them, they know what they’re talking about. Both of them are here in the city all the time. I’m never out here, but I can already tell after going around the little bit that I have that something’s wrong. Everything’s uneasy and from what I’ve heard from them, it’s worse than just that. I almost lost Ryan because of fucked up laws and a fucked up situation that could have been fixed with your help. There are probably other people like that,” Brendon said. He sounded impatient and his voice was tight. Ryan turned to look at him and saw that he was glaring darkly at the Head of Heads.

Jon just gazed steadily back and Spencer drew a knife from one of the many hiding places in his skin. “That’s it. Both of you, leave for a little bit. Just go into the room across the hall. I have to talk to the Head of Heads in private,” he said, not looking at either of them, just staring back at Jon.

Brendon walked to the door, Ryan following behind him. They went through the door across the hall and shut it. Ryan moved over to where the light fixture was and turned it on for Brendon. Brendon moved to the other side of the room and turned to look at him, leaning against the wall. He looked vaguely irritated still, but also a little worried.

“So, what do you think Spencer’s doing?” he asked.

Ryan smirked. “Making him care, I’d guess. Oh, don’t worry. He’s not going to hurt him, too much.” He hoped that the Head of Heads at least got seriously shaken. He’d told his story, not in too much detail, but enough for him to get an idea of the state of the world and the asshole didn’t care. He shrugged and asked why he should do anything.

“I know, I know. So, while that’s being taken care of and everything’s working semi-well, would you like to tell me the rest of your story? I mean, we’re on the subject and all,” Brendon said. He had a small, trusting smile on his face.

Accompanied by a sigh, Ryan sank onto the bed that was in the room. Brendon walked over and sat beside him, saying nothing and just waiting because he obviously knew that Ryan was going to tell him. Ryan leaned forward, elbows on his knees and put his face in his hands to get himself ready.

“Okay, so whenever a Satisfier is born, there are a few reactions that the parents have. Some of them cling to the baby and try to impose all of their good, pure, righteousness to try and convert them or something. There are some who go up a degree and try to actually get the child changed psychologically because there are the people who think that you get your skin based completely on your personality. Then there are the parents who just treat the kid normally, raise them up until they’re ten, and then they let them go to the building. All of those parents are the ones who actually care about the child itself. This is all fact, by the way, I’ve seen and heard about all of it.

“My parents, though, are different. I was born and like everyone else the lights came down instantly to give me my skin, covering me up completely. I’ve pictured the both of them looking on and holding their breath as they waited to see what their baby was to grow up to be. When the lights died down and the black and gold was revealed, I’m guessing they were repulsed judging by their following actions. They hardly ever saw me, they didn’t want to hold me or anything for the rest of the week that they had to stay among the Medics, this is something that I know for a fact. At the end of the week when the new happy family was able to leave, they took me to the Satisfiers’ building and were done with me.

“Satisfiers aren’t heartless and they want sex basically all the time but they can focus on other things. I guess I’m lucky that they cared enough to take care of this baby that had suddenly been dropped among them. I’ve been living at the building for my entire life. I grew up around all of that, I was raised by all of that. At the very beginning I didn’t hate them or myself because I didn’t know any better, though I figured out soon enough that it wasn’t normal for children to grow up around the people of their division. Still, I was able to maintain my innocence in not hating all of the people around me.

“Inevitably, as I grew up they stopped fussing with me so much. I didn’t care so much about that fact, except that there wasn’t anyone being careful about what I was seeing and hearing. It wasn’t long until I learned just exactly what I was going to grow up to do and I started to hate it. I was really young with all of this, maybe four, but I already knew that I didn’t want to be a part of any of it.

“I know that I should maybe be grateful and less judgmental about the people who raised me when they could have easily just not cared. It’s just that they never really actually cared about me, they cared for me, made sure that I didn’t die or anything and that I was well-fed and had someone to watch me and talk to me. After I was old enough to pretty much handle myself they all left me to myself and went back to what they really wanted to do.

“Then Wyatt came along when he was ten. I was five years old and this new boy was there. It was obvious that he was excited to be where he was, but there was something about him that was a little different from everyone else.

“He paid attention to me, noticed something about me. He never really reached out to make contact with me but I could always kind of feel his gaze on me. It wasn’t even close to the way Jeffry was with you, it wasn’t bad, just like he was watching me. It was kind of nice, he made me feel safe in a way, like he would protect me if he needed to.” Ryan trailed off and shook his head to get rid of the thoughts and get back on track with the story.

“The Head Satisfier died by the time I was ten. The Heads don’t generally live very long. Wyatt became the new one, though, and he was fifteen. I was nervous to go out my first time and I hid in an alley for most of the day until it got late and I decided to leave. That was when the door opened and some man came out. He took me inside and I was cold and I was ten so I was way too trusting. Anyway, he made me feel all safe and everything, then he took my innocence, told me that he was ‘showing me what it was that I was doing’ and tricking me into trusting him. Now that I actually think back on it, he was actually very good to me, very thorough and he didn’t hurt me much at all compared to how much it could have hurt and how careless he could have been.

“When he was done, I went back to the building. The Head Satisfier was waiting for me and he took me to his room. I was all worked up and scared. He started trying to calm me down, got me to relax, then he, you know, laid me down and fucked me, too, like it was nothing. After that, I started to hate him, too. That was the first time that he called me by my nickname, ‘Little Bird’, though I think he always referred to me that way before he was the Head. He explained later that it’s because I’ve always been so skinny and light-looking, I looked just like a bird and I’m five years younger than him, so that’s where he gets the little part.

“I’m his favorite. He’ll wait up for me to get back home and he’ll take me upstairs, or he’ll leave a message with one of the others for when I get back, as if I don’t hate the whole thing enough already. It doesn’t matter though, I’m supposed to like it, I’m supposed to want it and need it the way all of the other divisions want to do what they do.

“You see, all Satisfiers do really, genuinely want to just have sex. They don’t feel bad about it and they really want it. That part of the rumors is true. It’s just a thing that’s programmed or something, I guess. It’s like how the Informants can’t lie and how they’re good at getting information and they want to tell people about it, and Performers are naturally talented and they want to perform. It’s like that with all of the divisions.

“With me, though, I’ve never liked it. I’ve never wanted to do it all the time with anyone who would look at me. I don’t understand it and I don’t think that the way that I grew up had any effect on it, either.” Ryan shook his head. “You can guess how the rest of the years have gone until that night that I ran into Spencer and he changed my life for the better,” Ryan ended, letting his body go slack, his elbows completely supporting his body.

Brendon was quiet, but he seemed to snap out of his motionless-ness. In a flash, he’d pulled Ryan up and was hugging him. They were as close as they could be, contact between everything above their hips. Brendon wasn’t holding him tight; the better word would probably be securely. Ryan let his eyes shut and he put his arms around the other boy’s back, letting himself soak in the feeling.

“You are the strongest person that I have ever met,” Brendon whispered over Ryan’s shoulder. Then he pulled away and looked him in the eyes, a certain depth to the dark brown that made Ryan pay attention. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be you and to live through what you have. Ryan, you’re strong and brave and I can’t believe what I said to you when I found out about your real skin.” Now Brendon looked dismayed.

“Brendon, listen,” Ryan said, putting a hand on the side of the younger boy’s face. “That’s all in the past. I don’t care about it anymore. And it’s not like you knew what you were saying,” he said, making sure that Brendon was looking at him and paying attention.

It looked like Brendon was going to say something, like he was searching for words, but he abandoned the effort and surged forward instead, pressing his lips to Ryan’s. Ryan was startled, but not displeased and once he’d recovered from the surprise he kissed back.

“I’m so glad you ran into Spencer,” Brendon mumbled when they parted a little for breath.

“Me too,” Ryan replied the next time they had to breathe. He’d never really realized how annoying the need to breathe was until then. He smiled to himself, not able to believe, even now, his luck.

Then there was a knock on the door and Ryan remembered where they were and why. “You can come back, now,” Spencer said. He sounded smug and Ryan smirked at nothing, standing up and turning to offer Brendon his hand. Now he didn’t mind being interrupted so much as the thought of what they were doing came back to mind.

When they opened the door, Ryan was amused to see that Spencer looked smug too. He nodded a little at Ryan and went back to the room that Jon was in.

The Head of Heads wasn’t tied up and he didn’t look bodily injured. The only difference was that the arrogant gleam in his eye was gone and he wasn’t holding his head like he was better than all of them. Now he looked just like them.

When they all came into the room, he stood up and glanced down at the floor before looking at them again. “I have to apologize. Spencer’s not making me or anything,” he glanced over at the boy dressed in black. “But I’m sorry for what I said and for not thinking that your problems are important. I really can explain the way I acted. This part, Spencer already knows about,” he looked over at Spencer again before looking back at them.

“It’s not an excuse or anything, but it might make you hate me a little less,” he said, smiling a little. Ryan decided that he would listen. It sounded and looked like Jon really meant it

“Okay, go ahead,” Ryan said, nodding and leaning against the wall by Spencer. Brendon looked interested and he stood where he was, arms crossed.

“With the Head of Heads the exchange when one dies works differently than what Spencer told me about out here. I was born obviously in the green and I wasn’t able to be with my parents for ten years like everyone else until I went to the building. As soon as I could be, I was taken to the building, I spent about a week with my parents as a baby before I was taken there. I still get to see them, of course, though. Anyway, I was taken to the building and the late Head of Heads helped care for me along with all of the others. From what I understand, when a regular Head dies, the next one is revealed.” He glanced at Spencer then, looking unsure. Spencer only nodded.

“The way it worked with me, though, it was different. Apparently they already knew that I was going to be the next Head of Heads and my mask was already made. It works that way because the mask that the Head of Heads gets doesn’t change; the Head of Heads never works as anything else so the one we get as a kid is the one that we keep. The mask remains the same all the time. Of course I wasn’t needed at the time and I was just raised as a kid, I guess, no training or lessons.

“When I was about six the late Head of Heads died and I was finally allowed to put on my mask and take over. I was really little, though, so all of my advisors and the people around me took control for me since I couldn’t very well do it. I’m not sure about you but I wouldn’t like being led by a six year old. They said that they would take care of it and that I didn’t need to worry about it.

“I grew up sheltered and I never learned what it is that I need to do. Now that I look back on it, they kept me as far away as possible from what was going on. Eventually I was convinced that it wasn’t anything to be concerned about. It was just ingrained in my head that they could obviously handle it and they didn’t need me. When I was growing up I never knew what the late Head of Heads did so I didn’t know any better. I never learned what it was that I was supposed to be doing,” Jon said. He shrugged a little.

“I didn’t know that I was supposed to be in charge and that I was supposed to be going to meetings and helping people. I especially didn’t know about all of the problems and everything that happens out there until Spencer told me, and you Ryan. So I’m really sorry for being insensitive and for not making things better.”

Spencer nodded and stepped forward. “The same story that he told me. The people that supposedly work under you have taken all of the control. They’ve babied him and kept him away and ignorant of his responsibilities. Really, he can’t be blamed for not doing anything since he didn’t know that there was anything to be done. Now, though, you realize that you need to take your power back, right?” Spencer was switching between talking to Jon and to Ryan and Brendon.

Jon nodded and Ryan answered, “Yes, I realize that he’s not to blame for his ignorance. So what are we going to do about the ignorance? And how is he going to get the power back? I’m sure these people have a plan in case you decided to get smart one day and try to ask questions or take your rightful place.”

The looks that he got in response to that statement told him that the others didn’t know where he was coming up with this, even Spencer. He sighed, “People who want power and actually work to get it don’t want to give it up. Sure, there are the ones that don’t plan ahead and who just get comfortable with it, but the older guy who always talks at the meetings--”

“Andrew?” Jon asked.

“Yeah, whatever, I’ve never liked him, I’ve always gotten a bad feeling whenever I saw him or heard him talk. He’s smarter, I can tell. He has a plan to hold onto this power. To get it back from him is going to be hard and we’re going to have to be smart about it. It would be best, actually, to have Jon safely in place before we even make it public to anyone—including Andrew—that Jon is going to actually be the Head of Heads and do what he’s supposed to do. It needs to be sure that we have a firm grip on the position before we let Andrew know that he doesn’t have his power anymore,” Ryan finished. He only hoped that the others would understand that now. “I mean, we can’t really go in there and have Jon say, ‘back down, I’m taking back the power that belongs to me’,” Ryan said again.

Spencer shook his head a little. “Right, right, that makes sense. We’ll have to come up with a plan of some kind.”

“Yay, more planning. This is exactly how I imagined being out here,” Brendon said sarcastically, sitting down at the table and leaning his head into one of his hands. Ryan smiled a little and sat down beside him.

“This is extremely important though Bren.”

“So what do you suggest we do first, Ryan? Obviously you know what’s going on and you have an idea about what needs to be done,” Jon said, sitting back down and looking at him interestedly. Spencer also sat down and looked at him.

Ryan thought about it a minute. “We need to get rid of your ignorance. You need to be introduced to the people; you have to know who you’re going to be leading. We could also maybe rally some support. We won’t tell them who you really are or what we’re doing, but we could ask them about their views on the state of the city and their opinion of the leaders. Be prepared to hear some nasty things, Jon,” Ryan said.

Jon nodded. “I probably deserve most of it.”

“We should probably stay away from the Performers,” Brendon said quietly and all the attention turned to him. He looked a little surprised that his muttering had been heard. “Well, Jeffry will be looking out for me, waiting for me to come back. But, you know, if I went over alone, I could get in touch with Mason, Alistair, Erik, Mike and Laura,” he said, sounding excited and turning his wide eyes on Ryan. “They would be thrilled to help out, you know that.”

“I don’t want you going there alone. What if you run into Jeffry? You might not get away,” Ryan said, feeling a little nervous.

“I could go with him,” Spencer volunteered. “I’ll hang out on a roof and watch. If something bad happens, I’ll get him out of it.” Ryan flashed him a look of thanks. “I’m pretty confident of your ability to introduce Jon to the right people until we join up with you again.”

“Okay,” Ryan said, nodding slowly. “That would work.” He exchanged a glance with Jon and nodded again. “Okay, I feel comfortable with that.” Brendon rolled his eyes.

“What’s our next move?” Jon asked, sounding interested. He was paying attention to Ryan as were the other two.

Again, Ryan thought about it. “When Jon knows the people and we have their support for a change in the system, we’ll have to get him back in. You two,” he motioned to Spencer and Jon, “know the interior of that building. I have a little of it memorized but I’m sure the two of you know it better. To get things started, we’ll have to get you back inside, Jon. You know what? Maybe you will have to tell Andrew that he’s lost his power.”

Ryan smiled a little and stood up, still thinking. “Yeah, yeah, that would be a good show of your authority, especially if you do it front of a group of people.”

“Like a party?” Jon asked. The look on his face was a cross between confusion and excitement. Obviously he was much more eager about doing this than before.

“That could work,” Ryan said.

“If I asked them for a party, they would give me one,” Jon said. “And I could ask them if they would let me invite the rest of the town.”

“You could do it after a performance. That would be one of the easiest ways to get the Performers to show up,” Brendon supplied. He looked excited too but there was something else underneath it and Ryan made a mental note to ask about it later.

“And, what, you’ll say that you’ve come back to take your power? I thought that this guy had a plan and that we’ll have to outsmart him in order to get Jon back where he belongs,” Spencer said.

“Right, we will. We will. This is where you help out Spence,” Ryan said. “You’re the Secret Authority. Plans are kind of your specialty.”

“You’re the one that seems to understand this strange desire for power,” Spencer returned.

“True. So let’s all of us combine our efforts to make a plan. We’ll take Jon’s knowledge of the people at his building, we’ll take your surreptitious tendencies, we’ll take Brendon’s knowledge of human nature, and we’ll take my ability to predict what power-hungry people are planning. Altogether we should be able to come up with an idea. After all, it was the three of us last night and look how successful it turned out,” Ryan answered, gesturing to Jon.

“Alright, so let’s get to work,” Spencer said, leaning forward with a wicked smile on his face.


Hours later, back in their room, Ryan caught a glimpse of that thing that was in Brendon’s eyes before. It was mixed together with some other things but Ryan definitely saw it there. He considered himself an expert on reading Brendon’s eyes now.

"Is there something wrong?” he asked, shutting off the light and going back to the bed where Brendon was lying.

“No, everything’s great. We’re going to make everything better. I don’t know why something would be wrong,” Brendon answered. He sounded cautious and confused.

Now it was unmistakable. Ryan knew that there was something wrong with Brendon and that it was something big. “I don’t believe you. I think that there is something wrong,” he said, putting his arms around the younger boy. He could make him out of the darkness but he realized that Brendon was probably about blind. Maybe that would be better though. Maybe if Ryan couldn’t see it, Brendon would be more likely to say something.

“You know how I said that I was feeling anxious last night about not being around the Performers? It’s worse now. I want to be here but I feel like I should be there,” he said. “I’d do more good there,” he muttered and Ryan knew that he wasn’t supposed to have heard it but he did and it concerned him.

“What do you mean you’d ‘do more good there’?” he asked, unable to help the tone in his voice that betrayed his concern.

Brendon laughed humorlessly and didn’t even try to deny it. “I’m not doing any more here. I can’t do anything, I don’t know anything that’s important to what we’re trying to do. I wasn’t able to input any to the plan,” he said. “Around the three of you, especially you and Spencer, I’m just a stupid Performer that doesn’t know anything about how things work out here.” He sounded kind of angry, Ryan was surprised to notice.

“What do you mean? You gave us a way to contact the Performers and you gave us a specific time that we should have the party at. Brendon you’re not useless here and you aren’t stupid,” Ryan tried to soothe him.

“Oh really? What can I do that’s any benefit besides going and tipping five people off about what’s going on? I can’t add any more. I can’t do anything else. After that you don’t need my help anymore and I can’t go back to the Performers because Jeffry will fucking freak out and lock me up somewhere.”

“If he does, I’ll set Spencer on him,” Ryan warned, then he shook his head. “Brendon, like I said earlier, you have an understanding of human nature. You know how people act and you’re able to understand people and what they do. Having you along will help with the people that we come across. You aren’t useless.”

“Spencer said it himself, you’ll be able to handle it. And I know I’m not useless, back home, but out here I am. All of you are able to understand what’s going on but I have to ask questions about almost everything. There’s nothing that I can do out here unless we’re going to need someone to play the piano at some point.”

“Brendon stop it. You’re smart and you’re learning. There were so many places tonight where we were talking about stuff you didn’t know about and you didn’t ask a question about it, so you’re obviously figuring stuff out on your own. You’re doing just fine. Spencer even told me that he’s impressed with you,” Ryan said.

“I don’t feel like I belong out here, Ryan. I’m away from home. I really, really love what I do and where I live, Ryan. I don’t know if I can do this. Out here everything is different and all of this is real, this isn’t a show. There are real consequences and if I fuck something up, it’s fucked up and it’ll take time to fix or it won’t be fixed and I’ll have fucked up the entire thing,” Brendon said dismally, breaking Ryan’s heart.

Ryan knew that words weren’t going to work right now and merely pulled the boy closer to him, letting Brendon cling to him and bury his face in his neck. He simply rested his chin on Brendon’s shoulder and turned his head to kiss his hair. Brendon sniffed a little and Ryan pulled him even closer. He didn’t say anything, just rubbed Brendon’s back and breathed steadily.

“I’m sorry, Ryan. I just, being out here is so strange. I don’t always know what’s going on, I don’t know how to handle everything, and I don’t like that I can’t help out more. I wish that I could give more ideas when we do this planning stuff and that what I do come up with didn’t sound so stupid.” It didn’t sound like he was crying, but he was obviously close.

“Brendon, it’s okay. You’re absolutely perfect. I don’t care that you don’t know what’s going on and that you aren’t an expert on the way people lie and look out for themselves. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why I first fell in love with you. You aren’t suspicious, you don’t immediately assume that someone’s lying or that they’re doing something because they’ll get something out of it the way I do. Your innocence is such a sweet, wonderful respite from what usually plagues my mind,” Ryan whispered back. He moved his head enough to kiss Brendon on the forehead, rubbing his back some more.

“I’m glad that I can do that,” Brendon mumbled, sounding like he was feeling better.

“That’s one of the reasons why you have to stay with us. I need you around,” Ryan said. This time Brendon pulled back enough to kiss him on the lips. It was sweet and it was definitely what they both needed.

It was silent for a few minutes and Ryan wished that Brendon would share what he was thinking. Eventually the quiet was broken, though. “I’m okay now. Now there’s nothing wrong,” Brendon mumbled again. He shifted a little closer and settled down, obviously positioning himself for sleep.

“I’m glad to hear it.” Ryan, too, settled into the bed and repositioned his hold on Brendon. Sleep washed up and he welcomed it gladly. They were only getting a few hours of sleep since Jon’s tour around the city, meeting all of the people would have to take place during the day.

If he’d been conscious enough to do it, Ryan would have shook his head. Oh, the things he was willing to do to make things better, not just for him, but for everyone.

Jon's mask:
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