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

Act 9

by GealachGirl 3 reviews

Set-up. Jon has to figure out what he's been missing and things need to be set into motion before anything else can happen. Working toward their goal one step at a time.

Category: Panic! At The Disco - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2012-07-14 - Updated: 2012-07-14 - 9469 words - Complete

I've returned! Sorry about that. My last computer broke on the 3rd, the little bit inside the computer that the charger connects to broke off and it obviously died eventually. It cost more to fix than to replace so I got a new one. Only problem was that Best Buy didn't have the computer I decided on and had to order it. It got there late Wednesday and I spent all of Thursday re-installing a bunch of shit and I had to go buy Microsoft 2010 again (on Friday). Now it's all good though. During my little hiatus I didn't really get a lot of writing done because it didn't feel right and I didn't have much access to other computers since my mom needs hers for her business and the desktop has Word 1990-something making me unable to open any of the documents. Act 10 isn't done but it's been a long time and I figured that my OCD was freaking out more about that than sticking to the pattern I've had this whole time. Hopefully I'll get back on track. Thanks to anyone who's still holding out for this story. Rate and review?

Somehow Ryan knew when to wake up and after only a few minutes of blinking he moved out of bed, dragging Brendon with him to get him up. While Brendon was busy waking up, Ryan looked out the door to see if Spencer was there yet since they had to wait for him to get there before they went out.

“You’re mean,” Brendon mumbled, coming to join him at the door. He still looked tired, like he hadn’t woken up completely yet. Ryan couldn’t help smiling.

“What, for making you get out of bed and wake up?” he asked, thoroughly amused with the look on Brendon’s face. He was rubbing his eyes with his fists and his hair was sticking up in every possible direction. Ryan just smiled wider.


He was going to say something but Spencer was coming down the hall with Jon. The black-clothed boy waved and nodded for them to come out into the hallway. Ryan opened the door more and pulled Brendon out since he was still yawning and smoothing his hair down.

They fell into step with the other two as they went to the opening in the building. There, Spencer clarified that he and Brendon were going to the Performers’ building right away. After that they would join up with Ryan and Jon. While Brendon was doing his thing, Ryan was going to be taking Jon around to see the city and meet people. Jon nodded to all of Spencer’s reiteration of the plan while Ryan and Brendon rolled their eyes at Spencer’s need to repeat all of it.

It ended, though, and they left the building. They were going to split up there, but not until Ryan told Brendon to be as careful as he could be and he told Spencer that he’d better get Brendon back at the end of the day. Spencer nodded and put a hand on his arm, giving him a look that told Ryan that he had Spencer’s word. Spencer also took Jon off to the side and they talked about something or other, heads close together, making Brendon and Ryan exchange a look.

Then it was time to leave since Brendon determined that the Performers had probably started practicing by now. With that, Spencer nodded and the two of them were off. Jon turned to Ryan and gave him a cautious smile.

“So, should we get going?” he asked cautiously, gauging Ryan’s reaction. Obviously he realized that Ryan was going to be the least likely to be nice to him after what he said yesterday and now he knew how serious an insult it was to him. Ryan only nodded, though, and looked out into the street to make sure no one was around so no one got curious about where they’d come from.

He motioned for Jon to follow him and slipped out onto the street. It wasn’t that he was still mad about anything that Jon had said, he was over all of it, he just needed a reason to believe that it wasn’t going to happen again. His cavalier attitude may have been broken last night, but Ryan wanted proof when the other man wasn’t around Spencer anymore.

“You know I’m sorry for what I said yesterday and last night,” Jon said, hurrying to catch up with Ryan while he was skirting along the side of a building at the end of the block. Ryan brushed the front of his red and yellow Instructors disguise and walked around the corner, pulling Jon along with him by his forearm. Jon stopped them, though, and pulled Ryan around. “I’m serious, I didn’t realize how bad it was or what it meant to you when I said it. Now that I know, I’m sorry. What else do you want?” He looked really agitated.

“It’s not that. I want to know that you really will be a good leader to all of us. I want to know for a fact that you’re not haughty and apathetic when you’re away from Spencer,” Ryan returned, shortly, before shaking out of Jon’s grip and moving forward again.

No response came and Ryan reached behind him again so he could hold Jon’s arm again. He couldn’t wear his Performer disguise because Performers didn’t go out during the day. Jon couldn’t wear a disguise. They’d tried several times with several different ones, but the lights wouldn’t come out and disguise him like they did with everyone else. Spencer guessed that it was because Jon was the Head of Heads. So, Spencer took the mask and hid it somewhere so they could get it later and Jon was posing as someone who worked under the Head of Heads, checking things out in the city.

It was a risky idea, since it had never happened before and it might make people suspicious, but it was the only thing that they could do. That was why Ryan was dressed as an Instructor. They could pretend that he was teaching Jon and that would give him an excuse for going up to people and talking to them. It was the only plan that they could come up with that worked that well. This was the only idea with only one suspicious thing.

“Alright, we’re close to the main square now. Just stay by me and please kind of follow my directions,” Ryan said, bracing himself for what they were going to see when they turned the corner. Once again, he wasn’t going to be doing any blending in since he was with someone in a green skin. He sighed a little and looked behind him for Jon’s reluctant nod, then he moved on and they were met with the sight of all the people that usually occupied the main square of the city.

When they were around the corner, he stood up straight and tried to carry himself the way he’d seen Instructors did and he kept a firm grip on the sleeve of Jon’s skin. “I’m showing you around and explaining different things to you because you’re new and you don’t know how everything works out here. I’m an Instructor and I’m teaching you about all of this,” Ryan said quietly, as they walked on. It was to help Jon remember his part and that he really was supposed to follow Ryan’s instructions to make it look legitimate. They also really didn’t need to cause a scene arguing or something.

Jon nodded and stayed silent. This time it wasn’t because he was sulking, though. This time it was because he was staring at everything that was going on with a look of awe on his face. The sight of it reminded Ryan of Brendon and his reaction to being out here even though he hadn’t seen it busy with people.

The thought made him remember what it was that Brendon was doing right now, sneaking into his own home and secretly meeting with people to let them know what was going on and to get their help. And at any time, the Head Performer could do something if he found out about it. Ryan shook the thought away and tuned back into what he was doing. Brendon could handle himself just fine and Spencer was there to help him if things did get out of control.

Ryan stopped the two of them and looked out over the crowd with Jon, trying to decide who they should go to first. He didn’t have much time, though, because he saw something that made his blood run cold. Quickly, he moved the two of them to the side so they were hiding behind the edge of a building. Jon gave him a ‘what the fuck?’ look and Ryan gestured.

Walking by, almost right where they’d been standing, was a Satisfier. The fifteen year old in the tight skin had a Worker by the hand and he was obviously taking him back to the Satisfiers’ building. Ryan held his breath until they disappeared.

“What was that?” Jon asked, brushing himself off when Ryan let go and they both walked back into the open.

“I know that kid really well. He would have recognized me. Seeing as how I’m supposed to be dead, that would be a really bad thing,” Ryan explained. The Head Satisfier was all about taking younger people under your wing and helping them out. The kid that had just walked past was one of the people that Ryan had mentored over the years. “He might not have thought it was me, but he would have stopped and asked questions.”

Jon raised an eyebrow and looked in the direction that the kid had disappeared. He didn’t say anything and just waited until Ryan started looking at the city again. Ryan didn’t like the way it seemed like Jon was studying him but there wasn’t much that he could do so he ignored it.

“Okay, let’s go talk to the Providers. They’re the ones with orange skins. They have a lot of their stuff out here, but there are teams in kitchens that actually prepare meals and make them out of an extension building here in the city. The building where they live is outside the city, out among the things they grow. That’s what they give to people,” Ryan explained, steering Jon toward one of the stalls. They were also the least suspicious people next to the Performers. It would be a good starting point for them.

“Hello,” a thin, tanned boy maybe a year younger than Ryan with brown hair said with a smile that was bright like his skin. “Would you like help?” He looked at them innocently, still smiling. Jon looked curious.

“Actually, I wanted to introduce my…friend here to the different divisions,” Ryan said. “I thought that he should hear all the details from people who actually know what they’re talking about. Would you talk to him about what you do and how your life is? Both your life back at home and your life as a Provider,” Ryan said, trying his best to make it sound like he wasn’t trying to get unusual information. Starting with the Providers was partly for him, too, to get used to what he was asking for.

A shadow passed over the Provider’s face and his smile dimmed a little, but he nodded. “Sure I can. Outside of the city we live in a building that’s surrounded by our fields. Out here in the stalls we give what we grow that we don’t use to make other things. There’s also a building here in the city where some of the others cook things. People can go in and get the food made fresh. It’s all pretty nice. Life as a Provider isn’t necessarily easy, we have to work hard, but I like it and everyone else does, too. It sounds weird but I really like growing things and the idea that I’m helping to feed everyone in the city,” the smile returned to his face talking about it. Then he looked down. “Back at home, though, the last Head Provider died recently and it’s been kind of dangerous. Apparently it wasn’t clear who the last Head said was the new Head so people have started fighting. A lot of us, myself included, have started sleeping here in the city until it’s over.”

The Provider looked troubled and it was obvious that the next smile was a struggle to keep up. Ryan nodded. The stories that the Informants told conveyed it well but he didn’t realize how bad it really was. Jon looked like he was turning the information over in his head and he was frowning at the ground. Ryan didn’t want to interrupt in case the thoughts were important, but he nudged Jon’s arm for the next question.

"What do you think of the Head of Heads? How could he make things better, do you think?” This was a key that Jon needed so that he knew what he should do when he had his power back.

“The Head of Heads himself? Does he do anything? I thought that he was sick all the time. I guess, though, that if he wanted to make things better, he could come in and help settle the dispute. And he could maybe give the Providers who make things for people a bigger building to work out of.” Ryan nodded again and gladly took two fruits that the Provider offered, thanking him for his help.

They were walking away and Ryan looked at Jon. “Well? Was that informative?”

“He was right, I don’t do anything. How long has it been since the Head Provider died?”

“The Informants have been telling the story about the unrest for a month or so now.” Jon looked stricken.

“All this time I could have done something about it and I was in my room, messing around.” There was a look of dismay on his face that made Ryan think that maybe the Head of Heads wasn’t hopeless. Then the man looked angry. “And my advisors knew about this and weren’t doing anything? There are people who can’t go home because something’s happening that could be resolved with help and they haven’t done anything about it?”

Ryan shrugged. “They want power. They don’t want to help, they just want to be in control. This is exactly why you need to take your place. Now, come on, let’s go get more evidence.”

They went to the Workers next because they were the other people that mostly populated the streets. They weren’t quite as innocent and naïve as the Providers, but they were a little too focused on what they were doing to examine Jon and Ryan’s excuse.

“The Head of Heads could definitely do something for us,” the Worker they were talking to responded to Ryan’s question. “He could actually get his ass up and do something about the fact that we’re always short on supplies. Also, he could do something about the fact that not all of us have a place to sleep.” There were a lot of Workers. The bad thing that happened in the Workers’ building didn’t have anything to do with power, it just had to do with regular fighting because of the cramped space.

Again, Ryan thanked the woman that they’d been talking to. There wasn’t much else that he could say without giving something away but he wanted to tell her that something would be done about it soon. He could see the faint bruises that her tan and purple skin and her hair covered up. This time Jon didn’t say anything, just looked guilty and like he was thinking about something seriously.

The next targets were the Instructors that were out in the streets with the little kids that they were teaching. Ryan felt a little odd doing this one since it would be more suspicious but he wanted to avoid the Informants and the Enforcers for now and to talk to the Medics and the Creators they had to actually go to their buildings.

Luckily for Ryan, the man that they came across for the Instructors was with a little Performer girl and, therefore, had a light attitude. He was perfectly happy to oblige their questions.

“He works with the Head of Heads and he was sent down to gather information. He found me and asked if I would show him around since I don’t have anyone else to teach right now,” Ryan explained when the little Performer asked why Jon was so old.

He turned to the Instructor. “What do you think of the Head of Heads?” he asked. “Jon wants to know from several different people, and he wants your opinion on how things are going on back home and how you feel as an Instructor. I already told him my view, but, well, he wanted more,” Ryan said kind of nervously and shrugging in a what-can-you-do kind of way, hoping that the Instructor would buy it.

“Oh, well, I love being an Instructor to Performers. Studying it was great to begin with and now teaching these little kids about it is even better. At home it’s a little tense sometimes. I’m not really sure why, I’m sure you don’t either,” he addressed Ryan, “but you know what I’m talking about, right? No one’s really as close as I’ve heard they used to be. It’s mostly because our Head is so sick. I think that it’s making people a little worried since she can’t lead very well right now. As for the Head of Heads, I think that he’s just blowing off his work and that if he were actually doing something things would be better. I mean, he’s just been sick for so long, I don’t believe that he really is if he hasn’t gotten better. After all, he’s fairly young, about your age, right?” he addressed Jon and Jon nodded stiffly. “Young people can fight things off. I mean, no one’s even seen him once.”

“Thank you,” Ryan said, really liking how all of this was working. Once again, Jon looked like he was thinking and he looked a little horrified about what people were saying and especially what this Instructor thought. He wasn’t paying attention to anything and Ryan had to take ahold of his sleeve again, steering him through the streets.

Even by steering Jon it was hard to get through the streets without disrupting the stream of people. That in mind, Ryan took them to a side street that he knew would get them to the area that the two buildings were in. Going by this way was longer but Ryan knew that it would get them to their destination faster since there weren’t going to be any people. Luckily enough, the buildings for the Creators and the Medics were close to each other.

When they were on the street where the buildings were, Ryan stopped and tapped Jon to get him out of his thoughts. “Who do you want to talk to first?” he asked. “The Creators or the Medics?” He wasn’t sure why he was giving Jon a choice with this one. Maybe it was because Ryan had the feeling that both would be about the same to deal with and he thought that Jon should decide which people he wanted to hear from first.

Jon looked startled, too, but it looked like he was really thinking about the question, which was good. Last night or even earlier this morning, he would have shrugged and said that he didn’t care. The visible change made Ryan start to hope. It was dangerous and he knew that it might not end well, but he let it happen anyway, deciding to give Jon the benefit of the doubt.

“I want to talk to the Medics first so I know about their problems. They’re the ones that take care of people and any problem they have is possibly more serious,” he said decidedly, looking Ryan confidently in the eyes. Ryan suppressed the urge to smile and nodded, leading the way to the Medics’ building.

“It might take some time to find someone who isn’t busy,” Ryan warned as they stepped through the door. Jon only shrugged, looking determined. All of the conflict was gone from his eyes and Ryan thought that he looked ready for anything that he could hear now. It was encouraging.

There wasn’t anyone in the immediate vicinity so Ryan took the opportunity to move to the stairs so they might find someone who could talk to them. If he’d seen any on the street he would have stopped them and not bothered to come in here and try to take a Medic away from a patient. It was going to be quite difficult and Ryan realized that he and Jon were going to stick out terribly among the black and purple.

Ryan stopped outside of a door that he could hear noise behind. “You stay here, I’m going to find someone and bring them to you. The color of your skin is going to be too distracting. Just, stay here please?” he practically pleaded, not liking the way the Head of Head’s eyebrow raised at the beginning of the direction.

“And your skin that you’re wearing isn’t distracting or anything?” he asked.

“You’re right, but Instructors are seen in here sometimes. These people never see green unless it’s on stage at the meetings. You must have noticed the way people reacted out there,” Ryan explained, hoping that this was going to work out. This newfound determination might not be a good thing after all yet.

Jon nodded, though, obviously seeing his reasoning. Ryan thanked him and slipped through the door, into the busy room that was one of many used to treat, care for, diagnose, and fix anyone in need of the help.

No one seemed to notice him which wasn’t odd since there were people in need of attention everywhere. Still, Ryan’s eyes fell on a woman who didn’t look too busy. It looked like she was only observing something. Ryan approached, hoping that he was right.

Medics were extremely focused all the time, even when they weren’t working. Ryan only knew this from the other Satisfiers and the fact that he’d only ever been with one Medic in his life on a night after a meeting/performance. He’d seen what happened when someone interrupted a Medic and it involved a lot of yelling and gesturing that he didn’t want. That was why he was hoping the Medic he had his eyes on wasn’t busy.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said softly, seeing upon approach that she was only watching what was going on. He hoped it wasn’t important. She turned to him and looked a little surprised.

“Yes? Can I help you with something?”

“You can actually, am I disturbing anything?”

“No, you aren’t. What do you need help with?”

“I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions. But, you’ll have to come with me so I can ask them,” he said, wincing a little at her suspicious look.

“And why is that?” She was definitely older than him and Ryan tried to think of a reason that she might believe. Then again, what beat the truth when it came to people like this?

“There’s a representative from the Head of Heads with me. He was sent out here to get feedback from people. Since I’m not busy I’ve been taking him around to help him get his feedback. He’s waiting in the stairway because we didn’t want to call any attention away from the people that you’re helping. If you could come and answer his questions, you’d be helping a lot.” Ryan smiled nervously. It was a mixture of the truth and some white lies that wouldn’t really matter in the end.

It looked like the Medic was thinking about it, studying Ryan’s face for a sign that he was lying. Luckily, Brendon may have had a point whenever he told Ryan that he was a talented actor, because she nodded and started walking toward the stairs. Smiling triumphantly, Ryan followed her.

Jon looked up when the door opened. He was sitting on the steps and he stood up when they came in. When she was within reach, Jon reached out a hand for the Medic to shake. She obliged and looked at him suspiciously, too. “So, what is it that you want to ask me?”

This time Jon took the lead, impressing Ryan further. “Could you tell me what you do as a Medic?”

“Now I operate on people. If there’s a problem inside them, I go in and fix it. I specialize in the heart and the lungs. Before that, I was one of the main diagnosticians. I also take care of general sicknesses, too, everyone does,” she answered.

Jon nodded. “So how is life as a Medic? Do you have everything that you need and is there someone definitely in charge? Are there any problems that you can think of in the way things function?”

“Life as a Medic is fine. We have plenty of food, our Head is fine and we don’t have any of those ridiculous power fights, and as far as I know things function fine here. However, we don’t have everything that we need. We get most, if not all, of our medicine from the Creators. Lately, they haven’t been spending time on developing the medicines that we need and we either don’t get them or they don’t work right and cause problems when we try to use them. Our Head, Aria, asked them about it and it seems that they’re working on a project right now, studying something or other and focusing all of their attention on that. She tried to tell them that at least some of their people need to spend more time making the medicines, but they haven’t done anything about it so far.”

Jon’s forehead creased again and Ryan could see that he was trying to think of a solution already. He nudged his shoulder, motioning for Jon to ask the next questions. Jon shook himself and re-focused.

“What do you think of the Head of Heads and what do you think he could do about the problem?” This wasn’t an answer that Jon seemed to be looking forward to.

“The Head of Heads can actually give a shit about the people that he’s supposedly ‘protecting’. He could do something about the stuck-up Creators and get them to actually pay attention so their faulty medicines don’t kill anyone else. As for what I think of him, I think that he’s just there because that’s where he was born. I think that it was a fluke in the system and that he doesn’t deserve the position he has.” The Medic looked kind of pissed now and Ryan thanked her, saying that she was very helpful and that they got exactly what they needed.

“Wow,” Jon said simply when they were outside, on their way to the Creators’ building. “That one stung the most. I didn’t realize that the Creators were bad.”

“They aren’t bad,” Ryan said. “Believe me, they’ve helped me personally plenty of times. They made these disguises that have caused all of this. If it weren’t for them and Spencer, I’d be hiding in an alley somewhere.”

“That reminds me, you need to tell me what goes on with the Satisfiers. I know you don’t like it, but things that happen in the building and something that I might be able to help with,” Jon said, looking at Ryan kindly. Ryan realized then that he was warming up to his companion.

“Everything’s fine there, they all have what they need, “business” is fine, the Creators still deliver our medicine and it works really well, very strong. Now you have to talk to the Creators, Enforcers and Informants,” Ryan said, pushing off of the wall that he was leaning on. Jon nodded and followed him to the Creators’ building.

They walked through the door and were met with noise. It was rather chaotic. For people who were so important, it did look like they had a good time doing what they did. Upon closer inspection, though, Ryan noticed that they were all taking their jobs seriously and they were all focused. The noise was due to the fact that there was an innumerable amount of things being worked on all at the same time.

Jon also looked shocked by the sight and the sound. Over on one side of the building it looked like the Creators were actually handling the medicine that was distributed to the Satisfiers. If he looked somewhere else, Ryan thought that he saw Creators working on the disguises that the Secret Authority used. He didn’t know what they were doing to them, but they were definitely working on them. Those were the only two things that he recognized, but there were countless other things going on.

If he thought finding an idle Medic was hard, this was going to be damn near impossible.

Eventually they found a Creator willing to talk to them. He looked to be in his thirties and he was perfectly eager to answer their questions.

As far as Ryan could tell when they walked away, there was nothing wrong with the Creators. They had everything they needed, their Head was perfectly secure, and as for what the Head of Heads could do, ‘be more present, I guess.’ was the answer for the Creators. Other than that, there were no complaints.

“That was quite a contrast,” Jon commented as they walked back toward the main square.

“I know. They’ve been known to really only care about their work. If there isn’t something directly affecting that, they’re okay. Of course, rumors aren’t really the best things to go by,” Ryan amended.

“So are we going to talk to the Informants, now?” Jon asked.

“No, we’ll talk to the Enforcers first.” Jon looked surprised that Ryan wanted to see them first. “The Informants are more dangerous than the Enforcers. Informants ask more questions than the Enforcers will. I’m not nearly as nervous about the Enforcers and I want to prepare for the questions,” Ryan explained, feeling a knot in his stomach at the thought of it. Jon nodded, looking like he was sympathetic, but Ryan didn’t need that so he steered them to the nearest group of Enforcers.

Of course none of them recognized him; he was stupid to think that they would. Still, he couldn’t help his hands sweating and the heat spreading throughout his body when they were looking at him. Somehow Jon was able to tell and he ran the questions again so Ryan didn’t have to.

Oddly enough, the Enforcers all kind of looked at each other before they answered any questions and they were all in agreement. According to the group that they talked to, there weren’t any problems inside their own building, obviously covering up the fact that they’d lost a prisoner. None of them thought that there was a problem with the Head of Heads and they didn’t think that he needed to do anything different.

While Jon was talking to them, Ryan observed because he was suspicious. When they answered questions, he examined the look in their eyes as they looked at each other. Ryan thought that he saw, if he wasn’t mistaken, fear in their eyes. It was some form of fear, he was sure of that. Eventually he stopped paying attention to the answers and focused solely on how they interacted and their body language. He really wished that Brendon were with them so he could watch all of this and decipher it. In his absence, though, Ryan knew that he had to memorize it and relay it to the Performer later.

“Thank you,” he heard Jon say. Then he put a hand on Ryan’s arm, effectively jarring him out of his thoughts. They walked away and Jon leaned in closer to him. “What?”

“Huh?” Ryan asked. His thoughts were still hanging onto his consciousness with little tendrils. He shook his head a little and re-focused on Jon.

“You noticed something, what was it? Was it something important?” He looked eager and again Ryan was struck by what a different person this was with him from that morning.

“I don’t know yet. I think it is, but I’ll ask Brendon. He’ll know what it means. It was the way they were acting, like everything was pre-planned and they were sticking to the same story. Plus, they were looking at each other with these looks like they were afraid of messing the story up,” Ryan answered.

“I know what you mean. There were only a few different people who answered the questions out of the whole group and they were the ones that everyone looked to last,” Jon said. Ryan nodded. “Yeah, I thought that was weird, too.”

“Like I said, Brendon will be able to tell us what it means. He’ll be thrilled to help,” Ryan asked, wondering how things were going. Then he rolled his shoulders a little, unable to shake the feeling of someone watching them.

“That’s good. Here, there’s an Informant right there. I say that we should just go and talk to him, get it over with, what do you say?” Jon said, pointing over to a red and white clad figure standing on the side of the street. Ryan closed his eyes and took a deep breath, nodding and walking.

“Uh, hi?” the Informant said when they walked up. He was probably taken aback by the two skins that he saw in front of him. It was obvious that there were questions sparking up behind his eyes, though, Ryan could see it.

“Hi. We wanted to ask you some questions,” Jon said, smiling kindly.

“Why?” The Informant's eyebrows drew closer together.

“Jon here is a representative from the Head of Heads and he was sent out here to ask people from different divisions questions about their lives. I don’t have anyone to teach today so I volunteered to help show him around,” Ryan answered. The Informant nodded, slowly. He looked to be about Ryan’s age.

“Okay. Fire away, I guess.” He still looked cautious and maybe a little suspicious. Ryan couldn’t help worrying about this one. He wasn’t distracted and Informants were trained to ask questions. They were also really smart and Ryan braced himself for answering questions that the Informant might have.

“What do you do?” Jon started asking.

“I make sure people know what’s going on in the world around them. In other words, I ask questions and investigate things and sometimes people will come to me and tell me about something that happened. Since we can’t lie, not even by omission, we have to go check out the story and make sure that we get the whole thing. You see, even if we don’t know that it’s a lie, if it’s not true we still can’t say it so we have to know the truth so we can tell a complete story. This is the first time I’ve ever been interviewed,” the Informant said.

“That sounds like an interesting job,” Jon commented.

“You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I’ve heard or been told,” the Informant said, smiling and shaking his head a little.

“What’s your name?” Jon asked. Ryan observed how good he was at this, talking to people.


“I’m sorry, I should have asked you that before now, but anyway. How are things in your building? Is everything okay?”

“It’s okay, I don’t expect people to ask my name. My building’s okay. Things are a little tense because our Head is newer. She was just promoted about three months ago and I think she’s still getting a hold of things. We don’t have the problems that the Providers or that the Workers have, though.”

“Why do you think things are tense?”

“Well, there are a lot of people who aren’t sure that she can handle it so I think they’re a little nervous seeing as how she’s the only authoritative figure that we have. I’m not worried, though; I think that once she’s done it for a bit longer, she’ll be fine. It’s definitely tense because people don’t think that they’re protected,” Marc answered. He didn’t even stop to think about it.

“Do you think that something could be done to help that?”

“Soothe paranoia? Not really. They’ll all worry until Marilyn proves herself. I think that things could be better though, to make them not feel so insecure. If the Head of Heads actually gave a shit about the people he’s supposed to be leading it would make everyone feel safer. The Head Informant and her inexperience wouldn’t matter as much because there would be someone else in charge, making sure that everyone’s alright. What’s all of this about anyway?” There was a look on his face when he asked the question like he expected an answer.

Ryan knew they wouldn’t be able to get away with not answering the question, but he could always not answer the question directly for a while because he actually could, there wasn’t anything making him tell the entire truth. And, anyway, he wanted to make sure that he could trust Marc. Eventually, he would have to explain what was going on. Marc would find out one way or another. He was an Informant after all, it was what they were good at.

“Jon’s a representative. The Head of Heads sent him down to ask people about their lives, that’s it,” Ryan answered. Marc turned his attention on Ryan, then.

“Why would he start caring what goes on in our lives now? It’s been almost two decades.” Marc looked skeptical and Ryan sighed to himself.

“Before I answer your questions, you answer one more. Deal?” he asked in a voice that didn’t really leave the Informant any other options.

Marc crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes. “Deal.”

“What do you think of the Head of Heads himself? Answer this question and you get the answers to your questions.”

“I think that he’s a self-absorbed asshole who doesn’t care about the people he’s in charge of watching over and just lets the people who work for him do everything because he can’t be bothered.” Ryan watched Jon wince out of the corner of his eye. All day he’d been affected by what people said, but this was the first time that Jon’s wince was this visible.

“Now what is all of this about?” Marc asked. He looked impatient and eager at the same time.

“You can’t say anything about any of this,” Ryan warned.

“I can’t help it, you know that. If someone asks me, I have to answer with the truth.”

“What I’m saying, though, is that you keep this as much of a secret as you can. Make sure that it never gets into the light. Answer anyone’s question as vaguely as you can. I know that you have to tell the truth, but you don’t have to go into details. Tell the bare minimum.”

Marc stepped back a bit and Ryan checked himself. This was important but he didn’t have to make it look like he was threatening the Informant. “I will. Trust me, I know how to do that.”

“Okay,” Ryan took a step back as well. He looked over at Jon, silently asking if he wanted to do the honors of coming clean. Jon looked like he was thinking about it, but a voice interrupted the thought process.

“What’s going on?” Ryan turned to see Spencer and Brendon standing there. Brendon smiled a little, seeing him and Ryan returned it. He had to deal with Spencer, though.

“What do you mean?”

“What are the two of you doing?” Spencer was looking at him and Jon, and then he was cutting his eyes over to Marc, who looked like he was soaking everything up.

“We’re moving along with the plan, what does it look like we’re doing?” Ryan asked because it was obvious that Jon wasn’t going to help out. He was too busy staring.

“It looks like you’re going to give away our secrecy, you know, that thing that’s going to make this work out,” Spencer said. His arms were crossed and he was obviously sizing Marc up.

Ryan put a hand on his arm and moved him aside to talk with him in private. Brendon and Jon followed with them and Marc stayed where he was. “Look, we have to tell him.”


“We need outside support. When we do the whole showdown thing at the party, we’re going to need people to back us up and help us if things get bad. That’s what Brendon was doing after all, telling his friends about what’s going on. Besides, the Informants can pass things along and they know how to keep things from exploding too much,” Ryan explained, willing Spencer to see his reasoning.

“If it helps anything, I think that it’s a good idea and I trust that Marc will keep it as secret as he can. I was thinking that we maybe tell him most of the whole thing and maybe tell him to tell everyone else that things are going to change at the end of the week. He doesn’t have to get into the whole thing about the person in green walking around being the Head of Heads and he doesn’t have to get into the way all of my advisors are taking my power and keeping me away from it. Marc just has to spread it around that things are going to change and the Head of Heads is going to start taking care of things,” Jon proposed.

“I think that it’s a good idea,” Brendon said, turning to Spencer. “It would work. Ryan’s right, we’ll need more than five Performers to help us out. Marc doesn’t have to tell everyone, but it would be good for us to have people back us up at the actual taking back of power. And Jon’s got a point, we don’t necessarily have to tell Marc everything and Marc doesn’t have to tell everyone else everything.” Ryan could see that the two of them had bonded a little bit, the way he had with Jon. At least it looked like Spencer was seriously listening to Brendon, before even that wouldn’t have happened.

Spencer looked like was thinking. He met Ryan’s eyes and it looked like he was going to agree but he was asking if Ryan really thought that it was the best thing to do. Ryan nodded, glanced over at Marc, and nodded again. He tried to convey how important he thought it was that they let some people know what was going on. “You can even set the ground rules,” he said aloud.

“Okay. Let’s get this over with,” Spencer said, walking back over to Marc. Ryan smiled and put an arm around Brendon, pulling him closer into his side, moving back to Marc as well. Jon followed them, also smiling. This was good. Spencer was getting used to working in a group and they were getting something important accomplished.

Marc was looking between Brendon and Spencer. His eyes stuck to Spencer though and he looked a little scared. Spencer didn’t look amused by this. “I’m not going to hurt you. Just listen to Ryan and Jon.”

They moved further into the shadows for a few reasons before they started. They had to keep people from seeing the Performer outside of the building and getting too curious and it was to keep it so no one was able to come up from behind them and listen in. Jon motioned for Ryan to start.

Ryan tried to think of a way to start it and all he could come up with was, “Things are going to change.” That was apparently a good warm-up, though because it looked like Marc was interested and now Ryan sort of knew which direction he should take with all of it. “At the end of the week, after the performance, the Head of Heads is going to have a party that the whole city is invited to. This will all be announced later, obviously, but it’s important that you spread this part around and that you know about this part yourself. At that party, he’s going to make an announcement and he’s going to step up and start doing what he’s supposed to do. After the party, everything’s going to start getting better because the Head of Heads is going to start thinking of solutions to all of the problems that he hears about. The Head of Heads is going to take his place, finally.” Ryan said, gauging Marc’s reaction.

The Informants eyes were shining and there was a smile on his face. “Would you, by any chance, need me to pass this information around? I’ll pass around the information about the party, but I’m also assuming that you’ll be wanting me to spread the news that things are going to get better,” Marc said.

Ryan smiled and nodded. “That would be great. Make sure that you tell people that they have to keep their excitement down until the party. And, really, the Head of Heads would like it if, even at the party, things would be kept down until he made the announcement. You know, no need to celebrate prematurely.”

“So what part of this would I have to keep down to a bare minimum? I can’t see any part of all that that can’t be broadcast.”

“Don’t tell them the part about the Head of Heads rising up to where he’s supposed to be, just tell them that change is coming and everything’s going to be better soon. But, if you could keep it kind of underground, that would be great. I mean, less fanfare and parading in the streets and more whispers in the shadows and the corners.”

The Informant eyed him strangely. “Why? If this is supposed to be spread around and celebrated, why does it have to be kept hidden in the shadows?”

“This news that you’ll pass around is like the prequel to the celebration. It’ll get people psyched for the actual celebration. Like I said, there’s no need for the celebration to be premature. This is for everyone to start hoping again and to show up to the party and hear all of this from their Head of Head’s mouth. I mean, most of the people won’t be able to believe it until they come to the party and hear it themselves. It just has to be a whisper, a barely audible hum over the city, not partying in the streets,” Ryan amended, trying to get his point across and trying to make sure Marc would follow his instructions.

"What am I supposed to say if people start asking questions?”

“Answer them. Seriously, though, I don’t think that people are going to believe it. Here, Brendon, you tell him. Marc, this is Brendon, Brendon, Marc,” Ryan said, pushing Brendon in front of him a little.

Brendon seemed a little startled but he composed himself. “I haven’t been out here very much, but from what I’ve heard, things kind of suck.”

Marc laughed. “That’s an understatement in some cases, but go on.”

“So, if people are used to that, like if they’ve been living in this kind of world for their whole lives, the idea of things changing and getting better will seem far-fetched. They’ll love the idea and hope will start up in the back of their minds, but they’ll largely disregard it because they don’t know how this will possibly happen and they might even think that it’s a joke. Trust me, I’m kind of an expert, they’re not going to ask too many questions.”

It looked like Marc was seriously considering Brendon’s testimony. He looked at all of them and he was obviously thinking hard about something. “You’re the Head of Heads aren’t you?” he asked, looking at Jon. “I might guess that it’s Ryan but he’s too passionate to have not done something about this before now.”

Jon stepped forward, holding a hand out. “Yes, guilty as charged, I’m afraid. There are reasons, they aren’t half good enough to excuse all that’s been happening, but they’re reasons and I’ll disclose them after the party’s all over and everything’s secure. All I can say, and I wish that I could say this to everyone else, is that I’m sorry for everything that my absence has caused.”

Marc shook the offered hand. “Well, I can’t think that you’re all evil, now. I mean, you’re actually down here to find out what’s going on. Sure, you’ve left everything alone for close to twenty years, but now you’re apparently going to do something. And I already thought that you were a good person based on your behavior before I found out about this so I guess I can’t go back on that now.” He looked at Ryan, who was standing there speechless. “Let me guess, you also want the fact that Jon’s the Head of Heads to be kept secret, or the fact that the Head of Heads was down here visiting all of us. I mean, it would be a great morale booster, but you’ve said that you just want morale to be stirred right now.”

“Please keep it a secret? Everything that we told you that has to do directly with the Head of Heads, please keep it a secret as much as you can,” Ryan answered, needing Brendon to shake him out of his daze. He was dumbstruck that Marc guessed Jon’s identity and that he thought that Ryan could be the Head of Heads.

Marc nodded and looked at the four of them. “I’ll do my best. Now, the day’s getting old, I’d better go start spreading this whisper around. I suppose I’ll see you at the party. Also, I wish you the best of luck. I don’t know exactly what you’re all up to, but I don’t even care if I know all of it anymore because I like whatever it is and I want to help.” He started walking away but he turned back. “And thank you for asking me and for changing things.” Then he was gone.

Spencer looked up at the sky. “He’s right. Jon, I believe that it’s time that we get you home and that I take the two of them back to my building.” The smile on Spencer’s face was wide and it was definitely born from happiness and victory. Ryan found his own smile widening when he saw it. Brendon was there beside him, arm wrapped around his waist, also grinning. On Spencer’s other side, Jon looked satisfied and there was a smile on his face, too. Ryan figured that the victory was completely sure in that case.

It was kind of sad to leave Jon back at his building. He assured Spencer over and over that he had a solid story to tell the people who would have noticed him being gone but Spencer still looked worried when they were walking away. They’d only known him for a day and a night, but still, Ryan kind of missed being around him.

“Is it weird that I miss him?” Brendon asked close to his ear as they walked back to the Secret Authority building.

“Kind of, I mean, you didn’t even get to spend alone time with him.”

“Yeah, but I’m the magic human expert. I can tell that he’s a good person and that he’s changed from this morning. I also know that he’s really going to do everything he can to make everything better once he’s able to. Seriously, what did you do to him to make him so changed?”

“Nothing. It happened on its own as he heard people’s stories. There was always a heart there, he just had to connect to it. How did it go with the Performers?”

There was a break in the conversation because they had to swing down into the building. Then they talked to Spencer a little about the success of today, and things in general with Jon and his new potential now that he’d connected to the people. That was where Spencer got a little quieter than before and the things he said weren’t as descriptive as with everything else. Brendon and Ryan both politely ignored the fact because they both had their suspicions about what it meant.

When he left they picked up their conversation right where it ended.

“How things went back home?” Ryan prompted.

“Good. I was able to talk to all five of them and they’re all on board. They were all really worried about me, too. And you of course. I didn’t realize how much I missed them until today when I saw them again.”

Ryan hugged Brendon close. “I’m sorry.”

“I want to be out here, Ryan. You don’t have to be sorry for anything,” Brendon said, pulling away and giving Ryan a smile.

Ryan took a moment to just run his hands up and down Brendon’s upper arms, feeling the smoothness of his muscles and his skin underneath the white and silver fabric. He smiled a little and leaned forward to kiss him. Brendon smiled back and walked them back to the bed in their room, sitting first, and then lying down so Ryan was on top of him.

There was something that he should be talking to Brendon about, but he couldn’t remember what it was. He was vaguely worried about it but Brendon’s mouth was like a drug and eventually he couldn’t even think straight, too busy unbuttoning the younger boy’s shirt.


When he was still lying awake, smoothing his hands over the skin on Brendon’s shoulders, upper arms, and chest and Brendon was fast asleep, he was letting his thoughts wander. He was trying to remember what that thing was but he couldn’t even get on its trail anymore. Eventually, Ryan succumbed to sleep, figuring that it couldn’t have been that important if he couldn’t remember it.

By the way, if you're looking for a book to read I recommend 'Looking for Alaska' by John Green. I read it in my time away. It's short but very good, true to the John Green style. Check out 'Paper Towns' if you want more.
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