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

Act 11

by GealachGirl 1 review

It's all on Ryan's head, now. The solution is up to him and he's more than ready for the challenge. (not the last chapter)

Category: Panic! At The Disco - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Romance - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2012-08-05 - Updated: 2012-08-05 - 9722 words - Complete

Ryan’s ears started ringing when those words left Jon’s mouth. He had seventeen years of fight left, always there. The emptiness was typically the knowledge the fighting wouldn’t do any good, that it wasn’t going to make any difference but the fight was still always there. Those words, though, of there being another plan echoed through his head, playing over and over and made the emptiness fade away. Eventually he got a hold of the echo and refocused on Jon.

“What do you mean there’s another part of the plan?” he choked out. He felt torn between believing this and letting the hope that he would get Brendon, Spencer, and everyone else out of this mess rise up, and telling Jon that he was crazy.

“Spencer, Brendon, and I came up with a sort of backup plan in case something didn’t go right tonight. I mean, you know Spencer,” he smiled weakly, “the most thorough bastard ever born. He has ideas for every possible outcome. Granted, he didn’t see that Marc would tell them so much or that the “advisors” would have known about this and shut it down before I could say anything.”

Now the anger was bubbling up a little bit more than before. “Why was I not aware of this?” he asked stiffly.

“Brendon advised that, actually. Spencer and I were going to give you some of the plan but Brendon said that it would be better if you didn’t know anything about it,” Jon explained, obviously sensing that Ryan wasn’t really happy at the moment.

“What did he say?”

“He said that since most of the backup relied heavily on you, you not knowing that there was a backup until it was needed would help you do what you were supposed to.” Jon sighed at Ryan’s blank look. “I don’t remember exactly what he said. You’ll have to ask him yourself.”

Ryan shook his head, he was going to. Now there was a backup plan to focus on. Since he could fight, the emptiness was gone and he felt himself warming up to the thought of doing something to get his friends and his Brendon back. “What is this backup plan?”

“It’s all on you. I can’t do anything or they’ll kill Spencer and I can’t let that happen. Spencer’s locked up tight somewhere in this building, and Brendon’s obviously not here. Now, since we obviously didn’t expect this to happen, you’ll have to bend this to work for our situation,” Jon warned. Ryan just nodded, waving a hand dismissingly. He didn’t care how much tweaking he had to do, he knew that he could handle that. He just wanted to know the backbone of this plan.

“It’s always been planned to be on you because Spencer said you’re smart and you’ll figure something out that’ll work. He trusts you a lot, you know, he thinks very highly of you. You have to get out of here, basically, and you have to get back with some of the people that we talked to before, if they haven’t been captured. Or you could go ahead and recruit different people. It’s really just another attack on the system, and only the three of us knew about it so Andrew and the people that are working with him don’t have any defense against it. Really, this is the only part that still applies. I think that it sounds better in my head than it does out loud, too,” Jon finished.

Ryan was turning it over in his head and he nodded, standing up. “I have a question, first. Why does it have to be me that does this, besides the fact that Spencer trusts me and my judgment?”

“Well, and you’ll probably hate this but, the main reason why you’re in your Satisfier skin is for this backup plan. No one else knows about the fact that you’re a Satisfier in reality so we could all use it as a cover. That whole display with Jeffry and talking about you and how you’re better than him was to tell you to keep quiet. That one Performer didn’t know anything about it and originally Brendon was going to do it but apparently that Performer was already thinking along those lines and brought it up on his own. We had to keep you clear so you could leave and you wouldn’t be suspected. It was just easier to say that you were somewhere else, waiting. Besides, no one pays much attention to a Satisfier in those kinds of situations.

“I don’t know what you’re going to do right now but you’ll have to figure something out,” Jon told him. Ryan nodded distantly. His mind was already racing to what he was going to do, some of it was going to be harder than other things but he would manage. He started walking to the door

“You know, at the beginning of planning this part, we had it so both you and Brendon could be in the clear but he insisted that if Performers were caught that he was with them. He said that he had to go with his family,” Jon said with a shrug.

Ryan smiled sadly and nodded. He understood completely. Brendon’s loyalty was one of his strongest, most endearing traits. “Don’t worry, Jon. I’ll get us out of this,” he said, hoping that he sounded as confident as he felt.

Jon smiled a little. “That’s what Spencer said when it was clear that this plan wasn’t going to work. I could read it in his eyes.”

Ryan just nodded and turned out of the room. He pressed himself against the door as soon as it was shut behind him, and rested his head on it for a second in order to breathe. People had hope in him and they were confident that he could do this. Everything was up to him, now. He was now responsible for leading the relocation of power because all of the people that he worked with before were unavailable. No pressure.

Ryan stood up straight and took another breath. He could handle this. He knew where he was going to start, that was all that he had to focus on at the moment. With that in mind, he peeled away from the door and walked down the hallway. Jon was right when he said that Satisfiers weren’t noticed during or in the wake of something like what had just happened.

He was able to walk out of the door without anyone paying attention to him. When he hit the street he took a breath and rolled his shoulders, making it look like he was preparing himself to move on for the night or like he was going back to his building. He did start walking in the direction of the building, in fact, because his real destination was in that direction as well.

Finding the opening into the tunnels that led down into Holding wasn’t that hard. Remembering which way to go to get to the main cell block was harder. Hell, he didn’t even know where the Enforcers put the people he was looking for. That was a rather easy fix, though, when he realized that he needed to figure that out first. Ryan climbed up the little bit of the slope that he’d gone down to get into the tunnel system and stood up when he got to the outside.

He fixed his eyes on the windows that adorned the top part of the Enforcers’ building, where the rooms were for all of the Enforcers. Ryan was surprised to note that it wasn’t going to be too hard to get through the windows, either. Things were looking up a bit, now.

Scaling the building was a little difficult, but better than before. Getting the windows open was a surprisingly easy task and once he slipped into the room, he stood immediately and went to the door. When he was sure that no one was in the hallway, he went out and found the stairs where he positioned himself to listen.

Considering the fact that this whole evening had been the most eventful thing that had happened in weeks, it was no surprise that it was all anyone could talk about. Eavesdropping here served two purposes: He could maybe find out where they put all of the people that they gathered up. More likely, though, was that he could figure out just what the Enforcers’ parts were in Andrew’s scheme.

It took him some time to actually get any information that had anything to do with the failure at the building of the Head of Heads and he didn’t get much when it finally did start coming. Still, he was able to pretty much piece everything together when he had everything that he was going to get.

In the course of the conversation, some of the Enforcers talked about where the rebels had been taken down in the Holding portion of the building. Feeling successful, he turned back up the stairs to get back outside and into the tunnels so he could find everyone and start putting his own plan in action.

“Hey, where are you going?” someone asked. Ryan froze and squeezed his eyes shut. This wasn’t happening. He refused to believe that it was happening. There was a hand on his shoulder, though, and he couldn’t pretend anymore. He opened his eyes to see a young Enforcer standing in front of him. The man looked to be about Jon’s age and he fixed Ryan with a focused look.

“I was just heading out,” Ryan said calmly, surprising both of them. As soon as the words came out that way, he fixed his facial features to reflect that same calm that he was pulling from somewhere.

“Do you want some help? You might not be able to find it on your own.” Before Ryan could respond, the Enforcer took him by the arm and dragged him back upstairs. They went into a room and the Enforcer closed the door. Ryan shook the arm off of him and fixed the Enforcer with his own suspicious look. “Calm down, I’m not going to hurt you or do anything to you,” he said. He tugged at the collar of the Enforcer skin and it rolled off of him to reveal black.

“I’m a friend and I recognize you from this past week. I want to help you.”

“Why didn’t you help any when everyone was back at the building with the Head of Heads?” Ryan interrupted. “And why aren’t you doing something now?”

“For one thing, the Secret Authority’s outnumbered. There are seven of us. Spence was already all caught up so there are six. There was no way in hell we were going to be able to do anything. We might be better at fighting, but that doesn’t mean that we can take on more than maybe three people at a time. For another thing, Spencer told us that we were there just to provide backup when Jon started speaking and when he revealed who he is. He didn’t tell us to do anything else, said that he had it covered. It’s his plan and we all know better than to mess with someone else’s plan, especially Spencer’s. We figure that he already has a backup in motion for if something went wrong and we don’t want to interfere.”

Ryan let that soak in and his mind started racing. Suddenly the vague plan that he had in mind solidified and it actually seemed more possible than before. “I’m the backup plan. He’s left it to me. I need your help, though, with a few things.” The Enforcer looked intrigued and motioned for Ryan to go on.

“I’m going to get everyone, or almost everyone, out of Holding. You’re going to have to help me because I don’t know the way to get to them through the tunnels. Spencer said that it’s part of your initial training to memorize the tunnels so if you could help me with that, that would be great. There’s something else but I have to get to the others before I can tell you about it.” Things were looking up again and Ryan tried not to let his hopes go with them.

The Enforcer smiled and eyed Ryan again in a different way. He stuck a hand out and Ryan shook it. “I’m Simon. I can see what Spence was saying about you and why he made you the backup plan.” Ryan tried not to be embarrassed by the compliment or the decisiveness that Simon gave it with. Simon noticed and went to the window. “Let’s get our friends out of Holding so you can get this plan in action. I’d like to see Spencer come out of the building alive.”

Ryan nodded his agreement and followed Simon. When the window was opened and Simon had evaluated what the climb down was going to look like, he looked at Ryan to see if he had any problems. Ryan just motioned for Simon to go ahead because he knew that he could handle this.

Climbing down was more difficult than going up, that was for sure. It wasn’t impossible for him now like it might have been earlier in the week but it was hard and it put a new strain on muscles that he didn’t know he had. There wasn’t time to let that slow him down, though, so he made his way over to the opening into the tunnels as soon as his feet hit the ground.

“I know where all of them are in here, you just want me to take you to them, right? And help you get everyone out, of course.” Ryan nodded, looking into the opening and willing his thoughts to fall in line. He knew what he wanted to get done and what needed to happen to get there, he just had to figure out how to propose it to everyone else.

Simon had already started the descent into the tunnels and Ryan followed closely. When they were both sitting on the flat part before the big incline, Simon took a breath and it looked like he was thinking. Ryan contained his impatience and waited until the other was ready. He wasn’t nervous and he didn’t doubt Simon’s abilities, he just wished that he would think faster.

When he was done thinking, he shot Ryan a look that said that he didn’t appreciate the rush—looking a lot like Spencer when he did it—and he started off down the tunnels. Ryan just followed, not caring enough to be bothered by the member of the Secret Authority’s look.

After a while, Ryan was able to tell when they were coming close. It wasn’t necessarily loud, it was just audible. It sounded like everyone was just talking at a normal level. He couldn’t make out the words, but it didn’t matter to him when they dropped out of the hole in the ceiling that was apparently just at the end of the hallway in this section.

No one seemed to notice them and neither Ryan nor Simon made a move to interrupt the conversation. Ryan looked around to see if he could find Brendon because he needed to talk to him first before he announced things to the rest of the people.

Everyone was paired with people of their own division so Ryan saw masses of the same color everywhere he looked. He was surprised to see that some divisions—like the Medics, for example—had any people here in Holding. Ryan recognized at least one person in every division, much to his chagrin. The sight of all of the people made him feel a mixture of emotions between being happy and somewhat excited to see that so many people believed enough to get here and he was also frustrated that this many people had to be caught just because it hadn’t worked out. It almost made him more determined to have his plan work.

Suddenly seized by an air of authority, he walked out into the dimly lit hallway and cleared his throat. All conversation stopped and all heads turned to look at the interruption. Everyone’s eyes were boring into him as he walked down to where he saw the white and silver at the end of the cellblock.

Brendon was already there, wide-eyed and smiling, when Ryan reached him. “I was hoping that your plan involved breaking the prisoners out of Holding,” he said, eyes shining. Ryan could see that Brendon really was happy to see him and that he’d been a little nervous about Ryan not coming. All of the other Performers that were in the cell came up to the bars as well. They weren’t quite pressed against them like Brendon was, but they were standing right there.

“We’re going to talk about that whole thing later,” he warned. Brendon’s answering smile told him that he knew exactly what Ryan’s problem was and what lines this talk was going to go along. He didn’t look bothered, though.

“Until then, what are we going to do?”

“Yeah, what’s your idea? Brendon’s been telling all of us that you had a plan and that you were going to do something,” one of the Performers that Ryan vaguely recognized said.

“He has. All of us,” a Worker from a little bit further down the cellblock called. Ryan frowned at this new development that he wasn’t going to be able to tell Brendon the thing that he needed to talk to him about first. It was annoying but he could work around it.

Ryan turned to address everyone in the hallway, everyone who had been caught at the party. He took another breath and raised his voice so everyone would understand him. “I have an idea, a new plan that will help everyone. I’m going to need everyone’s help and everyone’s cooperation.” He took a moment to look over the whole cellblock slowly. “I’m confident that none of you are going to talk to the Enforcers. Now that I mention that, Marc are you here?”

“Yeah, right here.” Ryan turned to the cell right by the Performers’ and was stunned to see that he was the only Informant in the cell. Marc must have caught the look because he shrugged and said, “It was my story, I wanted to keep it to myself.”

“So the Enforcers took you and questioned you, right? That’s how they found out about most of our plan?” Marc nodded. “Brendon, could you come over here for a moment?” When Brendon was as close as he could get, Ryan lowered his voice.

“When Jon and I were talking to the Enforcers, they were acting strangely. Only two or three actually talked and the others all looked at each other as if they were confirming the answer, like they were sticking to a story. They all looked almost afraid,” Ryan told Brendon quickly. Then something dawned on him. “Fuck. I was supposed to tell you this that night after we were done with showing Jon around. Fuck, I forgot all about that.” Ryan could feel his stomach sinking.

Brendon looked like he was thinking, though, and that he hadn’t heard that last part. He looked up and the look on his face, a calm, sure look, told Ryan that he knew exactly what it was. “They were probably all in on something, or they were instructed to say something, something specific, one story that they were supposed to tell. The ones that they kept looking at were leaders of some kind and the others were looking at them probably to make sure they got the story right, or they were nervous that the “leaders” weren’t going to. Someone important, like their Head, probably told them that they had to stick to these stories, and that would explain the fear.”

Marc looked up, looking excited. “Yeah, yeah, when they took me in to question me I figured out that the Head Enforcer made some kind of agreement with that old man, the Head Performer, too. I was there for quite a while and they questioned me right away. The questions were pretty easy to dodge at first but then they started getting more specific and I had to answer them and there wasn’t a way out of them so they learned all about things changing at the party and they must have figured out how.

“I learned that the Head Enforcer and the old guy have been working together for a long time. Since an Enforcer’s job is to make sure things are going okay for the people in the city, they would get suspicious about so many people being so miserable. To solve that problem, the Head Enforcer has told all of the other Enforcers that they’re never to question the “upper administration” and that if they did, bad things would happen. You and Jon approaching them and asking questions about it probably made them nervous and they just recited everything that they’ve been taught back to you.

“I guess that when they learned about what you’ve been planning, the Head Enforcer told the old man and the Enforcers were all placed around to keep their eyes on everything, telling the Enforcers that it was some stupid rebellion attempt or something. I’m guessing that the old guy told them that they were supposed to release that gas and round people up when a young person with a green skin stepped forward and started talking like he was making an announcement,” Marc filled in. The chance to make up for the fact that he gave away the plan was probably why he seemed so excited.

Then Brendon seemed to register the look on Ryan’s face and remembered the words that Ryan had said before he’d gone off into his own head. “Ryan it isn’t your fault.”

“Yes it is. If I’d remembered to tell you this we could have prevented the whole thing going to shit.” Brendon just shook his head firmly, looking absolutely serious.

“No we wouldn’t have. I wouldn’t be able to tell you all of that,” Brendon motioned to Marc. “I would only be able to tell you that they were all in on something together. Even if you would have told me, all of this would still have happened.” The look in Brendon’s eyes was warm and soft and he reached between the bars of his cell and put his hand on Ryan’s cheek.

Ryan just looked back, letting the gaze calm him down. He slowly let go of that feeling that he’d personally fucked everything up. Eventually he snapped out of it and gave Brendon a grateful look. Brendon just smiled back and took his hand back, looking eager to hear Ryan’s new plan.

“Alright everyone,” Ryan announced, turning back out to everyone else, “I have a new plan. I’m guessing that you were all at least semi-familiar with the last one. Here’s the thing, though, this one’s going to work. I need all of you to go to your respective buildings and get all of the people you can, preferably everyone. When you get people to follow you, come back to the building for the Head of Heads. Be in the front, underneath the big balcony.” Ryan took a breath and looked at everyone. They all looked doubtful and confused and suspicious. He took another breath. He’d known that he would probably have to do this, after all.

“The Head of Heads has been cheated out of his power for his entire life because he was young when the last Head of Heads died and the people who took over for him until he was older haven’t let go of the power yet even though they have no right to it. We’re going to help the Head of Heads get his power back so he can help all of you. I know that this is going to work, too. So please, for everyone, do what I say and try your hardest?” Ryan didn’t want to get into too much detail. It was safer if he kept the whole plan close and he was the only one who knew the whole thing.

Everyone seemed to be thinking about it and Ryan held his breath. One by one, he started to hear affirmatives. It started with the Performers and it was carried through every other division. They all looked at him with confident looks, some smiling, all of them placing the rest of it in his hands. Ryan couldn’t help but smile back.

He motioned for Simon to come out of the shadows. Everyone tensed up a bit when he came out, eyeing him nervously, but when Simon knelt down and started picking locks, they all seemed to relax. When Simon passed Ryan, he offered him a smile and a pat on the back, and then he moved on.

When the Performers’ cell was unlocked, Ryan instantly had a Brendon in his arms, hugging him fiercely. Brendon laughed a little, and then stepped away from Ryan, just smiling at him with his hands on Ryan’s shoulders. “I’m so impressed, Ry,” he said, leaning forward and kissing him on the cheek.

“So are we. You used to think that you weren’t good at anything,” Alistair said, smiling at him and putting a hand on his shoulder.

“Good job, Ryan,” Laura said, squeezing his arm. Mike signed the same thing over her head. Erik was smiling, too.

“I realize that you aren’t going to tell us the rest of it, but can I assume that this is going to be fun?” Mason asked. There was something else going through his mind, Ryan could see it, and he looked like he was plotting something. Ryan could only nod.

The group around him got bigger as everyone was let out of their cells. He looked away from the Performers around him and out at everyone else. His own mind was spinning as he tried to look ahead to what was going to happen next. “Okay, all of you, this person who just let you out is Simon. You’re going to follow Simon to get out of here and when you’re out you’ll go to your buildings and you’re going to get all of the people in the building to follow you. When you get back to the Head of Heads building, just wait to see me again.” Once again, he got everyone’s agreement and he nodded at Simon to take everyone outside.

“Brendon, you stay with me,” he said, reaching out and putting his hand on the other boy’s arm. Brendon glanced over and smiled, nodding. When everyone was gone, Ryan turned to Brendon. “You have to help me out, but you can’t look like that.”

“I’m already a step ahead of you.” Brendon held up a little cube and started opening it up. The familiar lights leaked out and they wrapped around Brendon’s form. When they dissipated, Ryan was taken aback. “Spencer gave this to me earlier. He said that I might need it at some time. It definitely wasn’t a message about this because he didn’t see this coming either.”

Brendon was dressed like a Satisfier. Ryan tried to get a grip on his mental function, but he’d never seen so much of the Performer’s skin while he was still wearing clothes. Honestly, the skin looked good on him. There was a tight, black shirt that clung to his torso like they were one and the same, and the pants were black and gold and had slits running up the sides and Ryan’s mind was in a fog, trying to process what he was seeing. He might have to do something with this later on.

“Ryan? Ryan are you going to be okay?” Brendon’s face was suddenly right in front of his and it snapped Ryan out of it. He glanced up and down Brendon one more time before he nodded.

“Yeah, I’m okay. Uh, w-where did you get that?”

“I told you, Spencer gave it to me earlier. He told me that I might need it and said that the best disguise to have would be the Satisfier’s because they’re normally overlooked when a lot of things are happening at the same time. It’s part of the reason why you’re wearing yours and not the Performer one. Spencer said that it would be easier for you to get a plan put in action if you were dressed as a Satisfier.”

“Jon told me that, too, and we’re still talking about that, all four of us, you aren’t getting out of that.” Ryan knew that Brendon would try, “Right now, we have a city to change,” Ryan said, shaking his head and dropping the matter for the moment.

“Why didn’t we go out with everyone else?” Brendon asked as they started walking down the deserted hallway.

“There’s an extra thing that I need you to do and a different direction that I have to go in. I didn’t want them to know about it, so we stayed behind a little. I was going to tell you about it earlier, but I was interrupted,” Ryan said, shrugging. “Don’t worry, I remembered the way back up.”

Getting up into the tunnels wasn’t hard and crawling to the point with the steep incline was also easy. Ryan was even surprised to find out that the climb up to the outside was much easier than it had been before. Apparently, he’d gotten much stronger since the beginning of the week. It seemed to be easy enough for Brendon as well.

“Now where are we going?” the black-haired boy asked, looking intrigued and excited.

“Now you’re going to go around with people while I do my part, then you’ll lead them back to the Head of Heads building. When you’re back, go in and go to Jon’s room and bring him out. You’ll know where to take him. If you can find Spencer, too, great, we can get him later, though, I don’t expect that that one will be easy,” Ryan instructed, looking at the Performer carefully. It was important that Brendon follow this line of directions exactly.

The dark brown eyes were focused on him and it looked like Brendon understood. It didn’t look like he really liked what he’d been told, probably hoping that he and Ryan would be working together, but at least he understood how much Ryan needed him to do things this way. The boy nodded a little, further affirming that he was going to do what he was told.

It was time for him to do his thing, now. Ryan took a breath, put his hands on either side of Brendon’s face and kissed him softly. When he broke it off, he rested his head against Brendon’s and said, “I love you, Brendon Urie.” Brendon’s head snapped up and he opened his mouth like he was going to say something back, looking concerned at the sudden change of tone. Ryan was already running in the direction that he had to go, though.

He stopped when he was around a building and he pressed his back to the wall, peering around the corner to see if Brendon was following his directions yet or if he was going to try to follow him. The other boy was still standing there, his fingertips resting against his lips. He looked confused and dazed, but then Brendon shook his head, dropped his hand, and ran off in the direction that the Providers would have gone. Ryan smiled a little to himself and went his own way.

As long as everyone stuck to the part that they’d been given, all of this was going to work out. He was the only one who knew the whole thing and as long as it stayed that way, nothing was going to get in his way. Finally he was getting the opportunity to fight. There was no chance that he was going to give it up.

The front of Jon’s building wasn’t guarded, and Ryan breathed out a sigh of relief. There was a way around it if it did happen to be, but it was easier that he didn’t have to worry about it. Ryan knelt down by the window that he and Brendon had used to get in the last time and messed with the pane experimentally. It was still loose and he slipped inside silently, closing it softly behind him. He was in.

He listened for sounds moving outside of the door and opened it slowly when he was satisfied that the front room was empty. Ryan walked further into the front room, still looking around for any signs of Enforcers or any of the people who’d been behind all of this. What he was going to do was dangerous and he couldn’t afford to be caught.

Ryan went for the stairs, needing to get into one of the rooms on the second floor to start looking for what he needed to find. A familiar voice drifted out just then, it was coming his way and he panicked. He looked around wildly and when his eyes rested on that same balcony that he’d been in earlier, he breathed a sigh. All he had to do to get into it was jump.

It wasn’t a big jump and he was sure that he would be able to get safely into it. Ryan judged it one final time, and sighed. He ran up the few stairs that he needed to get level with it and climbed onto the railing before jumping off. The part containing the balcony slammed into his chest and his breath was knocked out, but his arms were wrapped around it securely. Quickly, he pulled himself up and into the safe space, sliding into the most covered part easily and just in time.

“When am I going to get this position that I’ve been promised?” Ryan looked out a little and confirmed that it was Jeffry. He was talking to one of the other people that had been working in the building since Jon was little. They were walking across the second floor and seemed to be heading toward another room.

“Andrew said that once all of this was over and you’ve done your part, you’ll get your reward. You do know what you’re supposed to do, right?” the woman asked.

“Of course I do. I get say in what happens when I’m in this position, correct? It’s even higher than being Head?” Ryan narrowed his eyes and tried to think of what Jeffry could possibly want that he couldn’t have now. “Whatever I want done happens?”

“Yes. You know the details about all of that. There’s no need for you to clarify it anymore.” Then they walked into whatever room they were headed for. Ryan breathed out slowly and waited a minute or two before he walked out of his hiding place.

When Marc had told him that the Head Enforcer and the Head Performer were working with Andrew, he’d figured that it had something to do with power. Ryan couldn’t imagine what Jeffry was talking about getting. It didn’t matter, he had more pressing matters to think about anyway.

Ryan jumped back to the stairs, almost killing himself, but it was the fastest way back and he couldn’t afford the time to cross the whole floor again. As soon as he was up on the second floor, he ducked into the first room that was available.

He looked around for the one thing that didn’t look like it belonged. When he found it, he smirked and went over to the vase. Earlier, when he’d been going through the rooms with Spencer and Brendon, Ryan had noticed that each room had something in it that looked out of place with everything else. In one of the rooms he’d touched the thing and it had made a strange noise and he thought that he’d seen some kind of opening in the wall. Out of curiosity, he’d done the same thing in another room and was pleased when the same thing happened.

Ryan hadn’t told the others about it because it was getting close to when they had to go out and he knew that Spencer would get caught up in it, wanting to examine it more closely and figure out just exactly what it was. So, he’d kept it to himself.

Now he was going to use it, and it was hopefully going to lead him where he wanted to go. On the plans for the building that he’d memorized before, there were some markings that he didn’t understand. He couldn’t tell what they were supposed to mean, but they went all over the building.

After seeing the openings in the wall, though, he had a pretty good idea what they were and how he could use them. Ryan reached out and touched the vase, looking at the wall that it was in front of and watching it open up. The opening wasn’t obvious, the wall didn’t move to the side, it just moved inward, like it was being sucked backwards.

Experimentally, Ryan reached out and pushed the segment of wall a little bit, feeling triumphant when it moved, making the opening bigger. The secret passage was completely dark so he went back into the room and lit a candle, bringing it in front of him and holding it above his head so he could see down the hidden hallway.

The door went back into place behind him but he wasn’t worried. This was all going to end one way or another and he was determined that Andrew be taken out of his place so Jon could start fixing everything. At least there weren’t any Enforcers in here. If that was a factor, he would be screwed. They were the main reason why he was using the secret passageway and wasn’t just going through the hallways to find his way to where he was going because he knew that they would be patrolling.

He didn’t know for a fact that this was going to lead where he needed to go, but he was willing to try. From the map, it looked like it would and the only way to be sure was to look. As he walked, Ryan pictured the map in his head and focused hard to make sure that he was going the right way. Turns were the hardest because all of the paths were connected and picking the quickest route was important. He definitely had to be out of the secret passageways before everyone was gathered outside because Brendon would be on his way and Ryan knew that the other boy would go fast. This part of the plan was all about timing and if any of it went wrong he would need to think fast and come up with a solution.

The most frustrating part was that he couldn’t even really tell how he was doing and wouldn’t be able to until he was out. That was why it was so important that he focus on the map in his head and not get distracted. Goals like that, though, failed all the time and that was what happened when he heard a noise in an adjacent passage.

Luckily, he had the sense to stop walking and listen. The noise came closer and Ryan thought that he saw a light. Instinctively, he lowered his candle and held it closer, waiting for what was coming. The noise continued and Ryan wondered if he should go back a little. He ran out of time before he could make a decision.

What he saw when the other person ducked into his passageway made him freeze, then smile. Ryan didn’t quite believe what he was seeing but it didn’t stop him from venturing to ask, “Spencer?”

The dark-clothed boy whipped around to look at him. There was a look of disbelief in his own eyes but it, too, melted into something like happiness or relief. There was a big gash in his shoulder and there were cuts on his face and blood on his black skin glistened in the flickering flame, but he didn’t look concerned about any of it so Ryan decided not to be. “Good, my backup plan worked. I assume that you’re acting on your plan, now?”

“I am and it’s kind of happening now, so I need to get by you to get where I need to be. You’ll have to tell me later about how you got out, then the four of us are going to talk about how you came up with a backup plan involving me and you didn’t tell me about it.” Ryan was starting to get anxious. He was so close. If he could get through and actually make it work then everything was going to get better.

Spencer didn’t ask any questions, just stepped to the side. “Is there anything that you want my help with?” The question stopped Ryan. A thought just burst into his head and he turned back to Spencer.

“Yes, actually, there is. Could I have a knife? I don’t need a big one, just something that’s functional,” Ryan asked. Spencer looked intrigued and he reached into his skin to pull out a medium sized knife. The actual blade was only five inches long and the handle was probably six. It was perfect and Ryan reached out to take it, studying it as he lifted it out of Spencer’s hand.

“Thank you, I’ll see you in a little bit. If you go that way,” he pointed the way he’d come, “you’ll get out of here pretty soon. I suggest that you hang around with everyone else out there, there are a few people who are looking forward to seeing you.” Suddenly Ryan’s confidence in the plan became even stronger and he knew where he needed to go without having to think too hard.

He was able to make it to the end of his path in a minute or two and he took a breath before pushing the little panel in front of him aside. It looked like Andrew was in the bathroom and Ryan edged into the room, hearing the panel shut behind him. It was now or never and he glanced down at the knife in his hand.

Before he did anything else, Ryan went to the main door and looked out into the hallway. He had to be sure that the balcony leading outside was in this hallway like he thought. When he saw that it was—and that it was close—he was able to breathe a little easier. Success was right there and as long as he could get Andrew out there and Brendon was on his way, everything was going to work.

“What are you doing here?” Ryan froze and hid the knife behind his back, turning to Andrew. He fixed a seductive smile onto his face and leaned against the doorframe when he was facing the man.

“I was instructed to come up here. The Head Enforcer stopped me when I was leaving that other kid’s room and pointed me up here. I didn’t know that this was what I’d be doing.” By some miracle, he made it sound like he was actually looking forward to being with Andrew and he raked his gaze slowly up and down the other man’s body. He’d gone out on a limb with the Head Enforcer part, only assuming that the two of them were friends. From what Marc said, though, they were working closely with each other.

He’d been working long enough to know that no one passed up the opportunity to fuck a Satisfier if they were right there, whether they’d been planning on it or not. Andrew was no exception and he stepped aside, motioning for Ryan to go in to the room with his own easy smile. Ryan did, turning in a way that the knife was still hidden behind his back.

Andrew came in with him and leaned against the wall, very obviously pushing his hips out. Ryan ignored it and looked back with his own calm, collected façade that he’d mastered over the years and had learned made the “experience” go faster. He just needed it now to get Andrew to come closer and to completely trust him.

“What does Jonathan think about losing his plaything? He looked quite fond of you, though I’m not sure I can blame him.” Andrew was still evaluating him, probably thinking of all of the things that he could do to Ryan.

“What does he matter? I’m here now.” Ryan smirked, inviting Andrew to come closer and get it started.

At that, the forty or fifty-something year old man came forward and pushed him up against the wall, his mouth went directly to his throat, his thigh went between Ryan’s legs, pushing up a little. Ryan grimaced even though this was exactly what he needed to happen. It still felt sickening and Ryan tried not to push the man off. Instead, he struggled behind him to get the knife and he brought it up to rest against the side of Andrew’s neck.

When the man felt the point, he stopped and moved to look up at Ryan. Ryan glared back and he was completely steady as he held the knife there. All of that fight was boiling up to the surface. “Step back,” he demanded in a dark tone. He was ready to use the knife for more than this if he had to, more than ready.

Andrew looked shocked and he stepped back, probably before he really knew what he was doing. Ryan had figured that his preservation of self would win out. Andrew didn’t necessarily know that he would use the knife, but he wasn’t willing to take chances.

“Here’s what’s going to happen,” Ryan started, slipping away from the wall and going behind Andrew. He moved the knife along with him so it was along Andrew’s throat. “You’re going to walk when I tell you, where I tell you. You’re going to do everything that I tell you, or I will make you bleed.” Ryan let his anger and frustration leak into his tone, adding more pressure to the knife.

“You wouldn’t dare,” Andrew hissed. Ryan added more pressure to the knife until it was digging into the other man’s skin and he saw a thin, ruby red stream of blood. The point was shallow enough that it would stop in a few seconds but it was a good warning.

“Yes I would. Now, walk, out the door.” Ryan pushed him a little, making sure to keep the knife in place and he gripped the other man’s wrists to keep him from trying to break away. Andrew was stiff, but he shuffled forward toward the door.

When they were out in the hallway, Ryan stopped them and focused. He was trying to listen for signs that his plan was working so far. Faintly, he could hear the sound of a crowd outside. It wasn’t loud just audible, but it did sound like all of the people in the city were down there, minus most of the Enforcers probably. He nodded to himself, glad that everything was going well so far. Satisfied, Ryan nudged Andrew forward again, toward the opening that led out onto the big balcony.

They crossed over the threshold and Andrew didn’t even try to struggle. Ryan looked over the edge of the balcony and took in the sight of all of the people standing below. Every division was there: Medics, Providers, Creators, Instructors, Informants, Workers, Satisfiers, a few Enforcers, and the Performers. Ryan moved them back into the shadows since no one had seen them yet and he pulled his cube out of his skin.

It was better that no one know he was a Satisfier and that the other Satisfiers didn’t recognize him. Once he was a Performer again, he moved Andrew out onto the edge of the balcony and suddenly the two of them were visible to the people below. Everyone looked up and it was all quiet, like earlier when the first plan started to go downhill. Ryan glanced behind him to see if Jon and Brendon were coming yet, but so far the hallway was deserted, which was a good thing.

“Now, you’re going to come clean. You’re going to tell everyone how you kept the rightful Head of Heads away from his power and how you’ve taken it in the meantime. You’re going to tell everyone that you’re the reason their lives are in turmoil. You’re going to reveal that you’ve just been here, making things good for yourself, brainwashing Jon, and letting the city run without attendance. In front of all of these people who know the basics already, all you’re doing is filling in the blanks. You know what’s going to happen if you don’t talk.” Ryan said it all close to Andrew’s ear so only he could hear it. He moved the knife just a little closer to the man’s throat, making him put his head up further.

Ryan saw Andrew look down at the crowd below the balcony. All of the people were focused on the two of them. Some of them looked confused, others expectant, but all in all, they looked like they were waiting. He pushed the knife into the man’s skin just a little more since he wasn’t talking yet and obviously needed the motivation.

“Everyone’s waiting for you. Tell them why their lives suck,” Ryan encouraged him again. He moved Andrew a little closer to the edge of the balcony so everyone could see him better and he could look at all of them. Ryan’s anger was rising even faster now. Justice was finally going to come to everyone in the city. This thing that hadn’t ever seemed possible to him was right here and he was anxious to get it.

“It’s true,” the voice projector that Ryan had fixed to the front of Andrew’s skin kicked in and the words were sent out over the waiting people below. “I’ve been in charge of everything since the last Head of Heads died and I’m the reason the city has perished all these years. We’ve kept the Head of Heads sheltered his whole life so he wouldn’t try to do anything and the Head Enforcer and I could have the power. It’s all been my idea, too.” Ryan could see the fear in his eyes, intensifying as he looked at the crowd and the negative responses that everyone had to that statement. Some people looked shocked and like they were trying to process what they’d just heard and he watched as it melted into anger.

It was all he needed, it was all that Ryan had really expected, he just needed it from the horse’s mouth. There were people who hated the Head of Heads and Jon simply telling them what happened probably wouldn’t work as well as the figure that they’d seen for twenty years confessing to it himself. Most of the point of this was to keep him occupied, too. Ryan glanced behind him and felt relieved when he saw Brendon and Jon coming down the hallway to the balcony. Brendon flashed him a grin and Ryan nodded, taking Jon’s arm and pulling him forward. Meanwhile, Brendon stepped up by Andrew to keep him still.

“Everyone,” Ryan started. “This is your Head of Heads, the person who went around asking you about your lives. It was the first time that he heard about any of the problems that any of you face and it was the thing that inspired him to take his power back.” Ryan motioned for Jon to speak, for the first time as a leader, to his people.

“I, uh, I’m not exactly sure what to say but to tell you that this is all going to get better. Providers, I’ll help you settle your dispute for power and Medics, I’ll make sure that the Creators pay more attention and spend more time making the medicines that you need. All of you, I’m going to do the best I can to help. It might take a little bit of time because I’m not used to this, all of this is really new to me and I’m going to need some time.

“Like he said,” Ryan breathed a sigh of relief that Jon didn’t say his name, “I haven’t known anything about what I’m supposed to do for my whole life. I’m more than ready to do this, though, I just need the time to implement all of these ideas. I’ve been kept sheltered and everyone, especially Andrew, told me that I wasn’t supposed to worry about anything and that it was all taken care of. Luckily I got a wakeup call a few days ago and now I know what I’m supposed to be.” Jon turned to look at him and Brendon, then he turned to Andrew.

“Andrew, you no longer hold position in this building. Everyone else is going to be subject to investigation before a decision is made. Also, the Head Enforcer and the Head Performer are under indefinite probation since they can’t be stripped of their status and replaced until they die.” Jon was slipping easily into the role of leader, Ryan was happy to observe. He was talking with more authority and more officially than he usually did and Ryan was interested to see this change. It probably was only for things like this and he would go back to sounding like the Jon he was familiar with when he wasn’t making announcements and giving directions.

“Now, it’s been an extremely long night, I’m sure that everyone’s tired, and I have some things that I need to do. All of you can go home and just take it easy because I promise that I’ll start making things better in the morning. For now, though, everyone go back to where you live and sleep. Heads, I’d like to see all of you here tomorrow morning for a meeting. Also, tomorrow, I’ll be holding another party here because I want to get a chance to talk with all of you and meet you. That’s everything for now, I’ll see all of you tomorrow, hopefully.” He ended the little speech with one of his easy smiles, looking completely comfortable in his role.

There was cheering down below. It started kind of quiet but it built up quickly with applause, whistling, and whooping. Ryan saw what looked like genuine smiles on people’s faces and there were people from different divisions hugging each other and clapping each other on the back. It looked like a pure celebration and he couldn’t wait to see what Jon’s party would look like the next day.

“Wait a second, there’s something that needs to be done, first,” Brendon said, stepping forward. He had Jon’s mask in his hand and he approached the Head of Heads with a bright smile and a look of pride in his eyes. “Jon, I believe you’ve finally earned this. Now you can wear it and actually be the Head of Heads.” Brendon held the mask up and Jon took it from him. If Ryan wasn’t mistaken, he was looking at it differently before he put it on his face. That was when the cheering reached its roaring crescendo.

Ryan felt arms wrap around him from behind and a warm set of lips pressed against his shoulder, neck, and cheek. “You did it, Ry. You made the change happen.” Brendon’s voice was right there by his ear. All Ryan did was press back into the embrace and bring his hands up to hold onto Brendon’s forearms, dropping his head to rest on the other boy’s shoulder.

He was exhausted and nothing sounded better than curling up in his soft bed at the Secret Authority building with Brendon. He couldn’t help the bright smile that spread across his face, though, because Brendon was right. Ryan did it, he put Jon back in his place so the city could be fixed. Ryan not only found the justice that he’d been looking for, he made it happen.
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