It was dark in South Africa when Brendon and Ryan spoke about what was to come. Brendon had been cross-legged, sitting on the edge of their rental home's back patio as the heavy soles of his bandmate drew closer. He could still remember the scent of the thin man's aftershave as he took a seat beside him when he closed his eyes. Ryan heaved a breath as he looked out at the city lights below them, crossing one leg over the other to get comfortable. After a moment of silence the man laughed, shaking his head at some internal joke he'd made.
Brendon arched a brow, cocking his head at Ryan. "What?"
"Nothing, I just-" Ryan fiddled with his fingers before his eyes danced over the lights as well. "Do you remember the first time we smoked cigarettes behind Spencer's house? The city looked just like this."
A smile caught the corner of Brendon's lips. "Yeah. You told me they'd taste better than they did."
There was an almost uncomfortable silence between the two of them. The moment that everything changed - the man called it. Finally Ryan looked at Brendon, a sadness in his eyes. He wasn't sure if it was self-sadness or sadness at something more; maybe Ryan knew what was to come. The man had never been good with relationships, after all.
"Jon and I have written a couple of songs for the new album. They sound really 60's."
The city below caught Brendon's attention first, and the man turned his head toward it. Breathing in. "Have you listened to anything Spencer's written? He has some really good ideas as well." It was a suggestion, just a suggestion. Suddenly Ryan's phone went off and the man slipped it from his pocket, reading the text message that lit up the square screen. The younger man bit his cheek. "Ryan?"
"Sorry, it's that girl I met in Cape Town tonight."
It shouldn't have stung, but it did. It stung like salt on a wound and Brendon could feel his heart dropping. "Cool."
Maybe Brendon could have said something different, maybe he could have chose to walk away or hide himself in his laughter. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But the man was beyond running from these things and now, he'd have to face the ugliest demon that would ever look him in the eyes. Jealousy. Two days before today it had been the two of them. They smoked together, they enjoyed each other's company and, when heavy hands began to wander beneath clothing, Ryan had said 'It will always be you'. Now the bitter realization of what the man was capable of solidified before him. He turned his head away.
Ryan tensed up at the single word, clearing his throat as he shoved his phone back into his pocket. "Why are you getting so upset? I really thought you'd be happy for me."
"Who says I'm not happy, Ryan?" He turned his head to the guitarist, expression void. "I just think you deserve something a bit better. Someone that actually gives a fuck about more than having sex with you. Someone like K-"
"Please don't say that name." Ryan shook his head with a bitter breath of a laugh before he shoved off the ground, standing to his feet again. "You don't get to use that name, and you don't get to dictate who I can date. You- you're just... jealous."
It was in that moment Brendon's eyes fell shut, not turning to look at the man as his shoes began to shift away from him. He shouldn't be upset about this, he shouldn't let this get to him, he shouldn't.
"Oh, and by the way," Ryan stopped half-way back to the house, earning attention of anyone that could hear them. Brendon, Spencer, John, Zack, Eric. Everyone. "We watched the Crow and she blew me. Still better than you've done in a while."
Before Brendon, or anyone for that matter, could register what had been said; the shorter man was on his feet and running at Ryan, rushing to him to tackle him to the rug covered cement below. He had the man pinned beneath him with his legs straddling his thighs, arms pinned at either side of his body. No one wanted to stop him when the comment registered, but they knew they had to.
"You don't give a fuck about anyone's emotions, do you?" He asked, tone dry and deep as he forced the guitarist to look at him. "You fucked over Keltie by cheating, you fucked over your best friend with a new guy from Donnie Darko but you will not say that shit about me, Ryan Ross. You w-"
Zack's arms wrapped around Brendon and tugged him off the man just as his fist pulled back, pulling him in the opposite direction of the man. "Let go of me, Zack!"
"No, I don't give a fuck. I'm looking after priority one, Brendon, it's called survival instinct."
Spencer sat up on the couch where he'd been sitting with Jon, glaring at the man that was once his best friend. "You're just like your fucking dad. Drunk, cracked out and an asshole." He'd have punched Ryan himself if he was closer.
The struggling with Zack's arms stopped, Brendon stopped and Jon sat back in shock. There might have been a silence if Ryan had allowed one, but he laughed bitterly.
"Lot of nerve coming from you, Spence." Ryan spat, crossing his arms. "You have no right to talk about my fucking dad that way. You didn't know him the way I did."
"Yes, I did. You're just like him and," Spencer stood to his feet and walked around the couch, creeping dangerously close to Ryan. "Your hate for him has made you become him. You promised me you wouldn't bring cocaine with you and, guess what? You fucking did. What other out of character shit are you going to pull? Gonna hit me too? Might as fucking well."
Ryan clenched his fists but he couldn't hit Spencer. Instead he turned heel and walked out of the room, leaving the damage for someone else to clean up. Spencer's hands were shaking now, looking back at everyone else with piercing blue eyes.
"Someone had to say it."
The next day Ryan stated he was 'no longer part of the band' and Jon announced he'd be leaving, though the bassist was much kinder about the situation than his companion. Brendon and Spencer wished Jon luck and Ryan flipped them off from twenty feet away, hiding behind the shades that Brendon claimed 'symbolized his new soul'. They left on two different planes, then, and Brendon could still smell that aftershave.
It had been his.
Three years after the split.
It was well into the evening before Brendon and Spencer had left the studio; the pair leaving only minutes after Dallon and Ian had made their leave. Night young, the pair decided to make their way from Los Angeles to North Hollywood in search of a bar. The drive was long, light winded and mild in temperature - the perfect night for a long drive through the hills of Hollywood - and something didn't feel right. The singer's stomach had been in knots since they decided to drive to the socialite area because he knew Ryan's old 'gang' liked to hang all over one another there. He didn't protest and let the drummer drive, hanging his messy head out of the window to enjoy the rustling of the wind as it passed him. He would be care free.
They pulled up to a bar called 'The Good Nite' and Brendon looked around, eyes watching for any sign of that-person-he-didn't-want-to-see. Nothing. He hopped out of the car and drew a deep breath of night air in.
"It smells light peaches." He stated as Spencer rounded the car, chuckling at the statement.
"Peaches? Really?" The blue eyed man nodded toward the door, walking toward it as the singer folllowed him quickly. Their paces met as they arrived at the door.
Then there was a voice, distant and loud, that caused them both to shudder. It was deep, slightly drunk and full of that laughter you knew was false; there were other voices that didn't ring as familiar, but the voice had been enough to stop them in their tracks. The bouncer at the door quirked a brow at the men, standing up straight.
"Are you gonna show me your IDS or what?"
Brendon and Spencer looked at one another, but it was Spencer who spoke first. "If that's him, I'm not letting him ruin my fun tonight." He pulled out his wallet and showed it to the man.
The singer's feet were stuck in place for a moment, using all of his strength to will them out of their stunned state as Spencer ducked inside of the bar. "I'm coming, I'm coming..."
He pulled his wallet from his jacket pocket and flashed the bouncer his I.D; the man nodded for him to head inside and he swallowed thickly. It was slow motion as he walked into the bar, catching the scent of incense and tequila while his feet continued moving. His eyes did not lift from the floor for fear the voice would belong to a face, a face he didn't want to see. As if someone was listening to his thoughts he brushed someone and his gaze lifted, curiosity met with bitter anger when they fell on a face. Brown eyes, combed back hair, skeleton shirt and fake leather jacket.
"Brendon." Ryan spoke bitterly.
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