Categories > Celebrities > Panic! At The Disco > Every Little Thing

My Life Would Suck Without You-Kelly Clarkson

by GealachGirl 2 reviews

What would they do without one another? It's not even a question because it could never happen.

Category: Panic! At The Disco - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst,Drama,Romance - Published: 2013-04-20 - 9468 words - Complete

Well, hello there. Sorry about that wait-thing. =/ Here's hoping it doesn't happen again. (I finished the last chapter a week ago, too, so no waits with that when the time comes!)


Tour was going very well. They were about a month into their Pretty. Odd. tour and Brendon couldn’t see it being any better. There were three weeks in the beginning where the band had to have a backup guitarist play because Ryan went back to Nevada for his dad’s funeral and working out the will. When he got back everyone was thrilled. The fans were psyched, Spencer practically ambushed Ryan after he got out of the mass at the airport, Jon was smiling and bearing coffee for the weary traveler, and Brendon was there with a hug and a promise to talk with him later.

When they left the airport in the bus, Ryan went instantly to his bunk, telling them that he was going to sleep and if anyone disturbed him they were going to need another replacement. Brendon smiled at the threat and the memories of recording for the first time that followed.


Some hours passed with the sound of moving around in the bunk and Brendon was torn between waking the poor Ryan up and letting him get sleep since he did get some sleep, even when he was thrashing around. Brendon left it and much later in the evening, when they were eating their “dinner”, Ryan stepped out in now-wrinkled clothes with wild hair, rubbing his eyes.

“Well hello. I almost forgot that we picked you up today, I was almost sure that it was a dream,” Spencer said when Ryan sat down at the table. Ryan gave him a half-hearted glare and set his head down on the table.

“Are you okay? You look almost dead,” Jon said, looking at him with concern. Ryan didn’t respond and Brendon got a little worried as well.

“It’s probably stress,” he suggested, noting the look in Ryan’s eyes. His excuse seemed to go over well with the others and they dropped it, going back to their cereal. Brendon sighed quietly and started eating again, keeping an eye on the unresponsive young man sitting beside him.

After “dinner”, Spencer and Jon started playing a video game. When the sound effects were loud enough, Brendon leaned forward so he was closer to the other’s ear. “I’m glad you’re back, Ry.”

Ryan picked his head up and looked at him. He gave Brendon a weak smile and leaned in closer, putting his arm around Brendon’s shoulder. “It’s good to be back, B.” His voice sounded strange to Brendon’s ears and for once the contact didn’t do anything to reassure him that Ryan was okay.

“Ryan…” he whispered, trailing off, getting lost in the look on his best friend’s face. It was a cocktail of sadness and exhaustion. Right then he felt the overwhelming urge to lean in and kiss him, make him feel better and show him that there was someone in the world who cared more than anyone else. It was practically bursting him from inside. He held back though.

“You know in books and movies when there’s a big falling out between a parent and their kid and everyone can tell that they despise each other, then when the parent dies, the audience finds out how much the parent really loved the kid because they left everything to them?” Ryan asked, not looking back at Brendon, but focusing on the table. Brendon nodded and Ryan must have seen it because he continued.

“It seems that my hate was returned. Nothing. He left his only heir absolutely nothing. All of his property and money was left to his company and the stock market. There was a small part of his bank account that was set aside for my needs by order of the court, but I don’t necessarily get it now that I’m an adult with a job,” Ryan explained, gritting his teeth near the end. “It’s a comfort I guess, to know that my hatred wasn’t misplaced all these years.”

“Weren’t you grieving a little though?” Brendon asked. He remembered Ryan saying that all those weeks ago in the hotel room.

“At the beginning, yes, unfortunately I was sad. But you see Brendon, when something that has been on your mind constantly for your whole life suddenly disappears, you get kind of lost. You’re thrown off balance a little. That’s all it was.” He looked up and met Brendon’s eyes then. “I did not love him, ever. And he never loved me. It all works out.”

Brendon knew that Ryan wasn’t covering anything up. That every word he spoke was pure truth. There was no way even Ryan could fake the emotion in his eyes. Brendon also thought about it a moment and realized that Ryan was right. Ryan’s father never left his mind because he’d been conditioned for fourteen years to think about him constantly.

The urge to hug him was something that Brendon could give in to, and he did. He leaned forward and put his arms around Ryan as tight as he could, then he pulled him as close as he could and he just held him there against his chest. It didn’t take long for Ryan to wrap his skinny arms back around Brendon and rest his chin on his shoulder.

They sat there like that for longer than Brendon could keep track of, but he didn’t care. Ryan seemed to need it. It was something that Brendon had seen after Spencer had backed off and they’d all sat down to get out of the crowd at the airport.

They’d settled down at a table outside of a little strip of McDonalds, Starbucks, and one of the generic airport stores. Ryan busied himself sipping at his coffee and telling them that the arrangements and the funeral itself went well and they told him about what had been happening on tour without him. Throughout the conversation, Brendon could tell that the other boy wasn’t paying full attention and that he looked more tired than usual. It had bothered him but he didn’t want to call attention to it if Ryan wasn’t saying anything, he knew enough about the other man to know not to do that.

“Thanks, Bren. You know, I couldn’t wait to come back home as soon as I got on that plane three weeks ago.”

Brendon smiled a little and pulled back. “I’m glad you’re back, buddy. It was lonely without you. And the stand-in guitarist was no fun to mess around with. He stood in one place and didn’t react to anything that I did.”

“You cheated on me?!” Ryan exclaimed after a fake gasp. “I can’t believe you Brendon Urie, after everything that we’ve had together.” He was smiling despite his best efforts to bite it down; it was a good sign because it meant that he was in a better mood.

“Relax, woman. I didn’t do anything like that with him. I just tried to pull him into moving around and playing guitar with me and stuff. Don’t worry, we still have our thing, uncorrupted,” Brendon said, smiling back. If he hadn’t been sure before, he definitely knew that he’d missed his Ryan.

“Good and you better keep it that way,” he said, sounding serious, like the joke was over. It seemed that neither of them had missed it and there was a slightly awkward silence, something that hadn’t happened between them since the beginning of senior year.

“I really am glad that you’re back, Ryan. It was weird without you, like something was off,” Brendon said to break up the silence weighing down on them. Ryan smiled one of his genuine smiles in response to the declaration.

“Thanks Bren. You have absolutely no idea how nice that is to hear. Back in Nevada there wasn’t anyone there who I felt actually wanted me there. I could feel that everyone just wanted to get things over with. And I missed you guys. I’ve been living with all of you for a long time and it was weird to be away,” Ryan responded, suddenly looking tired again. “I feel better now, though.”

Brendon smiled despite his slight—and what he saw as probably unnecessary—concern. “Want to go out and watch the Midwesterner kick Spencer’s ass again?” he proposed. Unlike with poker, Jon was able to beat Spencer in video games pretty much every time they played. Spencer was too stubborn to stop, though, and Jon enjoyed winning too much to drop it. Both Brendon and Ryan found it endlessly amusing. Ryan nodded and they moved out to the couch to watch the unfolding drama of Mario Kart.


Brendon guessed that he’d only been asleep for about two hours before he was woken up by a loud thud. Immediately his thoughts jumped to Ryan, and immediately he squirmed out of his bunk and crossed to Ryan and Spencer’s side. As far as he could tell, no one else had woken up because of the noise.

Of course he was right about it being Ryan. He reached up and drew the curtain back on the bunk, fixed on staying true to his promise to wake him up when he had his nightmares. The sight that greeted him explained a lot. Ryan was sweating because every now and again he would twist or lash out. His breath came in quiet gasps and his chest was pumping up and down frantically. Occasionally he would mutter something or he would whimper and his face would twist up, looking like he was in pain. What was almost scarier was the time between when he was completely silent and still. Let in to the horror, Brendon wasted no time in putting his hands out to stop the movement and he whispered sharply in Ryan’s ear. “Wake up Ry, wake up. Come on, just open your eyes.”

It was one of those deathly still moments that made Brendon’s nerves ache with their anticipation for the next outburst. But then, Ryan’s nose wrinkled and his eyes blinked open. He looked confused for a second as he brought a hand up to wipe the thin sheen of sweat off of his forehead. Then he focused on Brendon. “Brendon? Was I being loud?”

“I woke up when I heard a thud. I think you hit the wall or something. But Jon and Spencer are both still asleep,” Brendon reassured.

“That doesn’t mean anything, the two of them could probably sleep through the apocalypse,” Ryan said, shifting so his legs were hanging out of the bunk. Brendon took a step back and to the side and Ryan hopped down beside him. The two of them walked out to the lounge and sat down.

“Are you okay, Ryan? That sounded worse than before.”

“I’m fine now that I’m awake,” Ryan mumbled. His chest was moving slowly, big breaths in, big breaths out, like he was still trying to calm down.

“Are you sure?” Brendon couldn’t help but be doubtful. Ryan would ignore or write off anything if it made people worry about or pay too much attention to him.

“Positive. Remember, I’ve been living with this since I was fourteen, I think I know how it works by now.” Brendon knew that the words were supposed to be comforting or reassuring, but they only made him feel worse about it. Still, he didn’t say anything else.

“So, now that you’re up, what are you going to do?” he asked, genuinely curious. He was sure that it wasn’t the first night that Ryan had woken up. It was the first time he’d been woken up, but he’d woken up in the middle of the night before.

Ryan shrugged. “Usually I just sit here and stare out of the window for a while, thinking about the dream. Sometimes I get on the computer. Now that you’re here though, I suppose you expect me to entertain you.”

“Well, I’m not medicated at the moment, or it’s on the downslope of its effectiveness, but I am twenty years old. I think I’ve grown out of that seventeen year old needing to be entertained thing,” Brendon said. Ryan just raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “What?”

“If you’ve grown out of that, why were you sitting on my lap a month ago, practically begging me to play video games with you?” Ryan asked.

“I was relapsing.”

“Ah, I see.”

“Uh, huh.”

“Are you okay now? You can handle yourself?”

“Probably. I haven’t been climbing in your lap today or anything like that. But, you know, there’s no telling.” Brendon replied.

Ryan smiled a little bit and there was a moment of light. Then his face fell and he leaned forward, rubbing his hands over his face. He muttered something, but it was too quiet and muffled for Brendon to understand what it was.

“Ry, are you okay?” Even he could hear the alarm in his voice, how the whole question was pitched higher than his normal speaking voice.

“Yeah, I’m just coping.” He looked up and sighed a little. “Bren, really, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me,” he said sadly. He was sitting up straight again and he was looking at Brendon with eyes that could probably melt steel with their intensity.

Brendon found himself nodding, which was weird because he didn’t agree and he was still worried. It would be best to drop it for the night, Brendon knew that. Ryan could be an impenetrable wall when he wanted to be, and he knew that there was no way he was going to be getting anything else out of the man.

Ryan got up to get the laptop, ending the conversation. Brendon just sat back and watched him come back but wedge himself in the corner of the couch with the screen facing away from Brendon. Brendon regarded the scene for a moment or two before he sighed and turned his attention to the passing scenery outside the window. It was clear that Ryan was done with him for the moment.

It was weird how Ryan was in charge of conversation and interaction and how Brendon just accepted it. If anyone else were to do what Ryan had done, Brendon would bug them incessantly until the person started paying attention to him again, or they told him what they were doing. Not with Ryan though, Ryan got away with just about anything he wanted. That was how it had always been between them. Maybe it was because he knew Ryan well enough to know that when the boy was done talking, he simply moved on.

About a half hour later, Ryan was still on the computer and Brendon was nodding off on the couch, still looking toward the window.

“Hey, Brendon?” he heard from the other side of the couch. He started and looked over, trying to blink away the sleep.

“Yeah?” he asked.

“Do you want to go to sleep? You really don’t have to stay up with me, I’m not going to go to sleep again,” Ryan said, looking up at him over the top of the laptop’s screen.

Brendon sat up further and shook his head. “No, no I’m fine,” he said, rubbing his eyes.

“I’m serious Brendon. I’m a big boy; I can stay up by myself.”

“But what kind of a friend would I be if I let you stay up by yourself? I’m okay.”

Ryan gave him a doubtful look, “You’ve been falling asleep for the last five minutes.”

“I won’t if we’re talking or something. Ry, I’m fine, believe me. We don’t have a show tomorrow; I don’t really need much sleep.”

Ryan set the laptop off to the side of him and settled back into the cushions. “You want to talk? What’s been going on with you? I don’t know what’s been happening to you, lately.”

“Um, well my nephew’s about two now and Kara says that he just won’t stop growing or moving. She’s also said something about him being just like me when I was little.” Ryan smiled a little bit and motioned for him to go on. “He’s talking now, won’t shut up from what I hear.” That got him a little laugh from Ryan. “And Kara says that she plays our music to him and he’s in love with it.”

“That’s great. You’ve met him, right?”

“About twice. He’s the best. I should have abducted him like I wanted to. You know, and return him after a few weeks,” Brendon answered, smiling. “I wish I could see him more. Kara sends me pictures sometimes.”

“Yeah, I think I’ve seen one or two of them. He’s pretty cute.”

“You should meet him.”

“Maybe I will sometime. Anything else?”

“My mom and dad called the other day, just to catch up and tell me about my other siblings, because apparently they can’t contact me themselves. My brother got promoted, my other sister’s getting married, and my oldest brother is going on some kind of trip to somewhere. I wasn’t paying much attention at that point. Your plane was about to land.” He put his head back, trying to remember if there was anything else really significant that was happening in his world besides his sister and Ryan.

“I can’t think of anything else.”

“It sounds like a lot’s happened.”

“Not as much as you.”

Ryan put his head back on the back cushion, mirroring Brendon’s position. “I’m not going back to Vegas as long as I can help it,” he groaned, looking up at the ceiling. “It might be a wild adventure to most other people, but I never want to go back.”

“That’s understandable. I don’t think that anyone’s going to make you go back.”


Brendon looked over at his friend sadly. Ryan was still focused on the ceiling, obviously thinking about something else that had just come up. Brendon realized that there was more going on than even he knew. He wanted to know the rest, he wanted to help, he wanted to be part of the other boy’s life and he didn’t really care how.

Ryan didn’t let people in that much though. It was amazing how far Brendon was. There was no one else that was even close to where he was, and there would be no one getting in farther. Ryan was like the earth, no one would ever get to his core. People couldn’t even get past his crust.

Brendon moved closer and set his head on Ryan’s shoulder. With a soft sigh, the older boy leaned his head over to rest on his and Brendon pressed himself closer. Ryan relaxed a little and put his arms around Brendon and they just sat there because that was the only thing left to do.


He was sore everywhere. All of his muscles protested movement and he could barely make himself get up. Blinking away sleep, he sat up and looked around. Once again he’d fallen asleep in the lounge area, this time on the couch and leaning on Ryan. The couch wasn’t strange, it was his second bed, but he didn’t remember when Ryan fell asleep.

Ryan was still asleep, breathing lightly and looking completely relaxed. Brendon rolled his neck around and stretched his legs out, being careful not to disturb the skinny person sleeping on him. When he was as loose as he was going to get, Brendon sat back and studied Ryan’s face.

It was relaxed. Gone was the distant expression, absent was the look like the young man was concentrating on some complicated math problem or unwinding the mysteries of life, he looked at peace. If someone looked at Ryan’s face and knew nothing else, they might think that the world was utopia.

Brendon smiled a little and moved some hair out of Ryan’s face. He wished that Ryan were relaxed more of the time instead of always looking like he was working on solutions to the world’s problems. There wasn’t much that could be done though, so he accepted what was. The kid had a lot on his mind, a lot to think about, and Brendon wasn’t going to interrupt him. Who knew if one day Ryan would come up with the cure to cancer during his musings?

He was being sappy and it freaked him out just a little, but he figured that as long as everything stayed inside as thoughts, everything was okay. Brendon had to do something, and soon, because he couldn’t just keep harboring these feelings or he would go crazy.

“Hey, Ryro, wake up,” he said close to Ryan’s ear, pushing at his shoulder a little bit. There was a soft groan from the other and his nose wrinkled up, but he just buried himself deeper in the couch and tried to turn over. “I mean it; you have to wake up right now.”

“Fuck off, Bren,” he growled groggily; lifting a hand to bat Brendon’s away and succeeding in turning away from him.

“I was prepared to be nice to you. Too bad,” Brendon replied, smiling. He leaned over and shoved Ryan out of his little crevice so he was perched on the very edge of the couch. Then, to prevent him from falling back, Brendon leaned over the spot. Like he predicted, Ryan just fell back into him.

“You’re a dick, you know that?” Ryan asked, finally opening his eyes and glaring over at him. “Not only did you wake me up, but you forced me to wake up when I was having a very nice time being asleep.” He was still leaning against Brendon’s chest, but it didn’t look like he noticed. Brendon just grinned at him and Ryan narrowed his eyes. He got up then and went to the kitchen area to make the coffee that would wake up Spencer and Jon.

Brendon heard Ryan grumbling to himself as he moved around the kitchen. Brendon was sure that it was about him, but he only smiled because his Ryan had returned.


Later on, they were stopped for gas, food, and a chance to walk around. It was a glorious time that Brendon usually took full advantage of, normally making the others wait for him to get back. Today, though, he was back early. No one else was on the bus and Brendon grabbed the laptop. He had about twenty minutes until everyone else had to be back on so Brendon had to work fast.

He logged on to Ryan’s account, brought up the internet, and went to the website. Then he pulled up a few other tabs so he could go to them quickly if Ryan showed up before he was done.

The first poem in the list was called Under One Small Star by Wislawa Szymborska. Brendon read through it a few times and frowned. He wasn’t sure what Ryan was thinking, but then he noticed that it had been read while Ryan was away in Vegas. Brendon still couldn’t help but be a little worried, wondering if Ryan was experiencing depression again. But the last one, the one that Ryan had been looking at last night was a poem that was entitled, Other Lives and Dimensions and Finally a Love Poem by Bob Hicok.

Brendon was stuck to that poem like glue. He read it and reread it probably close to ten times. There was a small part of him that seemed to be lifting up. Nowhere in the poem was it really clear about any kind of love, and it definitely didn’t come out and say, ‘I love you Brendon Urie.’ Brendon let himself hope just a little bit though. There was always the chance that it was another girl that Ryan had somehow met at some time. This was the first time, though, that he’d heard Ryan was feeling that way about someone since Keltie, and he couldn’t help himself.

“Are you sick again, Brendon?” Spencer called out, coming up the steps. Brendon closed the tab and navigated to one of the others, making it look like he was waiting for a game to load when Spencer came up to the level of the room. Brendon looked up.

“Nah, I just didn’t feel like staying outside for long.”

“You are sick.”

“Spin, the concern is appreciated, but I’m not sick. I just wasn’t feeling the sun, today.”

“You grew up on the edge of a desert and you weren’t ‘feeling the sun’? Can you hear how much sense that makes?”

Brendon sat up. “Spencer, I came back in early, there’s nothing wrong with me, deal.”

“Get out of the doorway, Smith,” Jon said, pushing past Spencer. Ryan followed him closely. When he saw that Brendon was sitting on the couch, he frowned a little bit, but the rest of his face was impossible to read. Then Ryan shrugged and pushed past both Jon and Spencer to sit by Brendon.

Spencer and Jon exchanged a look and it looked like they were having some kind of silent conversation as well. Brendon could tell because at one point in their little staring contest, Jon shrugged and Spencer nodded. Then the both of them moved to sit in the chairs that were across from the couch where he and Ryan were sitting. Brendon looked over at Ryan who was studying the two with a slight frown, looking again like he was trying to unlock the mysteries of the world. Brendon sighed and went back to the computer, and Spencer and Jon started talking quietly across the “room”.

“Brendon, why are you on my account?” Ryan asked, looking over his shoulder. Brendon froze and a chill went down his back before he remembered that the incriminating tab was closed and that there was no proof that he was looking at things he shouldn’t.

“It was just the one that was up. I’m sorry; do you want me to get on my own? I just thought it would be stupid to log you off just so I could get on my account to use the same internet that has the same games and email,” he said, looking over his shoulder. Ryan’s eyes were wider than usual and there was a certain careful stillness about his body like he was trying not to startle a wild animal. When Brendon was looking at him though, he seemed to try to cover it up.

“Uh, no it’s fine,” Ryan said, playing with some of the hair that was close to his neck. “You’re right, that would be stupid. I was just wondering.” Then he turned away and buried his nose in a book. To Brendon though, he still looked tense. Carefully, he went back to the computer screen and pushed the play button for his game.

It was hard to really get into the game like he was usually able to. Why did Ryan care so much that he was on his account? Was there something that Brendon wasn’t supposed to see? Or was it just something that no one should see and Brendon got too close to it? He could feel his hopes rising a little and—unlike before—he didn’t want to let that happen.

He wasn’t really sure what changed his mind but he forced himself to focus on the game and tried to ignore the feeling of “Ryan” behind him. It was hard because Brendon was acutely aware of the other’s presence and that was the only thing he never seemed able to ignore. Brendon swallowed and kept his eyes glued to the screen, blocking out everything but the graphics and the controls.


Brendon was going to go crazy. Either Ryan knew that he was reading the poetry and was fucking with him on purpose, or he didn’t know and he was accidentally fucking with him. Both ways, Brendon was going insane.

It had been four days since he’d last checked the poetry website and saw the poem about other worlds and not touching someone being a mistake. There was a new poem though for Brendon to break his head over. It was called The Loneliest Job in the World and it was written by a guy named Tony Hoagland. It confirmed his suspicions that Ryan was interested in someone again. There was still nothing that really gave Brendon any hints as to who it was and all he really knew was that Ryan was questioning himself, but there wasn’t anything new there.

Brendon put his head in his hands. He felt like talking to Kara but for the first time in his life he wasn’t sure what she was going to do about it. She could give advice like no one else, but he wasn’t sure what kind of advice she could give based on poetry. Besides, he already had an idea about what she would say. She’d probably say something about not letting it get to his head and to just slow down and evaluate a little. He was trying that and it was driving him mad to try to analyze the whole situation.

For a few minutes he seriously considered waking Ryan up and asking him what the fuck he meant. He knew that Ryan would be pissed about Brendon invading his privacy, and even if he got over it, he still wouldn’t tell Brendon about it. The boy’s ability to be a wall was impressive and frustrating.

Brendon read over the poem again for lack of anything else to think about. It was obvious that it wasn’t going to answer any of his questions and that he was going to have to wait for an update. Even then there was no guarantee that he was going to find out what was going on with his best friend.

Brendon looked down at his shoulder where the older boy’s head was resting. His eyes were closed and he looked peaceful as he always did when he was asleep. Brendon had just gotten him up from one of his nightmares and this time Ryan was apparently exhausted because he went back to sleep soon after they sat down on the couch together.

“What does this all mean?” Brendon asked the sleeping form quietly. The only response was a slightly bigger breath in. “God, you’re frustrating. I don’t even know how long I’ve been focused on this but I know I’ve never been stuck on anything nearly as long. Why do you have to be so fucking secretive?” Brendon ran his hand through Ryan’s hair and sighed a little when all he got was the skinny body pressing closer to his.

He looked back at the computer screen and sighed again before he closed out of the tab and shut the computer down. Brendon set it to the side of him and settled back into the couch. Ryan’s head slipped off of his shoulder and rested on his chest instead. He was out, there was no force in the world that would probably wake him up, and Brendon put a hand on his back and rested his chin on Ryan’s head.

“I just want to know,” he whispered aloud to no one in particular. The only response that he got was a quiet sound from Ryan that sounded like a mixture of an exhalation and a word.


After a long day with things going wrong left and right and a show that relieved all the stress from earlier, Brendon settled into the couch eagerly. The show had been exhausting as he’d taken most of his frustration out during it. He couldn’t wait to be at the hotel they had time for so he could sleep in a real bed.

Before the show, there had been some issue with the sound and the instruments. He’d been close to his breaking point, but looking at Ryan he’d been able to tell that he was way past his. Ryan had a shorter temper and level of frustration, but he generally took that out quietly, resigning himself to glaring at all of the people who were contributing or grumbling under his breath while he was getting ready.

The situation they were in was different though. Instead of only a few mishaps, the whole day had been filled with them and whenever Ryan tried to get in and work things out, people told him to get out of the way and they told him that it was beyond what he knew. Brendon had been watching Ryan’s anger rise all day so he wasn’t too surprised when he swung at the assistant who was trying to tell Ryan what to do. He was only surprised by the swing.

Everyone had stared at Ryan and the assistant scrambled back, staring at the seething man who was standing in the middle of the floor. Even Spencer had looked baffled by the sudden outburst. Brendon got up and put a hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “Ryan?” he whispered close to his ear.

Ryan was already tense, but he tensed up even more and Brendon could feel Ryan quivering under his hand. “Let’s go,” he whispered again. He put both his hands on Ryan’s shoulders and guided him out of the room. Ryan didn’t say or do anything and he didn’t relax either. Brendon went through hallway after hallway, trying to find a way outside. Finally he found a red ‘EXIT’ sign and made his way straight to it.

When they were outside and the heavy metal door had latched behind them Ryan clenched his hands into tight fists and yelled. If that hadn’t surprised Brendon enough, he turned and kicked the wall. Then he sat on the ground, leaning against the wall with his knees drawn up to his chin, glaring out into space. Brendon was shocked into silence and only sat down next to him. Ryan had a look on his face suggesting he would kill if he was bothered, so Brendon sat next to him and waited for him to get back up, ready to go inside.

After the show and after the showers, Ryan wouldn’t talk about what the problem was but he did seem to have calmed down. He got on the bus a few seconds after Brendon, took the laptop, and settled down into one of the chairs across from the couch. While it was loading up though—before Jon and Spencer got on—Ryan looked over at Brendon. It looked like he was debating something, then he shook his head slightly and looked back at Brendon with a different expression on his face. He didn’t have to say anything, Brendon knew that Ryan was saying thank you and he nodded to show that he understood.

Spencer and Jon got on the bus and put themselves on the couch with Brendon. Spencer was looking at Ryan with a puzzled expression. Brendon studied him and waited. Several times Spencer opened his mouth and shut it again, and then he finally spoke.

“Ry, I hate to bring it up, but what’s going on? You’ve been acting strange lately and you won’t say anything to anyone.”

Rather than yell or shut down or completely ignore Spencer like Brendon expected, Ryan set the computer aside and looked at Spencer for a second before responding. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. How have I been acting strange?”

“Well you’ve been kind of moody, or moodier than usual. And then there was that thunderstorm when you just disappeared for more than an hour, longer than you’re usually gone. You’re really quiet too.” Ryan gave him a look. “Quieter than before,” Spencer amended. “Then there was today at the venue when you tried to punch that kid. You don’t do stuff like that Ry, at least not as long as I’ve known you. And I’ve known you since you were five.”

“The whole death of my dad didn’t occur to you?” Ryan asked.

“Of course it did, but you never seemed all that close to your dad, getting emancipated when you were fourteen and all. Then there was the time when he was in the hospital for something and you barely seemed concerned, you didn’t even want to go see him,” Spencer argued back. Already Brendon could see that this wasn’t going to end very well. Jon met his eyes and it was clear that he knew that too.

“You don’t know anything about my dad,” Ryan said softly, sitting up and clutching the arms of the chair. His eyes were dangerously dark and he was stiff as a board, posed like he was going to attack at any sudden movement. Instinctively, Brendon sat up a little more, moving out of the little place he’d made for himself in the couch cushions.

Spencer noticed the change too but it only seemed to make him angry. “And whose fault is that? Who is it that never talks to his best fucking friend since before school?” Ryan was still stiff, just watching Spencer as if he was waiting for more. “I remember when you used to tell me everything. I was the first person you told about wanting to start a band. We found out that it’s what we want to do on the same fucking day, Ryan. And now you barely talk to me.” Under the anger there was hurt. It showed up in his voice and on his face.

The bus stopped outside of the hotel and both Jon and Brendon wasted no time in getting up and leaving. They had an understanding that they were both concerned about their two friends but they also didn’t want to get in the middle of the fight. Zack gave the two of them a look and when they just looked back at him with wide eyes he sighed and went into the bus.

Both young men came down the steps scowling. As soon as his feet hit the ground, Ryan walked over to stand beside Brendon since they were going to share a room. Spencer noticed and even though he was standing next to Jon—who he was sharing a room with—his gaze darkened a little. “Of course you’re going to Brendon. After all, he’s the only person you talk to anymore.” Brendon froze a little. He didn’t know why he was being dragged into it and he hunched his shoulders up a bit to shelter himself in case more fighting started.

They already had their rooms and Zack was passing the keys around, explaining they would have each other’s keys in case of emergencies. Glaring, Ryan grabbed the one for their room and grabbed Brendon’s arm, pulling him rather violently into the hotel and to the elevator.

In their room, Ryan let go of him and set about stalking around. Brendon stood there awkwardly, not quite sure if what he was about to do was smart or not. He took a breath and did it anyway, though. “Ryan.” The boy stopped suddenly and turned to look at him sharply, he swallowed past his apprehension and went on. “What’s going on with you and Spencer?”

“Spencer’s being an asshole.” Brendon bit his lip because Ryan didn’t talk about Spencer that way.

“But, you know, he might be right about something.” Ryan shot him a death glare and he hurried to get to his point before his head was ripped off his neck. “You’ve been acting weird. I know that it doesn’t have anything to do with your dad. Is there some—someone who’s on your mind or something?” he asked. He couldn’t help it. He had to know what it was that Ryan was talking about with those poems.

Ryan froze and looked at him with wide eyes before he carefully composed himself. He didn’t give Brendon an answer and simply looked at him. His eyes were still a little too wide and his eyebrows were closer together than usual and he seemed stiff.

“Come on Ry, just tell me. You can trust me with anything, you know that,” he pleaded. He didn’t even care about the note of desperation in his voice. If it would show Ryan just how much he cared for the information then it was all for the better. “You know that I’ll be okay with whatever you tell me.” Or at least he would pretend.

Ryan looked shocked for a moment and his lips moved but no sound came out. Then he deflated and it seemed that all of the emotion rushed out of his body. “Just drop it Brendon,” he sighed, sitting down on one of the beds and putting his head in his hands. Brendon was tempted to do that, but he had to find out what was bothering Ryan so much that he would get into a fight with Spencer of all people.

He shook his head. “No Ryan. Come on, you need to get it off your chest. Just tell me. What am I going to do anyway? You’re my best friend.”

Ryan froze again and he raised his head. Suddenly he looked really tired and he simply looked at Brendon before he shook his head and dropped it again. “No, you won’t be okay with this. Forget about it.”

Brendon got closer and dropped to his knees in front of Ryan. “I’m not going to forget about it. And you don’t know what I’m going to be okay with.” Brendon said. He was determined to outlast Ryan and finally get an answer to something he wanted to know instead of letting it go.

Ryan looked up again and he had a blank look on his face. His voice sounded stiff. “Brendon. Let. It. Go. I’m not talking about it. I’m just going to get some sleep. It’s been a long day.” He tried to get up but Brendon grabbed onto his wrist and pulled him down.

“Why won’t you tell me?” he asked. There were other questions in the queue, other questions that had been before that one, but that was the one that came out. The worst part was that it sounded wounded and pathetic, reflecting his thoughts too much.

When Ryan looked up again there were small fires in his eyes. “It’s none of your business. Not everything that happens in my life is your business, contrary to your belief.” Brendon stilled completely.

“What do you mean?”

“Every time something happens, you stick your head into whatever it is. Then you hold on and try to get me to tell you that I’m going to be okay and even when I say that you won’t leave me alone. You think that just because I told you that thing about my dad you’re privy to all the shit that’s going on in my life. You aren’t. It’s my life, go worry about your own,” Ryan said heatedly.

Brendon felt like he’d been slapped. He just blinked at Ryan, not really believing that he’d just said that. The look on his face though, Brendon could tell that it wasn’t his mind doing weird shit. Ryan had really said that. He rocked back a little. Without truly realizing what he was doing, Brendon got up and paused a moment before he said, “Fine,” and left the room.

As he walked down the hall and to the stairs he thought about the poem he’d read earlier that morning. It was called You Are Tired and it was by e. e. Cummings. It was the update Brendon had been looking for and he remembered stilling completely. But maybe it wasn’t what he thought it was.

He didn’t know where he was going until he was outside and in front of the venue. It was only down the street and they’d taken the bus because they needed all their stuff. Brendon wasn’t entirely sure why, but he walked around to the back entrance of the building. For some reason he was able to get in and he walked through all of the hallways until he got to the stage.

The piano was still there. They tried not to move it much since it messed with the strings on the inside and it was usually too late at night for anyone to be too concerned about moving it instantly. Immediately, Brendon went to it and pushed the cover up. The carefully polished keys shone up at him even in the dimness and he collapsed on the bench. Instantly his hands went up to memorized positions and he started to play whatever jumped to mind first.

There were still people taking stuff down somewhere deep backstage so there was a backlight on and it shone faintly onto where the piano was. Brendon was fine with it, though. He didn’t need the light to play. He never did.

At one point Brendon wasn’t even playing a song that he knew. Notes were just leaking out and his fingers were finding them and playing them to—what must have been for them—perfection. He wasn’t sure what he was playing or where it was coming from, it was just there.

There was no way for him to know how long he’d been at the piano. Time always melted away when he was just playing. It was kind of what he imagined a trance would be like. He simply got lost, completely absorbed.

He didn’t hear anything, especially not a heavy door opening and closing, or the sound of footsteps making their way across the stage. For some reason he didn’t feel anyone behind him despite it being the person who made his skin tingle with their presence. Brendon was oblivious to all of that. That is, until he saw in the corner of his eye, a long-fingered hand resting on the edge of the piano and he felt a hand on his shoulder. What was hardest not to notice, though, was the face coming around in front of his and, most of all, the lips that were soon pressed softly against his own.

The sensation sent a lightning bolt up his spine. Brendon gave in to it for the fraction of a second that he had before the lightning bolt hit his brain and reality came rushing back. In surprise and in defiance, Brendon got up and slipped around the side of the piano so that it was between him and Ryan. They looked at each other and Brendon’s thoughts raced, trying to figure out what was going on.

Ryan’s expression was impossible to read. Brendon could tell, though, that he was having a vicious war in his brain. It wasn’t clear which side was ahead though, or even necessarily what the sides were. He was still too angry to really feel the desire to step in and help.

Eventually the fight seemed to be resolved and Ryan started to move around the piano to get to Brendon. Brendon, though, moved with him so the piano stayed absolutely between them. He just now realized that he was pissed. Not only had Ryan said what he’d said, but now he came back and kissed him with no explanation or even an apology. Brendon wasn’t going to stand for that.

Ryan remained composed and simply kept trying, obviously hoping to outsmart Brendon or catch him off his guard. It went back and forth for a minute when something in Ryan’s facial expression changed and it made Brendon stop. Ryan seized the opportunity and soon he was standing right there in front of Brendon.

“What’s wrong?” the other man asked, his voice quiet and deep. He leaned forward a little bit and Brendon still couldn’t make himself move. He had to splutter around to even get an answer and now Ryan’s face was directly in front of his own.

“Does this make you nervous?” Ryan got even closer and this time Brendon was able to step back.

“Wh-what are you doing?” He hated the way his voice shook with, yes, nervousness and just the sheer closeness. They were face to face, and it wasn’t like they hadn’t ever been that close before but this was different, mainly because of what Ryan had done only about two minutes ago. Brendon swallowed.

A small smirk crawled onto Ryan’s face and he leaned forward again, further invading Brendon’s personal space with his smell and the feeling of him. They had a quiet staring match for a second, eyes barely more than four inches apart. If he wanted, Brendon could barely lean forward and their foreheads would be pressed together.

“So, is that a yes?” Ryan whispered. There was a glint in his eye, and that smirk was still on his face. He put a hand down on the top of the piano and put the other around Brendon’s lower back. Ryan leaned suddenly forward and tilted his head just enough to press their lips together again. Brendon’s head was pushed back just a little, but, since he’d been expecting it, he was able to react. He returned the kiss and put his hands on Ryan’s shoulders.

He wanted it. He wanted it so badly and Ryan was so close and just, there, that Brendon couldn’t help himself. He knew that he should be standing his ground and not giving in like this just because Ryan fucking Ross was in front of him, kissing him and being all seductive, but he didn’t care.

The kiss felt as amazing as he’d expected it to feel. Instead of a lightning bolt, this time there was a fire slowly burning up his spine. He pressed himself closer to Ryan and the taller boy responded by turning a bit so the edge of the piano was digging into Brendon’s back and Ryan used the hand that had been behind Brendon’s back to mix with the black hair on top of his head.

Kissing Ryan was like playing the piano. Brendon got lost in the feeling, in the movement. All that Brendon knew was that they were there in that position by the piano for a while and his back had started to ache.

Eventually, though, they had to breathe and they separated so their foreheads were leaning against each other. Ryan was smiling and his eyes were bright. He looked like the Ryan that Brendon knew.

The rest of the night was kind of a blur. Brendon remembered them walking back to the hotel and going back to the room. Then he remembered lying down in his bed while Ryan went to his and nothing after that. It was all black and quiet.


Sunlight. It should be illegal, especially shining through windows of unsuspecting sleepers. Brendon could feel it piercing through his eyelids and screwing them tighter shut didn’t work. So, he blinked his eyes open and squinted against the light. It wasn’t nearly as bright, or as direct, as it felt and he noticed that it was lighting up the whole room.

Once his eyes adjusted and the rest of his senses had caught up, he realized a few important things. One, it was really warm behind him. Two, there was an arm that wasn’t his in front of him on the mattress. Three, the hair on the top of his head kept moving. Four, someone was lying almost on top of him.

Slowly, Brendon turned himself over onto his back and came face to face with none other than Ryan Ross. His chin was resting lightly on the top of Brendon’s head and his breathing had been the cause of Brendon’s hair moving. Brendon turned his body some more so he was on his side. There were light goose bumps on his bare skin, same as on Ryan’s, but he didn’t feel cold.

He was transfixed by the older boy. They spent most nights sleeping on each other on account of Ryan’s dreams, but this was different. Both of them only had pants on and they were actually in a bed. Brendon looked over to see his own bed by the window with the covers flipped back, bunched up and tangled. He pushed himself up a little so that he was equal with Ryan’s face.

Brendon just looked at Ryan’s sleep-relaxed face. For some reason it looked different now than it usually did, like another layer of tension Brendon hadn’t noticed before had been stripped away. Softly, he traced the other boy’s eyebrows with his thumb and smiled a little. Then he closed in and pressed his lips to Ryan’s relaxed, unsuspecting ones.

The moment that Ryan woke up to realize he was being kissed was a confused one and it was clear that there was a bit of panic, but when Brendon tried pulling away, Ryan grabbed his head and pulled him closer, kissing back. It was then that Brendon knew that the poem he’d read the previous day meant what he thought and what he wanted it to mean.

When there was a tongue swiping across his bottom lip, he was snapped away from his thoughts and back to the present where he was opening his mouth to let Ryan in. Ryan smiled appreciatively and made a soft noise somewhere in the back of his throat. Brendon rolled so he was lying on top of the older boy and when they parted to breathe, he balanced his forehead on Ryan’s.

They lay there, looking into each other’s eyes and it was the first time Brendon really noticed that the two colors of brown mixed well. He tilted his head to catch the other boy’s lips again and Ryan responded readily. They rolled over again, and the hotel’s bed wasn’t really big enough for it, but they managed to stay there on the edge with Brendon clutching the skinnier young man to his chest.

Ryan resumed the position of having his tongue in Brendon’s mouth, not bothering to ask for permission before doing so. Brendon didn’t care so much though, not when it felt as good as it did. He slid his hands up and over the skinny boy’s sides, soaking in the feeling of the bare, soft skin. This closeness felt so much better than Brendon ever thought it would. Even the skin that he’d touched who knew how many times before felt different.

Eventually Ryan broke off the kiss and sat up, smiling softly and saying that he was going to take a shower. That left Brendon there with his heart thumping in his chest, marching to the beat of ‘finally, finally, finally, finally’.

While Ryan was in the shower, Brendon got the laptop and looked at the poetry website. At the top of the list—above You Are Tired —was a new one, viewed the last night and it must have been before Ryan found him on the piano. It was called Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda.

Brendon set the laptop aside after reading it and leaned back into the pillows, grinning up at the ceiling. Life was so fucking good.
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