Audrey flipped open her cell for the twentieth time and silently cursed it for steadfastly refusing to ring.
They had had fights before. Hell, it used to be their favourite pass time. But fights were always followed by apologetic text messages and mind-blowing make-up sex. She furrowed her brow in confusion. She was damned if she knew why this time was different.
"Ring, damn you," she screeched. She slammed her cell closed in frustration and returned to staring at the ceiling.
Ryan removed the shirt he had picked out and threw it on the mounting pile on his bed. He stood staring at the clothes hanging in his closet and cursed them for not being right.
He felt the increasingly frequent butterflies flutter in his stomach as he grabbed yet another shirt from a hanger and slipped it over his head.
He felt like he was going on a first date. He mentally scolded himself for being such a girl about this.
"Only going to Brendon's to hang out," he repeated over and over in his head like a mantra.
He checked his reflection in the mirror and allowed himself a small grin.
"Well, Ross, that looks pretty hot," he nodded slowly, turning to eye himself from all angles. "Not trying too hard, not too casual." Finally satisfied with what he saw, he grabbed his jacket and keys and headed for the door.
He was stopped in his tracks by his father yelling for him.
"Where the hell you going all trussed up?" a slight slur evident in the words.
Ryan sighed inwardly, closing his eyes and offering up a silent prayer. "Not tonight. Please not tonight," he whispered under his breath, hand on the doorknob.
He turned slowly to face his father.
"Just going to hang out with a friend," he answered placating. "I won't be late."
"Going to play sissy music with your faggot friends," his drunken father staggered towards him, pushing his face close to Ryan's. He visibly winced at the stench of whiskey on his breath.
"Um, no, Dad. It's, uh, a girl. I uh, have a date," he lied, hoping it was the right thing to say.
His Dad backed off slightly.
"A girl, huh?" he eyed Ryan suspiciously for a few moments. "Yeah, well, get the hell outta here then."
He turned and staggered away, leaving Ryan to exhale in relief.
Brendon sang loudly as he fixed his hair in the bathroom mirror.
He felt oddly nervous at the thought of Ryan hanging out with him tonight. His parents were at a church function and wouldn't be home till late, and somehow the thought of being alone with Ryan was giving him a fluttering sensation in his stomach.
If he didn't know better, he would think he was going on a first date.
He pushed that thought out as quickly as it arrived.
"Now, what to wear?" he eyed his selection of t-shirts and quickly settled on his favourite blue one. He knew he looked hot in it. "Not that that matters," he reminded himself quickly.
As he slipped it over his head, his nerves jangled as the doorbell sounded, announcing Ryan's arrival.
"I don't know Kennedy. He's being really weird. I don't know what to do," Audrey whined down the phone to her best friend.
"So, he couldn't get it up? At all?" Kennedy's horrified tone made Audrey flinch in embarrassment.
"No, nothing. Then he just blamed me and stormed out," Audrey felt tears prick at the corners of her eyes.
"There's got to be someone else," Kennedy stated matter-of-factly.
"What?" Audrey's stunned voice came back at her. She hadn't even considered that.
"Well, think about it. Brendon is a sex-fiend. He wants it all the time. Then suddenly, he can't get it up for you? He's got to be getting it somewhere else," Kennedy continued, unperturbed by Audrey's distress.
"You think he's got another girlfriend?" Audrey's voice had changed from distress to anger.
"Well, it's either that or you just don't turn him on. Which would you rather believe?" Kennedy's logic made Audrey pause for a moment.
"That bastard," she yelled loudly down the phone. "And I bet she's with him right now and that's why he hasn't called."
"Wow, there, girl. You know what they say. Don't get mad, get even," Kennedy tried to calm her.
"What do you suggest?" Audrey felt a plan coming on.
"Cut the fuckers dick off," Kennedy cackled. "Or alternatively, catch him in the act."
She let Audrey digest the suggestion.
"I'll pick you up in half an hour," Kennedy finished, hanging up the phone.
Brendon threw back his head and laughed as Ryan finished the story.
All thoughts of song-writing had been abandoned as they swapped stories of previous summers, girlfriends, childhoods. Anything and everything they could think of.
Brendon's guitar still lay in Ryan's lap, cradled gently in his long fingers, but it had long-since been forgotten. His notebook lay open at a blank page that would stay that way tonight. They both sat cross-legged on the floor of Brendon's parents basement, facing each other.
"So, where's Audrey?" Ryan vebtured carefully as Brendon's laugh died away.
Brendon glanced down and fiddled with the hem of his jeans.
"Um, we had a fight," he shrugged casually, trying to show it was no big deal.
"Jeez, sorry man," Ryan mumbled the apology.
"It's no big thing," Brendon glanced up at him. He took a swig from the beer bottle lying by his thigh and mentally took a deep breath. "Lately, I've been thinking things aren't right between us..." he trailed off, stealing another glance at Ryan to gauge his reaction.
Was it his imagination, or did he look a little bit happier when he said that? Brendon shook the thought away.
"It's just, I don't really feel anything for her right now. She irritates me. The tiniest little thing she does just grates on my damn nerves," Brendon admitted with a shake of his head.
Ryan nodded, eager for Brendon to continue.
"And last night, well, I couldn't....y'know, I couldn't," he gestured at his lap, embarrassed "with her." He felt a flush colour his cheeks.
"Oh," Ryan answered shortly, surprised by Brendon's openness.
Brendon glanced up and saw the shock on Ryan's face, deepening his embarrassment.
"That's never happened to me before. Not ever," Brendon added, by way of explanation. But last night, there was just nothing."
"Hey, it's not that big a deal. Maybe it's just her. Maybe you just don't like her like that anymore," Ryan answered simply.
"It's not just that though. I mean, later, I was back to normal. I mean, jeez this is embarrassing," Brendon covered his reddening face with his hands. He took a deep breath.
"It's ok, Bren, just say it. I'm not embarrassed talking about this shit," Ryan pulled one of Brendon's hands from his face, forcing him to meet his eyes.
Brendon felt a jolt of electricity course through him at the contact.
"Ok," Brendon took another swig of beer, steeling himself to continue.
"Later, if I thought about other stuff, not with her, everything was fine. Normal service was resumed," he covered his discomfort with the joke.
"Is there someone else?" Ryan asked sharply, causing Brendon to scrutinise his face carefully.
What was that? A flash in his eyes. Annoyance? Brendon wasn't sure. And he couldn't rule out wishful thinking on his own part.
He sighed deeply, dropping his eyes to the floor again. "Not exactly. No one who knows, anyway," he picked invisible fluff from the carpet.
Silence from Ryan.
Brendon continued to stare at the carpet.
Ryan wasn't sure what this was all about.
This was not the kind of conversation he normally had with guys. Well, not with the guys who were just friends, anyway.
And he wasn't sure, but he could have sworn Brendon was flirting with him earlier. But now, what the hell was he looking for? Relationship advice?
Ryan took a long drink from his beer. Dutch courage. He chided himself for being so pathetic.
"You know," he began "this kind of thing happened to me once. Someone I was seeing just stopped doing it for me. I couldn't see past every annoying thing about her. Hell, even the way she chewed irritated me."
That raised a knowing smile from Brendon.
"But it turned out, it wasn't her. It was me. I had a thing about this guy in my math class and I was taking it out on her," Ryan watched Brendon's reaction carefully.
His head shot up and he met Ryan's careful stare, his eyes wide with shock at the admission. Ryan kept his gaze steady, his hands clutched in his lap to stop them from shaking.
He had done it. He had taken the chance, and now he just had to wait for the fall-out.
"Guy?" Brendon asked, his expression unreadable.
Ryan answered with a slow nod, his gaze never leaving Brendon's.
"You liked a guy?" the question was barely above a whisper.
Ryan shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant. "Sure. Sometimes, I like guys."
Brendon took him completely off guard as he closed the short distance between them and pressed his lips to Ryan's.
"Ssh," Audrey hissed at Kennedy as she quietly opened the door to Brendon's parents house.
She motioned for Kennedy to follow her. She knew Brendon's parents weren't home, because they had had big plans for the empty house. Plans that had went more than pear-shaped.
She saw a light shining from the basement doorway, and moved quietly on tip-toe towards it. She wasn't sure if she was ready to catch him with another girl, because then she would have to admit he was cheating. But even more, she wasn't sure if she was prepared to find him alone in the basement on a Saturday night because then she would have to admit that he just didn't want her anymore.
She certainly wasn't prepared for the sight that met her eyes.
She creeped down the first few steps, just far enough that she could lean over the banister and see what he was doing. She motioned for Kennedy to stay where she was.
The light was dim, but as she craned her neck, she caught her breath in shock.
Brendon. And Ryan. Kissing.
"Brendon?" the word slipped from her lips in horror.
"Brendon," he heard his name uttered from somewhere behind him and leapt back from Ryan in shock.
He turned to see Audrey staring in horror towards him. As their eyes met, she turned and fled.
He was torn.
But he did the only thing he could.
He jumped up and ran after her, leaving Ryan staring after him.
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