“You wrote ten thousand words of what now?” Spencer demands, frowning at the man in the chair across from his desk.
“Muppets fan fiction,” Brendon Urie moans. He's the latest addition to the list of writers published by Pete Wentz' record label turned publishing house turned who-in-hell-knows-what. Pete had published a few of his short stories in a fiction anthology, then accepted his full length manuscript and turned it into a publishing coup. “I wrote Muppets fan fiction instead of working on my novel, and the deadline is in three days.”
Spencer has seen this sort of thing before. Brendon's got one fabulously successful novel out—a steampunk horror/thriller/mystery/romance novel called The Ballad of Mona Lisa—but now that he's working on his second novel, he's choking. “Listen, Mr. Urie, I can give you the talk about how you've got a contract and are now obligated to us, but I don't think that's going to do any good in this situation. In fact, I'm not really sure why you called this meeting at all.”
“Because--” Brendon flushes bright pink, then sighs and shrugs. “Because I need you to go on a date with me.”
“What?” Spencer asks, completely taken aback by the demand. He's had some weird demands but no one's ever demanded romance from him before. Spencer doesn't really project a romantic image. Pete gets demands for romance and sex, and so do Ryan and Jon, occasionally, but Spencer's never had to deal with this sort of thing.
“Oh stop, it's not what you're thinking, it's just. I'm stressed out because I have to have dinner with my parents tonight and we haven't talked since I came out and chucked a copy of my book at them, and my book alone is enough to make them disown me, but they called and said they wanted to have dinner with me and my charming boyfriend, and well, I don't have a charming boyfriend, I have a publisher and an editor and a guy named Gene who does my suits and a guy named Zack who works security downstairs and asks me to tag along to taco nights on Wednesdays,” Brendon explains.
Spencer just gapes. “Um,” he says. He's not sure whether to address the run-on sentence, the improper use of personal pronouns, or the request for a fake boyfriend first. “You. Um.”
“I shocked you. That's so cool, usually people like you are all calm and just roll with it, but I actually shocked you!” Brendon bounces a little in his seat, then calms himself and runs his hands through his hair, making it stick up in new and interesting ways. “Please, Spencer Smith, O Editor Extraordinaire? I will so totally make it worth your time!”
“You'll make it worth my time? That had better not be an offer of sex, Mr. Urie. Because if it was, I'd be required to turn you down under section twelve of Pete Wentz's Rules for Editors, Proofreaders, and Copywriters, 7th Ed. And yes, that's a real book, Pete has them printed up every year, and no, you can't have a copy,” Spencer sighs. He knows enough to head Brendon off at the pass on a few of the thousand questions bubbling behind his eyes. “If, however, that was meant to be a promise of ten thousand more words on your novel, instead of writing fanworks about puppets, then consider the offer accepted.”
“Yay!” Brendon grins and does a little victory dance in his seat. “When do you get off work? Never mind don't tell me, I'll ask your secretary on the way out. And oh. Are you allergic to shellfish, because we're totally going to the Red Lobster, my parents love that restaurant, and I feel I should know these things if I'm pretending to date you.”
“No, I'm not allergic to shellfish,” Spencer says, feeling like he's missing part of the puzzle here. “I get out at five-thirty. You can pick me up at six.”
“Yay!” Brendon says again, and there's a repeat performance of the victory dance. Spencer just ignores him until he goes away. He has other things to do than coax flighty authors out of their funks.
* * *
See, the thing is, Spencer has been in love with Brendon since the moment he read that first short story in Pete Wentz's Under the Cork Tree short fiction antholgy. He read the first paragraph and knew beyond a doubt that Brendon Urie was perfect for him.
Meeting Brendon once they'd been formally assigned to each other had only confirmed all Spencer's suspicions. Brendon was funny and smart and occasionally a douche but mostly well-intentioned, and Spencer was just gone. But Pete Wentz has very clear rules for this sort of thing, and Spencer is very good at playing by the rules, so he's gotten very good at ignoring the fact that his heart leaps every time Brendon twitches.
That being said, it's probably not the best idea for Spencer to have agreed to pretend date him—against which Pete Wentz has no rules, so hooray for small favors—even if it is to get him to finish his novel. Pete Wentz has very clear rules about getting authors to finish novels, which start and end with the words “By any means necessary. Any means , Spencer Smith! Any means.” Spencer is torn between finding it creepy that Pete Wentz printed up a special copy of the rule book for Spencer (he checked, Ryan's just says “By any means necessary”) and kind of awesome. Most days it's creepy.
Despite the “by any means” rule, Spencer ends up working late and almost missing his not-a-date.
Brendon is chatting with Zack, the parking garage security detail, when Spencer finally stops working at six and leaves the building. Brendon's in the middle of a tale about a bonsai tree he once had. Brendon tells excellent stories, it's why Wentz hired him, but Spencer would rather he typed them, instead of spewing them at unheard of speeds into the poorly-lit air of the parking garage.
“There you are, Spencer Smith!” Brendon grins. “I was beginning to think you were pretending to stand me up.”
“I—that's not even technically--” Spencer takes a deep breath, grins as wide and as fake as he can, and says, “No, not pretending to stand you up, just pretending to work late.”
“It's okay, I planned for that,” Brendon nods, happily. “Come on, my car's over there.”
Spencer leaves his briefcase with Zack, who promises it'll be in the booth with him all night, then gets into Brendon's Smart Car and prays they don't meet any large cars on the drive to the restaurant.
* * *
Once they're at the restaurant—which really is a Red Lobster, and Spencer's not sure if he wants to cry or laugh at that, so he's very carefully having no opinion whatsoever—Brendon gets a phone call.
“Sorry, it's my sister, I have to take this,” he says with a smile.
While Brendon is on the phone, saying loud and obnoxious things like, “No, no, speak up, I can't hear you!” and “What? What? You're dropping out! Hello? Mom? Hello?” Spencer orders them a bottle of table red and tells the waitress to hurry up with the biscuits. She rolls her eyes at him but does what he says and brings out the red wine and the bread.
“You gonna order, or are you gonna wait for him to get off the phone?” she asks. Her name tag says “Gerard”. Spencer wants to ask, but doesn't.
“I think I'd better wait,” Spencer decides, as Brendon gives an exceptionally loud “I cannot hear you mother!” from next to him. “We'll wait,” Spencer nods decisively. “His parents are supposed to be here.”
“Oh, I got it,” she nods knowingly and smiles sympathetically at him. “I had the same shtick happen last time I tried to meet Gee's parents.” She taps her name tag and makes the motion for crazy. “My boyfriend can't plan worth a damn either.”
“Yeah, okay, now you're coming through loud and clear,” Brendon announces to the restaurant at large. The woman seated at the next table motions not-Gerard over and asks to be moved. Not-Gerard offers her some of Spencer's table red as a consolation prize. Spencer tunes back into Brendon's conversation as he's saying, “Tomorrow? But you told me—delayed? Mom, you never get any vacations and I don't—oh, I see. Right, well, I'll let him know. He's going to be very disappointed. No, I'm sure he'll have time to see you before you leave. Yeah, I love you too,” Brendon makes kissy noises into the phone and then hangs up. “Sorry,” he shrugs. “Flight got canceled.”
“Thought you said delayed,” Spencer mumbles.
“Delayed first, canceled second,” Brendon explains. “They're coming out tomorrow. Don't suppose I could snag you for a repeat performance?”
Spencer rolls his eyes and gulps his wine, bad manners or not. He needs vodka right now, but the red's just going to have to do.
* * *
Dinner with Brendon is surprisingly nice. He's good company, tells outrageous stories, drinks wine like it's water and doesn't flinch when the alcohol hits his blood, and apparently has fantastic ideas for Muppets fan fiction.
“Dead Poet's Society?” Spencer asks again. “Really? That's—that's so sad, though. Like, Muppets are supposed to make you happy, right?”
“This does make me happy, though,” Brendon shrugs. “Happy in a depressed sort of way. That's the point!”
“Okay, but where do you fit in Miss Piggy?” Spencer wonders.
“Miss Piggy is Keating? Really?” Spencer takes a moment to let it all sink in, then laughs. “Dude, I'd totally read it. I'm not publishing it, but I'd read it.”
Brendon grins and leans against his shoulder. “I should email it to you. It's ridiculous. And possibly longer than I've led you to believe.”
Spencer takes another bite of his lobster and sighs. “Man, I miss when reading was fun and not required for my job.”
“Yeah, I know right?” Brendon huffs a laugh. “I used to write because I wanted to, not because I had to meet deadlines. That's what made Mona Lisa so great. I wrote it because I could.”
“We should like. I don't know. Combine our woes and do stuff for ourselves again. You can write me stories and I'll read them without picking them apart, and you can just write without worrying about deadlines.”
“That would be nice,” Brendon agrees. “Hey, let's go dancing.”
“You're drunk,” Spencer points out. “How will we get there?”
“I have connections,” Brendon says with a mysterious grin. He pulls out his phone and fires off a text, and two minutes later a short guy with stringy hair and a name tag that reads “Lyn-Z!” shows up at their table.
“Brendon, what have I told you about—Oh. You are on a date. Well that settles it then,” Not-Lyn-Z says. “I'll get the car.”
“Who is that?” Spencer hisses at Brendon.
“That is Gerard,” Brendon explains. “He's in my writing group.”
“Aha,” Spencer says, mildly. He's three glasses of wine past being able to muster up “bitchy.” At the moment there is only mildly annoyed and really, really happy.
* * *
Gerard drives them to some hole-in-the-wall club, announces that Pencey Prep is doing a show so they'd better fucking enjoy their night, and refuses to come in “just in case I can't resist temptation.” Spencer asks how long he's been sober and gets a blinding smile and a happy “Two years!”
“Congratulations, man,” he says, sincere and nods encouragingly at Gerard.
“Thanks!” Gerard grins.
Then Brendon's pulling him inside and buying him more alcohol, and Spencer's night sort of blurs from there. They dance, long and hard and high on endorphins and the cloud of smoke that hangs in the air just outside the club. The music is amazing—although Spencer feels high enough he's pretty sure elevator muzak would sound amazing right now—and Brendon keeps grinding against Spencer's thigh, and when they're ready to go home, they stumble out the back looking for Gerard and end up with Brendon pressed into the brick of the alley wall, and they make out for what seems like hours.
When they do finally surface from the haze of mouths and tongues and teeth, Spencer turns his head and discovers Gerard making out with the lead singer of Pencey Prep. “Isn't Gerard dating our waitress?” Spencer asks, wondering vaguely why he knows who Gerard is dating.
“Yeah, but that's nothing,” Brendon shrugs. “Frank over there is married.”
Frank doesn't look married, what with Gerard's tongue down his throat and his hand squeezing Gerard's ass underneath his pants, but whatever. Spencer's pretending to make out with his client, so who is he to talk?
* * *
Spencer's never quite sure how they manage to get back to Spencer's place, but when he looks over Brendon's shoulder, there's a taxi waiting, so he assumes there was no lawbreaking involved. “Hey, so . . .” Spencer starts, then stops because he has no way to end that sentence without sounding like a douche bag.
“So,” Brendon agrees. “Look,” he blunders on, breathing deep and putting a solemn hand on Spencer's shoulder. “I'm a little drunk right now—or a lot drunk, maybe—and this might make me sound like an asshole, but I had a really good time tonight and I want to have another good time with you again really soon, okay? Like, I'm talking really soon. There is no too soon in this scenario.”
Spencer giggles a little, then leans awkwardly forward and kisses Brendon again. “I'd like that.”
* * *
The next morning, Spencer finds a note in his coat pocket.
Date him for real or I'll cut off your balls.
<3 <3 <3 and kisses! Gerard!