Pete Wentz started it.
Okay, that wasn't totally fair. Spencer started it, but it was completely Pete Wentz's fault Spencer started it, and that was practically the same thing as if Pete had started it himself, and anyway, Spencer was really, seriously tired last night, and like. There barely even was any "it." "It" hardly even existed, that's how unimportant "it" was.
It was definitely not important enough for Spencer to be obsessing about like this.
The thing was, the walls on the bus were, like, paper-thin. Seriously, they blocked out pretty much no sound, and that could be really annoying when you were trying to sleep, which was why pretty much everybody Spencer knew these days had started sleeping with their earbuds in and their iPods blasting, and that was fine, whatever. But so of course Pete and Patrick ended up on the Panic bus last night, hanging out for no good reason until all hours of the goddamned morning, and of course yesterday just happened to be a day when Spencer had (a), just finished playing a show on less than seven hours of sleep out of the last forty-eight hours combined, and (b), failed to charge his iPod.
Spencer was stuck laying there in his bunk with its paper-thin walls, listening crabbily to the world's stupidest argument happening in the front lounge. And he was very tired, and very cranky, and very tired, okay? It would never have happened otherwise. Basically, Pete was challenging Panic's gay cred, and Brendon wasn't taking it very well.
Spencer thought they were all idiots, and also assholes, and didn't much care what anybody thought, but that wasn't the point. The point was, these people had opinions, and those opinions were keeping him awake against his will.
"No, see, that's the thing," Pete kept insisting. "Girl jeans and eyeliner, whatever. Blah, blah, perfect passionate kiss. You liars. You've never actually kissed and you know it. You're just—you're cheating. You keep playing the gay card, but there's no way you'd ever even actually kiss another boy, and that makes you a hypocrite."
"Dude," Brendon huffed back. "You're fucking married, don't start with me about hypocrites. You've kissed more boys than I've kissed girls, and that doesn't make you gay, Mr. I-Think-Cocks-Are-Funny-Looking. You're still just a straight boy kissing dudes, which is fine—and by the way, I would totally kiss a dude, I have no idea where you got the idea I wouldn't—but it doesn't make you any gayer than I am!"
"Oh, you would not," Pete retorted, somewhat missing the point, in Spencer's opinion. "You say that—it's easy to say that—but I know your type."
"That's right." Pete sounded very smug. "Your type. All talk, no action. I bet your hands were shaking every single time you did your field-of-flowers routine with Ryan, all that nervous thrill of almostalmostalmost but never being pushed to follow through. I'm right, aren't I? He was totally shaking every time. Right, Ryan?"
Ryan's monotone was too low-pitched for Spencer to hear clearly, but he must not have agreed with Pete, because Brendon made a triumphant kind of "Ha!" sound and Pete sort of snorted and said something Spencer could only catch the tail end of, which sounded like, "...man up and prove it?"
“Fine,” said Brendon defiantly. “Ryan?”
"Hey, I'm comfortable with my gay cred being exactly where it is," Ryan returned, loudly enough for Spencer to hear him. He sounded amused, inasmuch as Ryan tended to sound like anything at all.
"Whatever," Brendon said, exasperated. "C’mere, Pete."
"Can't," Pete retorted. "I am a fine upstanding married man, with all sorts of vows and shit. You can kiss Patrick."
"The hell he can," Patrick returned placidly, and oh my god, this was seriously the stupidest fight in the history of ever, and Spencer could not believe they were actually keeping him awake for this.
"Jon?" Brendon wheedled. “Jon, help me!”
Jon laughed. "Tell you what, if you still need to kiss a boy by tomorrow, I'll call Cassie and ask for permission, how's that?"
"Thank you," Brendon said gratefully. "You won't regret it, I'm a very good kisser. And ha, Pete Wentz, I will totally prove my gay cred to you, just as soon as Jon's girlfriend says he can make out with me."
Pete laughed at that, and Spencer prayed that would be the end of it, but it wasn't. Pete kept up a running patter for something like the next five minutes straight, apparently trying to make Brendon nervous about his new boy-kissing plan. He kept comparing and contrasting all the differences between boy-kisses and girl-kisses, and making a really big deal about the whole thing while Brendon kept up his bravado and in the background, Jon and Ryan sat laughing like assholes. Apparently this had become some sort of dare, and now Pete had, like, a vested interest in making Brendon chicken out. It was ridiculous.
Ridiculous and fucking loud.
"For the love of fuck," Spencer snapped finally, rolling out of the bunk and storming out into the lounge.
And that's when it happened.
Spencer just sort of...stormed up to Brendon, who was standing next to the kitchenette, and pushed him against the wall, cupping one hand around the back of his head and using it to tilt Brendon’s face up as he bent his head and covered Brendon's mouth with his own.
And...okay, wow. Spencer had started this whole thing just to put an end to the stupid bickering before he was forced to commit actual homicide. But then Brendon sort of gasped into Spencer's mouth, and it turned out his lips were really kind of amazing for kissing, and then someone in the background was murmuring "holy fuck," and Spencer was kind of distracted from his anger by the way Brendon's mouth tasted and—oh—how soft his tongue was, and, seriously, wow, and somewhere along the way Brendon had started kissing back, which, like, holy shit, and it was all spiraling just a little bit out of control by the time Spencer registered the sound of Ryan clearing his throat in the background and snapped out of his sudden fog and back to reality.
He broke the kiss, trying not to notice the way Brendon's eyes had gone all soft and unfocused, or how swollen that amazing mouth looked now, or the dazed expression on Brendon's face. Spencer backed up a careful two steps, dropping his hands away from Brendon.
Brendon just sort of stared blankly at him for a second, actually wobbling a little on his feet, and then dropped back abruptly to lean against the wall again. He made a little breathless word-sound, like, "huh," but mostly, he just kept looking at Spencer.
Spencer determinedly ignored that.
"There," he said to Pete, a little unsteadily. "Now he's kissed a boy. Mission accomplished, so everybody shut up. I'm trying to sleep."
His gaze accidentally landed on Ryan's face as he made his way back to the bunk, and the mixture of genuine shock and hysterical laughter in his expression made Spencer's cheeks flush sharply.
And then he was in the bunks, and he did what he should have done to begin with and stole Ryan’s iPod, because if they were all about to start talking about that he definitely didn’t care to listen to it, and he climbed into his bunk and hid his burning face in his pillow and cranked up the volume on the music in his ears and tried to sleep.
It didn’t…work, so much. He was wide-awake anyway, now, jittery and anxious and buzzing a little under his skin, and Brendon was sitting somewhere just a few feet away and somehow that was suddenly this big, huge deal, because now Spencer knew what he tasted like, and jesus, he’d totally brought this on himself but that didn’t make him any less eager to find someone else to punch for it.
It was a very long night.
So far, today hadn’t been any better, frankly. In addition to being tired as fuck, seriously--Spencer was going to have to sleep at some point, okay--there was the added complication of Brendon.
Brendon and all his staring.
He wasn’t being anywhere near as annoying as Spencer had expected him to be about the whole thing—a big part of Spencer had been honestly expecting some kind of freshly-bedazzled t-shirt proclaiming something mortifying like, Spencer Smith Saved My Gay Cred And All I Got Was This Sparkly T-Shirt, or some shit, but so far Brendon hadn’t said a word about it.
Actually, he hadn’t said a word about much of anything today. He’d been too busy…uh…sort of staring at Spencer.
And. And. He kept unconsciously licking his lips. And biting them. And occasionally brushing his own fingers over his mouth, like, half-curiously, and sometimes there was even blushing.
It was the most absurdly un-Brendon-like behavior Spencer had ever seen, and Ryan and Jon would not stop laughing, and Spencer was reaching the end of his rope. He was totally going to do…something drastic…if this didn’t stop soon.
He was sitting in the dressing room, blessedly alone for five fucking seconds, trying to get himself under some kind of control before the show tonight when Ryan wandered in.
“Don’t start,” said Spencer, before Ryan could even do more than start to grin.
“Dude,” Ryan said anyway, unfazed. “Saporta was totally just taking jabs at Brendon’s gay cred. Says he has to get a blow job from a guy to prove—“
Spencer threw a drumstick at his head, effectively cutting him off. “You’re such a dick, seriously.”
“Whatever. God, you messed him up bad, Spence. He’s like a twelve-year-old girl around here today. Did he even know you were—?”
“No.” Spencer rubbed his forehead, suddenly tired. “I mean, I never told him, and I was dating Haley for so long that I can’t imagine he’d have had any reason to guess.” He cringed. “Until, you know…now, I guess.”
Ryan threw his drumstick back. “Don’t look like that, asshole. I think it’s safe to assume from his suddenly ragingly obvious crush that he doesn’t have a problem with it. Just—tell him.”
Spencer winced. “He’d think it was a come-on if I told him now.”
At that, Ryan laughed out loud. “…Are you seriously going to sit there and try to convince me it wouldn’t be? Do I look new or something?”
“Shut up. Dude, he’s…I can’t do that. He’s Brendon.”
Ryan gave him a funny look. “Yeah?”
Spencer flailed, caught off-guard by Ryan’s casual attitude. “It—he’s one of my best friends! What if it totally fucked that up? And. And what if we fucked up the band? And what if he doesn’t even end up liking sex with guys? And what if--?”
“And what if you suddenly lost your mind and forgot everything you ever even knew about Brendon? And what if you turned into a total idiot, and also the kind of dickhead that runs around turning innocent little Mormon boys’ entire worlds upside down and then chickening out at the last minute and leaving them to follow you around with this painful crush for the next fucking year and a half? And what if--?”
“Ryan—“ Spencer started, but Jon and Brendon chose that moment to turn up from God-only-knows-where, and Brendon’s eyes fell on Spencer for a second as he walked through the door and then he seriously tripped over his own two feet and almost fell on his face.
Jon caught him, giggling helplessly, and Spencer heard him mutter, “Smooth, Romeo,” into Brendon’s shoulder. Brendon’s face turned pink, and he avoided Spencer’s eyes after that.
When Spencer glanced at Ryan again, it was to find Ryan staring at him with incredulous eyes and biting his lip against a laugh.
This is the guy you’re so afraid of? he managed to ask with only a tilt of his head and a quirk of an eyebrow.
Spencer watched Brendon go through his vocal warm-ups—(he touched his lips twice, apparently unconsciously)—and get himself ready for the show. It was a quicker process these days than it had been during Circus, but Spencer had always enjoyed watching Brendon put on his stage face. It wasn’t even about makeup, it was this…presence, this louder-brighter-braver personality that Brendon just sort of climbed into very matter-of-factly along with his clothes every night. It was sort of fascinating to watch.
God, Spencer was so gone.
It wasn’t like it was exactly new information, although it kind of was. But it wasn’t—it wasn’t like Spencer had never thought of it before. Brendon was fucking gorgeous, he’d have to have been an idiot not to look. He’d looked at all of them at various times over the years…even Ryan, not that he would admit to that under anything less than torture. He’d looked at all of them, and he’d thought about what it might be like to kiss them, to fuck them, to be fucked by them.
It had always been more real than that with Brendon, though. Because—with him, it wasn’t about kissing, or fucking, or being fucked. Or. Not just about that. It couldn't be, not with Brendon. Maybe Ryan would be able to separate it, to be friends-with-benefits and nothing more. Maybe Jon would be relaxed enough that a casual arrangement like that would just fall right into place. Hell, Spencer himself could probably do it, with the right person and the right circumstances. There was something to be said for 'simple and uncomplicated,' after all.
Brendon would be…like, cuddles and hand-holding and giggling and stupid slow-dances on hotel-room balconies at midnight. Brendon would be ugly matching beaded bracelets spelling out I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U in plastic letters, half of them upside down, and risky semi-public makeout sessions in venue hallways and hotel elevators. Brendon would be a crowded bunk full of tangled limbs, nights spent sleeping with elbows wedged in ribcages and kneecaps nudging spines and too much hot breath and sweat in too narrow a space.
Brendon would be messy and intense and complicated, because he couldn’t be anything else, he wouldn't know how to. It was just who he was, he couldn’t change even if he wanted to. And Spencer…
Wouldn’t actually want him to.
It was a very quiet realization, no fireworks or lightning bolts. Just a sudden, bone-deep ‘Yeah’ somewhere back behind his ribcage, and Ryan must have seen it happen because it was almost time for them to go on but he still grabbed Jon and made a hasty exit, leaving Spencer and Brendon alone.
Spencer made a mental note to buy Ryan something pretty.
He didn’t have much time, and Brendon was so caught up in his warm-up that he didn’t even seem to be fully aware that Ryan and Jon had gone anywhere, so Spencer just walked up and slid his arms around Brendon, just like that.
Brendon went silent and totally still, just like that.
Spencer bent his head, burying his face against the curve of Brendon’s neck, and smiled a little into the skin there. This wasn’t actually scary at all. This was Brendon. Ryan was right. He really was kind of an idiot.
“Spencer?” Brendon asked softly.
Spencer lifted his head so he could look at Brendon, but didn’t say anything. Instead, he walked Brendon backwards until his back bumped up against the nearest wall. Brendon’s breath caught in his throat.
“You, uh,” Brendon tried for casual, but his smile was a little shaky. “You have kind of a wall thing, huh?”
“I have kind of a Brendon thing,” Spencer said quietly. “Is that okay?”
Brendon made a faint noise in the back of his throat, then blurted, “Christ, please don't be fucking with me right now,” and stretched up to take Spencer's mouth in a kiss.
God, it was just as good as last night—better, even, because there was no half-hysterical audience staring at them from two and a half feet away—and Brendon kept, like, squirming against Spencer and making all of these noises, and Spencer was just starting to forget why it would be a bad idea to throw Brendon down on the floor and give him a little bit more gay cred right there in the dressing room, when Ryan and Jon knocked on the door, dragging them out of the moment.
“Oh, my god,” Brendon said weakly, staring at Spencer with, like, practically stars in his eyes. “Oh, my god, Spencer.”
Spencer might possibly be a tiny bit starry-eyed, himself, but he probably didn't wear it half so well, so he didn't much want to think about that.
He rested a little more of his weight against Brendon's body, bringing them flush, wishing for more time, more privacy. Brendon's breath caught, and Spencer bit back a shaky groan before it could fully form.
“Hotel night,” he said, soft and sort of cautious, watching Brendon to see his reaction.
His reaction turned out to be a full-body shiver and an actual, honest-to-god whimper. Spencer temporarily forgot how to breathe, and captured Brendon's mouth again, hungry and a little fierce.
“Seriously, you guys, we’re coming in now,” Jon called from the door.
Spencer and Brendon broke apart, laughing and flushing slightly, just as the door swung open. Jon and Ryan tumbled in, laughing hysterically and making all sorts of obscene sounds, some of which were clear enough mimics of Brendon’s little noises to make it clear they’d been listening outside the door.
Spencer made a mental note to put glue on Ryan’s pillow before bed.
Brendon glanced at Spencer, half-embarrassed and half-laughing, himself. “Well, if they’re just going to listen anyway, I don’t see any reason why we should have to bother restraining ourselves when they’re around,” he said reasonably.
”Hey, good point—“ Spencer started, but Ryan and Jon were already tugging them out the door, protesting loudly and still finding the entire situation far too fucking funny, and then it was time to go onstage and Spencer wished there was time for another kiss, or…something, it felt weird just to walk out of the moment like that, but there really was no time left.
He made his way to his kit feeling itchy and off-kilter, having no idea how the hell he was going to get through an entire show this way, but when he looked up at the front of the stage, there was Brendon, turned fully around with his back to the crowd, staring right at Spencer, and he looked…so fucking happy.
Hotel night, he mouthed at Spencer, and maybe it was a question or maybe it was a promise. Spencer couldn’t tell which, but he started smiling in spite of himself and then couldn’t stop, and that seemed to be enough for Brendon, because he turned back around to face the crowd.
Spencer started to play.