TITLE: Signed, Sealed, Delivered
WORD COUNT: 2,500-ish
SUMMARY: It's such a weird thing never to have noticed about Brendon, that he has this obsessive thing for greeting cards. After years of living in each other's laps, Spencer wouldn't have thought there were any stupid little quirks he didn't know about by now.
PAIRING: None (Gen)
WRITTEN FOR THE PROMPT: "Greeting Cards," on my schmoop_bingo card.
A/N: Ridiculous ridiculousness, as always. It's awesome that schmoop_bingo actually gives me a semi-legitimate excuse for posting this kind of crap. \o/!
Spencer finds the box while raiding Brendon's closet in search of his own clothes. Brendon is a dirty clothes-stealing thief, and Spencer has long since stopped going through the motions of actual confrontation, and started just stealing his own shit back from Brendon's closet when Brendon isn't home, instead.
He probably still wouldn't have noticed the box if it weren't for one of his own shirts falling off the top shelf and onto his head while he's yanking another one—possibly a little too enthusiastically, but it's his favorite shirt, Brendon, wtf—off of one of the hangers. The discovery that Brendon is actually hoarding even more clothes up there makes Spencer roll his eyes and sigh, and then go hunt down a chair to stand on.
The box is tucked away in the back corner, half hidden by a stack of shirts Spencer thinks might actually have started out as Jon's. It's a little dusty, but also covered in smeared handprints like it's handled pretty often, and there are several tracks dragged through the dust on the shelf itself from where the box has been pulled down at least a handful of times. Spencer's not normally one to pry, but one thing he's discovered since being in a band with Brendon alone is that Brendon has done a whole lot more writing than he ever let on over the years, and he's sometimes weirdly shy about showing it to people, even to Spencer. On some level, Spencer wants to blame Ryan for that, and if he never hears the words little ditty again in his life it will be too soon, but deep down, he knows that none of them ever really did a very good job of dealing with Brendon in creative mode. Ryan's songs always started out fully formed—more than fully formed, really, they generally started out as actually too big, and had to be cut down and trimmed into something they could actually use.
Brendon writes the other way—little snippets of things, bits and pieces of melody and handfuls of lyrics that, while they aren't bad by any means, can be really easy to overlook, especially when you're looking at a three-page narrative lyrical story for a fucking wolf musical or whatever. Brendon's songs grow gradually, over the course of an indefinite period of time, and Spencer hates to admit it, but he was just as much at fault as anyone else every time he walked up on Brendon writing some little piece of something on the piano or whatever, and just kind of said a vague, "Yeah, cool."
He's trying to do better now, but Brendon's still weirdly skittish and uncertain sometimes, and that's the excuse Spencer gives himself for tugging the box down out of the closet and sitting down with it on Brendon's bed.
It's not music.
The box is full of—of all things—greeting cards. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, it looks like every card Brendon's ever received in his life is sitting in here. Spencer catches sight of a stupid "get well soon" card he gave Brendon as a joke after Brendon took that bottle to the face, and flips it open to see his own handwriting scrawled inside: Sorry about your mangled face. Oh hey, never mind, I forgot that's how it always looked. —Spence.
He's not really sure why he bothers to keep digging, except that it's such a weird thing never to have noticed about Brendon, that he has this obsessive thing for greeting cards. It's so...random. After years of living in each other's laps, Spencer wouldn't have thought there were any stupid little quirks he didn't know about by now.
It doesn't take long to figure out that this is nowhere near every greeting card Brendon's ever received. It's every greeting card he's ever received from his band.
That strikes Spencer as even weirder, in some way he can't quite put his finger on, but it's true. Every single card in there is from Spencer or Ryan or Jon or Brent. There are more of them than Spencer would have expected—they're not exactly Hallmark guys, on the whole. There are only three Christmas cards from Ryan out of all the years Brendon has known him, for example, but Jon appears to have made up for that the year he joined the band. Spencer had forgotten that he sent them each a Christmas card for every day of December that year, every one identical and signed with nothing but his name, each with a stupid picture of something silly taped to the inside. Brendon saved every one; all the pictures are still in them and everything.
The rest of the box is more of the same. It turns out Spencer was the only one to give Brendon a card for graduation, but Ryan apparently got him a goofy-looking congratulations one when he got his apartment, which surprises Spencer with its thoughtfulness.
Spencer hears the front door open downstairs and barely has time to cram the cards back into the box and get the box back on the shelf while Brendon is busy greeting Bogart or whatever, and he's just shoved the chair back over by the desk when Brendon comes into the room. He pauses, startled, and raises his eyebrows at Spencer.
"Do I even want to know why you're creeping in my bedroom?"
Spencer is weirdly flustered. "I was stealing my fucking clothes back, asshole."
Brendon eyes the bundle of shirts Spencer is clutching defensively to his chest, and doesn't even have the grace to look ashamed of himself. "I'm just going to steal them back, you know."
Spencer snorts. "Yes. Trust me, I have figured this out."
"Hey, I'm just being honest." Brendon shrugs, fishing his wallet out of his pocket and kicking off his shoes. Spencer suddenly feels weird just standing there in Brendon's bedroom staring at him, so he makes a show of edging past cautiously with his bundle, out of reach of Brendon's grabby hands.
"I'm going to go wash the stink of you off all my clothes," he announces, backing out the door.
Brendon laughs. "Lies. You're going to snuggle them in bed at night and sniff them like a pervert while you're jacking off."
"Gross," Spencer says, making a face. "What is even wrong with you?"
"What?" Brendon makes big, innocent eyes. "Is it just me who does that, then?"
"Oh, gross," says Spencer, and starts laughing in spite of himself. "Ugh, fuck. You're disgusting."
Brendon waggles his eyebrows. "Hey, Spence, I really like that shirt you're wearing," he says suggestively. "Don't wash that one just yet, okay? I might want to borrow it later."
"Fuck you," says Spencer, and goes to wash his clothes before Brendon can keep talking.
Finding himself in the card aisle at the grocery store is the first sign Spencer really has—or acknowledges, at least—that this has turned into A Thing in his head. He's pretty sure he's never felt so stupid in all his life, but that doesn't stop him from picking up a handful of ridiculous cards almost at random and tossing them into his cart.
Whatever. He's allowed to have A Thing sometimes, too.
He holds out for two weeks, going back and forth in his head about exactly how stupid this actually is, and ends up deciding that the answer is "pretty fucking stupid," but in the end that doesn't stop him from digging through the handful of cards until he finds the one with the dog that kind of looks like Bogart in a party hat on the front, and the incredibly cheesy, Every day with you is like a party! on the inside.
He writes, Now I'm that fucktard buying greeting cards because they look like your dog. I hope you're fucking happy, on the inside, scribbles a "B" on the front of the envelope, and drops it on the counter on his way through the kitchen.
Then he sits down and stares very intently at a Law and Order marathon for two and a half hours.
Brendon trips down the stairs, still half-asleep and looking like someone plugged his hair directly into an electrical outlet. He misses the card on his first pass of the counter; Spencer can tell, because he's watching from the corner of his eye like the total creep he apparently is. He catches it on the second pass, though, while he's waiting for his Pop-Tarts to toast, and his expression goes from curious to amused to outright laughter without ever landing on confused or weirded-out, so Spencer decides that went well.
Brendon smacks him on the head with the card as he comes over to the couch, and then flops down beside Spencer to watch TV while he eats.
The card spends the remainder of the marathon on the side table, but Spencer notices that Brendon grabs it on his way back up the stairs.
He doesn't make a huge thing about it. He could, but he doesn't. It would creep both of them out if Spencer suddenly became Hallmark's number one customer or whatever.
So he doesn't give Brendon another card until almost two full months after the first one, and when he does, he even has a legitimate excuse. They have finally finished the last of their demos and are ready to record for real. Brendon wrote a fucking album.
"We wrote an album, dickface," is Brendon's response when he reads the card, but he's flushing and happy and kind of proud. Spencer accepts the series of elated hugs that follow with good grace, and doesn't make fun of Brendon for clinging even once.
The next one is another three months after that, to celebrate the end of what feels like the longest cycle of record/rework/record-again that has ever happened, and then it's only a few months out from Christmas.
The New Years' card might be overkill, it's true, but the card was totally funny and prominently featured both a dildo and a unicorn, and obviously Spencer cannot be blamed for buying that.
Totally not a huge thing. Spencer just...feels better, knowing the box isn't just sitting there quietly collecting dust. That's all.
"When I was a kid," Brendon says out of nowhere, while they're waiting for their pizza to show up one night, "my family always had this thing about writing letters, right? Like, it was a rule—my mom's rule. She said letters were, like, pieces of people or something, and pictures were just images of people? I don't know, it was a whole big thing."
Spencer has gone very still. He's not really looking at Brendon, but he's not exactly not-looking, either. He bobs his head in what could be taken for a nod, if someone really wanted to, and just...waits.
Brendon clears his throat. "Anyway, so that's what we did, right? We all wrote, whatever, Happy-Birthday letters. Stupid ones, mostly, like, 'Happy birthday Brendon, you'll always be an enormous dork, love, Mason,' stuff like that, except my parents—they always wrote, like, real letters, I guess, all full of deep advice and God's will and shit like that."
Spencer glances at Brendon's face, unable to help himself. Brendon is staring really intently at the TV. His cheeks are kind of pink. Spencer's pretty sure he knows exactly what Brendon is about to say, and he's right.
"So anyway, we had these boxes, because it was practically a cardinal sin to throw away a letter, like, someone wrote this for you so you keep it. So we each had this, like, family letter box or whatever." Brendon is quiet for a second, and then clears his throat again and says almost defiantly, "When they kicked me out, I burned the box. First night on my own, I was so...pissed and scared and it was just—I burned the box and all the letters."
He doesn't say anything else for a minute, and Spencer finally says honestly, "Yeah. Yeah, I would have done that, too."
"Yeah," says Brendon, and then, "So. You know. That's when I started the box. Because the band is my family now. That's stupid, but it just—I started it, and then it stuck."
Spencer winces. "I wasn't trying to pry. I just wanted to steal my shirts back."
Brendon allows that, even though there's no reason Spencer should have suspected any of his shirts were hidden in a dusty box in the top back corner of Brendon's closet. He just smiles, crookedly. "My point is, I...appreciate the gesture and everything, but you don't have to—like, single-handedly keep it stocked, okay? It's just a stupid holdover from when I was a kid."
Spencer doesn't bother to respond to that. "Do they...do they write you letters now?" he asks instead, carefully.
"Yeah." Brendon smiles again, but it's a little sad. "I don't keep them, though. It's...too late for that, or something."
And, yeah. Spencer gets that. It's always bothered him a little, how quickly and eagerly Brendon forgave them all, after seeing how hard it was for Brendon back then. He'd never have said anything, because they're Brendon's family, and he's sure as hell not going to tell Brendon he shouldn't have that back after watching what losing it did to him, but it's oddly reassuring that Brendon keeps that little bit of distance for himself. Maybe it shouldn't be. But it is.
The pizza shows up and they don't talk about it anymore, but Spencer lays in bed for what seems like a long time that night, staring at the ceiling and thinking about family letters Brendon doesn't keep anymore, and stupid teenage greeting cards he still does. The band is my family now, he said, and it's not the first time Spencer's heard him say that, but it's the first time since the split that he's really thought about it.
The band is Brendon's family now. That...pretty much means Spencer, basically. Spencer is Brendon's family now.
He gets up out of bed and fishes around in the desk drawer where he keeps his dwindling supply of cards.
Brendon doesn't say anything in the morning about the card—the stupid card with the cats playing poker, which Spencer had signed with nothing but his name and then defiantly shoved under Brendon's door in the middle of the fucking night—but he slumps against Spencer's side on the couch and voluntarily cooks an actual meal for both of them for dinner, and Spencer recognizes gratitude when he sees it.
That night when he goes to bed, he finds a plain white envelope on his pillow with his name on the front. It's a letter, an actual letter from Brendon.
He unfolds the single piece of notebook paper, and can't help laughing when he sees what Brendon has written.
Dear Spencer, you'll always be an enormous dork. Love, Brendon
He grins like an idiot at the letter for awhile, then goes to his closet and grabs one of the many shoeboxes littering the floor. He's still smiling as he tucks the letter inside and makes a place for the box in the top of his closet.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered