Ryan buys Keltie a promise ring at the end of HCT. It sits on the table in Ryan's kitchen, the garnet glinting where the sun hits it, and Brendon feels like it's mocking him. He has to use every ounce of his will power to stop himself from sticking his tongue out at it.
"So, what do you guys think?" Ryan asks.
"I think we should get high," Spencer answers, pulling a bag of weed and a small glass bong from under the couch.
The entire situation is so illogical that Brendon thinks getting high might be the only way to wrap their minds around the idea of Ryan promising anything to anyone. Ryan can't even make a commitment to his toothbrush twice a day, let alone give Keltie what she needs from a relationship.
Brendon's pretty sure Spencer knows this, too, but one of the things Brendon loves most about Spencer is that he's pretty content to let people fuck up their own lives in their own ways. Brendon knows Spencer will never say anything to Ryan. He supposes that's why their friendship has lasted as long as it has. Whenever one of them is doing something monumentally stupid, the other one looks away and pretends it isn't happening.
Brendon grabs the bong off the table as soon as Spencer's done loading the bowl. Spencer says, "Dude, give that back," right about the time that Brendon looks up over the rim and asks, "Are you going to give me a fucking lighter or what?"
Brendon really needs to get high right now.
"No one cares about my ring," Ryan says. He gives them all a stern and disappointed look.
Jon says, "Hey! What did I do?" Which is fair, because Jon didn't even roll his eyes once while Ryan explained the ring's symbolism and how it was going to take his relationship with Keltie to "another level".
"I'm getting us all high so that we can pretend to care about your ring," Spencer says. "And before you thank me for that, let me just say that there's no need. I am your best fucking friend. I got your back, man."
Ryan looks between the three of them and sighs. "What do you think?" he asks, turning his full attention on Brendon.
"I think I'm moving to L.A. when Shane goes. He asked me, and I don't know," Brendon says.
It's something he's been thinking about, mulling over since Shane decided to make the move over a month ago. He can also finally admit to himself that Ryan was the factor that had kept him from making a decision, just as Brendon knows it's Ryan and his goddamn ring that's finally pushing him to make one now. Brendon feels like he and Ryan have been playing a game of cause and effect for years now.
Spencer sits up straight on the couch, studying Brendon. At the same time, Ryan's eyes take on a faraway look, detached and maybe even a little cold, but he doesn't look away. Brendon feels like an ant under a magnifying glass, like Spencer is trying to figure out how he works at the same time that Ryan is trying to forget.
"Stop hogging the weed," Jon says, and Brendon blinks, startling a little so that some of the water sloshes up the side of the bong. He passes it over. When he looks back, neither Ryan nor Spencer is looking at him anymore.
The move to L.A. goes pretty smoothly. Brendon doesn't have much time to settle before it's time to tour again. He's still living out of boxes and that makes it a little difficult to pack for tour. He can't find half of his T-shirts which means he has about three things to wear that aren't his stage clothes.
"Where the fuck are my shirts?" Brendon yells.
Shane comes ambling in, leaning against the door frame and taking in the wreckage of Brendon's room. "Probably wherever you left them?" he counters.
"Thanks mom," Brendon says, opening yet another box that has some Tupperware and two throw pillows inside. "Who the fuck even packed this?" he asks.
Shane shrugs, pushing away from the door frame when the doorbell rings.
"Can you -- " Brendon starts, but Shane is already walking down the hallway to see who it is.
Brendon blows out a frustrated breath and pulls another box open. It's full of wires and cords to various electronics, some of which Brendon doesn't even think he owns anymore.
Brendon jumps when he hears Shane's voice at the door followed by a loud whoop and laughter. It's enough to peak his curiosity. He crawls across his floor, leans through the doorway and looks down the hall in time to see Spencer walking toward his room. He has a duffel slung over one shoulder and he's dragging a Target bag in his other hand.
"I brought an air mattress," Spencer says, dropping his bag on the floor by Brendon's hand.
"I can't find my shirts," Brendon says.
Spencer looks past Brendon and into his room. There's shit everywhere, covering so much of the floor that there's barely any visible carpet left.
"Hmm," Spencer says. "We should shovel out a space to set up my sweet bed and then we can go to the thrift store. They're bound to have something stupid enough that you'll wear it."
"Fuck you," Brendon says. "My shirts are awesome."
"And that's why they're too ashamed to make an appearance," Spencer says. "Come on. I brought beer, and Shane has weed, and Haley called me yesterday to say that she's not moving back to Vegas after all. I need to get fucked up."
Brendon sits back on his knees and looks up at Spencer, and that's just... Well that's just like Spencer to blow off a three year relationship while insulting Brendon's wardrobe in the same breath.
"Fuck," Brendon says. "What happened?"
"She's happy at home," Spencer says. "She's... she's just happy."
"You want to talk about it?" Brendon asks because he's a good friend, and if Spencer wants to pour his heart out Brendon will listen -- even if he really, really doesn't want to.
"Fuck no," Spencer says. "I'm okay. I'm happy, too."
Brendon doesn't think Spencer looks particularly happy, but Brendon also isn't going to push.
"What kind of beer did you bring?" Brendon asks.
"The good kind," Spencer answers.
Ryan and Jon show up in L.A. a couple of days later. They hang out by the pool in between rehearsals, messing around with some of the new stuff they've all been working on over the past few months.
"I was thinking that after Rock Band, we should be done touring for this album," Ryan says.
Brendon's been thinking it, too, but no matter how much time has passed -- no matter how long it's been their band -- there's always a small part of Brendon's brain that waits for Ryan to decide first. Brendon knows Jon and Spencer do the same thing in their own ways, little moments where they all wait for Ryan's thoughts before voicing their own.
"I think it's definitely time to work on new material, and it's going to be easier if we're not on the road," Ryan continues.
"Yeah," Jon says, and Brendon and Spencer nod along. If any of them have anything more to add, no one says it.
They all go to bed late, but Brendon can't sleep.
"You're breathing too loud," Spencer says from his spot on the floor.
Brendon lets out an even louder breath, followed by a nervous laugh. "That's just your bed losing air," he says.
There's rustling and then the bed dips. Spencer steals one of Brendon's pillows and lays down facing him. "You excited?" he asks.
"It's tour. Same shit, different day."
"Then go to sleep," Spencer says.
"You first," Brendon says.
Spencer sighs and rolls onto his back, staring up at the ceiling and taking deep, rhythmic breaths. "Wanna play some Mario Kart?" he asks.
Brendon sits up and turns on the lamp by his bed, blinking to let his eyes adjust to the light. "Sure," he says. "Best two out of three?"
Spencer nods and says, "And then we sleep."
Brendon's never been much of a sleeper. It's not insomnia, really. He sleeps enough, but usually in small stretches -- like if he's out too long he'll miss something.
It's easier on tour. There's a certain routine to traveling; unloading equipment, eating catered meals, meet and greets, interviews, fans, and a show almost every night. It's not normal, but the repetition is soothing somehow. There's something strangely freeing about having his entire day planned out for him. It's nice to turn his brain off and just go where Zack tells him to go.
On tour, Brendon can sleep. He's usually still the last one to go to bed, but he's mostly just thankful when he can manage six hours instead of three. He lies in his bunk and the post-show energy ebbs out of his body until all Brendon can feel is the vibration of the road beneath him, the buzz of the highway as it takes them to the next town. He closes his eyes and sleeps.
Somewhere on the road outside of St. Louis, something wakes him. It's one of those blurry moments that Brendon knows is not just a random call to consciousness. The bunks are dark, especially with the curtains tightly closed, and he holds his breath and listens until he hears noise from the front of the bus.
Brendon checks his phone for the time, and it's almost five o'clock in the morning, too late for anyone to be up still and too early for anyone to be awake. He fumbles under the bunk for his bag and pulls on a pair of boxers before heading out to investigate.
Spencer's sitting at the small table they use for their laptops. He's hunched over his computer, hair rumpled and smashed flat on one side of his head. Brendon walks up behind him, sliding his fingers through it without thinking, and Spencer startles under his hand, tipping his head back so he can look up to see who it is.
"You scared the crap out of me," he says.
Brendon smiles sheepishly, shrugging a little. "You're up early," he says, dragging his fingers through Spencer's hair one more time before taking a seat next to him.
"I couldn't sleep," Spencer says.
Brendon nods, leaning his head against Spencer's shoulder. It's too early to really be conscious yet, and his eyes feel itchy and heavy. He thinks he could probably fall back asleep just like this, sitting propped up against Spencer's shoulder.
"Go back to bed," Spencer says gently, lifting his shoulder slowly until Brendon sits back up.
Brendon knows he should. They have a full day tomorrow, but something is holding him back. "You too," Brendon says. "It's too early to be alive right now."
"Nah," Spencer says. "I'm trying to figure out if I can get my money back on that cruise in February, or if I can transfer it to my parents or something."
Brendon had forgotten about the cruise. The next month would have been Spencer and Haley's three year anniversary. Spencer had known he was going to be on tour and he felt shitty about it, so he'd gone out and bought them a European cruise for after the holidays. Brendon doesn't know if he ever even told her about it.
"Oh," Brendon says. "Maybe you should keep it. Maybe... I don't know. Maybe you'll get back together."
Brendon doesn't know the details of Spencer and Haley's breakup. Spencer hasn't really volunteered to share, and Brendon hasn't asked. Spencer is probably one of the nicest people Brendon's ever known, but even then he's never been the type of person to share the more personal aspects of his life. Brendon figures if Spencer wants to talk about it he'll say something.
"I don't think so," Spencer says. "I'm not... I don't think she's in love with me anymore, and it sucked for a while there. Sometimes it still fucking sucks, but I'm doing okay."
Brendon has to take a moment to figure out what to say. He's not used to Spencer spilling his guts, and he wants to be a good friend. He wants to be a shoulder for Spencer if Spencer needs one, but he's also not very good at this kind of stuff.
"Are you really?" Brendon asks, because he can't not ask. Worrying about his friends is as much a part of Brendon as playing everything close to the chest is a part of Spencer.
"I'm good," Spencer says. "I just miss her sometimes. We were together for a long time."
Brendon doesn't know what to say. The longest relationship he's ever had was with Ryan, and Ryan never packed his shit and went back to his parent's house. Ryan has always been right there, standing just to Brendon's right under the bright stage lights, sleeping right across the small hallway on their bus. Brendon lost Ryan, but not really -- not in all the ways that Spencer's lost Haley.
Eventually, Brendon nods, reaching out to squeeze Spencer's hand gently. "Well," he says as carefully as he can manage, "I'll make us some coffee since we're both awake."
Spencer turns to look at him. Brendon has to will himself not to look away. Spencer has intimidating eyes sometimes. Brendon feels like an ant again, and he wonders what Spencer is looking for, what it is Spencer is trying to discover about him that he doesn't already know. Sometimes he wonders what it is Spencer sees.
Spencer finally turns back to his computer. "Thanks, Bren," he says softly, nudging Brendon companionably with his shoulder.
Brendon relaxes, smiling as he says, "Yeah, no problem."
Brendon likes to watch Dashboard's set when he can. There's something about watching Chris on piano that makes Brendon feel hopeful. Brendon can also admit that he can sometimes see himself up there the same way, the rest of the lights turned down low and a spotlight only for him.
Brendon doesn't want to leave the band. He'd stay in the band forever if he thought it was possible, but he's almost certain it isn't. Sometimes he imagines what it will be like when they break up, varying paths that all lead to the same end.
"I'm gonna sneak down and watch," Brendon says to no one in particular.
Jon and Ryan are deep in conversation. The table in front of them already filled with beer bottles and plastic red cups, but Jon looks up when Brendon speaks.
"I can go with you," he slurs, standing and laughing when his legs give out a little. He falls back onto the couch, sliding sideways into Ryan.
Brendon smiles and shakes his head. He says, "Maybe you should stay here and sober up?"
Ryan nods his agreement, but he's smiling at Jon fondly and patting his knee.
"I'll go with you," Spencer says. He puts down his copy of Modern Drummer and stands up, rolling his shoulders out.
"I don't need a babysitter," Brendon says. He actually doesn't mind the company, but sometimes he gets the distinct feeling that his band doesn't trust him to stay out of trouble. It's sort of annoying since Ryan is usually the one who gets lost when left unsupervised. At least Brendon can find his own fucking bus at the end of the night.
"Good thing too," Spencer says. "I don't think you could afford me."
Brendon flips him off but doesn't make any more complaints when Spencer throws his arm over Brendon's shoulder and walks him out of the dressing room.
Brendon doesn't feel like watching from the wings so he keeps walking, taking the stairs down the side of the stage, sticking close to the wall where it's darkest. Spencer's arm tightens around his shoulders, but Brendon ignores the warning, walking around until they have a good view of the stage and the back of the crowd.
He knows anyone could turn around and see them, but he's pretty certain they would only see two bodies leaning against the wall. It's dark. Even if someone does happen to recognize them, there's a metal barrier and two security guards between them and the crowd. Brendon doesn't think anyone will.
"Zack would kill us if he knew we were down here," Spencer whispers.
Brendon shrugs and Spencer's arm falls off his shoulders. "I'm a big boy," Brendon says.
Spencer says, "Nah, you're a little man."
Brendon can hear the smile in his voice. "You're such an asshole," Brendon says.
He doesn't know if Spencer has a comeback, but it doesn't matter because Dashboard is taking the stage. The lights go completely dark for a moment before the wall behind the stage becomes a blank canvas for a graffiti artist.
"This is never not cool, no matter how many times I see it," Spencer whispers.
Brendon nods, but he remains silent. He's spent half the tour trying to figure out what it is about Chris that makes it almost impossible to take your eyes off him when he's on stage. His stage presence always blows Brendon away.
"Do you think I could do that?" Brendon asks quietly.
"You do do that," Spencer says, turning to give Brendon a questioning look.
Brendon bounces up onto the balls of his feet and back down again, a nervous gesture that he still hasn't learned to control the way he has some of his other tells. "No," he says. "I mean, do you think I could do that by myself? Like, get up there alone and entertain people for an hour without boring them to death?"
Brendon remembers doing Time to Dance on HCT. He thinks he did okay for the most part. The crowd seemed to like it, but that had just been one song -- not an entire set.
Spencer doesn't say anything. Brendon feels knots of nervous tension coiling tighter and tighter in his stomach until he has to turn his head to see what Spencer is doing.
Spencer isn't looking at Chris. He's looking at Brendon, his head tipped to the side.
Brendon can't make out Spencer's expression, but he can see Spencer's eyes every time the lights change. Spencer is still looking at Brendon, staring until Brendon has to look away, glancing down at his toes instead of back at the stage.
"Is that what you want?" Spencer asks quietly. "To be on stage by yourself?"
Brendon shrugs and doesn't look up. "No. I mean...I don't know," Brendon says. "You won't always be there." Brendon can barely hear himself over the music. He doesn't know if Spencer's even heard him until Spencer puts his arm back around Brendon's shoulder.
Spencer says, "Yeah, I think you could do that. I think you already do."
"I have Ryan and Jon up there with me. I have you right behind me. It's different," Brendon says, leaning into Spencer's side.
Spencer's quiet for a long time. They both watch Chris sit down at the piano, the lights going out but for one spotlight. Chris sounds really good tonight; he's hitting each note perfectly, and Brendon feels it in his chest and bones. Everything feels tight, like Brendon's skin is shrinking around his muscles until he doesn't think he can fit inside his own skin.
Spencer squeezes Brendon's shoulders lightly. He leans down until his mouth is right next to Brendon's ear and says, "You can do that. It doesn't matter if we're there or not. When you're up there, I don't see anyone else. I don't think anyone else does either."
Brendon can't breathe. He tips his head back and Spencer is right there. Their mouths are maybe an inch apart. Brendon's brain keeps sending little impulses, a repeating message that tells him that if he boosted himself up on his tiptoes he could kiss Spencer. Brendon could push their mouths together and know what Spencer tastes like.
Brendon panics and stumbles back, wheeling his arms out wildly to keep himself from landing flat on his back. Spencer reaches out and fists his hand in Brendon's shirt, and Brendon makes a startled noise, loud enough that a few of the people closest to them look over curiously.
Spencer scans the crowd, glaring at people like he can keep them away through the sheer force of his will if need be. He pulls Brendon close again and gives him a stern look. "See?" he says. "People can't help looking at you wherever you go."
Brendon swallows shakily, resting his hands on Spencer's biceps until he feels steadier on his feet. "We should probably go," he says. "Before someone notices us."
"Too late," Spencer says, but he doesn't give Brendon time to ask questions. He wraps his hand around Brendon's wrist and leads them back up the stairs, on to side stage.
They spend a day in Florida with Cobra Starship. The weather is beautiful, warm and sunny and perfect for the beach. Jon and Spencer play Frisbee with Gabe, Nate and Victoria while Ryland and Alex try to figure out how to work the small hibachi grill they bought at a local grocery store.
Brendon feels like swimming. He goes out alone, wading into the water until his feet can't touch the bottom anymore. When he looks back toward shore, Brendon can see Ryan sitting in the sand, a book on his knee and his phone in his hands. He's been alternating between reading and texting all day.
As Brendon watches, the Frisbee lands by his knee, kicking sand up high into the air. Spencer comes over to retrieve it, flinging it back toward the others before he flops down next to Ryan in the sand. Spencer tips his head back, obviously laughing at something Ryan's said. If Brendon was closer, he'd be able to hear Spencer's laugh and see Ryan's answering smile.
Brendon watches them talk, their heads inclined toward each other, their body language intimate and familiar. He wonders what he and Ryan look like together. He wonders if he ever fit Ryan the way Spencer seems to, and the way Keltie does. Brendon takes a deep breath and goes underwater, letting the waves roll over his head until his lungs scream for oxygen. When he surfaces, Spencer is walking down the beach alone, away from Ryan, shoulders hunched against the wind. Brendon glances back at Ryan, and sees that Ryan is watching Spencer too. Ryan watches him walk for a while before he picks up his phone and goes back to his text messages.
Brendon looks back toward Spencer and follows his movement down the beach. Brendon imagines walking along with him, his arm tucked through one of Spencer's so that their elbows hook together. He wonders what that might look like, if Ryan would watch them the way Brendon just watched the two of them together. Brendon treads water for another minute, holding his breath deep inside is lungs, before he exhales and takes another shaky breath. Then he swims back toward shore.
Alex and Ryland finally figure out the grill, and the entire group sits down in the sand to eat hotdogs and corn on the cob and drink beer until it gets dark enough for Zack to suggest a bonfire. Gabe, Jon, and Ryan go back to the buses and pull out guitars, and everyone sits around talking about the most random crap in between playing songs.
Spencer gets up after awhile and dusts off his jeans, sliding his feet into a pair of flip-flops. Brendon watches him walk off toward the water until the darkness swallows him up. He gets up quietly and follows, trying his best not to be noticed. Everyone is happy and loud and a little drunk, and Brendon doesn't feel like taking the time to explain himself.
The moon is pretty much non-existent. Brendon can barely make out the whitecaps rolling in on waves toward shore, but if he turned around he would be able to make out the camp easily, the bonfire burning brightly against the backdrop of stars and sky.
"Spencer?" he calls.
There's a muffled sigh to Brendon's right, barely audible over the water hitting the shore. "Yeah," Spencer says. "I'm over here."
Brendon walks to his right. "Marco!" he says after taking a few steps.
Spencer laughs and says, "Polo!"
They keep it up until Brendon practically trips over Spencer sitting in the sand.
"Hi," Brendon says, sitting down next to him. "I can go back if you want to be alone."
Brendon is close enough that he can see Spencer shaking his head. It's cold now that the sun has gone down, and Brendon shivers as he presses closer to Spencer's side, their bodies touching from shoulder to hip. They sit like that for a while. Eventually Spencer lies back in the sand and pulls Brendon down next to him.
"You know I try to stay out of the thing between you and Ryan, right?" he asks.
Brendon turns to look at Spencer's profile and narrows his eyes even though it's too dark for Spencer to see his glare. "There's nothing to stay out of. There hasn't been anything between us in a long time," Brendon says.
"So if Ryan was planning on moving to L.A. next year it wouldn't bother you?" Spencer asks.
Brendon clenches his jaw and he lets out a frustrated sigh. "Ryan can do what he wants," he says.
"He usually does, but that doesn't mean you're going to be okay with it."
"L.A. is a big place. I'm sure there's enough room for the both of us," Brendon says.
"If you're still," Spencer says. "Are you still in love with him?"
It takes Brendon completely by surprise. It's not like Spencer to ask something like that, and even though Brendon's asked himself the same question thousands of times, he still doesn't know the answer.
"Are you still in love with Haley?" he counters. He's feeling a little bit mean, which he supposes is answer enough.
"No. I don't know?" Spencer says. "I miss her sometimes, but I don't know."
Brendon takes a deep breath and lets it out. "It's different for me, I guess, because I never got the chance to miss him. He's still...you know, here," Brendon says.
"Is that why you went with Shane?" Spencer asks.
Brendon turns his head so that his cheek is resting against Spencer's shoulder. "It's weird, you know. I thought getting away might help, but it didn't really feel like home until you came to stay."
Spencer's shoulder tenses against Brendon's cheek. "I wish you wouldn't say stuff like that," Spencer says.
"Why?" Brendon says, frustrated tears springing up in the corners of his eyes. "I've never been very good at being by myself. I miss you guys when we're not touring, even when I was living in Vegas...I don't know. The three of you are my best friends."
Spencer sighs and says, "You have Shane."
"And Shane's great," Brendon says. "But he's not you. He's not Jon. He's not Ryan."
"No one would ever mistake anyone else for Ryan," Spencer says, chuckling to himself. "He is one of a kind."
"Yeah," Brendon says. "He's...I do love him."
Spencer's entire body goes stiff beside him, his shoulder tensing again under Brendon's cheek. Brendon sits up and twists toward Spencer, taking his hand and squeezing lightly.
"I'll always love him," he continues. "He's my friend, and I -- well, I kind of hate him too."
"Well, that's a pretty natural reaction to Ryan," Spencer teases, relaxing against Brendon's side again.
Brendon laughs, sitting up and kicking off his sandals so he can dig his toes into the sand. "Being in love with one of your best friends is kind of stupid," Brendon says. "It's hard to figure out where one begins and the other ends."
"I know," Spencer says.
Brendon shakes his head. "You really don't," Brendon says. "I mean I know you and Haley are friends, but you didn't start that way. It's just....different."
Spencer gets up and slides his feet back into his shoes, kicking at the sand as he starts to walk away. "Trust me," he says over his shoulder. "I know."
Brendon thinks about calling him back or going after him, or maybe rejoining the rest of the group. He stays and watches the waves instead, sitting in the sand by himself until Jon finally finds him and drags him back to the bus.
Brendon goes back to Vegas for Christmas, but he doesn't have an apartment anymore. Staying with his parents isn't the worst possible situation, but Brendon hasn't been under their roof for more than a night or two since he was seventeen.
Brendon watches his clock impatiently until he thinks he can call Spencer without fearing for his life. The phone rings several times before Spencer answers with a grunt.
"You have to get me out of here," Brendon says into his phone without any kind of introduction.
Spencer doesn't say anything, but Brendon doesn't hold it against him. It's 10 o'clock in the morning which means Spencer was probably still asleep.
"Brendon?" Spencer says, his voice still gravelly from disuse.
"Do you know anyone else who's just spent the last four days holed up with his really large, really demanding, really loud family?"
"So what you're saying is you've been stuck in a house with about a dozen people who are exactly like you?" Spencer asks wryly.
"Fuck you. Come and get me," Brendon says.
"I actually have to meet Ryan in like an hour. He needs me for some shopping emergency he can't possibly handle alone."
Brendon bites his lip, weighing his options silently. He's pretty sure his mom is going to come through the door at any second to tell him all the exciting things they have planned for the day. Brendon hasn't seen Ryan in almost a month and misses him in what he's determined is strictly a friendly way.
"I'll go with you," he finally says. "I gotta get out of this house."
"I'll be there in fifteen minutes," Spencer says.
They meet Ryan near the strip at some Chinese food buffet Brendon's never been to before.
"Oh, hey," Ryan says, looking mildly surprised when he sees Brendon getting out of the passenger seat. He smiles, though, and hugs Brendon with one arm. "I didn't know you were coming."
Brendon shrugs as Spencer moves in to hug Ryan. "He needed to escape his parents for a little while," Spencer explains.
"Yeah? Driving you crazy already?" Ryan asks as they shuffle into the restaurant.
Brendon shrugs again, smiling sheepishly. He doesn't really like to complain about his family in front of Ryan because at least he has a family to complain about. It seems sort of shitty to have even one bad thought about his parents when Ryan's never been able to have very many good ones about either of his.
They eat too much General Tso's chicken, broccoli beef and egg rolls, and Spencer bitches about how the buffet's dessert portion always looks better than it tastes.
"Even their Rice Krispie Treats are suspect," Spencer says. "How the fuck do you screw those up?"
Brendon and Ryan laugh, and it feels good. It feels normal, and Brendon takes a moment to wish Jon were here too.
"We should make Jon come visit," Brendon says.
Ryan says, "Yeah. Maybe after Keltie and I get back from Hawaii?"
Brendon goes quiet, folding his hands in his lap and staring at his empty plate. He's not jealous exactly. He likes Keltie, and he thinks she and Ryan are a good fit, for the most part. Brendon just... He wishes the idea of Ryan moving on so easily wasn't so hard for him to deal with.
"Brendon will be back in L.A. by then," Spencer says.
Ryan looks over, beaming happily, and says, "Oh, I didn't tell you! I found a place. We don't close until February because the owners are apparently building a new house and can't move out until it's ready. Since I'm not in any kind of hurry, it sort of works out perfectly."
Brendon looks up at Spencer and can tell by the apologetic look on his face that while Ryan hadn't bothered to tell Brendon, Spencer had already known and hadn't said anything. Brendon doesn't know why that hurts so much, but it does.
"That's exciting," Brendon says with as much enthusiasm as he can muster.
Spencer pushes his plate away and throws a ten dollar bill on the table. "We should get going," he says. "What the fuck are we shopping for, anyway?"
"I need new swim trunks and sunscreen, and maybe a new pair of sunglasses since Jon stole my last pair and won't give them back," Ryan says.
"You dragged me out of bed to help you buy sunscreen?" Spencer asks.
Ryan smiles and shrugs. "You're my best friend," he says. "It's your duty."
"How about I kill you and take your hot girlfriend to Hawaii instead?" Spencer asks.
Ryan's eyes widen a little, and not for the first time Brendon envies Spencer's ability to threaten people's lives and make them believe it's actually a possibility.
Spencer comes to L.A. in January for a drum convention and doesn't leave. Brendon keeps meaning to ask him when he's going back to Vegas, but he's afraid that if he does Spencer will get the wrong idea and think Brendon wants him to go. Brendon doesn't want Spencer to go -- especially when Ryan gets back from Hawaii in the middle of January and promptly moves into Brendon's house, too.
"It's just so convenient," he says.
Brendon doesn't really see how it's convenient since Ryan's apartment in Vegas is still fully intact. He decided to keep it so he'll have somewhere to stay when he inevitably goes back to visit Spencer. It's actually worked out pretty well, too, because Keltie needs a place to stay while she does her cabaret show.
As convenient as Ryan might find their situation, it's basically driving Brendon insane. He spends as much time as he possibly can away from the apartment, avoiding Ryan's texts and phone calls. Two weeks in to Ryan's stay, Brendon makes Spencer go with him to get subs, and then proceeds to make up errands that keep them out of the house all day.
"I should really think about going home," Spencer says, while Brendon tries to navigate his way through traffic.
"Don't you dare," Brendon says. His phone goes off for the hundredth time, and he doesn't have to look at it to know Ryan is calling him again.
"He's just going to call me again next," Spencer says. "Are you going to let me answer it?"
Brendon says, "I'm not your boss. Do what you want."
Spencer sighs and lets his head fall against the passenger window. "You're driving me insane," he says.
"You can't leave me alone with him," Brendon pleads. "I just... God. The whole point of moving here was to get away from him, and now he's living down the hall!"
Spencer doesn't say anything. Neither of them speak for a few miles, and the car is quiet except for Brendon occasionally cursing at other drivers.
"You can say no if it's too weird or too last minute, and I promise not to get my feelings hurt," Spencer says out of nowhere.
Brendon glances over and then back to the road. "Okay?"
"Remember that cruise I bought?" Spencer asks.
Brendon nods, but doesn't take his eyes off the road again.
"Well, I'm going to go. It's already paid for, I can't get my money back, and my parents couldn't get the time off on such short notice. My mom told me I should just go by myself. You know, get away for awhile," Spencer says.
Brendon feels sick. Spencer is leaving, and Ryan's house won't be ready for at least another week. He wonders if his parents would mind him coming for a visit, or if Pete and Ashlee might let him crash on their couch for a while -- if it came to that.
"I was thinking you could come with me," Spencer says.
Brendon looks over and doesn't look back at the road. "What?" he asks.
Spencer says, "Umm, the road, Brendon. Please don't kill us."
Brendon slams on the brakes and pulls off into a McDonald's parking lot.
"Are you serious?" he asks.
Spencer shrugs. "You would probably have to buy your own plane ticket since I can't exactly transfer Haley's into your name, but I'm sure the travel agent I used can sort it out."
Brendon takes a deep breath and feels something like relief.
"It might be fun," Spencer says.
Brendon nods along frantically, a smile breaking across his face. "Yeah -- yes," he says. "I'll go with you."
"Really?" Spencer mirrors Brendon's smile with one of his own. "Because I really didn't want to go alone, and --"
"No, no," Brendon says. "Let's get the hell out of here. I hate L.A."
Spencer laughs, his eyes crinkling up at the corners. "Liar," he says. "You just need a change."
Brendon hums. He sings, "I was born by the river in a little tent. Oh, and just like the river I've been running ever since," and plays a little air piano above the steering wheel.
Spencer smiles and sings, "It's been a long time coming, but I know a change gonna come."
Brendon joins in again a second later: "Oh yes it will."
Brendon goes out to dinner with Shane and Regan and leaves Spencer to break the news to Ryan. It's a chickenshit move, but Spencer has always been the best at dealing with any and all of Ryan's moods, so Brendon doesn't let himself feel too bad about it.
When he gets home, no one is there. Brendon texts Spencer and falls asleep waiting for a reply. He doesn't know how long he sleeps, but there's a little light coming through the window when he wakes up. He rolls over and comes face to face with Spencer, eyes closed and curled up in the fetal position on top of the covers. Spencer's air mattress is still in the middle of Brendon's floor, but it's been so long since Spencer's slept on it that half the air has gone out of it. Brendon thinks Spencer sleeping with him every night should probably be weird, but it's not. It feels like some kind of extended sleepover.
Spencer mumbles in his sleep. It makes Brendon want to run his fingers through Spencer's hair. Normally he would do it; Brendon's always been weirdly tactile with people, and the whole band is pretty used to it by now. They don't even blink anymore when Brendon jumps on them or randomly smacks kisses on their cheeks. He could do that too -- just lean over and press his lips to Spencer's cheek. Spencer looks sweet, his lashes fanned out against his pale skin. A bomb probably wouldn't be able to wake Spencer right now, but Brendon doesn't lean in. He doesn't touch, even though his fingers itch with the desire to do it. There's a nervous feeling floating around in his stomach, something he can't quite figure out that keeps him from acting on his desire. Brendon crawls out of bed instead, throwing the edge of the covers over Spencer's body before he goes downstairs to make some coffee.
Ryan comes stumbling into the kitchen as the coffee is starting to brew. Brendon cocks an eyebrow at him. Ryan makes some guttural noise in answer. Brendon nods, pulling another coffee cup out of the cabinet over his head.
Ryan sits at the kitchen table and neither of them speaks until Brendon puts the full cup down in front of Ryan. Ryan wraps his long fingers around it and takes a giant gulp.
"Ow, fuck," he says. He sucks air in slowly, obviously trying to cool his tongue.
"Careful," Brendon replies, wondering how badly Ryan just scalded his mouth.
Ryan takes another sip in response, slower and smaller than the last one.
That sip must go better, because Ryan looks up from his mug and pierces Brendon with a discerning look. "So," he says. "You and Spencer?"
There's something in Ryan's tone that makes Brendon uncomfortable. It makes him think about the night he and Spencer watched Dashboard together and how, for just a moment, Brendon had thought about kissing Spencer.
"Me and Spencer what?" Brendon says. "We're going on vacation together. It's not... It's nothing."
"You're going on a romantic European cruise together," Ryan corrects. "A cruise he bought for his longtime girlfriend."
"We're going as friends," Brendon snaps. "And even if we weren't, it wouldn't really be any of your fucking business anymore, would it?"
Ryan's eyes get perfectly clear, the way they do when he's about to go in for the kill. "Spencer will always be my business," he says slowly and succinctly.
It does exactly what Ryan intended. It stings. It hurts. "Why do you care?" Brendon asks. "You and Spencer have gone off a million times together. Or is that what this is about? You're pissed because he didn't ask you?"
Ryan gets up and pours himself another cup of coffee. "I have plans," Ryan says. "That's why he didn't ask me."
"Oh, fuck you," Brendon says. "Stop being an asshole. I'm not trying to steal him from you."
It's shit like this that drove Brendon crazy when he and Ryan were sleeping together. Everything turned into a competition in the end, battles that became so petty and childish that half the time Brendon couldn't even remember what they were fighting about. It was the one thing that had made breaking it off a little bit easier.
Ryan turns around and leans against the counter, his features softening with what looks like regret. "Sorry," he says, running one of his hands through his hair. "I just thought this was going to be fun -- you, me and Spence running around L.A, going on adventures."
Brendon has a hard time being honest with people. It probably has something to do with the way his parents always used disappointment as a form of punishment. Spankings, groundings and taking away privileges never worked on Brendon half as well as a sad face from his mom or dad and a comment like, "We just expected so much more from you."
Brendon hates letting down the people he loves.
"Ryan," Brendon says softly.
"I know," Ryan says. "I know I can be..." Ryan sighs and shakes his head.
"Difficult?" Brendon says.
Ryan laughs, one of his really good ones, with his head tipped back and a genuine smile on his face. Brendon bites his lip and waits.
"You want some more coffee?" Ryan asks.
Brendon nods. Ryan refills Brendon's cup and sits down again. "If you didn't want me to stay here you should have said something," he says.
Brendon feels like throwing up. He doesn't want to have this conversation, but he doesn't see anyway out of it, either. "It's not that," he says.
Ryan gives him a dubious look. "Are we friends?" he asks.
"Of course we are," Brendon says.
"No," Ryan says. "I don't think we are. I don't think we have been for a long time, but I want us to be."
Brendon can't stop looking at his hands. He brings his thumb to his mouth and starts chewing the rough skin along the edge of his fingernail. His cuticles are already ripped in places from the same bad habit, and he has to consciously force both of his palms flat against the table.
"That's why I want to go," Brendon says. "I just... It's not as easy for me to change directions. I need some time."
"You've had time," Ryan says gently. "I'm not trying to -- I'm not being an asshole, but it's been like two years, Bren.
Brendon nods, but Ryan keeps going. He puts his hand over one of Brendon's. "Maybe I should have done things differently," he says. "Spencer says I'm the one that messed it all up, but I love you. I... You're one of my best friends, even without the band. You know that, right?"
"I know," Brendon says, because he does know. He's never doubted that Ryan loves him, but he had convinced himself that Ryan never really knew how much. It's taken Brendon way too long to realize that Ryan's always been exactly as involved with Brendon as he wanted to be. They're just friends. They'll always be friends, and Brendon thinks maybe this is the moment where he can finally start coming to terms with it.
Ryan says, "I think this trip will be good for the both of you. Spencer needs to get away too." He pauses. "You'll watch out for him, right?"
"Is there something I should know?" Brendon asks.
"He's --" Ryan stops. "Spencer's good at pretending."
Brendon looks over and searches Ryan's face. Ryan shrugs, giving nothing away because it's Spencer. Ryan will always protect Spencer first. Brendon knows there's more to the story, but he also knows it won't do any good to try to get it out of Ryan.
"I'll look out for him," Brendon says.
Ryan squeezes his hand and smiles.
Spencer insists on arriving in Stockholm the day before their scheduled cruise. Brendon can't see a problem with having more vacation, so he doesn't put up any kind of a fight.
"I went on this cruise with my family when I was thirteen, and we started in France and ended in Italy. I didn't get to see anything in either of those places because we had to go straight from the airport to the boat and vice versa," Spencer says.
"Okay," Brendon says. "So what do you want to do first?"
They take a cab to the hotel and dump their luggage in their room before setting out to explore on foot. It's nice, kind of comfortable just to walk down the streets without any kind of plan or destination in mind. After an hour, Brendon doesn't have any idea where they are. He really doesn't care. He's lost in Sweden with Spencer, and he hasn't felt this chill and relaxed in months.
"We are most definitely lost," Spencer says after another hour of walking.
Brendon nods. "Yep," he says. "Wanna find someplace to have a beer?"
Spencer looks around for a second like he's trying to get his bearings again. "Sure," he says. "Why not?"
They wander around a little bit longer until Spencer laughs, drawing Brendon's attention back to him. "Come on," he says, grabbing Brendon's hand and dragging him across the street.
Spencer pulls him into some tapas bar called Mamas and Tapas. Brendon can't stop the smile that spreads across his face. "You're such a nerd," he says affectionately.
"Shut up," Spencer says. "You only wish you were that clever."
They eat appetizers and drink beer with a name Brendon can't pronounce. There's nothing particularly amazing about the experience, but Brendon feels really good anyway. By the time they get back to the hotel Brendon is so exhausted he can't even be bothered to get undressed before he climbs into bed and promptly falls asleep.
The ship is fucking awesome. Brendon's never been on a cruise before, and all he wants to do is spend the next couple of hours exploring all the decks until he finds all the cool places to hang out.
"But Sweden," Spencer says exasperatedly.
"This is so cool, Spence," Brendon says, completely ignoring him in favor of leafing through the ship's guide book. "There's a movie theater, three night clubs and a casino."
"Brendon, we're from Vegas," Spencer says. "I'll take you to a dozen casinos when the cruise is over. Let's go see Sweden."
"Can we go on one of those lame bus tours?" Brendon asks.
Spencer smiles, leaning lazily against the door frame. "Sure, because we never spend anytime on buses."
"Oh, fuck you," Brendon says. "It's going to be fun."
They get back from the bus tour half an hour before the ship weighs anchor. Spencer heads straight for one of the ship's bars even though it's barely 4:30. Brendon doesn't need any convincing, but that doesn't mean he isn't going to give Spencer some shit about being a lush just because he can.
"Are we seriously drinking now?" he asks.
Spencer raises an eyebrow and orders them both a beer. "It's not that early," Spencer says. "Anyway, my clock is still all fucked up from traveling."
"It's like 7:30 in the morning in L.A. right now," Brendon says.
"Oh," Spencer says. "Well, whatever. We're on a fucking vacation."
Brendon follows Spencer over to the open-deck bar and lets Spencer order him a beer. They walk back over to the side of the ship to find a place to stand along the railing. Brendon can't stop thinking about that SNL skit, and he laughs, leaning over the railing to support himself.
"What?" Spencer asks.
Brendon says, "Take a picture, trick. I'm on a boat, bitch. We drinking Corona beer, because it's so crisp."
Spencer laughs and steps away from the railing, moving his hands in what Brendon can only assume are his gangsta moves. He says, "I got my swim trunks!"
"And my flippie-floppies," Brendon says, wiggling his toes. "I'm flipping burgers. You at Kinko's straight flippin' copies."
Spencer laughs harder and leans against Brendon's side when he can't seem to catch his breath. Brendon pats him on the back and breaks out into his falsetto, singing, "Believe me when I say I fucked a mermaaaaaid."
"Stop, you fuck," Spencer says still gasping for breath between fits of laughter.
Brendon leans against Spencer, both of them using each other for support as they try to stop laughing. Once Spencer has calmed down he steps back, still smiling and waves his empty beer bottle in front of Brendon's face.
"I'm kind of hungry," Brendon says. He's definitely up for another beer, but he needs food to go with it.
Spencer clinks the necks of their empty beer bottles together and says, "I need another beer."
"Food," Brendon says.
"Should we eat in the fancy dining room or just a grab a burger from one of the other places?" Spencer asks.
"Don't we have to dress up for the fancy dining room?" Brendon asks.
Spencer runs his hand through his hair, tugging on the ends. "Ugh, yeah. Fuck that," he says. "I'm so tired I think I'm going to end up sleeping in my jeans."
Brendon puts his hands on Spencer's shoulders, digging his fingers into the muscles, smiling as Spencer groans and rolls his head back.
"Fuck, I'm tired," Spencer says again.
Brendon pushes his fingers into Spencer's shoulders one last time, kneading as hard as he dares. "Does this cruise have room service?" he asks, finally letting his hands fall away.
"You're a genius," Spencer says.
They talk about what they should do tomorrow as they make their way back to their room together. They walk down two flights of stairs and get lost three times before they make it to the right hallway. Spencer bumps his hip into Brendon's as they walk and Brendon tips his head back so he can meet Spencer's eyes.
"Thanks," Spencer says.
Brendon looks at him confused.
"For coming with me," Spencer clarifies.
The comment makes Brendon feel light and happy. He smiles, bumping Spencer companionably with his shoulder before he says, "Sure. What are friends for?"
They fuck off on their own in Helsinki. They watch the tour bus roll away until it's out of sight, and then Spencer looks at Brendon and says, "Now what?"
Brendon gives Spencer his best evil grin, wraps his hand around Spencer's wrist and drags him down the street in search of a cab.
When the cab pulls up to their destination Spencer laughs, tipping his head back until it rests on the cracked vinyl seat. "You really are a twelve year-old," he says.
"This is coming from the asshole whose favorite pastimes are Mario Kart and Samurai sword fighting," Brendon says, rolling his eyes. "Come on, Spencer! It's the zoo. Everyone likes the zoo."
Part of the reason Brendon enjoys hanging out with Spencer so much is that at the end of the day, Spencer is just as childish as Brendon is. He burps because he thinks it's funny, laughs at the smallest innuendos, and enjoys hanging around the monkey exhibit in the hopes that a monkey will inappropriately touch itself.
There's a particularly feisty baby orangutan that's having too much fun with a cardboard box. Spencer spends ten minutes taking its picture and laughing.
"I hate to ruin your fun, but we have to go," Brendon says. "There's a badass aquarium-type thing that I want to see next and we only have a few hours before we have to get back to the ship."
Spencer snaps a few more pictures. "An aquarium?" he asks, wrinkling his nose.
"Stingrays, Spencer," Brendon says, widening his eyes. "Stingrays and killer jellyfish and sharks. Sharks!"
"You think they have horseshoe crabs?" Spencer asks. "We could take pictures with our phones and send them to Pete."
"Now you're talking," Brendon says. He leads the way out of the zoo.
They go through the aquarium quickly because Spencer keeps giving his watch worried glances. "We should probably head back soon," he says.
Brendon watches the sharks swim around their tank. "Why don't they eat the fish that are in there?" Brendon asks.
"Why hunt when people will just bring you food?" Spencer counters.
"You are the laziest sharks," Brendon tells them. "You should all be ashamed."
"Aw, you're going to hurt their feelings."
"Fuck 'em," Brendon says, glaring at the sharks ambling around the tank. "I always liked dolphins better, anyway. Dolphins are like the Lassie of the underwater kingdom."
Spencer laughs. "I've always been partial to sea turtles myself."
He comes up behind Brendon and hooks his fingers into Brendon's belt loops, pulling him backwards. "I don't want to live in Finland, Brendon," he says. "We should really go." He's so close that Brendon can feel Spencer's breath against the back of his neck. It makes him shiver, tiny goosebumps popping up on his arms. Brendon pushes away from the glass and turns around, and Spencer is still so close that Brendon has to tilt his head back to look at him. He can't stop his eyes from lingering on Spencer's mouth.
"Do we have time to go to the gift shop?" he asks. His voice sounds funny, a little breathless and stupid. Brendon looks down, closing his eyes and trying to get his head on straight.
When Spencer steps back, Brendon can breathe again.
"Sure," Spencer says. "Let's go."
They go to the gift shop. Spencer goes straight to a wire rack holding postcards. Brendon walks over to the T-shirts and finds one with dolphins on the front. He runs his fingers over the soft material, contemplating the various shirts, looking over his shoulder to make sure Spencer is still fully engrossed in the postcards. Brendon bites his lip and then rolls his eyes at himself, pulling another T-shirt down in a slightly larger size. It's covered in sea turtles.
That night they go for burgers by the pool.
"You wanna swim later?" Spencer asks.
Brendon glances at the pool. There are still people milling around, lounging on the deck even though the sun is just an orange glow on the horizon. The pool is full of people, both young and old, and Brendon really doesn't feel like dealing with any of them.
"Not really," he says. "Maybe on one of the days we're at sea?"
"Sure," Spencer says.
"You know the pool is saltwater?" Brendon asks.
Spencer smiles and shakes his head. "Did you read the entire booklet?"
Brendon sticks his tongue out. "Don't make fun of me, asshole. How are we supposed to do everything if we don't know what there is to do?"
Spencer doesn't say anything, just takes another bite of his burger and rolls his eyes. It's almost routine, the way they do this. Brendon talks and Spencer makes fun of whatever he's talking about, and then Brendon flips him off and they go get drunk or smoke some weed -- sometimes both at once.
"Are we getting drunk or what?" Spencer asks, right on cue.
"The club or the bottle of champagne waiting for us in our room?" Brendon counters.
Spencer gives Brendon one of his best well, hell smiles and says, "Who says we can't do both?"
The cruise stops for two days in St. Petersburg, and they decide to do a bus tour on the first day. The bus is kind of hot and musty inside and Brendon ends up by a window that doesn't open. He starts sweating almost immediately, which makes him fidget and squirm until Spencer pushes his palm against Brendon's thigh and glares at him.
"I'm hot," Brendon whines. "This stupid window is stuck. And this bus smells like ripe ass."
Spencer snorts, reaching over and whacking the window with his closed fist a few times before he leans in and easily slides the window open. "Stop complimenting yourself. You're already adored by thousands," he says.
Brendon's too busy glaring at the window to really pay attention to what Spencer's saying. "How did you do that?" he asks, turning his glare on Spencer. Then he stops. "Wait. What did you say?"
"I didn't say anything," Spencer says. "You said you were hot."
Brendon rolls his eyes and punches Spencer in the shoulder. "Heat hot," he says. "You knew what I meant."
Spencer puts the palms of his hands together like he's about to pray and lays his cheek against them, batting his eyelashes and sighing exaggeratedly. "But, you're just so dreamy!" he says, holding out for only a few seconds before he cracks up.
"Oh, fuck you," Brendon says. "I can't help that I'm a sex-symbol."
It's something the entire band gives him shit about, this strange turn of events that has girls pinning posters of him on their walls, trying various combinations of their names with his on pieces of scratch paper. Brendon's sure he'll never get used to it. He's sure he'll never see himself as anything other than a band geek with bad hair who likes playing video games in his underwear.
"It's a terrible burden to bear, being so good-looking," Spencer says seriously.
Brendon drags his eyes over Spencer and says, "You try to hide behind that beard, but that doesn't mean they don't want you, too."
"Whatever," Spencer says. "This beard is like impenetrable armor. Nothing gets past it."
Brendon shakes his head, reaching out to run his fingers lightly over Spencer's chin. Spencer holds really still, his eyes widening a little, as Brendon drags his thumb from the corner of Spencer's mouth to the edge of his jaw.
Spencer's beard is actually kind of soft. Brendon wants to keep stroking it, but he realizes -- a little bit too late -- that even though Spencer is used to Brendon invading his personal space, touching someone else's facial hair is probably a little weird, even for him.
Brendon drops his hand awkwardly and says, "I like the beard."
There's this weird moment where they just look at each other. Brendon thinks Spencer is going to say something, but then he drops his gaze to his lap for a split second and when he looks up again he won't meet Brendon's eyes.
Brendon doesn't know what he should do. There haven't been too many times when things have felt strange between the two of them. With the exception of Shane, Spencer probably knows Brendon better than anyone else in the world.
Brendon falls back into default teasing mode, bumping his shoulder hard against Spencer's. He says, "If you really want to keep them away, bring back the moustache. That was pretty frightening."
Much to Brendon's relief, Spencer smiles, bumping Brendon back harder so that his shoulder connects with the side of the bus. "Fuck off," Spencer says. "That moustache was dead sexy."
Brendon rolls his eyes and makes a gagging noise. "Dude, your own mother didn't even love you while you were sporting that thing."
Spencer lets out a delighted bark of laughter and says, "Okay, you win. Now shut up while we go look at some castles."
By the time the bus brings them back to the ship, Brendon is pretty sure he's seen more castles than he ever wanted to see. "So many castles," he says.
Spencer holds his hand up next to his head and says, "They're up to here in fucking castles," in what is possibly the worst British accent Brendon has ever heard.
Brendon jumps the bus steps and lands on the pavement with a loud thump. He has to crouch a little to keep himself from falling over. When he stands upright and turns around, Spencer is looking at him with one eyebrow raised.
"What are we doing tonight?" Brendon asks.
Spencer puts his hands in his pockets and hunches his shoulders. "I actually bought tickets to this theater," he says, "if you want to go." He looks kind of uncomfortable or embarrassed, which Brendon doesn't really get.
"What?" Brendon asks.
"Nothing," Spencer says. "It's stupid. We can just hang out, maybe try out one of the clubs on the ship or go to one of the shows."
Spencer starts walking toward the ship and Brendon reaches out, grabbing his shoulder as he passes.
"Whoa," Brendon says. "Stop and start over. You have tickets to what theater?"
Spencer shrugs his hand off and glares over Brendon's shoulder. "There's this cool theater here, The Mariinsky. They do operas and have a full orchestra and shit." He hesitates. "I don't know. I thought you might be into it. We could have dinner afterward." He looks miserable, or maybe embarrassed, and Brendon doesn't know why.
"That sounds like fun," Brendon says reassuringly. He throws his arm over Spencer's shoulders and gives him a friendly squeeze. "Did you have a specific place in mind for dinner?"
Spencer lets Brendon cling to him, nodding and slowing his pace so that they can walk toward the ship together. "I asked some of the crew yesterday. They suggested a place," he says.
"Cool," Brendon says. "I wanna shower and change first so that I don't smell like bus, but I'm all in for the theater."
"Okay," Spencer says. "Cool."
The room they're staying in is pretty nice. It has two convertible twin beds that turn into a king and a full-size foldout couch. Brendon didn't see any reason for the two of them to squeeze themselves into tiny beds, considering they spend half their lives crammed into small bus bunks. They ended up pushing the two beds together for Spencer. Brendon took the couch.
The room is small, even if it is bigger than Brendon imagined. When the couch is unfolded there isn't really any room to walk around, so Brendon's been pretty good about getting up early and putting it away before Spencer wakes up.
Brendon takes the first shower when they get back to the room and then changes while Spencer takes the bathroom. Spencer insisted that casual dress was okay for the theater, but Brendon doesn't want to look like a complete bum. He ends up wearing his nicest pair of jeans and a black button-down.
Spencer emerges from the bathroom in a cloud of steam. He's wearing a pair of jeans and a black Henley. Brendon smiles at him and asks, "You don't think we're too matchy-matchy, do you?"
Spencer glares at him and runs his hands over his shirt. "I could change?" he says.
Brendon shrugs. "Nah, you look nice. We should go."
Spencer gets his wallet and his phone and stuffs them both in his pocket. "You ready?" he asks.
Brendon looks around the room for his phone and ends up having to throw some things around before he remembers he left it in his other pair of jeans. He digs the phone out and puts it in his pocket, patting himself down thoughtlessly before he says, "Yep. I'm good to go."
Spencer holds the door open for him and says, "You look nice too."
The theater is beautiful. Brendon ends up getting a little tipsy on champagne at intermission. The show is actually five one-man operas, and even though Brendon can't understand a word anyone is saying, the music is really beautiful.
Spencer keeps looking over at him and rubbing his palms in a nervous gesture across the tops of his thighs. He's fidgety and weird. Brendon wonders if he's bored.
"Do you not like it?" Brendon whispers.
Spencer's head snaps around and he looks guilty or upset or something. Brendon has no idea what's going on.
"I'm fine," Spencer says. "Do you like it?"
Brendon smiles reassuringly and puts his hand over Spencer's, pinning it against Spencer's thigh to keep him from rubbing his palm raw. "It's beautiful," he says. "Be still and watch."
Spencer huffs and shakes his head as he pulls his hand away. He rests it on his leg next to Brendon's hand.
"What?" Brendon asks.
"Nothing," Spencer says. "Just you telling me to be still."
Brendon moves his hand back to his own lap and says, "Yeah, well, for once you're the one being hyperactive."
"Shh," Spencer says, putting a finger to his lips. "You're making me miss the performance."
Brendon opens his mouth to respond, but a lady in front of them turns around and gives him a pointed look. Brendon shuts his mouth with an audible click and tries to pay attention to what's happening on the stage while still trying to sneak covert glances at Spencer out of the corner of his eye.
Spencer has stopped moving around, though, and he finally seems to be paying attention to the show. Now Brendon's the one feeling unsettled. He crosses and uncrosses his legs until Spencer mutters something under his breath and puts one hand on Brendon's knee, applying a gentle, steady pressure. Brendon stops moving, holding his breath for as long as he can before letting it out slowly. He moves his hand a little so that the back of it is resting against Spencer's fingertips. Neither one of them moves again for the rest of the performance.
They go to Tri Peskarya after the show. Spencer orders fish and offers Brendon a bite when their plates come. The fish ends up being better than Brendon's steak skewers. He can't stop reaching across the table to help himself to another forkful.
“You wanna trade?” Spencer asks in this totally indulgent tone he gets sometimes, like he's happy there's something he can do to make someone else happy. Mostly Spencer gets that way around his sisters, and Brendon is always surprised when it's directed at him.
Brendon blushes. “Sorry,” he says. “It's really good.”
“I like yours,” Spencer says. “We can swap if you want. I really don't mind.”
Brendon shakes his head and leans back in his chair, sipping his beer. “I could go for some desert, though. Maybe Crème Brulèe or some kind of pie or something.”
Spencer gives him a 'what the fuck' look. “Crème Brulèe?” he asks suspiciously. "How do you even know what that is?"
"Seriously?" Brendon asks. "How many hours of the Food Network have you made me watch? Plus, it's cool. They use a little blow torch on it." Normally Brendon would be embarrassed to admit he thought that was neat, but Spencer watches the Food Network. It's not like they aren't both huge dorks here.
Spencer laughs and flags down their waiter.
“So,” Spencer says after he's put in their order. “Are you having fun so far?”
Brendon feels full and relaxed and he hasn't thought about Ryan at all since they left Sweden -- if Brendon ignores the fact that he just thought about not thinking about Ryan at all. Brendon likes spending time with Spencer, whatever the circumstances. He likes watching stupid movies with Spencer, eating junk food or getting stoned and prank calling their friends. Touring Europe with Spencer on an awesome cruise ship isn't exactly a hardship.
"Yeah," Brendon says. "I'm having a lot of fun."
The waiter brings their dessert, searing it with a small torch until the sugar hardens on top. Spencer orders a coffee, and slips their server his credit card.
There's only one dessert with two spoons. The dinner crowd is finally starting to thin out because it's late and there are candles lit all over the outside deck, little lights flickering in the breeze. Spencer just paid for their dinner.
When Spencer reaches for one of the spoons, Brendon inhales sharply and snaps his head up in surprise.
"Are we on a date?" he asks.
Spencer drops his spoon, the metal clattering loudly against the ceramic plate.
"What?" Spencer asks. Color floods his cheeks. He won't look Brendon in the eye now. They're sharing a dessert and Spencer is wearing cologne and his nice shirt, and -- oh god.
"Oh god," Brendon says. "We're totally on a date. You're wooing me right now."
Spencer finally looks at Brendon and laughs, casually flipping him off.
"Fuck off," he says. "If I wanted to woo you I'd buy you a bag of Cheetos and invite you over to play my Wii."
Brendon's known Spencer for long time. He knows when Spencer is using humor to deflect a situation. Brendon could let him. He could laugh and make a joke, too, and they could go back to the ship, go to bed and forget any of this ever happened. Only now that they're actually here on a fucking date in the middle of Russia, Brendon can't stop thinking about what it might be like. He keeps flashing back to that night on tour, that brief, stupid moment when he thought about kissing Spencer, and now he can't un-think it.
"You're looking at my mouth," Spencer says.
Brendon feels his own cheeks heating up when he realizes that's exactly what he's doing -- staring at Spencer's mouth. He forces himself not to look away.
"Does it bother you?" he asks. His chest is tight, his stomach a ball of nerves.
Spencer says, "No. Not really."
There's a moment in which Brendon can't breathe, a moment in which he knows everything is about to change. The scarier realization is that he might want things to change.
"Are we on a date?" he asks again.
"It depends," Spencer says. "Do you put out on a first date?"
Brendon reaches across the table and laces their fingers together, holding Spencer's hand and his gaze. "Spence," he says seriously.
"Would it be so bad if we were?" Spencer asks softly.
"I...No?" Brendon says. "It's just a little unexpected."
"I don't know why. I thought I was being pretty obvious," Spencer says.
Brendon doesn't know what to say to that. He thinks about all the times recently when he's been hyper-aware of Spencer watching him, touching him, smiling or laughing at this jokes, and wonder if he should have seen it.
"Look," Spencer says, pulling his hand out of Brendon's grasp. "If you're not... If you don't think of me like that, or you're not into it or whatever...I'm not going to be weird. I just -- I like you."
"I like you too," Brendon says. "I just...don't want to fuck things up between us. I don't want to be someone you use to figure yourself out."
Spencer's mouth tightens at the corners. "I'm not Ryan," he says. "I wouldn't. I'm not going to fuck you up."
"I know you wouldn't do it on purpose," Brendon says.
Spencer pushes his chair back, gets up and walks out, leaving Brendon alone with their uneaten dessert.
It takes Brendon a second to snap to attention, but he follows, bursting out into the street only to find Spencer leaning against the wall just outside the door, smoking a cigarette. Brendon leans against the wall, too, and Spencer steps away, digging in his pocket for his pack of Marlboros. He pulls another one out and offers it to Brendon. Brendon puts the butt in his mouth and watches as Spencer cups his hand around the end and lights it for him.
Spencer doesn't move away. They stand close together, smoking in silence. Spencer watches Brendon the way he always does.
Eventually, Spencer flicks his cigarette away and says, "We should go."
"I just haven't ever given us much thought," Brendon says. "Not in that context, anyway."
It's not really an outright lie. Brendon has known Spencer since he was sixteen years old. He hasn't given it much thought, if he considers their entire history, but he's man enough to admit to himself that he's been thinking about it a lot lately.
Spencer tips his head to the side and steps forward, putting his hands on either side of Brendon's body, caging him against the wall before leaning in and kissing him. Spencer's mouth is warm. His tongue slides gently against the seam of Brendon's lips until Brendon finally tips his head back and opens his mouth.
Brendon drops his cigarette, reaching up to wrap his fingers around Spencer's neck, pulling him closer, as Spencer kisses him harder. Brendon's brain feels fuzzy and his fingers and toes tingle as his heart speeds up, sending his blood racing through his body. Spencer is really good at kissing; he sucks on Brendon's tongue and moves his hands from the wall to either side of Brendon's face.
Brendon lets Spencer tip his head even further back.
There's something a little desperate about the way Spencer explores Brendon's mouth. He's trembling under Brendon's fingers, like he's holding back a little. Brendon doesn't know how there could possibly be more than what Spencer is giving him right now, but he's willing to admit that he might like to find out. He presses against Spencer and Spencer presses him into the wall, and they cling to each other, supporting themselves against the side of the building as they make out like idiot teenagers in the middle of the sidewalk.
When Spencer steps away, Brendon feels cold and hungry even though he should be full and relaxed after such an amazing meal. They stare at each other, breathing heavily, trying to reclaim the oxygen they lost while they were kissing.
"Start thinking about us," Spencer says as he leans back in to kiss Brendon one more time, biting gently into Brendon's bottom lip.
Spencer steps away and walks off down the street to find a cab. Brendon touches his swollen mouth and wonders wildly what it would feel like if Spencer pushed him down into a mattress the way he'd pushed him into the wall. All the way back to the ship Brendon can't think of anything else.
Spencer yanks Brendon's covers away early the next morning and says, "Rise and shine! There are more castles to see."
Brendon isn't wearing anything. It normally wouldn't bother him at all. His entire band and half their crew have seen Brendon in his birthday suit more times than he can count. He's comfortable being naked, but there's something strange about it now because he's in this limbo where he's not sure if Spencer is just his friend or if he's about to become something more. Brendon can't really think of anything but the more right now.
"Pants," Brendon says.
Spencer leans over, wraps his fingers around Brendon's wrist and pulls him until he's sitting up on the sofa bed. He leans in and kisses Brendon, just a dry brush of lips, before he steps away again. "I'm wearing these," he says. "Get your own."
Brendon frowns and touches his lips, giving Spencer a grumpy look.
Spencer smiles and claps his hands together once before he turns and says, "Get dressed, Urie. I want to stop by the dining room and get some coffee and eggs."
Spencer suggests they take the tour bus to The Hermitage, and Brendon likes the museum so much they end up staying all day.
"There are six buildings, Spencer!" Brendon says. "We couldn't even see it all if we had three days, let alone three hours."
Spencer goes to talk to their tour guide about staying behind and getting a cab back to the ship later. Brendon reads the brochure he picked up and idly wonders why things haven't been weirder with Spencer since last night. He keeps waiting for things to be awkward between them, but they're mostly the same as they've always been. Only now there's an edge of anticipation to their interaction that Brendon can't stop thinking about. It's kind of like going for a swim in the ocean and drifting out far enough to feel the steady drag of the undertow.
They spend the afternoon tilting their heads at various pieces of artwork, making fun of the other tourists behind their hands like teenagers at the mall.
"God, I'm such an asshole," Spencer says.
"You really are," Brendon says. "You just made fun of an eighty-year-old woman with a walker."
Spencer punches Brendon in the shoulder. "I wasn't making fun of her," he says. "I was laughing with her. She had purple hair. She was wearing a T-shirt that said something about getting 'high on the Bible.' She was a badass."
"I'm hungry," Brendon says, rolling his eyes. "Feed me."
Spencer comes up behind Brendon and presses the palm of his hand against the base of Brendon's spine, steering them toward the building's exit. "What do you want?" he asks, breath hot against Brendon's ear.
Brendon shivers, shrugging in answer. He's not sure he could speak without his voice cracking and he really doesn't want Spencer to know how nervous he is right now.
Spencer slows down, letting Brendon put some distance between them, but he keeps his hand firmly planted on Brendon's back. Brendon wonders if it's some instinct Spencer has, knowing when he's pushing too hard, or when he's about to go too far. Brendon considers the fact that he can spend hours, days, months on tour with Spencer and never really get annoyed with him the way he does with everyone else. Maybe Spencer's always known how to just be with Brendon, and Brendon's the one that's taken too long to catch on.
"We should go to one of the clubs tonight," Brendon says. The boat left port over an hour ago, and Brendon is still hungry. Spencer had wanted to go back to their room and change before dinner and Brendon wasn't about to argue after an entire day of walking tours.
"Let's eat first," Spencer says. "We could check out the dining room. Or maybe we could just get a burger by the pool again."
"Let's get dressed up and try the dining room," Brendon says. "It could be fun."
There's a dress code -- ties and jackets -- and Brendon spent the first eighteen years of his life as a Mormon, so he's dressed and straightening his tie in front of the mirror in no time at all.
Spencer seems to be having problems, though. Brendon smiles indulgently at him and cocks his head, motioning him over.
"Didn't you ever go to church?" he asks, reaching up to loosen the messy knot at Spencer's throat.
"Hmm," Spencer says, his throat vibrating against Brendon's fingers. "Easter and Christmas, and sometimes when my grandparents visited. I never wore a tie though. My mom's always known how to pick her battles."
Brendon laughs, tipping his head back so he can watch Spencer's face. "And then you became a rock star and just wore them around your head?"
Spencer leans in and kisses him, messy and hard. Brendon makes a noise against his mouth, exhaling until he feels like there isn't any oxygen left in his lungs. He feels lightheaded. His fingers tremble against Spencer's throat as Spencer backs him up until the backs of Brendon's legs hit the sofa and Spencer reaches between them for Brendon's belt buckle.
"Wait," Brendon says, catching Spencer's wrists. "Can we just --"
Spencer stops, looking at him steadily, patiently, his fingers still resting on the waist of Brendon's slacks. He's waiting, just like Brendon asked.
"I'm hungry," Brendon says softly. "Can we just go eat?"
Spencer lets out a long, slow breath and inhales deeply through his nose again. Taking a step back, he lets his hands fall away. "How does my tie look?" he asks.
Brendon reaches up and tightens the knot he started, straightening the tie out and neatly folding Spencer's shirt collar down over it.
"You're all set," he whispers.
"Thanks," Spencer says.
"No problem," Brendon answers uncertainly. He wants to ask Spencer if he's mad, but he'll either come off looking pathetic or get an answer he doesn't want, so he bites his tongue and holds his breath instead.
"You ready?" Spencer holds his hand out for Brendon's hand.
Brendon lets out a relieved breath. He reaches out and lets Spencer take his hand. It's dorky and ridiculous and oddly charming all at once. Brendon can't stop smiling all the way to dinner.
The club they pick caters to the younger crowd and plays mostly R&B and Hip Hop while waiters and waitresses serve crazy shots in test tubes under the strobe lights. Brendon orders continuous shots for both Spencer and himself and keeps drinking them while simultaneously working his way through an entire pack of Marlboros.
Spencer matches Brendon shot for shot until a pretty red-head wanders over and asks Spencer if he wants to dance. Brendon's about to laugh at the idea of Spencer bumping and grinding out on the floor when Spencer surprises him by wrapping an arm around the girl's waist and walking with her out into the crowd.
Brendon watches them dance, their bodies pressed tightly together as the music vibrates through the club and across the bar, making the liquid in Brendon's glass ripple before he swallows it down in one gulp. His lips and his fingertips are starting to tingle. He feels loose-limbed and relaxed, like he could do anything and no matter what it was, it wouldn't be stupid at all.
Spencer comes back to the bar alone. Brendon throws his arm over Spencer's shoulder and buries his face against Spencer's neck as he slides off his stool.
"Dance with me now," he says.
Spencer stands very still, carefully reaching around Brendon to finish off what's left of Brendon's mixed drink. "Okay," he says, setting the glass back on the bar.
Brendon takes Spencer's wrist and leads him out into the crowd of bodies, turning and wrapping his hands around the back of Spencer's neck once they're in the middle of the floor. Spencer's hands go to Brendon's waist.
Brendon's not much of a dancer. He likes to dance, but he knows that doesn't necessarily make him good at it. He's agile and bendy, but he's not particularly graceful. This is different, somehow. It's easier to let himself fall into Spencer and bounce to the low thrum of the bass line. Brendon pushes his hips gently against Spencer's hips. Spencer gasps against his forehead and Brendon tilts his head back, pulls Spencer forward with his hands still locked firmly around the back of Spencer's neck and kisses him softly.
Spencer pulls him closer, humming against Brendon's mouth, grinding their hips together to the beat of the music in a way that sends little sparks up Brendon's spine.
"Come on," Brendon says hoarsely. "Let's --" he breaks off, rubbing their hips together again. He can feel Spencer's erection against his hip and he pivots his hips so that Spencer can feel his. Spencer moves his hands to either side of Brendon's face, tipping his head back and looking into his eyes intently.
"How much have you had to drink?" he asks.
If Spencer's thinking about that, Brendon's pretty sure he's doing something wrong. "I'm not drunk," he says.
Spencer studies him for another long second. Brendon doesn't know what's going on inside his head, but Spencer must believe him because he nods curtly and takes Brendon's hand, leading him off the dance floor.
They take the elevator back up to their deck. Brendon uses the minute or two of privacy to get the first two buttons of Spencer's shirt undone and a hickey started at the base of Spencer's throat.
He rubs his thumb across the bruised skin, smiling when Spencer's hisses out a breath. "It's pretty. You're pretty," he says, looking up into Spencer's face.
"I am not pretty," Spencer says gruffly, his expression turning sour and annoyed.
Brendon shakes his head and runs his thumb over Spencer's bottom lip and into his beard. "You are," he says, kissing Spencer and then biting down on his lip sharply.
The elevator doors open before Spencer can respond. Brendon steps back and smiles at the young couple getting on. He even winks conspiratorially at them as he pulls Spencer out into the hall.
He plasters himself to Spencer's back as Spencer fumbles with the key to their room. Brendon's excited, full of nervous anticipation the way he was outside the restaurant, but now the alcohol has left him with all of the want and none of the nerves. He feels bold, reaching around Spencer to start on his belt buckle, knuckles skimming over Spencer's cock where it presses up against his zipper.
Spencer hisses, kicking the door when he finally gets it unlocked and open. They stumble inside, Brendon still clinging to Spencer's hips. One of his hands is already making its way down the front of Spencer's pants.
"Fuck," Spencer says. "Stop. Hang on."
Spencer wraps his hand around Brendon's wrist and wiggles out of his hold. Brendon whines in the back of his throat, stepping toward Spencer again as soon as he turns around. Spencer lets Brendon kiss him, but he doesn't kiss back. He rests his hands lightly on Brendon's hips and doesn't pull him any closer, but he doesn't push Brendon away either. Brendon takes that as encouragement, stepping closer and pressing their chests together.
"Brendon," Spencer says, finally pulling away. "I swear to God if you freak out tomorrow, I'll --"
Brendon surges forward and kisses him again. "I can't stop thinking about your mouth," he pants. "I can't stop...You told me to think about us, and now I can't stop."
Spencer groans against Brendon's mouth and cups the back of his head, pressing their mouths together so hard that Brendon's lips hurt. He can't bring himself to care. He reaches for Spencer's tie, undoing it completely before pulling it from his collar. Spencer reaches for Brendon's pants, but Brendon makes things difficult by leaning in to kiss along Spencer's collar bone through his collared shirt, distracting him.
Brendon's had a lot of sex. At this point, he's had sex with so many different people that it's started to feel a little bit like he's going through the motions.
He's usually been drinking when he has sex, too. Brendon doesn't know if it's because he picks up a lot of people at bars or if he just drinks a lot. It hardly matters at this point. The actual act varies from person to person -- blow jobs, hand jobs or actual fucking, depending on where, when and who -- but the end result is always the same.
Brendon's foggily aware that this is different. He can't just roll out of bed tomorrow and walk out the door. He can't lose Spencer's number or forget his name or pretend he's anyone other than who he is. Mostly, Brendon is terrified because the more he thinks about it, the more he realizes he doesn't want to forget anything about this.
Spencer bites down on Brendon's neck as his fingers fumble with Brendon's button-down. He makes frustrated noises against Brendon's skin, and then he steps away and starts taking off his own shirt.
"Be naked," he says gruffly.
Brendon laughs, stumbling a little as he pushes his own pants down his legs. "Wouldn't it be awesome if that really worked?" he asks. "I would will you to be naked all the time."
Spencer's hands stop on the waist of his pants, his head snapping up. He looks at Brendon, his eyes sliding over Brendon's body. "I would say the same," he says, "but you're naked a lot, anyway."
Brendon shakes his head, laughing a little as he works the last button of his shirt open. He slides the shirt off, struggling with one of the cuffs before finally shaking it loose, letting it fall to the floor in a wrinkled heap.
Spencer is still just standing in front of Brendon with his belt undone and his pants unbuttoned. He's stopped actively undressing, but he hasn't stopped looking at Brendon since Brendon got rid of his pants.
"See something you like?" Brendon asks. He feels good, relaxed and sexy and desired.
"Fuck," Spencer says. "You're like a fucking wet dream."
Brendon steps forward, hooking his fingers in Spencer's pants so he can push them down. "How do you want to do this?" he asks. Brendon feels like he can't catch his breath; he gasps loudly when his cock rubs against Spencer's thigh.
"Bed," Spencer says, "Condoms and lube. Fuck, where's my bag?"
Brendon laughs again, pressing his face into Spencer's chest briefly before going to his own suitcase for supplies. His head is swimming and his body feels tingly, coiled tight with anticipation. Brendon wiggles his toes and laughs when he remembers he still has his socks on.
He walks to the bed, supplies in hand, and drops everything on the mattress when Spencer reaches for him. He likes the way Spencer's hands feel on his skin. He boosts himself up to kiss Spencer, winding his fingers through the ends of Spencer's hair. It's starting to get long again after that ill-advised trim Spencer got before Christmas.
"You can fuck me," Brendon says, breathless and turned on. His cock is throbbing where it curves up against his stomach, and he reaches between their bodies to press the heel of his hand against his erection.
Spencer tilts his head back. His eyes roam Brendon's face for a moment before he kisses him again and says, "You could fuck me. I was -- If you wanted to."
Brendon's brain stops working, like a computer with a fried motherboard. It's hard to think about what comes next, but Brendon realizes Spencer probably needs some kind of verbal confirmation before Brendon pushes him down on the bed and fucks his brains out.
"I..." Brendon's hands are shaking. He curls his fingers into Spencer's arms to try to steady himself. "Yes, okay," he says as he pushes Spencer back onto the bed.
Spencer rolls on to his stomach and asks, "Like this?"
Brendon hasn't gotten far enough past sex with Spencer to actually think about what kind of sex with Spencer he'd like to be having. He'd like to have all kinds of sex with Spencer. Brendon would like to have all the kinds of sex they can possibly imagine.
He looks up the pale expanse of Spencer's back and over the place on Spencer's hips that usually sticks out over the top of his girl jeans now that he's not built like a teenage boy anymore. Brendon's mouth waters just looking at him, at all the skin he wants to taste.
"Yeah," he says, kneeling next to Spencer and leaning down to kiss across his shoulder blades. "Yes, yes..." Brendon doesn't have any patience left. He feels hurried and fevered, and he just wants to be inside Spencer and to be touching Spencer in every way he can.
"Any time now," Spencer says. He sounds just as impatient as Brendon feels.
"Hold your horses," Brendon mutters as he fumbles with the bottle of lube. It's a little slick from previous uses and he thinks a new bottle was probably in order for this occasion -- only Brendon had no way of knowing this was even a possibility a week ago.
He slicks two fingers but only presses in with one, working slowly to loosen Spencer up. Spencer's better at going with it than Brendon would have thought, given the fact that he spent the last three years dating a girl. Spencer relaxes his body, his shoulders drooping forward and his ass pressing back against Brendon's hand.
"You've done this before, right?" Brendon asks. It's probably a little too late to be asking that question, but it suddenly seems important.
"Jesus, Brendon," Spencer says. "I'm not -- I haven't been a virgin in a long time."
"I know," Brendon says, glaring at the back of Spencer's head. He's starting to feel less drunk, even though he's getting more and more turned on watching Spencer fuck back onto his finger. "You've also spent the last three years fucking a girl, so you know..."
"I wasn't a virgin when I met Haley," Spencer says slowly. "Also, Haley had really nice fingers."
Brendon gets a mental image of Spencer spread out, Haley between his thighs and immediately feels like a pervert. He should not be getting off on the thought of Spencer being finger-fucked by his ex-girlfriend.
Brendon can't hold on to that line of thought and keep moving his hand in any kind of coherent rhythm. Spencer pushes his hips back impatiently, bringing Brendon's attention back to his current task. "Do you want another one?" he asks.
Spencer presses his face into the mattress and nods. Brendon adds another finger, smiling when he hears Spencer's muffled moan. His fingers are slick, but he adds more lube as Spencer stretches around them.
"I'm ready," Spencer says, lifting his head and twisting around to look back at Brendon. His eyes are glassy, like he's had too much to drink. He looks drunker than he did twenty minutes ago and it's making Brendon feel more lightheaded, too. They're getting fucked up on one another and it's so, so hot. Brendon didn't know it could be this hot between them.
Brendon opens the condom with his teeth and rolls it on with his clean hand while he removes his fingers. Spencer whines at the loss, but goes quiet again as Brendon adds more lube to his cock. He uses the blunt head to spread the excess lube around before he presses in slowly.
"Fuck," Spencer pants, tensing beneath him for just a moment before he relaxes again.
Brendon can feel Spencer's thighs trembling against his. He runs his palm over Spencer's hip soothingly and keeps pressing forward with a steady pressure that finally puts him all the way inside, the front of his thighs pressed up against the back of Spencer's.
Spencer's bigger than Brendon is. When Brendon leans forward he still feels small even though he's blanketing Spencer's body completely with his own. Spencer's got his elbows planted on the bed, making it easy for Brendon to put his hands down on either side of Spencer's body and brace himself as he fucks Spencer harder on every stroke.
Spencer is more vocal than Brendon would have imagined, and Brendon has a passing moment of regret for their neighbors before he remembers he's actually fucking Spencer. It's not something he can really be sorry about.
They're both covered in sweat, breaths coming faster and faster until Spencer pushes himself up a little on one arm and reaches for his cock with his other hand. Brendon lets Spencer get himself off; he's too busy leaving bruises in the shapes of his fingers on Spencer's hips to be much help.
When Spencer comes, it's too much. His muscles tighten around Brendon's cock and Brendon comes, too, yanking Spencer back on to his cock as hard as he can as he spills into the condom. His thrusts are short and jerky and completely lack rhythm as he comes down.
Spencer doesn't move when Brendon pulls out, but he does roll over when Brendon climbs out of bed to throw the condom away. Brendon's legs feel wobbly and his eyes are heavy.
Spencer has rolled over to the dry side of the bed. Brendon frowns at the spot on the sheets covered in Spencer's come.
"Sofa," Brendon says, walking over to pull out his sofa bed. He falls into it face-first and rolls to his side, pillowing his head on his arm. "Bring pillows," he mumbles as an afterthought.
He's almost asleep when he feels Spencer slide into bed next to him. Brendon lifts his head a little and Spencer shoves a pillow at him, and then they both scoot until Spencer is spooned up behind Brendon.
"Thanks," Brendon says.
Spencer kisses his shoulder in response, and Brendon falls asleep.
Brendon wakes up with Spencer pressed against his back. It takes him a few foggy seconds to remember where he is and why he's there -- and then he promptly freaks out.
He can't stop his mind from bringing up all the different ways he might have just permanently fucked up his relationship with Spencer. Brendon only wishes he'd had this much sense last night. He feels hot and stifled and on the edge of a full-blown panic attack. Sliding out of bed as carefully as he can, Brendon puts on his discarded underwear and pads across the small room in an attempt to find his pants.
He ends up sliding into his slacks from the night before and grabbing a T-shirt off the floor that definitely belongs to Spencer, judging by the size. Brendon quickly slips out the door.
He's on a goddamn ship, so it's not like there are a lot of places Brendon can go. The ship isn't scheduled to dock for a few hours yet. He could probably avoid Spencer until then, but the idea of getting lost in some unknown country without Spencer is unappealing. He ends up wandering around until he finds a small bar on one of the upper decks. It's not even seven o'clock in the morning, but Brendon's feeling pretty crappy and he needs a drink. His head hurts and his chest feels so tight he's having trouble breathing. He'd like to be able to blame it on having had too much to drink, but he knows the nausea swirling around in his stomach doesn't have anything to do with alcohol consumption.
The bartender asks, "Did you want something?"
Brendon runs his fingers through his hair and says, "Hair of the dog that bit me?"
The bartender smiles, cocking an eyebrow while he waits for Brendon to decide. Getting drunk sounds really appealing. Brendon could do it. He could get shitfaced, stumble back to the room and try to forget he fucked one of his best friends last night.
"Maybe just water," Brendon says.
The bartender nods and fishes a bottle of water out of the small cooler behind him. Brendon sips at it as he feeds dollar bills into an electronic blackjack game and loses himself in the monotony of flipping cards on the screen.
His phone starts buzzing in his pocket, scaring Brendon enough to make him jump. Brendon laughs at himself as he pulls the phone out of his pocket. It's Spencer. Brendon was expecting him to call when he woke up and found Brendon missing, but he still feels sick with worry and guilt. He presses ignore and pushes the phone back into his pocket. Brendon knows delaying the inevitable is only going to piss Spencer off, but he doesn't know how to have that inevitable conversation yet.
The previous night had obviously been a mistake. Brendon is still kind of in love with Ryan...maybe, and Spencer is definitely on the rebound and straight. There's no doubt in Brendon's mind that last night was a mistake -- except that he doesn't want it to be.
Brendon drops a five-dollar-bill into the tip jar on the counter and walks around the ship some more. He thinks about going back to the room, fighting with Spencer and getting it all out in the open so that everything can be normal again.
He ends up in the ship's movie theater instead. He watches the last half of Yes Man and finds himself wondering when Jim Carrey's movie career turned to shit. When the credits roll, Brendon fishes out his phone and realizes that he has seven missed calls. He doesn't have to look at his missed call list to know they're all from Spencer.
He knows he has to go back to the room eventually. Part of him wishes he'd just stayed in bed with Spencer this morning and done what he really wanted to do. He could have woken Spencer up with his hands and lips and hoped for the best. If he had done that, at least he would already know if Spencer thought last night was a mistake. Instead he's hiding out and trying to ignore the ball of dread that's taken up permanent residence in his stomach. Brendon wonders if this feeling is some kind of punishment for making the same mistakes over and over again. Brendon can't seem to stop fucking people that are only meant to be his friends.
His phone rings again. Brendon pulls it out, thumbs the touchscreen and says, "I'm coming back. I'll be there in five minutes," and ends the call without waiting for a response. He thinks he's going to throw up.
The room is empty when Brendon gets back. He can't breathe. The rational part of his brain tries to tell him that Spencer couldn't have gone far because there's really nowhere to go. Unfortunately the rational part of Brendon's brain is practically nonexistent right now. He sits down on the edge of the sofa bed, puts his face in his hands and panics. The room is cold and he can't stop shivering.
He hears a door open. When he looks up, Spencer is leaning against the balcony doorway.
"Was it that bad?" Spencer asks.
Brendon can't tell by his tone if he's upset, but the stiff way Spencer's arms are folded across his chest and the way his mouth turns down are both good indications that he's furious. Brendon wants to get up and touch him, to soothe him in some way.
"I'm sorry," Brendon says. "I'm fucking everything up as usual."
"What are you sorry for?" Spencer asks. "Leaving? Not answering my phone calls? Fucking me in the first place? I need a little elaboration."
"You're mad," Brendon says. He can't stop looking at his hands. He's afraid to look anywhere else.
"I'm not mad," Spencer says, his voice suddenly soft where it wasn't before. "I just wish you had stayed and talked to me."
Brendon looks up again and immediately wishes he hadn't. Spencer doesn't look mad anymore. He looks hurt, and Brendon doesn't want to think about how he's the one that made Spencer look like that.
"I'm sorry," Brendon whispers. "I just got scared. I just -- what if we made a mistake?"
"Fuck you," Spencer snaps. "Now I am mad. You think we fucked up or that we shouldn't have slept together -- fine. I'll live with it, if that's what you want. But we've been friends too long for you to run away."
Shame spreads through Brendon. He can't look at Spencer anymore. He can't stand it when people are angry at him. "I'm sorry," he say to the floor. "Can't we just --"
"No," Spencer says, cutting him off as he steps into the room. He crouches down in front of Brendon, tipping his head to the side so he can look at Brendon's face. "We can't 'just,' Brendon."
"I don't know what to say," Brendon says quietly.
Spencer sighs. "You could look at me to start."
Brendon looks up and feels a little better. Spencer doesn't look so mad anymore. He doesn't exactly look happy either, but it's better. "I was afraid you were..." Brendon makes a frustrated noise. He misses being able to speak in complete sentences.
"You were afraid of what?" Spencer asks.
"You're not gay," Brendon says. "You're not gay, and what if...what if Haley comes back? What if you realize this was all a mistake and I end up right back where I started?"
"I'm not Ryan," Spencer says. "It would really be fantastic if you'd quit comparing me to him. I'm not going to fuck you up."
"He didn't mean to fuck me up, but he did. I loved him, and he kind of... Well, he used me to figure some shit out for himself. And you're just coming out of a three-year relationship with the first person you ever loved. The first girl you ever loved. I just don't want to be someone you're using to figure your shit out."
Brendon feels panicked again. He's not sure what he'll do if they've really fucked everything up beyond repair. Spencer is one of the most important people in Brendon's life. Brendon doesn't know exactly when he started needing Spencer. He just knows that he does.
"I've got my shit figured out," Spencer says slowly. "I want you. I told you I wanted you two days ago on some random street in Russia, and I'm telling you I want you now. I'll tell you tomorrow, too, if you want, and the day after that -- and twice on Sundays. Fuck, I'm not the one who ran away. If there's anyone who doesn't have his shit figured out yet, it's you."
"I know what I want," Brendon says. "I'm just scared that I can't have it."
"How about you try asking?" Spencer says. "I swear to God, you are the most frustrating human being on earth. I want you. I want you, and I'm not going to change my mind tomorrow, so if you could just figure out what you --"
Brendon slides off the bed, landing with his knees on either side of Spencer's legs. He kisses Spencer hard, cutting him off mid-sentence. When he pulls away, they're both breathing hard. "I'm sorry," Brendon says one more time.
"You don't need to be sorry," Spencer says.
Spencer leans in to kiss him. The whole situation -- Spencer, sex, sex with Spencer -- is so weird that Brendon can't stop the high-pitched laugh that escapes him. He doesn't know where it comes from, but it's so close to a giggle that his cheeks immediately flush with embarrassment.
Spencer leans back and laughs, but Brendon gets the distinct feeling that this time he's laughing at Brendon instead of laughing with him.
"What was that?" Spencer asks.
"Shut up!" Brendon says. "I'm really fucking nervous."
Spencer snorts loudly, but he kisses Brendon again. "And here I thought you were supposed to be some kind of sex-symbol," he says.
"Whatever," Brendon says. "You know I'm a complete mess. I'm just good at faking it now. Gotta impress the ladies."
Spencer shakes his head. "You've never impressed any ladies, Bren," he says sadly.
"Whatever." Brendon laughs again, but this time it feels loose and relaxed. "I've got skills. I bet I can make you scream."
"Brendon," Spencer says gruffly, a warning.
Brendon kisses him again, putting himself more properly in Spencer's lap while he's at it. He's still nervous and freaked out. He doesn't have any idea what's going to happen tomorrow or when they get back to California. He doesn't know what they're going to tell Ryan -- or if Spencer has even thought that far into the future -- but Brendon's done worrying about it. Right now, Spencer wants Brendon and Brendon wants Spencer, and it's enough. Brendon is going to let it be enough.
"I think we should have sex now," he says. "I promise not to freak out this time."
Spencer says,"You said that last time."
"Right, but this time I mean it."
Spencer snorts and rolls his eyes, but he leans forward and presses a kiss to the side of Brendon's mouth. He taps his fingers against Brendon's hip.
"Stand up," he says.
Brendon slides out of Spencer's lap and kneels in front of him instead, pressing his back against the foldout couch. "You stand up," he says.
"I want to --"
Brendon stops him with another kiss. "I said I was going to make you scream. You should let me try."
Spencer is flushed, his breath coming in stops and starts. He scoots back and stands up unsteadily. Brendon runs his hands up over Spencer's legs, hooking his thumbs in the elastic of Spencer's sweat pants and briefs. He goes tortuously slow, dragging the pants and underwear down over Spencer's hips and letting them fall around his ankles. He kisses Spencer's hip, nosing through the hair above Spencer's cock and letting his breath ghost over the head.
Spencer threads his fingers through Brendon's hair and pulls, and Brendon laughs open-mouthed against his thigh, nose pressed up against Spencer's skin.
"You can get started any time you want," Spencer says, nudging his hips forward so that his cock bobs against his stomach.
"Patience," Brendon says, biting into Spencer's leg lightly before taking his cock into his mouth. He wraps his hand around the base of Spencer's shaft, licking and sucking at the head, teasing Spencer. He wants Spencer worked up and crazy. Brendon wants to make this good.
He wraps his mouth all the way around Spencer's cock and sucks, pushing his tongue against the underside and trying to make his lips tighter as he goes down. The angle is weird; it makes taking any kind of control out of the question. Everything gets wet and messy pretty quickly, and Spencer keeps pulling Brendon's hair, tightening his fingers the harder Brendon sucks.
Brendon finally gives up and relaxes his body, tilting his head back until he can see Spencer's face. Spencer watches him, eyes glued to Brendon's mouth where it's wrapped around his dick. Brendon doesn't want to stop sucking Spencer, not even to communicate what he really wants. He pushes his head back against Spencer's hand and opens his throat on Spencer's next thrust, hoping Spencer will catch on and give Brendon what they both want.
Spencer groans as Brendon swallows around him. He puts his free hand under Brendon's chin and tilts his head back further which makes it even easier for Brendon to swallow around his next thrust.
"Fuck," Spencer says. "You're so..."
Brendon sucks harder and grazes his bottom teeth against Spencer's cock as he pulls out. Spencer hisses, his hips picking up speed as he holds Brendon's head between his hands. Spencer's thrusts get shorter and sloppier the closer he gets to orgasm, and it makes breathing kind of difficult with Brendon's head tipped back this far. Brendon takes short breaths through his nose when he can and puts the rest of his focus on Spencer's cock in his mouth.
"Jesus Christ," Spencer says.
Spencer's voice sounds trashed, gravelly and raw. Brendon thinks his voice will probably sound worse when this is over with. He swallows around Spencer on the next inward thrust, and Spencer shouts and comes down Brendon's throat.
Brendon has his hands on Spencer's hips. He uses them to guide Spencer down until they're both kneeling on the carpet. Spencer leans forward and rests his head against Brendon's shoulder. Brendon pets his head gently until Spencer recovers from his post-orgasm high.
"I told you I could make you scream," Brendon says smugly.
Spencer lifts his head and smirks, reaching between them to palm Brendon's cock through his pants. "Now let me return the favor," Spencer says.
"Well," Brendon says, as Spencer puts his hand down the front of Brendon's pants. "Fair is fair."
They spend the entire day in bed. Every time Brendon moves, some muscle he didn't know he had screams in protest. Brendon hasn't been this aware of his own body since the early days of touring, when they had to move their own equipment every night after the show.
During their third round of sweaty sex, Brendon's thighs are so sore he can barely hold them up against Spencer's sides. Spencer pushes into him slowly, smiling when Brendon grunts and reaches up to dig his fingers into Spencer's shoulders.
"Do you think we can say we've been to Estonia if we don't actually leave the room?" Spencer asks, rolling his hips forward again and again.
"I hate you," Brendon says, dragging in a ragged breath.
Spencer pulls out and thrusts back in hard in answer, smiling wider when Brendon can't hold back his moan. Brendon digs his fingers harder into Spencer's shoulders. His nails bite into Spencer's skin and Brendon thinks he might like leaving small marks that he can run his tongue over tomorrow.
Spencer's thrusts come faster and faster, and Brendon feels like he can't breathe.
"You do not hate me," Spencer pants, and Brendon can't really argue with him. Whatever Brendon's feeling is pretty much the farthest thing from hate.
Spencer comes first, pulling out before he fists Brendon's cock with a quick twist of his wrist. Brendon follows shortly, his toes curling into the mattress. They're both covered in come and sweat, and Brendon's lost count of how many orgasms they've each had or how long they've been at it.
Spencer pulls Brendon close, draping an arm over his middle and spooning up behind him so that his cock presses firmly against Brendon's ass. Spencer's soft right now, but Brendon wonders how long that's going to last. Brendon is already thinking about the next time, even if his body hasn't caught up yet.
"We should fuck in the shower," Brendon says.
Spencer laughs against his shoulder. "And then we should get dressed and get food."
Brendon twists around and throws his leg over Spencer's hip.
"If we get room service we don't have to get dressed," he says practically.
Spencer kisses him slowly, with a lot of tongue. "Hi," he says when they break apart.
"Hi," Brendon says, smiling widely because he's pretty fucking happy right now and he figures Spencer should know.
"Hi," Spencer says again. "You're very tempting, but we're not spending our entire vacation in this room."
"Why not?" Brendon asks. He pouts a little.
"We're already going to have to Google Estonia and make some shit up to tell our parents," Spencer says.
"True." Brendon reaches down between them to cup Spencer's cock.
Spencer makes an interested noise and tips his head back, exposing his throat to Brendon's mouth. Brendon takes the opportunity to scrape his teeth over Spencer's pulse point. He can feel Spencer's heartbeat fluttering under his lips.
"We have a day at sea tomorrow," Spencer says.
Brendon hums against Spencer's throat and keeps playing with Spencer's cock, stroking him gently until he starts to get a response.
"Shower?" Spencer asks, wrapping his fingers around Brendon's wrist to stop him.
Brendon smiles wickedly, smacking a kiss to Spencer's cheek and rolling away to fall off the other side of the bed. He feels good in his skin, used and sore and sexy because of the way Spencer's eyes follow him across the room.
"You coming?" he asks, leaning against the door frame to the bathroom.
Spencer sits up and slides out of bed, smiling in a way that makes Brendon's blood hum under his skin. He presses Brendon up against the door and kisses him, slow and steady. Brendon feels lulled, relaxed and happy and hornier than he should, considering the marathon sex they've been having all day.
When Spencer slides to his knees Brendon doesn't complain. He just threads his fingers through Spencer's hair and holds on. They make it to the shower eventually.
They start their first complete day at sea with early-morning hand jobs and one of the longest make-out sessions of Brendon's life.
They have to stop eventually. "I'm hungry," Brendon whines.
They get dressed and grab breakfast before setting out to explore more of the ship. Brendon wants to swim and it's still early enough that the pool isn't packed with bodies yet. They go back to the room and change into their swim trunks, and then they go swimming until Brendon's fingers get pruny.
Spencer insists on showering after that.
"You're so weird about your hair," Brendon says.
"It's salt water," Spencer says, frowning. "You can't possibly be comfortable with feeling gritty all day."
Brendon shrugs, dropping his swim trunks in a soggy pile on the bathroom floor. He can feel Spencer watching him, and his skin heats under Spencer's gaze. Brendon remembers this. He remembers the giddy rush of wanting that is a part of starting something with a person you really enjoy.
When Spencer moves toward him, Brendon holds up his hands playfully, pushing them against Spencer's chest to block his way.
Spencer keeps walking them backwards until he has Brendon pinned against the wall, kissing him firmly. Brendon's lips hurt from the force of the kiss, but he cups the back of Spencer's head and opens his mouth, kissing back just as hard.
Spencer tears his mouth away and they're breathing together.
"This is crazy," Spencer says. "I want you all the time."
Brendon says, "Me too. Why are you still wearing pants?"
Spencer laughs as Brendon hooks his thumbs into the waist of his swim trunks and pulls.
Eventually, Spencer gets his shower and afterward, Brendon drags him to the little movie theater on deck three. They make-out through an entire Adam Sandler movie and Brendon even manages to get his hand down Spencer's pants. He watches the way Spencer bites his fist when he comes, hoping that the three or four other people in the rows in front of them don't notice what's going on.
One of Brendon's greatest fears is that sex is going to change things between them. Sex obviously complicates things, but Brendon really likes Spencer. He doesn't want to wake up one day and find out that sex has irrevocably changed the way they relate to one another. He still wants them to be Spencer and Brendon.
Spencer alleviates his fears when they get to Amsterdam.
"I am so ready to go out and get fucked up," Spencer says, and while Brendon's a little irritated that Spencer values Amsterdam weed more than sex with Brendon, he's also excited by the idea of them going out and being normal with one another.
"I say we get baked, go find some food and then get baked again," Brendon says.
"Sure," Spencer says, "but we have to go the Red Light District. You can't go to Amsterdam and skip the naked girls and the sex shops."
"We need condoms anyway," Brendon says.
Brendon's not above being smug about that fact either. He's felt this giddy pressure in his chest for the past two days, a combination of being well-fucked and happy in a way he only remembers being once before this. Brendon is starting to wonder if it's only possible for him to fall in love with the people in his band -- and what Jon might think about that theory.
Brendon leans into Spencer for a moment, laughing against his chest. Spencer's hands slide warmly against his back, rubbing circles and applying just enough pressure to pull Brendon closer.
"What's so funny?" he asks.
"Nothing," Brendon answers. "I was just thinking about Jon. I miss him."
Spencer pushes him away, pulling on the ends of Brendon's hair and tilting his head back that way. He peers down into Brendon's face. Brendon pushes up on his toes and kisses him.
"We should go," Brendon says.
"We should call Jon tomorrow," Spencer says. "We're stuck on the boat again. We might get bored."
Brendon kisses Spencer until he pulls Brendon close again, tightening his grip.
"I don't think we'll get bored," Brendon says.
Brendon could probably get a contact high just from sniffing the air in this coffee shop. It's close to the Red Light District and more and more tourists keep pouring in. Spencer nudges Brendon with his elbow and hands over the menu.
"Which one do you want to try?" Spencer asks.
Brendon taps his finger against one of the choices. "If we're going to walk around the Red Light, I don't want to be too fucked up," he says.
Spencer looks at him a lot while they smoke. Brendon feels good, loose and relaxed. Maybe a little giggly. It's drizzling outside, a miserable and gray day, but Brendon doesn't think he'd mind walking around in it.
"Wanna go kiss in the rain?" he asks.
Spencer blinks, rolling his shoulders up toward his ears. "Sure," he says, grabbing Brendon's hand.
It's more of a cold drizzle than actual rain, and Brendon likes the way the mist clings to Spencer's hair. It's possible Brendon is very high.
They kiss until Brendon's shirt feels damp and starts to stick to his skin, standing in the middle of the sidewalk so that people have to skirt around them to get by. Brendon likes that no one pays much attention to them. He likes that any glares they get are due to the fact that they're blocking the flow of traffic and not because they're two dudes making-out in the middle of the day.
Brendon tips his head back to look up at the sky and says, "Let's go look at porn."
Spencer sucks lightly against Brendon's neck before he lifts his head and smiles at Brendon. "Okay," he says.
"You're cute when you're high," Brendon says.
"It's a tragedy you didn't notice sooner," Spencer says. "Think of all the hot sex we could have been having."
Brendon's stomach twists. It isn't like anything he's ever felt before. He's never wanted anyone this much and been completely sure they wanted him, too. It's like being picked first in gym class -- that all-encompassing moment of joy when you realize you've been chosen over everyone else.
Brendon kisses Spencer softly, running his fingers through Spencer's damp hair. "I..." he starts, stumbling over his own tongue. He twists his fingers, tugging and twisting Spencer's hair through his knuckles.
Spencer doesn't say anything. He doesn't give Brendon any way out of finishing that sentence, and Brendon's only other option is to turn away and leave everything unspoken and awkward. Brendon could tell Spencer he loves him and it could be okay. He doesn't think Spencer would freak out, but there's still a possibility that he might.
Brendon has said it before. He can't think of any particular moments, but he knows there have been post-show high confessions or drunken slurring in Spencer's ear as they stumble back to their bus. Saying it now wouldn't be anything like those other times. Brendon really doesn't want to fuck anything up.
"I'm really happy," he says instead, stepping closer and resting his head against Spencer's chest. He hides his face.
Spencer says, "Me too."
Brendon sneaks out of bed and leaves a note -- BRB, needed some fresh air! -- before he goes wandering around the ship. He's barefoot and wearing a pair of Spencer's flannel pajama pants with one of his own T-shirts. It's cold out on the deck, but the air feels good. The bite of the chill clears Brendon's head.
He has a pack of cigarettes and his cell phone with him. There are still people milling around the ship even though it's late. They won't reach their docking point until mid-morning tomorrow and a lot of people are using it as a free pass to stay up late and party.
Brendon lights a cigarette and makes a call.
"Hey there, stranger." Jon answers almost immediately.
"Yo," Brendon says, smiling like an idiot. "What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to convince Ryan to have some dinner with me before I head home tomorrow, but he's been uncooperative so far."
"You're in California?" Brendon asks. "How are my dogs?"
"We're at Ryan's place. He has two lamps, a coffeemaker, one coffee cup and three blankets," Jon says. "There's been a lot of snuggling. I miss Cassie and my bed."
Brendon laughs nervously, flicking his cigarette and watching the end glow brightly in the dark. "So Ryan's place is ready, I guess," Brendon says.
"Yep," Jon agrees. "He just moved in two days ago and was nice enough to invite me to come suffer with him. So what are you two up to? How's Spencer?"
"Umm, he's good. We're both good," Brendon says. "We just did Amsterdam yesterday, and I think we're in Scotland the day after tomorrow." His chest feels tight, like he's holding all the things he wants to say inside of himself and they're all fighting to get out, trapped somewhere between his throat and his rib cage.
"That sounds like fun," Jon says. "You better be taking pictures."
Brendon doesn't think they've taken a single photograph since the beginning of the cruise. At least they haven't since they started whatever it is they're doing. Brendon hasn't been able to think of anything but Spencer for what feels like weeks.
"I'm sleeping with Spencer," Brendon says and then realizes that might not mean anything to Jon with their band being what it is. "I mean we're...Spencer and I are sleeping together."
Jon doesn't say anything. Brendon's palms start to sweat.
"We're having sex," he says because apparently he just keeps talking when he's nervous.
Finally, Jon says, "Yes, I got that. Ryan's asleep on the couch. I had to move into the bathroom."
"You can't tell him," Brendon says. Panic makes his pulse race until all Brendon can hear is a dull throbbing in his ears.
"I'm not," Jon says. "But you should... or Spencer should. Fuck."
"I think," Brendon says. "We're not... I don't think we're going to stop when we get back."
"Okay," Jon says. He doesn't sound like everything is okay though.
"I'm sorry," Brendon says.
"For what?" Jon sounds cranky. His words are clipped and short.
"I'm always fucking everything up," Brendon says. "I'm not trying to mess up the band."
"Is this about Ryan?" Jon asks.
Brendon pulls his phone away from his ear, shooting it a confused glance before he remembering Jon can't actually see him. He brings the phone back up to his ear. "What?" he asks.
"You sleeping with Spencer," Jon clarifies. "Does that have anything to do with Ryan?"
"No," Brendon says vehemently. "It's about Spencer."
"Then you're not fucking anything up," Jon says. "The band will be fine."
Brendon takes a deep breath. "He's going to be mad."
"He'll get over it. He loves you both," Jon says. "You should tell him, though. Sooner rather than later."
"I'll talk to Spencer about it," Brendon says. "He's better at handling Ryan."
"Maybe it's because he's figured out Ryan doesn't need handling," Jon snaps.
Brendon winces, curling his fingers tighter around his phone.
"I'm sorry," he says automatically.
Jon sighs. "Brendon, stop," he says. "I wish you would just...You know we're not going anywhere, right? Like, even if the band just ended right now? We would still get together and get high and eat hot fries and sleep on each other's couches and watch Strange Brew on repeat. You're my best friend. You and Spencer and Ryan are my best friends."
Brendon wonders about that sometimes. He thinks about what his life was like before the band and wonders what it would have been if he hadn't had the chance to make music with the band. Sometimes it's hard to know whether people want you because of who you are or what you can do for them.
"I know," Brendon says.
"I'll remind you of that every once in a while," Jon says. "Just in case."
"Okay," Brendon says. "Thanks for talking. I just needed... I'm glad you picked up your phone."
"Anytime," Jon says. "That's what friends are for."
Spencer's shoulders are turning pink even though the day is overcast and gloomy. He's sprawled out on a deck chair. Brendon watches Spencer sleep until it looks like he's going to burn, and then he presses his beer bottle against Spencer's arm.
Spencer cracks one eye open and glares. "That's cold."
"No shit, Sherlock," Brendon says. "You're burning. We should go inside."
Spencer smiles, amused and a little devious. "Are you trying to say I'm hot?" he asks.
Brendon's still surprised at how easy this has been. He's never been with someone he wasn't instantly attracted to when he first met them. It's not that Brendon hadn't thought Spencer was hot at the beginning of their friendship, but Brendon had always had a hard time seeing anyone whose name wasn't Ryan Ross.
Brendon has always appreciated Spencer in the same way he appreciates Jon or any other friend he's had who is hot and easy on the eyes. Brendon just never thought anything would happen between them. Now it's like he's never thought of Spencer in any other way. He can't stop looking at Spencer, wanting to touch him. Wanting him. Brendon hasn't been this constantly turned on in a long, long time.
"You are hot," Brendon says.
Spencer rolls over, sitting up on his lounge chair. His knees bump against Brendon's knees as he turns to face him. They grin at each other until the sun suddenly breaks through the clouds. Brendon squints.
"Where are our sunglasses?" Spencer asks.
Brendon thinks they're probably buried under a pile of clothes back in their room. They haven't seen much sun lately. They haven't left the room as often as Brendon anticipated.
"Come here" Brendon says.
Spencer leans forward obediently, smiling against Brendon's mouth. "You should take me back to the room," he says, kissing Brendon's answering smile.
Brendon bounces up, holding his hand out to help haul Spencer to his feet. Spencer doesn't let go of his hand when they start walking. It makes Brendon smile wider, leaning into Spencer, bumping their hips and shoulders together.
"I was thinking we could go out on Saturday," Spencer says. "We can have dinner in Dublin, maybe even get a hotel or something."
Brendon stops, letting go of Spencer's hand as Spencer keeps walking for a few steps.
"Saturday is Valentine's Day," Brendon says slowly.
Spencer quirks an eyebrow, tucking his thumbs into his front pockets.
"Yeah?" he says.
"You want to have a romantic dinner in Dublin on Valentine's Day?" Brendon asks.
"We could pretend this is just a vacation fling if that's what you want it to be," Spencer says. "I'm not going to make things awkward, and I'm... I like you enough to just be your friend if that's all you want. But I'm not going to do that until I tell you that I want us to be more. I really like you."
"I like you too," Brendon says softly.
"You're one of my best friends," Spencer says. "Plus you have good taste in TV shows and you give great head. It shouldn't be surprising that I want you to be my boyfriend."
Brendon can't even laugh at Spencer's attempt to be funny. All he can hear is the word boyfriend repeating over and over again in his head. Brendon hasn't been anyone's boyfriend in years. Part of the reason is that some small portion of his brain has been holding out hope that Ryan will come to his senses, but the bigger part figures he just isn't very good at being someone's boyfriend. First he fucked things up with Audrey, and then with Ryan. Clearly relationships just aren't Brendon's forte.
Brendon takes a step back. Spencer's hands finally fall away, and Brendon wraps his arms around his own middle. "You want me to be your boyfriend?" he asks.
Spencer holds his hands out, palms up, and rolls his eyes in frustration. "We're on a ten-day cruise around Europe that happens to coincide with Valentine's Day. Please tell me you haven't totally missed my awesome seduction," he says.
Brendon's heart is beating super fast. It's like a train is rushing past him, and all he hears is white noise in his ears.
"Did you...You totally planned this didn't you?"
Spencer's eyes go flat, his mouth thinning out. "Well, I didn't hit you over the head with a club and drag you back to my fucking cave, but I was hoping. I thought maybe if I... I hoped that if you came with me. You're making it sound like I tricked you or something. If you don't want to --"
"I don't think you tricked me," Brendon says, closing the distance between them. He wraps Spencer up in a hug because Spencer looks like he needs one and Brendon just wants to touch him, to put his hands on Spencer's back and know he's there.
Spencer relaxes against him. The hallway is air conditioned and Spencer's skin feels rough with gooseflesh. Brendon rubs his hands over Spencer's back.
"I'm cold," Spencer says. "We should head back."
Brendon knows Spencer means they should go back to their room, maybe put some clothes on -- or possibly take their clothes off -- but Brendon's mind automatically thinks back to California, back to Ryan and all the things they've managed not to say while they've been on the ship.
Brendon doesn't want to ruin the time they have left by talking about things they don't have to deal with yet. He'd like to go on pretending that there isn't a world outside of the one contained on the cruise ship, but they've both got the band and their careers, and he knows they can't keep their heads in the sand for much longer. It feels like the moment right before you pull off a Band-aid.
"What are we going to tell Ryan?" Brendon finally asks.
Three girls come out of the elevator and start walking down the hallway toward them, snickering behind their palms when they notice them. Spencer and Brendon are still hugging each other loosely and Brendon's forehead is pressed against Spencer's bare shoulder.
Spencer rolls his eyes at the girls. He steps away from Brendon, takes his hand and starts down the hallway toward their room. Once they're inside and the door is closed behind them, he turns back to Brendon and grabs for the hem of Brendon's T-shirt.
"Telling Ryan means this is more than a fling," Spencer says, pulling Brendon's shirt over his head. Spencer drags his own swim trunks off, too. He's standing in front of Brendon fully naked and it's distracting, but Brendon is also pretty annoyed by the insinuation that he would ever take anything between them so lightly.
"Do you seriously think I would risk the band or our friendship for a quick fuck in the middle of the Baltic Sea?"
"It doesn't have to be quick," Spencer says. He steps forward and pushes Brendon against the door, biting his earlobe briefly before kissing across his chin. Brendon can feel Spencer's muscles vibrating under his skin. He knows Spencer is furious, but he can't figure out why. Brendon's feeling pretty cranky himself, though, so he lets Spencer bite into his bottom lip when they kiss. It's a lot of teeth and the hard press of their tongues together. Brendon moans when Spencer pushes a knee between his legs, boosting him up a little.
Everything feels really good, but Brendon's never had a moment of doubt about the sex. The sex has been good from the get-go. The place he and Spencer seem to lose it is the communication, and Brendon doesn't want Spencer to have any doubts. He grabs Spencer's hair and pulls hard enough to get Spencer's attention. "This isn't a fling," he says fiercely.
He kisses Spencer again, harder than before, pushing Spencer back so he can drop to his knees. He presses his lips firmly to Spencer's hip and repeats, "This isn't a fling," before he takes Spencer's cock into his mouth.
Spencer winds his fingers through Brendon's hair, using his hold to tip Brendon's head back. Brendon lets him, opening his throat and allowing Spencer to fuck into his mouth. Brendon loves this: looking up at Spencer's face through his eyelashes, swallowing around Spencer's cock, breathing through his nose as best he can while he tries not to choke. Brendon's never objected to giving head, but he's never liked it this much, either.
He reaches down and works his hand into his own swim trunks, fisting himself as he works his tongue against the underside of Spencer's dick. Spencer comes in Brendon's mouth with a grunt, jerking himself as he pulls out. He gets come on Brendon's face, a warm streak across his cheek, and that's all it takes to make Brendon come in his pants.
Spencer lets out a huff of laughter and leans over to haul him up off the floor. They tumble together onto the mattress. Brendon kicks his swim trunks off, pushing them over the side of the mattress as he rolls toward Spencer.
It's cold in the room, but Brendon is sweaty. He likes the way the air conditioning feels against his skin. He thumbs one of Spencer's nipples, watching it harden before pressing his tongue against it.
Spencer hisses and tangles his legs with Brendon's. "This isn't a fling," he says.
"No," Brendon says. "Which means we need to figure out how to tell Ryan."
"I'll tell him," Spencer says, pulling Brendon closer and kissing him fiercely. "I wouldn't want the two of you getting any ideas."
Brendon rubs his cheek against Spencer's shoulder, looking at him intently. "He doesn't want me," he says. "I don't want him."
"Since when?" Spencer asks seriously.
There isn't a specific moment that Brendon can pinpoint. It's not like he can tell Spencer a story about waking up one morning and realizing he's no longer in love with Ryan Ross.
"Does it matter?" he asks. "I'm here with you."
"Anyway, he can't have you," Spencer says. "I'm calling no take-backs."
Brendon laughs and smacks Spencer's leg. "I'm not a piece of meat," he says.
"No?" Spencer asks. "What are you then?"
Brendon can't stop smiling. He wants to hold on to this feeling for as long as he can.
"Well, I'm a complicated dude," he says. "But you can just call me your boyfriend if you want."
Brendon's not a particularly romantic guy. He's never been the type that buys flowers or lights candles or expects that kind of shit from other people. Spencer, however, tends toward the romantic, and while it makes Brendon slightly uncomfortable, he's not about to kill Spencer's joy by refusing to let him splurge on a nice dinner and some champagne.
"It's a bullshit holiday," Brendon says. There are chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert. He takes a moment to choose one and pop it into his mouth.
"You aren't one of those cynical assholes who thinks it's all commercialized hype, are you?" Spencer asks, picking a strawberry out for himself.
"It is commercialized hype," Brendon says. "It's a holiday created to make people spend money. It has absolutely no meaning. Think about how much money people have spent on significant others they probably aren't even dating anymore."
Spencer looks at Brendon seriously and then leans across the table to kiss him lightly on the mouth. "In five years, I'm totally going to look back on this night and smile, whether we're together or not. It's about creating memories with the people that you love," he says.
"What if you don't love those people anymore?" Brendon asks.
Spencer shakes his head and smiles a little sadly. "Not possible," he says. "You can't love people in the past tense. You either love them or you never loved them at all."
Brendon says, "Wow, that's kind of--."
Spencer grins, his white teeth gleaming in the candlelight. His head is cocked to one side and he's looking at Brendon with affection written all over his face. The moment takes Brendon by surprise. Spencer looks kind of breathtaking, if Brendon's being completely honest, and Brendon realizes he'll probably always remember this moment too, commercialized or not.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?," Spencer says slyly. "I'm pretty sure I read it on a Hallmark card."
Brendon can't stop the burst of laughter that escapes him. A few people look up from their meals to see what the commotion is about. Brendon covers his mouth with his hand, trying to muffle the sound.
"You're such an asshole," he says, but he's still smiling.
"I don't remember that part being in the card," Spencer says. He's clearly having a lot of fun teasing Brendon.
Brendon balls up his napkin and throws it across the table. "I hate you," he says.
Spencer settles, looking across the table at him, his expression turning suddenly serious. "No," he says. "You don't."
Brendon swallows hard and lets Spencer reach across the table to take his hand.
"No," he agrees. "I really don't."
Brendon wakes up feeling warm. His muscles are sore. He blinks for a few seconds before he realizes his cell phone is ringing. He smacks at the bedside table until he finds his phone and thumbs the screen without looking at the number.
"Hello?" he says. His voice sounds scratchy with sleep.
"Hey," Ryan says. "I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm trying to get Spencer. He's not answering his phone."
Brendon sits up with his fingers in the sheets. His gut twists. Brendon is relieved when he realizes it's the guilt of keeping something from Ryan -- instead of something else.
"Is everything okay?" he asks. He can't think of a reason why Ryan would interrupt their vacation if it wasn't some kind of emergency.
"I know you guys are coming home soon, but I just -- is Spencer there?" Ryan asks.
"Yeah," Brendon says. "Yeah, man. Hang on."
Spencer's eerily quite the entire way to the airport. Brendon doesn't want to think about the money he probably shelled out to have their plane reservation moved forward a day. Brendon loses himself in the bustle of travel; the taxis, the shuttles and the bag checks. He tries to take Spencer's hand while they're waiting at their gate, but Spencer shakes him off and says he has to find the bathroom.
Their flight attendant is an overly-enthusiastic Irishman with a charming lilt. Brendon orders a Bloody Mary and elbows Spencer until he orders a coffee.
"Did he say what happened?" Brendon asks.
Spencer shakes his head and turns to stare out the window. The plane is completely surrounded by clouds. Brendon is annoyed that Spencer apparently finds the view more interesting than having a conversation with Brendon.
"He must have said something," Brendon tries.
Spencer snaps, "Jesus, fuck! He said he made a mistake and fucked everything up. Keltie called him a bunch of names, threw that fucking ring at his head, and packed up her shit and the dog and went to stay with a friend."
"Well," Brendon says carefully. "They do that sometimes, right? I mean, they kind of break up a lot."
"He's never called me before," Spencer says. "I don't know. This one feels different. Can we just... I don't want to talk about it anymore."
Brendon says, "Sure," and tries to take Spencer's hand again. He can feel Spencer's fingers tense up, but he doesn't pull his hand away. Brendon relaxes into Spencer, resting his head against Spencer's shoulder and promptly falls asleep.
He wakes up cranky when they switch planes. Spencer is still playing mute and Brendon's fine with it. He isn't in the mood to talk, anyway. The flight to LAX seems to take forever. Brendon accidentally falls asleep again.
Spencer wakes him up right before they land, looking tired and rumpled.
"Did you sleep at all?" Brendon asks.
Spencer shakes his head and reaches over Brendon to press the button on his arm rest, bringing his seat back to its full and upright position. Brendon wants to touch Spencer, run his fingers through Spencer's hair and soothe him, and maybe kiss him until he looks less tense.
Brendon doesn't know why he feels like he can't. It's almost as if leaving the ship broke some kind of spell that had been cast over them. Spencer feels distant, even though Brendon is sitting right next to him.
They make their way off the plane and stand awkwardly at baggage claim while the carousel goes round and round. When their luggage finally shows up and they reclaim it, they go outside and Spencer flags down a cab, handing Brendon's luggage to the cabbie.
"I'm going to get my own cab," he says. "I need to head over to Ryan's. You look tired. You should go home and get some sleep."
Brendon frowns, crossing his arms over his chest.
"What the fuck is going on?" he asks. "I slept on the plane. You should be the one going home to get some sleep."
"Ryan needs me," Spencer says flatly.
Brendon rolls his eyes and asks the cabbie to put Spencer's bags in the car as well. The man approaches the luggage cautiously, glancing between the two of them like he's expecting a fight to break out.
"Ryan needs his friends," Brendon replies. "Last time I checked, I was still one of them."
Spencer won't look Brendon in the eye and it's starting to piss him off. Brendon isn't above starting a screaming match on the sidewalk outside LAX, but he wants to avoid it if at all possible.
"Just get in the fucking cab," Brendon says.
Spencer looks furious, but he stomps around to the driver's side and slides into the backseat, slamming the door behind him. Brendon lets out a frustrated breath and opens his own door. He has no idea what bug has crawled up Spencer's ass, but he's ready to kick him in it if Spencer doesn't snap out of this mood soon.
When they get to Ryan's house, Spencer and Ryan retreat to Ryan's room almost immediately, leaving Brendon to explore the place on his own. It's a beautiful spot that backs up against a canyon. Brendon spends a good hour exploring the grounds around the house.
When he gets back, Ryan is making coffee in the kitchen. Brendon sticks his thumbs in his pockets and waits. He doesn't know what he's waiting for, but he feels like Ryan should get to speak first.
"You want a cup?" Ryan asks eventually.
Brendon nods. Ryan reaches up and pulls another mug from the cabinet. It says Florida on the side. Brendon's pretty sure he picked it up after the show they did in January. Ryan's made it a habit of buying a touristy mug in every airport they visit.
"I should have gotten you a mug at the Dublin airport," Brendon says.
Ryan shrugs and pours Brendon a cup. "You always were a selfish bastard," he says.
Brendon snorts and takes the cup Ryan hands him.
"Pot meet kettle," he says.
"You have a point."
Brendon sits down at the small kitchen table. There's a laptop open on the tabletop, as well as a plate littered with crumbs and a half-eaten bagel.
"Is Spencer sleeping?" Brendon asks.
Ryan sits down, too, nodding as he sips his coffee slowly. "He could barely keep his eyes open. I figured I should let him sleep so that when I get around to whining about my problems, I have his full attention."
"What happened?" Brendon asks.
Ryan looks away guiltily, setting his cup down on the table. "There's this girl -- Kate? You met her once while I was staying at your place."
"I thought the two of you were just friends?" Brendon says.
Ryan says, "We were!" He keeps staring at something over Brendon's shoulder like he's trying to avoid looking Brendon in the eye.
Brendon sighs. "You are the absolute worst at being friends with people," he says. "Everything ends in sex with you."
"I really don't think you have any room to talk right now," Ryan says knowingly.
Brendon chokes on his next sip of coffee. "Spence told you?"
"He told me before you left," Ryan says. "Well, he told me what he wanted. Your face just told me the rest."
"I'm not just having sex with him," Brendon says.
Ryan gives him a dubious look. Brendon can't really blame him; he's spent the last two years having meaningless sex with pretty much anyone he was even remotely attracted to.
"This isn't about you," Brendon says. "Not everything is about you."
"I know that," Ryan snaps. "I'm not a total narcissistic asshole."
"You kind of are," Brendon says. "But I like you anyway."
"At least one of my exes likes me," Ryan says.
"Well, you didn't cheat on me with a younger, blonder version of myself," Brendon says. "You also didn't give me a ring and promise me things."
"I asked her to take me back," Ryan says. "But I don't think she'll do it this time."
"Can you blame her?" Brendon asks.
Ryan looks away, guilt written clearly across his face.
"I love her," he says softly.
Brendon feels bad for Ryan. He knows Ryan didn't have the best examples growing up because his parents weren't the most affectionate people in the world. For all of the bad things that went down between Brendon and his own parents, Brendon has never doubted how much they love him. He knows Ryan spent most of his youth living with nothing but doubts. Brendon remembers the long nights in his first apartment, when he and Ryan used to share a shitty futon mattress and talk about the future.
"Spencer says once you love someone you always love them," Brendon says. "If that's true, it won't hurt to wait for her. Maybe she'll come around."
"I'm not very good at being alone," Ryan says.
"I think that's probably part of the problem, Ryan."
Ryan nods. He leans across the table and pecks Brendon's cheek lightly. "Thanks for listening," he says.
"You're my friend," Brendon tells him. "I'll always be here for you."
Ryan says, "I think Spencer's in love with you."
Brendon can't stop the smile that spreads across his face. "That's pretty convenient," he says, "since I think I'm in love with him, too."
"I guess it should go without saying that if you hurt him I'll have to kill you," Ryan says. "I'm saying it anyway."
"What if he hurts me?" Brendon asks. "I'm your friend too."
"Well, I can't kill him," Ryan says. "He's bigger than I am, for one thing."
"That is completely unfair," Brendon says. "You're showing favoritism."
"I'll tell you what," Ryan says. "I'll hide his flat iron, but if he starts to suspect me I'm going to have to throw the suspicion on someone else."
"Jon's always a good choice," Brendon says. "He has that innocent face."
Ryan laughs, full and happy. It makes Brendon feel accomplished and exhausted all at once.
"And on that note," Brendon says, "I'm going to go upstairs, crawl into your bed and fall asleep with my boyfriend." He gets up and stretches, groaning as his back pops.
"You better not have sex in there," Ryan says seriously. "I haven't even had sex in that room yet. I get to christen my own damn house first."
Brendon gives Ryan his most innocent look and starts walking toward the staircase. "I wouldn't dream of it," he says over his shoulder and laughs loudly when Ryan yells, "You better not!" down the hall.
Brendon doesn't know how long he sleeps, but he knows it's dark outside when he wakes up. He can barely make out Spencer's figure in the dimness of the room. Spencer might be looking at him, but Brendon can't really tell. He reaches over and turns the lamp on.
Spencer is sitting with his back against the headboard and his knees drawn up to his chest. He still looks a little tired, but the circles under his eyes have faded.
"You look better," Brendon says, sitting up and twisting to get out from under the covers. He gets up on his knees and crawls forward until he's close enough to kiss Spencer's cheek.
"You didn't have to stay with me," Spencer says.
Brendon can almost feel Spencer pulling away from him even though they're sitting right next to each other.
"What the fuck is going on?" Brendon asks. "You've been weird ever since Ryan called you on the cruise."
Spencer shrugs his shoulders uncomfortably. "I'm just -- I want you to know I was serious on the ship. It's okay if you just want us to be friends."
Brendon spends a few seconds feeling like he might puke before the anger kicks in and takes over.
"You just want to be friends?" he asks harshly.
"No," Spencer says. Then: "Yes. Look, I'm just saying that if you want to be friends, I'm okay with --"
"Fuck that," Brendon says. "And fuck you, too. I don't want to be your goddamn friend."
Spencer looks completely freaked out, but Brendon's angry enough not to care.
"I just thought...You know, Ryan's free now," Spencer says, getting up to pace around the room. "It's pretty much what you've been waiting for since we were in high school."
Brendon opens his mouth to deny that, but he can't. Up until ten days ago it was the truth and everyone knew it. Brendon's been waiting for Ryan to come to his senses since the day they broke up, and now Ryan's practically his for the taking. It's the most obvious conclusion for Spencer to reach. Still, Brendon thinks if Spencer's felt half of what Brendon's felt the last week, it shouldn't be a forgone conclusion.
The possibility that maybe Spencer hasn't been feeling the same way comes slowly, like a sunrise on a cold morning. Brendon doesn't think he's ever felt like this before. Everything hurts. He's starting to wonder if this is what it really feels like to have a broken heart. He thought Ryan had totally destroyed him, but that pain was nothing compared to this. Brendon feels like he's never going to be able to breathe again.
Spencer says, "I think I'm just going to --" and he opens the door and disappears down the hall, leaving Brendon standing in the middle of Ryan's room alone.
Brendon paces around for a few minutes before he storms downstairs and out of the house. He's already standing in the street by the time he remembers he doesn't have a car.
Ryan comes ambling down the driveway and asks, "Going somewhere?"
"Home," Brendon snaps. "Give me your car."
"I don't think so," Ryan says. "I wouldn't give it to Spencer, and I'm definitely not giving it to you. You're both idiots."
"He's the idiot. He doesn't want me," Brendon says, his voice cracking.
"Oh for Christ's sake, go find him," Ryan snaps. "I am actually brokenhearted right now, and if the two of you are walking around with your heads up your asses, no one will be able to focus on my pain. He went that way." He points down the path that leads to the canyon.
Brendon doesn't know if he should go or not. He doesn't know what he'll do or say if it turns out that Spencer really doesn't want him. But he knows he needs to find out one way or another.
He finds Spencer a ways down the trail. Brendon is sweating, his legs hurt, and Spencer broke his heart. All these factors have combined to make him very, very irritable.
"I don't want Ryan," Brendon says, completely skipping over pleasantries. He figures if Spencer is going to pulverize his heart, they might as well just get the whole thing over with. "I thought we figured all of this out on the boat."
Spencer doesn't look up. He has his knees pulled up to his chest and his head resting between them. When he talks he talks to the ground. "That was before. You've been in love with Ryan for as long as I've known you, and I just... I don't want to stand in your way. I want you to be happy."
"You're an idiot," Brendon says. "Were we not on the same vacation?" He wants to shake Spencer. He kind of wants to shake himself, too, for being too blind to see how freaked out Spencer's been about this whole situation. He's so used to Spencer being the person who has all his shit together and who has all of the answers that he forgets sometimes that they're both just twenty-one years old and stupid, fumbling through life together.
"I'm in love with you," Brendon says. "Just so you know."
Spencer looks up. His head jerks up so fast Brendon's surprised he hadn't given himself whiplash. He says, "But Ryan --"
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you I made the whole thing up," Brendon says, cutting him off. "I was in love with him for a long time, and now I'm not. I don't know when or where it happened. I can't give you some moment or say that I had a great revelation, but I don't want him. You're just going to have to trust me on that."
He sits down next to Spencer and leans against him, pressing their arms together despite the fact that they're both pretty sweaty.
"You're in love with me?" Spencer says. He sounds a little bit astounded. Brendon doesn't know what he's done to deserve that kind of reaction, but he plans on doing everything he can to make Spencer always feel that way about him.
"Yes," Brendon says. "Even though you're an idiot. I think I should get extra points for loving you in spite of your deficiencies."
"I just thought that since Ryan's free now you might --"
Brendon cuts him off with a kiss. Spencer slides his hands up over Brendon's back and clings to him, straightening his legs to give Brendon more room. "You're not going to change your mind?" he asks.
Brendon throws his leg over Spencer's lap and straddles him.
"You really need to learn to trust me," he says against Spencer's lips. "And anyway, you called no take-backs. I'm afraid you're stuck with me."
Spencer smiles and says, "I wouldn't have it any other way."