It's rain that finally pushes Brendon over the edge. Rain, and an empty fridge, and a pile of bills on the table in the kitchen that all seem be stamped unpaid in bold, red writing.
Brendon's been working all week and his job sucks, and Dave - Brendon's primary contact for weed - is on vacation, so he's stuck at home in his shitty apartment on a Friday night without even any weed to make it better, and there is rain coming through his window.
"I need a new place to live," he says to himself, trying to figure out how the rain is getting from the outside to the inside of his apartment when the window is supposed to be shut. The large gap around the seal seems to be the cause, and seriously, his a/c unit is fucked, there's rain coming in the window, he's broke and he hates his job. Everything fucking sucks.
He calls Brent.
Brent is back from college for the vacation, and he's a good guy. He's the one guy Brendon's kept in touch with from high school, which was a fairly miserable four years, up to and including the part where he came out to his parents and moved out of home when he was seventeen. His parents are pretty great, all things considered, but it's taken them three years to stop emailing him links to websites where stupid dudes with bad facial hair promise to cure him of his sins and turn him back to the side of the ladies. Brendon likes ladies, he just doesn't want to have sex with them, which is totally fine, because half the world is made up of men, and Brendon would like to have sex with them instead. Not all of them, obviously, but one or two of them might be nice.
Anyway, the point is, he's been in this apartment since he was seventeen, and it sucked when he was in high school, and it sucks even more now he's almost twenty-one and spending his days at the bookstore in the mall, straightening romance novels and trying not to get stuck working the register with the broken drawer, the one that keeps shooting out and hitting him in the stomach every time he presses the cash key.
He needs a new apartment.
"I need a new apartment, man," Brendon says, as soon as Brent picks up the phone. "There is rain in my apartment. I need the rain to be outside."
"Dude," Brent says, and he sounds fucked up, which is unfair. Brendon wants to be fucked up. "Dude. Come over and get fucked up."
"Okay," Brendon says, and grabs his jacket, and the umbrella with the giant frog eyes stuck on top that some kind customer left in the erotic fiction aisle and didn't come back to claim. Most of Brendon's sunglasses and umbrellas and gloves and scarves and hats come from the lost property closet in the bookstore. There's a single turquoise high-heeled shoe on the top of his fridge. It had clearly never been worn, and Brendon keeps his pens in it. Who loses a single new shoe in a bookstore and doesn't come back for it? "I'm coming right over."
Brent's basement is kind of awesome, Brendon thinks, a couple of hours later. He's sprawled on the couch, a slice of pizza sitting on his chest, and he's much happier now that he's not at home in his apartment watching the rain magically arrive on the wrong side of the window.
"I need a new apartment," Brendon says, for approximately the fiftieth time.
"I know," Brent says, from where he's lying on the floor, by the TV. "You said."
"How am I going to find the money for a new place?" Brendon complains, breathing a little jerkily so he can watch the pizza slice on his chest go up and down. "I have no money."
"You need a roommate," Brent says. "It'll be cheaper. Hey, my friend Spencer's looking for a place."
Brendon makes a face. He'd tried out for Brent's friend Spencer and Ryan's band in high school, but he hadn't made the cut, and a while later the band had split up when Ryan went off to college, anyway. "Yeah, no," Brendon says.
"Beggars can't be choosers," Brent says, solidly, sounding just like his mom. "I'll call him."
"He won't want to live with me," Brendon says, taking a bite of pizza. "But whatever, call him."
It turns out Spencer does want to live with him. Well, he probably doesn't, but he's pretty desperate, so he turns up at Brent's place with a bag of slightly stale donut holes and some more weed.
"They're selling my apartment block," Spencer says, stealing a piece of pizza. Brendon had been saving that piece of pizza. It had tons of pineapple on it, and Brendon loves pineapple on pizza. "Ugh, pineapple," Spencer says, and starts to pick it off and drop it in the pizza box. Brendon picks it up and eats it. "I need to move out by like, next Friday."
"There is rain in my apartment," Brendon says, miserably.
"Huh," Spencer says. "You want to look for a place? My job is shitty and I'm broke and my parents say I can't move home unless I go back to college, and I fucking hated college."
"I like getting fucked up," Brendon says. "My job's shitty too."
"Awesome," Spencer says. "Let's do this."
The first eight places are really shitty, and half of them look like rain being on the wrong side of the window is the least of their worries.
The situation is getting pretty desperate, and then Brent emails them both an advert that says, rooms available to Rent. In Converted house. Suitable 4 young professional couple. Contact marsha. No COBRAS allowed. previous applicants don't apply again.
The rent is really reasonable.
"No cobras allowed?" Brendon says. "We're going to die. What is this place?"
"We're going to be homeless if we don't," Spencer says, from where he's reading the backs of the harlequin novels in Brendon's bookstore. "Why did you give up your place before we'd found somewhere to move?"
"Because I can't afford to pay rent on two places," Brendon says, straightening the Regency romance novels even though he's already straightened them once this hour.
"I'll call Marsha," Spencer says. "I'll tell her that neither of us have any cobras."
"Slight problem," Brendon says, ignoring the frown his manager is giving him. "We're not a young professional couple."
"No," Spencer says, "but we are desperate. And desperate people can pretend to be anything."
"Huh," Brendon says. "Okay."
Marsha answers the door holding a bottle of wine, a carton of cigarettes, a lit cigar and wearing a housecoat.
"Hi," Brendon says, grabbing Spencer's hand, since Spencer is trying to edge away. "We're here about the apartment?"
"You're just in time," Marsha says. "Cigarette? Wine?"
"Sure," Brendon says. "We're a young professional couple."
"In need of rooms," Spencer adds, kicking Brendon in the ankle. "And at this point it's important to note that neither of us have any cobras."
Marsha looks confused. "That's nice," she says. "Come in and share the wine with me."
Spencer blinks. "Okay," he says, and follows her inside.
The apartment is really nice. Well, really nice on a scale that includes Brendon's current place and the either other shitty apartments they've seen in the last week. This one has a bedroom, a bathroom, a tiny kitchen and a living room space that totally has room for Brendon's guitars and Spencer's drum kit. The lack of a second bedroom is kind of a problem, but not one that Brendon's going to think too much about. He is desperate, and he needs to live somewhere, and the rent on this place is actually the same amount as the apartment he's currently living in, so sharing all the bills will make him actually rich. He can buy a Wii.
They share Marsha's wine and Brendon smokes more than he usually does, and then they watch Marsha have a very loud fight with her teenage daughter, and then she takes their cash and gives them the door keys and, well. That seemed a lot easier than it should have been.
It seems easy until they realize that Marsha has a key to their rooms and that now they've shared her wine they're supposed to be best friends.
"Huh," Spencer says. "Let's fix a bolt."
"We can't do that," Brendon says, dragging in three trash bags of his clothes in from the u-haul and dumping them on the floor by the window. "She's lonely."
"She's weird," Spencer says, in a low voice. "And why did you buy a futon? We're sharing a futon. What the shit."
Ah, yes. Brendon hasn't exactly given much thought to what pretending to be a young professional couple is actually going to entail, but what it will definitely entail is sharing a bed. With Spencer. Spencer, who is hot in a flawless, totally objective kind of a way, and is also hot in a Brendon-goes-weak-at-the-knees-when-he-smiles kind of a way too.
"I got it from a garage sale," Brendon says. "I was seventeen and furniture-less, stop complaining. You don't even have a bed. At least I have a new mattress for it." By new, he means two years old and kind of saggy, but at least it had been new. He'd used all his parents' Christmas money to get it, and it was his favorite purchase ever.
"My place was furnished," Spencer says, whose sole contribution to their shared furniture was a shabby old computer desk and chair, complete with shabby old computer, a toaster oven, a coffee machine and bizarrely, a juicer.
"Do you juice?" Brendon asks.
"Shut up," Spencer says. "I like to cook."
"Yes, I can tell," Brendon says, emptying a grocery sack of mismatched cutlery and wooden spoons into a drawer.
"Shut up," Spencer says, but there's no bite to it. "We have two televisions."
"We can put one in the bedroom," Brendon says. "We can watch TV in bed."
"Awesome," Spencer says, a little awkwardly, and disappears outside to get another trash bag full of one or other of their belongings.
"So," Brendon says, a few hours later, flopping down on to his saggy couch. "We're really doing this, then?"
"Looks like it," Spencer says, cracking open a couple of beers. He holds out to Brendon, and then clinks his own against Brendon's when Brendon takes it. "To our young professional couple relationship."
"To us," Brendon says, and wonders if either of them have actually thought about what they're doing for the sake of an apartment that has four walls and a roof and hopefully keeps the rain on the outside. They're taking up sharing a bed to keep their rent cheaper. "Is this going to be weird?"
"I had a roommate at college," Spencer says, shrugging. "No weirder than that."
"You weren't sharing a bed with your roommate at college," Brendon points out. He waits a beat. "You weren't, were you?"
"No," Spencer says, shaking his head. "Not my type at all. He was a total fucking dick, anyway, so even if he had been hot I still wouldn't have had sex with him."
"Okay," Brendon says. "Why did you leave college?" It's the question that's been bugging him for a while, since he's pretty sure that Spencer is a smart guy and Brendon would probably have loved to have gone to college and not spent the year he was eighteen making smoothies instead.
"Dunno," Spencer says, shrugging. "Well, yeah, I do know. I hated it. I missed my mom, and I thought it was going to be great because I was in the same place Ryan was, but Ryan just hung out with all these intellectual guys who talked about books and shit, and I just wanted to get fucked up and hang out. I was going to be an accountant, can you believe it? I fucking hate accountants."
"All accountants?" Brendon says.
"No," Spencer says, after a moment. "Just the one I was going to become." He shrugs. "I don't know. I got kind of depressed. It was pretty lonely."
"That sucks," Brendon says. He knows what lonely feels like. "Did you make any friends?"
"A few," Spencer says. "Nobody I keep in touch with."
"Maybe it was just the wrong major, or the wrong college, or the wrong time, or whatever," Brendon says.
"Maybe," Spencer says. "My mom and dad still don't get it. They're still mad I dropped out, think I've ruined my life. Stupid that I came back because I missed them and they won't let me live at home again, right? They think that if they just hold out a while longer I'm going to go back and magically love it."
"I'm sorry," Brendon says, and means it. His parents won't let him home again either. Well, they might. Brendon hasn't asked, and they haven't offered. They get on, now, and he talks to them pretty regularly, but there are some black holes in their relationship, things they talk around and don't go near, and Brendon's sexuality and him moving out when he was seventeen are two of those subjects.
"It's fine," Spencer says, but Brendon can tell a lie when he hears one. He tells enough himself.
"How about your job?" Brendon asks. He knows Spencer works in a call center by the mall. He's seen more of Spencer in the last two weeks than he ever has before, because Spencer drops in to see him in his lunch hour and hangs around after work so they could figure out moving and whatever. Brendon's always secretly had a love hate relationship with Spencer, because Spencer was the first guy that Brendon ever had a love at first sight ridiculous crush on, but then Spencer had come out to tell him that he wasn't in the band and that had been that, Spencer had crushed all of Brendon's teenage dreams. Stupid. Turns out they hadn't been looking for someone who could actually sing.
"It sucks," Spencer says. "Maybe I should look for a new one."
"Maybe," Brendon says. "Come work in the bookstore with me. They're hiring."
"Maybe," Spencer says. "You want some chips? I think I had some in that box I brought from the old place."
"Sure," Brendon says, and they put a DVD in and watch the first two Back to the Future movies back to back.
Sharing a bed is weird. Brendon's never really shared a bed. He's had sex, but he's never been in a relationship, and Spencer's the only person he's ever just slept beside. He thinks Spencer's as awkward as he is, both of them taking it in turns to slip into the bathroom to get ready for bed. Brendon stares up at the ceiling and blinks. He's suddenly very much wide awake.
"So," Spencer says. "This is weird, right?"
"Just think," Brendon says, "we are going to be so rich at the end of the month with all this money we're saving. We are going to have tons of money left over. What are you going to buy?"
"Nectarines," Spencer says, quickly. "I fucking love nectarines. And a knife. A good knife. I really love cooking."
Brendon snorts. "I'm going to buy new pillows," he says. His are floppy and thin and Brendon loves pillows. "And less ramen. I'm tired of ramen."
"Let's have ramen for two days a week instead of four," Spencer says. "Heaven." He grins, letting out a hiss of breath in the darkness.
"Scandalous decadence," Brendon agrees. "What are we going to have instead?"
"I'll cook," Spencer says. "I make awesome spaghetti sauce."
"I love spaghetti sauce," Brendon says.
"Me too," Spencer agrees, and when Brendon finally does fall asleep, it's to the sound of Spencer telling him his recipe.
Living together actually works. Marsha lets herself in sometimes, but she brings wine and cigarettes and stays to watch movies, so even though she's kind of a crazy lady, Brendon's glad of the company. He's been alone for so long that having Spencer and Marsha around is actually kind of a relief. Brendon thinks that Spencer and Marsha have been lonely too, so even though Spencer grumbles about their landlady having a key to their place, he never tells her to get out. He even makes her dinner, sometimes, and in return she brings pudding cups that remind Brendon of being a kid again.
Good as his word, Brendon brings Spencer an application form for the bookstore, and Spencer fills it in and gives it to Brendon to give to his supervisor, and then, three weeks later, Spencer starts working there. He works downstairs in the non-fiction section, whereas Brendon is upstairs in fiction - specifically romance and genre fiction, but Brendon mostly hangs out in the romance section - and everything's great until a couple of weeks later when some guy from the stock room that Brendon doesn't even know that well comes up and asks if Spencer's his boyfriend.
"Uh," Brendon says, since he is in fact part of a duplicitous young professional couple, but he wasn't sure the lie extended to their place of work. Until he spies Marsha over by the staircase, talking to Spencer and some other guy who works on Spencer's floor, and Brendon's left nodding and saying, yes, Spencer's my boyfriend as Marsha waves at him and beckons him over.
So there's that.
"You don't have to hide it, you know," the guy from the stock room says, one day when their break times coincide.
"Uh," Brendon says. "What?"
"You and Spencer," the guy says. Brendon peers at his name badge. Martin. "This is an inclusive work place," he goes on. "You two have been keeping it on the quiet, I can tell. And I'm the lgbt representative for the whole mall, you know, and I just wanted to tell you that you don't have to hide. You should come to one of our meetings."
"Um," Brendon says, since he lost the thread of this conversation a while ago, right about the time when it turned out that as well as pretending to Marsha that they shared a bedroom because there was some kind of sexing love going on, now they had to pretend at work, too. "Sure?"
"Awesome," Martin says. "Come along on Tuesday. Adrian from the Hallmark store is going to give a talk on inclusivity in greeting cards."
"Awesome," Brendon echoes, weakly, since the warm glow that he gets in his stomach every time he gets to pretend that Spencer's in love with him is somewhat marred by having to sit through a lecture on inclusivity in greeting cards.
Yeah, the way he felt about Spencer's general all-round hotness might possibly be sliding into that other territory, the one where Brendon started dreaming about co-parenting kittens and sharing kitchenware and holding hands at Pride. It is maybe a thing.
"Martin tells me we're going to an lgbt meeting about greeting cards," Spencer says, coming home at the end of his shift. Brendon's been home a couple of hours, and he's noodling about on his guitar, socked feet hanging off the end of the couch.
"He cornered me," Brendon maintains.
"Uh-huh," Spencer says. "I guess it might be fun, though."
"I guess," Brendon says, but he remains unconvinced.
"Have you eaten?" Spencer asks. "I got stuff."
"I like stuff," Brendon says.
"Good," Spencer says. "I'll cook."
"My parents want to meet you," Spencer says, on Sunday, dropping his phone down onto the couch.
Brendon plays a discordant chord on the guitar. "What?" he says.
"You're my roommate," Spencer says. "They want to meet you."
"Huh," Brendon says. "When?"
"Uh," Spencer says. "They're having a barbecue tonight?"
Brendon thinks about the ramen in their cupboards because it isn't grocery day until Wednesday. Spencer's obviously thinking the same thing. "Sure," he says. "Do we have to pretend to them, too?"
Spencer makes a face. "Please, no," he says, which is all very well until they realize that they do not in fact own a car between them and Spencer's mom has to come and pick them up, and then of course she demands to see around their place, and there is no way that either of them can hide the fact that theirs is a one-futon family.
"Well," she says, standing in the doorway to Brendon and Spencer's bedroom. "This is new."
"Uh," Spencer says. "See -"
"They're my young professional couple," Marsha says, from the doorway. She's wearing a kimono as a robe and smoking a cigar. Brendon hides behind Spencer to try and hide the fact that he's giggling.
"I'm Spencer's mother," Spencer's mom says, frowning. "I work at a doctor's office. Did you know passive smoking is dangerous?"
"That's a conspiracy by the government," Marsha says. "I have some rum upstairs. Who wants rum?"
"We're going to a barbecue," Spencer says, apologetically, which is approximately the same time as Marsha says, I'll get my coat. And the rum.
This does not, unfortunately, leave much opportunity for Spencer to explain to his family that his young professional couple relationship with Brendon is anything other than real, so he and Brendon spend the evening making up lies about how they got together, each one more ridiculous than the last. By the time they've created a getting-together story that involves salsa lessons, Brendon's great and abiding love for Spencer's juicing skills, and moonlit walks around lakes talking about philosophy, Spencer's mom is starting to look like she's walked into a parallel universe, and Marsha is watching them with stars in her eyes.
"Love's dead to me," she says, over the rum. "I made bad choices. But these two," she says, hooking her hand into Spencer's mom's elbow. Brendon has to squeeze Spencer's hand to keep from laughing, "these two are just going to make it, I can tell."
"What gave it away?" Spencer's mom asks, raising an eyebrow at Spencer. "Their combined love of juicing?"
"Who doesn't love a juicer," Spencer says.
"Exactly," Brendon agrees, trying to keep a straight face. He secretly loves pretending that he and Spencer are a couple.
"Hmm," Spencer's mom says. "Maybe you could go back to college, Spencer, and do some juicing for actual credits."
"Mom," Spencer complains.
"I'm just saying," she says. "You need a future."
"Who needs a future if you have love," Marsha says, loudly.
"You see," Spencer's mom says, meaningfully. "You need an education."
"Mom," Spencer says. "I hated college. I keep telling you that."
"He did," Brendon agrees. He's had a few beers too. "He was lonely. Now he's not lonely."
Spencer meets his gaze for a moment, and Brendon suddenly has difficulty swallowing, because Spencer's eyes are bright and clear and there's something measured there, too, something that make Brendon's fingers twitch and his stomach flip over.
"Yeah," Spencer says, still staring at him. "Now I'm not lonely."
It's the drink talking, or Marsha's infectious craziness, but whatever. Brendon can't look away.
"Oh," Marsha says, elbowing Spencer's mom. "You think they're going to get married? You'd be the mother of the bride."
Brendon snorts at the look on Spencer's face at being called the bride. "Do we both get to be brides?" he asks. "I'd look pretty awesome in a big floofy wedding dress."
"I want to wear the dress," Spencer says, faking a pout. "You never let me wear the dress."
"Boys," Spencer's mom says. "You're annoying your dad."
"He's inside," Spencer says. "He can't even hear us."
"Shut up, anyway," his mom says, and Brendon grins, imagining Spencer in a wedding dress.
"That could have gone worse," Spencer muses, a few hours later. They're watching Family Guy in bed, and playing cards.
"I liked the bit where Marsha sang Everlasting Love in the style of Martha Stewart," Brendon says. "I didn't even know that was a style."
"It is now," Spencer says. "Hey, you think we could get her to be our wedding singer on our wedding day?"
"Sure," Brendon says, without thinking. "She could compere, too, complete with cigar and housecoat. It'd be unique."
"Adrian from Hallmark could come and give a speech about the inclusivity of gay wedding cards," Spencer suggests.
"There better be a lot of beer at our wedding," Brendon says.
"Well," Spencer says. "Obviously."
So that's good, anyway.
Christmas is what fucks them up. Christmas, and a fuck ton of eggnog, and stupid fucking mistletoe in the break room at work, and the staff Christmas party and a fucking conga line.
Meggie and Paul from the general fiction section get it together approximately eleven minutes after the eggnog starts flowing, which is approximately four years and eleven months after they really should have gotten together, according to the bookstore's longest serving staff members. Mistletoe is procured, and all of a sudden there are people clapping, and chanting, and apparently all that anyone has ever wanted from life is Meggie and Paul to start kissing at the staff Christmas party. Even Brendon is accidentally infected with the one and only aim in life of seeing Meggie and Paul kiss, and he finds himself clapping along with everyone else as Paul lands a wet, noisy kiss on Meggie under a bunch of wilting mistletoe.
So of course, that's when Martin says loudly, "Meggie and Paul aren't our only staff couple, though, are they? And we're an equal opportunities workplace, aren't we?"
If Brendon had had any sense - and maybe about four glasses less eggnog - then he would have scarpered and hidden in the bathroom until the conga line started, but unfortunately he is hemmed in by the buffet table and Janet from the cash office, so all he gets to do is see his look of embarrassed horror reflected on Spencer's face across the circle as Martin looks reprovingly at everyone for only appreciating Meggie and Paul's Christmas making out. They, however, have disappeared to the bathroom, obviously for a spot of pre-Christmas meal discussion of serious matters, and not to make out without everyone else watching them.
"No way," Brendon says, firmly, over a smattering of confused catcalls. He has shared a bed with Spencer for four months now, and shared grocery shopping and played cards in bed and attended family barbecues and suffered drunken landladies, but there has been no kissing. There has been nothing but the fake, young professional couple front that they've put on for Marsha, and now for the bookstore, and it isn't like Brendon doesn't want to kiss Spencer, because he does - oh God, he really does - but he is aware that they are pretending.
He knows, if he has to kiss Spencer now, in front of all of these people, then he won't be pretending, not even a little bit, not even at all. He'll be doing it because Spencer is handsome, and hot, and accidentally his best friend, and because Spencer made it so that he isn't lonely anymore, and because he's in love with him, in a real, want this to last kind of way. He'll be doing it because he wants to.
He doesn't want to kiss Spencer like this.
He doesn't want Spencer not to want Brendon the way that Brendon wants him.
"No way," Brendon says, putting his hands up, even though Spencer's taken a step forward, rolling his eyes. "Spencer and me, we're no one's Christmas show. You will have to make your own entertainment."
He doesn't meet Spencer's gaze.
Later on, when the eggnog's finished and Brendon turns around to find Spencer, he's not there, and Brendon finds a message on his phone. Gone home. Couldn't find u 2 tell u. cu later.
Brendon feels a little bit like he's been punched in the chest, and he can't figure out why.
When Brendon gets home, Spencer is pretending to be asleep, curled up in their blankets on their futon. His shoulders are taut and he's not asleep, no matter how much he's trying to make Brendon believe that he is.
"You're not asleep," Brendon says. "How come you left?"
"Go away," Spencer says, without moving. "You woke me up."
"I can't have woken you up," Brendon says, "because you weren't asleep."
"Go away," Spencer says. "I don't want to talk to you."
"That's not very nice," Brendon says. "What did I do?"
"Nothing. I'm going to sleep."
"Fine," Brendon says. "So you won't want any of the pizza I brought home, then?"
Spencer rolls over. "You brought pizza?"
"With extra pineapple," Brendon says.
Spencer makes a face. "Evil," he says.
"Says the guy who left me at the Christmas party," Brendon says, easily, shucking off his jeans and burrowing into a shirt and a hoodie so he can sit up in bed. "Move, Spence, fuck. You're taking the whole bed up."
"Seriously," Spencer says, "I'm going to kick you in a minute." His shoulders are still tense.
"Tell Brendon what's wrong," Brendon says, in his most annoying voice.
Spencer just makes a noise that sounds like a growl and buries his face in his hands. "I am in a bad mood, okay? Really, stop teasing me, it's going to make me mad."
"Was it the eggnog? Does eggnog make you a bad drunk?"
"You make me a bad drunk," Spencer says, aggravated. "Fuck, Brendon, I hate Christmas parties."
"Huh," Brendon says. "Do you want to watch TV?" He feels like Spencer isn't mad because he hates Christmas parties. He just—this stems from the fucking kiss that wasn't, and seriously, Brendon has a ton of residual hatred for Martin right now, for screwing things up for him and Spencer. They've never fought before, not really. Over Guitar Hero and doing the dishes and whose laundry was whose - not that it mattered, not really - it all went in one bag and in one machine, but whatever.
Spencer shrugs. "I guess," he says, and Brendon flicks through the channels until he finds a canned laughter track, and then he stops channel surfing and starts eating pizza.
"Do you wish I'd kissed you, is that it?" Brendon asks, after a couple of minutes. "Did I screw up our young professional couple thing? Are you mad at me?"
"No," Spencer says. "It's not - I don't know. It's stupid. I'm stupid."
Brendon bumps his elbow into Spencer's. "It's not stupid. You're not stupid. Much."
"I don't know, okay," Spencer says. "I just - for a moment I forgot we were pretending, that's all. And then I felt stupid and I came home, okay. That's what happened."
"Oh," Brendon says, and looks down at his pizza.
"I'm going to sleep," Spencer says, when Brendon doesn't say anything. He switches off the lamp, and the TV, and leaves Brendon in the dark clutching a pizza box and staring at nothing.
Oh, Brendon thinks, and doesn't say anything.
Brendon wakes Spencer up by tapping his nose with a piece of cold pizza.
Spencer wakes up by punching Brendon in the side. "What the fuck are you doing?" he says, sitting up in bed.
"Waking you up," Brendon says. "I've got to ask you something."
"Who wakes someone up by hitting them with pizza," Spencer says, "what the fuck."
"Do you want some?" Brendon says, passing Spencer the pizza box. He'd eaten most of the pizza in the dark but there's still a couple of slices left, and he knows Spencer likes cold pizza.
"No," Spencer says, rubbing his eyes. "What time is it?"
"Don't know," Brendon says, helpfully. They don't actually have an alarm clock, and Brendon's phone is still in the pocket of his jeans over the other side of the room. "Are you sure you don't want any? I saved you some."
"Okay," Spencer says, after a moment. "I'm not forgiving you for waking me up, though."
"Will you forgive me for not kissing you at the party?" Brendon says, in a rush. "I'd kind of prefer you forgive me for that."
Spencer stills in the darkness. "What?" he says, softly.
"Am I getting this wrong?" Brendon asks. "You wanted me to kiss you, right?"
Spencer doesn't say anything.
"Because, okay, I really wanted to kiss you. I mean. I want to kiss you all the time, I just. I didn't want to kiss you in front of all those people I don't care about and then have to figure out that you were only pretending so we can keep this place -"
"Brendon," Spencer says. "Brendon, shut up."
"I got this wrong," Brendon says, in a low voice. He thinks he needs to go hide out in the bathroom or something. Maybe he can sleep on the couch. It's only tiny but he can fold up small.
"No," Spencer says. "No, you didn't get this wrong, I just—I don't know what to say."
"Oh," Brendon says. He feels tight inside, like he's been twisted up into too small a knot, and he can't breathe. "Can we be, uh, clear about what we want? Because I'm pretty sure that I'm confused and this is something I don't want to be confused about. You're someone I don't want to be confused about."
"Yeah," Spencer says.
"Why didn't I get into your band?" Brendon asks, out of nowhere. He's always wondered. "When we were kids. I don't know. It kind of - I really wanted to be in your band."
Spencer shrugs. "I thought you were hot," he says. "That fucked me up. There was some stuff going on in my head that I didn't want to deal with, and you were like, you made me breathless. Ryan thought you were a better musician than he was, and I don't know, it was his band. He wasn't sure, but he would have said yes, I think. I was the one who was trying to put off my huge gay freak out."
"Oh," Brendon says, in a small voice.
"I kind of wish I'd just had the guts to have my big freak out then. Things might have been different."
"I just -" Spencer says. "Are you going to punch me if I tell you I think I might be in love with you?"
Brendon's breath hitches. "No," he says. "I think maybe I'm just going to kiss you, though." He pushes the pizza box off the side of the futon. They can find the pizza slices in the morning.
"Okay," Spencer says. "Yeah, that would be—okay."
"Yeah," Brendon says, and it's dark, but he's used to the dark. He's been sitting in it for over an hour, just thinking. Building up the courage to wake Spencer up and tell him he's in love with him and he wants their fake young professional couple to be real.
Brendon reaches out, and touches Spencer's cheek. Spencer hisses in a breath, and closes his hand around Brendon's wrist. Brendon isn't sure who moves first but then Spencer's hands are on his face and the covers are down around Brendon's waist, and he's kissing Spencer, and Spencer's kissing him back.
It's vaguely off-center and kind of weird and pizza-flavored, but Brendon likes pizza, and he loves Spencer, and he's in love with what they're doing right now, so he slides his hands into Spencer's hair and shifts so that he's kneeling up, Spencer arching up against him.
When Spencer's hands slide under Brendon's hoodie, and curl into the hollow of his back, Brendon whimpers, pressing himself even closer to Spencer's chest. He's tired, and it's almost Christmas, and they have to work in the morning, but Brendon doesn't care.
"Is this -" he asks. "Are we doing this? For real? You and me?"
"Nobody else hits me in the face with cold pizza," Spencer says, rubbing his cheek against Brendon's shoulder.
"Dude," Brendon says. "That's like, love in some languages."
"It's love in this language," Spencer says, mouth pressed to Brendon's jaw.
Brendon lets out a breath. His heart's beating fit to burst. "I'm just -" he starts. "I want to hit you in the face with pizza forever, is what I'm saying."
"Well," Spencer says. "That's the kind of offer one half of a young professional couple just can't turn down."
"Awesome" Brendon says, breathlessly, and kisses Spencer again.
"I brought wine," Marsha says, pushing open their front door. "Oh, Christ," she says, because Brendon and Spencer are naked and kind of in the middle of something. "I'll come back in a while."
Brendon snorts, hiding his face in Spencer's shoulder. "Fuck," he says, once the door's closed behind her. "Now she's seen us both naked. You think she'll start knocking before she walks in, now?"
Spencer slides his hand over Brendon's ass, tugging him closer. Sex on their tiny couch is a challenge, but one they're both willing to work towards. "I think she'll stop knocking for good," he says, mouth against Brendon's. "I would, if I were her."
"You can see me naked anytime," Brendon says, letting Spencer kiss his way along Brendon's jaw. "That's kind of the deal. You don't have to walk in unannounced."
"Best deal ever," Spencer says, and tugs Brendon down onto the cushions. "Now, shut up and let me suck your dick."
"Okay," Brendon says, and does.