I keep thinking about, like, teenage Ryan, right? His dad's an abusive drunk, his mom is gone, all he has is Spencer. So he tells Spencer one day about this book he's reading about werewolves, and how he sort of envies them, because they have instincts and pack and they can smell where they belong, and that must be really nice, right? [But they are still humans, can still eat pizza and watch tv and stuff, so it's like the best of both worlds!!] And he writes a couple of songs that sort of might be about it.
Meanwhile, Spencer sort of has a crush on Ryan [and, whatever, they are best friends!!!] and wishes that he could give Ryan "pack" -- and when they find Brendon and their band really starts clicking, Spencer whispers to Ryan one night that it's almost like they have a pack now, isn't it, them and Brendon, right? Ryan gets annoyed, and thinks Spencer's making fun of him. but Spencer's serious, and he's all, what, do I need to bite you and make you submit so you get the idea?
Spencer is kind of kidding around with that, and is expecting Ryan to snap at him, but instead Ryan shudders and tilts his head back and shows Spencer his neck, and all Spencer can hear is his own heartbeat and Ryan's heavy breaths. Finally he bends his head and pushes his nose into Ryan's neck, scrapes his teeth over Ryan's throat, nips at his collarbone.
"Are we doing this?" he says shakily. "I mean -- are we --" Spencer has to stop and swallow hard, but he does best when he has rules to follow, and he doesn't want to make a mistake with Ryan, and he needs... he needs to know what Ryan wants so he can give it to him, just like always. "Are we doing this as us, or just as. Wolves."
It sounds so stupid when he says it out loud, but Ryan groans. When he opens his eyes, they're bright, and he's smiling. "I thought we were already doing this as us," he says, and pinches Spencer's hip. Spencer rolls them over and holds him down, closes his teeth over the end of Ryan's jaw, where it meets his ear and neck, digs in hard until Ryan goes limp under him, whimpering, hands twisting in the elastic waist of Spencer's pajama pants.
Spencer rubs off against Ryan, jerks off on Ryan's stomach, then makes Ryan come in his hand and rubs it into his stomach so Ryan smells like both of them.
For the next few weeks, sometimes they're just teenage boys making out, and sometimes they're wolves -- so it's really like they're really werewolves, they change and then change back, and Spencer's the alpha for sure, it wasn't even something they had to discuss. Ryan needs someone to protect him and push him around, someone he can belong to who won't ever let him go -- who won't ever let him push them away. Spencer's always been that person anyway, and now it's, like, codified. It's official.
But Spencer feels like there's something missing, and when they end up in Maryland, recording their album, nothing makes it clearer than the way Ryan and Brendon fight. They fight like they hate each other -- they fight like they love each other. They fight in front of Spencer like they're competing for his attention; they fight in front of Spencer like Ryan has to prove that Spencer's always going to pick him.
Spencer thinks a lot about that night in his bed, Ryan curled around him, when he pointed out that Brendon was part of their pack and Ryan didn't deny it. Maybe the problem is that Spencer isn't stepping up, isn't *being* the alpha.
Spencer is fucking exhausted -- Crush just dumped them there with no manager and no information, and more than half the time when Spencer answers the phone, it's someone who wants information he doesn't have and doesn't know how to get. He's guessing most of the time, faking it, deepening his voice and pretending to be someone else, pretending to be someone in charge.
"Fake it 'til you make it," Ryan whispers to him every time, and sometimes he draws an exclamation point on Spencer's wrist for him to look at and remember why they're doing this. But Spencer's still exhausted, and sometimes he slips into werewolf play without even realizing it. It's one of the nights when he's in werewolf play because it makes him feel stronger that he realizes that this is fucking bullshit.
He knows what he has to do, has known this whole time, and it's just the human part of him that's giving him problems.
And how fucked up is it that he thinks of himself as an actual werewolf now? Pretty fucked up, but he almost [definitely] doesn't even care.
The next time Ryan and Brendon start screaming at each other in the studio, Spencer calls for a time out -- Brent's out of the room and on his cell phone before Spencer even finishes his sentence -- and hustles them both into the green room, a kind description for a tiny room no bigger than a closet with a tiny couch and two vending machines. He shoves them each into a corner, sits on the couch, looks at Ryan, and says, "full moon."
Ryan falls to his knees immediately, doesn't even look at Brendon before he's crawling across the room to press his forehead against Spencer's knees and whine until Spencer pets his head. Then Spencer looks at Brendon.
"You're pack," he says flatly. "The problem is that you're not acting like it. Or maybe the problem is that we haven't told you it's okay to act like it."
Brendon looks scared, and the werewolf in Spencer likes that -- he should be scared, he should be showing his throat and crawling on his stomach and whining so Spencer can take control and pet him the way he's petting Ryan, show him and Ryan that they don't need to compete because Spencer's in charge, in charge in a way neither of them are.
"I don't," Brendon says. He slumps against the wall and then slides down it until he's sitting. His glasses are crooked on his face, and behind them, his eyes are half-closed, black and purple circles under them. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Spence."
"Ryan and I are werewolves sometimes," Spencer explains, realizing for the first time (1) how stupid that sounds and (2) that he'd assumed, for some reason, that Brendon knew. "And you're pack, and I'm the alpha, and you should --"
He falters at that, because, really, what the fuck are they actually doing? Brendon's looking at him kind of like he's crazy and kind of like this is everything Brendon's ever wanted, and before Spencer can finish telling Brendon what to do, Brendon's on his stomach, crawling across the floor just like Ryan had. He presses his forehead against Spencer's other leg, and Spencer starts to pet his head -- and then he pounces on Ryan.
He rolls Ryan over as much as they can in the tiny room, practically wiggling his ass like he really has a tail. He sniffs Ryan everywhere, scraping teeth over Ryan's skin, butting him with his forehead, petting him with the palms of his hands. Spencer's ready to intervene when he realizes that Ryan's not fighting him, but is rolling around back, whining happily and nipping at Brendon, wrestling him -- but not for dominance.
Because Spencer's the one who's dominant.
He gets down on the floor with them and grabs each of them by the shirt collar, and drags them to him. He sucks a mark onto Ryan's neck, right above his collarbone, and then turns to Brendon and does the same thing. Matching marks to show everyone they belong to Spencer. He scratches them both at the same time; they're curled up one on each side of him, and he scratches their backs, leaving trails of pink, and it feels so *good*, so *right*, their double weight holding him down, submitting.
When their heartbeats match up, and their breathing is calm, Spencer sits up, pushing them to the sides, a hand on each of their chests.
"Stop fighting," he says quietly. "We're pack. You don't --" Ugh, he feels so stupid. "There's nothing for you to be insecure about," he finishes, feeling kind of like his mom. "There's no winning, okay? We have to make a good album; the only win is to get this thing finished. Your fighting is stressing me out."
Ryan makes a noise low in his throat and bends his head until his forehead is on Spencer's knee, showing the back of his neck. Brendon hesitates, watching Ryan and Spencer for a moment before he does the same thing.
"Good boys," Spencer says lowly; his voice breaks as he feels everything click into place. He really is a fucking werewolf, it's not a game anymore; they really are his pack, and it really does make him feel better when they listen to him like he's the alpha -- because he's their alpha.