Brendon still hasn't gotten used to the idea that he's living in California.
The shitty job market meant he'd applied in practically every state, and he'd expected to wind up at some podunk midwestern school, trying not to resent the change from life in Vegas, and instead he's on the coast, barely a forty-minute drive from the beach.
It makes it hard to concentrate on his work, is the thing.
Brendon's never been aces at concentration anyway, but it was easier in Vegas, cooped up in his shithole apartment with nothing to distract him. He'd fallen asleep on his compositions plenty of times, but music is easier to concentrate on than this stuff, paperwork and forms. He has to write syllabi, a whole bunch of them. Apparently his department head isn't willing to accept "I'm going to teach them stuff and, like, build on what they already know" as a course plan, so: syllabi. Brendon's hoping no one will make sure he actually sticks to this bullshit, at least.
The coast calls to him, every time he looks up from his department-issued Dell. He wants to go out and run on the sand, like he's in From Here to Eternity. He definitely wants to find somebody as hot as Burt Lancaster to kiss in the surf. He wants to meet his students, and see what they know and what they need to learn, but instead he's got three interminable weeks of meetings and "training sessions" and paperwork and office time ahead of him.
His officemate doesn't have to be here yet, apparently. The department secretary had said, "Oh, Spencer submitted his syllabi before the break, and he doesn't need to go to all the orientation meetings again," but Brendon's not really interested in her logic. He's just resentful. This Spencer guy is probably on the beach right now, his arm around some chick in a bikini.
There's nothing on Spencer's side of the office; the department secretary said he'd been down a couple of floors, last year, and that he'll be moving everything in this week. Brendon wonders if Spencer will object to Brendon's keyboard, to the guitars and the big racked tom Brendon's got perched next to his desk. He's pretty certain Spencer will object when Brendon gets bored and starts beating out a rhythm on it. Brendon has more drumsticks in his desk drawers than he has pens, and it's generally been his experience—especially after Ms. Lippincott from 5B threatened to call the police on him—that no one appreciates Brendon's boredom-induced drum solos.
"You're just nervous," Brent tells him, when Brendon calls Vegas on the department's dime. "Stop freaking out, dumbass."
"Yeah, fuck you," Brendon says, and Brent just snorts, used to Brendon by now. "Whatever. I'm just saying, he's probably going to hate me. And if I don't get to start doing my actual job soon, I may end up hating me, too."
"Go take your guitar out to the beach and chill out for a while, man. It's California, I bet you can get some killer weed there."
Brendon hums agreement, and they switch over to talking about Brent's new girlfriend, about the renovation of the Sahara, and the tightness in Brendon's chest eases a little bit.
Brendon's in the middle of a minuet, eyes closed and daydreaming about crashing waves, when Spencer Smith comes into their office for the first time.
"Uh," he says, and Brendon's eyes open even as his hands keep playing, too comfortable to stop. "Hi?"
"Hi," Brendon echoes, and he's glad for the distraction of the keyboard, because his new officemate is—wow. "Hi, yeah, hi." He gives up on the piece, finally, and the missing notes ring in his ears.
Spencer winces, just a little. "You didn't have to stop," he says. "You only had like twelve seconds left."
"I—yeah," Brendon says. "You know it?"
Spencer shrugs. "I don't play, but—yeah. I mean."
"Right," Brendon says. Music department. They're both in it. "Sorry, hi, I'm—I'm Brendon." He reaches across the keyboard and the desk, stretches his hand out. "Brendon Urie."
"Spencer Smith," Spencer says. "I'm gonna—I gotta go get my stuff from downstairs. It'll be a few trips, if that's—I don't want to interrupt?"
Brendon shakes his head, fast, hits the power button on the keyboard and sets it against the wall. "Let me help," he says. "I'm great at carrying. Carrying is, like, my second area of specialty." Spencer smiles at him, amused, and Brendon thinks, hey there, Burt Lancaster.
"So you've been, like, on vacation?" Brendon asks, following Spencer to the service elevator.
"Oh, uh," Spencer says. "Sort of. I do studio work on the breaks, and sometimes I do some touring for people who need a drummer. I just got back from this tour in Europe, actually, it was pretty cool."
If Brendon had envied Spencer before, thinking he was lying on the beach, his chest almost hurts with it, now. "You were—with a band?" He almost trips over the elevator gap on the way out to the second floor, and catches himself against the hallway wall. "In Europe?"
"Uh," Spencer says. "Yeah. It was pretty great. They're going back into the studio now—the timing worked really well. They've got a local studio drummer in Philly, so."
"Wow," Brendon says. "That's. That's awesome."
Spencer unlocks one of the office doors, flips on the light. "Yeah," he says again.
The office is full of drums and not a small number of cymbals, most of them sort of packed up for transfer upstairs. Brendon's not sure how they're going to manage the kick drum without a handcart or something, but maybe Spencer has a plan. "We can do the books first," Spencer offers, and Brendon shakes his head.
"Nah," he says. "My mom always says you should move the precious stuff first, while you're fresh." He picks up a tom and a couple of hi-hats, cradles them carefully.
Spencer's watching him like he can't quite trust this new acquaintance with his kit. "Thanks," he says, and grabs some more pieces. "I'll lock up, can you go call the elevator?"
It takes them three trips to move everything, and by the end of it Brendon and Spencer's office is packed with drums. "I can take mine home," Brendon offers, because they kind of need the extra room if they're going to have students in here or, you know, not get kicked out by the fire marshall.
"No, hey," Spencer demurs. "I'll store a couple of mine on the classroom level. I'll get a key to one of the closets. It's cool."
"Yours are nicer than mine," Brendon points out. "I can fuck around on the set in the band room if I'm feeling the urge. It's no problem taking it home."
"No, hey," Spencer says. "You can fuck around on mine." He stops, cheeks pinking. "I mean—you can use mine. That's cool."
"Thanks," Brendon says, and turns away to shelve some of Spencer's books. "Do you want these in, like. An order?"
Spencer steps in to rearrange them, and Brendon backs up into one of the cymbals, the crash of it reverberating through the enclosed space. "Oops," Brendon says, and Spencer laughs, still shelving.
"You're gonna be a menace, aren't you?" Spencer asks, and Brendon doesn't have an answer for that.
The weekend before classes start, Spencer invites Brendon out to the beach. "Last weekend is always the beach," Spencer says. "The whole department'll be there."
Brendon doesn't let himself be disappointed about that. "Sounds great," he says, and wonders if he should wash his good swim shorts tonight. "Should I bring stuff?"
"Bring maracas," Spencer says, and Brendon's only mostly sure he's kidding. "Bring booze, I guess. And chips are always good. Or, like, fruit."
"So this isn't, like, a Jell-O Mold situation." Brendon mimes shaking a platter. "Understood."
Spencer taps a fingernail on the snare nearest his desk. "Well, it'd be fun to watch the sand getting in it," he says. "But talk about gross to eat on the beach."
Brendon nods agreement. "I'm from the desert," he says. "I get it."
"Yeah?" Spencer looks at him for real now, interested. "Which one?"
"Vegas," Brendon says, and Spencer's grin is wide and knowing. "Oh, are you—?"
Spencer nods, laughing. "Yeah, man. Half the department. It's like a funnel out to the coast, I don't even know. Ryan Ross, he teaches all the English-music crossover classes? He came here with me, we went to UNLV together."
"Huh," Brendon says. "Well—cool."
Spencer nods, leans back down to his paperwork. "So you'll be there? On Saturday?"
"Yeah." Brendon picks his pen back up. "Yeah, totally."
The beach is packed when Brendon shows up, the whole music department plus a million other random people out on a gorgeous weekend morning. He spots Spencer right away, though, standing out like he's the only one in 3D against a cardboard cut-out crowd. "Hey," Brendon says, and hands him a shaker that's shaped like a banana. "I didn't have maracas."
Spencer laughs and plays a quick rhythm with it, tapping the contra beats on his thigh. "It's great," he says. "Here, there's—Ian brought margarita mix, let's get you one." Ian’s a tiny guy with huge hair and a guitar slung across his back. Brendon’s seen him at meetings but hasn’t really talked to him; watching the way Ian’s currently running a blender with a battery pack, Brendon’s thinking that needs to change.
"Inventive," Brendon lauds him, because really, that's pretty awesome, and Ian grins and hands him a glass.
"Yeah, well. So how's it going, new kid? You ready for Monday?"
Brendon nods. "Fuck, yeah. All this prep is killing me."
Ian laughs. "I get that," he says. "It's good to have the students back. Even when I hate them. You'll hate them, too."
Spencer's still standing next to Brendon, close, and Brendon turns to him, wanting him back in the conversation. "Do you hate yours?"
Spencer purses his lips, thinking about it. "Not all the time. Just when they talk." He grins, not quite serious, and Brendon takes a too-large sip of his drink to keep from staring at Spencer's mouth.
"Sit," Ian tells them, and Brendon settles himself on the sand, Spencer plopping down next to him. "Spencer and I will regale you with our tales of horror," he tells Brendon, and Brendon sips a little more of his drink and smiles, ready for a long, warm day at the beach.
Even after a few margaritas, Brendon's sober by the time people start heading home, hours of swimming and chatting leaching the tequila out of his system. It's still light out, because the August days last forever, but it's pushing seven and people want to get home.
Brendon doesn't, not yet. It's been too good a day, too many people who want to talk about music to the exclusion of all else. Brendon kept glancing up from conversations and seeing Spencer playing with the stupid banana shaker, jostling rhythms out of it. No one seemed to mind, or even much notice, and Brendon thinks: I do like these people.
Spencer isn't packing up yet, either, and Brendon wanders over toward him, conscious of the way they're both in swim trunks, shirtless. "Hey," he says, facing out towards the surf.
"Hey," Spencer agrees, and they watch the waves roll in, quiet. It's several minutes before Spencer says, "You wanna go for a walk?"
"Sure," Brendon says, and goes over to snag his shirt, throws the rest of his stuff in his car and pads back barefoot. Spencer's done the same, and they leave the handful of staff still lazing around on the sand and head for the waterline. Brendon likes the way the sand is firmer here, a strange squish under his feet, and Spencer walks a little farther out, letting the surge pour around his ankles.
"Should be a good year," Spencer says. His shirt's back on, and Brendon doesn't feel quite as weird now, letting his gaze linger over Spencer's shoulders. "Good group."
"Yeah," Brendon says.
Spencer turns around suddenly, catches Brendon looking. "Hey," he says, pausing on the sand. "Look, so—it's early in the semester, it's easy to get office changes now, so this is probably the best time to, like—do you want to get dinner? With me? And if you don't, that's cool, and if it's crazy awkward or whatever, you can have the office and I'll go back down to—"
"Yes," Brendon interrupts. "Dinner. Yes."
Spencer blinks at him, like he wasn't expecting that and isn't sure how to respond. "Right, yeah. Okay. Awesome."
Brendon grins, doesn't bother to hide it. "Awesome," he agrees. "You know a good place for burritos?"
Spencer laughs, tilts his head back towards their cars until Brendon turns around and walks that direction. "Around here? Yeah, I think we can find someplace."
They get back to the parking lot and find that Brendon's car keys are in the driver-side lock, dangling like an invitation. "Oops," Brendon says, and Spencer's laugh is warm behind him.
"No one stole your car," Spencer says. "It must be your lucky day."
Brendon bites his lip, feeling suddenly playful. "You think so?" He lifts an eyebrow, tries not to make it too expectant, but—
"Oh, yeah," Spencer says. "Totally."
Brendon follows Spencer's little coupe to a stucco one-story boasting an impressively ugly neon sign, and parks next to him in the postage-stamp lot. "Okay," he says, when Spencer emerges into the evening air. "Wow me."
Spencer just smiles, waves Brendon through the burnt-sienna doors.
Brendon's wowed; the burritos are fantastic, spicy and flavorful. They're messy, too, sauce dripping down Spencer's long fingers, and Brendon swallows, watching the drips. Spencer lifts one hand up and catches the runaway sauce with his tongue, and he's laughing at the way Brendon's watching him, but his eyes are dark, too.
"We gonna regret this on Monday?" Spencer says, and it's only sort of a joke.
"Not me." Brendon washes the spice out of his mouth with a gulp of Corona. "I might regret that there's a window in our office door, though."
Spencer fights a smile. "Lot of people poster over those, you know."
"I have some really great posters," Brendon says. "You wanna come over and help pick one out?"
Spencer just waves for the check.
Brendon's not very good at directions, especially since he's only been living here for a month and barely knows where anything is, so he ends up following Spencer to his own place, embarrassed. "I would have figured it out once we hit Second Ave," Brendon points out, as soon as they arrive, and Spencer just laughs, pulls his beach bag out of his car and comes around towards Brendon's.
"You'll learn," Spencer says. "Well, probably. It's a little worrying that you haven't figured out the department layout yet."
"That cubicle area is super confusing," Brendon argues, and Spencer interrupts the discussion with his mouth, soft on Brendon's. Brendon can’t even pretend to blame the heat for the way he’s melting under Spencer’s touch, loose and wanting. Spencer presses him against the side of his car, just a hint of pressure, and Brendon wraps his arms around Spencer’s neck and keeps him there.
"Posters?" Spencer finally asks, breaking away, and Brendon nods shakily and starts to head for the stairs. "Brendon," Spencer says, and Brendon's heart jumps into his throat at the way Spencer isn't moving with him, is calling him back.
Spencer points, wordlessly, at the door of Brendon's car, which has keys dangling from it. Again. "Right," Brendon says, coming back to retrieve them, testing the lock. "Right, okay. Thanks."
"Anytime," Spencer says, and wraps a hand around Brendon's elbow. "Maybe I'll help you with your apartment door. Wouldn't want someone to break in and interrupt."
Brendon's apartment isn't much, but it's his alone, and it's more or less clean right now. He's glad, now, that he finally got around to putting his bed frame back together last weekend, because Spencer doesn't bother to pause in the main area, just keeps walking Brendon back toward the bedroom. "I really should have hit on you two weeks ago," Spencer says. "We're going to have so much less free time now."
"It could still suck," Brendon points out, because it's not like they've done anything more than kiss once. Spencer could be into stuff Brendon's never even heard of, for all Brendon knows.
"Let's find out," Spencer says, and kisses him again, walks them back toward the bed until he can push Brendon down onto it.
Kissing Spencer is basically right up there with, like, every solo Brendon's ever done in front of an audience. It's heady and challenging and over too fast, but unlike the solos, Brendon can just tug him in and do it again and again. Spencer's rocking against Brendon's thigh and making needy noises into his mouth before Brendon's quite had his fill. That's okay, though. Brendon's planning to come back to this later.
"Fuck," Spencer gasps, when Brendon finally lets him up. "You—your mouth."
Brendon grins at him. "So," he asks, conversationally. "Your officemate last year, did you—?"
"You mean Delores, who retired after 41 years as a professor? Uh, no, we did not. Thanks for asking." Spencer leans down to nip at Brendon's jaw, laughing. "I don't usually—I mean, coworkers, you know. Terrible plan."
"Very stupid," Brendon agrees, running his hands down Spencer's back to his ass. "Don't know what you could have been thinking."
"Nothing good can come of it," Spencer says, and then he's peeling his shirt off, and Brendon's pretty much done with the banter.
"Let me," Brendon manages, and then he's rolling them over, Spencer inching up until he's more solidly placed in the center of the bed. It's easy to peel Spencer's loose jeans off, and Spencer spreads his legs so Brendon can kneel between them and kiss the soft skin of his belly.
Spencer's cock is hot even in the warm August air, and Brendon doesn't hesitate, drops his mouth down over it and listens to Spencer's sharp inhale. It's been too long since he's done this, and way longer since he's done it with anyone he likes as much as Spencer. Brendon's blown some drummers in the back alleys of Vegas clubs, but not in his apartment with the lights on and both of them dead sober.
"Fuck," Spencer manages, and gets a hand into Brendon's hair, stroking encouragement. "Yeah, that's—yeah."
Brendon sucks harder, squeezing his fist around the base, putting his whole upper body into it. He wants Spencer to keep making those noises, keep groaning and panting. He wants Spencer to be thinking about this when he's introducing himself to his classes on Monday.
Spencer half-chokes when he comes, coughing, and Brendon laughs and crawls up to pat his back and make fun of him a little bit. “I was the one with a dick in my mouth,” Brendon points out, “and I didn’t cough.”
"At least I didn't leave my keys in my car door," Spencer says, voice raspy from the coughing, and Brendon kisses him again.
"Can you just—your hand," Brendon manages, and Spencer slides it into Brendon's waistband, wrapping a firm fist around Brendon's cock. Brendon tries to concentrate on kissing Spencer, but it's only a minute before he has to turn his face away, press his mouth into Spencer's collarbone. He can't do anything but focus on the feel of Spencer's calloused palm on his skin, the way Spencer's murmuring in his ear, come on, that's it, come for me.
"Yeah," Brendon gasps, and does, shivering down onto Spencer's chest, pressing open-mouthed kisses to all the skin he can reach. He's overheated and sweating and desperately happy, and he wants to hold onto this feeling as long as he can.
They get up eventually, to wash up and get ready for bed, and when they climb back under the covers, Spencer rolls in close, an arm across Brendon's belly.
"So, hey. I just had sex with a rock star," Brendon says, and Spencer laughs, hot exhalations across Brendon's chest.
"Hardly," he says. "A touring drummer for some rock—like. Meteorites. Something. Is there a thing that's a small star?"
Brendon contemplates it for a minute. "Red dwarfs, I think?" He lets his eyes drift shut. "Man, we're kind of shitty professors."
Spencer shrugs. "We're good at music."
"Yeah, thank fuck," Brendon agrees. He can see three picks, a drumstick, and a couple of signed tour posters from where he's lying, even in the dim light from the window. He's pretty sure Spencer's apartment is like that, too, and he's looking forward to finding out for sure.
"Gonna be a good semester," Spencer mumbles, half-asleep.
"Definitely," Brendon says, and he lets himself drift off, dreaming of the ocean.