“We need to work together,” Brendon says, and drapes himself round Ryan's shoulders.
Ryan puts his pen down and tries to look at Brendon. It's kind of hard with his face that close, and he ends up just squinting.
“With the band?” he asks, because he has no idea what Brendon means. “I though last practice went well.”
It went better than well, if Ryan's honest with himself (and he always is). He knows, knows that soon they'll have something worth uploading.
“Not the band” Brendon lets go and flops backwards onto Ryan's bed. His blue t shirt rides up. “The band's awesome, Spencer's awesome, I'm amazing, you're the new Pete Wentz, Brent's steady as anything. No. Spencer.”
“Spencer?” Ryan repeats. Brendon gets like this sometimes and you just have to follow along until he gets to the point and you can jump aboard the conversation.
“Spencer.” Brendon stretches his hands above his head and purrs the word out. “You want him. I do too, so we should clearly work together because he is a tough nut to crack and you've got all that inside best friend knowledge.
“Who says I want him?” Ryan studies Brendon's face, all huge eyes and full lips.
“Duh,” Brendon sits up and puts a hand on his wrist. “Spencer.”
As an argument it's not hugely convincing. But. Spencer.
“So what, like a race to see who can make out with him first?” Ryan frowns. He doesn't want Spencer treated like that, like some kind of prize.
“No!” Brendon sits all the way up. “Both of us. And Spencer. All of us.”
He looks so earnest, lower lip jutting out.
“Greedy.” Ryan says.
“I am reaching for the stars, Ryan Ross.” Brendon leans forward and kisses him swiftly. Ryan's too surprised to protest and anyway, Brendon's lips are soft, and he's be lying if he said he'd never thought about it.
“We need a plan of action.” Brendon says. “Give me your pen.”
“This is a really stupid idea.” Ryan says holding his pen out of reach, “You'll look like an idiot, and you'll upset Spencer. I'll write you multisyllabic songs and make you sing them as punishment.”
“You do that anyway,” Brendon says. “Now, I'm going to split the list up into my tasks and your tasks.” He digs a green glitter pen out of his backpack and turns over his Spanish homework and starts to write.
Brendon's list, when finished, is all kinds of ridiculous
1. Tighter jeans (even for Ryan, you can do it)
2. Lots of bending (because my ass is fantastic, don't front Ross)
3. Tell him he's awesome a lot (because he is so that bit's easy)
4. Snuggles on movie nights
5. Attack hugs
6. Write a song for him
7. Shirtless practices. You know you want to.
Ryan privately thinks it's all ridiculous so underneath he writes
JUST ASK HIM, in capital letters
Even though he knows he won't and neither will Brendon.
He helps though. Slips Spencer his favourite candy when they're together. Waits with Brendon as he tries on pair after pair of jeans, and buys his own pair. Brendon looks gratifyingly stunned in the changing rooms and they make out for five minutes squashed into the cubicle.
“Think how much better this will be with Spencer,” Brendon whispers against his neck as Ryan pets down his back.
He doesn't write Spencer a song, because his words don't seem to work with happy things, and Spencer doesn't deserve the anger and sarcasm that's all he can manage, but he does tell Spencer every practice how good he is, how solid he sounds, how much better the songs are with him. Brendon joins in enthusiastically and Spencer just flicks his hair out of his eyes, confused, and says “Thanks,” like he thinks they're making fun of him.
The next practice it's really hot, and Brendon, true to his word, strips off. Despite pointed eyebrow raises Ryan keeps his shirt on. Doing it in front of someone he knows is somehow different to putting pictures on the internet. It's too real, too close.
He wishes he could though, because Brendon hugs Spencer after he does a particularly great fill, and Spencer's hand comes up to press on Brendon's back, and Ryan wants to feel that too, Spencer's strong hands on him, and tp about how smooth Brendon's back is, the slip and slide of muscle underneath.
“Tonight, movie night.” Spencer says after practice. “You guys coming?”
“Family thing,” Brent frowns. “Can't get out of it.”
“Brendon, Ryan?” Spencer asks.
Brendon tugs his shirt back on. “Can I stay over?” he asks, and Ryan laughs, because he is honest to god batting his eyes and Brendon is an idiot.
“Sure,” Spencer says, “there's room for you and Ryan, no problem.”
Ryan likes the way Spencer just assumes he'll be staying.
They share pizza with Spencer's parents and the twins, and carry the soda and popcorn upstairs and sprawl out on the bed, Ryan, then Spencer, then Brendon.
They watch Empire Records followed by Pump up the Volume and Ryan leans into Spencer's shoulder and breathes in the scent of his hair and tells himself, stupid Brendon plans aside, he's happy with this. It's stupid to want more.
As the credits roll Spencer stands and says
“Air mattress in the cupboard. I'll go get bedlinen.”
The air mattress is a new one, king size and Ryan plugs the pump in while Brendon strips down to his boxers and hangs his jeans over the back of the chair. Spencer tosses the bedlinen to Ryan and disappears into the bathroom to brush his teeth.
Ryan makes up the mattress, familiar pillows in red check print, the comforter worn soft by years of washing. Things as familiar to him as his own bed at home.
“Hit the lights?” He asks, and Brendon does, and crawls in with him.
“Your plan doesn't seem to be working,” he says, proud of how his voice is even.
The mattress dips again and Spencer slides in next to him.
“His plan kind of sucked” Spencer says and Ryan freezes because, Spencer's hand! On his hip! Stroking his skin! “You should have just asked.”
And before Ryan can say 'I told you so' Spencer his kissing him, then leaning him, bare chest pressed to bare chest, to kiss Brendon. Ryan watches them.
“Seriously,” Spencer says after he pulls back. His lips are pink. Brendon's eyes have fluttered closed. “I'm a sure thing.”
“Oh yeah?” Ryan manages.
“Yeah.” Spencer kisses his collarbone, his mouth, slow and careful just like he always is with him. “Why do you think I talked Mom into the new air mattress?”
And Brendon laughs, and kisses the back of Spencer's neck, and then leans over to kiss Ryan, and says
“See? I have the very best ideas.”