Being kicked in the ear was probably the most unique wake up call Brendon had ever had.
"Ow," he said, rubbing his ear. It was like being hit with a bb gun. Then he realised what that meant.
"Oh." He squinted as Spencer swam into focus. "I guess it didn't wear off overnight then?"
"No." Spencer shook his head and put his tiny hands on his hips. Brendon had no idea how Spencer had gotten up to his bunk, but he suspected Dallon, who had taken to the idea of a pocket-sized Spencer with glee.
Spencer sat down on the mattress and pulled his knees up, hugging them. He had a square of cloth that looked like part of a merch shirt wrapped round him like a toga and his feet were bare. His clothes, other than the gig clothes he'd been wearing, hadn't shrunk along with him, so they were having to improvise. Spencer had vetoed Ian's suggestion of GI Joe outfits.
"Sorry, dude," Brendon said. He reached out one finger to pat Spencer gently on the shoulder, almost afraid to touch him in case he hurt him or knocked him over. He wasn't used to Spencer seeming fragile. Spencer leaned his head against Brendon's finger, his hair fine as silk.
"Yeah," Spencer said. "B, we have a show tonight. What are we going to do?"
"The show's not for hours," Brendon said. He sat up in the bunk and held out his hand for Spencer to hop onto. The press of his bare feet tickled. He raised Spencer up so he can look him in the face, Spencer clinging onto his finger. "You might change back before then—maybe your body needs to recognise it's important to be normal-sized?"
"I wish Mom had been more specific other than 'it will happen when it needs to.'" Spencer scowled. On his tiny face, the glare was much more concentrated, so the effect was scary, rather than cute.
Well, maybe it was a little cute. It was Spencer, after all.
"Breakfast first," Brendon said. "Then we can work out what happens."
"Can you..." Spencer looked almost embarrassed "I mean, I'm kind of scared I'll fall down the drain or something, so can you get a bowl so I can take a bath?"
Brendon didn't think he'd ever forget the sight of Spencer taking a bath in one of the gas station Spider-man cereal bowls. Which was just as well as Ian yanked the camera out of his hands.
"He's 9 inches high, dude," Ian said. "Let him have his dignity."
"You so much as think about tweeting any of this and I'll bite you," Spencer said, poking his head over the rim of the bowl, the soapy water dripping onto the kitchenette table.
"I could just stand up," Brendon said.
"I'll bite your ankle," Spencer said. "Ian, pick me up."
"How come Ian gets to pick you up?" Brendon said, "I'm hurt, dude."
"Because Ian didn't try to take pictures," Spencer said. He held his arms up and Ian wrapped him in a face cloth. It was as big as a bath towel would be on normal-sized Spencer.
"I'll put you in your bunk," Ian said, and carried his bundle of Spencer out toward the bunks.
"Waffles?" Dallon asked, knocking on the frame of the kitchenette.
"It's not anyone's birthday," Brendon replied, confused. Dallon had bought an actual waffle iron and 6 cartons of Bisquick on tour with him. The mocking had lasted only until Spencer's birthday waffles.
"No," Dallon said, plugging the waffle iron in, "but suddenly miniaturised bandmates are the exception to the birthday rule."
"How is Spencer going to eat them?" Brendon asked, watching as Dallon mixed the batter. "They're, like, bed-sized."
"We'll figure something out," Dallon said. "Go fetch him?"
Brendon tapped the wall of Spencer's bunk and poked his head round the curtain. Spencer had his show pants on and another square of t-shirt with a hole cut out, like a poncho. He was sitting cross legged on his pillow, trying to flatten his hair down from where it was drying into fluffy spikes.
"Not one fucking word," Spencer said, when Brendon opened his mouth to say something about miniature blow dryers.
"Waffles?" he said instead.
Spencer's smile was almost bigger than his face, like a miniature sun. He held out his arms and Brendon let him clasp round his wrist.
"You can sit on my shoulder like a parrot," he said, "as long as you hold on."
He dropped Spencer onto his shoulder and felt his tiny hands wind themselves into the collar of his shirt.
"It's nice to see things from the proper height again," Spencer said into his ear. "Also, the floor is seriously gross when you're tiny. You should vacuum that shit."
"No one else sees it," said Brendon, "and you won't either when you change back."
"If I change back," Spencer said glumly.
"Hey." Brendon rubbed his cheek against Spencer. "You'll change back."
"You don't know that," Spencer said. "I could be the only guy who had to leave his band through accidental miniaturisation."
"Your mom changed back, right?" Brendon said "And your uncle, and your grandpa. We'll have some waffles and decide want to do next."
“I'll change back once the lesson has been learned,” Spencer said, frustrated. “That's what she said. What the fuck does that even mean?”
Dallon had cut the waffles up into individual squares for Spencer, and Ian set a shot glass upside down on the table for a stool.
"Why is your voice the same pitch?" Ian asked, as Spencer used both hands to hold his waffle square, dripping syrup on the table. "Shouldn't you sound like Alvin from the Chipmunks?"
"I don't know," Spencer said, "My voice is the last of my worries. How am I going to play tonight?"
"We might need to think about a substitute, just for tonight." Brendon nodded. "Just in case. And we should call the label. Or Pete, at least."
"Do we have to?" Spencer asked.
"It's Pete," Ian said, poking Spencer on the top of the head. "This is so not the weirdest thing he's seen."
Pete's reaction was predictable.
"I want one," he said, face large on the laptop screen. "Pocket Spencer!"
Brendon put a hand out protectively.
"Pete, he's ours," he said.
Spencer strode back and forth across the laptop keyboard angrily.
"I don't think you're taking this seriously enough, Pete," he said, stretching on tiptoes in an attempt to glare into the webcam. Brendon picked him up, fingers gentle around his hips, and lifted him. "If I don't change back in 4 hours, we won't have a show, because we won't have a drummer."
"You're touring with one," Pete said, matter-of-factly. "Just go ask Patrick."
Spencer paused mid-fist shake and kicked at Brendon's wrist until Brendon put him down.
"Huh," Brendon said, "I guess we hadn't thought of that."
"You'll have to come with me," Brendon said, once they'd convinced Pete that no, they didn't know how to miniaturise anyone else, so his dreams of a Borrower-sized band would remain just that. "There's no way he'll believe me otherwise."
"You can't just say I have food poisoning?" Spencer asked. He was sitting on the top of the sofa, swinging his bare feet.
"You know he'd just want to come over and see if you were ok, he's as much of a mother hen as you are." Brendon stuck his arms into his hoodie and held out his hand for Spencer to jump onto.
"I'm going to put you in my pocket, ok?" he said. "Just for a bit, 'til we get to Patrick's bus. I'll text him to make sure no one else is on there."
“He's tiny,” Patrick said, frowning at Spencer. Brendon curled his fingers round him protectively.
“Thanks, Patrick, I hadn't noticed,” Spencer said dryly.
“Spence,” Brendon said, “we're asking Patrick to do us a favour, come on, you've got to admit it's a bit of a shock.”
“What happened?” Patrick asked. He put out a hand and, after a moment's hesitation, Spencer stepped across and Patrick lifted him to eye level.
“It's a—thing. In my family,” Spencer explained. “Just sometimes we shrink, is all.” He gave a shrug and flicked his hair out of his eyes. The gesture was so familiar to Brendon, even on the tiny scale. Patrick patted Spencer's shoulder gingerly with one finger.
“How do you change back?”
“We don't know.” he said. “And, obviously, we need a drummer for tonight, so—”
“Could you help us out? Please?” Spencer clung onto one of Patrick's fingers. “I know it's not singing, but it would really help us out and—well—”
“If you ask anyone else, you'd have to tell them everything.” Patrick finished. “Of course, Spence. You only had to ask.”
Brendon regretted Ian's 'no photos' rule more than ever, because the sight of Spencer, perched on a spare hi-hat berating an increasingly red-faced Patrick was something he never wanted to forget.
“Spencer!” Patrick said eventually. He laid his sticks on the snare. “I've been doing this longer than you, you can trust me, ok? I won't screw it up.”
“I'm just—” Spencer started, and grabbed the nut at the top of the hi-hat as it tilted under him. “It's only ever been me.”
“The songs are your babies,” Patrick said, “I get it. Believe me. I get it. But it will be fine.” He reached out to steady the hi-hat. “Now, more like this?” He tapped out the beginning of “Hurricane.”
“Yeah, like that,” Spencer said. “Crisper.”
“From the top?” Brendon suggested, and they ran through the song. It was weird to see Patrick behind the kit, but it wasn't like he was a bad choice. There were a couple slips, but Brendon doubted anyone would really notice.
“That's one of your new ones, right?” Patrick asked as they finished. “You wrote it all?”
Brendon rubbed the back of his neck. “Most of it. Pete helped with some of the lyrics.”
Patrick studied the floor tom, but Brendon saw the corner of his mouth curl up. “Can't seem to get away from him.” he said lightly.
“It was only a bit,” Spencer said. “Brendon, tell him, it was three or four lines, tops.”
“It doesn't matter, Spencer,” Brendon said. Spencer was way more defensive than he was over his songwriting. Spencer narrowed his eyes.
“Guys,” Ian said, breaking up the staring contest. “Patrick's opening—we want to rehearse anything else, we'd better do it now.”
“We're good,” Brendon said. “Aren't we?”
Dallon nodded and Ian picked up Spencer and tucked him into the pocket of his hoodie. Spencer clung on, craning his head out.
“Thanks, Patrick,” he said. “Really, thank you.”
“You'd do it for me,” Patrick said, standing and picking his sticks up.
“As long as I didn't have to sing,” Spencer said, with an actual smile.
“I don't like it,” Spencer said, later, back in the dressing room. Dallon had perched him on top of one of the mirrors, and he drummed his heels against the glass as Brendon tied his bowtie.
“We'll be fine,” Brendon said. He looked up and ran his finger over the top of Spencer's head. “We sounded fine, Patrick is Patrick, even though he isn't you. The show will go fine. You'll go to sleep tonight and wake up Spencer-sized tomorrow.” He sounded more confident than he felt, he thought. While the idea of a pocket-sized Spencer was charming as fuck, he wanted his regular-sized best friend back.
“I just don't like the feeling of letting you down,” Spencer said.
Dallon nudged Brendon aside, bending at the waist to look in the mirror.
“You're not, Spence,” he said, buttoning his shirt collar and looping the bowtie round his neck. “It's not like you did it on purpose.”
“Seriously,” Ian called over. “Stop worrying about us.” He was mostly dressed, apart from his suspenders, and he shrugged them up onto his shoulders as he came over to the mirror. Brendon looked at his band's reflections, and hated to see Spencer's missing face.
“We have to go,” he said, to cover the sudden stab of fear that they would never get Spencer back to proper size. “You ok here?”
“Lift me down and open my Kindle?” Spencer asked. “ I can push the button to turn the pages but I can't open the cover.”
Brendon did as he was asked and set Spencer on the counter next to the jars of hair gel. Ian filled one of the dollhouse cups with Coke and Dallon tipped some tiny goldfish crackers onto a plate. Spencer looked up at them all.
“Back soon,” Brendon said as Patrick's last song crackled over the PA.
“Have a good show,” Spencer said. “Just—don't get used to playing without me.”
“Never,” Brendon said.
It took Brendon a few songs to settle into the show that night. It wasn't that Patrick was bad, but it was a shock to look upstage and see Patrick's blond head, the bright splash of his suit, his gloved hands on the sticks, somehow dwarfed by the kit in a way that Spencer never was.
He mentally shook himself and concentrated on the songs, and when, halfway through the set, he started to hear some additional harmony in Patrick's clear, strong voice, he turned round and grinned. It wasn't better than having Spencer, but it was still fun.
“You might have noticed was have an old friend filling in for Spencer,” he said before the last number. The crowed cheered as Patrick waved. “Spence isn't feeling too good, so I want you all to say get better soon, ok? On three.”
The crowd roared out, and Brendon reminded himself to check YouTube later. Maybe it would help convince Spencer to change back. “For our last song this tour, we've been playing around with some Marvin Gaye,” Brendon continued, as Ian started picking out the introduction, “but tonight we're gonna change it up a little.” Brendon motioned to Patrick until he stood up, and Brendon hopped onto the stool and found the sticks. “Take it away, Mr Stump.”
Brendon hoped that just missing the show would be enough to turn Spencer back, but he was still tiny when they got back to the dressing room, Patrick trailing in behind them with Dallon's hand clamped round his wrist.
“'Let's Get It On' sounded great,” Spencer said. “Nice, Patrick.”
Brendon grinned “We'll do it properly next time—you on drums and me and Patrick can duet, right, Patrick?”
“I'm game if you are,” Patrick said. He sat on the one of the stools and looked at Spencer. “Still tiny, then?”
“Apparently.” Spencer looked dejected. “Brendon, what if this is it? What if I'm tiny forever?”
“It won't be,” Brendon said. He couldn't even imagine it. “Everyone else turned back, right?”
“But I still don't know what I'm supposed to learn,” Spencer said. He sounded panicked, which was so unusual that Ian and Dallon drifted over too, perching on stools.
“Spencer,” Ian said, “relax. We'll figure something out.”
“That's supposed to by my job,” Spencer said quietly.
“Spencer?” Patrick said, tilting his head.
“It's what I do,” Spencer said softly.
Something tugged at the back of Brendon's mind, but the thumps of the set being broken down outside the door reminded him that they were still in the venue.
“Come on,” he said, scooping Spencer up “We can talk about this back at the bus.”
“Let me know if I can do anything?” Patrick asked.
“You've already helped us out,” Brendon said.
“I enjoyed it.” Patrick smiled. “I'd kind of forgotten what it was like, having a band.”
“You have one,” Dallon said.
“Not like you guys have one,” Patrick said. He nodded to them all and slipped out the door while Ian was finding his jacket.
“If I shrunk to make Patrick get his act together, I'm going to be really pissed ,” Spencer piped up from Brendon's pocket.
Brendon laughed. “I don't think it's that.” he said. “I actually have an idea.”
“Spill.” Spencer poked him in the side. It was like getting stuck with a pin.
“When we get back to the bus,” Brendon said
Back at the bus, the curtains drawn, Spencer settled on Brendon's shoulder as they all crowded onto the couch, Brendon poured some water into the tiny cup and passed it up to Spencer.
“You said you had a idea.” Spencer flicked his ear. “So, come on, what is it?”
“Relax, Spence,” Brendon said.
“That's your answer? Have you seen the amount of stuff there is to do? Before the next show, I’ve got a Skype meeting with the label, all that new licensing paperwork to go over, we've got press, set lists, I need to sort out the insurance for Ian and Dallon—”
“That's my answer,” Brendon cut him off. He felt a little bad hearing Spencer lay it all out like that. “Spence, you don't have to do all that.”
He thought back to Spencer, turning up with groceries at his first apartment. Spencer shepherding Ryan around the days after his father's death. Spencer with his sharp blue eyes, reading every single scrap of paperwork, laptop open to google legal terms. The way he stepped in when everything went to shit after South Africa and just made it better. Spencer finding studios and producers and touring members.
He felt Spencer press against his neck, his hair tickling.
“I always do,” Spencer said. “You know that. I just want to make sure everyone's ok.”
“We can do that,” Brendon said. “You just have to trust us.”
“I do,” Spencer said. “I just—”
“Feel like you have to look after everyone,” Ian finished. Brendon turned to look at him, and he held his hands up. “Hey, oldest child, too, remember?”
“Other bands have people to do half the stuff you do,” Dallon said. “At least while they're touring, dude.”
“I don't like letting people down.” Spencer's voice was quiet, and Brendon could feel the huff of air against his neck.
“it isn't letting us down,” Brendon said, “it's letting us help. You've been kind of tired lately.”
“Just because you can doesn't mean you should always have to,” Ian said. He lifted Spencer off Brendon's shoulder and set him on his knee. “You don't just do it for us—you did it for the Cab that first time you took us to see Pete, and I've seen you do it for Nate's guys, too.”
Spencer sat down. His shoulders drooped under his t-shirt poncho. “I'm good at that stuff,” he said softly. “I didn't know you didn't want me to—”
“That's not it,” Dallon said. He nudged Spencer with a fingertip. “Just, sometimes, let someone else try?”
Spencer looked like he was thinking it over, but didn't say anything.
He fell asleep curled up on Ian's knee, covered with part of Brendon's knit scarf. Brendon carried him to the bunks and tucked him against the back wall. He was kind of worried that Spencer would roll out in the night, so he pushed the covers firmly round him.
“Night, Spencer,” he said.
“I'll try to wake up full-sized,” Spencer said.
“Don't worry,” Brendon said. “We'll sort something out.”
“Hey,” Spencer said, “that radio slot?”
“Yeah?” Brendon asked
“Maybe you could take Ian? Just, you know, in case.”
“I could do that,” Brendon said, “if you promised not to worry about it.”
“I'll try,” Spencer said.
Brendon peered into Spencer's bunk the next morning. It was probably too much to have hoped that last night's conversation had worked, and sure enough, Spencer was still tiny, curled up and wedged between the wall of the bunk and the pillow.
"Spence?" Brendon said. "You awake?"
"Yeah." Spencer sounded dejected. "And still tiny."
Brendon hesitated and then asked, "Can I get in?"
"I'm in no position to stop you," Spencer huffed, but as Brendon slid under the covers, he climbed onto the pillow so Brendon could turn his head and look at him.
"We'll fix this," Brendon said. "We'll figure it out."
"I think you might have been right," Spencer said. "I have been tired, I guess."
Brendon studied Spencer's fluffy hair, his makeshift clothes. If it lasted much longer, they'd have to find him something to wear. Maybe he could convince one of the others to learn to knit.
"I like doing all the legal stuff," Spencer continued. "You know, I like to make sure we're all being looked after and not ripped off. You hear stories. If I don't do it, then—"
"Spencer," Brendon put in, "we can all do that. Or we can hire someone to do it for us. We're not teenagers any more, you know? Dallon's a dad."
"I know," Spencer said. He wriggled forward so he could touch Brendon's cheek, the light press of his hand almost too gentle to feel. "I just like being useful."
"You're totally useful," Brendon whispered. "Spence. You're our backbone, but that doesn't mean we can't share the load. You promised we'd be partners, remember? Let me take some of it for a bit."
"If you start singing 'Always,' I'll flick your ear," Spencer said, but he was smiling.
"I will if it will convince you," Brendon said. "Ok, so this is what we are going to do. I am going to Skype the label and sort out the insurance with them at the same time. Ian and Dallon are going to go do that radio spot. And you are going to relax and think tall thoughts."
"I'll go crazy here by myself," Spencer said.
"In that case, I'll take you to Patrick. You can hang out and talk about me." Brendon wiggled his eyebrows
"Right, we'll totally do that," Spencer said dryly.
"You know it." Brendon swung out of bed. "You want me to pick you up or are you going to sleep a little more?"
"Bathroom," Spencer said. "Ugh, I hate this. I can't do anything by myself."
"You'd do it for any of us," Brendon said, and reached out to let Spencer hop onto his hand. "Who knows, maybe Ian is secretly a werewolf and you'll have to brush his coat next full moon."
"If Ian was a werewolf, we'd know," Spencer said.
"Be cool though, wouldn't it?" Brendon asked, as he carried Spencer to the bathroom.
Brendon had always appreciated Spencer's apparently endless patience for the business side of things, but he appreciated it even more by the end of the day. It wasn't that he didn't understand it—Spencer had made sure of that—but that it was slow and dull and finicky, even for what was supposed to be a quick check in about downloads and projected sales. The person on the other end of the web camera seemed surprised to see Brendon, not Spencer, and Brendon made a mental note to at least show up for the next one, even if Spencer did do all the talking.
The insurance took forever to sort out, and Dallon and Ian both had lots of form filling in their futures, as he (somewhat gleefully) informed them when they piled back into the bus from the radio spot.
"It go ok?" Brendon asked.
"They loved us," Dallon said, "of course." He looked around. "Where's Spencer?"
"With Patrick," Brendon said. "I was going to go get him."
Spencer was sitting cross-legged on the wrist rest of Patrick's Macbook, head craned back to look intently at the waveforms on the screen as Patrick followed Brendon into the lounge.
"Oh, hey," Spencer said, looking up.
"We're going to hit the road again soon," Brendon said. "Have a good day?"
"We recorded some stuff," Patrick said. "Spencer pressed the buttons and played the shot glass bongos."
"What?" Brendon asked, and Spencer pointed to two shot glasses with saran wrap stretched over the tops to make a skin.
"We put me really close to the mic," Spencer said. "It picked it up fine. Then we called Pete and played it to him."
"You're not supposed to be doing label stuff," Brendon said, tapping the saran wrap with his fingertip. It made a small, clear note.
"I didn't call him," Spencer said softly, tilting his head toward Patrick and raising his eyebrows.
"Ohhhhh," Brendon said, and left it at that. "Ready to go?"
"Sure," Spencer said. He wrapped a square of cloth round his shoulders like a cape. It looked like some kind of fleece.
"He got cold," Patrick said, "so I cut up one of the spare blankets.”
“Those GI Joe clothes looking a better option now, Spencer?” Brendon asked.
“I don't plan on staying this tiny forever,” Spencer said, and he let Brendon pick him up and tuck him into the open collar of his jacket. “Patrick, will you send me that track once it's finished?”
“Sure,” Patrick said. “If it works out, I want to use it as a bonus track, if that's ok?”
“Fine by me,” Spencer said, and leaned out of Brendon's jacket to hold his hand out for a one-finger high five from Patrick.
“You think I work hard,” Spencer said, as they climbed the steps back to the bus. “I'm not as bad as Patrick.”
“That's not really reassuring me,” Brendon said. “Now, we'll tell you all the things we did today and you'll see that the world didn't end, and maybe that will be enough to change you back.”
Dinner was microwaved chilli and rice, which Spencer scooped up with tiny squares of soft tortilla that Dallon cut with scissors, and Brendon answered question after question about the label and the insurance.
(“Did you remember to get the travel option?”
“No, Spence, I totally forgot that we were going to Europe in three months.”)
“See, Spencer, it was all fine,” Ian said, as he let Spencer step onto his hand and carried him to the couch in the lounge. “They were kind of surprised to see the two of us instead of you and Brendon, but we totally charmed them.”
“Of course,” Dallon said, settling down and hunting for the remote.
Brendon sat on the floor and leaned back against the couch. “We can cope, Spencer, see?”
“I see,” Spencer said. “I do actually like doing most of that stuff, you know.”
“But that doesn't mean you should always do it,” Brendon said, twisting his head so he could see Spencer, perched on Dallon's thigh. “We can manage. You just have to trust us. Trust me.”
“I did promise, didn't I?” Spencer said. “I'm just used to being needed.”
“Still need you,” Brendon said. “Of course I do.”
“We do,” Ian said. “Though, of course, Brendon's the neediest.”
“Shut up.” Brendon elbowed Ian's shin. “Spencer just likes me best.”
Dallon just snorted, and flicked through the DVD menu.
Brendon felt his eyes closing when they were only halfway through the film, so he said goodnight and climbed into his bunk. He dimly heard the others moving around, and Ian saying, “Night, Spencer. Try and think big thoughts.”
“I'll give you big thoughts,” Spencer said grumpily, and Brendon was still grinning as he drifted off to sleep.
He was woken by Spencer bellowing “YES! FUCKING FINALLY!” and a thump that definitely sounded like a full-sized Spencer leaping out of bed. He poked his head out of the curtains to see Spencer, all 6 feet of him, doing a victory shuffle in the gap between the bunks.
“Morning.” Brendon grinned. “Good to see all of you back to normal.” He looked Spencer up and down—he must have gone to sleep in his t-shirt toga.
“Oh, right,” Spencer said, looking down, and then leaning into his bunk to snag sweatpants and a t-shirt before running to the bathroom. Brendon heard the shower start up and heaved himself out of bed to start the coffee.
“Like being able to reach the top shelf again?” Dallon said, as Spencer stretched past Dallon to grab the cereal.
“Yes,” Spencer said. “Being tiny was weird. Ian's the one that should be pocket-sized.”
“I'm the proper height, everyone else is a giant,” Ian said automatically, coming into the kitchenette. “Oh, hey, you're back to normal!”
“Looks like it,” Spencer said, and knocked his shoulder against Ian's.
Brendon pushed some papers across the table.
“The insurance paperwork,” he said. “I know you're dying to look at it.”
Spencer sipped his coffee. “You know, it can wait,” he said. “I trust you to look after us, too.”
“About time,” Brendon said.
“So this is it?” Dallon asked. “No more shrinking?”
“My mom only had it happen once,” Spencer said. “I guess, as long as I've learned my lesson, I'll be ok?”
“And have you?” Brendon asked. He set his cup down on the table and looked across at Spencer. He had a few nicks from shaving off the three days beard growth, and wasn't as put together as normal, but he'd lost the lines of tiredness round his eyes.
Spencer smiled. “Ok, you proved me wrong,” he said. “I don't have to do everything, even though I can. That enough?”
“It's a start,” Brendon said.
“I will try and relax more,” Spencer said. “Promise.”
“That's what I like to hear.” Brendon grinned.
“Celebratory waffle time?” Ian asked hopefully.
“We had waffles two days ago,” Dallon said. He had that look on his face like he kind of wanted to make them all eat their vegetables.
“But Spencer's back to normal,” Ian said, slinging his arm around Spencer's shoulders. “Are you saying that doesn't deserve waffles?”
“Ok,” Dallon said, “but you have to come stir the batter.”
Ian hopped up to fish the bisquick out of one of the cupboards and Brendon took the opportunity to give Spencer a hug of his own. Spencer wrapped his arms round him and squeezed tight.
“It's good to have you back to huggable size,” Brendon said, “I was worried you were gonna break.”
“I wouldn't have,” Spencer said. “You guys were so careful with me, you wouldn't have hurt me.”
“No hogging the Spencer,” Ian said, and wrapped his arm round Spencer, then tugged Dallon into the hug, too.
“And now I'm back and I'm fine,” Spencer continued.
“As long as you remember to let us do some of the work sometimes,” Ian said.
“Yeah,” Brendon said, “let us pick up our share of the work. Be the bigger man, Spence.”
“Oh, shut up,” said Spencer, but he was already laughing.
“Just making sure it sticks,” Dallon said, “ok?”
“Ok, I get it, I get it,” Spencer said, gently detangling himself. “In fact...” He grinned. “As I'm supposed to be relaxing, I'm just going to sit here and wait for my waffles to appear.”
“And so it begins,” Dallon said, but he put the syrup on the table and turned back to the waffle maker.
Brendon poked Spencer with his toe as he sat down. “Hey,” he said, as Spencer looked up from his coffee. “I really am glad you're back.”
“Yeah,” Spencer said, nudging him back. “Me, too, B, me, too.”