To start off with, it had been a pretty average gig. The music was pulsing through the venue, mixing with the crowd’s screams as Brendon strutted across the stage. Again, a completely average gig for Panic! at the Disco.
In fact, the entire day up till then had been pretty average. Brendon had woken up in Spencer's bunk, with the other man plastered to his side (and Spencer claimed him to be the cuddler). They had woken up on time, yet gotten out of bed late – much to Ryan's annoyance and Jon's amusement.
Nothing had given any indication that something freaky was to happen while Panic were performing on stage that night. Okay, Ryan allowing Brendon to devour the last Pop Tart without glaring had been pretty odd, but other than that, the day had appeared to be completely normal.
Out of all the songs they were set to perform that night, Brendon had most been looking forward to London Beckoned Songs About Money Written By Machines'. Why? Well, he had been in the mood for a good dance around and that song was usually good for one. He didn't even care about the slagging off he would get afterwards. (What the hell, he so didn't dance like a 'demented wide-eyed bobble head'! The insult was totally unjust. So what if he always had an arm behind his back? It was only there because it looked cool... and because he wanted to keep the microphone wire out of his way. Those things were deadly, okay? He would inevitably end up on his ass in front of hundreds of people without keeping it away from his legs and the whole thing would totally end up on YouTube within like five minutes. That would suck. Suck more than all the internet tributes to the bottling situation put together. Anyway, the point was that the guys were wrong. The fans thought he was adorable and loved every part of him – awesomely weird dancing skills included.)
Ryan started the infamous guitar riff and Brendon grinned as he strutted across the stage towards Jon – all the while belting out the first verse in his usual enthusiastic style. Beads of sweat ran off his forehead and he could already feel his shirt sticking to his skin. The crowd's cheering only fuelled his manic desire to please them. All in all he felt pretty fucking awesome. He decided to tease the audience by seductively running a hand up his abdomen – the action causing his shirt to lift.
Brendon was convinced he and Spencer had super coupley telepathy as he could literally feel the eye roll and affectionate grin that the drummer was shooting towards his back. Brendon had a feeling that he would no doubt be getting some – which was awesome because post-gig Spencer was mega hot.
However, that's when things got complicated.
Just as the song was reaching the second round of the chorus, Brendon noticed a small commotion involving a few of the security guards and what looked like a homeless man near the front of the stage out of the corner of his eye. Neither Ryan nor Jon seemed too phased by it so he too thought it was best to tactfully ignore it.
The singer continued, but he made a point not to go near that side of the stage. His ego really couldn't take the humiliation of another random attack, not to mention they were having to deal with a lot of crappy media people who seemed to enjoy bitching about them being 'emo'.
Besides, Ryan would have so found a way to make it his fault. “You should have kept away from that side of the stage, for fucksake Brendon! It's like you were asking to be fucking hit!”
Jon would be all concerned and sad looking. Jon Walker was not meant to be sad. Ever.
Then there was Spencer. After the bottling incident, Spencer (and Zack) refused to leave his side for a minute, despite the paramedics giving him the all clear. Brendon didn't really want a redo of not even being allowed to go to the bathroom by himself. “Bren, paramedics don't always get it right. What if you have a concussion? You should have gotten checked out at the local hospital. No, hey Brendon, where the fuck do you think you're going!?”
Despite keeping away from that side of the stage, Brendon couldn't help but notice that the commotion was only growing larger still. The man was apparently desperate to get onto the stage. Brendon tried not to worry and looked towards the back of the stage to where the drum-kit stood. Spencer, like the others, seemed unphased by the scuffle going on at the front of stage left. That fact soothed Brendon's minor wave of anxiety, because if anyone were to be labelled 'the over worrier' in the band, it would be his boyfriend. If Spencer was calm, there was nothing to worry about – in theory.
However, just as he was starting the last round of the chorus, all hell broke loose.
It happened too fast for Brendon to even begin to register. One minute he had been on his feet and looking out towards the crowd; the next, he had found himself face down on the stage a few feet from where he had been previously standing. An uncomfortable weight was sprawled across his back. He heard an extremely loud crash and felt the stage vibrate from underneath his aching cheek.
The room fell silent before the screams changed from joy and excitement to shock and terror.
The figure on top of him lifted himself up and this allowed Brendon to look at the mess behind him. His eyes widened comically as he took in the scene. A large, deadly looking stage light was laying broken on the stage. On the stage, exactly where Brendon had previously been standing. On the stage where Brendon's life had come so close to ending.
Brendon could hear several familiar voices yelling his name, along with the sound of footsteps pounding on the stage towards him. He ignored them however and twisted his body back around to face his saviour. He was shocked to see the man simply walking away without looking back.
“Oh fuck! Brendon! Bren, are you okay!?” Spencer's face was paler than Brendon could ever remember seeing it. The drummer was on his knees, next to his boyfriend’s shocked figure. Brendon immediately found himself pulled upright into a tight, frantic hug. Looking up from Spencer's shoulder, Brendon watched as Zack and a number of paramedics ran towards them. Ryan and Jon were already there, both of them looking at him with an odd mixture of shock and concern.
“Spencer. No, you have to leave him like he is. He could be pretty badly injured and we don't want to move him around too much.” Zack had apparently transported by Brendon's side, along with a handful of paramedics.
Zack's statement only made Spencer pale further and his vicelike grip on Brendon was immediately released, “Shit. Sorry.”
Brendon hadn't realised how much Spencer's hold had been grounding him until he had let go, so after a beat Brendon immediately threw his arms around Spencer's neck and held on tightly.
“No, no. I'm fine. I pinky promise. You know if I wasn't I would make a big drama out of it. I'm good. Seriously.” The fact that he could feel himself shaking ruined the impact of his words.
So despite his unconvincing reassurances, he still found himself gently removed from Spencer's arms as the paramedics began prodding him with obscure instruments. It was okay, though. Jon came and held his hand to distract him, while Ryan immediately pulled Spencer into a comforting bear hug. Yeah, his best friends were pretty fucking awesome. He made a mental note to make them super epic smoothies after the whole thing had blown over.
“As if our stage show wasn't dramatic enough,” Jon dead-panned, already over the shock because Jon was cool like that.
Brendon would have giggled, but that was when he had noticed that something weird was going on.
Yellow, illuminated numbers were floating over the ambulance workers' heads. Each one was different and each was counting down slowly. The female paramedic who had been taking his blood pressure had the number 41.078.22.13.12 for instance. Only the last three numbers seemed to be going down, but as he looked around at the others he noted that on some the last four or five were also going down.
He peered towards the still stunned audience and was immediately blinded by a sea of yellow light. Okay, the numbers seemed to be a reoccurring thing.
What was odd was that Jon, Spencer, Ryan and Zack had no floating numbers. What was really odd was that he was expecting them to have floating numbers above their head, as if that were normal. Brendon decided he really needed his head looked at, there was quite clearly something wrong with him unless...
“Hey Jon, have you noticed anything weird going on here? Perhaps something that shouldn't be there that is there?” Brendon watched as Jon raised a brow and quickly glanced behind Brendon's shoulder at the broken stage light. Oh, well duh.
“I mean apart from the stage-light that came perilously close to pulverising me and the livelihood of our many adoring fans,” Brendon added as an after thought.
“You feeling back to normal then, Bren?” Zack was grinning affectionately at the young man as the paramedics began to back off. Apparently no one else could see the numbers, not that he had really expected anyone else to. Perhaps this was an unheard of ADD symptom reaction to shock. Brendon thought it highly unlikely, but he was willing to believe that floating numbers were an ADD reaction to shock if only for peace of mind.
It wasn't like he could tell anyone, not without having them all freak out on him and cause them to cancel the rest of the tour. Brendon couldn't bear to let people down like that.
“You should maybe consider taking him to the local hospital. He seems alright, but he took quite a heavy fall.” Brendon rolled his eyes as the lady with the 41.078.22.09.10 over her head addressed Zack. He should have seen this coming. Maybe the numbers represented people's likeability, because Brendon's feelings towards her were dropping along with the figures.
“No,” Brendon pouted. He really didn't want to go and spend hours waiting in an emergency room. Besides, the crowd was chanting his name encouragingly and he wanted to keep playing for all the nice people.
“You're going,” growled Zack. He looked scary when he was in full bodyguard mode. It didn't put off Brendon trying again however.
“But I really feel fine now-”
He was cut off by Spencer and Ryan answering in near perfect sync “You're going.” Hm, maybe it was Spencer and Ryan who had a telepathic link. Brendon was rather jealous.
His gaze shifted from Zack's stern expression, past Jon's teasing grin and Ryan's stern glare, to Spencer's
wide and pleading shiny blue eyes.
He was going.
The ride to the hospital was pretty uneventful. After Brendon had been piggybacked off the stage – courtesy of Zack (he couldn't waste the opportunity to be carried willingly and without the grumbling that usually went along with it) – the band had immediately been led out into the car-park and bundled into one of the techs cars.
Zack drove, with Ryan shot-gun (Ryan would strop if he wasn't sat shot-gun). Brendon was quite content at the back, in between Jon and Spencer. He allowed his head to drop onto Spencer's shoulder and he felt fingers immediately thread through his hair.
All was well in the realm of Brendon Urie – other than the pesky yellow numbers that were starting to worry him a bit. He could see the numbers over the heads of other drivers and passengers as they drove by. Despite his periodic checks, no numbers appeared over his friend's heads however. He chanced a glance at the mirror at the front of the car and noted that there appeared to be no numbers over his own head either. At that moment in time he couldn't decide whether that pleased him or not.
He chose to ignore all his worries and buried his head into the crook of Spencer's neck that seemed to have been designed specifically to fit him. Brendon breathed in the familiar smell of his partner's scent and felt safe for the first time in what felt like hours.
“Bren? Wake up, we're here.” Brendon's head shot up at the sound of Spencer's voice. He hadn't even realised he had fallen asleep. He looked outside the window and saw that they were indeed at a modern looking hospital. Unfortunately he also saw that the numbers hadn't disappeared. What was interesting was that a few of the people walking into the hospital had numbers that were dropping rapidly – this was the first time he had seen any numbers drop at anything but a slow pace.
Brendon eased his way out of the car, all the while trying to bat off Spencer and Jon's 'assisting' hands. Just because he occasionally acted like a child, didn't mean he always wanted to be treated like one.
An elderly woman slowly walking into the building in front of him had a particularly low number. Her white hair and pale skin contrasted harshly against her black dress. She seemed to be having a hard time breathing. She reminded Brendon of his grandmother – he wished her well in his mind, but he had a bad feeling about her. The number 00.00.00.25.04 glowed ominously above her head. A nagging feeling was tugging at his brain, urging him to make a realisation. He just couldn't figure out what.
The Panic entourage followed her and they came into an extremely crowded waiting room. Ryan groaned, “You chose a great day to almost die on stage, Bren.”
Brendon beamed in return and threw his arms tightly around his lyricist, “You know you would have died along with me, Ross. Your little emo heart would have burst with angst.”
Zack finally found four empty seats for them all after signing Brendon in at the reception desk. (Brendon would end up sitting on someone's lap anyway so there was no real point to searching around the crowded room for five.) Brendon waited until the others had sat down and then sprawled across their laps. His head on Spencer's lap and his feet barely grazing Zack's. It was a testament to their niggling worry that none of them dared to push him off.
He found he couldn't tear his eyes off the woman.
Her low number continued to drop, in a consistent beat. Brendon couldn't help but tap the beat onto Ryan's leg – he murmured once in annoyance but otherwise let him be. Brendon really loved Ryan Ross sometimes.
She seemed to be fading, fast. Her skin was almost translucent and he could practically hear her breath coming in short gasps. A small part of him wondered as to why the nurses hadn't dealt with her yet. He had the sudden thought that she looked about three minutes from dying. Oh...
It was only a few minutes later that Brendon caught up with his epiphany.
It was a pretty horrific sudden realisation.
But as the lady’s eyes widened and her hand flew to her throat he knew what was going to happen.
The numbers weren't a likeability measure as he had joked.
He was suddenly really glad he couldn't see his or his best friend's numbers.
Seeing Spencer's number dropping second by second would have driven him to insanity. Literally.
Nurses surrounded the woman but Brendon knew it to be in vain.
She wasn't going to be leaving the crowded waiting room. Not really.
A room full of people all watched the commotion but Brendon knew the lady was totally alone.
He had already known for 25 minutes what everyone else was realising at that point.
In one second that woman would be...
Brendon couldn't bear to look at anyone around him. He didn't want to know – he didn't feel he had the right. He buried his face into Spencer's lap and screwed his eyes shut tight.
“Bren? You okay?” Jon's voice sounded a little tight after having witnessed the failed revival of an elderly woman.
“I want to go back to the bus.” His voice was mumbled due to the fact his mouth was pressed against Spencer's jeans.
“I want to go. Don't make me stay, please.”
Zack must have heard something in his voice, “Okay. We'll go.”
Brendon was surprised to hear no one else arguing, but he figured that the death had probably shaken them all up. If it was traumatizing for them, it was even more of a shock to Brendon, who couldn't shake away the thought of those numbers dropping at a steady pace as the lady took her last couple of breaths. It was a terrifying thought, knowing exactly how many seconds a person had left to live. He remembered the people he'd seen earlier at the show, how some of their numbers were dropping rapidly. Why was their death approaching at a faster pace? They all seemed fairly young... Could those floating numbers predict when an accident was approaching, something that would end their life sooner than planned?
He really didn't want to see anyone else's numbers as he left the crowded waiting room, but closing his eyes wasn't really an option. Falling down like a twat would be a complete mood breaker and would probably end up waking the band from their shock and lead them to drag him back in there.
He kept his eyes open and he would eventually be glad he did.
A young girl was giggling as she danced around the parking lot in front of her smiling father. Her blonde hair fell in soft ringlets – she reminded him of a small Greta. It wasn't her likeness to Greta or her adorable laugh that brought her to Brendon's attention, however.
Her number was dropping. Fast. Extremely fast.
What had started as 81.023.20.12.45 was dropping by the 'year' at an alarming pace.
Brendon spun wildly around looking for a possible source of danger. Spencer gave an alarmed yelp as Brendon's flailing arm whacked against his side.
It was then that he saw it.
A blue car was speeding away from a parking spot. The girl was going to end up directly in its line of path. It was as if everything had begun to go in slow motion.
Without thinking Brendon sprinted as fast as he could towards the little girl.
He heard and ignored the alarmed calls of his name.
The girl continued to giggle and laugh, the moonlight shining in her hair.
His heart sank; he was not going to reach her on time.
“Brendon! What the fuck are you doing!?”
Why hadn't the girl’s father realised, Brendon wondered as his muscles ached.
He was almost there, but then again so was the car.
Brendon was almost praying to a God he no longer believed in.
He reached out and grabbed her dress and yanked them both backwards using his bodyweight.
He clutched her to his chest as the car narrowly missed them both. Brendon let out a deep sigh of relief and willed his heart to slow down.
He got to his feet as her father reached them and pulled the then crying child into his arms.
Like his own saviour, he simply turned and walked away back to his chosen family before the girl's father had a chance to say a word of thanks to him.
He grinned at the awed and perplexed looks the four men in front of him were directing towards him.
“Come on. I want a milkshake!”
He smiled as he looked around. The numbers were gone.