Pete Wentz got on top of Ryan Ross's to-kill list with one eagerly-spoken word.
Spencer leaned over the half wall of his cubicle while Pete started in on something that was probably supposed to be a pep talk.
"It's not really a triathlon," Spencer whispered, just loud enough for Ryan to hear. "It's three different games that we play as an office."
Ryan's eyes narrowed as Pete got everyone in a line in the main aisle, and Ryan glared as Pete paired everyone off. The look he gave Pete when he pushed Spencer toward Dallon and tugged Ryan off toward the corner was beyond glaring. "Death rays as human expression" was a much better way to put it.
The corner held someone small and trembling that Ryan had never seen before, but then, Ryan had only been working at Clandestine Industries for a couple months. If he'd had Spencer's years of experience, Ryan might have noticed right away that the shaking wasn't nervousness, but restraint. The dude was about five seconds from running circles around Pete, and judging by the indulgent smirk look on Pete's face, he wanted him to.
"Brendon," Pete said as he snatched Ryan's hat off his head. "Feel like going for a third win?"
Ryan's "win?" and the way he grabbed to get his hat back from Pete were completely ignored. Brendon slung his arm around Ryan's neck - Ryan had never been more glad for his scarf barrier in his life - and nodded eagerly.
This wasn't going to be pretty.
Pete Wentz's version of a triathlon included go-karts. When they left the SUVs Pete had commissioned to get them from the office to the track, Ryan was tossed into shotgun unceremoniously.
"Why do you get to drive?" Ryan asked before the lawnmower-sounding engine roared to life.
Brendon had goggles. Actual fucking goggles. It made him look like a bug as he beamed at Ryan.
"Because I win," he said, and he hit the gas.
Their biggest competition ended up being either Meagan and Sarah - that was a cart that wasn't afraid to cut people off - or Travie and Gabe - Gabe wasn't driving, probably because he would have spent more time lewdly gesturing at Pete from the sidelines than driving if he'd been behind the wheel. But Ryan and Brendon's cart still came out ahead, and Ryan could see why after their second lap: Dallon was purposely making people spin out when Spencer pointed them out.
"How much did you pay Dallon?" Ryan yelled.
"He gets first crack at the donuts for a week!"
Strategy and enthusiasm. Ryan hated his guts.
By the time they got the checkered flag, Ryan's hair was a mess. He barely waited for Brendon to brake before he took off his harness and dashed for the bathroom. It was the dirty cinderblock room he expected it to be, but there was a mirror, and while he looked like he'd been dropped out of a plane or something equally ghastly, his silk shirt wasn't too out of sorts, and his pants still had their crease.
He was smelling his shirt when Spencer walked in - fuck, he smelled like a gas station - and winced when Spencer smoothed down his hair with a hand.
"You should probably change before the next round," Spencer said.
"My change of clothes is at work. You know, along with my actual work?" Ryan's eyes narrowed. "You're using hairspray."
"So you look..." He waved a hand to indicate that every hair on Spencer's hair was in place, and when Spencer only raised an eyebrow, Ryan broke off with a disgusted sound.
Of course, that's when Brendon decided to round the wall that separated the sinks from the urinal. He looked just as put together as Spencer, if far more caffeinated.
"Don't worry." Brendon dropped a backpack at his feet before making for the door. "I've always got my teammates covered."
And that was how, in one fell swoop, Brendon Urie replaced Pete Wentz on the top of Ryan's to-kill list.
It was hard knocking Pete from number one, especially since Pete dragged Ryan by the hand over to a building not too far from the go-kart track. The employees had been separated into four groups and shoved in four separate rooms. Spencer and Dallon were in the room with them, but so were blacklights and flashing sirens and a rack of bulky plastic vests. Which, of course, made Spencer snicker. The only time he'd dragged Ryan out for laser tag, he'd been knocked out by a pack of eight-year-olds about thirty seconds into the game. And he was supposed to have sixty hits before he would be eliminated. Fucking punks.
But Pete subjecting Ryan to constant pain and Spencer being witness to past and future humiliation were nothing next to the black jumpsuit that Brendon had given him. A jumpsuit apparently meant for someone 6'5" and 200 lbs.
"It'll fit better once you put the vest on," Brendon said cheerfully. His own jumpsuit fit perfectly, of course. "And you can roll the legs up."
The only reason Ryan didn't beat Brendon over the head with his plastic gun was because of a warning look from Spencer, who, of course, looked psyched to mow down everyone. Dallon seemed pretty cheerful, too; he was talking about flanking with Brendon and speculating about the layout of the floor as they waited by the door.
"Why isn't he Brendon's teammate?" Ryan said, barely relaxing his jaw to get the words out. "He looks like he cares."
Spencer helped Ryan get the straps of his vest in place. "Teambuilding doesn't really work if it's with your best friend."
"So why are you in my group?"
"Because even Pete knows when to quit pushing." He pat Ryan on the back. "Just stay behind Brendon."
The doors whizzed open, and Spencer and Dallon swept out like they were in a military training video. Brendon, on the other hand, hovered as Ryan made his way over.
"Why are you waiting?" Ryan asked.
Brendon held up a hand, and then he pointed toward the room. Everyone's vests were glowing: green for their team, and as they watched, purple and red appeared on Brendon's other side.
"You get purple," Brendon whispered, teeth glowing in the light as he grinned, and he swooped in.
Ryan, for his part, did actually hit purple. It was Sarah, and she laughed as her vest buzzed. "Not fair, Urie! You know how terrible I am at this!"
Brendon circled around and pecked her on the cheek. "Maybe you'll be on my team next year."
Ryan's stomach clenched up, and he tried to shoot her again. It didn't work. Neither did pointing his gun at Brendon.
The area cleared, and Brendon said, "I think I'll try to get some points off Blue's base. You in?"
"What about our base?"
"Spence and Dallon have got it covered."
Ryan scowled so hard it hurt a little. "So you know Spencer pretty well," he said stiffly.
A flash of blue appeared across from them, and Brendon shot in its direction without looking. Ryan could hear the vest rattle and the whispered "damn" without even trying.
"We've been sharing coffee breaks for years. Never met anyone better at quoting Anchorman in my life." Brendon adjusted his glasses. He was sweating a lot. "You okay, dude?"
Ryan had a death grip on his gun. It took a lot of effort to ease it. "I hate this stupid game. I hate all of this. I just wanted to stay at work."
Brendon's face fell. It made him look like a kicked puppy, and somehow, that made the roiling in Ryan's stomach even worse.
"You can always hide." The cheer in Brendon's voice sounded forced. "I can sneak faster if it's just me."
He didn't wait for Ryan to reply before slipping off into the shadows again.
Ryan hid in a little alcove away from all the bases. No footsteps came near him, but he could hear thumps and laughter in the distance. Because, apparently, everyone else who worked for Pete had a sense of humor. And didn't offend people their best friends liked. Ryan just liked to work and smoke up with Spencer in his off-hours. Was that such a bad thing?
He sighed, and it wasn't until he heard someone coming that he realized how loud it was. Fuck. If he got eliminated, he would ruin Brendon's streak, and wouldn't that make things even better?
The noise got louder. Ryan balanced his gun so it was at least pointed away from him. Maybe he could get a couple hits in before--
He squeezed the trigger as a plastic barrel came into view. But the vest behind it was green.
"You could have warned me," Ryan whispered in a hiss.
Brendon laughed. "We have forty seconds before anyone else can get a shot off. You want to mow them down with me?"
"How'd you pull that off?"
"I hit all the base targets in less than a minute. Come on, I've almost got Travie knocked out completely."
Ryan didn't smile. But he did follow Brendon.
After Team Brendon-and-Ryan's second victory, the SUVs headed back to Clandestine Industries for lunch. Ryan managed to keep from tripping over the legs of the jumpsuit on his way into the car, but either way, at least he could change before Pete's last round of torture.
"We've got your ass," Spencer was saying cheerfully as they bounced down the road. "The trophy's mine this year."
Ryan nodded, but he wasn't really listening. He was alone with Spencer; Brendon had gotten in the SUV in front of theirs with Dallon and Sarah and a bunch of other people he liked better. The windows were too tinted to see inside, but they were probably telling jokes and laughing and generally being happy.
"Did you hear me?"
Spencer sighed. "I said Dallon and I just need to get the next event to get to the tiebreaker. You have no idea how humiliating Pete's tiebreakers are."
"Yeah." The humiliation ship had sailed for Ryan long ago. "Sure."
It wasn't until Ryan realized that Spencer had stopped talking that he looked over and saw Spencer staring at him with narrow eyes. He jerked. "What?"
"Nothing," Spencer said blandly. He nodded to himself a couple times, and then he stared out the window. Weirdo.
Lunch was a pretty decent deli spread in the conference room, and having the lead meant that Brendon and Ryan got first pickings while everyone else got to watch. Even the so-called rewards made Ryan's skin crawl.
"I don't know why the rest of you are even bothering," Brendon said loudly as he picked up a pile of pineapple. "You just get to prove how much you suck. Again."
If Ryan had said something like that, everyone would have wondered what his damage was and ignored him until the end of time. But since Brendon was Brendon, he got balled-up paper thrown at his head, and cheerful boos filled the air. Pete pretty much flying tackled him.
And Ryan didn't hate either of them. He wanted to like them.
It was only when Brendon turned his high-beamed smile in Ryan's direction that he dimmed. "You okay, dude? Need to be on your game."
"Yeah." Ryan shook his head to clear it. He lifted his plate. "I just have a headache. I'll go eat my desk and take something."
Brendon pulled Ryan into a half-hug. Ryan didn't relax into it, but it was a close thing.
"Good idea," Brendon said. "We'll take down Spencer and Dallon after lunch."
It was quieter at Ryan's desk, and just sitting behind his little cubicle wall away from most of the group made the tension in his shoulders ease. He picked at his sandwich for a minute, but he didn't get much eating done. It was too easy to peek toward the glass walls of the conference room, and since that room was lit and the office was dark, they wouldn't be able to see him do it.
Not that anyone was interested. Most of the group was chatting brightly or throwing food at each other. It took Ryan a second to spot Brendon and Spencer, who were in a corner with their heads down. The glimpses of their faces that Ryan got were serious, and Spencer even had his serious posture, with his plate on the counter in front of him and his arms crossed.
Ryan pushed his chair back quickly when they turned his way.
The group reconvened in the park across the street from the office. The grass had stakes connected by strings. It looked ominous enough on its own...and then Pete held up rope and told all the teams to get a piece. Because they were apparently doing a three-legged race.
"I'll get one for you guys, Spence," Brendon said. He was carefully not looking at Ryan. Spencer nodded once, looking just as seriously as he had inside, and Brendon ran off, full tilt.
That gave Ryan the opportunity to go up to Spencer and whisper, "Was it something I did?"
Spencer frowned. "What are you talking--"
He cut off when a cry came from Pete's end of the field. Ryan's head whipped around, and he was running before he realized it.
"I'm fine," Brendon was saying as Ryan ran up. He was crumpled on the ground and cradling his ankle. "It just rolled, and...shit."
"Don't stand on it." Ryan put his arm around Brendon's shoulder. "We can get ice back at the office."
"I'll help you," Spencer said, taking Brendon's other side.
They had only walked a couple feet before Brendon looked over at Ryan and winked. Spencer rolled his eyes like he'd seen, but he didn't pull away. Ryan nearly stopped, but Spencer whispered, "Keep walking, asshole."
Ryan kept walking, and so did the others. Brendon didn't drop his arms from their shoulders even when they were out of sight, and when they were back at the office building, Spencer eased Brendon into a chair in the conference room.
"I'll get some ice out of the break room," Spencer said.
Ryan raised an eyebrow in his best impression of Spencer. "But he isn't even--"
"Thanks," Brendon said brightly.
Ryan held out his hands, but Spencer pointedly looked at Brendon with his best don't-fuck-this-up face, and he left the room without another word.
"Why the hell did you do that? I thought you wanted--"
"But you didn't," Brendon said. "You didn't want to do any of it."
It was the most serious Ryan had seen Brendon yet, but it wasn't the same kind of serious look that he'd been giving Spencer. He was shaking again. Like he wanted to move.
"Oh," Ryan said. And he kissed Brendon.
Okay, what he actually did was lean over Brendon's chair kind of slow to give Brendon a chance to back off. But Brendon grabbed the back of his head and pulled him close, so he initiated the kiss as much as Ryan did. That made it easy for Ryan to partially melt against Brendon, let him take the lead a little.
"The gun went off."
Ryan pulled away from Brendon with a gasp, but Spencer didn't look particularly surprised or horrified. Brendon didn't look surprised at Spencer's appearance, either. He was flushed, and his lips were a little red from the kissing, and...
And Brendon was rocking in a desk chair. Because they were at work.
"I'll make your excuses to Pete," Spencer said. "Everyone goes home after the last round anyway. Just make sure you're done by six? I don't want to wait too long for dinner."
"Sure." Ryan had thought Brendon looked cheerful before, but at this point, he half-expected Brendon to sprout animated birds around his head. He waved at Spencer, and Spencer left with a little eye roll.
"What was that?" Ryan asked.
"That," Brendon said, getting to his feet, "was our cue to go to your place. It's only a couple blocks away, right?"
Luckily for them both, Brendon was pulling Ryan out the door before he could give a coherent answer.
Ryan didn't really come back to himself until he was kicking his shoes off in his apartment. Brendon even had to pull Ryan's keys out of his pocket to get the door open, which Brendon didn't mind, if the way he squeezed Ryan's thigh as he did it was any clue.
It was only when Brendon was eying the place that Ryan was present enough to say, "We're not fucking on the couch. Or in the shower."
"Because Spencer will disembowel me while I sleep if I get jizz everywhere."
Brendon's nose crinkled, but he laughed. "Sexy."
His laughter turned into a moan when Ryan pulled him close and kissed him again. Their dicks were lined up through their jeans, and god, the pressure felt great. But he couldn't have sex in the living room.
"Bedroom," Ryan said, and he pulled Brendon inside.
But while Brendon was happy to go wherever Ryan directed, he didn't let Ryan push him to the wall. He pinned Ryan instead, unbuttoning Ryan's jeans with one hand while he licked up the side of Ryan's neck.
"Shut up or I won't blow you," Brendon said into his neck.
Brendon pushed Ryan's shirt over his head - luckily, Ryan's nicer clothes were still hanging in his locker at work - and kissed his way down. It was only when Brendon pushed down Ryan's jeans that Ryan remembered.
"I don't know how...I mean, I'm kind of..."
"Hung like a horse?" Brendon's eyes were so wide they looked like they were going to fall out of his head. But he grinned and pulled Ryan's cock out of his boxer briefs. "Good thing I don't need to talk for, I don't know, the next week."
And with that, he went for it.
There was no way Brendon could deep throat Ryan, but he obviously knew what he was doing. He licked his way up both sides of Ryan's cock until Ryan was fully hard and leaking just a little, and it was a mess, but when Brendon stretched his lips over the head of Ryan's cock...fuck, the slide was perfect, both of Brendon's mouth and his hand. Ryan's hips twitched before he could stop himself.
Brendon sent Ryan a warning look and pinned Ryan's hips with his free arm. He didn't look that strong, but Ryan was going nowhere. It was Ryan's turn to shake. It felt like only a few seconds later that Ryan had to tap on Brendon's shoulder and say, "I'm...I'm gonna..."
"No," Brendon popped off to say. He scraped his fingernails down the top of Ryan's thigh and grabbed the base of his cock. "I'm not done yet."
He wasn't gentle. Ryan didn't want gentle, and somehow, even though Brendon obviously knew it, there was still a smile around Brendon's eyes. Like he was glad that there was something in Ryan that would always be dissatisfied, that would always fight back.
And ultimately, that was what made Ryan's muscles go loose, what let Brendon take his fill until Ryan came. And it was what allowed Ryan to wrestle Brendon to the bed and give as good as he got instead of basking in the afterglow.
"You look smug."
"Hmm?" Ryan spun his chair around to look at Spencer. "I thought I looked like I always did."
"You look like you did when I got home last night. Just with clothes on."
"Hmm." He and Brendon had gotten dressed in order to eat pizza with Spencer. Maybe Brendon was still pulling on his shirt when Spencer came in, but they were both fully dressed.
Spencer rolled his eyes, but he balanced a trophy on the wall of the cubicle. "Here. This is yours."
"You and Brendon won the triathlon. Two events, remember?"
"Yeah, but...you and Dallon?"
"Dallon got an important work phone call," Spencer said with a little smile. "And I heard the gun go off while I was, uh, checking for ice. So your only competition wasn't there."
Ryan took the trophy. He couldn't fight the smile spreading on his lips, so he didn't try. It made Spencer's smile even wider.
"But wait," Ryan said. "Brendon did all the work. Why doesn't he have it?"
"Because, and I quote, 'I can always visit'." Spencer snorted. "It's a good thing Pete's the king of PDA, or you'd have to find a new job."
Ryan assumed the closest thing to a scowl he could manage at the moment, which was his blank face. It didn't have any effect on Spencer. "Hey, I'm a professional."
"You're not the one I'm worried about."
As Spencer walked away, Brendon's head popped up over his cubicle in the far corner. He gave Ryan a cheerful wave. Ryan only raised an eyebrow back, and Brendon pretended to catch it dramatically, swooning back down into his cubicle.
Yeah. Spencer was right to be worried.