you whisper me into
where i can see
far as in dreams
and further still
this is what i live for
'Do you miss me?'
The sky is grey like old asphalt and November mornings, and Ryan wonders absently if it's going to rain. He lets Brendon slide back into focus in the glass.
Brendon's lying across the sour sheets, sprawling and lazy and not really paying attention. Ryan watches him in the window, tracing down the long lines of Brendon's back and dipping into his hipbones before the reflection cracks into a haggard-looking tree on the other side of the road.
Ryan turns back. 'It's going to rain.'
Brendon rolls onto his side, chin propped in one hand. He has a long, sweeping scratch stretching across his collarbone that Ryan doesn't remember giving him, too stark to be from anyone else. 'It's not.'
'All right, then, it's not.'
Brendon smiles. 'It can't rain, I don't have a coat. Spence'll kill me if I get a cold now.'
There's that jerk in Ryan's stomach, the one he's been trying (failing) to ignore for over a year now. 'When do you leave?' he asks, dropping his eyes to his hands and pretending not to notice when Brendon makes a face at him.
'Next week, so make the most of me.' Brendon smiles. 'Maybe we should book another night here.'
'I told you, I c–'
'I know, Ross. I do actually listen to what you tell me. And I know you do too, so.' Brendon huffs. He rolls back onto his stomach, wrinkling his nose at his fingers.
Don't go. 'We could – come back here, though. When you get back.' Ryan holds his breath, hoping.
He coughs when Brendon stays silent. 'Or we don't have to.'
Brendon hmms without looking up. He's staring thoughtfully at his fingers, mouth twisting, pulling at one of his bracelets until it digs into his wrist. He pulls the bracelet tighter, hissing through his teeth when it pinches the skin. He looks up, cutting his eyes at Ryan. 'Yeah,' he says. 'Maybe.' His gaze drifts sideways to the window.
Ryan swallows and turns around.
The bedsprings creak. 'Or,' says Brendon, slipping his arms around Ryan's waist from behind and linking his fingers against his stomach, 'we could go some place nicer. With silk sheets and roses and wallpaper that isn't lime green.' Brendon pulls Ryan closer, fingers slipping down to toy with the edge of his boxers. 'Silk sheets, Ryan,' he murmurs, pressing a kiss to Ryan's jaw. Ryan closes his eyes, feeling the kiss blaze in his stomach, and drops his head back to let Brendon lip at his neck. It shouldn't be this easy, he thinks, why now, when it's never been this easy. He fumbles for Brendon's hand and Brendon lets him, twining their fingers together.
Brendon trails kisses from the crook of Ryan's neck to his ear, then lifts their linked hands, twisting them to press his lips to Ryan's wrist. Ryan blinks his eyes open and watches their image in the glass, pale and dark together against the sky, meeting Brendon's gaze when he looks up from their hands. They watch each other steadily, still and silent until Brendon crinkles his eyes and sticks his tongue out at their reflection. Ryan laughs.
Brendon teases his fingers out of Ryan's and pads back across the floor. Ryan watches him crawl across the mattress, picking up an envelope lying on the pillow and humming something under his breath that tugs at Ryan's memory. Ryan frowns, drumming his fingers on the windowsill in time with Brendon's voice, trying to figure out the lyric.
'Since when do you wear eyeliner again?'
Ryan drops his fingers and turns around, surprised. 'I don't?'
'This photo begs to differ.' Brendon waves a picture at him, flipping it between his fingers like a dollar bill. 'No hiding your scenester ways, Ross. The camera never lies.'
Ryan steps closer and takes hold of the photo. It's an old one, taken right at the start of his and Jon's first tour together. Jon surprised Ryan at the vanity in the dressing room, saying his name from the door and snapping the photo in the same breath. The picture shows Ryan just before he registered the camera, his gaze a little off-course, lower lip caught between his teeth. Ryan kept the photo as a reminder of the show more than anything else, together in the A4 envelope with some pictures of Z, of Alex goofing for the camera, one of Spencer and Jon bending over a sheet of music years ago. He's never really paid much attention to the picture before and he's a little surprised Brendon noticed half a line of pencil when even Ryan forgot it was there.
He passes the photo back. 'I don't very often,' he says. 'That was kind of spur of the moment.'
'Good thing someone had a camera, then,' replies Brendon, something in the way he says someone making Ryan look closer at his face. Brendon catches on too quick, though, and waggles his eyebrows at Ryan, breaking the moment. He nods at the envelope on the pillow. 'None of me in there, Ryan, should I be offended?'
Ryan doesn't keep photos of Brendon because he's too afraid of what he might let out, in part to anyone who stumbles on the envelope, mainly to himself. He's not sure why he bothers; Jon knows he has the photos but doesn't ask to see them, and Ryan likes to think anything he doesn't know about himself is just something that hasn't happened yet.
Anything Brendon doesn't already know about Ryan is what he chooses not to know. Ryan finds it a little unnerving that one person can hold so much of him. It's getting harder, leaving pieces of himself behind in motel rooms and dial tones, trying not to think about what it would mean if he didn't have to anymore.
'Will you wear it for me?'
Ryan blinks. 'What, now? Here?'
'Yeah.' There's a look in Brendon's eyes that Ryan doesn't understand, trying to be defiant but really more careful, hesitant, and Ryan wants to ask what it means.
He doesn't. 'I don't think I've got any with me.' He manoeuvres his way around the bed to his bag, probing around inside to see if any stray pencils have fallen into the corners. He draws a blank. 'No, I – oh.' Slipped between the pages of a battered old notebook is a three-inch stub of chocolate eyeliner that looks like it might belong to Z. Ryan stands up with it between his fingers. 'Yeah?'
Brendon nods and Ryan positions himself awkwardly on the stool in front of the vanity. The mirror might have been striking if not for the flaking gilt, peeling at the edges to reveal a dull grey wood underneath. Ryan runs a hand over the frame, conscious of Brendon watching him from the bed. 'All right.' Ryan lifts the pencil to his eye, pulling the skin taut, then hesitates. Having Brendon there makes things a little (a lot) different in his head, the make-up not quite so meaningless a throwback. He meets Brendon's eyes in the mirror, not missing the way his eyes darken and narrow.
Ryan shakes his head, breaking their gaze, and goes to press the point against his skin.
'Wait.' Brendon jumps off the mattress and walks quickly around to Ryan. He holds out his hand, palm up, and Ryan raises his eyebrows but gives him the pencil. Brendon takes it, frowning at the point. 'You should take better care of these.' Ryan rolls his eyes.
Brendon puts one hand in the middle Ryan's chest, pushing him back with his fingers until Ryan hits the back of the chair. He slips into Ryan's lap, knees one on either side of him, and quirks his lips into a smile. He darts a kiss just below Ryan's eye. 'I want to do it.'
Ryan's pulse jumps in his throat. 'Remember how?'
Brendon shoves at him lightly. 'Of course,' he says, sounding affronted. 'Three years of you bitching me out every time I got it wrong, of course I remember.' He lifts the pencil up to his eyes, then makes a face and lowers it again. He draws a couple of lines across the back of his hand to warm it, thumb to little finger and back again, and nods with a satisfied expression.
Brendon uses his free hand to brush Ryan's hair back from his face. Ryan tilts his head back further, his eyes fluttering closed. 'Now,' Brendon murmurs, breath playing across Ryan's lips. He places his fingers against Ryan's temple and cheekbone to keep him in place. 'Hold still.' He sets the pencil against Ryan's skin, just past the corner of his eye, and drags it across his eyelid to the outer edge. His fingers are dry and cool, confident with the eyeliner, and Ryan's mind floods with dressing rooms and after-shows and photo shoots. 'Breathe,' whispers Brendon as he draws over Ryan's other eye, his free hand sliding down a little. He traces his thumb around the curve of Ryan's mouth, lifting it away quickly when Ryan parts his lips.
Ryan makes a discontented noise in his throat, blinking his eyes open to meet Brendon's. Brendon raises his eyebrows. 'Not done yet, Ross,' he tells Ryan, waving a hand between them. His voice sounds rough. 'Let me finish, come on.'
Ryan rolls his eyes but closes them again anyway, only just managing not to jump in surprise when Brendon drops a lingering kiss to the centre of his mouth. 'All right,' says Brendon, and tilts Ryan's head back a little further with his fingertips. 'Nearly there, Ryan, it's just –' he draws a line under Ryan's eye, and it's there, Ryan can feel his fingers shaking – 'just this one to go, come on, come on –'
Ryan opens his eyes just as Brendon tosses the pencil on the dresser: he has time to draw one sharp, noisy breath and then Brendon's mouth is back on his. Ryan pushes up into the kiss, feeling one of Brendon's hands slide into his hair. The kiss is hard, biting, and Ryan's limbs sprawl loose, head thrown back over the edge of the chair. Brendon's other hand is tight around his wrist, strong enough that Ryan can feel the bruises begin to form. Ryan moans into it, giving himself over to Brendon for as long as Brendon will have him, trying to tell him so with the tilt of his neck, the press of his hips.
Brendon pulls back, panting. 'Wait, wait,' he says, fingers still tight around Ryan's wrist. He jerks his head at the mirror, eyes roaming over the top half of Ryan's body. 'Make up, Ryan.' His eyes fix on Ryan's throat and he runs his tongue across his teeth.
Ryan swallows. He lifts a hand from the arm of the chair to curve around the back of Brendon's neck and Brendon lets him, dropping his hand to rest on Ryan's leg. 'Come back,' says Ryan. 'I know what I look like with make up on,' he murmurs, dragging Brendon's head down, 'this is better'. Brendon laughs against his lips, quick and sort of surprised, and Ryan closes his eyes, feeling it all over his skin.
Brendon's mouth moves down to his neck, too sharp for a kiss, not quite biting. 'Don't, you don't have to stop,' says Ryan without meaning to. He angles his head back further. 'You can – you can do whatever you want.'
'I know,' Brendon tells him, just like the first time. 'I am.'
Brendon hums, pushing his fingers into Ryan's hips to keep him pressed to the mattress, and Ryan catches his breath. Brendon's mouth is hot and wet and so fucking good, just like every other mouth Ryan's ever had around his cock, but there's something about it being Brendon who's taking him down as far as he can manage, about Brendon slipping his tongue around the head and curling his fingers around the base, that's slipping into Ryan's voice and turning his words into one long, stuttering moan. Ryan's fingers are in Brendon's hair before he realises what he's doing, clenching tight and forcing Brendon's head lower. Brendon jerks and Ryan pulls his hands away.
Brendon pulls off, narrowing his eyes at Ryan. 'I didn't say stop.' His mouth is glistening and he licks his lips, too fast to be deliberate. Ryan copies the move anyway. 'Put your hands back,' Brendon orders, continuing to glare until Ryan swallows and threads his fingers back into Brendon's hair, pushing him down.
Brendon licks along the underside of Ryan's cock then takes him in, sinking down to meet his hand coming up. Ryan has an idea that he's babbling, words falling out of his mouth like he doesn't have room for them in his head anymore, and he'd be embarrassed – Brendon, Brendon, fuck, please, your mouth, your fingers, god - if it was for anyone else. Anyone Ryan hasn't written into jagged dreams for as long as he can remember, his thoughts catching on Brendon like a fish on a hook; like syrup on glass.
Ryan groans. 'Brendon – I'm –' Brendon stays where he is, lifting his head just enough to swallow when Ryan comes, shuddering and rough. Ryan leaves his fingers tangled loose in Brendon's hair, eyes closed, and tries to concentrate on breathing in, out, in again.
Brendon runs the tips of his fingers up Ryan's sides, following with the rest of his body. Ryan lets his hands fall to the mattress and Brendon slips the fingers of one hand into his, bringing their linked fingers together between them briefly. 'Hey, hey,' he murmurs in Ryan's ear, pressing his lips into careful spots under Ryan's collarbone, the edge of his eyebrow. Ryan's lips curve without his thinking about it and he opens his eyes, not bothering to try to dim the shine of his smile.
Brendon's eyes crinkle at the corners and he dips his head to Ryan's, teasing Ryan's lips open with his tongue. They kiss through long moments, Brendon's hands framing Ryan's face. Ryan's thoughts are stuck on the dark, defiant look persisting in Brendon's eyes, tongue between his teeth as he applied the eyeliner to Ryan's face, and he's going to ask what it meant, later. He is, but right now he can't seem to tear his mouth away from Brendon's. He can't still his hands or the arch of his back.
Brendon whispers something into Ryan's mouth that Ryan doesn't understand, and instead of asking Brendon to repeat it, Ryan opens his eyes wide and turns himself and Brendon over. He drags his lips down the scratch on Brendon's collarbone, soothing it with his tongue, and doesn't resist when Brendon pulls him back up to press their mouths together again.
It's raining when Ryan remembers the world outside of Brendon. He blinks, trying to remember why that's important, too tired to think. He closes his eyes and lets the sound wash over him.
He's almost asleep when he makes the connection. 'Hey,' he says drowsily. 'Told you so.'
'Told me so what?'
Ryan flaps a hand towards the window. 'Weather.'
'Oh. Um, no. You told me it would rain, it's not raining.'
Ryan frowns and forces his eyes open. Rain is falling on the window in waves, matching the sway of the oak outside it in perfect time, and he can see water seeping through the cracks in the window frame. A pool of water is forming along the sill. 'It is.'
'Yeah, but. I told you I don't have a coat. That's not rain, it can't be.'
'Okay. It's not rain.' Ryan shuts his eyes, too tired to figure his way through Brendon's thought processes. Then he thinks of Brendon's reflection in the window, sprawled across the bed and smiling at the ceiling. 'Brendon,' he whispers into his neck, 'I always miss you.'
He just about registers Brendon's answering hum; the strange, tender note in his voice when he whispers, 'Go to sleep, Ryan,' into his hair, but doesn't have time to work it out before Brendon wraps his arm close around him. He runs his free hand along Ryan's arm to catch hold of his hand. 'Go to sleep,' he says again, far away. 'I'll still be here.'
The rain is a lullaby on the glass, and Ryan tightens his fingers.