The Original Brendon/Cash Happy Thought
I've decided that Brendon and Cash were totally partners in Bio 202, because Ryan and Spencer managed to get into a completely different section, and Brendon somehow got stuck with the 9 o'clock lab on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and it's one of those things where he walks into the lab and feels like everyone else already knows each other, or at least *someone* and so when he sees an empty seat, he asks if he can take it, and Cash (because of course it's next to Cash) smiles up at him and says, sure! And so they totally bond over, like, disecting fetal pigs and ...I can't remember what else I dissected in bio, and going on hikes to pick up specimens to examine. And they become pretty good friends, so they decide to try to sign up for the same lab again Spring quarter.
And at first it's great, they sit together in class, they go study in the library together, Brendon goes over to Cash's dorm and studies there, and it's at that point, when they totally stopped talking about Biology an hour before, and Brendon's doodling pictures in highlighter on a blank page of his notebook, that Cash sort of half stands out of his seat and leans across the table and kisses Brendon. Then he sits down and blushes, and Brendon opens and closes his mouth a few times. Cash almost looks like he's going to say he's sorry, but his stare turns rather defiant after a moment, and Brendon knows he should say he's sorry, Cash misunderstood some signal, he should leave before things get anymore awkward, because they're getting really awkward, but when Brendon breaks, it's not for the door, it's to give Cash a kiss of his own. And then they're sort of smiling and giggling and then they hear people coming down the hallway, so they sit back down and start pretending to study again.
And Brendon thinks this is awesome, until he actually gets back to the house, and Ryan and Spencer and Jon are sitting around talking about their girlfriends, or maybe the girls are there, too, and they start talking about trying to set Brendon up with someone--Greta, perhaps? And Brendon sort of freaks, because of course he's expected to have a girlfriend. That's what frat boys do.
And Brendon starts feeling awkward around Cash again, because he doesn't know how to tell his guys, doesn't know how they'll take it, and what if they hate him, what if this ruins everything that he's built with his house--he's already pretty much lost his parents, not wanting to be Mormon any longer, and if he loses his guys... So. Freak out!
Cash invites him over after their Bio lab the next week, and Brendon stammers some totally lame excuse, which Cash can totally see through, and it breaks Brendon's heart to do it, but the next class, he doesn't sit by Cash anymore. And there's some other frat boy in their lab section--a FIJI, maybe?--and he starts doing his labs with him. And Brendon gets totally depressed, even though he knows he has no right, and sometimes he'll find himself looking around the library for Cash, or walking by his dorm and looking up at the window to Cash's room, and--he's totally broken-hearted.
So, he throws himself into house stuff to distract himself. He volunteers to be in charge of writing the House of the Year application, and he sort of takes that as the call to make sure they're involved in everything, so that they CAN win. So, he heads their Greek Week organizing committee. He makes them participate in other houses philanthropies. The 24 hour dance-a-thon? He is so there! Also, Spring Sing! They're doing Aladdin, how can he not be thinking about it 24 hours a day?
And every time he sees Cash now, he's with a brother, or another Greek person, or maybe Greta, because she's silly and fun to hang out with, and SHE doesn't want to date him--no matter that everyone else seems to want her to--so bonus.
Finally, though, maybe the week before the Spring Sing/House of the Year award giving, Spencer is like, dude. what the hell? What's going on? And Brendon's wound so tightly, and he just wants to TELL somebody, so. He does. He's sitting on Travis' couch (because Spencer's living with Travis this quarter) and his leg is bouncing up and down, and then for a moment he just. stops. and says, "I'm gay. Maybe. I--"
Spencer's not so much surprised. So really, he just says, "And?"
And the whole story comes out. How much of a jerk Brendon's been, and he keeps seeing Cash everywhere, and he MISSES Cash, and the stupid, stupid tattoo of the dollar sign, but he just can't, he can't do this, and Spencer actually looks a little bit peeved then. Which is when he busts out with the 'what do you think Patrick does over at Pete's?' line. At which point Brendon starts blinking and says, Really? And Spencer nods and says that the only reason Brendon didn't see it is because he's been too wrapped up in his own problems, and also throwing himself into the whole single-handedly going to win the house the house of the year award thing.
So Brendon starts to feel a little bit of a flicker of hope.
Then, the next night, he tells Jon and Ryan, because it felt really good to tell Spencer! And Jon and Ryan are his other two best friends in the house, so. Yeah. And Jon's like, well what about that guy you know, Ross. That reporter for the paper who kept, like, oohing and ahhing over Tom's photography? And Brendon realizes that they're thinking about setting him up, and he maybe has to bolt at that point, because seriously. He doesn't quite know what to do with all of this.
And he sees Cash on campus some more, but again he's always with a brother or someone, and he can't seem to get up the courage to talk to him, and Cash is studiously not watching him whenever Brendon glances his way, except that one time Brendon catches him at it, and he tries to smile, but then Cash looks away.
Finally, the night of Sing and Awards comes, and they don't win Sing, they place third, but it's totally okay, because they did really awesome, and they DO win the House of the Year award, and Jon totally drags Brendon up on stage to help him accept it, and none of the guys in FBR can stop smiling. Or bouncing. Brendon bounces all the way back to the house, and he bounces up to his room, and then--he's alone in this room, taking off his costume, and he just sort of stops, because this is everything he's been working for, thought he wanted, but it's really not. So, he pulls on his jeans and a hoodie and he makes his decision. The party's already started out in the hallway, Butcher's breaking out the beer, and music is coming out of so many rooms, and there are girlfriends around and Ray's talking about turning on the disco lights in the basement, and so much is about to happen! And Brendon will pretty much be the man of the hour! But he starts heading downstairs, running into Ryan and Keltie and Spencer and Haley at the front door, and they're like, "Where are you going?" and Brendon just runs out, saying, "Things to do!"
Which is, of course, when he shows up at Cash's door. He hides in the lounge for a few minutes, gathering his courage, but then finally he makes himself knock. At first he thinks Cash isn't going to answer, but then he DOES. Brendon wants to reach out and touch so badly he hurts, but he shoves his hands inside his sweatshirt pocket and says something along the lines of, "I'm so sorry, I fucked up. You shouldn't forgive me, I can't forgive me, and all I know was that I was so fucking scared of losing everything, but I didn't know how much it would hurt to lose you, and I know there's not anything I can say--"
Cash asks something along the lines of, "I heard that you won your award. You should be celebrating--"
But Brendon says, "The only person I wanted to share tonight with is you. If, you know, you wanted to."
Cash is silent for a long time, but then he says, "I was just watching 'Army of Darkness'. You know, if you wanted to come in."
Brendon does. He spends the night.
They don't do anything but talk and sleep, and maybe nuzzle a little when they go to bed, and Brendon sleeps better than he has in quite awhile.
The next day, he totally does the Walk of Shame (tm) back to his house, and Ryan's the only one up, in the dining room, and he raises an eyebrow in Brendon's direction, and says, "So." Brendon just smiles.
The next week, when Brendon's pretty much been spending most every night at Cash's, Jon asks when he gets to meet the boyfriend, and Brendon thinks about it long and hard, and then invites Cash over. Which is when we get to the watching TV in Jon and Brendon's room, with one smacked kiss turning into making out, and then, as I said before, Jon and Cassie come in, and Bill's following behind, and when Jon stops in the doorway, Bill runs into him, and says, "what's the hold up, Walker?" and Jon says, "Brendon's totally making out with his boyfriend." But of course, it's not just Bill out there, it's Travis, too, and he's like, "We finally get to meet the boyfriend? Dude! Urie finally brought his boyfriend over!" Which, of course, draws everyone
Then we get to the wrist rubbing, which Spencer is maybe the only one to notice (because of course he has to come in and try to save Brendon from all of the hovering brothers) and he's met Cash before, so he just starts talking to him. And it's like an impromptu party in Brendon and Jon's room, with people coming in and leaving again, and at some point, maybe after it's down to Spencer and Ryan and Jon (and Cassie and Keltie and Haley?) Brendon rests his head on Cash's shoulder, and later that night, Brendon and Jon give Cash a ride back to the dorms, and Brendon spends the night again. And maybe they don't just sleep.
And then, because I refuse to believe that any of the boys in FBR are not made of awesome, Brendon's walking across campus at some point during the next week, and he sees Cash walking towards him with... someone. Gabe? Ryland? Joe? And they're totally vetting Cash, but Cash is taking it with good grace, and when... I'm thinking Joe... leaves, he says, "See you around!" and he says it like he hopes it will be true. At which point, Cash turns to Brendon and says, "Walk you to class?" and Brendon says, "Sure." Then, halfway across the quad, he reaches out to take Cash's hand.
And so it goes...
Two House Dances
Brendon's first year, he ends up taking Greta to both of the FBR house dances. The first, the formal, because she's Haley's roommate, and also a Kappa Delta, and he and Spencer and the two girls hang out (and maybe pre-funk a little at Bob's house) and they pretty much end up having an awesome time. Mostly because Greta doesn't want to date Brendon, even though everyone else thinks they should. Because at this point Cash isn't in the picture.
The second dance is a toga party, where the guys and girls make togas out of matching fabrics, and this is right in the middle of Brendon being miserable about Cash, so he asks Greta to go with him--because he has to go, right?--and she manages to cheer him up, and things are mostly okay.
The next year, though, Brendon and Cash are totally together, but Brendon's not sure about asking Cash to the dance. Because it's one thing for all of Brendon's guys to be totally okay with him having a boyfriend, vetting Cash and welcoming him into the family, as any significant other is welcomed into the family, but it feels like another for him to invite Cash to the formal. Would Cash even want to go? Because Cash comes to their functions and he hangs out at the house, and more than once, Brendon's caught him walking on campus with one of Brendon's guys, but he still rolls his eyes at a lot of Brendon's greek things: how Brendon ended up at the Kappa Delta house for the Dash-a-Date sisterhood, because Greta uses him, too!; how the house goes into lockdown around initiation; all of the ceremony that goes into being a Greek. It just seems to Brendon like a bit of ceremony that Cash might not want to attend. Suits and ties and hopefully not crappy music.
So he puts off mentioning it.
Ryan is the one to tell Brendon that he's being stupid, though, because he thinks that maybe Brendon's feeling weird about taking a boyfriend rather than a girlfriend, and he says things like, "You and Cash have just as much right to be there as Keltie and I do," and "You seriously think anyone would care?" because all of the house girlfriends or girl friends are just as awesome as the guys.
And Ryan's totally wrong about the reasons--it really is more about Brendon not wanting to hear Cash say he doesn't want to go--but he is right that Brendon's being stupid, so Brendon ends up at the door to Cash's apartment, and he's rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet as he says, "So. Um. Our dance? Would you, you know, maybe want to go?"
For a moment, Cash looks like he's not sure what he should say, but then he grins, and Brendon has himself a date.
And the thing is: Brendon maybe doesn't flaunt being gay? But he's not hiding it either, especially in his house--too much of that back home, before he came to school. So, when it comes time for them to do all of the traditional things like tapping (visiting the sororities to invite the girls) Brendon shows up at Cash's door later that night and sings him the song and gives him his own little gift bag. And he also adds Cash's name to the ad in the school paper--the "We would like to cordially invite..." ad.
And Cash doesn't tell him, but Brendon later finds the ad clipped out and tucked into his sock drawer.
So. They go to, like, the Elk club, and Brendon and Cash end up at a table with the Alexes and their dates (because they're the freshman class now) and Spencer and Ryan and their girls, and at some point, Ryland and Alex Suarez lean over to tell them they're being too loud.
Then the dancing starts, and Brendon's the one to start the conga line at some point, and there's YMCA dancing and also, It's Raining Men, which may be totally stereotypical, but Brendon doesn't care, and totally ends up dancing in the middle of a circle with Keltie and Cassie, while their boyfriends laugh at all of them. Halfway through the evening, they do the house picture and the class pictures, and Brendon does his signature funny faces in all of them, but afterward, he corners the picture man and gets two of just him and Cash: the first, where they're smiling at the camera, arms slung over each other's shoulders; the second, where Brendon grabs hold of Cash's tie and pulls him in for a kiss. He doesn't even notice the flash going off.
So. Spencer goes to school abroad for a quarter during his junior year. Because he's going to get an international business degree. Personally, Brendon thinks this sucks. Because he's got a routine, okay? And Spencer is a vital part of Brendon's routine. Like, they mock bad movies together, and he and Cash go out to dinner with Spencer and Haley at least once a month, if not more often, and who else is going to help Brendon with his Spanish homework without threatening to brain him with a guitar?
But, Spencer leaves (woe) and eventually life settles into a new routine, until he runs into Haley on the street one day, as they're both walking back from class. And Haley pretty much invites herself over for lunch, and Jon says, "It's about time you came to visit us" and Nate (or someone) says "If I didn't know better, I'd think Spencer was the only one of us you loved!" So, basically, Haley starts hanging out over there more often, more often than not in Brendon's room, and, okay--one midterm that took longer than Brendon expected, meaning that Cash and Haley were alone together unsupervised for longer than expected, and he comes back to find Haley and Cash totally duking it out on Guitar Hero, and they pretty much ignore Brendon for the rest of the night. His life, so hard.
Anyway, so Haley's a good friend, and missing Spencer, and so she and Greta end up hanging out with Brendon and Cash a lot. And when it comes time for the Kappa Delta Fall Barn Dance, she asks Brendon if he wants to go. And Brendon, see. He's gone to two with Greta since he's known her--he missed the formal last year, since Greta was dating a Theta Chi at the time; so not good enough for her, so not good enough--and he was sort of thinking that if he went, it would probably be with her. But, Haley asked first, so he says yes. Then Haley says, "Actually, Greta and I were talking, and we were thinking she could bring Cash, and it would be fun, you know?"
Cash laughs when Brendon mentions it to him, starts talking with a twang, mimes tipping a hat, and Brendon tackles him and tickles him and. Yeah.
But, the night of the house dance, and it feels weird to be waiting for the bus to come without Spencer right there with him, but Cash is there, so. Bonus. They take two busses, Freshman and seniors on one, sophomores and juniors on another, and they manage to get two seats together. And, actually, it's pretty awesome. They're in a barn, and the girls are wearing pigtails, and there are attempts at country swing from Ryan and Keltie, then Greta and Brendon actually doing it, and people are laughing, having a good time. Particularly them.
They even skip the first bus back to the house, opting to take the second, but more people do that than take the first, so it's more crowded on the way back to the KD house. This time, they only get one bench seat for the four of them, and so Brendon and Cash sit, Haley and Greta on their laps, and there's lots of giggling and shouting and singing loud, drunken songs, and Haley and Greta pretend not to notice that Brendon and Cash hold hands the entire way home.
The One Where Brendon Gets His Little
Brendon gets his little.
We're going to go with Alex the Singer. SO. Alex is Brendon's little, and Alex actually knows all about Brendon before he even gets there, because, see, Spencer and Ryan met up with the Cab boys in Vegas over the summer and so the first time Singer is over at the house, he says, "You're Brendon, right?" and they get to talking, and it's sort of like it was for Brendon and Jon: totally comfortable. And Alex actually knows about Cash, too, because apparently Spencer and Ryan were showing pictures off and stuff, and Alex is the one to bring up Cash. Something like, "I saw your boyfriend had a sweet tattoo" (because he would think it was sweet) and after that, Alex is pretty much Brendon's favorite pledge. Especially since he lets Brendon talk about the house and Cash in equal measures.
The first time Alex meets Cash, it's in the student union, and Brendon and Cash are catching a quick lunch. Alex sets his tray down at the table and says, "So do I get to call you my big-in-law?"
Cash raises an eyebrow at Brendon, but Brendon's just grinning. Saying, "Yeah, little, meet Cash. Cash, meet my little."
The One Where Brendon Has to Proctor Study Hours, Ha
The freshmen in the house, before they're initiated, have study hours, which are supposed to be proctored by another member. Which means that upper-classmen people have to go hang out in the library once a month and watch the frosh do homework.
Now Brendon, the library isn't his favorite place ever, what with the need to be quiet and stuff. But he is a Brother, so he does his duty, and if he maybe gets up to go get water every ten minutes, the freshmen certainly aren't going to tell. Especially when it's his little and all of his little Alex friends. And Ian, with his Ray Toro hair.
So, they're sitting on the fourth floor, in the "quietly talking" area rather than the "absolutely silent" area, and they've got two tables, and Marshall and Singer keep miming shushing each other (not actually doing it, because Brendon says it will look bad if they get kicked out of the library) and then Singer taps Brendon on the shoulder and points, and there's Cash standing a few feet away, looking around the room, looking for Brendon.
Singer is the one to wave, because Brendon is too busy grinning like a LOON. And when Cash puts his bag down on the table, pulls the chair out and sits, he whispers, "I heard there was studying happening here tonight."
At the end of the evening, when Brendon and Cash are sitting closely together enough that their knees are pressed together under the table, their elbows, Singer is the one to say, "Um. Study hour is done, you know." But he's smiling at them indulgently.
Brendon looks at Cash, who's reading one of his business textbooks, and Cash raises an eyebrow, makes to close his book, but Brendon stops him and turns back to his pledges and says, "I'll see you back at the house."
Marshall says, "Eventually."
This time Cash says, tapping at Brendon's foot with his own, "Yeah, eventually."
The One Where Cash Studies With Spencer
Cash is... What would Cash be doing? I sort of see him being a business boy (possibly because of the name! Also, it means that he and Spencer could totally have classes together in school, and they could study together, and oh! oh! I can see them studying in the dining room of the house, and Brendon is being SO GOOD about leaving them alone, he is! but it's getting LATE, like, after 10, and they're still talking management theories, and Ryan is about ready to brain Brendon over the head with his guitar, so Brendon goes downstairs, and he sits next to Cash at the table, and Spencer glares, but Brendon just says, "I'm just going to sit here! You won't even know I'm here!" and okay, that's totally a lie, because first he gets up to get water, then he offers to get Cash and Spencer something, then he gets a handful of chips from the bag that the cook thinks she hid in the kitchen (yeah, not so much), then he has to get up and wash his hands, but then the next time Brendon sits down, Cash covers Brendon's hand with his own, and rubs his thumb in circles over Brendon's palm, and pretty soon Brendon quiets. And then he lays his head down on the table, on his other arm, and he and Cash are still holding hands, and he's just. Quiet.
The One Where Brendon is Late
Cash thinks he should feel weird, just walking into the house like this, but Joe Troh opens the door and waves him in, shouting "Urie! Get your ass down here! You've got company!" before abandoning Cash in the front hallway. Well, as abandoned as you can get when there's well over 30 guys living in a house that isn't as big as it looks.
Indeed, it's only a moment later that someone says, "Brendon's not here," and when Cash looks in the direction the voice is coming from, in the direction of the dining room, he sees Ryan sitting at one of the dining room tables, apparently doing homework. At least, he's got a notebook open in front of him, a pen between his fingers. He's got the cap gripped between his teeth.
Cash looks down at his watch--because Brendon said four, he knows he did--and Ryan rolls his eyes. "Yeah, apparently Haley's 'just a few things' turned into 'just a few stores', so he and Spence are running a little behind."
"Oh," Cash says. "Um."
He's about to ask Ryan to tell Brendon he stopped by, to ask him to give him a call when he gets back or something, but then Ryan's standing up and saying, "He called about ten minutes ago, to say they were on their way, so he shouldn't be too much longer, if you want to wait."
At first Cash thinks he means, like, sitting down and waiting, but Ryan's still standing, gathering up his notebook, etc, and he's heading towards the stairs down to the basement. "You want something to eat? Drink?" he asks as they head through the kitchen, but Cash shakes his head. Because usually Brendon would already be at the cupboards, pulling down glasses. He'd be looking back and forth between the water faucet and the fridge, trying to decide between tap and milk, or maybe juice, or maybe a soda from the machine in the basement, if he had enough money on him, or Cash? Do you have two quarters?
There's a way these things worked.
He follows Ryan down to the TV room, though, and he sees Brendon's big brother, Jon, dozing in the lounger chair, and the Butcher and Ryland are doing some unknown thing with poster board on the floor in front of the TV, and Ryan motions for Cash to grab a spot on the couch. The commercial on the TV ends, and Jon Stewart comes back on the screen, saying, "Welcome back, welcome back," and Cash sits down.
Not gingerly, not exactly, but usually Brendon is there beside him, pressed against his side, weighing him down, and this is the first time, actually, that Cash has been over here without Brendon, and it just feels, well, wrong. Because Brendon would be whispering comments into his ear and running fingers through the hair behind Cash's ear, and--
--and Jon says, "So is your accounting class really as hard as Spencer says it is? Because he's acting like it's some big deal he got a B on your midterm, and I'm like, dude, the Spencer Smith I know? Would be flipping the fuck out over a B. Hello, over-achiever."
And so Cash starts talking about the class--which, yeah, really is that hard--and he's hearing Jon's woes about his Geo 302 class he's taking, and how he and Cassie went up to this hotel outside of Chicago a few weekends ago, really classy place, and I bet you could totally talk Brendon into taking you there if you played your cards right, want me to start dropping hints? And Ryan's talking about how Keltie is already dropping hints at him, has been since about five minutes after Jon and Cassie left, and how he wouldn't be surprised if *Brendon* started dropping hints at Cash soon, and Cash is making a mental note to get the name of the hotel from Jon, when he hears the door to the house open, and very familiar footsteps on the floor above.
Brendon's singing something, and then he hears the quick stamp of Brendon's feet going up the stairs, then, maybe 10 seconds later coming back down, then making the turn to the basement, and when he gets to the bottom, Jon calls out, "Hey, little brother. Nice of you to leave your boyfriend waiting here for *hours*."
In reality, it's been maybe 20 minutes, max, and Brendon makes an indignant noise and says, "It has not been an hour. It's been maybe 10 minutes. Maybe." He's smiling widely at Cash, though, and drops a kiss to his ear as he walks by, then flops down on the couch so his head is in Cash's lap, his feet in Ryan's, and then he looks up at Cash and says, "Hi. Sorry I'm late. You can blame Haley."
"I will," Cash says. Ryan's rolling his eyes at them fondly, and Jon's grinning, and then Cash says, "Hi," to which Brendon responds, again, "Hi."
The One Where Cash and Shane Throw a Party
The party was supposed to start at 9--Brendon knows this because he'd heard Cash and Shane talking about it for, like, a whole week now, and also because Cash called him at 9:15, saying, "Where the fuck are you, Urie?" There had been music playing loudly in the background.
The fact that Brendon's not there at 9 is totally not Brendon's fault, though, because Cash had been the one to suggest he invite Spencer and Ryan and Jon and, you know, whomever. And even though Ryan and Jon had already had other plans, where Spencer goes Haley follows, so the fact that Brendon has to spend 15 minutes sitting in the foyer of the Kappa Delta house listening to girls compare navel and tongue piercings? *So* Cash's fault.
Still, they're knocking on Cash's door at 9:32, really knocking, because Brendon was able to hear the music all the way down at the end of the hallway, and he's just thinking that he's going to have to knock again when the door swings open, and it's Shane's friend Mason, who grins widely at the three of them and shouts, "Yo, Colligan! Your boy is here!"
Cash peers out of the kitchen area, raises a beer in Brendon's direction, then raises it to Spencer and Haley, too. Haley's already introducing herself and Spencer to Mason, and Shane is coming up to them, offering to take coats. The place isn't that crowded, maybe 15 people or so--a few of whom Brendon recognizes; one from Cash's econ study group this semester, a few of the guys who work with Shane at the bagel shop.
"Come in, come in," Cash says coming out into the entryway, reaching behind Brendon to shut the door, and he trails his fingers across Brendon's back as he draws his arm back to his side. The overhead lights in the apartment are off, but someone's strung white holiday lights on the ficus by the window and above the entertainment center.
"We've got drinks in the kitchen," Cash continues. "There are snacks and things everywhere, too. So, you know, help yourself."
Brendon spots Trace over in the corner of the room with Blake, doing shots of... something. Tequila, probably, given the bowl of limes on the corner of the table nearby, and also the salt shaker.
"--got stuff to make screwdrivers," Cash is telling Haley. "We've got peach schnapps. Coconut rum. Vodka. Everclear. Name your poison."
Spencer's got his arms wrapped around Haley, and Brendon can see his fingers tracing the sliver of skin between her top and her jeans. She's got her hands on top of his, and she looks up at Spencer before she shrugs and says, "You have any 7-up to go with the schnapps?"
Cash nods, and reaches into the fridge to pull out a can, handing it and a glass to Haley. Spencer takes a beer from the counter before Cash can ask what he wants, and the next thing Brendon knows, he's being herded into the living room. Trace and Blake have vacated their corner, so Cash leads them there, and Spencer takes a chair, Haley perching herself on his knees, then leaning back, and for an instant, Brendon's tempted to see if Cash will let him do the same, but Cash has a different idea, because he makes Brendon sit down first. Then he sits down next to Brendon--only it's pretty much a *technical* sort of 'next to', since he also proceeds to drape his legs over Brendon's, curling up against Brendon's side.
The guy from Cash's study group comes over to join them, and it turns out that Spencer knows him from econ, too, and the next thing Brendon knows, they're commiserating over the teacher, the last midterm, "I can't fucking believe he expected us to know that", Haley popping in with stories about the teacher she heard from her sisters, and all that.
And it's not everyone, Brendon thinks, who could walk into a party at their friend's boyfriend's (or their boyfriend's friend's boyfriend's) apartment, and just immediately feel at ease. Granted, he and Cash and Haley and Spencer were at the movies together last weekend, and went out to dinner with Ryan and Keltie and Jon and Cassie the weekend before, but.
Brendon's pretty lucky when it comes to his friends, he thinks.
He 'oofs' just a little bit when Cash leans across him so that he can hear what Haley's saying, but Cash's fingers are playing with the hair at the back of Brendon's head, and when Brendon leans his head forward, touching his forehead to Cash's ear, Cash leans into the touch. He smiles when Brendon pulls back. And, well.
Brendon's pretty lucky when it comes to boyfriends, too.
The One With the Tattoo
So: Brendon apologizes the night of Sing, and he spends the night, but it takes a little bit of time for Cash to trust him again. And it's not that Cash doesn't *trust* him, it's just that he's being a little cautious. He wants to make sure that this is something that both he and Brendon want.
So they spend a lot of time talking and hanging out in Cash's dorm room, and the thing is: it's Chicago. It's been winter for years and years, so even though Brendon's known Cash for five months now, he hasn't seen Cash in short sleeves yet. Because before, well. They really didn't get that far.
So, they're in Cash's room, and Cash is wearing a sweatshirt, but it's spring, so it's starting to get warm out, and he pushes his sleeves up, and Brendon catches this flash of green *ink*. And, like, what he *wants* to do is to reach out and touch, to turn Cash's arm over, to see what it is he saw, but he's still being careful, so he. Well, he sits on his hands, on Cash's bed, and tries not to stare at Cash's arm.
He's pretty sure that Cash notices, though, because Brendon knows that his eyes have gone a little wide, and that he's following Cash with his gaze even more than normal, and he's, you know, *sitting on his hands*. He knows that Cash notices, though, when he sits down on the bed next to Brendon and holds out his forearm and says, "Yeah. I got it the day after my birthday."
And Brendon gets his first look: it's this green dollar sign, and Brendon would roll his eyes (because it's a *dollar sign*) except for the fact that his mouth has gone a little dry, and his fingers are twitching underneath his thighs and, well. Yeah.
But the thing is: they've been orbiting each other for weeks now (five months) and it's pretty much a foregone conclusion (with the both of them, with everyone) that they're going to get together one of these days ("We're just moving slowly!" Brendon tells Jon.) and given the way that Cash looks at Brendon's mouth when he talks, and the way Brendon can't stop grinning at Cash whenever they're within, like, a 5 mile radius of each other, Brendon's pretty sure it's going to be sooner rather than later.
And it is.
Because they're in Cash's dorm room again, three weeks before school lets out, and they're talking about the summer, because Brendon's going to live at the house, and Cash is getting an apartment with his friend Shane, and they've got the TV on--some SciFi Original Movie, with, like, wasps or something--and Brendon's sitting at the foot of the bed, Cash lying down next to him, and he's got his arm underneath his head, except that enough is finally enough, and Brendon finds himself reaching out with one finger to trace the bottom part of the dollar sign, the part that's visible underneath Cash's cheek.
And Cash had been talking about the wasps, or maybe they're locusts, something, but as soon as Brendon touches him, he stills. He sort of stops breathing, actually, and he rolls slightly onto his back, showing more of the tattoo, leaving more skin for Brendon to trace.
And when Brendon meets his gaze, he sees that Cash's eyes are wide. He's sort of biting at his bottom lip, too, and Brendon. Well, Brendon is only human, so he raises an eyebrow in Cash's direction, an unspoken, "yes?" and Cash just bites down a little more firmly on his lip, but he doesn't turn away, doesn't pull his arm away.
So Brendon leans down, and even though it's not their first kiss, it's awkward: noses bumping, the wrong angle. But then Cash is sitting up and scooting closer to Brendon, and then he's leaning in, the angle right this time, and Brendon's still got his fingers wrapped around Cash's arm, around the tattoo, and he closes his eyes and kisses Cash, the hum of the wasps (locusts, whatever) buzzing in the background.
The One With the Drunken Making Out at the Frat Party
It's the first frat party of the year, and at first? Brendon's not sure that Cash is going to want to come. Because as much as Cash likes Brendon and seems to genuinely like Brendon's brothers, he sometimes doesn't seem to be quite as sure about Greek Events.
So Brendon doesn't actually ask him if he wants to come. He just, sort of, puts Cash's name on the guest list, and then he mentions it the week before the actual function and says, "So I put your name down if you, you know, wanted to stop by for a little bit. Or not! You totally don't have to!"
But Cash (while still unsure how he ended up dating a fraternity boy) loves Brendon and wants to do things with Brendon, be it going to a party or hanging out in the apartment watching bad SciFi Channel movies. And besides, who in high school *didn't* talk about going to frat parties at some time or another, right?
So he says, "Yeah, of course. What time?" And then Brendon maybe bounces a little.
The thing is: Cash can't actually go to the function part of the party, because that's just the fraternity and the sorority they're hosting the function with. But afterwards, that's the part Cash can go to. And because there are regulations about these sorts of things, no one is actually supposed to be upstairs in the house while the function is going on. So, security comes through the house to get everyone outside, check IDs and get them wrist-banded, etc.
The function was with Kappa Delta, so all the girls are there, and Brendon and Spencer and Ryan and Keltie and Haley and Greta all head outside to wait in line in the parking lot so they can go down to the basement for the party. The girls are sort of huddled together, using the boyfriends as a shield from the breeze, and Brendon's standing there, and he's not feeling like a third wheel, he's not, but it's 10:02, and he told Cash 10, or, you know, anytime after, and he's not looking at his watch, but then Haley pokes him in the ribs and when he glares, she points to the far end of the parking lot.
And there is Cash.
He's looking like he feels a little out of place, because this isn't just Brendon's boys, it's other people, too. People who they don't know. Or who don't know them. And when Cash actually reaches their group, Brendon sort of wants to reach out and grab his hand? But Cash has his arms crossed over his chest, so Brendon just bumps his shoulder and smiles when Cash grins at him. Somewhere at the front of the line, Ryland shouts: "Hey, there's Urie's better half!" and about three-fourths of the guys in the line laugh.
So it's not like it's a secret to the people in line or anything. But still.
A few minutes later, they finally get their hands x'd to say that they are not 21, and then they are in the basement. Patrick's got the music going and the disco lights are out, and the basement is already pretty full, because FBR knows how to throw an awesome party, and pretty soon they're all out on the dance floor.
Sorority girls like to stick with their house, and since this was a KD function, there are a lot of them there, which means that Brendon and Cash, in sticking with their group, end up dancing in a pretty big circle of people. Pretty soon, they break off into their own little group, though, with Spencer and Haley and Greta, Ryan and Keltie, and Jon and Cassie, and that's a little better.
It's still a little awkward, though, because they're with all these couples, and Greta, maybe sensing their awkwardness, starts dancing between them, giving them a reason to dance together, and that's better still.
Except that Brendon really just wants to dance with Cash. He wants to drape his arms over Cash's shoulders and just, well, dance.
So time passes and eventually Cash tells Brendon that he wants to go to the bathroom, and so Brendon takes him upstairs, waving at the security guard as they go through the kitchen. It's quiet upstairs, though--calm in a way the basement really isn't--and Brendon ends up leading Cash down the hall to his room. They haven't cleaned up from the function earlier in the night yet, so there are still drinks on the table in the middle of the room, plastic cups that haven't been used.
Brendon asks Cash if he wants something, and they end up doing shots, two, three, four apiece, not enough to get falling down drunk, but enough to get happy, and they maybe make out on the couch for a little bit, until they hear someone coming up the stairs. After that, they head back downstairs to the party.
And the thing is, suddenly they're a lot happy. They're giggly and when they reach their friends, it doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore. It's not as awkward. And they're still circle dancing, right, but Brendon is dancing back-to-back with Cash, and then he's turning around, and he thinks, fuck it. This is his house, his brothers all know, it doesn't matter what he does.
So, he wraps his arms around Cash's neck, and he gets as close as he can get. And then, well. Cash is actually the one to kiss him.
At first Brendon pulls back, because, well, he's startled. But then he grins really widely and kisses Cash back, and it's, like, full on kissing, mouths and tongues and Cash's hands on the small of Brendon's back. And he's maybe walking Cash backwards towards the wall of the basement, never letting go, but he doesn't quite realize it until Jon slaps him on the back of the head and says, "Get a room!"
And when he looks around, he sees Ryland and Alex doing that fake making out thing, with their hands over their mouths (not that Brendon hasn't seen them kiss on a dare before, so whatever!) and Haley and Greta are looking at them like they're adorable, adorable things.
And Brendon would maybe say something, except Cash is running a finger along the line of Brendon's jaw, turning Brendon's head towards him, and he says, "Hey," and Brendon says, "Hi," and then Cash kisses him again and Brendon closes his eyes and loses himself.
The One Where Cash Spends the Night
So, when Brendon joined Phi Beta Rho, he knew he'd be getting a house full of brothers. He just hadn't known, you know, that he'd be getting a whole bunch of sisters, too. Because after sorority rush is over with, all bans of fraternizing with members of other Greek houses lifted, well.
Well. Let's just say he still remembers the first time he realized that it wasn't just his guys who spent the night in their house.
(There's a story there, involving him and Cassie and an incident that he'd rather forget. It had been the middle of the morning, and Brendon hadn't realized he wasn't alone in the bathroom, until he saw Cassie leaning over one of the sinks, brushing her teeth, and he pretty much couldn't raise his towel fast enough, because, well.
Well, because there were *so many things* wrong in that moment, and on top of all of that, it was Cassie, Jon's Cassie, and yeah.
Which is to say, on any given morning he now expects to see Haley sitting at their breakfast table eating a bowl of Lucky Charms, or Cassie doing her hair in the mirror that Beckett attached to the outside of his door last year, the one Jon hasn't taken down yet, or Marie reading a textbook on the couch in the living room, or Keltie practicing pirouettes in the basement in front of the TV.
Of course, it's not just girlfriends.
One night after a function, he sees a girl from his and Cash's Bio lab from the year before leaving Siska's room. She's still wearing a sparkly tank top, glitter smeared over her cheeks and she smiles at Brendon when she sees him. "I know you," she says. "Don't I?"
There are girls he sees once, then never again. Then girls he sees again, and again, and again, like Marie, until it feels like they've always been there, taking up space in the house. Until he knows not to approach them before they've had their coffee, or sugar, or both.
So: this is life in the FBR house, girls kissing their boyfriends goodnight and heading upstairs to bed (or sometimes vice versa, like, for instance, during one of Haley and Cash's designated Guitar Hero tournaments, when Spencer gives up first, calling it a night); random girls waking up there; a house that's filled with a whole lot more than 35 guys.
The thing is: Brendon doesn't even really think about his own routine. Just like it's normal for Haley to show up on their doorstep at least four nights a week, overnight bag over her shoulder, Brendon finds himself at Cash's apartment just as often, his own bag clutched in his hand.
He doesn't think about it at *all* until the night he and Cash challenge Ryan and Keltie in a game of poker, and okay, all of them are pretty competitive, and also protective of their M&Ms, so the game just keeps going, all of them yelling and laughing in turn, and the hours just keep slipping by. Then, suddenly it's 2 a.m., and Keltie's got her head on Ryan's shoulder, Cash is pretty much asleep on the table, and Ryan looks across the table at the two of them and says, "You should go to bed."
And Brendon has a bunk on the sleeping porch, just like all of the rest of the guys, but he's also rooming with Patrick, and he inherited Travis's Oversized Couch Of Awesome, so Brendon taps Cash on the shoulder and says, "Hey, hey, come on. Bedtime."
Cash blinks at him, gaze slightly unfocussed, and says, "I don't--" He yawns. "But I don't have any of my--" Another yawn. "--shit here."
Brendon rolls his eyes, because seriously. He has a toothbrush. He has sleep pants. He does live here after all.
Cash doesn't protest when Brendon encourages him out of the chair, though, and he lets Brendon propel him up the stairs to the third floor, and he can hear Ryland and Suarez playfully arguing over something down the hall, and Jon and Cassie are watching a movie, and Joe is laughing loudly. When he shuts the door to his room, though, the sounds become muffled, and it's just him and Cash.
Cash is leaning back against the door, still blinking sleepily at Brendon, and so Brendon has to kiss him. Just a little bit. They're both tired, though, so it's only a minute or so before Brendon pulls away to go dig in his dresser. He grabs a t-shirt and a pair of pajama pants (a gift from Jon at the Christmas party a few months ago; they've got dancing bananas on them) and drops them into Cash's hands.
Cash looks down at them, then looks at the couch, and says, "You sure we'll fit?" And it'll be tight, yes, but the couch is seriously over-sized, and it's not like either of them would be considered tall, not by any means, so.
"Yeah," Brendon says. "We should."
He picks his own shirt and pajama pants up off of the floor, slipping them on while Cash gets changed, and then they're sitting on the couch, side by side, and okay, it's not like they hadn't shared a bed in Cash's dorm room before. Which, okay, was bigger than this, but not by much, and they'd had plenty of room. They just. Have to get close.
So: Brendon lies down, and pats the cushion next to him, until Cash curls up on his side, next to him. Brendon drops a hand over Cash's side, tracing fingers over the lines of Cash's ribs, and Cash gives a sleepy murmur, leaning back a little more heavily against Brendon. Brendon's nose is pressed to the top of Cash's head, and he breathes in once, twice, and then he falls asleep.
Cash isn't there when Brendon wakes up, though. He's got a crick in his neck, and the morning sun is too bright for his eyes, but the spot on the couch next to him is still warm, Cash's clothes still in a pile on his floor, so he waits a few minutes for Cash to come back. A few minutes turns into more, though, and finally Brendon gets up to go investigate.
What he finds is this: Cash, sitting in the dining room at a table with Keltie and Marie and Joe, drinking a cup of coffee. He looks up when Brendon comes through the door from the kitchen, grinning. His hair is still a little mussed, like he's been rubbing his fingers through it. Or, you know, he slept on it wrong.
Cash kicks one of the chairs away from the table so that Brendon can join him, and then makes as if to guard his coffee fiercely, before finally allowing Brendon a sip when he turns on the pout.
"Hi," Cash says, after Brendon hands the coffee back.
"Hi," Brendon says.
Across the table from them, Joe makes a gagging noise, but Marie slaps at his arm. Then steals his coffee for herself. Brendon really likes Marie.
"So," Cash says. "When you get your own room? We're buying you a couch that folds out into a bed."
"I know!" Keltie says. "I told Ryan the same thing, but he just laughed at me. Which is why we moved to the sleeping porch."
"Or we could do that next time?" Cash asks.
"Or I could start looking for a couch of my own," Brendon says, reaching over to grab another swallow of Cash's coffee.
"Or we could do that," Cash agrees.
The One Where Haley Is Bored
Haley is bored.
Haley is bored, and it's a Saturday night, and Greta's over at the Theta Chi house hanging with her boy, and Keltie and Ryan are at some poetry reading on campus, and Haley's boyfriend is, inconsiderately, off at the FBR Exec retreat. *On a Saturday night,* when *Haley is bored*.
Normally Haley's Saturday nights have a certain consistency, after all. She'll maybe go to a movie with her girls, maybe go out to dinner, spend a little time in the TV room catching up on a week's worth of Days episodes, and then around nine, she'll walk across the street and spend the rest of the evening in Spencer's room, or maybe Brendon's, or maybe she'll end up sprawled out in the third floor lounge letting Ian ply her with drinks as he experiments with the blender he got for Christmas. Maybe she'll challenge Cash to a game of Guitar Hero, or join Brendon and Jon in an Aladdin sing-a-long, or they'll bust out the latest Clive Owen movie and she, Brendon, and Cash will admire the, uh, visuals, while Spencer sighs and declares himself to be so put upon.
Spencer's not there, though, and neither is Brendon, and--okay, there's really no way for her to admit to this without sounding really co-dependent and, like, married? But it's been a long time since she spent a full Saturday night at her house, and quite frankly? It's a lot quieter than she remembered it being.
Bored, bored, bored.
And then she thinks: huh.
Because there's someone *else* who's always over at the FBR house on Saturday nights, too. Whose boyfriend is *also* very inconsiderately at the Exec retreat. And so, at 9:30, because there are literally, like, 5 people in the entire house, she grabs the latest James Bond movie from Allie's room because she remembers Cash saying he hadn't seen it yet, and she gets in her car and drives the ten blocks down to Cash's apartment building.
Apparently she really needs to get Cash's cell number programmed into her phone.
From the parking lot she can see that the lights in the apartment are on, so, you know, she might not have made the trip for nothing. Still, it seems like slightly less of a good idea once she's actually in the building, heading up the stairs, because Cash and Shane could very well be out, or have people over, or, you know, be doing something. Still, at 9:45 she knocks, and she smiles her widest, most hopeful smile when Cash (thank goodness) opens the door, and he looks confused for a moment, but when she holds up the DVD case he smiles and waves her into the apartment.
"So, I was bored," she says, "and I thought you might be bored, too."
He's already in his pajamas. Well, pajama pants anyway, and he's got a sweatshirt on, and it looks like he was maybe curled up on the couch before she got there, what with the crumpled up blanket and the paperback that's spread open on the coffee table.
"If you're busy, though," she starts, and Cash immediately shakes his head.
"No, no," he says. "No, just, well. Pretty much bored out of my mind. Shane's over at Trace and Mason's, and he asked me if I wanted to go, but I thought, you know. I could have a quiet night at home for once."
"Except there's such a thing as too quiet," Haley says, and she sighs, maybe a little dramatically, because she's seriously pathetic if she can't even entertain herself for *one night* (well, okay, one weekend night) while her boyfriend is out of town.
"Absolutely," Cash says. "So, popcorn? Beverages? We've got soda, we've got harder. What would you like?"
"Coke? Pepsi? Whatever you've got?" Haley says, because she does have to drive back home tonight. Cash nods and shuffles towards the kitchen. He puts a bag of popcorn in the microwave, then pulls two sodas out of the fridge, gets two glasses out of the cupboard.
Haley goes ahead and turns the TV on, puts the DVD in the player and fast-forwards through the previews, getting it setup to go. Then she goes and sits on the end of the couch that Cash hadn't been sitting on. She takes her shoes off, worming her feet underneath the blanket and grins a little sheepishly when Cash finally brings the drinks and the bowl of popcorn over.
He sits down next to her, and pulls the blanket partway up his legs, too. Then he presses play and the movie starts up.
"Brendon's going to be jealous," he says. "He's been wanting to see this, too."
"But boys who abandon us for the weekend don't get to complain," Haley says. "Right?"
"Right," Cash says.
And this is why Haley likes watching movies with Cash: because he doesn't talk a lot, but he isn't totally silent, either, and he doesn't roll his eyes at her when she maybe spends a little bit too long staring at the shirtless Daniel Craig, and he pats her hand when she cringes at the inevitable torture scene, and basically, well, Cash is awesome. Which she already knew, but it's nice to have confirmation.
It's after midnight by the time the movie is finally over, but now Cash is talking about a classic Bond which Haley's never seen, and what's midnight on a Saturday, anyway? Early, that's what it is. So, they put on the second movie, and Haley ends up lying down at her end of the couch, curling up under her half of the blanket, and Cash is curling up at his end, and the movie starts and the next thing Haley knows, there's a door slamming somewhere, and then Shane is saying, "Oh, shit." And then, "Am I interrupting something?"
"Fuck off," Cash says, then, "Dude, what time is it?" Except he sort of slurs the words together which makes Shane laugh even harder.
"Four-thirty," he says.
When Haley actually blinks her eyes open, she sees the menu on the DVD, and now she can hear the music, and she thinks maybe she was dreaming car chases? And maybe Spencer dressed in a suit with some high tech gadgetry at his disposal?
She starts to sit up, because, well. Four-thirty. She should have been home *hours* ago, but Cash is standing up now, and he's pulling the blanket up to her shoulders, saying, "Stay, seriously. It's too late for you to be going home. The couch is totally yours."
Haley tries to protest, but all she manages to do is yawn, and then she hears Cash ushering Shane back to the bedrooms, and she should really go, she thinks, except the next time she opens her eyes, it's light out, and Cash is doing something in the kitchen.
She hears plates, and also a coffee maker, and that's what gets her sitting up, stretching. Her neck is a little sore, and her back pops, but then Cash is saying, "You want a cup?"
Haley nods. She blinks a few more times, then makes her way to the kitchen. She leans back against the counter as Cash hands her a cup, then nudges the hazelnut creamer in her direction, which pretty much makes him her favorite ever, then pours himself another cup and they just stand there for a few minutes, drinking the glorious caffeine.
As Haley gets ready to leave a few minutes later, Cash says, "Thanks for bringing the movie."
"We'll do it again," she says. "The next time they have a retreat. Or have some house thing that we can't attend. We'll make it a standing date."
"Deal," Cash says grinning.
Haley gets home a little after nine, which means, unfortunately, that the house is no longer dead. Indeed, there are about ten of her sisters in the dining room, including Keltie.
"Little?" Keltie asks. "Do I even want to know where you were last night?"
A few of the other girls are making catcalls now: "Ooh, Haley! What will Spencer say?"
Haley just shakes her head, though, and holds up the James Bond movie. "Cash and I were bonding in our boyfriend-less-ness and then I fell asleep on his couch."
"Sure you did," one of the other girls says, but Keltie's shaking her head. "You two are totally hopeless, you know? One night. One night!"
"Says the girl whose boyfriend was here!" Haley says. "No room to talk, Big. No room at all."
Keltie just giggles, and Haley joins in, then heads upstairs. Maybe, she thinks, she can get a few more hours of sleep before Spencer gets back.
The One With the Boyfriend
Keltie starts it.
Three weeks after Mock Rock, and she's been over at the FBR house at least four times a week since, and for the first week, Ryan's all, "Yeah, we're just hanging out." ("In his *room*," Spencer says, "with the door *closed*, what the fuck." Like Spencer has any room to talk at *all*, what with, you know, Haley, and the fact that she's pretty much a constant fixture in the life of the FBR house now.) Week two, they go out to dinner twice, at nice enough restaurants in town. Week three, though, and someone lets Keltie into the house, and pages Ryan over the intercom, saying, "Ross! Visitor!" and Ryan, who's down in the basement, watching TV with Brendon and Jon, says, "Okay!"
He gets up, presumably to be a gentleman and greet her at the door? But Keltie's bounding down the stairs, wrapping her arms around Ryan and saying, "Hi, boyfriend!"
Jon snorts, and Ryan blushes a little, but Keltie's also giving him a kiss on the cheek, at the corner of his mouth, so Brendon doesn't think he minds too much.
The thing is, fraternities and sororities have their own speech patterns that develop in the houses. Like, there was that month-long period that everyone went around attaching "Yo" to the end of every sentence, yo. There's the way that Toro and Bob Bryar have of saying, "You know?"--inflections and apostrophes, and when Brendon thinks the phrase, that's the way he hears it in his head now.
So, because Haley is Keltie's little sis, he's not really surprised when Haley starts calling Spencer 'boyfriend', too.
He laughs at (with!) them about it, because--well, *he* finds it funny, anyway, the way they just immediately answer.
The thing is, though, that Brendon's been hanging out with Haley and Keltie, too. And after awhile, it just starts to be, well, normal, and when Brendon thinks it about Cash, maybe not so funny.
Because, well. Because.
Because it's been two weeks since Cash let Brendon back into his room, and they've eaten lunch together six times and Brendon spent the night at Cash's that first night, and while he's come close a few times since, he's made himself leave. They've spent several hours making out on Cash's bed, and they'd gone to the Midnight Movie in the quad the previous weekend. So, dating yes. But, there's a difference between casual and not, and school's ending in another two weeks, and Brendon, well. He wants to know where they stand.
So: they're meeting for dinner at the SU, and Brendon's sitting on the stairs that lead up to the second floor. Cash isn't late, but Brendon's early, and his leg is jittering, and he keeps thinking *two weeks*, and that's the reason why, when Cash comes to stand in front of him, sneakers wedged between Brendon's own, and he extends a hand to help Brendon up, Brendon says, "Hi, boyfriend," as he stands. Just to test the waters. Just to see.
And Cash, well. His grin is pretty fucking blinding, actually, and Brendon thinks he maybe has his answer. He knows he has it when Cash says in return, "Hi, boyfriend." Because that, apparently, is the way they're rolling. Which makes Brendon smile, too, and want to kiss Cash.
So he does.
Ian & His Blender
(A/N: Riffed off of a line in "The One Where Haley Is Bored".)
I'm sort of seeing Ian foisting new drinks upon anyone who even poked their head into the upstairs lounge.
Like, he'd have it plugged into the wall, balanced on an upside down crate, and a whole bunch of bottles of alcohol and mixers off to the side, a bucket of crushed ice on the couch, and he'd have one of those 'Make 1001 Mixed Drinks!' books which he'd study and highlight. Then, very carefully, he'd make his measurements and turn the blender on, and then he'd sit back on his heels and watch until it was the right consistency.
Any of the brothers who weren't busy (or random girls who were over at the house) would come hang out in the lounge to taste test when each batch of drinks was done. Ian would take notes as to their reactions--too much rum! not enough pina colada mix!--and then in a few nights (or weeks) he'd try making it again. It's his goal to develop a book of perfect recipes, because he feels that this is something EVERY college student should have.
Before he gets his group of taste testers together, though--and discovers that people don't mind if he co-opts the upstairs lounge as his own personal bar--he makes them in his room and goes door to door in the house, offering drinks in dixie cups. At first the guys laugh at him, call him a culinary wannabe, but then when it gets round that the drinks are actually GOOD, people start flagging him down, saying, "Dude. What's in the blender tonight?"
Sometimes Ian takes requests; sometimes, though, he just says, "It's a surprise. You brave enough?" His brothers usually are.
Of Bigs & Littles
(A/N: I've probably watched Monster's Inc. a few times too many...)
Sometimes, Brendon's heard, some people don't actually get along with their Bigs or Littles. Like, sometimes, something just doesn't click. Not that Brendon knows anything about this from personal experience, because Jon is pretty much the best Big Brother a guy could ask for, and, well, it's not something that he's actually ever witnessed at the FBR house, because pretty much everyone is awesome, but still, he's heard it can happen.
Which is why he worries some, when it comes time for him to get his little. What happens if he and his little *think* they're going to get along, and then they don't? What if his little actually wanted someone else for their big and ended up stuck with Brendon?
Or, *or*, what if Brendon doesn't actually even *get* a little?
Spencer, of course, rolls his eyes when Brendon tries to bring the subject up with him, and Ryan never seems to be around when Brendon wants to panic, and Jon says such comforting things as, "You'd better get me a fucking *good* grand-little, little. I'm counting on you."
So: Brendon? He's worrying.
He's worrying and when he spends time hanging out with the freshman class he thinks things like Pick Me! Pick Me!
Finally, though, the big (ha) day comes, and the Freshman get to rank their preferences for Bigs, and Bigs get to rank their preferences for littles, and Brendon's having a very hard time not ranking *all* of the freshman as number one--eight number ones, he'd be happy with any of them, really! because he will be an awesome big brother!--but he ends up putting Singer first, because he was one of the first freshmen that Brendon met, and they'd spent hours talking over Rush, more since then. Because Singer will come hang out in Brendon's room before Monday Night Dinner, and he's already joined in the Bachelor tradition that Travis started Brendon on, and yeah. Singer's pretty much awesome.
But: he tries not to get his hopes up.
When Ryland, the Pledge Educator, calls Brendon into his room, though, he's frowning. And Brendon thinks, uh oh. Here's the speech about how no one picked him, and there's always next year, there will always be informal rushees, you know how it goes.
What Ryland says, though, is: "You're going to have your hands full, Urie." Then he hands Brendon a slip of paper with Singer's name written on it, and Brendon. He maybe bounces a little bit.
It's pretty much the hardest thing ever not saying anything when he sees Singer that night, or the next, but it's all worth it on reveal night, when Singer opens up the door to the study Cave and finds Brendon sitting there, all alone.
"Hi, little!" Brendon says, and Singer says, "Big!"
Cash Can't Sleep
So. Cash can't sleep. He's in Brendon's room, the two of them curled up on the futon Brendon had bought for his room, once it became HIS, and it's comfortable enough, and Brendon's got his hand on Cash's stomach, the press of his fingers warm though Cash's t-shirt, and Brendon's breath is warm against his neck, as even and deep as Brendon's breathing *ever* gets. But still, Cash can't sleep.
Finally, after lying awake for what feels like three hours but is probably only one, he moves as slowly, carefully as he can, disentangling himself from Brendon's grip. Then, tiptoeing, he makes his way to the door of Brendon's room, and opens it, wincing at the slice of light that suddenly cuts across the bed.
He steps outside as quickly as he can, though, and shuts the door again. Then, he starts down the hallway. He hears a few people up and about still: quiet music from Tom Conrad's room, the sound of Butcher and Siska laughing about something.
Cash doesn't particularly want to disrupt anyone else, though. He just. Needs to not be lying down.
So, he heads downstairs, to the completely quiet first floor. He gets a glass of water in the kitchen, then hears the sound of the TV in the basement, and that. That would be okay, so he goes down one more floor.
He's actually surprised to see Jon Walker curled up on one of the couches, a blanket pulled up to his elbows. Jon raises a tired hand in Cash's direction as he actually comes all the way into the room, then waves it in the direction of the lounger chair.
"Come, join me," he says, so Cash does.
"Couldn't sleep?" Jon asks as Cash settles down, and Cash says, "Yeah. No idea why. Just."
"Yeah," Jon says. "I'm right there with you." But maybe not, Cash thinks, because the next moment Jon yawns. He's stopped on some Lifetime movie--there's a woman on screen crying, screaming at some football player, kicking at the tires of his car. He doesn't ask Jon to change the channel, but Jon does: through three infomercials, then the halfway scrambled HBO, before coming back down to Lifetime. There's a cheerleader on screen now. A commercial, then another ten minutes of movie, and then Jon stands and says, "Yeah, I think I'm going to try bed again." He tosses the remote at Cash. "Have a good night, dude."
Cash nods, says "Good night," then starts flipping through channels again. A documentary on fish. The guy who paints the happy trees. Buy two slicer-dicers and get a third free! He goes through all of the channels twice and is halfway through time number three when he hears footsteps on the stairs. He's sort of zoned at this point, which is why he doesn't immediately look up when Brendon comes into the room, wrapped in his own blanket.
"I woke up," Brendon says, "and I was alone. And you didn't come back. So I had to go searching."
Cash grins a little sheepishly. "Yeah, I wasn't sleeping, so I thought I'd get up before I woke you."
Brendon's walking towards him still, and before Cash can scooch over, he's climbing halfway on top of Cash, fitting himself into what open space there is. His head goes to Cash's shoulder and his arm goes around Cash's chest.
"You want me to turn off the TV?" Cash asks, but Brendon shakes his head, settling down a little more firmly.
"Just. Wake me up when you're ready to go back upstairs," he says, the words muffled by Cash's t-shirt, and so Cash turns the volume down. A lot. Then he runs his fingers over Brendon's hair.
He's not even sure what he's watching, but he doesn't change the channel. He just. Focuses on Brendon's breathing, on his warm weight. He closes his eyes for a minute, then a minute more, then a minute more. Then a minute more.
The One With Brendon's Tattoo
So Spencer totally tells Brendon he can't keep a secret worth anything all the time, which is why--well, okay, not *why*, but it's a compelling reason for doing it--Brendon chooses not mention his Big News of the summer, well, over the summer. Not when he and Spencer (or Ryan, or Jon) talk on the phone; not in any of the mass emails that go out to all of the members of the house telling about summer activities: Travis and Bill and Gabe road tripping across America! Or, well, to Cleveland. Jon and Tom and Nick heading out to California for a week! Ryland doing community theater and having to perfect a--bad, Suarez claims--British accent!
No, Brendon manages not to talk about this at all, and he swears Nate and The Butcher to secrecy--um, sure? they said--and so it's, you know, actually a surprise when people see it. Where 'it', equals Brendon's new tattoo: a set of piano keys curving over his forearm, inked to look as if they're coming out of his skin.
It was a spontaneous thing: Cash talking about getting his two--two!--and how he was maybe thinking about a third, and it was a hot summer day, the two of them sprawled on the sofa in Cash and Shane's apartment, alternating between drinking their beers and letting the bottles rest against their foreheads, condensation dripping down towards their eyes, and Brendon said, "I think I want one."
Cash laughed, said, "Just like that, huh?" but Brendon didn't miss the way his eyes darkened just slightly at the thought, the way his fingers tightened around the bottle in his hand.
"Why the fuck not?" Brendon said. "It's going to be awesome."
Cash, he noticed, didn't disagree.
Not everyone, though, does seem to agree, because Ryan says, "What the fuck, Urie?" before grabbing Brendon's arm and forcibly twisting it, so he can see the entire design. Spencer just says, "When did you get it done?" and when Brendon tells him it's been months (months!) he maybe actually looks a little bit impressed that Brendon kept it quiet for so long.
Really, though, it doesn't matter what Spencer or Ryan think, because Brendon is pretty sure the tattoo is perfect for him. Piano keys! There is no bad there.
Even if he hadn't been absolutely sure immediately after, though, Cash, well.
Well, this is what Brendon doesn't tell Ryan or Spencer:
Sometimes when Brendon's in bed with Cash, he'll wake up to the feel of Cash touching his arm, tracing a finger over the keys. Sometimes, Cash will press harder, as if he's actually playing the notes: white keys, black keys, chords. Sometimes, Brendon can almost hear the melody in his head. If he slits his eyes open, peering at Cash through his lashes, he can see the look of concentration on Cash's face, the way he's completely focused on Brendon's arm, skin. These nights Brendon will keep his breathing even, steady, pretending he's still asleep until Cash's touch goes gentle again, until he falls back asleep himself.
Then Brendon lets himself smile.
And if he just happens to *have* to kiss Cash awake in the morning? Well, he just does.
The One With the Intramurals
To say that Brendon was not exactly enthralled with sports in high school would be sort of an understatement, actually. He survived his mandatory freshman and sophomore year P.E. classes, then, on the last day of school, dumped the offending uniform (bright orange, *seriously*) into the first trashcan he saw.
"Never, ever again," he said. "Ever."
Which is why he was a little surprised (or, you know, a lot surprised) to find himself volunteering for FBR's intramural volleyball squad, his first term in the house. Mostly he blames it on Andy (Hurley) because he's, well, persuasive. I.e., he asks Brendon to be on the team. He says, "So, Urie, can we count on you?"
Brendon opens his mouth to say, 'um?' and 'I'm really not--' but what ends up coming out is, "Absolutely."
In high school, Brendon remembers his teammates glaring at him for not being quite fast enough, or, you know, preferring to duck out of the way of the ball that's coming directly at his head. So, the first game they have--against one of the dorms--Brendon worries, because he doesn't want his brothers to glare at him.
Even though he's only been in the house for a month and a half, though, he should know better, because the first time Brendon misses the ball, Travis just says, "Next time, roomie." After that, Brendon does passably. He manages to get the ball over the net when he serves, manages to volley it back to the other side a few times. Then: on the second to last serve of the game, the guy on the other side attempts a spike right in front of Brendon, and Brendon may be short, but he can jump, really, and he manages to block it, sending it back in the direction it came from.
They lose, but only by two points, and when they walk back into the house after the game is over, they're all smiling.
This is what Andy never told Brendon: his 'absolutely' seemed to actually be a blanket agreement to participate in all intramurals, which is why Brendon finds himself playing touch football with Jon and Tom at his side, Andy their quarterback, and ultimate Frisbee with Gabe and Ryland, who spend hours perfecting their leaps through the air.
The only time he says no (and actually means it) is when it's time for basketball, because, well, Brendon is short. Short and basketball are not generally mix-y things. Andy frowns and sighs, but Brendon doesn't think he has much room to complain, since he has, like, Travis and Beckett and Gabe signed up already, all of whom could probably reach the basket if they stood on their tiptoes.
Still, when the games come, he goes to root his brothers on, and sometimes that's even more fun than actually being on the floor.
The first time Cash comes to one of Brendon's games, Brendon's not expecting him. He's just about to serve the volleyball when he sees Cash walking into the gym, backpack still slung over his shoulders from his late afternoon class. He serves, and the ball goes over the net, thank god, and by the time the point is given (to Brendon's team, thank you very much) he sees that Cash has joined Haley (since Spencer somehow got roped into volleyball this year, too) and Ryan in the stands, bringing their cheering section up to six.
When the game is over, Cash meets Brendon on the floor, and he doesn't push Brendon away when Brendon gives him a hug, even though Brendon's all sweaty and stuff.
After that, Cash is pretty much a regular at their games.
Which is to say, when Cash and Shane and their friends Trace and Mason sign up to do intramural basketball, Brendon marks all of the games on his calendar, and he goes to every single one.
It's a little awkward when Cash has to play the FBR team--not nearly as tall as last year's, but the Alexes are sneaky, and Ryland and Disashi aren't *short*--but Brendon still goes. He wears his FBR sweatshirt, but he sits behind the basket--alone for the first five minutes, until Haley joins him and cheers with him when either of the teams makes a basket.
He's actually maybe a little happy when FBR loses, but that's only because it's Cash who makes the winning shot for his team. He collapses on the ground as soon as the buzzer sounds, and Shane and Trace pull him back up, give him hugs of congratulations. Brendon's actually never been so proud of his little brother before in his life, because Singer is next in line to give Cash a hug, too, and now that Brendon's looking around, he thinks that this is maybe the friendliest post-game he's witnessed.
Brendon's alone--Haley having made her way back to Spencer--by the time that Cash makes his way over to him. He throws his arms around Brendon and presses a kiss to his ear, then whispers, "Sorry 'bout that."
Brendon presses his forehead to Cash's neck, breathes in. "I'm not," he says, before he kisses Cash again.
The One With the First Date
Brendon's plan for the evening doesn't include, you know, *mentioning* exactly what he's doing that night to anyone in the house. Well, not in the beginning anyway, because while he thinks his brothers are pretty much the most awesome people ever, he also knows his brothers, from Pete and Travis to Tom and Jon, and, well.
Let's just say, as awesome as his brothers are, he doesn't trust them not to pull a stunt like Kappa Delta did the first time Spencer went to go pick Haley up, where about ten ("only *five*," Haley insisted, "I swear!") girls trooped down to check their mail right after the *'Haley, caller! Haley, you have a caller!'* page went out over the intercom.
Because honestly, he wouldn't put it past a whole group of them to show up at the quad, blankets and jackets and bottles of "apple juice" in hand and find a spot on the lawn maybe, like, 10 feet away from where Brendon and Cash are sitting, and then there would be whispering, balled up napkins being tossed at their heads, and possibly, you know, wolf whistles, and that is really not something Brendon wants for the night.
Still, he does live in a fraternity, so keeping things on the DL is pretty much impossible. Especially since he, you know, changes his shirt three times in twenty minutes, and he maybe starts pacing his room after dinner, when he still has two hours until sunset, and also, his brothers can be pretty observant when they want to be. For instance: Jon looks up from his Guitar World magazine and says, "Um, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you have big plans for the night?"
"No!" Brendon says. "No, I just--"
And, okay, it *shouldn't* be a lie, but it totally is, because Brendon is maybe, possibly, more than a little bit anxious. *Anxious*, because it sounds better than nervous, and it's not like Brendon *needs* to be nervous, because it's *Cash*, and it's not like he and Cash haven't spent four of the last six evenings together, you know? But those were evenings spent getting dinner in the dining hall, hanging out in Cash's room, studying and watching Best Week Ever and random movies and, you know, occasionally making out until Shane would come back from working on his design project in the Mac lab across campus and say things like, "Everyone's decent, right? You promised to 'x' the white board if people weren't going to be decent."
But this is.
This is the two of them going, you know, *out*, and it's not different, not really, but it totally *is*, and so Brendon swallows and smiles brightly at Jon and says, "Cash and I were thinking about catching the movie in the quad tonight. No big deal. I'm just, you know…"
Jon looks at him for a long moment, sighs, then sets down his magazine, stands up from the couch, and marches Brendon down the hall to Spencer and Travis's room. When they both look up, he says, "He's got pre-first date jitters. I need backup."
Which is how Brendon ends up playing Guitar Hero with Spencer while Travis talks smack about their skills-with-a-z before calling Beckett into the room to show these two freshman how it's done, yo. Then Haley's there, as are Ryan and Keltie, and for an hour or so Brendon actually forgets to be nervous. Or anxious. You know.
But then Haley pokes him in the arm and says, "Don't you have somewhere you need to be?" and Keltie walks him to the door of the room and says, "I'll do my best to keep them all here, okay? No promises, but if any of them show up at the quad, know I went down fighting. And Ryan did, too."
Ryan looks up when he hears his name--obviously having no clue what Keltie's telling Brendon--but when she says, "Right, babe?" he nods his agreement.
So then there's nothing left for Brendon to do but walk down the back stairs, through the kitchen, past Tom and Carden and Siska and their smirks and wiggling eyebrows--because of *course* word has spread--and then he's outside.
It's maybe a fifteen minute walk to Cash's dorm, but it, well, on one hand it seems to take forever, and on the other, it seems like he blinks and he's *there*. He's lucky in that someone's coming out just as he arrives, holds the door open for him. Then it's on to the 4th floor--elevator, because if he runs up the stairs he'll be out of breath--and, okay, so he's really only been coming here regularly for a week, but already he has people saying 'hi' to him as he walks down the hall.
Cash and Shane live towards the end of the hallway and Brendon can see that their door is open, imagines that at least some of the music clashing in his ears is theirs (Lil' Wayne, Shaggy, a little Britney Spears, the Toxic years, some Good Charlotte) and then he's looking into the room, knocking on the door.
Cash is the first to look up, but Shane is the first to speak. "He's all yours, Urie. Please, get him out of here." Shane's girlfriend is sitting on Shane's bunk with him and she giggles against his shoulder.
"Fuck you," Cash says, flipping them both off. "I haven't been *that* bad."
"Uh huh," Shane says. "Yeah." Then, "Get out of here already. I don't want to see the two of you for *hours*, do you hear?"
"Yes, dad," Brendon says, and Shane laughs.
Cash grabs the blanket off the foot of his bed, then his jacket, then passes by Brendon on his way out the door. He nudges Brendon's side with his elbow, then grins when Brendon elbows him back, and any worries that Brendon may have had about this being awkward, what with it being a real date and all, pretty much evaporate. Because Cash is Cash, the same Cash he's been since Brendon first sat down next to him in their Bio lab, and he still laughs at Brendon's jokes and rolls his eyes at Brendon's tales of his brothers, and once they're outside, he hands Brendon the blanket so he can have both hands free to card his fingers through his hair, trying to spike it into a Mohawk to show Brendon what the guy in his comm class looked like the day before, and before Brendon knows it, they're at the quad.
There are actually more people there than Brendon was expecting, blankets dotted across the lawn. There's a popcorn machine set up next to a table covered with bottles of soda, a fundraiser of some sort, and Brendon says, "You want?" and when Cash nods, he buys them each a bag. Cash buys the Pepsi. "We can share," he says.
They find a spot off to the right side of the sheet-screen, spread their blanket out, and sit down. They start out several inches apart, but first Brendon has to lean across Cash to get to the soda, then Cash pulls his knees up to his chest for a minute, before crossing them in front of him again, which brings him closer to Brendon. Then Brendon feels Cash tapping at his knuckles with the tip of his finger and he turns his hand over to catch Cash's own. Then Cash leans his shoulder against Brendon's, so they're pressed together from bicep to elbow, and when Brendon looks over at Cash, to grin at him, Cash is looking right back.
"Hi," Brendon says.
"Hey," Cash says, squeezing Brendon's hand, and when Brendon squeezes back, he leans in, too, because, well, it feels right. But before he can do more than tip his head, he feels a soft ball of paper hit him in the back of the head, and when he turns around, he sees Travis, Beckett, and Gabe all sitting 15 feet behind them, grinning, laughing. And off to the left, Brendon sees Keltie, Ryan, Spencer and Haley (traitors) and Keltie just smiles, shrugs. Mouths, "I tried!"
Brendon leans his forehead on Cash's shoulder and says, softly, "I love my brothers, I love my brothers." Cash's laugh is loud enough that the people in front of them turn around to look at them.
"Sorry," Cash says. Then he turns his head far enough to press a kiss to the crown of Brendon's head.
The One With Brendon's Parents
Brendon's family does find out about Cash. I'm going to say that it's during his junior year, when his parents actually do reach out to him, want to see how he's doing.
[Back story, which you may or may not already know: He was never actually disowned. There was a big blowout fight when Brendon announced that he was going to go away to school and turn away from the Mormon faith. Things were said, Brendon basically ran away, and ever since, he's been afraid to reach out to them--especially after he begins things with Cash--in case things get even worse.]
In my head, his parents thought that Brendon would come home, that he wouldn't be able to make it on his own, that he'd return to them and the faith, but a year passes, two, part of a third, and his parents send him a Christmas card.
And apparently this is where I get into plot summary territory!
He gets the card when he comes back from visiting Cash over the holiday--I'm going to pretend that houses are open over the holidays!--and it's not a long, in depth letter. It's more a generic card, where his mom has written "hope all is going well", but it's also signed Love, Mom & Dad. Brendon stares at it for awhile. He puts it on top of his desk, then inside the desk, then takes it out and stares at it some more. He doesn't answer that day, but maybe two days later, he does write them back. He talks about school, about how he's president of his house, about how he'd spent the holiday at his friend Cash's house. He feels guilty as he writes it, because it's Cash, but he still sends it. That night, though, he talks to Cash on the phone for two hours, feeling increasingly guilty the entire time, because this is who he is now, he's over hiding it at all, and Cash deserves better. Cash notices that all is not right on Brendon's end, but Brendon just tells Cash that he misses him. He lies awake all night, pretty much, and the next morning, he writes a second letter, one that says, "I just wanted you to know, Cash is my boyfriend."
He doesn't send it immediately, because he's pretty sure that if he does, that will be the official deal-breaker with his parents. Within the next day or so, though, after Cash returns to town, he does put it in the mailbox, and part of him feels sick, but he's mostly relieved, because he doesn't have to wonder whether he'll be able to reconcile with his parents any longer, he's sure he won't.
So, life goes on. Then one Monday night, out of the blue, his parents show up at the house. They hadn't told him that they were coming, but they show up in the middle of Monday Night Dinner, and Brendon can't leave then (being president and all) but he makes plans to meet with them later. He calls Cash before he goes, and Cash offers to go with him, but Brendon feels that he needs to do this himself. He tells Cash that he'll see him later, though, after.
He meets his parents at their hotel and they go out to the restaurant down the street. Brendon gets a slice of pie (his mom looks like she wants to protest, tell him that he shouldn't be eating sugar this late at night, but she seems to realize that she doesn't have a say) and they make small talk for several minutes. Then Brendon says something about his boyfriend Cash, emphasizing the 'boyfriend', just to see how his parents react. His father maybe frowns a little, his mother stirs her tea with a little more force. But they don't yell, they don't scream, they don't talk about disowning Brendon, never talking to him again. Instead, his mother swallows and starts asking Brendon questions about Cash: major, where he's from, his family, has Brendon spent many holidays with them?
They're clearly not comfortable, but they also look like they're at least trying to accept it, and for that reason Brendon considers the night a success. They're never going to be Cash's parents, who've adopted Brendon into the family, but I think they at least start speaking again, his mother sending letters, Brendon responding via email, maybe talking on the phone once every few weeks. Because while they may not be thrilled with all of the choices that Brendon's made, they can see that he's happy, that life is treating him well, and they do still love him, so. They try to accept that.
The One With Cash's Bad Day
Okay, so in the grand scale of, like, grand scales, Brendon might not always be the most observant person in the world. Or, okay, maybe 'observant' is the wrong word. More like, sometimes it takes him a few days to actually end up in the loop, up-to-date with the most current news.
In his defense, though, 35 guys living in one house means that there is a *lot* of news: break-ups, make-ups, what's going on with other houses. The usual. Plus, he has to spend several hours a week in the music building practicing the piano, the guitar, the cello. And then there's Cash, and Cash's apartment, and okay, so yeah, he doesn't *have* to spend several nights a week over there, but. Well. He does.
So basically: sometimes it takes him a few days to realize that something is going on, or that something in his world has changed. He's used to it now and when Ryan says things like, "Did you seriously not know that? Seriously?" Brendon just laughs it off.
Brendon's apparently better at noticing things when it comes to dealing with Cash, though, because Cash has only just answered the phone, has barely said, "Hey, 'sup?" before Brendon knows that all is not well. His voice is just a little too quiet, the pause between the words just a little bit too long.
Brendon asks, "Hey, hey, what's wrong?" which, okay, makes Cash laugh. Normally, Brendon thinks, that would be a *good* thing, but not this laugh. It's halfway broken, frayed around the edges, and Brendon's frowning now. He's actually just walked up to his house, is partway up the front lawn, but turns around then, in case he needs to start heading in the direction of Cash's apartment. In case Cash needs him to be there, like, stat.
"Nothing," Cash says, and he almost sounds like he means it. But not quite. "Nothing. Just, you know--"
--*A Day*, Brendon's brain fills in, and he starts walking again, waving to Ian and Marshall, who're laying out on the lawn, at Nate and Ryland, who are tossing a Frisbee back and forth. Ian says, "Leaving so soon?" and Brendon nods, mouths, "Cash," which makes Marshall roll his eyes.
"You home now?" Brendon asks, because it will take him 10 or 15 minutes to get there, and Cash makes a noise of agreement. He sounds like he's chewing something. He is, apparently, because Brendon hears him swallow once, but his mouth still sounds a little full when he says, "Yeah. I broke out the chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches a few minutes ago."
Which means, Brendon knows, that it had been even *more* of A Day than he'd originally thought, because Cash usually only digs into the ice cream sandwiches when he's just suffered through a particularly nasty midterm.
"You?" Cash asks after swallowing again.
"I *wish* I was eating an ice cream sandwich," Brendon says, and that actually does make Cash laugh.
"Not what I meant, Urie," Cash says. "You home for the day?"
"Not yet." Brendon could say that he was now 8 blocks away from Cash's apartment, that he'd be there soon, but he doesn't. No, instead he says, "I'm on my way to the music building, actually. Damn cello concerto." He growls the last part, which just makes Cash laugh again.
"You love it," he says, and Brendon nods, even though Cash can't see him, because yeah, he really does. It's so different from the piano, the guitar.
"I should probably let you go then," Cash continues after a moment, but that, Brendon thinks, is unacceptable, because while telling Cash that he's on his way isn't part of his plan, neither is letting Cash hang up. Because Cash still hasn't told him what's wrong.
"I've still got a few minutes," Brendon says. "So you should tell me what went wrong today, if you want to."
"It's nothing," Cash says. "Really. I just--"
"Yes?" Brendon says, because occasionally he has to pry things out of Cash. Not often, because Cash is remarkably good about speaking his mind, but sometimes.
"I totally fucking blanked an assignment for my English class this morning," Cash says after another moment. He sounds more than a little defeated. "And, like, it's not like I can't turn it in on Thursday, but we spent half of our last class talking about it, what everyone was writing about and everything, and just. Fucking poof, you know? Out of my brain."
Brendon makes a sympathetic noise, the sort that he *knows* will encourage Cash to keep talking.
"And then I got to accounting and--okay, I totally need you to fucking slap Spencer upside the head or something, because he got there, like, fucking five minutes late, okay? Which meant that the teacher had already assigned me to work with Tyler J."
Brendon cringes, even though he knows Cash can't see him. Because Tyler J. Winthropp the IV is pretty much Cash's least favorite person *ever*, and they seem to be on the exact same track in their business classes. They're in *two* classes together this term, and after each and every period, Cash comes back with more stories.
"And he fucking, like--" Cash starts, but then he stops and sighs. "So, yeah. I'm sure you can imagine how well that went. And then I totally missed a really fucking easy problem on my astronomy test, which took me from an A- down to a B+ and I just feel fucking stupid, you know?"
If Brendon were there with him, he'd probably say something sappy like, "Aww, babe, it's okay," but it just doesn't have the same sort of ring over the phone. Not when he can't hug Cash as tightly as he can until Cash squeaks and tries to push him away.
He's only got another 2.5 blocks to go now, though; he can see Cash's building in the distance.
"So, yeah," Cash says. "It was nothing, really, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to break out the ice cream. And then I was thinking of coming over to see you, but if you're at the music building…"
"Later," Brendon says. "We'll do dinner, and maybe we can find a picture of Tyler and toss darts at his head? Or we could have an epic Halo match and you could, like, wreak havoc and destruction and death?"
"Awesome," Cash says, and he actually sounds like he means it. He must be a little happier already, because he asks, "What about you? How was your day?"
And since Brendon still has two blocks to go, he starts rambling: how evil his Shakespeare teacher is, how some girl in his chorus class is convinced that she's meant to be on Broadway and she's really, really not. How Nate had nearly taken Singer out with the Frisbee the evening before, when he and Tom Conrad had decided to play a game of Ultimate in the hallway.
Then he's there, walking in the building, starting up the stairs, and Cash says, "Did you just go inside?"
"Yeah," Brendon says. "I'll have to go in a minute or so." When he knocks on Cash's door, he doesn't say. When Cash answers and Brendon doesn't have to talk to him on the phone anymore.
Then he's at Cash's door and he knocks, once, twice, three times, and Cash says, "You know, someone's at the door, so I should probably go too."
"Okay," Brendon says, trying to sound disappointed and not at all like he's grinning. "Okay, yeah. I'll give you a call when I'm done practicing? And we can go get dinner?"
"Sounds good," Cash says, and Brendon can hear Cash approaching the door, the sound of the chain being released, the bolt being flipped. "I'll talk to you later then. Love you."
And then he opens the door.
"Love you, too," Brendon says, flipping the phone closed, and yeah, okay, he's grinning now because he's never been able to say that and *not* grin. Then he says, "Hi." Because Cash is actually looking surprised to see him. Because he's opening and closing his mouth but no words are coming out.
Brendon rocks back onto his heels, then forward again, and then Cash is stepping out into the hallway with him and Brendon, well. On the way over here he wanted to hug Cash until he squeaked and batted Brendon away, so he does. He wraps his arms around Cash and squeezes, but Cash just leans into his hold, pressing his face to Brendon's neck. Brendon can feel his lips move when he finally says "Hi" in return.
"I'm sorry you had a bad day," Brendon says softly, loosening his grip far enough to give Cash some breathing room, and Cash really is grinning now. Not his widest smile, but still getting there.
"Oh, I don't know," Cash says, grinning up at him. "I think it's starting to look up."
The One With the Senior Banquet
Senior year, senior banquet, and the FBR guys rent out this hall in this nice hotel, and the seniors have the head table, obviously. There's a bottle of cheap champagne at each of their places (it goes down very quickly) and basically, they're all having a good time, chatting with their brothers, savoring their last few days together.
Then comes the time for awards/presentations. There are house awards, academic awards, paddles for those who exemplify the qualities that the men of the house try to uphold. Also: Senior skits and futures. So, like, for the skits, all of the littles get up in front of the room and imitate their bigs, and when it's Brendon's turn, Singer totally starts bouncing around the room, talking about being President, randomly breaking into Aladdin snippets, draping himself over, er, maybe his little, who's playing Cash. Totally nuzzling him and professing undying love, and it's totally Brendon. Totally. And Brendon is hysterical. And, like, Ryan's little and Spencer's little, Johnson, get together to do something with Singer, and it's the three of them, being snarky and bitchy and the brothers that everyone else has come to love.
Then, it's future time, and as future's go, they're always dirty, so there's talk of, like, Ryan becoming a porn star, the biggest name in the world, and Chris and Bob opening up, like, the studio that makes him a star, and Spencer going for world domination, and Brendon's expecting his to be lewd as well, but his is mostly sweet, with talk of him and Cash getting married and having 2.5 terriers and how they're totally going to have a white picket fence before they're 25 and. Yeah. And then they invest in Bob and Chris' porn studio and make a lot of money.
And after they get back to the house, Brendon calls up Cash, who comes to get him, and Bob happens to be out in the hallway when Cash arrives and says, "Hey there, investor numero uno!" and Cash just goes with it. And then when he gets to Brendon's room, Brendon says, "We're having 2.5 terriers, I just thought you'd like to know." And after Cash reads the future, he says, "Damn right we're having a white picket fence."
"Damn right," Brendon says, and then he nuzzles at Cash's neck with his nose as Cash cards fingers through his hair.
Happy Thoughts: The WAY future edition
Email 1 from me to Amy:
One of Cash's brother's families decides to move away from Illinois, sometime... maybe halfway through the kid's junior year. Like, mom or dad gets transferred. Kid is NOT HAPPY. B&C see that kid is NOT HAPPY and so they offer to let kid stay with them at least until the end of the year, finish it out with their friends, etc. And at first it's weird, having another person in their house, and the kid is on their best behavior for a few weeks, but then they go through a phase of moving from cool uncles to parental figures, which is a little difficult. Maybe they go to the kid's... I don't know. Baseball games? They do parental things. And then it's summer and the kid heads out to wherever his parents are, and at first B&C are sort of happy to have the house back, just to themselves. But then it seems a little bit empty. And then they talk to C's brother's family and say, "you know, if [kid] wanted to spend another year here, we could totally do that." And so kid comes back, and they get to deal with all of the applying to colleges, going to basketball games, going to parents night. And at graduation, the kid's parents are there, obviously, but the kid gets two sets of pictures, one with his parents, one with Brendon and Cash, and maybe he decides to go to Springfield (like his Uncles!) and so while he goes back with his parents after the end of the year, he also comes back to Illinois a little early and stays with B&C until it's time for school, and maybe he rushes FBR? And he always has a room at B&C's, for whenever he needs to get away/'go home'. And maybe he brings his girlfriend over for dinner one night--just a friend! he says, but B&C know better--and then C spends an hour talking with his sister-in-law about her, promises to keep an eye out for her son. And, I don't know. This is where my brain is going.
Email 2 from me to Amy:
This is what I think I want. So, Kid. I will come up with a name at some point. He has a friend a year younger than him that B actually had in school, like, in 2nd-5th grade, and Kid2 was totally a little punk. Brendon was glad when Kid2 moved into middle school. Cue 5/6 years later, and Kid2 ends up being really good friends with Kid while Kid is staying with B&C, spending the night pretty much every weekend, and he's not such a bad kid anymore, but maybe he's having problems at home, getting progressively worse, and maybe during Kid's senior year, he comes to visit Kid, but Kid is out with other people, and B&C invite him in to hang out, 'cause they can see he doesn't want to go home. And then Kid goes off to college and some night in September, Kid2 comes over and stands on their porch and says, SORRY, I JUST, and then he ends up staying. Because they would totally adopt strays.
And now I have visions (where this is not totally set in stone, just my brain tangenting) of word getting out about Mr. Urie and Cash helping kids out if they need it, and so all these kids (maybe 3 or 4 or 5 total) who B had in school actually end up staying with them over a course of 5 years, and Kid actually has a bit of an 'only child' freak out (even though he's a) not their kid, and b) has siblings of his own) but then he sort of becomes these other kids' older brother figure, and they pretty much make their own family, and okay, I'm totally tearing up about this right now.
Email from Amy to me:
I just. They so WOULD! Because they're both fixers - and it's like. It's not like they end up as FOSTER parents, but they're like. Adults who understand that it's hard to be a teenager, sometimes. They understand what it's like to feel like no one gets you - because B&C have both always had friends, but they were the first to fully GET each other, in all the little ways. And B would totally open the door to 2 and see him there with his cheeks pink from knowing that he just CAN'T cry and be upset, and he'd totally battle with himself to NOT hug the kid, cause he so clearly needs it, and it's just.
Email 3 from me to Amy:
Like, usually B&C go to Christmas at C's mom's house, and sometimes they have it at their house, but after 2 comes to stay with them, they decide to do a "family" Christmas, because they don't want to shove C's family (a few siblings, lots of cousins) at him when he's not doing so well with his own family. And so they open presents, do their thing, and then C's mom shows up late that afternoon with, like, the traditional Christmas cookies and something for 2. Maybe he's into skateboarding? Like, skateboard decals or something (maybe not even ones that he'd want to use? but it's the thought that counts, right, and he'd use them ANYWAY and if any of his friends ask, he'll be like, shut up, they're from Cash's mom. They're awesome.) And then he's going to, like, a community college around there--'cause B&C can help a little bit? But he's mostly having to do college by himself (plus, he gets an apartment) and so when they ask him what he's doing for Christmas, he gets sort of punky again, like he thinks that it was just for one year? That B&C will want to go back to Cash's mom's? Their real family? And they're like, dude. We're doing Christmas at our house. You need to be there by 3 o'clock on Christmas Eve. And so he goes. And on Christmas Day, Kid1 comes over with C's mom and spends the evening and it's the start of their "family". And then the other kids start coming, and soon, there's, like, 8 or 9 people in their family (and B&C are totally going to have to have gotten a bigger house at some point, sigh) and then there are the significant others, and some of the kids actually fly in from out of state for the holidays, and it's not that the grandkids call B&C "grandpa" or anything--it's totally Brendon and Cash--but they do things like send report cards and for the ones that stay in the area, Brendon goes to their school recitals and ballet programs and Cash will play basketball with them in the driveway and (oh, *sniff*) on their 40th wedding anniversary, after everyone's sort of gone their separate ways? 2 organizes this big huge party for them (because he's maybe the MOST their kid), and of course Jon and Ryan and Spencer and their families are there, C's siblings and some of Brendon's, and ALL of their kids come, ALL of their families, and they get a family photograph of just their "family" with, like, 30 people in it, some of the grandkids on B&C's knees, and Brendon's still making silly faces at the camera and then there's another photo of C leaning his forehead on B's shoulder and they're both smiling, and it's just. Them.
And then I had to give Kid2 a name. And more back story. So we have
The One With the Moose.
In second grade, Devon went by the nickname Moose. Brendon hadn't had any idea why that was, except that the kid seemed more inclined to charge down hallways than walk, but really, what second grader wasn't? The next year, it was Mr. Mills, because as Devon'd told Brendon on the third day of school: 8 years old was totally a grown-up, Mr. U. Fourth grade, though, led to the nickname 'D', which stayed through fifth grade and apparently stuck, since when Devon shows up on Brendon's front porch, Kevin greets him with a "D! Get the fuc--I mean, *hell* in here!"
Kevin's been there for all of three weeks, is still trying to be on his best behavior, which in turn have put Brendon and Cash on their best behavior, given that they're suddenly taking on the role of Parental Units and all, but that doesn't mean that Cash doesn't snort in the kitchen, or that Brendon doesn't hear him and go investigate. "Hell," Cash says. "Heck! That's just too precious for words."
"Fudge," Brendon says, grinning and pressing a kiss to Cash's ear.
Devon still calls him Mr. Urie, though. Calls Cash Mr. Colligan. At least until the eighth time he's been over in the last three weeks and Brendon says, "You do realize that I'm not your teacher anymore, right? That I haven't been for a good five years? I think you can call me Brendon." Devon sort of stutters over it the first few times, but by the end of the school year he's barely knocking at the back door to the house before swinging through the kitchen, saying, "B, C, what's up?"
Back in second (third, fourth, fifth) grade, Devon was a punk. He liked to push his limits, to bang the tambourine when they were supposed to be doing the xylophone, to play the cat in a field full of rabbits hopping around the room to a Bunny Song; he fake-snored during meditation time, giggled during practice for the holiday program, and tried to echo the mating call of the parakeet with his recorder. Which is to say: Brendon was not so sad when he moved up to 6th grade, out of Brendon's school.
He never actually expected to *miss* him. But: Devon was over at their place nearly every weekend from February to June, then September to June the next year, eating pizza and watching wrestling with Cash (while Kevin and Brendon rolled their eyes) and actually washing his dishes off in the sink even though Kevin told him to just stack them. So, once Kevin goes to Boise for the summer, Devon stops coming over, and the house pretty much feels empty. But while Brendon wouldn't mind seeing him every once in awhile, that's not to say that Brendon wants him to show up at their door at eleven o'clock at night, looking about one heart beat away from tears. He's not a small kid--larger than both Brendon and Cash--but he's got his arms wrapped around his chest and he's kicking at the boards of their porch and when Cash opens the door, Brendon can hear Devon say, "I'm sorry, I'm fucking sorry, I just. I couldn't--"
Cash just says, "Come on in," and looks at Brendon, asking if Brendon's with him on this: the problem, the quick fix for tonight.
Brendon nods, stands up and says, "Do you want to stay the night? Kev's not even here to make you sleep on the floor this time."
Devon snorts wetly, tries to smile. He lets Cash offer him food, but he's turned in by 11:30.
Later, Brendon will wonder if he knew then that Devon wasn't ever really going to move out.
They don't tell Devon, but one morning in June, on a holiday they've never celebrated before, Cash wakes Brendon up with a card. Happy Father's Day, it reads. On the front there's a cartoon moose.