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It's a stupid joke, is the thing. Brendon just comes into the back lounge and Spencer's bent over, picking through their stash of DVDs. They never seem able to put the discs back into the boxes where they actually belong, so they've learned to check each box to make sure they're putting in the movie they want. It's not really that bad if you grab Beauty and the Beast instead of Aladdin, or Zoolander instead of Something About Mary, but if you by accident get the random porn instead of a funny movie, that shit can get real embarrassing real fast.

Anyway, the point is: Spencer's bent over. His jeans bring out his ass and Brendon enjoys the view for a moment. And then he bounces over to Spencer and wraps himself around his back.

Spencer yelps. "What the fuck, Brendon?"

Brendon grins. "I am magically attracted to your ass. Can't help myself."

Spencer sighs and tries to get up. But just in that moment that bus swerves suddenly and they land on the floor in a heap. Or, rather, not a heap. Brendon's thrown against Spencer's ass, his cock snugly against Spencer, while Spencer's on all fours in front of him.

Brendon is just human. He gets hard. "Spencer," he starts, but then the bus comes to a stop.

"Hey, interview time!" Zack calls. "You have five!"

Brendon can't realistically get off in five minutes, not without having to change his clothes. He still considers it.

Spencer sighs loudly and then he throws Brendon off his back. He offers Brendon his hand and pulls him upright with him. "Later," he says and he kisses Brendon.

"Later?" Brendon curses the necessity of stupid interviews. He wishes he could just grab Spencer and get them off right here and right now.

Spencer grins. "I'll make it worth your while."

Brendon lets Spencer drag him to the front of the bus, while he tries to will his erection away. The results are at least good enough not to get him arrested for public indecency.

The interview is hell, though. They sit on a small couch, squished together. Brendon can't keep his legs still, jiggles his leg in place until Spencer very calmly presses his knee against Brendon's. He's also holding Brendon's hand, hidden between them. It calms Brendon down a little bit, enough that he can focus on the questions (yes, writing is easier; yes, writing is more difficult; they're still friends; it was fun making the new record; Feldy taught them a different kind of work ethic; Butch has the most awesome studio ever), but Spencer's leg is hot against Brendon's.

Spencer's quiet throughout the entire interview, only talks when he's directly addressed. It's somehow distracting as hell.

Brendon breathes a sigh of relief when they're finally done. But then Zack herds them off to a radio thing. Normally Brendon likes doing these, but he's getting kind of impatient.

Spencer laughs at him. "I'm not going anywhere," he says.

Spencer's good at that, at finding the right words to calm Brendon down. Brendon loves him for that.

Brendon gets to talk about music, which is always cool. The hour passes rather quickly, and then they're on their way back to the venue. Brendon fully intends to drag Spencer to the back lounge and locking themselves in, but then his stupid phone rings.

Brendon doesn't want to take the call. It's his mom, though, and they haven't talked much lately, what with the recording and promotion and touring.

"Hi, Mom," Brendon says while he's crawling into his bunk. It's the only place where he can pretend like he has some privacy. He doesn't know how this call is going to go, but in case they start fighting again, he'd prefer not to be in the lounge.

"Hi, Brendon." She sounds normal, warm and cheerful. Brendon's heart clenches a little bit.

"Is everything okay?"

"Yes, yes. I've called to tell you that Michael's having another boy."

Brendon grins. "Another football player?"

His mom laughs. "Most likely."

Brendon doesn't have the heart to hang up on his mom. He listens to all her stories, and he enjoys talking to her, really. He just has to skip past the parts where she mentions church, heaven, or marriage.

By the time his mom hangs up, it's already time for soundcheck. Brendon officially hates his life. Somehow they're running late now, and then the bass won't work and then Brendon's microphone stops working, and it's all one clusterfuck after the other.

They get it to work—that's what Brendon loves about his crew, they always pull through—and Brendon sighs. They might get five minutes for themselves—

"Ready for the fans?" Zack pops up next to them. "We're already half an hour late, they're getting impatient."

Spencer tugs on Brendon's sleeve. "Cheer up," he says.

Brendon smiles and signs stuff. He's hyper-aware of Spencer sitting next to him, but he tries to concentrate on the girls (he thinks there are five boys here and they might just be boyfriends). Smile and sign.

It's a run of the mill meet and greet. One girl can't get a single word out, so her friend keeps talking for her and by the end of the whole shebang, the poor girl's almost crying. Brendon feels bad for her, but it's not like he can tell her that it's totally okay to lose the ability to speak when standing in front of Spencer. Seriously, those eyes.

Brendon's learned to enjoy when they don't have any crazies among the fans. Everyone listens to Zack's speech, no one tries to grope them, it's all fine and dandy,


When they finally get back to the green room, it's already past time for doors. "They're gonna bring on the opener on time," Zack tells them as they flop down on the couch.

"Hmm," Brendon says as he leans on Spencer. He can totally get some cuddling in, while he eats the Zack-mandated pre-show sandwich. Zack, Brendon thinks, is too obsessed with Brendon fainting on stage, or throwing up again, like that time in Malaysia. It was the heat, Brendon still insists, not the alcohol.

Still he takes the sandwich Zack offers him—a BLT, and Brendon scrunches up his nose. Well, it's food.

Spencer munches his own salad and puts his foot around Brendon's ankle. "So what did your mom say?"

Brendon loves that Spencer asks. It took Brendon a fucking long time to rebuild his relationship with his parents, his entire family, and Spencer has proved time and again that he isn't letting go of his grudge as easily as Brendon had. Spencer's still cautious, and it's heartwarming to know that Spencer has been looking out for Brendon since even before they were dating.

"Shana and Michael are getting another boy," Brendon says. "Mom was pretty excited."

"Did she ask you if—?"

"No, no," Brendon says. He still hasn't told his parents about Spencer. It's difficult, as he keeps telling Spencer, who told Ginger and Jeff pretty much instantly. Spencer's parents, Brendon figures, were more likely to be happy for both them. He doesn't know how his own parents will react—he's pretty sure that his mom still lives in hope that he'll settle down and shit, but right now, the way he's living, being with Spencer and touring and writing music with Ian and Dallon, that's exactly how Brendon wants his life to be.

Spencer bumps Brendon's shoulder. "We'll talk later," he whispers into Brendon's ear. "Okay?"

Brendon nods.

"Opener's going on now, you have to get ready in ten minutes," Zack announces.

Brendon decided long ago that the idea to dress up was an amazing one. Spencer always laughs at him, because it was Brendon's idea, but whatever. It's still amazing.

Spencer pulls off his hoodie and t-shirt, and reaches for his dress shirt. Brendon wants Spencer to wear a vest all the time because he looks all distinguished and hot. It's mesmerising to watch the muscles in his back move as Spencer stretches and puts on the shirt.

Brendon's rudely interrupted in his staring by his shirt hitting him right in the face.

"Don't eye fuck your boyfriend," Dallon says, stressing boyfriend so it's entirely teasing. "Get dressed."

Brendon puts out his tongue, but then Zack comes by and says warningly, "You go on in ten minutes, I'm going to drag you out half-naked if I have to, and you really don't want me to."

Brendon's dressed in two minutes. He can't get his fucking bow tie tied properly, though—either's it's too loose and drooping, or he's suffocating himself.

On his third try, Spencer bats his hands away. "Let me," he says.

Spencer's fingers ghosting over Brendon's neck is pure torture—Brendon can't help but imagine those fingers holding him down, opening him up, teasing his nipples, and he's hard and he wants and of course that's exactly when Zack sends them to the stage.

"It's all set up, get out there," Zack says.


The concert isn't one of their best ones. Brendon's still half-hard—every time he turns around, Spencer's looking at him, and every time he looks back at the audience, Brendon can feel Spencer's eyes on his ass. It makes him both excited and irritated. Brendon feels aroused, is contemplating what he can get Spencer to do to him, and it's fucking inappropriate for the middle of a concert. The front row consists of sixteen year old girls. Brendon wishes he could do something about his fucking boner. Fuck Spencer for turning him on so much.

Brendon shakes his ass for good measure. He can at least give Spencer a show, because it means he's also giving his audience a good show. Ian grins at him, as if he knows what Brendon's thinking.

In between songs, Brendon goes back to Spencer's riser to take a swig of his beer and a deep breath.

"Hey," Spencer says. "That suit looks nice on you."

Spencer totally was checking out Brendon's ass. Brendon feels vindicated, then he remembers they still have seven songs to go, plus the encore.

"They're not going to hate us if we skip the encore, right?" Brendon asks.

Spencer makes a face at him. "I will hate you," he says.

Brendon says, "Liar." He turns back and puts on his game face again. He can do seven plus two songs. Easy as pie.


Brendon hates Dallon like he hasn't hated anyone ever before. "But I wanted first shower!" he calls to Dallon's retreating back.

"You weren't fast enough," Dallon calls back and then he's locking the door behind him.


"Second shower," Ian says calmly as he strolls by Brendon.


"Third shower," Spencer says. Which means that Brendon has to go last, fucking up his plan of dragging Spencer away after his shower for some sexy fun times. But maybe...

"No," Spencer says. He flops down on the couch in the green room next to Ian. "Whatever you're thinking, no."

"It involves orgasms," Brendon says.

"Ewwww." Ian shakes his head. "Isn't that honeymoon phase supposed to wear off after a few weeks?"

Spencer snorts. "It's only been a few weeks," he says.

"Anyway, shut up," Brendon says. "Call your girlfriend or whatever."

"My girlfriend or 'whatever' is working early tomorrow," Ian says. "I don't want to wake her up."

"That's—really cute," Brendon says. "Can I saw aww?"

"Try and I will end you," Ian says. His glare doesn't have anything on Spencer's, though, and Brendon's practically immune against Spencer's, thanks to long years of training.

"Well, whatever," Brendon says. This conversation is getting sidetracked fast and Brendon's a man on a mission. "Come on, Spencer, I think I saw a broom closet—"

Spencer groans. "No," he says forcefully. "I will not let you drag me into a broom closet."


"Done!" Dallon exclaims. Ian scuttles up and zips into the bathroom before Brendon can bogey his shower.

"You all hate me," Brendon says.

"Wow, took you a long time to figure that out," Dallon says. "What tipped you off?"

"You suck." Brendon lets himself fall down on the couch next to Spencer. Except where Spencer manages to make it all graceful and easy, Brendon bangs his elbow and he flops ungainly over Spencer.

Spencer, the bastard boyfriend that he is, starts to laugh. "No, right now I don't," he presses out between guffaws. "I guess Dallon doesn't like to watch."

Brendon glares at Spencer, which only sets Spencer off more.

"You look like Bogart when you take his tennis ball away."

Brendon sighs pitifully and lets his head fall forward. "Zack," he calls, "my band hates me."

"Sure," Zack says. "We're leaving in one hour, be ready then or we'll leave you here."

That gives them just enough time to each take a shower and pack up their stuff.

At least, Brendon figures, he can get some cuddling in. Spencer's humming under his breath, his chest vibrating, and it's soothing.

Spencer's also stroking his hand over Brendon's back, petting the short hair at the back of his neck. It means he's also running his fingers over Brendon's neck. It just turns Brendon on even more, and this close he can smell Spencer, sweat and musk underneath his deodorant and aftershave.

Brendon presses closer to Spencer. Dallon's still here, typing on his phone, probably a text to Breezy, and Spencer is adamantly against public sex. At least in front of their bandmates—or, as Brendon likes to call them when they piss him off, touring band members. No one's taking him seriously, anyway. The other day when Brendon was trying to piece together lyrics, Dallon sat next to him, pointing out bits that fit well together and then he suggested part of a rhythm and in no time they had half a song.

"Brendon," Spencer says, his voice low and threatening. "Not now."

Brendon sighs. "But—"

"Shower's free!"

Brendon collapses into the free space where Spencer used to be two seconds ago. "Traitor," he says.

Spencer doesn't even react. Brendon pouts and stares at the bathroom door.

"Hey," Dallon says. "Did you manage to figure something out for that bridge?"

"The bridge?"

Dallon grins. "The song about clowns," he says.

"Fuck you, it's not about clowns," Brendon says. "It's about a fucking masquerade."

"Clowns," Dallon says and just like that they're off. When Spencer comes back, they're heatedly debating the merits of Johnny Depp vs Tom Cruise (different kinds of crazy, but some cool movies to make up for it).

"Your turn," Spencer says and he presses Brendon's shower kit into Brendon's hands. "Hurry, you've got twenty minutes before we leave."

"Why am I always the one who has to hurry?" Brendon grumbles. He grabs the clothes he was wearing all day—no sense in getting a perfectly clean shirt dirty for a bus trip.

"Because you're the slowest one."

Venue bathrooms suck for jerking off. They always look dirty, even if they're freshly scrubbed. At least, Brendon thinks, the other guys have already washed off whatever remains there had been from the last band.

Brendon still palms his cock, but then he thinks about how many other guys must have jerked off in here, in relative privacy, away from tour busses and vans. It's almost enough to rid him entirely of his hard-on, because eww.

Besides, Zack chooses that exact moment to bang on the door and yell, "Fifteen minutes!"

Brendon quickly washes himself, taking a really cold shower. He doesn't even want to get off fast, he tells himself, he wants to take his time and he wants Spencer.

Fuck thin curtains and possibly overhearing bandmates. They have a fucking bus and that's enough privacy for Brendon. He can totally wait until they're on the road to ... wherever it is they're supposed to go. It's good that Zack prints the location on the set list because otherwise Brendon would be totally lost all the time.


Unfortunately Brendon hadn't taken Spencer's principles into account.

"No," Spencer says. He stares determinedly at his laptop. Nothing on his screen could be more interesting than Brendon, Brendon's sure. He lost his shirt immediately when they got on the bus and, really, why hasn't Spencer jumped him yet?

"The back lounge is empty," Brendon repeats. "There is no one there."

"I am not having sex with you on the bus, Brendon."


"You are aware that we can hear you, right?" Dallon calls over from the couch. Ian and he are sprawled down the couch. "You suck at subtlety, dude."

"Subtlety is overrated," Brendon calls to him, then he turns back to Spencer. "See, they know, they wouldn't interrupt us."

"But we would know," Ian says. "And we'd make you clean the lounge thoroughly before ever stepping foot in there again."

"The back lounge would be ours for the rest of the tour," Brendon says. "Come on."

Spencer shakes his head. "Did you ever contemplate how many people have had sex on that couch? And how often this bus gets cleaned?"

"Spencer," Brendon whines.

"This is almost better than soap operas," Dallon says to Ian. "I wonder when he'll start waving around that chair."

"You know what, fuck all of you," Brendon says. He's suddenly done with this shit. If Spencer doesn't want Brendon, well, then Brendon's going to have fun all by himself. "I'm going to jerk off now," he announces and storms to the bunks.

"But quietly," Dallon calls after him.

"We don't want to hear," Ian adds.

Brendon briefly considers killing them all, but he can't play the guitar and bass at the same time.

In his bunk, he starts feeling foolish. He tries to put his hand inside his shorts, but. It's not what he wants. What he wants is sitting out there watching funny dog videos on youtube, for god's sake.

Ian's cell phone rings. "Hey," he says in that voice, and Brendon suppresses a groan. It's got to be Jenny, which means—

Ian's walking down the aisle between the bunks, murmuring, "Yeah, I know," and, "Me too, baby," and then the door to the back lounge clicks shut.

Brendon really can't jerk off in his bunk when Ian's in the back lounge probably having phone sex with his girlfriend. Or maybe-girlfriend. Ian won't say, but his eyes light up when she calls.

Brendon gives up. Spencer's still sitting where he was when Brendon stomped off. Dallon's pretending to be really interested in that stupid movie, but Brendon can see him grinning. Still Brendon sits down next to Spencer and leans against him. "Hey."

"Hey," Spencer says. "Come on, let's watch the movie."


The movie sucks. Brendon's seen it five times this tour already. And then Pete calls.

"I got another interview set up for you tomorrow."

Brendon groans. "What time?"

"11 a.m.," Pete says. "But it's a phone interview, so you can cling to your coffee in peace."

Brendon snorts. "Yeah," he says. Right then the bus slows down.

"We're stopping to gas up," Zack calls from the front of the bus. "If you need anything, you have half an hour to get it, starting right now.

"I gotta go," Brendon says.

Pete cackles. "Yeah, gotta stock up on fast food. Talk to you tomorrow."

Brendon hangs up without further ado. Rest stop runs are sacred, but mostly what Brendon cares about right now is the fact that rest stops have bath rooms and buildings you can hide behind.

Fuck, all Brendon wants is to feel Spencer's hands on him. He doesn't care what or how, he just wants anything. A hand job, he thinks, while he's hurrying over to the couch. A hand job would be excellent, Spencer's rough calluses on Brendon's dick. God, Brendon wants that so much.

"Hey, Spence, hey," he says when he reaches the couch. "C'mon, sexy boyfriend fun times, let's—"

Spencer's asleep. Spencer's fast asleep, his breathing too calm and regular and slow to be faked, his entire body relaxed in sleep.

Brendon thinks he's having an apoplectic fit. "You're fucking kidding me," he tells Spencer, who obviously doesn't react. "Sexy fun times," Brendon says. He's aware that he sounds whiny, but. He wants his boyfriend.

Zack snorts. "Sleeping beauty there ain't gonna wake up any time soon on his own," he says, just before he gets off the bus.

The thing is, Brendon contemplates it. He looks at the bus door, at his watch (25 minutes), and thinks that he can totally drag a half-awake Spencer out of the bus.

But then he looks at Spencer, really looks, and he instantly feels like an asshole. The thin skin under his eyes is a dark-blue bruise. Spencer's eyelashes almost are invisible against them.

Brendon reaches out, but stops himself before he actually touches Spencer. He's sleeping so peacefully and—Brendon would really be a huge asshole if he woke up Spencer right now. The past few months have been difficult—recording, writing, recording, producing, writing more songs, then being done, and fuck, that was scary, then promoting the shit out of their album.

Brendon loves performing and from the moment they decided they were done, he was looking forward to tour. But when he's home, he always forgets how fucking exhausting touring is—he always loses track of the cites, always needs to rely on Spencer and Zack for that. Spencer's who's had enough drama going on already without Brendon being needy and whiny, and Zack hasn't printed today's set list yet, so Brendon can't even cheat.

Brendon can't resist—he softly runs his fingers over Spencer's cheek. Spencer's been holding up pretty well, ever since last year when his father started to really fade, when the doctors started saying that it might only be a matter of months left. Brendon's still—he's not quite sure that Spencer is just, well, using him sounds pretty awful. But Spencer made the first move, after that awful hospital visit, sat on Brendon's bed and cried, and then he kissed Brendon. It took them a few months to really commit, for each of them to get over their individual baggage, and it still feels so new and unreal.

Spencer makes a quiet sound, between a sigh and just breathing, and opens his eyes.

"Sorry," Brendon whispers. "I didn't mean to wake you up, I'll just go over there, okay? Sorry."

"No," Spencer says, yawning. "C'mere." He tugs on Brendon's arm, tugging him down.

"You should sleep," Brendon says. "It's okay, I'll just write and—"

"Cuddle time," Spencer says. He slides his hand down Brendon's arm and his fingers close around Brendon's wrist. "Don't go away." He sounds sad and utterly exhausted.

Brendon closes his eyes. Spencer's holding his wrist lightly, just pulling him down gently and—Brendon lets himself sink down.

It's a tight fit on the small couch, so Brendon drapes himself all over Spencer. "You're cold," he chides Spencer, when he puts his arm around him. Spencer's skin, where it's been exposed to the air conditioned bus air, is chilled.

Brendon tugs Spencer's arm between them, trying to warm it up.

Spencer smiles. "That's what I got you for," he says. "You human furnace."

"Haha," Brendon says. "Didn't there used to be a blanket here?"

"Ian took it for his blankie," Spencer says slowly, eyes already half-closed. "Stop wriggling around so much."

Brendon sighs and wraps himself more tightly around Spencer. His head's on Spencer's chest, and he can hear Spencer's heartbeat, a steady ba-dum ba-dum.

It's soothing. Brendon presses his face against Spencer's chest. Spencer's arm is tight around his waist, and Brendon can't stop thinking, Yes, this is where I want to be forever.

Spencer sighs quietly, happily, his fingers softly stroking Brendon's skin where his shirt has rucked up and Brendon grins. "I knew you were just hot for my body," he says teasingly.

Spencer snorts. "Shut up and cuddle with me."

Brendon's happy to oblige. In the few minutes they lie there, he manages to doze off, startling awake when there's suddenly someone making a ruckus in the bus. "Wha?"

"NO SEX ON THE BUS!" Ian yells.

"Fuck you," Brendon yells back. "We're cuddling! And shut up! Spencer's sleeping!"

Spencer laughs. "No, now I'm not anymore."

"Go back to sleep," Brendon tells him. "I'll make them shut up."

"Empty threats," Dallon says as he walks by. He drops a bag of Doritos, Skittles, and more stuff Brendon can't see on the table by the couch.

"Touring band members," Brendon says.

Dallon just flips him the bird. "Tell me when you've figured out what to do about that bridge. Also you're welcome."

Brendon grumbles. He's actually delighted that they bought enough junk food to cover Brendon and Spencer—Ian's put some drinks on the table, Dr Pepper from what Brendon can make out.

"Thank you," Spencer says. "Now can you all shut up so I can get my beauty sleep?"

"Also we need to cuddle," Brendon says.

"Gosh, are you cute," Dallon says. "Ian, come here and look at how cute they are."

"Get lost," Brendon says. "Or I'll have to get up."

Dallon snickers and Ian pulls him away. "Don't get him cranky," Ian says. "Or he'll decide to do something insane like stage dive again."

"That was fucking awesome," Brendon says. But underneath him, Spencer tenses up. "Okay, maybe it was a bit reckless—"

"No more stage diving," Zack says, "or I'll get a leash and tie you to Spencer's drum kit."

"Kinky," Brendon says.

Zack snorts. "You wish." But then his phone rings and he wanders into their kitchenette to talk to Carol. Ian and Dallon have retreated into the back lounge, so Brendon's relatively alone with Spencer.

"Hey," Brendon says. "Did you hear? We're cute."

"I always knew that," Spencer says. He pulls Brendon up to kiss him lightly. It's a simple, sweet kiss, and it makes Brendon want to pull Spencer close and crawl into him until they're one person. He can do at least one of those things.

"Cuddle time," Brendon whispers.

"Sleepy time," Spencer whispers back.

Brendon finds he's entirely okay with that. He falls asleep somewhere between where they have been and where they need to go, listening to Spencer's heartbeat and quiet snuffles, holding his hand.


Spencer's lying on top of Brendon, pressing him against the mattress. They're lazily rutting against each other. "I want you," Brendon says. "I need you."

"Patience," Spencer says. Then he leans in and kisses Brendon, dirty and wet, and Brendon is so turned on he thinks he could come right now and then—

The bus swerves and Brendon jerks awake, already falling backward, but Spencer's still holding on and pulls him back, properly on top of Spencer.

Brendon's gasping and he's hard and Spencer's right there. He can't help it, he grinds down, feeling Spencer through his clothes and wishing they were naked.

"Stop it," Spencer grumbles and he pushes at Brendon's shoulder. "It's too early."

"Spencer," Brendon whines.

Spencer frowns. "Later," he says.

Brendon gets up. Better not to tempt himself too much, he thinks. It's actually is still early, and Brendon feels sluggish. He stumbles into the kitchenette, gets himself a cup of coffee, but only drinks half of it. He finds himself nodding off in-between sips.

Spencer's fallen back asleep. He's still pale, but he looks a bit better. Brendon likes to pretend that he has a little bit of a part in that, that Spencer's feeling good because he has Brendon to support him. At least, that's what Brendon hopes Spencer sees in him.

Brendon's a tiny little bit mad that Spencer's already asleep again. Brendon's hard-on has gone down to a semi, but looking at Spencer is already turning Brendon on again and—maybe Brendon has a problem. Maybe something's wrong with him that Brendon wants Spencer all the time, because Spencer apparently doesn't need that. He did back home, in their house, but—that was the honeymoon phase, right?

Instead of sleeping, Brendon spends the next few hours fretting. What if Spencer's already growing tired of Brendon? It happens; Brendon knows that a lot of people think him exhausting and in general just too much, but Spencer—Brendon's always thought Spencer was immune. Spencer could always deal with Brendon, he never minded, he loves being with Brendon. He—no, Spencer would have surely told Brendon if that had changed.

By the time Dallon stumbles in from the bunks, Brendon's managed to work himself into a mood. He wishes Spencer had woken first, so he could've like talked to him, or at the very least stolen some kisses, but now Dallon's here, making poptarts.

Brendon kind of hates Dallon a little bit. Brendon cannot function without at least two cups of coffee in him and Dallon's able to do all that shit without drinking any. It's why it's a good idea to have Dallon on breakfast duty, but right now it's annoying as fuck.

To be fair, Brendon's aware that everything is annoying him right now, from the buzz of other cars passing them by to the exact angle the sunlight falls in through the window.

"Good morning," Dallon says. "Sleeping Beauty still sleeping?"

Brendon glances at Spencer. "Yeah," he says. Spencer's still not stirring. Brendon's caught between worry and, right, being annoyed. He gets himself another cup of coffee. He can at least do something against being so fucking exhausted.

"You all right?" Dallon hip-checks Brendon.

"Yeah," Brendon says, frustration bleeding through his voice. "I'm okay."

"Okay," Dallon says. "You, uh, know where to find me."

Traitor, Brendon thinks at Dallon's back. Leaving him all alone to brood some more.

Spencer wakes up five minutes before Stupid Interviewer #1235912 is going to call Brendon. Her name's actually Paula, is what Pete told Brendon, but fuck, Brendon doesn't care. He just wishes the whole ordeal would be over, so he can take a nap or something.

"Morning," Spencer says, yawning widely. "You awake long?"

Brendon just nods and keeps staring at his phone. He hopes that they are going to have some original questions—he's tired of giving the same old answers. Yeah, writing as a twosome was weird and different. Yeah, the exclamation mark's back.

Spencer gets himself coffee. Brendon's surprised when Spencer also puts a fresh mug down in front of Brendon. "You look like you need it," he says.

"Thanks." Brendon takes a sip. It's exactly how Brendon likes his coffee, but for some reason that makes him angry. He's just frustrated, he knows, but suddenly the fact that Spencer knows how to make Brendon's perfect coffee and yet will not sneak away for even ten minutes is driving Brendon up the wall.

Spencer sits down next to Brendon, and he's warm and still has that just-woke-up sweet smell of sleep surrounding him and—Brendon loves this guy and all he wants—

The fucking phone rings. Brendon hates everything. At least it's just a phone interview and Brendon can give the table top the evil eye. Brendon's learned that he has to put up a front for face to face interviews, smile even when he wants to throw up, because one thing Brendon cannot deal with right now is the headline Is the Panic over now?, probably with old grainy pics of Ryan and Jon when they all had stupid hair.

But Brendon really doesn't care about playing nice. He answers her questions automatically because they are the same old questions he gets asked every single time. It's like the interviewers never listen to any of their old interviews. Brendon also hates answering questions about stuff that's in their promo material. Or his private life. It's nobody's business who he fucks, thank you very much.

Brendon's so fucking relieved when the interview is over. He wants to slam his phone down onto the table, but it's new and Spencer's always on Brendon's case about how he never takes care of his stuff (but those Apple headphones really do suck and they break all the fucking time, even if Brendon carefully rolls them up).

"Dude," Spencer says. "That was not your best interview ever." He sounds kind of weird, like he's mad at Brendon, which doesn't make sense because he brought Brendon coffee. An angry Spencer is a Spencer who ignores you, not one who brings you treats.

"Who cares?" Brendon drops his head back against the window.

"Well, I do," Spencer says. "Seriously. You can't behave like that."

Brendon blinks and lifts his head up. "Like what? Spence, she asked me the same fucking questions everyone asks."

"Yeah, but you gotta still act professional."

Brendon takes a deep breath. "I," he says, "am acting perfectly professional."

"Really?" Spencer raises one eyebrow. "Because from here it looks more like you're a teenager throwing a temper tantrum."

Brendon has this weird sensation of feeling cold and hot at the same time. His heart is clenching because at some point in the last half an hour he fucked something up with Spencer and he has no idea what. It doesn't mean he's not lashing back, though. "And what am I throwing a temper tantrum about?" He gives Spencer a look, making sure to spend a moment too long on Spencer's belly—Spencer's self-conscious about his body in a way that makes no sense to Brendon, but it's A++ ammunition. "You're not that irresistible."

Spencer's face gets that hard look, his jaw tight, and Spencer's looking at Brendon so coolly. "Well," he says. "Then I don't know why you're acting like a fifteen year old douchebag yammering on about his blue balls." Spencer gets up and leans in close. "That's a myth, by the way. They won't fall off." As he walks to the bunks, he throws over his shoulder, "You'll get enough time to try it out."

Then Spencer's gone, the curtain to his bunk tightly drawn.

Dallon thankfully's not looking at Brendon. He's staring at his notebook, pen moving swiftly. "Dude," Dallon says. "That was not nice."

Brendon knows that. And the thing is, it's not even true: Brendon can't stop thinking about Spencer. It was easier before, when Brendon didn't think Spencer was actually an option. He could deal then, but now he knows he can have Spencer and he fucking wants Spencer all the time. He wants to always touch Spencer, to always have him touching Brendon, even if it's just sitting close, holding hands. Brendon wants Spencer to always be there and—Brendon's wanted other people like that before and none of them are still around.

"God, Brendon, just leave me in peace for five fucking minutes," Ryan had yelled at Brendon. Audrey had told him, "I'm not your mother, stop clinging so much, jesus." Brendon's always too much, too demanding, too loud, too hyper.

Spencer has never ever said anything like that to Brendon, and Brendon's so terribly scared that soon Spencer will give him that look, the one that says, "Can't you turn your volume a bit? You're exhausting." Brendon doesn't want to fuck this up, and he doesn't know how.

"I don't want to fuck this up," Brendon whispers.

"Then I suggest you change your strategy," Dallon says, "'cause right now you seem to be doing a very good job of just that."

I know, Brendon thinks. He has no idea how to fix this.


Spencer's still not gotten out of his bunk half an hour later when Zack comes back from the back lounge. There's a fuck-up with the venue in Chicago or somewhere—Brendon's happy if he remembers the state he's in right now. If Zack didn't have the city printed on their set list, Brendon would never know where the fuck they are. He only knows L.A. (home), Vegas (family), New York (it's fucking New York), and Chicago (they have too many friends there to not recognise the city), and every other city blends into the general I'm somewhere not home feeling that sets in two days into tour.

Brendon glares at Zack. He—okay, he doesn't exactly wish he could've dealt with that particular phone call himself. Today Brendon's not good with phones. But he would've done anything to avoid this stupid phone interview and whatever he did to fuck up his relationship with Spencer.

Getting the other (official) half of his band mad at him and pissing off his boyfriend (in personal union, but whatever)... that isn't bad for one morning's work.

"Cheer up, little guy," Zack says. "You're lucky that tonight's a hotel night and you can get some alone time with your boy." He gets a can of Coke out of their tiny fridge and points at Brendon. "'Cause if you keep looking like for much longer, I will kick your ass until you smile again, got it?"

"Got it," Brendon says. "Hotel night, huh?" He'd totally forgotten about that. Fuck.

"Yeah." Zack gives Brendon a look. "I figured you'd be more excited at the prospect of some goddamned privacy. Not everyone wants to see you cuddle."

"Hey," Brendon protests weakly. "How long have you known my band?"

"Long enough," Zack says. "The cutesy factor wears off after a couple of years."

Brendon forces a laugh. "You mean my adorableness wearing off? Never."

Zack snorts. "I wouldn't bet on that. But as long as you don't whip out your dicks anywhere where I can see them, I don't give a fuck."

"I can promise that won't happen," Brendon says. He's not sure Spencer isn't actually composing his Dear John letter right now, and his heart sinks. "We'll behave ourselves."

"You better," Zack says. "The internet's already crazy enough. Hey, where is your boy?"

"Uh, sleeping," Brendon says. "He didn't feel well." It's as close to the truth as he feels comfortable saying right now—and what doesn't make his throat close up.

"Okay." Then Zack turns around and looks at Brendon. "Hey, everything okay?"

Brendon shrugs. "Yeah," he lies. "Just tired."

"Hotel night," Zack reminds him. "Real beds."

Brendon nods. "I think I'll take a nap," he says.

"Sure," Zack replies. "I'm not your nanny, I don't care."

"You totally do," Brendon says as he's getting up.

"Lies." But Zack's grinning as he plops down on the lounge couch.

In the bunk area, Brendon hesitates for a moment. Spencer chose the bottom bunk directly under Brendon's. It would be easy to crawl into Spencer's bunk and—Brendon doesn't know. He thinks he should give Spencer space because that's what people in general (and Ryan as well as Audrey in particular) have told Brendon they need.

Besides, he's not sure what he would tell Spencer. Brendon's kind of tired for apologising for the way he is. He thought Spencer would—

Ian draws up the curtain from his bunk, yawning widely and interrupting Brendon's thoughts in one move. "Mornin'," he says. "You gettin' in or out?"

"I'm taking a nap," Brendon says.

Ian blinks at him. "In the hallway?"

"Uh, no." Brendon climbs into his bunk. It's a disaster zone, or so Spencer likes to tell him. Brendon just wants to have his stuff close, and he's prone to forgetting about whatever book he's reading if it's not somewhere immediately in his line of sight. Or digging into his kidneys.

It's kind of weird, lying there in his bunk, wide-awake. The curtains don't keep out the daylight; they're more like a flimsy excuse for privacy. They sure don't keep out noise. The bus is relatively quiet, with just Dallon, Ian, and Zack in the lounge. Dallon and Ian are talking, there's the clatter of the dishes as Ian gets himself some cereal. The TV's on, one movie or another; they've seen all DVDs they brought with them so many times that they've started to dig through the clearance bins at any Walmart, buying the most ridiculous $5 movies they can find. It's fun because Spencer is the best at heckling. "Long years of friendship with one Ryan Ross," Spencer always says.

Brendon's heart clenches. Spencer and Ryan are just rebuilding their friendship, ten and more years of living in each other pockets cannot be done with just like that. Also Ginger grew tired of running interference. "I love them both," Ginger had told Brendon, just before Spencer's birthday. "But they need to grow up and talk to each other again."

Brendon had smiled and nodded.

"And I love you, too," Ginger had added. "Just in case you're wondering."

"Admit it, I'm your favourite son," Brendon had replied. Ginger had just laughed and hugged him.

But a few weeks later Spencer had met up with Ryan. "He's Ryan," Spencer had said to Brendon. "I can't—he's Ryan."

Brendon has always known this. He's been jealous because, god, he'd always wanted that kind of friendship with anyone. But he's always understood about Spencer and Ryan being SpencerandRyan.

Except now that they have reconciled and Brendon and Spencer are fighting ... no, Brendon tells himself. Spencer wouldn't. Or so he hopes.

Brendon doesn't get any sleep that afternoon. He stays in his bunk for as long as he can managed, always in the hope of maybe catching at least half an hour of shuteye, but whenever he closes his eyes, his brain comes up with more and more elaborate versions of Spencer telling Brendon that he's going to join Ryan's band.

Brendon knows he needs to get up when the Spencer in his mind says, "I always knew I could learn to love the tambourine, I just needed to try harder."

But getting up means he'll have to face Spencer—whose bunk has been quiet all day. Brendon listened for the quiet sniffles and snores that usually accompany a sleeping Spencer (Brendon finds them adorable), but there was nothing. It makes Brendon wonder if Spencer has been hiding in his bunk, too, all afternoon. It seems unfair. At least one of them should get to hang out with their friends.

In the end, Zack makes the decision for Brendon. "Hey, dudes," he says from the door to the lounge. "We're at the venue. There's food in the green room."

Spencer pulls open his curtains. "I hope it's good."

Zack snorts. "It's venue food, Spence. It'll be something drenched in grease."

"Sounds delicious." Brendon can see Spencer through the small gap in his bunk curtains. He is so close, Brendon thinks. Brendon could touch him right now just by stretching his arm and yet—Brendon's chest hurts. Spencer seems so far away. Brendon wonders how they got from cuddling this morning to here.

Brendon's really awesome at fucking up the good things in his life.

"Brendon?" Zack pulls at his curtains.

"Yeah, I'm coming," Brendon says.

Walking with Spencer and Zack to the venue is a new kind of awkward. Brendon had figured he'd also been through all kind of awkwards with Spencer because, let's be honest, Brendon was a very awkward teenager. The tiny voice in his head tells Brendon that he's still awkward, he's just better at hiding, at putting up a front now. He pushes that voice rigorously away.

Right now, as they're walking over the small venue parking lot and making stupid small talk, it would be too easy to believe that voice.

The atmosphere in the green room's just as stilted. Ian and Dallon keep up the main parts of the conversation, asking Brendon and Spencer individually for their opinions. Brendon doesn't know where to look—he wants to stare at Spencer, to see if he slept, if he slept well, if he faked, if he looks as shitty as Brendon feels right now, but he only allows himself glances, tries not to be too obvious.

He should've figured it was a losing battle. Brendon's good at a lot of things, but being subtle is not among them.

Brendon's inappropriately happy when they finally get out on the stage for soundcheck. This is what Brendon knows best.

Also—Brendon's man enough to admit this—he's pretty relieved after the first song. He can feel every one of Spencer's beats in his bones, and if they hadn't been able to connect on this level, then ... Brendon pushes that thought away. They're playing music and they're playing well.

Except for how Spencer seems to be hitting everything twice as hard. Brendon tries to be nonchalant, like Spencer beating the fuck out of his drum kit happens every day, but Ian and Dallon notice, and they exchange more of these looks that make Brendon wonder if they're planning an intervention or how they can get out of dodge the fastest.

Brendon's still twitchy. The atmosphere in the green room is incredibly tense. Spencer has his headphones on and is not looking away from his phone. Normally Brendon would go and sit down next to him, sprawl over Spencer and tell him what his message to Crys should be.

Instead, Brendon sits a careful full cushion away from Spencer. Enough space that someone could sit between them, which is more than Brendon's willing to give up, but Spencer's really intently not looking at Brendon.

Brendon's never been looking forward so much to getting on stage. He eats the food they get in the green room, but it tastes like cardboard and ash. His concession is to get a drink while he checks out their opener. It's a local band, and they're not bad, but they're not really that good, either. Mainly it's just fifteen minutes when he can stare into space and doesn't have to pretend everything's fine.

And then it's finally show time and Brendon can put all his thoughts on hold for the next hour.


Brendon loves performing. This is a widely accepted fact. It's a small comfort that even now, when everything's fucked up and Brendon feels like he can't do anything right, this is still something that Brendon's really fucking good at.

It's also bittersweet to see how well the four (two) of them work together. After Ryan and Jon left, Brendon worried so much they wouldn't be able to find people who could work with them, that secretly it wasn't just musical differences, that it was, again, Brendon's fault. It was a relief when Ian said yes, and even more a relief when Dallon showed up and they spent two hours looking at funny videos of cats and dogs on Youtube.

But every time Brendon turns back to Spencer—for his drink, a towel, or just because that is something Brendon does—Spencer looks away from Brendon. It fucking hurts, but Brendon puts on a smile that's twice as broad and throws himself into the songs.

The audience eats it up, though; they cheer and sing along. The set passes fast, and Brendon's almost surprised when it's time to get off stage before the encore.

The hallway to the stage feels cold after the heat of the main room, of the spots and the one that dancing people generate. Spencer wordlessly hands Brendon a bottle of water, but he turns away before Brendon can even thank him. So Brendon just chugs the bottle and leans against the wall. Spencer's talking to Dallon quietly, and Brendon thinks that Ian will probably not mind sharing the hotel room with Brendon. He just hopes that this will be enough space for Spencer and tomorrow they can go back to being them. If it's not, then ... Brendon will have to see. He takes a deep breath and then he pushes them back on stage.


After the show, it's pandemonium behind the scenes. There's no show tomorrow, but instead they have to cross like half of the USA to get there--Texas, Brendon thinks, that's where they're headed or maybe Louisiana? He doesn't really care all that much, the bottom line is that their gear has to be hauled across many, many miles and everything has to be checked a million times. The only good thing is that they usually get a hotel night out of it, because their gear needs to be shipped properly, but even that is spoiled this time.

Brendon means to talk to Zack, but he lets himself be distracted and talked into helping. He doesn't want to talk about it, and even saying I'm not rooming with Spencer tonight hurts too much. It feels like a failure—Brendon's even too much for the one person he thought would never get tired of him. So he helps gathering gear, double-checks cables and boxes until Zack comes to collect him.

It's quiet in the bus when they drive to the hotel. Spencer's sitting on the couch, head tipped back, eyes closed, and he doesn't stir at all when the bus starts. Brendon leans against the edge of their kitchenette, all thoughts of talking about hotel rooms forgotten. He hasn't had a chance to really look at Spencer all day, what with them both hiding and Spencer evading Brendon just as much as Brendon was avoiding him.

Spencer's pale, but he's relaxed, his hands lying on his lap. And Brendon wants him so much he can hardly breathe with the sudden influx of emotions. He has no idea how he's going to deal with Spencer not wanting Brendon anymore. It was foolish to believe that Spencer would be immune against Brendon. It just took Spencer a couple of years longer than everyone else to get annoyed—and now Brendon's standing here, staring at his boyfriend, and he doesn't know if Spencer still wants to be his boyfriend, if he will even get to look at him anymore.

So Brendon looks while he has the chance. He knows he's being obvious, but he doesn't care.

"We're here," Zack announces. "Everyone grab their bags. Remember we're going right to the airport tomorrow, so what you haven't packed stays on the bus."

Spencer opens his eyes and Brendon pretends very quickly that he hadn't been staring at him like a creep. He hurries through the lounge, brushing past Ian and Dallon to grab his bag—which he doesn't remember packing, but it sits there right on top of Brendon's bunk. All the stuff he keeps in his bunk is gone, and his iPod sits right on top of everything.

Brendon swallows. He leans down and grabs Spencer's bag by reflex. When he realises what he's done, he grabs the handle tighter and carries both bags into the lounge, anyway.

Spencer's gotten up and he's standing next to the couch, just a few steps away from Brendon. Spencer shifts, looking as awkward as Brendon feels, as Brendon hands over Spencer's bag. Their fingers brush and Brendon has to resist the urge to grab Spencer's hand to hold on for the rest of his life.

Instead, he walks up to the front of the bus after Ian and Dallon, pretending like his heart is not pounding in his chest.

It's only in the lobby that he remembers about the room assignment, but Ian and Dallon are talking and Brendon doesn't want to budge in. Spencer's doing something on his phone.

Brendon tries to speak up when Zack comes back with the room keys—they have actual keys, which Brendon finds a bit quaint. But Ian snatches the first key out of Zack's hand before Brendon can say a word, and says, "Where are Dallon and me?"

"314," Zack says. "Spence, Bden, you're in 318."

Spencer takes the key and goes to the elevator. Ian and Dallon are already waiting there, chatting quietly. Brendon follows Spencer slowly. He doesn't feel good about this—he wanted to give Spencer space and, okay, he also wants to avoid having any god, why can't you be less you? conversations and break-ups, which means that he has to avoid Spencer, which sucks, but it's better than—it's better than the alternative, Brendon thinks. He doesn't want to be dumped mid-tour. They've just gotten here.

It's a short elevator ride, but the elevator's tiny, so they have to stand close. Every time Brendon brushes against Spencer, it's—Brendon just wants to get out of here. He needs a shower and then he can go to bed. He won't be able to annoy Spencer when he's asleep—at least, so he hopes.

Except when they walk into their room, it's not a double. Instead of the two beds Brendon was expecting, they just have a large queen.

It's almost enough to make Brendon turn around and leave. He knows himself and he knows his reaction to Spencer—when Spencer comes within cuddling distance, Brendon will wake up next morning wrapped tightly around Spencer. Spencer has jokingly called Brendon an octopus.

Brendon's pretty sure Spencer's not in the mood for that right now, though.

Spencer just puts his bag on the foot of the bag. "First shower," he says. Brendon wants to protest, a little. He's really icky from lugging gear around and he smells like stale sweat, but he just steps aside and lets Spencer pass, too weary to put up a fight.

Spencer walks by without squeezing Brendon's hand, not even brushing against Brendon, carefully in his own little bubble of personal space. When the bathroom door clicks closed, Brendon just lets himself fall onto the bed and stares at the ceiling. He can't believe that only last night this was what he wished for—a couple of hours alone with Spencer, no interruptions, just them. It's like the fight drained him of all the urgency—no, that's wrong. Brendon still wants to get his hands on Spencer, to touch him everywhere, kiss him and make love to him. But where Brendon used to want to reach out, he now feels like his limbs are trapped against his torso.

Brendon sighs and stretches, tries to get the feeling of being tied down out of his body. He hits Spencer's bag with his foot and almost kicks it off the bed. When he looks down, he sees it teetering on the edge, about to drop off any minute.

"Fuck," Brendon says. He carefully climbs off the bed, so he doesn't disturb the precarious balance of the bag, and puts it back on the middle of the bed. It's open, and Brendon checks nothing fell out and that nothing, like, spilled over the content. It's not his fault one of Spencer's t-shirt's on top of everything. He needs to move it aside to look.

It's maybe Brendon's fault that he takes it out to look instead of just pushing it aside. It's an old shirt, one that resurfaces for each tour. It's worn with age, the fabric soft, and it smells like Spencer, his laundry detergent, the one his mom always used and that Spencer then also started to use when they moved to L.A. It smells of Spencer and home and everything Brendon wants.

The shower's still going, so Spencer won't be out for another few minutes and Brendon's just human, okay? He sniffs the shirt, presses his face against it, and pretends that everything's fine. He's so tired of fucking things up, tired of having to be one to fix them because it's always Brendon's fault.

Brendon doesn't mean to keep standing there like a creeper, sniffing his boyfriend's shirt. But he does because, well, Spencer—so he startles when the bathroom door opens and Spencer walks out, hair towelled dry and sticking into all directions. Brendon thinks he looks a bit less tired, less tense, but most of all Spencer looks exactly like the guy Brendon's head over heels, hopelessly "I want to spend the rest of my life with you and only you" in love with.

"God, I love hotel showers," Spencer says. Then he sees Brendon and something in his face shifts.

Brendon decides he doesn't want to wait to hear what Spencer's going to say—or yell, yelling's totally possible, too, Brendon thinks—so he springs into action. He just grabs his whole bag and shoulders past Spencer. "Yeah, showers are awesome," Brendon babbles, trying to fill the silence with anything, so Spencer can't talk.

"Brendon," Spencer says.

"I love showers, so I'm gonna take one, see you later, don't wait up."

Brendon know that he's being an ass and that he's actively shutting the door in Spencer's face. He puts his bag down and reaches to turn the shower on. It's then when he realises that he's still clutching Spencer's shirt in his hand.

"Shit," Brendon says. His heart is pounding like he did more than just sniff Spencer's shirt which—god, Brendon's just so in over his head. He takes the hottest, longest shower he's comfortable with. It's late and as the water washes away the tour grime, the show sweat, and all the tension in his body, Brendon finds he's incredibly tired. He still stays in a few minutes longer, to give Spencer enough time to fall asleep.

When Brendon has towelled himself dry, the first thing he grabs is Spencer's shirt. He just contemplates it for a moment, then he deliberately pulls it on. He can still pretend that the shirt was in his bag to begin with; their clothes switch owners during tour all the time. Brendon's pretty sure he has a pair of socks that are actually Ian's in his bag. Maybe he can even convince Spencer that it used to Brendon's shirt, so he's really just taking back his stuff before they split up.

God, when they split up. Brendon feels light-headed and he has to take a deep breath. The hot shower, he tells himself. It's hot in the small bathroom, the air heated up and everything's damp. He just needs a bit of fresh air. That means actually leaving the bathroom and, god, Brendon's such a coward.

Brendon takes a deep breath and steels himself. He hopes Spencer's already gone to sleep.

It's quiet in their room, quiet and dark. Brendon slowly steps out of the bathroom, listening intently. After the muggy heat of the bathroom, their room feels cold, the A/C on full blast. The TV's off and the silence in the room feels almost oppressive.

Brendon carefully puts his bag down in the hallway—if Spencer's already gone to sleep, Brendon doesn't want to accidentally wake him up.

Brendon bites his lip and walks quietly around the corner. Maybe if he lies down right at the corner of the bed, then he won't get close to Spencer. Brendon doesn't know how that makes him feel exactly, but he doesn't think it's a particularly good emotion. At least his head has cleared a bit up and he doesn't feel quite as dizzy anymore.

Brendon gathers his courage and walks around the corner. He's not tiptoeing, not quite, he's just walking very quietly. It's what polite people do, they don't trample through a room like a herd of elephants.

"I was wondering if you'd decided to sleep in the bathtub."

Brendon startles so badly he actually jumps to the side and hits his elbow right on the corner. "Fuck!"

Spencer just raises his eyebrow. He's very much not asleep. He's sitting at the head of the bed, wearing his pyjamas and looking about as tired and worn as Brendon feels.

"I figured you'd gone to sleep," Brendon says. "I didn't want to wake you up."

"I didn't think you'd go straight into avoiding me," Spencer says, not even acknowledging anything Brendon's said. "I didn't think you'd be that immature."

Something inside Brendon snaps. "Oh, right, because you haven't been avoiding me at all," Brendon growls. "You didn't talk to me all day!"

"Because I was waiting for a chance to talk to you alone!"

"I—" Brendon takes a deep breath. He hears his mom chastising him that yelling's never solved anything. "You could've said something," he says finally.

"It wasn't like you were trying to talk to me, either," Spencer says.

"I was giving you some space," Brendon says.


Brendon freezes mid-motion. "What?"

Spencer frowns. "Why did you want to give me space?"

The question doesn't make sense to Brendon. "Um." He blinks and looks away from Spencer. He can hear Spencer get up from the bed.

"Brendon," Spencer says. He sounds a bit annoyed. "What the fuck is up with this space thing?"

Brendon realises that Spencer really doesn't get it. "Just forget it," he says. He feels extremely exhausted and he really doesn't want to hear about all the ways he's fucked up today. "I was being stupid, blah, I just want to go to bed."

Brendon reaches for the duvet and tugs it up, but Spencer grabs Brendon and turns him around to face Spencer. "No, I'm not letting you get all avoidey again."

"Oh, fuck off," Brendon says. "I wasn't avoiding anyone."

"Seriously," Spencer says. "You hiding in the bathroom so you didn't have to talk to me, so I could fall asleep before getting to talk to you, that wasn't avoiding?"

"You started it!" Brendon pushes Spencer's hands off him. "You had to take a nap this morning."

Spencer pinches the bridge of his nose. "I was tired," he says.

Brendon snorts. "But you didn't sleep."

"Yeah, because someone in the bunk above mine was throwing their weight around like they're a fucking walrus."

Brendon throws his hands up. "Sure, make it all be my fault again. Here we go again." He tries to turn around again, but Spencer reaches for his wrist again.

"Brendon," he says. "I don't even know what we're fighting about right now." He sounds tired and confused.

"You needed space," he blurts out. "So I gave you some. What is the fucking problem?"

"But why?"

"Because that's what everyone wants from me!" Spencer hushes Brendon and Brendon realises he was yelling. "Everyone just wants me to leave them the fuck alone, okay?" Brendon spits out.

Spencer blinks. "I don't want to leave me alone," he says. "I want you to fucking come and talk to me. I want you to be a fucking adult and work on shit that's going wrong."

"Then why didn't you say so?" Brendon thinks he sounds whiny. He just—he doesn't get it. Spencer's caught him completely off guard and none of this makes any sense to Spencer. "But why—but everyone pushes me away and—"

Spencer tugs Brendon close. "I don't want you to go away," he says.

"But I thought—"

"I know," Spencer interrupts him. "Why didn't you ask me?"

"You were mad at me."

Spencer raises one eyebrow. "That's never stopped you before," he says. "Remember the time you broke my fucking cell phone and I didn't want to talk to you? You climbed into my lap whenever I sat down and hugged me so hard I couldn't shake you off."

"But that was what made people leave," Brendon says. "I know that—I know I'm too clingy and shit and I'm trying and—" His throat closes up. "I'm trying," he repeats.

"I like you being clingy," Spencer says softly.

"But not too clingy," Brendon says. "Too clingy is bad."

"I don't think you're too clingy," Spencer says.

"You didn't have to. Other people did."

Spencer looks kind of sad. "I know. But maybe we can stick to the real reasons I was mad, not what other people have ever complained about."

"I just thought—"

Spencer puts his finger on Brendon's lips and it's—he doesn't seem mad anymore. "I want this to work," he says. "I really, really want it to work, okay? But we gotta work as a team, both in the band and at home, okay?"

"We are," Brendon says. "Aren't we?" Please, he thinks. Please say yes. "I'll try harder," Brendon says. "I'll—"

"Brendon," Spencer says in that quiet, sad voice that makes Brendon's heart shatter. "It's not—it's not just about you trying harder."


"You have to listen what I say, Brendon. You can't just go around assuming shit about me that you know isn't true."

"I didn't do that," Brendon says.

Spencer snorts. "Did I ever tell you you were too clingy? That I needed some fucking space?"

"No—" Brendon sighs. "But it's what people always wanted from me," he says. "How am I supposed to know what you want if I can't even trust my experiences?"

"You ask me," Spencer says.

"That sounds much too easy." Brendon rubs his eyes. "This shit is never easy."

"Never said it was," Spencer says. He's touching his fingers against Brendon's, not really taking Brendon's hands, just letting him know that he was there. It makes something flicker in Brendon's belly, a hot-white flash of desire, as Spencer's finger tips trail over his palm.

It's not enough to make Brendon reach out for Spencer, but it's enough to make him talk.

"I worry," Brendon says, "that I want you too much."

Spencer laughs, surprised. "I don't think that's possible."

"No, really, if I could I would climb inside your skin and eat you up." Brendon pauses. "Except without the eating. And the living inside your skin. That would be icky."

"I think you should stop watching horror movies with Shane," Spencer says. "They're giving you weird ideas."

"It's the weed," Brendon says. Then, because he feels like being honest: "I miss you."

Spencer's face does something complicated again. "I'm right here," he says and slides his fingers between Brendon's. "I'm right here, B."

It's easy to tightly grip Spencer's hand, to lean forward and catch Spencer's lips with his mouth. Spencer tastes like peppermint and the mouthwash he uses religiously, his lips warm and soft.

"I'm scared," Brendon says—against Spencer's lips because he doesn't have to look into Spencer's eyes. He keeps his eyes closed. "I think I love you too much."

"Told you, there's no such thing," Spencer whispers back.

Brendon shivers, as Spencer puts his other hand on Brendon's hip, his thumb stroking the thin sliver of skin that's not covered by his t-shirt. "I want you all the fucking time."

Spencer grins. His nose rubs against Brendon's, and Spencer brings their foreheads together. "Well, how could you not?"

"Stay serious, please." Brendon feels like he's going to fall apart right in Spencer's hands.

"I love you," Spencer says, softly. "I—I could've said all of that to you, too. I want you and I fucking need, even if you're just sitting next to him talking to Ian about chord progressions, and I'm so fucking frightened that if I fuck this up, I'll never find something similar again. And I don't want to fuck, I want to keep you for myself for all our lives."

"You have me," Brendon says. "In case you needed to know that."

Spencer laughs. "I knew that the moment you walked out of that bathroom wearing my shirt."

"It's comfy," Brendon says.

"What was up with the sniffing anyway?"

Brendon shrugs, but it brings him closer to Spencer, their chests rubbing together. He shivers. "I missed you."

Spencer kisses Brendon again. Brendon thinks he could just keep standing here like this forever.

"Hey," Spencer says after a few moments. "You're still wearing my shirt."


Spencer mouths over to Brendon's ear and gently bites Brendon's earlobe. Then he whispers into Brendon's ear, his nose pushed into Brendon's hair, "I want it back."

Brendon freezes for a second, but Spencer's still rubbing his thumb over Brendon's hipbone, and he's leaning into Brendon and—

"Okay," Brendon says. He tries to step back, but Spencer keeps his hold on him, so Brendon has to lean back as he pulls the shirt off. The air conditioner's on cold, just like Spencer prefers for sleeping, and Brendon shivers while his skin gets covered in goosebumps.

"Here," Brendon says, pressing the shirt against Spencer's chest.

Spencer grins. "Thanks," he says, takes the shirt and lets it drop on the floor behind him.

"I'm cold now," Brendon announces.

"I can change that," Spencer says.

"Show me?"

Spencer wraps his arms around Brendon's back, enveloping in a hug. Brendon expects Spencer to kiss him so hard that his knees get weak, but Spencer just keeps his kisses soft. They still make Brendon's knees weak.

"Still cold," Brendon mumbles in-between kisses. He's shivering for totally different reasons now, though.

"We have a bed right here," Spencer says. "With warm covers and shit."

Brendon laughs and puts his head down on Spencer's shoulder. "Warm covers and shit, huh?"

"You love me for my well-chosen words," Spencer says.

Brendon smiles and holds on tightly to Spencer. "I do," he says. "I really, really do. Love you, I mean."

"Never doubted that." Spencer steps back. "Get into the bed," he says, his voice rough and breathless.

Brendon grins. He makes a show of pulling the covers back and crawling onto the bed in what he thinks is a seductive manner. But when he turns onto his back, he realises that Spencer wasn't watching. Spencer had been getting the lube and condoms out of his bag. He shrugs, blushing a little, when Brendon raises an eyebrow at him.

"I wasn't—I was hoping," he says.

"Is this gonna fix us?" Brendon needs to know. Sex hasn't been able to fix any of his previous relationships and, god, Ryan and he had really tried, but maybe—

"No," Spencer says. "Talking will fix us. And we will start right tomorrow morning." He puts down their stuff on the bedside table and sits down next to Brendon. "Tonight I just want to make love to you, okay?"

Brendon is totally okay with that—more than okay even. He pulls at Spencer's sleep shirt. "I don't know why you keep wearing so many clothes at night," he says.

Spencer gives his usual reply: "So that you can get me out of them."

When they're both in bed, skin on skin, Brendon gives into his urge and wraps his arms and legs tightly around Spencer. "I missed you so much," he mumbles between kisses. Spencer's weighing him down, anchoring him. Brendon thinks he might fall apart if Spencer wasn't keeping him whole.

"I know." Spencer sucks on Brendon's neck. For a fleeting moment, Brendon wants him to leave a hickey, any mark to prove that they exist.

And just like that Brendon wants Spencer inside him, wants Spencer to fill him, complete him. "I need you," he whispers. "Spencer."

Spencer kisses Brendon deep, so hard it feels bruising, but Brendon pushes back against Spencer, tries to get him even closer.

Brendon hitches his legs a bit higher—he's not in the mood for a lot of foreplay. He feels like he's been on edge for fucking years. "Come on," he says. "C'mon."

"Fuck, Bren." Spencer's hard, his dick rubbing against Brendon's thigh. "Now?"

"Yes," Brendon says. "C'mon, hurry."

Spencer reaches so fast for the lube that he almost pushes the tube off the table. Brendon thinks that he apparently wasn't the only one desperate to get themselves some alone time.

Then Spencer circles Brendon's entrance with a lubed up finger. "Sorry, it's cold," Spencer says as Brendon shivers.

"It's good," Brendon says. "It's you."

Spencer leans in and kisses Brendon while he pushes one finger inside Brendon. It feels so good to have that again, Brendon gasps against Spencer's mouth and digs his fingers into Spencer's shoulder.

"More," Brendon says when they break for air. "Fuck, Spencer."

Two fingers are so much better than one, and each new touch is setting more nerve endings in Brendon's skin on fire. He urges Spencer on, but Spencer shakes his head. His fingers seek out Brendon's prostate, and it's so good it hurts, after all the anger and frustration.

Brendon's secretly glad that this still works, that they can play both music and be good in bed together. His relationship with Ryan had failed when they couldn't fuck their anger out of their systems anymore.

Brendon's distantly aware that he's probably too loud, but he can't keep the sounds inside him. When Spencer fingerfucks him fast, Brendon keens and bites his lip to keep quiet. "I can't," he gasps. "Spencer, please."

Spencer's hand shakes a little bit as he reaches for the condom. Brendon rips it open with fingers that won't cooperate.

"Don't break it," Spencer says. "I'm not sure I can make myself get up for another one."

Brendon stills mid-motion and imagines Spencer fucking him without a condom. Then he quickly has to reach down and squeeze his cock as hard as he can. "Fuck, you can't just say shit like that," he pants.

"Brendon," Spencer says. "Put the fucking condom on me."

Brendon loves this part. He gives Spencer's cock a gentle squeeze after he's rolled the condom down, a quick hello that makes Spencer whimper.

"God, you," Spencer says.

"Fuck me," Brendon says.

Spencer does.

Brendon throws his head back and takes a deep breath as Spencer enters him. "More," he says. "Come closer."

Spencer nuzzles Brendon's neck. "Shhh," he says.

"Fuck, Spencer," Brendon says, and then Spencer pushes two fingers into Brendon's mouth, effectively silencing him.

Brendon sucks on Spencer's fingers instinctively, sliding his tongue between them. He hears Spencer's startled intake, and then Spencer really starts to fuck him, thrusting so hard against Brendon that he keeps sliding back on the sheets. Brendon puts his hands against the headboard and screws his eyes closed, focusing on Spencer, on his cock, his fingers, his breath puffing over Brendon's skin, the way their skin slides together.

This, Brendon thinks, is as good as it's ever going to get. He doesn't want to lose this.

"Not gonna last long," Spencer pants.

Brendon just hums and sucks hard on Spencer's fingers.

"Ch-cheater," Spencer says. He has to use his other hand to keep himself balanced, but when Spencer says, "Brendon, touch yourself," it's not like Brendon can just say no.

Brendon slowly wraps his right hand around his cock, just holding himself. He's not too far from coming himself, too much pent-up sexual tension, and it only takes Spencer whispering, "Imagine I'm sucking you off," to make Brendon groan loudly and jerk himself fast.

It's so good, Spencer's pounding into Brendon, and it gets even better when he takes his fingers out of Brendon's mouth and replaces them with his mouth.

Brendon keens as Spencer wraps his split-sick fingers around Brendon's hand on his cock. Spencer grips him tightly, and the glide of their hands is almost too much.

"God, Spencer, I'll—" Brendon bites into Spencer's shoulder as he comes. Spencer goes perfectly still and then jerks, coming with a bitten-off scream.

They just lie there for a moment, breathing hard. Brendon's entire body feels like it's been turned into jelly. Spencer finally pulls out and rolls off Brendon with a groan. "You okay?" he whispers, while pressing a kiss against Brendon's jaw.

Brendon nods. "Better than 'kay."

Brendon can feel Spencer's grin against his cheek. "Just gimme a moment."

When Spencer gets up, Brendon slides his fingers through his own come and rubs his fingers lightly over his entrance. It's sensitive, a bit swollen, Brendon thinks, but it still feels good.

"Brendon," Spencer says in this strangled voice. "Come, let me—" Spencer lifts Brendon's hand despite Brendon's quiet protest. The wash cloth is warm and feels pretty good, but the water left on Brendon's skin makes Brendon shiver in the cold air.

Spencer's also brought a towel. "I'm never giving you up," Brendon mumbles as Spencer rubs him dry. "Never."

"Good," Spencer says and kisses Brendon. "Now roll over to the other side."

Brendon does and burrows under the covers to keep the cold air out. Soon Spencer comes back and wraps himself around Brendon's back.

"Big spoon, hmm?" Brendon snuggles back and sighs contentedly when Spencer tightens his arm around Brendon's waist.

"Next time we'll switch," Spencer mumbles into Brendon's hair. Brendon intertwines his fingers with Spencer's. He's comfortably relaxed and warm and Spencer, despite all his worries, still seems to love Brendon lots and lots, so this night it's easy to fall asleep.


The next morning Brendon wakes up facing Spencer, their legs tangled in the sheets. Spencer's still asleep, his breathing slow and relaxed. Brendon thinks he could count Spencer's eyelashes, but instead he's just looking at Spencer. Last night Spencer said—he said he wanted to make this work, that he wasn't going to just give up on Brendon. And Brendon believes him. But wanting something to work out doesn't always mean it actually is going to work.

"Stop worrying," Spencer mumbles.

"I love you," Brendon says. "I need you to know, 'kay?"

Spencer blinks his eyes open, and those blue eyes are going to be Brendon's downfall, he knows it. They just take Brendon's breath away whenever he looks at them. "I think it's time for breakfast," Spencer says.

"Uh, okay." Brendon wasn't actually expecting that.

"Come on, let's take a shower."

Spencer gets out of bed, stretching slowly. Brendon's mesmerised by the play of muscles in his back. He wants to reach out and run his fingers over them.

"You comin'?" Spencer throws at Brendon over his shoulder.

Brendon blinks, confused. But then Spencer turns around and offers his hand to Brendon. "I meant, let's take a shower together."

"Oh. Oh!" Brendon hurries up so fast his legs get all tangled up with the sheets and he almost falls out of bed. Spencer catches him, though. He just grins at Brendon and pulls him into the bathroom. Spencer's shampoo and stuff is still there, and Spencer doesn't waste any time putting on the shower.

They're quiet, both of them, while the water warms up. They brush their teeth, side by side, and if Brendon closed his eyes, he could imagine that they were home, that this was any random morning in the past two months. But then Spencer's elbow brushes Brendon's arm. Brendon looks up to find Spencer smiling. "I guess the water's hot enough," he says.

It is. Spencer makes Brendon get in first, and the first hits of the hot water on his skin feel heavenly. Then he feels Spencer behind him, and it's—it's entirely pavlovian or whatever that shit is called, because Brendon automatically gets turned on.

Brendon turns his face up into the spray and reaches for the shower gel. "Do your back?" Spencer asks, so quietly Brendon almost can't hear him over the water. Brendon just nods.

Spencer rubs Brendon's shoulders gently, his fingers ghosting over Brendon's back. Brendon wishes he could have this forever and ever. Just Spencer and being content in the moment and not worrying.

If Spencer's fingers linger on Brendon's hips, Brendon doesn't mention it. He just quickly washes his hair and rinses himself off. "Don't want to use up all the hot water," he says lamely. He for sure hopes that this hotel has enough hot water to last for more than one short shower, but standing there between the wall and Spencer, Brendon feels positively captivated, and it makes his heart hurt.

Spencer smiles at him, as they switch. Brendon has to take a deep breath, when their chests brush, Brendon's hot-wet and Spencer's mostly dry. He wants to throw himself at Spencer, wants to sink down to his knees and beg.

Instead, he reaches for the shampoo. Spencer has this routine, he always washes his hair first, no matter what. "Let me," Brendon asks. He thinks it sounds a lot like pleading, that desperate undertone in his voice, and Brendon hates himself for being so obvious.

"Yeah," Spencer says.

Brendon knows how to do this, and he knows how much Spencer loves getting his hair washed and petted and played with; Brendon had always been fascinated by how responsive Spencer is when he touches Spencer's hair.

It feels intimate, is the thing, being in such close contact to Spencer, his hands buried in Spencer's hair, gently massaging his scalp and lathering the shampoo. Brendon feels kind of sad when it's time to rinse, but as soon as the soapy suds are gone, Spencer leans down and kisses Brendon.

Brendon's still holding on to Spencer, his hands on Spencer's shoulders, and he thinks he's gripping Spencer too hard, but Spencer pulls Brendon close, reaches between them and wraps his hand around both their cocks.

"I love you," Spencer whispers, and Brendon closes his eyes and leans against Spencer. He lightly scratches his nails over Spencer's skin because Spencer likes that, and Spencer jerks them hard, with that twist on the upturn that drives Brendon crazy, and—

"I love you, too" Brendon whispers against Spencer's water-slick skin. "I love you so fucking much, I can't—"

"Shhh," Spencer says. "You can, and we will."

It doesn't make sense because Spencer doesn't even know what Brendon can't do, but it's hot and muggy and Brendon's surrounded by all things Spencer, the smell of his shampoo, his lotion, Spencer's arm slung tightly around Brendon's waist, and in this moment it's easy to believe and to just let go.

After they've come, Spencer pulls his hand up and Brendon licks their come from his fingers before the water can wash it all away. Spencer just grins and kisses Brendon again.

"Good thing we were in the shower," Brendon says slowly. He loves early morning sex, it's this nice warm, relaxed feeling that makes Brendon convinced he can deal with anything this day will throw at him.

Spencer snorts. "That's because I'm the one with planning skills," he says. As Spencer remembered to put the towels in easy to reach distance, Brendon has to agree. Brendon always forgets and then he has to get out dripping wet and reach for the towels which are all on the other side of the bathroom.

But that means ... "You planned this?" Brendon asks quietly as he dries himself off.

"Yeah." Spencer presses a kiss on Brendon's shoulder. That's all he says until they're downstairs in the restaurant that belongs to the hotel. The breakfast buffet looks and smells amazing; Brendon doesn't feel very hungry, though.

Spencer reaches for Brendon's hand, as he gets up, and forces Brendon to come with him. Brendon only takes a small portion of scrambled eggs and a piece of toast. Spencer gives him a look but Brendon goes back to their table anyway. There's no point in wasting any of the perfectly good food just to make it appear like Brendon's okay. He is okay. He's just not hungry.

When Spencer sits down, he sighs. "I guess we'll talk first then."

"Your food's getting cold," Brendon says. "I can wait, it's okay." He pokes at his eggs. He shouldn't have taken any—they're too runny and make him feel ill.

"Sure, because possibly eating cold eggs is the worst thing that could happen today," Spencer says.

Brendon just shrugs.

Spencer sighs again. "I'm not breaking up with you," he says. "If that's what you're worried about."



"I fucked up," Brendon says. Taking the blame is usually the better part of making up, Brendon's found out.

He should've known better with Spencer. "Me too," Spencer says. He tips up Brendon's chin, makes him look directly into Spencer's eyes. "I'm sorry for snapping at you," Spencer says.

"It's okay, you were tired and—"

"That's not an excuse," Spencer says quietly. "And it wasn't because I was tired."

Brendon pauses. "But why then?"

"I'm scared," Spencer says. "I want this to work out and I'm afraid what will happen if it doesn't, but most of the time I just want to have you all for myself."

"I was going to say the same thing," Brendon says.

Spencer smiles. "I figured," he says. "So I thought I should go ahead and tell you, so you know that we're in this together, 'kay? We both gotta make it work." Spencer reaches for Brendon's hand, squeezes it tightly. "And now tell me what's up with all of this giving me space bullshit."

"I—that's why they left," Brendon says. "I'm too... y'know."

"But I like that about you," Spencer says. "Besides, after having been your friend for almost ten years, I'm pretty used to it by now?"

"But what if you stop?" Brendon asks. He feels like his heart is going to stop any second now. "What if—I read about this, Dallon sent me this article, okay, it's—we're in this honeymoon phase and we have to build a real relationship and—"

Spencer shakes his head, and Brendon stops talking. "I can't promise you I won't ever find it annoying," Spencer says. "But I think we have a real relationship after so many years of friendship. Nothing we can do is going to change that, but you trying to not be you is actually going to hurt us, B. What with me being in love with you because you're you."

Brendon's throat closes up and nods. "So what do we do now?"

"We have breakfast," Spencer says. "And in about two hours we're back on the road. As for the rest—we'll see."

"We're gonna make this work, right?" Brendon says. "Together."

Spencer grins. "Yeah. Because it's always been you and me."

Brendon giggles. "You saved me from the scary ballerina after all."

"And I will do it again. In a heartbeat."

Brendon feels a smile on his face, the first genuine one in what feels like days. "We're okay," he says.

"We're okay," Spencer affirms. "And now eat your food before it's cold."

Brendon ends up eating half of Spencer's hashed browns and one sausage.

"I think it would be easier if you just went back with your own plate," Spencer says, but he lets Brendon steal more food.

"Nah, that would require walking all the way over there," Brendon says, pointing to the buffet which is just fifty feet away, but really. The food is right there on Spencer's plate.

"Hi, guys," Dallon says and sits down next to Brendon. He gives them both a cursory look. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah," Brendon says. "We're good." Spencer nods.

"Good," Dallon says, "because Ian's already planning an intervention and you know how these tend to go."

Brendon shudders. "God, no."

Spencer grins at him. "Thankfully we're smart enough to make up on our own."

"And no one's happier than me," Zack says. "Hey, is this coffee good?"

Spencer makes a vague it's drinkable, but I've had better gesture. Spencer has a lot of coffee-related gestures. They're all very eloquent.

But then Spencer wraps his foot around Brendon's ankle, and Brendon feels the old warm fuzzy feeling in his chest again. "Better than us?" he jokes.

Spencer puts his hand on Brendon's, right there on top of the table, and grins. "Never," he says.

Brendon thinks that maybe—pretty likely actually—they're going to make this work. This, he thinks, as he holds hands with his boyfriend, his friends chattering next to them about the food and if pouring syrup over the sausages is icky or a stroke of genius, this is as good as it's going to get. Brendon's pretty okay with it. He can totally do this.

Spencer squeezes Brendon's hand.

Okay, they can totally do this.

Brendon squeezes Spencer's hand back and holds on tightly until it's time for them to get moving.