If he closed his eyes and breathed in deep, he could almost imagine the colors of the flames, painting the insides of his closed eyelids in watercolor oranges and reds.
Long fingers carding through his hair, touch surprisingly gentle, fingertips massaging his skull.
“You didn’t disappear at the end this time,” Ryan said, his voice low and very nearly monotone as always, though there was an undercurrent of something else there.
Brendon wasn’t Spencer, so he couldn’t tell exactly what that something else was.
He liked to think it was maybe pride.
Brendon felt proud of himself, in any case.
He said nothing in response, leaning his weight against Ryan who took it without complaint, keeping him held upright.
His other arm that wasn’t in Brendon’s hair wrapped around his waist.
“You’re dead on your feet,” lips murmured against his hairline, and he was pretty sure Ryan even sounded kind of surprised that time.
Brendon wanted to laugh but all that escaped him was a huff of breath.
Ryan, who was always surprising Brendon in that he was a good deal stronger than he looked, shifted their positions so Brendon was slumped against his side instead, a way for Ryan to walk them both while taking on most of Brendon’s dead weight.
Which was just as well; he less walked and more dragged, shuffling feet making motions barely qualifying as actual steps.
Ryan was never the wordy type, not out loud, anyway. Brendon knew that. Brendon was the talkative one, between the two of them.
The silence stretched between them as a result, Brendon too weary to keep words straight even in his thoughts much less able to say anything aloud.
“You did well,” came Ryan’s voice, close to his ear, unexpectedly. “We wouldn’t have made it without you.”
So he hadn’t mistaken that undercurrent of pride before.
Tired and dazed as he was, the praise still affected him, but even the spike of giddiness wasn’t strong enough to trigger his powers and make him vanish.
He was too weary for even his usually inconvenient powers to make themselves known.
A hoarse “thanks” was the most he could manage.
This time, he was sure he didn’t mishear the smile in Ryan’s voice when he replied.