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Cupid's Chokehold

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„Lizzy.“ I called the angel like girl that was running towards me. I smiled because she looked exactly like her mother and I adored both of them. They had so many things in common – even their name which both of them disliked. Elizabeth was too long, too traditional and too normal for a person like Z Berg. And that was how her four year old daughter felt too.
Everyone thought that Lizzy was my daughter and I felt like even Z herself sometimes forgot that she actually wasn’t. But maybe it was better like this – that people thought I was able to produce such a wonderful child. I certainly wasn’t.
But then, her father had been an asshole too so maybe the parent’s genes weren’t always so dominant in the end. Z’s boyfriend had left her when she had still been pregnant anyways so Lizzy had never known her father. It certainly was better like this.
I had known both of them back then. I had actually been friends with Roger which I couldn’t believe anymore after what he had done. “Daddy.” Lizzy screamed and brought me back to the reality. Yes, I was her dad because she had never had someone else. I embraced her as she put her arms around me.
“My little angel.” I whispered knowing that she and her mother were the only good things in my life. I had saved them from Roger years ago but they had also saved me. Z and I both knew that I certainly wouldn’t be alive anymore if she hadn’t been there. Maybe all three of us wouldn’t be alive today if we wouldn’t have saved each other.
“What are you two doing here?” My wife said laughing as she approached us. She was standing in the frame of the patio door looking as gorgeous as ever. Nobody would’ve thought that she had already had to go through so much. She looked to innocent for all that had happened.
“Daddy!” Lizzy screamed again which was her response. I had used to dislike children because they were always too loud, too messy, too annoying. But Lizzy was like my own child and I certainly would never be able to dislike her.
I laughed again and it was genuine. This child had brought so much joy in my and Z’s life but she would never know that just her presence had changed everything.
I quickly kissed Z on the lips and we smiled at each other. Our marriage was actually more a comfortable arrangement rather than it had actually happened because I loved Z so much. Of course I did but not in a way that people would expect a husband to love his wife.
But it had been the best thing we could’ve done. We were living in the year 1953 and everyone obviously expected a man and a woman to marry each other when they had a child together – which everyone thought we had. We had both grown up in a small town in Utah where basically everybody knew everyone. So when Z had gotten pregnant but Roger had refused to marry her it had been a scandal – and of course everyone had blamed Z.
We had run away eventually to Las Vegas where we had secretly married each other and all the people we knew now thought that we had had our wedding ceremony earlier and that Lizzy was my child. It was fine for me to live like that. I adored this girl and I would never disappoint Z. I knew that I would never find another woman like her anyways and if it made her and Lizzy happy that I was husband and father than it certainly made me happy too.
“Come inside, won’t you?” Z started first looking at her daughter and then at me. “Dinner’s ready and we have guests today.” Her eyes pierced through me but eventually she regained her composure and we slowly got inside. I wondered who the guests were because I certainly hadn’t heard that there would be someone visiting us.
We had a little house – not in the center but also not in the suburbs – somewhere in the middle of Las Vegas and I really liked it. There was a small garden all around it and the house itself was also surrounded by a porch. There had been many afternoons where Lizzy and her friend had had fun circuiting the house all over again but where they had eventually collapsed laughing because they had felt dizzy.
This certainly was my happy place because I didn’t know one where I had ever felt better before. As we entered the house I already heard voices but I couldn’t recognize them yet. There were some couples Z and I were friends with and we met up sometimes but I had never felt a real connection to them. It was always a forced conversation between us because neither actually care about the other. I wondered why we were seeing each other in the first place but I guessed that was how the society worked. People were always lying at each other and they were pretending that they cared about others but most of them didn’t actually. I had already made this experience so often that it didn’t surprise me anymore.
“May I introduce Spencer and Linda and their son Jude? This is my husband, Ryan and my daughter Lizzy.” My wife introduced us to each other and I inspected the couple that had visited us. They were about Z’s and my ago and their son was about Lizzy’s ago. At least that fit perfectly.
“Nice to meet you.” The guy called Spencer said smiling and offered me his hand so we could shake each other’s. I refused to do that though because I had never liked touching other people if it wasn’t completely necessary. And touching other people’s hands wasn’t. Lizzy and Z were an exception and the latter now interfered.
“Ryan isn’t the biggest hand shaker.” My wife claimed which was the understatement of the century. “Should we all sit down?” And we did. Z had already put everything on the table. There were six plates and cutlery and then there was a lasagna in the middle that would’ve been able to satisfy twice as many people as we actually were. On the side there was a random salad and of course there was wine for the adults.
Lizzy and Jude sat down next to each other and I realized that they already seemed to be acquainted with each other. “How do we actually know each other?” I asked as my wife put a piece of lasagna on everyone’s plate. “Lizzy and Jude go to the kindergarten together.” Linda clarified and I nodded.
“Who wants some wine?” Z asked and I nodded again. The look she threw at me showed me that I probably shouldn’t have done that but eventually she poured the liquid into my glass. “A toast to… my wife who has cooked this wonderful meal for us.” I said and Spencer and Linda thanked Z nicely. We started to eat and I knew what would follow now. Z had never been a great cook and I hadn’t been either but she always tried her best.
As the fork had reached my mouth I realized that this certainly wasn’t one of my wife’s better creations. The lasagna tasted like dogshit but I didn’t complain. Spencer and Linda who had had the same expression on their faces for a second didn’t either but Jude spit everything out barely swallowing anything.
“That’s disgusting!” The little boy claimed after a few seconds but we all couldn’t be angry at him because he sounded so funny. I looked at Lizzy who tried not laugh but eventually she couldn’t hold it back anymore and a few seconds later we were all laughing – Z included.
“Who wants some ice cream?” Z eventually asked and the two children cheered. Z had always been a pretty unconventional mother who allowed their daughter almost everything and because of that many people disliked her but she certainly wasn’t one of the kind that would care what other people thought about her.
What a time we lived in now. Just about eight years ago people had fought in a war and now Americans had everything they could’ve ever wished for. The economy was booming, there was an oversupply of almost everything and apparently the birthrate was also booming. People just wouldn’t stop fucking after the war had ended. Everyone apparently felt like they had to produce as many offsprings as possible in order to increase the number of citizens. So many people had died in the war but what for?
There had just been roughly two decades between the great wars and who knew what would follow in the upcoming decades? I felt like people were maybe a little bit too careless in this time. We had everything now but it could be over so soon.
“I have chocolate and vanilla.” My wife continued. Apparently both Spencer and Linda were fine with eating ice cream for dinner instead of lasagna. Because we could afford it. People ten years ago hadn’t been able to. Maybe it was because our generation still knew how it felt when the war had been on that everyone seemed to enjoy their live now. Lizzy was already part of a new generation who hadn’t experienced it fortunately.
Everyone took what they wanted and we started eating again – this time without someone spitting the food out. I had always been a fan of mixing different flavors if I had the opportunity to so about one half of my bowl was filled with the brown ice cream while the other half was yellowish white.
“So, Ryan, what do you do for a living?” Spencer eventually asked trying to do small talk. He seemed to be nice, yeah, I decided that of all the people we had met until now he was probably the one that I liked the most. Even though we hadn’t talked much there was something about the other man’s radiance that I liked.
“I’m working in a night club.” I answered honestly. Most people didn’t like what I was doing but Spencer kept a straight face. Whether it was because he just was good at doing so or because he actually didn’t care I couldn’t say. “And Z is working in the hotel the night club belongs to.” I added because he was probably interested in knowing this too.
My counterpart nodded swallowing another piece of ice cream. “Isn’t it difficult? Having a child and doing what you two do?” He eventually asked with what seemed to be serious interest. I shrugged. “No, it’s working out just fine. I usually start working in the evening and through half of the night and Z usually starts when I come home and ends sometime in the afternoon. But we usually see each other then and someone is always here.”
Spencer nodded again and I realized that it was appropriate to ask him what he and Linda were doing too. “We’re both teachers.” Was the response. “Pretty boring compared to what you’re doing, right?” He looked at me and I realized that he could be a candidate to be friends with in the future.
“I guess.” I answered. “Listen, do you maybe want to go out and smoke a cigarette?” I asked him afterwards. I didn’t need to ask if he was smoking because every man did nowadays. The generation above us did it to cope with the trauma the war had left in them. But we mostly did it because of other reasons. There was enough commodity anyways. There was enough of everything. Nobody had to worry nowadays or at least it seemed so.
I constantly felt like there just had to happen something someday. People just cared about getting as many children as possible and nobody thought about the real problems. Nobody thought about the fact that there was a nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union and that both were able to destroy the whole world so fast that we would all be dead until we had realized it.
People did everything but think about what was really going on in the world. Why should they if everything was seemingly good?
Spencer and I got outside sitting on the bench that was standing on our porch on the right side of our house. The women and the children stayed inside because it already started to get dark.
“Don’t you have to go to work or something?” Spencer started to talk as we both took out the pack of cigarettes of our pockets followed by a lighter. Next I grabbed one cigarette and lighted it. “It’s Sunday.” I answered before taking a drag. “Right.” The other man said and for a few moments we just kept on smoking without saying another word.
It was a cloudless night but still, stars were barely visible on the sky. “Linda’s pregnant again.” Spencer eventually broke the silence and I wondered why he would tell me something like that considering that we didn’t know each other. I nodded because I didn’t know what else to do. Every women was either pregnant or tried to become nowadays.
“I don’t want a second child, you know?” The other guy added quietly and I nodded again. “One’s certainly enough, don’t you think so?” We looked at each other briefly. “Certainly.” I replied breathing out the smoke that I had inhaled earlier. “What about you two? Any children planned?” He asked me and I just shook my head. No, I had never planned to have children and I didn’t have any biological ones but I certainly wouldn’t tell this that stranger.
Now my counterpart nodded. “Don’t you sometimes think that it’s ridiculous?” I said after a while. “All this, people pretending that everything is fine while nothing is actually. The war may be over now but there is still a cold war and sometimes I think that’s even worse.”
“You never know what is about to happen. When there is a real war at least you’re used to it but like this… everything could happen. There could be a nuclear weapon directed to Las Vegas right now. Who knows?” Spencer took another drag of his cigarette while looking up in the sky.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying every time.” I responded. Spencer looked at me again. “Did you get called up back then?” He eventually whispered and I knew that he was talking about the war. “Fortunately not. I had turned 16 at the end of the war and I had been lucky. People I knew had to go but I had been damn lucky. Though I’m pretty sure that if the war would’ve lasted longer I would’ve had to go.” I took another pull from the cigarette that was already too little. “What about you?”
“I had been lucky too.” The other man responded. “ When exactly is your birthday?” “August 30th, 1929. And yours?” “Mine’s September 2nd 1930. So I’m one year younger than you.” He smiled at me and I couldn’t help myself but return the smile.
“Wow that certainly must’ve been the best birthday anyone had had back in 1945.” I smiled but Spencer looked at me confused. “You know, because it had officially been the end of the war.” I added and that was when the other man understood what I meant. “To be honest I can’t really remember what I’ve done this day.” He responded and I nodded. Maybe he couldn’t or maybe he just didn’t want to tell me. Why should he in the first place? We didn’t know each other.
“I would’ve esteemed you older if I’m being honest.” I eventually said because I really had. “Really? I would’ve thought you were older too.” Spencer responded and I half-heartedly smiled at him again. “Maybe the war has made us all look older than we actually are.” I eventually said and my counterpart nodded. “Maybe.”
“Spence? Should we go?” A voice that I immediately identified as Linda’s said a few seconds later. She appeared in front of us and I realized how beautiful she were. Not nearly as beautiful as Z was but still, she looked really good. “Sure.” Spencer answered which stopped me from inspecting here further. My cigarette was long burned out and I just snipped the little rest to the ground.
We both got up and approached the door. Z was already waiting there with Lizzy and the boy I had forgotten the name of. Had it been Jonah? It hadn’t been important enough for me to remember.
“Thank you for this pleasant evening, Z, and… for the ice cream, I guess.” Linda stated and we all laughed again. “We definitely have to do this again. My wife nodded. “Definitely.” There was a silence between us for a few seconds but eventually the children said their goodbyes to each other and it was over.
“It was great to meet you, Ryan.” Spencer said and for once I felt like he really meant it. Maybe he was a person I could genuinely be friends with. “My pleasure.” I returned. We nodded to each other and the little family started to walk down the path to get into their car. It was October and because of that it was already completely dark outside.
I had always hated the darkness because it had always been at nighttime that bad things would happen. When it was dark people could be invisible but because of that things could also happen to one when one didn’t know that they would. Bad things always happened in the dark.
“Spencer.” I got an idea and he turned around even though he had intended to get in the car. I walked down the path so we were standing opposite of each other. “Do you maybe want to visit me in the nightclub tomorrow? You can bring some friends if you would like to.” The other guy inspected me surprised. “It’s Monday tomorrow.” There was an awkward silence and I wanted to turn around to go back to the house when he added something. “Sure I want to. Where is it?” I smiled while I gave him the address. He didn’t say anything else so I turned around for good and the vehicle started. I looked down the road until it eventually disappeared around the next corner.
Just then I realized that Spencer was a teacher and he certainly had to work on a Tuesday which would be the day after tomorrow. Why hadn’t he declined after claiming that it was Monday tomorrow? He certainly could’ve.
“What is it?” Z asked me as we got back inside together. “Nothing. Nothing at all.” I didn’t know why I lied to her because there certainly was no reason to do so but I just did. And after doing so I didn’t feel the need to correct myself. It wasn’t a big deal anyways.
“OK.” She looked at me skeptically but eventually shrugged. “Alright Lizzy. Let’s make you ready for bed. You got to sleep or you will be too tired tomorrow.” Z said in a voice that was already half serious. She was never actually really strict about her daughter’s bed time but she generally wasn’t about anything else. This kind of child-rearing obviously wasn’t everyone’s favorite.
If there was one thing I had to choose that I really admired about Z than it was how she didn’t care what other people thought about her. She really didn’t. She was just doing her own thing as long as she wouldn’t get arrested for it.
Lizzy and her mother got upstairs and I stayed downstairs putting on the television. As I zipped through the channels I realized that there wasn’t anything good airing as usual so I decided to keep a movie I wasn’t really interested in.
A few minutes later my wife came back downstairs. “She fell asleep immediately. I haven’t even been able to read three full pages.” Z laughed and sat down next to me. There were few evenings where we were able to sit on the sofa together because usually I would be working at this time. My only free day was Sunday which happened to be today.
“How did you like Spencer and Linda?” My wife asked me while we were both watching the TV. Neither of us actually paid attention to what was happening though. “I really liked them, honestly. They are… different than all the others.” I replied and I meant it genuinely. “That’s why I invited them. Maybe you and Spencer can become friends? I mean you don’t have anybody.” Z looked at me and I didn’t dare to mention that she didn’t have real friends either.
There were woman she regularly met up with in each other’s houses but they certainly weren’t her friends. Z was different than the others and because of that I often wondered why she forced herself to go to these meetups where she didn’t fit in.
Maybe after all even Z Berg wanted to fit in this fucked up society. She never would for sure but maybe at least some part of her wanted it. “Yeah, maybe.” I eventually replied thinking about what she had suggested. What if Spencer and I actually became friends? He would be the first friend I would have in more than eight years. Back then I still had had them – friends – but so much had happened since then.
We continued to watch the movie and at some point my wife started to crawl to me and I embraced her with my left arm. Z and I had always been an unusual couple. It started with the fact that we weren’t actually in love with each other. Our love was beyond complicated to explain. I liked to kiss Z, I even liked to fuck her but I wasn’t in love with her. I didn’t feel anything while we had sex with each other which didn’t happen often.
I definitely loved her in some way I couldn’t exactly describe but it wasn’t romantically. And obviously I loved her daughter. Lizzy had been the reason why we had decided to marry each other. She had a father and even though he – I – was as fucked up as her real dad I certainly would never hurt her. Never.
“Should we watch something else?” I asked my wife eventually but she didn’t answer. Seconds passed until I finally realized that she was already asleep. As she was laying in my arms I realized how young Z actually was. We all looked older than we were and Z certainly didn’t look like she was twenty-four years old.
It was just when people were sleeping that we would realize how young most of us actually were. Sleep made everyone look younger and more innocent. Nobody would ever even dream about what this woman already had to go through.
How could I not had married her? I often felt like being married wasn’t really my kind of thing. To be honest, I hated it. I hated this normal everyday life with its normal everyday problems. I hated that everyone was pretending to be someone else. Nobody knew how the other person actually was anymore. I hated this society that almost forced people to marry. If they weren’t they were claimed to be weird. I hated that nobody seemed to care about what had happened to Z because nobody had done anything. I had tried but what had I been able to do?
The only thing I had been able to do was marrying her and I had. I certainly would endure being married and if there was one girl I would’ve married it definitely would’ve been Z. There would never be anyone else. I would do everything for Lizzy and Z.
I gently uplifted my wife and carried her upstairs to one of the two bedrooms we slept in. We had always had separate bedrooms for many reasons but mainly because it would’ve been too intimate if we would’ve shared one. It was difficult to explain because we were married which actually called for one bedroom a couple shared together. Sometimes we would have sex but other than that everybody slept in their own bedroom.
You didn’t want to wake up next to a person every day when you weren’t actually in love with them. It was weird, that was how it was. When Lizzy had been old enough to question the two bedrooms we had told her that it was because I was snoring really badly. This had been enough explanation for her but I doubted that it still would be in a few years.
I deposited my wife on her bed and wanted to go to my own room when I felt her hand grabbing my wrist. “Don’t leave, Ryan.” She whispered half asleep and I certainly couldn’t after she had said that. Maybe she needed the comfort of someone lying next to her today and I would give her that. I laid down next to her – both of us still wearing all of our clothes.
And when I did lay there slowly falling asleep myself I realized something. I was able to give the woman that was lying next to me and lightly touching my wrist everything. I had given her a new life – a house we lived in and enough money so we could survive. I was the father of her daughter and I had married her.
There was just one thing I would never be able to give Z Berg – and that was maybe the one thing she needed the most – I would never be able to love her like a husband was supposed to love his wife.
I would never have romantic feelings for her.

Chapter Text

The next morning I woke up and realized that I wasn’t in my own bedroom. Then I remembered what had happened yesterday. Z had asked me to stay with her. What had that been supposed to mean? I looked at her laying on my left side and fortunately saw that she was still asleep. If she wouldn’t have been the situation certainly would’ve been very uncomfortable for both of us.
I slowly got up not wanting to wake her up. As I quickly glanced at the clock I saw that it was almost 5am which meant that my wife had to get up soon anyways. I left the room and closed the door as quietly as possible but of course the luck wasn’t on my side – the door squeaked as loud as possible – and Z woke up.
“Ryan… what?” She asked still more asleep than awake. Z sat up in her bed that looked like a real bed a married couple would share now. Both sides showed that someone had slept there. “How late is it?” My wife eventually asked even though the clock was right next to her and she could’ve had a look by herself. “Almost 5 in the morning.” I answered still not explaining why I had been about to leave the room.
Z looked at me and I saw the question in her eyes. Why didn’t you wake me up then? Why would you leave quietly as if I’m just a casual hookup? I didn’t answer the question she didn’t ask. Because in the end we both knew why. We knew it and we had agreed on it but I often felt like Z didn’t like how things were between us and I wouldn’t blame her for it.
“I’m going to make breakfast.” My wife said almost in the same moment as I said “I’m going to continue sleeping then.” We exchanged a glance and the situation between us got slightly more awkward. Even though we were married I often forgot that we were. I forgot because we did so many things a married couple would never do.
I attempted to leave her bedroom because I wanted to sleep in my own bed but Z apparently wasn’t done with me yet. “You could’ve continued sleeping here.” She said quietly. Her voice sounded so innocent and shy which was extremely unusual for that woman. Where was the strong, independent mother I had married?
Maybe it was because she had just woken up. Yeah, it had to be because of that. “No, I’m good.” I answered but we both knew that I could’ve said that I didn’t want to sleep in her room as well. That I didn’t want to smell her in the sheets. That I didn’t want to get remembered that I was married to a woman I wasn’t romantically involved with.
I could’ve said that but I didn’t. We both knew how it was and I didn’t want to hurt her further. I often felt like I was the worst husband. I surely was a good father to Lizzy but I was the worst husband. But then, we had agreed on all of this, she had wanted it too. Why would I feel bad?
Z nodded defeated and passed me. I was left alone in this room that smelled like her, looked like her and just was her. Why wouldn’t I want to sleep in a woman’s room? It certainly would’ve been every man’s dream but I had early realized that I was different.
I had had girlfriends before I had married Z. I had had sex before and I had enjoyed it. But I had never felt romantic feelings before. Never. Every time other men talked about romantic love I couldn’t understand what they meant. I loved Lizzy like one would love a daughter – or at least I thought so. And I loved her mother like… I didn’t know but it certainly wasn’t romantical nature, somehow I knew that.
I sighed going to my own room. The latter looked like any person could’ve lived in there or no person at all. There was no decoration, no plants but most importantly no pictures at all. Still, I felt comfortable in it because it was my own empire. It belonged just to me and that was everything I could’ve asked for.
Usually I would’ve come home from work at this time and I would’ve slept until noon or even early afternoon but now I still felt tired even though I hadn’t worked that day. I undressed myself because I was still wearing the clothes from yesterday and laid down in the band just with my briefs.
As I slowly fell asleep again I heard the noises of plates, glasses and packages in the background because Z was making breakfast. And then the dreams started again. The dreams or rather memories?
I was in my father’s house. It was that tragically day in 1945 that I would never forget in my whole life. Jon had come over to my house and everything had seemed fine. We had talked about casual stuff like a 15-year old and a 16-year old would do. But we both weren’t casual anymore. The war had shaped everyone and children weren’t children anymore.
“I’m going, you know?” Jon eventually said but I didn’t understand what he meant first. I needed a few seconds to process it but when the realization kicked in I almost screamed. “Why would you do that, Jon?” I asked looking into my best friend’s eyes who returned my look – his was full of excitement and honor. He didn’t care about leaving me apparently. He didn’t care about dying. Maybe he would die. So many people had and still everyone wanted to enlist even now. So many young boys that would probably die. So many young lives just over because they wanted to serve for their country.
“Isn’t it my duty, Ryan?” My best friend returned but I was able to hear him doubting it to. It wasn’t ones duty to die for ones country in this never-ending war where so many people had died already. Why would Jon want to be another one of them?
“Maybe I won’t die.” He added still doubted everything he said himself. We looked at each other just like two young boys who tried to do the right thing. The thing was that we had different definitions of what the right thing apparently seemed to be.
“Yeah Jon. Maybe you won’t but what if you will? Do you want to leave me here in this house with this monster sitting downstairs? If you’re so keen to die, just go. But know that if you do that you’re dead to me.” I couldn’t look my best friend in the eyes because we both knew that I didn’t mean it. How could I ever forget about the guy that had made my teenage years at least half bearable?
“I’m sorry, Ryan.” Jon said with a broken voice but I knew that he would go anyways. It was a thing in his head and he would do it, no matter what I or someone else would say. “I have to do this, OK? My brothers have already enlisted years ago and I feel like I’m useless. You know that Mike’s a nursing case now and Bill… I don’t even know if he’s still alive but that’s why I have to do this. You don’t have to understand it but please don’t make it harder than it already is.”
I nodded because it was a Jon had said. I could’ve said that he wasn’t useless and that it wasn’t his duty to enlist. I could’ve said that he would probably share the same fate as Mike or Bill or even worse. I could’ve warned him that he would probably die and that he would leave his best friend. But I didn’t say anything. I was broken and defeated with the fact that I would lose the last good thing I that was left in my life.
“When will you go?” I whispered and Jon answered: “Tomorrow.” I nodded because I wasn’t able to say anything. My mouth stayed shut like I would have been muted. I got up and we quickly embraced. Somehow I knew that it would be the last time that I would see my best friend.
Even if he would come back he certainly wouldn’t be the same person anymore. Nobody was after they came back from the war. Our generations and the generation above us was fucked up now. How were we even supposed to keep on living after this war would be over? I knew that I’d have to go to the war too eventually if it would continue for more years. The Great War already proceeded for more than five years and who knew when it would be over?
“OK. Goodbye then.” Jon said as we were awkwardly standing opposite of each other. It had never been awkward between us before but now it suddenly was. “Goodbye then.” I responded barely able to form the words. Everyone was leaving me and the people who stayed were monsters. My father was a monster.
We weren’t able to look into each other’s eyes and eventually Jon left the room. Jon left me in this cursed house with this cursed life. Jon left me and I didn’t follow him as he went downstairs and got out of this house. I didn’t even need to go fight in the war because I was fighting my own war here in this house.
I woke up confused and shaking not knowing how much time had passed since I had fallen asleep for the second time. It was quiet in the house because Z was working and Lizzy was in the kindergarten. One of Lizzy’s friends usually took her to the kindergarten because at the time she had to be there Z was usually at work and I was sleeping. These few hours I usually had for myself until she and Z got home were worth gold.
It wasn’t that I disliked the company of my wife and her daughter – it was quite the opposite actually – but I had always been rather an introverted person who needed sometime for myself and these were the only hours I got on a day. I quickly glanced at the clock and saw that it was almost 10 am which meant that I would have many hours for myself today.
Even though I had slept pretty much for my circumstances I felt like I had barely slept. It was weird but sometimes more hours of sleep left me more tired than less hours. Maybe I was just too used to not sleeping very much that my body kind of protested when I got more sleep.
I stretched myself extensively and eventually got up to make some breakfast. It was a rainy day today which was my favorite. I didn’t understand why people preferred sunshine and summer. It was too hot, too light and too sweaty. Fall had always been my guilty pleasure and I had always loved the rain but just when you were at home.
I made some coffee and sat down at the table that Z had left everything on. I just toasted some bread and eventually started eating. I had always loved being by myself and didn’t understand how people would always want to have someone around them. Maybe I was a weird person. I knew that I was.
While working on stuff I had to do I didn’t realize how the time flew by. After what had felt like half an hour I realized that hours had flown by and Z and Lizzy entered the house already. It was like that every time. Way too little time just for myself but I wouldn’t complain.
“Daddy, daddy! Look what I made today!” The girl started to scream. I often envied children because such little things could make them so happy. They always got excited because of everything while adults didn’t appreciate anything anymore. Maybe that was the reason why I mostly didn’t like children.
Lizzy approached me and showed me a drawing that I couldn’t identify. It could’ve been a tree as well as an animal. “That’s you.” She explained and I smiled at her. “Of course. I immediately recognized that.” I lied to her. I realized that it already started when children were little – lying. Parents always lied about everything because they wanted to make their children’s lives easier, they wanted them to live in a wonderful fantasy world but was it really worth it in the end?
Everyone was constantly lying about everything. Lying. Lying. Lying. What was even true at this point? Z and I exchanged a glance and I knew that she hated lying even more than I did but still she didn’t say anything and she regularly did it herself. What would our society look like without lying? There would definitely be more hate, fights and even wars on one side but on the other side there would be no love and happiness because people would dare to say what they thought.
It was a weird time we lived in because most adults even tried to build up their own fantasy world they lived in and tried to not look and think about what was really happening, what was important.
“Shall we eat then?” Z asked interrupting me from thinking further. I had always been an overthinker which was good on one side but the worst on the other side. But what in life didn’t have good and bad sides. Everything had.
I nodded and we sat down to eat noodles with tomato sauce that Z had prepared sometime and quickly heated up now – on of the few dishes that actually tasted good when she made it. We usually did it like this. One of us tried to cook and we mostly prepped the meals so that there was always something available.
“When will you start today?” Z asked me which wondered me because she knew exactly when I had to work. It had been one time where I had had to work earlier but usually it was always the same time and we both knew that. “8pm.” I answered still. “How was work today?” I added even though I didn’t actually care. Sometimes it was like that – sometimes we just couldn’t talk to each other properly and I hated it.
There were days were we could actually communicate with each other very well, where we would genuinely laugh with each other and where we told each other almost everything. But then there were days like today where we just couldn’t. On these days I felt like something always annoyed Z. Maybe it had been the fact that I hadn’t continued sleeping in her bed today. But that had never triggered her before.
I didn’t understand people in general and often I didn’t understand Z as well even though we were now married for about four years. Sometimes I felt like I had just met her yesterday.
“It was just fine. Had some pretty annoying customers but I guess I’m already used to that. People are shit.” She laughed and how right she was. Z was working at the reception and because I was working in a club I definitely knew how shitty people actually were.
“People are shitty shit.” I eventually added and we all laughed. Z had never been the kind of mother that wouldn’t swear in front of her daughter because it wasn’t appropriate. She had always used cusses but of course never really bad ones. In her and also in my opinion it wasn’t bad to say shit. There were words that were far worse.
The next few hours passed by and sometime after 7pm it was time for me to go to work. We had a cheesy car that I had bought second hand a few years ago. It looked awful but at least it still worked. I didn’t care how a car looked like unlike most guys. The hotel Z and the nightclub I worked in were just a fifteen minute walk from our house anyways so it was easier to go there instead of driving.
The place where I worked was a big facility because the hotel had to offer almost everything. The woman at the counter greeted me and I quickly greeted back even though I didn’t even know her name. I approached the elevator that would bring me to the lowest floor where the nightclub was located at. It wasn’t just for customers of the hotel, more and more people from the city came here because the nightclub was open for everyone and apparently it had a good reputation.
The bouncer let me in and I entered the room that seemed to be located in another world. There weren’t any customers yet because the club was still closed but because of that fact the fairy lights at the ceiling seemed almost magical. The latter was really high and because it was really dark drunk people could certainly think that this was the night sky with many stars. Sometimes even I imagined that it was.
“Hey Ryan.” Pete, one of my colleagues, greeted me as I approached the bar. I mostly worked as a bartender but sometimes I had to do other stuff too. I really liked working here if I was being honest because all the people I worked with were all right and I was probably one of the few people who actually liked their boss. And because I just thought about him Patrick appeared almost out of nowhere.
“Ryan, great to see you.” He greeted me too and I replied. One would’ve never thought that this guy was the owner of a night club. Patrick was a short guy that looked way too innocent to be one but if one knew him better one had realized that he wasn’t as innocent as he looked like.
“How’s Eliza doing?” I asked about his wife. Sometimes we were talking about random things and he had mentioned his wife before. Not that I actually cared but I had forced myself to remember her name to make a good impression. I was actually working in the club for years now – I had started a few months after we had moved to Las Vegas – but I knew that it would probably be the job I would do my whole life and that was OK. I couldn’t do anything else anyways.
“Great, great. Thanks for asking.” Patrick replied with a poker face. As I quickly had a look through the room I realized that Andy and Joe were already there too. Usually Pete and I worked at the bar and the other two were walking around like security guards to have a look at everything and to manage the crowd.
“Listen Patrick, can you please ask the bouncer to put the name Spencer on the list of people that can immediately come in and go to the VIP area?” I eventually dared to ask thinking about the meeting. Just then I realized that I didn’t even know his last name. Why hadn’t I asked him the day before?“ Spencer who?” My boss asked me but I couldn’t answer.
“I can’t do this, sorry Ryan. Do you know how many Spencer’s are out there?” Patrick looked at me seriously. “Yeah, right.” Shortly after I started working – mixing drinks, listening to people talk shit, cleaning glasses and everything else that needed to be done. I didn’t mind to work so late because like that I had something to distract me from the thoughts I usually started to get when it got dark. The darkness had always been my enemy one way or another.
“Listen, can you manage the people for some minutes?” I asked my colleague after sometime. I had planned to search Spencer in the crowd. Maybe he was there somewhere. Pete nodded and I started passing all the people. I didn’t understand how but this club was always full, no matter which day it was.
I scanned the crowd for minutes and even checked the toilets but I couldn’t find Spencer. Maybe he didn’t come after all. I made my way back to the bar when I heard someone say my name. I turned around and saw Spencer standing in front of me. “Follow me.” I said and lead him to the VIP area where it wasn’t so overcrowded fortunately. There was even a free area where we sat down. I knew that I had to get back to work eventually but not yet.
Just when we both took a place at the sofa I realized that there was someone else sitting next to Spencer. It was a man that was probably about our age too. I quickly mustered him and realized that he was doing the same. He wore a suit which was a pretty unusual outfit choice for a nightclub. The man’s hair was dark brown and he wore a smirk on his face that I wouldn’t forget so soon.
“I’m sorry. Ryan, this is Brendon Urie, a friend of mine. You have said that I could bring someone so I did. Brendon, this is Ryan Ross, he works here.” Spencer introduced us to each other. I took Brendon’s hand to shake it and so we shook our hands while his smirk didn’t twitch for one second.
“Did you have to pay to come in here?” I asked Spencer trying not to look at his ominous friend anymore. He nodded. “I’m going to talk to my boss so you’ll get your money back. And of course everything you order will be one the house.” I claimed and Brendon’s smirk grew maybe a little wider after I had said that. “Spencer, you didn’t tell me yesterday. What is your last name actually?” I added which was maybe a little bit embarrassing.
Somehow the other man had known mine, maybe Z had told him, but I didn’t know his. “How come you don’t even know your friends name, Ross?” Brendon asked me still smirking. Maybe I wanted to punch him so he wouldn’t smirk anymore. There was something about the other man that was freaking me out.
“I wouldn’t consider Spencer a friend yet since we’ve only met yesterday, Urie.” I answered calling him by his weird last name like he had done before. Brendon and I starred at each other and there was a weird tension between us. It seemed to be a contest but I couldn’t say what the champion would get or how I could even win in the first place.
“Guys, calm down.” Spencer eventually said also noticing the uncomfortable atmosphere. “It’s Smith, Ryan.” He then said directed towards me which confused me. “My last name. You have asked for it and that’s my answer. It’s Smith. I’m Spencer Smith.” The younger man explained and I was embarrassed by how slow my brain worked really often. I nodded again realizing that I certainly had to go back to work now. Patrick might have been a fair boss but he certainly wouldn’t like to see his staff talking to guests and not working.
“Ok guys, I got to go now but tell me when you leave. I’m here until 4am so you have plenty of time.” I was sad that I had to go already but that was how it was. “And don’t worry, everything’s on the house, I’ll take care about that.” I nodded and eventually left the two guys – one of them leaving me more than confused.
I continued working and asked Patrick to put Spencer Smith as well as his weird friend Brendon Urie on the list of people who wouldn’t need to pay for anything ever. At some point later that evening the two guys approached the bar I was working at.
“We will head out now.” Spencer explained giving me a glass of something he had drank earlier. “Already?” “It’s almost midnight, Ryan and I have to work tomorrow. You know, Teacher life. And Brendon here is a business men too.” I didn’t ask what the latter was actually doing but it was certainly something fancy considering the suit he wore.
“All right. Have a good night then.” I replied and Spencer nodded. “You too, Ryan, you too.” He turned around and wanted to make his way through the people but then he turned around again. “You know what? How about we meet up again tomorrow? But this time in the afternoon were neither of us has to work so we can actually talk to each other? We could eat lunch together.”
I smiled. “Sure. Do you want to come too, Brendon?” I offered and I didn’t even know why I had done that. I didn’t even like this guy or rather I didn’t know what to think about him. There was something about him that I couldn’t identify and I didn’t even know if I wanted to if I was being honest.
“Sure.” Brendon gave the same reply as I had. But at least he wasn’t smirking anymore. Now there was something else in his expression that was maybe freaking me out even more.
We talked about the exact time and place and I realized that there was barely a moment where neither of us was working. Our schedules were completely different and if Spencer and I really would become friends it certainly would be really difficult.
We said goodbye to each other and I couldn’t help myself but follow the two men with my eyes as they got out of the nightclub. What a weird pair of friends. I felt like they absolutely didn’t fit together but what did I know?
“Who was that?” Patrick, who had apparently watched me not work, asked me eventually. “Sorry, Patrick, I…” I started but he cut me off. “No it’s OK. Get back to work now. But honestly, who was that? I’ve certainly never seen them in the VIP lounge before and I know everyone there.” My boss inspected me and I felt even more uncomfortable than I had had before.
“That was… that was Spencer.” I eventually said even though that was no explanation at all. “And Brendon.” I added after some seconds. It was weird to enunciate his name. It was weird that my boss had asked me who he was but I didn’t even know myself.
Everything about this situation was just weird and I couldn’t help but think that Brendon Urie could certainly be a person to destroy your life completely. Brendon Urie with that annoying smirk I wanted to beat the shit out of him.

Chapter Text

The next day the three of us met up for lunch as we had planned. Lunch was usually the first meal for me on a weekday because I usually got up at like 12 or 1 am because of my work. I didn’t know where Brendon and Spencer lived but the place we had chosen to meet up was far away from where I lived. Las Vegas was a big city and Z and I only lived at the edge of it.
I decided to take the car because the distance was so great and Z wouldn’t need it anyways. The latter now looked at me interested. “Where are you driving?” My wife asked me and I sighed. “Lunch is ready.” She added “I’m not going to eat here today. Going to meet up with Spencer.” I answered not mentioning that there was also this weird guy who would come too. My wife nodded. “Well, then have fun.” She said and got back to our house.
“Yeah.” I eventually replied even though nobody was listening to me anymore. I had realized that Z was acting really weird these days but I couldn’t figure out why she did so. I certainly hadn’t changed anything in my behavior or done anything that could offend her.
Thinking about that I got into the car and drove into the city where we would meet up at some point. It was always a hell of a thing to get a parking spot there but I knew some places where it was possible and where you didn’t need to actually pay a fortune to leave your vehicle there for a few hours.
Even though I didn’t grew up here and was only living in Las Vegas since about four years I always felt like this was my hometown. The place where I had been born certainly wasn’t. It had rather been the hell on earth.
I sighed again approaching the spot where I would leave my car. I knew the area where we would meet up and as I got there I realized that I was way too early. It was always like this. First I thought that I was going to be late but in the end I was too early and I had stressed myself for nothing.
I hadn’t known the restaurant until now but as I was standing right in front of it I realized that it didn’t look as fancy as I thought it would. Somehow I would’ve guessed that a guy like Brendon Urie wouldn’t be satisfied with something so normal but I was glad that I probably didn’t have to pay so much money here. I was unsure whether I should go in or wait in front of the restaurant but I didn’t have to think about that anymore because Brendon Urie appeared to me almost out of nowhere.
There it was again – that awful smirk that made me so aggressive like few things managed to make me. “Good day, Ross.” He greeted me again with my last name. “Good day, Urie.” I replied and we stared at each other for a few seconds. It was a competition again and I didn’t know how either of us was supposed to win it. The man was wearing a suit again and I actually wanted to know where he worked. Of course I didn’t ask though.
“Shall we go in then?” He added sounding so formal and not normal at all. But even thought I didn’t even know him for 24 hours I had already realized that nothing about this guy was normal. “We shall.” I said and I wondered why I was constantly repeating what he said. Couldn’t I just form my own words? The other guy seemed to have realized it too because his smirk grew maybe even a little bit wider and I constantly wanted to punch him. Maybe he would change his facial expression then.
We entered the restaurant that was overcrowded. I wondered how we were supposed to find a table here but that was where Urie interfered again. “Excuse me. I have booked a table for three on the name ‘Urie’.” He started talking to a waitress that just happened to cross our way. The latter smiled flirtingly and I wondered how this weird guy could’ve an effect like this on woman.
“Of course, Mr. Urie.” The waitress replied and I couldn’t help myself but roll my eyes. This was just too ridiculous. Why had I thought it’d be a good idea to invite this guy again? The woman led us to the only table at the window that was still available and when I saw the name tag on it that said ‘Urie’ I was so close to freak out like I had never been before.
But instead of doing the latter I just smiled at my counterpart sweetly. “Do you already want to order something to drink?” The waitress said still just looking at Urie who sat there narcissistically. “Thank you, but we will wait for our accompanist.” He replied and the waitress nodded. “You may go now.” I told the latter because she was just standing there and glaring at the man in front of her.
When she did leave Brendon looked at me again. “Do you feel underappreciated, Ross?” He asked which made me even more furious. He knew that he was provoking me and he loved doing so. But I wouldn’t let him do that. “Do you feel the need for attention, Urie?” I asked instead but neither of us answered to the other’s question.
Just when I felt that the tension wasn’t bearable anymore Spencer fortunately entered the restaurant. His look searched us in the crowd and when he eventually found us he started smiling. “Sorry I’m late.” He wasn’t. We had just been early. “Did you already order something?” “No, we were waiting for you.” I quickly answered because I didn’t know how much of Urie’s voice I was able to bear anymore. Spencer nodded and sat down next to Brendon.
I glanced at the menu completely overchallenged with what I should order. “This is really good.” Urie suggested something because he had apparently realized that I didn’t know what to order. What didn’t he realize actually? I wanted to say something but then the waitress appeared already to continue to flirt with Urie.
“What can I bring you guys?” Urie and Spencer ordered and when it was my turn I actually ordered what my new rival had suggested. I didn’t look at him but I was pretty sure that his smirk had grown wider again. He had scored one point in our competition. “How long were you waiting before?” Spencer asked when the waitress had left again after collecting the menus.
“Not so long actually.” Urie answered again preempting me. “Ross and I where having a nice chat here.” He added but I saw that Spencer was looking at him and then at me skeptically. I tried not to show that it hadn’t been nice at all. “How are Linda and your son?” I eventually asked not wanting to admit that I had forgotten the name of that little boy. “They’re both fine. What about Z and Lizzy?” “They’re great.” I responded and wanted to add something but Urie interrupted me.
“Your wife’s name is Z? What kind of name is that?” he asked accusatory and my nerves were overstretched again. This man had to learn to shut up. Maybe I should consider punching him, but not in a public place. “Her name’s actually Elizabeth as well as my daughter’s name but they both prefer not to be called by that name.” I explained and maybe I was just imagining it but I felt like Urie’s smirk twitched for just one tiny second when I had mentioned that I had a daughter. I had probably just imagined it.
“Why can’t she just accept her birth name?” he continued to question and that was when my patience snapped finally. “Why can’t you just shut up?” I said louder than I had intended so many people were looking at us. Maybe I should have punched him there. I didn’t care about the people anymore.
“Why don’t we all just calm down. Sit back, relax.” Spencer started and I knew that he was right. It wouldn’t be great for anyone if we cause a scene here. I did as the mediator had said and a few moments later the flirty waitress came to bring us our food. I had to admit that Urie had an excellent taste because the food looked amazing and when I tried it I realized that it tasted amazing too. But I certainly wouldn’t give Urie the satisfaction so I tried to look neutral while eating.
We finished and if I had been at home now I certainly would’ve licked up the plate because it had tasted so good. The waitress came back hopefully for the last time and I grabbed my purse to pay what I had ordered. “Don’t worry, Ross.” Urie interrupted me again. “It’s all on me.” I wanted to punch him so badly but instead I just smiled at him sweetly. Too sweetly. “Thank you, Urie.” “My pleasure.” He paid all of our food but I realized that even Spencer looked uncomfortable now. I realized that Urie even gave the waitress a tip of ten dollars which was just stupidly high.
When we left the restaurant Urie and that stupid waitress exchanged one last look and then my new rival said probably the only good thing today. “Alright companions. I have to get back to work now. But hasn’t it been a fun time?” Urie asked but didn’t except an answer. I certainly wouldn’t give him one anyways. The man left without saying another word and I saw that he was entering a car that was standing just a few feet away. Of course he could’ve afforded such a thing.
“Unbelievable.” I said when Spencer and I were left alone. It could’ve meant anything positive or negative but I didn’t dare to say something else. Urie was Spencer’s friend and I didn’t want to talk bad about him. As much as I disliked the guy I wouldn’t sink so low and do that. I actually wondered why such a nice guy as Spencer would be friends with that asshole.
“Yeah. Brendon is certainly one of a kind.” Spencer replied and I almost laughed out loud. “He was different quondam, you know?” The man continued and now I was interested. “He used to be this rather shy guy who had done everything his parents had told him. But when he turned seventeen he had done some stuff, you know, met the wrong people and since then it is like he is a whole new person.” Urie and shy? It would be more probable that a nuclear bomb would explode next to us now. The latter really wasn’t that improbable nowadays.
“And then he had met Sarah and he had changed back for some time but I guess as you see him now is just how he is after all.” Spencer looked at me apologetically. It almost seemed as if he would apologize for his friend’s behavior and well, maybe he was.
“Who is Sarah?” I asked because I hadn’t figured that out yet. “His wife.” Spencer looked at me and he wore a hurt expression on his face. Maybe he felt sorry for this woman or maybe he felt sorry for Brendon himself.
“Brendon’s married?” I replied because I couldn’t believe that. “Who isn’t?” We walked down the roads of Las Vegas and I didn’t even know where we were going but it didn’t matter. “But what about… the flirting and the outrageous behavior?” I immediately felt sorry for his wife. Maybe Urie was even cheating on her. My hatred for this guy grew and grew constantly.
“As I said, that’s just how he is.” Spencer replied sadly. “How long have you two been friends? I mean when have you met?” I continued asking even though I didn’t even know why I was asking him so much about the guy I couldn’t stand. “We have meet when we have been little boys. I think we have been five years old?” “That’s a really long time.” I replied. They had been friends for almost twenty years and that certainly wasn’t something you just threw away like that. “Yeah, it is.” Spencer replied looking at some point in the distance.
“Where do you live actually?” I asked the man that could become a good friend of mine. “Just around the block. Do you want to come inside maybe? Say hello to Linda, she’d certainly be happy.” “Nah, I’m fine. Maybe next time?” I rather asked because I didn’t even know if there would be a next time. And if there was would Brendon join us again?
We continued to walk down the streets until we stopped in front of a house that was a little bit bigger than the one Z, Lizzy and I lived in. Generally it looked similar to our house though but many houses did. When you were part of the middle class you couldn’t really afford to build a fancy house.
“That’s it, then.” I started and Spencer nodded. “That’s it.” I saw Linda through the window and I wondered how the relationship between her and Spencer was. Did they really love each other and if they did how did this feel like? I had never been in love with someone. I didn’t even understand what love was. Everybody was freaking out because of it and I didn’t understand it.
“Listen, Ryan” Spencer started again. “We get along with each other really well I think?” It was a question and I nodded. We did. “I’d love to meet up again sometime but if you don’t want to that’s OK too.” “No, I’d love to too.” I quickly interrupted him and Spencer nodded now. “Maybe without Brendon next time.” He quickly added before he turned around.
I wondered why he had said that. Maybe I hadn’t hidden my dislike for Urie as well as I thought I had. I certainly didn’t want to tear two friends apart but I had to agree that the idea of meeting up without Urie was very appealing to me. “I think Z has our phone number.” Spencer said and without saying another word he entered the house and I was standing in front of it wanting my life to look different.
I got back to the place where I had parked the car earlier which wasn’t very far away. As I entered the vehicle I realized that I still didn’t know what Brendon Urie was doing for a living because I hadn’t asked either him or Spencer. It surely had to be something fancy because he always wore a suit. Or maybe he just wanted to seem fancy.
Sighing I started the car and drove back to my house. Fortunately I still had a few hours before I’d have to go to work and I would be for myself. Z was attending one of the meetups with the other woman today and Lizzy would be there too because they all had children. Nowadays everyone tried to produce as many children as possible and why shouldn’t people.
The economy was booming, people had everything in abundance and it was the perfect time to produce offsprings that would probably live in a world without a war. I hoped the latter wouldn’t repeat.
I stopped in front of our house. Each one in this street looked almost the same just the colors and the size distinguished from time to time. I wondered how the house Brendon lived in with his wife looked like. Certainly someone like him wouldn’t be satisfied to live in a normal one. Did he even have children? I didn’t ask and why would I care about it anyways?
I entered the house and everything was quiet just as I liked it the most. I had always preferred the silence because if nobody else was in the house it had meant that there was nobody who could harm me. This certainly was the perfect atmosphere. Quietness and lightness – I hated the dark.
Even though I worked in a nightclub my real passion was writing. Writing everything that came into my mind. It had always been my kind of therapy and sometimes I even had the privilege to publish my texts in a newspaper. But it barely happened. It was either I who didn’t like it very much or other people who didn’t.
Because I was alone I decided that I would spend the afternoon writing because there were few things I liked better. I took the typewriter and the thoughts flooded out of my brain.
Your smile while you make me some pancakes
Your laugh when I tell you something funny
Your positive attitude always and everywhere
How would I know that this has all been just a farce?
I was way too young and too innocent
And you left me alone with him

Your serious face while explaining me something important
Your ability to lie with that same face so nobody would suspect us
Your calmness when we have talked about everything and nothing
How would I know that this would all end soon?
It was all too fast and too unexpected
Even though I had known before, I had known
I stopped typing because I couldn’t bear it anymore. Writing was my kind of therapy as I had mentioned earlier but it was also my kind of sadness when I had to think about everything that had happened in my life. I had lost the people that had been important to me and instead the people I didn’t care about had stayed. One part of me still thought that Z and Lizzy would eventually leave me someday. Everyone had left me so why would it be different this time?
Just as I had thought about them I heard that someone was entering the house and a few moments later Lizzy appeared in front of me. She was smiling while Z who had appeared after her looked rather distressed. There was definitely something going on with her recently but I couldn’t tell what it was.
“Hey, little angel.” I greeted her daughter because we had barely seen each other that day. But that wasn’t something unusual. Because of my weird sleep-work-schedule it had always been hard to see other people – my family as well as potential friends like Spencer. “What is it, Z?” I eventually asked her when Lizzy had left the room for a few minutes. She shook her head. “Nothing.” Was the answer. Nothing as always. We both knew that it was a lie but I couldn’t force her to tell me.
“Are you hungry?” Z changed the topic while she tried to look more enthusiastic. I shrugged which she took as a yes because she started to potter around in the kitchen. I would have to leave for work in about one hour. The time had flown by as usual.
I couldn’t believe that the war was already over since eight years. Often I felt like it had been yesterday that so many people had died. That my best friend had died. I would always remember the day it had happened. It had been a usual weekend, at least for me. I had been sitting in my room and I had written – something I had always loved to do. My father had entered my room and I had immediately been afraid. He had looked furious but eventually he had just said “There is a woman who wants to see you downstairs.” As I had gotten downstairs I had seen that it had been Jon’s mother. I couldn’t believe that my father still didn’t know who she was. Maybe he didn’t even know who my best friend was or who I was at all.
I had looked into this woman’s face and I had immediately known that this was it. He was dead. My best friend was dead. I had known that it would happen. I had warned him but he hadn’t listened to me. “How?” I had asked even though I hadn’t even known what exactly I had wanted her to tell me.
She had said: “A shot in the head. At least he didn’t have to suffer for hours. It was a quick death.” And I had almost started to laugh. Just because it had been a quick death it didn’t change the fact that Jon was dead. My best friend was dead and he would never come back. In that moment I had realized that there had been nobody left. Nobody I had cared about. But then there came Z and she had changed everything all over again. My mother had died, Jon had died. Wasn’t it time for her to leave me too?
I tried to stop thinking about that. Z certainly wouldn’t die. She was young, she was healthy and she was happy. But then I realized that my mother and Jon had been all of this things too. You could have all of this and you could still die. Death could catch everyone. It didn’t matter how young, healthy, happy, beautiful, rich or famous you were. Everyone died at some point – sometimes earlier and sometimes later.
“Spencer’s a nice guy, isn’t he?” Z asked me as she situated a plate with something I couldn’t identify in front of me. “He is.” I said nodding and started to eat – whatever it was it tasted awful but I didn’t complain. I never did.
“Why don’t you ever say something, Ryan?” My wife asked me quietly and I felt like this was the calm before the storm now. Her voice sounded too serene. “What do you mean?” I replied because I honestly had no idea what she was talking about.
“This tastes like shit, Ryan, and we both know it. Why don’t you complain?” Her voice grew louder and I didn’t want to provoke her further. “It doesn’t…” I began but Z shocked me by sweeping the plate from the table. It all happened so fast and I didn’t really realize it until I heard the crash. The plate broke into several pieces on the ground along with the food that might have been mashed potatoes with beef.
“This is trash!” Z now screamed and I didn’t know what to do. I had never seen her like this before, at least not since Lizzy was there. She had never lost her temper in her daughter’s presence but now the latter was standing in the doorframe looking shocked and afraid. “Mommy.” The kid said silently but Z just ran out of the room.
I didn’t understand what was going on with her recently. I didn’t know what to do. “It’s OK, Lizzy. It’s all going to be OK.” I said embracing her tightly even though I doubted it myself. “Mommy just has a bad day and she has lost her temper. This might be a little bit frightening but it can happen sometimes, OK?” The girl looked at me with these innocent eyes and eventually nodded. “Has it ever happened to you?” She whispered quietly as if she weren’t allowed to talk loud.
“Yes.” I answered but I didn’t explain it to her. I thought about all the times my father had lost his temper but he hadn’t just broken a plate, he had broken me. I had been the plate and it was broken into so many pieces already that I sometimes didn’t know how long it would be until it were too many.
“Do you want to help me clean up?” I asked the girl and tried to make it sound like it would be a fun thing. She nodded and we started doing as I had said. She took the big pieces carefully and I managed the rest. “Should we play something fun now?” I asked when we were done cleaning up. There was a big scratch in the tiles that would always remember us of what had happened here today.
The girl nodded again and I realized that she was probably still shocked. No child should see their mother like that. Now that I had probably the closest thing to a biological child I would ever have I couldn’t understand my parents at all. I wanted to protect that girl and I’d never done what my parents had done to me to Lizzy. My mother hadn’t loved me and my father never would. That was for sure.
We played some Rummy until I realized that it was time for me to go to work already. “Listen Lizzy. Go to your room now and play something by yourself. You can do that, right?” She nodded. “Z will calm down eventually and then she will be completely normal again, OK? You don’t have to be afraid of your mother because she will never do something like that to you. You understand me? Never.” She nodded again and I hoped that she had understood me. I didn’t want her to be afraid of her parents because I knew how this felt and it was the worst feeling ever.
“OK. I got to go to work now but you’ll do as I said and everything will be fine.” I kept saying that, everyone kept saying that but nobody knew what would happen in the end. We could all just lie to our children, our spouses and ourselves.
The girl ran into her room and I intended to leave the house when I heard that someone was coming downstairs. Z entered the kitchen, traces of tears on her cheeks and a truculent expression on her face. “I’m sorry.” She whispered sounding so reserved and little which was completely unusual for my wife.
We looked at each other for some seconds and this time it was a genuine look. Even when she had cried, even when she was angry, even when her hair looked like she had just woken up and her clothes were rumpled, Z was always so unbelievably beautiful.
I embraced her tightly smelling her fragrance that consisted of her shampoo, sweat and something I had never been able to identify. “I know.” I whispered into her hair and I didn’t let her go. Everything would be alright. We would solve this problems like we had always had and everything would be like it had always been eventually. We had gone through so much throughout the years so why wouldn’t we manage to solve it this time? We would. We would. We would. I told myself that unstoppably until I maybe actually started to believe it.

Chapter Text

 

It was Sunday again. This usually meant that either we would visit someone we didn’t care about or that someone would visit us. It was always the same – shaking hands, politely talking about the weather and politics, thanking the others for the meal and leaving redeemed. It was always the same – neither of us actually cared about the others but we still met up. Why, I didn’t know though.
“Ryan, do you know where my red dress is?” Z screamed from upstairs while I was playing Rummy with Lizzy again. Why would I know that? And why would Z want to wear this dress today? I knew that Urie was a big flirter and I also knew that if he would flirt with my wife I would punch him definitely. “Ryan!” The latter now screamed more intensely.
“Dude, Z, why would I know that? I don’t care about your fucking dresses.” I replied and as the words had left my mouth I realized that I had been maybe a little bit too harsh. There was no reply from upstairs and Lizzy was looking at me with these fearful eyes she had also had when Z had broken the plate. This was the last thing I wanted. I wouldn’t turn into my father, I certainly wouldn’t.
“Let’s continue playing.” I said with the softest voice I was able to produce and we did. I was definitely overstretched with the fact that we would visit the Urie’s today. Unfortunately my wife had met up with Linda in the last week and they had met Sarah Urie once. And as much as this world loved me they were working in the same hotel and just after a few days they were behaving like they had been best friends forever.
I realized that I still didn’t know what Brendon was doing. Why would I care actually? Z came downstairs a few minutes later wearing the red dress she had talked about earlier. She looked gorgeous like always – of course she did – but I didn’t tell her for some reason. My tongue felt like there were stones laying on it so I wasn’t able to produce a compliment.
Neither of us said another word as we were leaving the house. I was pretty sure that Lizzy felt the tension between us. Children weren’t stupid even though adults always thought they were. Actually they were even more observatory than adults. I knew that too well. 
I took my place on the driver’s side of the car, Z sat next to me and Lizzy on the back seat as usual. Still nobody was talking, even Lizzy didn’t say anything. I felt like if someone would open their mouth something terrible would happen. Maybe a bomb would explode next to us or maybe Z would just start screaming. I certainly didn’t want any of these things to happen.
Spencer had given me Urie’s address which I had memorized after seeing it for the first time. That guy was living in a district that was mostly inhabited by people who had more money. To reach our destination we had to drive through the center of the city and it was always overcrowded there.
Las Vegas had become famous for its casinos in the last years and more and more tourists came here. I certainly couldn’t understand why people would enter a casino though. Sure, the Las Vegas Strip could look amazing but there were always so many people that I would have preferred not to go there. But I had always thought different. I had always avoided masses of people and there were few occasions where I would actually enter one.
“Do you actually know what Urie’s doing for a living?” I asked Z and these were the first words any of us had spoken in almost thirty minutes. My wife looked at me strangely. Maybe it was because I had called him Urie or maybe it was because she had thought that I knew. Or maybe it was just because she was surprised that I had said anything after this long time.
She shook her head and I nodded. “Why do you want to know anyways?” Z added and I was so concentrated on looking at her that I didn’t realize that I almost crashed into the vehicle in front of us. Almost. Almost. That was the moment. We could’ve died, all three of us. Our lives could’ve been obliterated just like that. Crash. Or Lizzy could’ve survived and be left without parents, without her mother.
The child now started crying and I couldn’t blame her. I wanted to cry myself or maybe I rather wanted to scream. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I certainly didn’t want to sit in this damn care and pretend, pretend, pretend. I continued driving and realized that nobody had noticed what had just almost happened. Nobody on the streets had realized that three could’ve been wiped out just like that. Nobody cared.
“Calm down, Lizzy. Daddy has just been a little bit off, OK? But everything is fine now. We will visit Spencer and Linda, Sarah and Brendon now.” The mention of his name had the same effect as a knife that Z would’ve stabbed me with. She had noticed that I had called him Urie. My wife didn’t look at me still. She was calming down Lizzy and I tried to concentrate on the road again.
“Why do you want to know at all?” Z eventually asked me as we had almost reached the house. I felt like we were intruders in this rich district and we actually were. Neither of us belonged here. “Why do I want to know what?” I replied because I was completely off track. “Where Brendon works?” Z reminded me and I nodded. Of course it was about him again. But then, hadn’t I been the one who had brought him up in the first place?”
“I’m just interested in what this guy has done to become so rich. Well, maybe he just has rich parents.” I responded as we stopped in front of a building that looked beyond gorgeous. “Maybe.” Z whispered but neither of us actually paid attention to the conversation anymore. The house, or I should rather say mansion, looked like it belonged to a count or someone equally rich. Maybe Brendon was a count, how would I know?
We got out of the car, now all distracted. A guy approached us and I needed a few seconds to realize that it was a servant. Even though I wanted to I couldn’t close my mouth because I was so astonished. “May I lead you into the living room? The dinner will be served soon.” The servant said. “will be served soon.” What a way to talk.
We followed him and despite all our differences Z and I both had to giggle like teenagers. I felt like we would visit the Queen. Or well, maybe not the Queen but someone really important. The house wasn’t less beautiful on the inside even though it looked completely different there. While the facade had been from another century the inside of the mansion had been modernized but this didn’t look less good.
The servant lead us through hallways and rooms and just when I thought that we would never stop wander through this house we reached a room and he stopped. Just like I had seen it in movies the servant held his hand towards the room to show us that we could enter. 
“Z, Ryan! It’s so great to see you!” Sarah said and I tried to smile at her. There was something about this woman I didn’t like and as well as her husband she was a riddle for me. Why would she work at all if they had this? I shook her hand and realized that Urie was inspecting me. For a change he looked serious but after a few seconds the usual smirk took his usual position on his face.
“Ross. It’s so great to see you!” He exclaimed but I highly doubted it. “And that must be the infamous Z Berg!” He turned to my wife and I inspected him strictly. One wrong look and I certainly would’ve punched him. Even though his wife was in the same room I wouldn’t exclude that he wouldn’t flirt in her presence. They were a weird couple anyways.
“Let’s have a little chat. Shouldn’t we?” Urie said in the exact same moment as the servant that had entered the room said “May I offer something to drink?” and I didn’t know whom to reply to. I certainly would’ve preferred to answer the servant’s question but Sarah talked first. “Yeah, yeah. Go talk about you man stuff and we’ll just stay here and wait for Spencer, Linda and Jude.” I hated this woman but I knew that I had no choice but to follow Urie.
Z’s look she was throwing at me before I left the room said something like ‘Behave!’ and certainly knew I wouldn’t. I couldn’t in his presence. Why hadn’t I just pretended that I was sick or something? Or why hadn’t I let something else happen so we wouldn’t have had to come here?
“Impressed by what you see, Ross?” The other guy said and I needed a few seconds to realize that he was talking about everything – the mansion, the servants, and this fancy lifestyle. I didn’t answer but it was also an answer in its own way. Brendon smirked knowingly. Just one punch. I wanted to punch him so badly but I didn’t.
We entered the room next to the one we had been before. It looked similar but was smaller. On the right side there was something like a bar – there were countless bottles of alcohol just the barkeeper – I – was missing. Urie apparently had seen that I had been looking at the bottles. “Do you want something?” he asked and even though I wanted to decline I nodded. He poured in a liquid where I hadn’t even paid attention what it was. It didn’t matter anyways. Alcohol was alcohol.
I chugged the drink barely twisting my mouth for a tiny second. “Someone’s thirsty here.” Urie said to provoke me but I didn’t act on it. He poured in another drink and I chugged it too. I hadn’t intended to get drunk here but maybe it was the only logical thing to do.
“How?” I eventually asked looking him straight in the eyes. Brendon paused for a moment. “How what?” “How are your parents so rich?” I wanted to know because I couldn’t hold the question back anymore. I didn’t care about him. He was the last person I cared about in this world but still, I wanted to know where this fancy mansion came from.
I could see how the cogs worked in his head for a few seconds and then – Urie started laughing. I would’ve expected everything: an insult, a punch, even that he would throw me out but I certainly would’ve never expected that he would start laughing. 
“You think I’m one of these boys who lives on their parent’s money? You think I’m one of these who don’t work because their parent’s already have more than enough?” He started and I was shocked that all of these was supposed to actually belong to Urie.
“Then how did you do it?” I eventually asked. He turned serious which barely happened and I realized that I preferred the serious Urie. People always sad that a smile made people more sympathetic but his smirk was just awful. Serious Urie could’ve been someone I could’ve been friends with. Well, maybe in another universe.
“Gambling.” Was the short answer that shocked me even more. “You won all this money?” I exclaimed not being able to believe it. “I wasn’t on the player’s side.” He answered again really short. I wondered why he didn’t talk much now that I was asking him questions about his life.
“You… you own the casinos?” I almost screamed now and he laughed again. But this time it wasn’t one of his disgusting smirks or laughs or whatever – this time it suited him because he actually looked genuine. I shook my head. No, I must’ve had imagined that. “Well, not all of them but some.” Another short answer came out of his mouth and I was not able to close mine.
“What the hell is going on here?” A voice eventually interrupted our little tete-a-tete. Brendon as well as I myself turned around and saw that Spencer was standing in the doorframe looking at us suspiciously. “Ross and I were just having a little chat here, haven’t we?” Urie explained and I nodded without thinking about it further. 
“All right. I just came here to tell you that we’re about to eat diner. Would you mind to join us?” The teacher continued and we followed him back to the room where our wifes and children were already waiting. Spencer’s look said something like ‘What the hell, Ryan?’ and I didn’t even understand anything anymore myself. But I mostly didn’t understand why Spencer would make such a big deal of the fact that I had talked to Brendon. Weren’t they best friends after all?
We reentered the bigger room that was now full of plates and several kinds of food that one could’ve just dreamt of. Even though I disliked him I still wanted to know how he had managed to get so rich. Because who wouldn’t want to? Even two servants were standing next to the door always available if any of us needed something.
I wondered how it felt like to be a servant nowadays. It had been normal in other centuries but it certainly wasn’t anymore. Just really rich people could afford them. I wondered if the guy who had greeted us sometimes wanted to punch Urie too and I wondered if that woman was sometimes flirting with Urie. 
We all sat down at the full table and when I quickly glanced at Linda I was able to see her tummy a little bit. If I hadn’t known that she was pregnant I certainly wouldn’t have noticed it but because I did it was visible but just when I really inspected her carefully. Spencer’s wife smiled at me probably realizing that I had looked for indication of a pregnancy.
There was a self-service at the table which I preferred. I wouldn’t have liked to be served by people I didn’t know. If I was being honest I already felt uncomfortable while the two servants were standing next to the doorframe. How people managed to get everything – getting dressed, having their meals cooked and generally knowing everything about one – done by them I would never understand. I wondered if Brendon got dressed himself or if a servant helped him to do that.
“So Ryan. I have heard that you’re working at the nightclub that belongs to the hotel?” Sarah eventually asked after we had all just been eating for a few minutes. Here we were again – small talk because neither cared what the other person had to say actually. I smiled at Urie’s wife politely. “And I have heard that you’re working in the same hotel as Z does. How come I’ve never seen you there before?” I replied with another question.
Even the dumbest person in the world could’ve seen that Sarah and I disliked each other. I hated her and I couldn’t even quite tell why. Maybe I hated her even more than Urie. What the hell. There was another question in the air ‘Why are you working anyways if your husband is so rich?’ but I certainly wouldn’t ask that. It would’ve been too much.
“Let’s say that I have other business to do there. I mostly operate in the background.” Sarah responded and I wondered why this couple was so mysterious. I knew where they were working but I still had no idea how exactly they had become so rich. Maybe Urie had made a deal with a demon. Maybe it was because he didn’t have a soul anymore that he was always wearing this disgusting smirk on his face. That had to be it.
I quickly looked at Z but realized that she looked as confused as I did. It didn’t surprise me though considering that we only knew these people for just a few days. Maybe we were part of a mystery novel. Maybe it had been the worst decision of our lives to come to this mansion today. And maybe we would all get murdered because the Urie’s had some dirty business running that let people disappear. Or maybe I had just read too many stories and watched too many movies.
Something like this certainly could’ve happen in real life though. Urie looked at me – again as if he exactly knew what I had just thought about. “Is the food to everyone’s pleasure?” He then said directed to all of us. Of course the food tasted amazing and of course this mansion looked amazing and of course the Urie’s had everything a human being could’ve wished for – we all knew that but I certainly wouldn’t tell him that so I kept my mouth shut.
I heard Sarah and Linda talk about pregnancy in the background. “We’re trying for months now but it just won’t work.” She said. I couldn’t imagine Brendon Urie being a father. I just couldn’t picture him holding a baby in his arms and looking happy. Would his son inherit the same disgusting smile as his father? Was it even possible to inherit something like that?
I prayed to whoever – because I didn’t believe in God, I had stopped doing that a long time ago – that Sarah Urie would never get pregnant because I couldn’t imagine that this child would live a good life. Definitely not.
The dinner passed by without something major happening. Everyone had just been talking about the same boring things. Then we stood up and the servants came to clear up the table. How must it feel to not being forced to do that by oneself? It had always been such a naturalness for me to clean up the table that I couldn’t imagine to not being forced to do that after everyone had finished eating. But maybe I was just thinking too much. I had always had.
“Spencer, Ross, do you want to smoke something real quick?” Urie eventually asked and even though I didn’t want to talk to him I certainly needed to smoke. If I had said no it would’ve been weird anyways. We went outside approaching the porch that nobody would even dare to compare with our porch. But the rest of the mansion had been amazing too so I hadn’t expected the porch to look different. 
It started to get dark again and I had to think about last Sunday where Spencer and I had stood on my porch at about the same time and where we had actually spoken about things that mattered. I had known and I still knew that he was different. But I couldn’t quite say if Urie was too. And even if he was I was sure that I wouldn’t like him anyways.
I grabbed the pack of cigarettes that was always placed in a pocket. Every man was carrying them around nowadays. I didn’t smoke often but if I did I always quite liked it. I had made a pact with myself that I would only smoke in company – otherwise I feared that I would get addicted. It could happen so fast, I knew that too well.
“So, Ross, did you get drafted for the war back then?” Urie asked me and I had a weird deja-vu thinking about the conversation Spencer and I had had just seven days before. Why did men always talk about the war when they were alone? Maybe it was because it was the only thing that everyone had in common. Even if one hadn’t served we all knew how it had been and how much fear everyone had felt.
“No.” I answered shortly inhaling the smoke and eventually blowing it out again. Smoking had always been such a weird procedure if one actually thought about it. You inhaled smoke just to blow it out a few seconds later and you felt good afterwards. There was something about the act that was incredibly calming. 
Urie nodded and I realized that he was serious again. I was glad that he was able to be because it certainly would’ve been concerning if he would’ve laughed about the war. “I didn’t go either but my brothers…” he started but he didn’t continue the sentence and I didn’t ask. Firstly I didn’t know him well enough to do so and second I actually didn’t like him either. 
Everyone had their own story to tell and almost everyone who was our age had lost someone back then. “How old are you actually?” I asked Urie finally. He could’ve laughed at me, he could’ve made jokes or he could just not have responded but instead he did respond. “I’ve been born on April 12th 1930 so I’m” he stopped as if he had to think about his current age that I had long figured out before he continued “I’m 23 years old now. Wow, that’s young.” It was. We were all so damn young and we had already gone through so much. And Urie was fucking rich – I still couldn’t process it.
“I would’ve esteemed you older if I’m being honest.” I answered repeating the same words I had said to Spencer one week ago. But it was true. I thought that everyone was older than they actually were but we all did. We had been the generation that had almost had to serve in the war but we had still been lucky. Even though I wouldn’t really call it that. There had been so many guys – like Jon – who hadn’t even been 18 and who went to war anyways because they had wanted to serve their country. And what did they die for?
“What about you, Ross?” Urie looked at me observantly but there was still no sign of derision in his face. I was glad that he was able to be serious in specific situations. I told him when I had been born and we continued smoking like 50 year old mean even though neither of us was 25 yet.
Every time I thought about it I almost couldn’t realize it. Life went by so fast in this decade. Everyone wanted to get married and get children as soon as possible. Maybe everyone still feared that something else could happen, another war or maybe something worse. And they obviously had every right to think so. I did myself. The world just couldn’t go on like this. It would be like a fairytale and fairytales never became true.
“We should go, Spencer.” Linda who accompanied us on the porch said like she had last week. Would it be like this every Sunday now? I looked at the sky that was almost completely dark now. Definitely time for us to go too because tomorrow the everyday life would continue. Not that I was living a normal life but Z and Lizzy were at least when it was about sleeping hours.
It was always weird for me when I had a day off which was on every Sunday and usually on every second Monday too. The club generally had closed on Sundays but it was well visited on the other days. Many people probably didn’t care that they had to work the next day. 
Spencer and Linda got back into the house and even though hadn’t called me yet I knew that I had to get back eventually. Brendon and I were left alone on the porch and I looked at the night sky that was full of stars for a change. It didn’t happen really often that you could actually see them because the lights and the smog of the city blurred the stars but tonight we were lucky.
I took one last drag of the cigarette and caught myself wanting another one but it was time to go. Then I realized that I was actually on Urie’s porch and I would’ve preferred to go either way. Even a cigarette couldn’t hold me here. “I guess…” I started but he interrupted me. “Yeah, of course. You have to go too. I mean you have a daughter.” Urie finished his cigarette too and we looked at each other intensely. 
There was a sadness in his eyes that I had never seen in anyone’s eyes before when he had mentioned Lizzy. I couldn’t understand how people could want children so badly because I had never wanted to have one.
I didn’t tell him that Lizzy wasn’t actually my daughter. I didn’t tell him that I had never wanted to have children. I didn’t tell him that I had heard Sarah and Linda talking about that he and his wife weren’t able to produce a child. But least of all I didn’t tell him that I maybe had been wrong and that he probably would be a good father after all. Well, I hadn’t told him that I hadn’t thought so in the first place.
I turned around and got back inside where Z and Lizzy were already waiting. Spencer, Linda and Jude had already left and the servant was again standing next to the door probably going to open it for us when we would leave too. Everyone said goodbye to each other and I left with a strange feeling because of the other side of Urie I had gotten to know today.
The servant led us to our car and I started the vehicle driving back to our house. When we got there Lizzy was already asleep and I softly took her to carry her upstairs. As she was lying in her bed I inspected her. How innocent children were. Maybe that was the reason why I had never wanted to have children. Maybe it was because I was afraid that I would break them and make them tough.
“Such an angel, isn’t she?” Z who had appeared next to me whispered and I nodded. I didn’t tell her that she was an angel herself. An older, a broken, and a tough angel but still an angel. The red dress that suited her so well made it seem like she was the angel of passion, the angel that could change people’s lives forever.
I quietly closed the door and as I turned around I felt Z’s lips on mine. My wife was kissing me and that was nothing unusual but why did it feel so wrong in this moment. I kissed her back though because if that was what she wanted I could give her a kiss. It was a soft kiss first but it turned more passionate eventually – what had I said about the angel of passion?
In an instant I knew where this would lead to – I knew that we would fuck and that I would eventually sneak back into my room after we had – and I knew that I didn’t want it. Softly I broke the kiss off and Z’s confused look told me that she had also known where this would end and that she wanted sex. 
“Not tonight, OK?” I said. It wasn’t a question because for me it was already settled that we wouldn’t fuck tonight. Her disappointed look said everything already. “Why not?” Z asked me defiantly and it sounded so childish that I almost had to laugh. “I’m just not in the mood today.” I replied. “And I don’t like how you act recently.” I added knowing that she would be angry with me now.
I took a few steps away from the door of Lizzy’s room so she wouldn’t wake up but if Z was mad than she was mad. “I am acting weird, Ryan?” My wife tried to say calmly but still screamed. I didn’t answer. Fighting with Z was always pointless. It was literally the worst. “You’re my husband, Ryan.” She than added in a calmer tone as if that would justify everything.
As if the fact that I was her husband would change anything. It never would. “I may be your husband, Z” I started to explain “but I’m not in love with you and I never will be and because of that there is no connubiality I’m forced to pursue.” Z lost her composure. Her face turned white and I felt like everything would’ve been better than what I had just said. 
Not being able to look at her anymore I turned around and entered my room. But her expression was already etched into my mind.

Chapter Text

 

“Ryan! I really don’t want to fire you because you have always been a good employee but if you continue to work so messy I might have no choice eventually.” Patrick said strictly and I came back to the reality. My boss had always been fair to us and I knew that others would’ve fired me already because he was right, I was a mess recently.
Most bosses didn’t care about their employees. They just wanted to make the most possible money and if someone was working too slowly they fired them immediately. But I was lucky to have Patrick as a boss – for once I was. I nodded and tried to focus on the glasses I was cleaning. The club would open in a few minutes and everything had to be prepared for the costumers.
It was unfair that so many people could afford to come her on a weekday. They were having a fun time while I had to work. Not that I would complain because life had never been fair to me but maybe I was a little. Today was Friday and that meant that there would be even twice as many people or more. Friday was understandably the most visited day here.
“Let’s do this.” Andy said chugging the shot of alcohol and we all followed his example. He and Joe would work as security guards on the inside as usual which left Pete and me at the bar. Our two colleagues took their positions and a few seconds later the first people entered the club. After some minutes the room was already half full and many people approached the bar to get something to drink.
It was a hard job to be a barkeeper and it certainly wasn’t my passion but I had accepted long ago that I would never be able to survive just with my texts. At least I had one or two hours every day to pursue my passion and who had this time. Brendon certainly not. Or maybe owning casinos, being rich was his passion.
“Everything OK with you?” Pete asked me while for a few seconds nobody ordered a new drink. People were dancing on the floor, others were sitting on the chairs and again other were talking to each other in the VIP area that had sofas. I hated that question. Was everything OK? No, of course not. But would I tell him? No, of course not. I nodded eventually not wanting to talk about anything but Pete continued to ask me.
“Are you sure? I mean, dude, even Patrick has told you that he’s close to kicking you out. We’ve all noticed that something’s wrong. You can talk to me, you know?” The older man inspected me and I looked back at him. “Everything’s fucking OK.” I then said and my look had probably convinced him that this conversation was over.
I sometimes forgot about it really but Pete and I had actually been friends once. There had been a time where Ashlee and Z had worked in the hotel upstairs and Pete and I had worked here. But then Ashlee and Pete had broken up and there had been so much drama that Z and Ashlee had broken up their friendship too. And then there were Pete and I who had managed to fight so much that our friendship had eventually been over too.
And now we were at this point. Z was still working at the hotel and Pete and I were still at the bar. There was just the fact that Ashlee had disappeared and therefore Pete had to take care of his son Bronx on his own which certainly was awful considering that he was working here. I often wondered why he still did though. He could’ve easily found another job but he was still here.
“I’m sorry.” I added after some time realizing that I had been too harsh. “It’s OK.” My former friend claimed but I knew that it wasn’t. After all, he was right. Nothing was OK right now. Z was acting weird and we were constantly fighting and didn’t understand each other anymore. Sometimes I doubted that we ever had. And then there was Brendon Urie. Brendon Urie whom I totally disliked but who still fascinated me somehow. He fascinated me but he also confused me.
There were times in your life were everything was just too much. You actually knew that there had been worse times before. You knew that you had to bear it because there really wasn’t anything you could do but still, it was too much. Everything was just too much.
We continued to work in silence and I felt awful. I felt awful but I didn’t know what to do. The club was eventually overcrowded like every Friday and even the VIP area that was supposed to be a calmer and more comfortable place didn’t look so anymore.
“Can I get a drink on the house too?” a guy whom I hadn’t realized was standing there asked me and I looked at him confused. He was really tall and skinny wearing a white sark with a black vest. I was completely sure that I didn’t know him so I didn’t understand what he wanted from me. “Excuse me, do I know you?” I asked confused and the guy smiled.
“I’m a friend of Urie’s.” He claimed as if that would justify everything. Oh, you’re a friend of Urie. Of course, I’ll give you everything you want and more! I almost laughed. “And?” I asked annoyed because I rather wanted to serve customers that would pay me money. “And I want a drink on the house.” He repeated his request. “And you won’t get one.” I claimed trying to get him out of my way to serve other customers.
Why would I offer this guy whom I didn’t know and who certainly had enough money considering how he looked a drink on the house? I thought about it and eventually realized that I had served Urie one. But I hadn’t known that he was rich back then plus he had been accompanied by Spencer and I had wanted to offer him a drink on the house. All reasonable.
“What’s your name?” The tall guy asked looking at me dangerously. “Ryan.” I answered even though it hadn’t been my intention to actually do so. I didn’t owe this stranger anything. “Ryan Ross.” I was stupid enough to add my last name and the guy nodded. “OK, Ryan Ross. I command you to serve me a drink on the house.” What was wrong with him? I remembered that he was supposedly a friend of Urie’s and his weird attitude didn’t surprise me anymore.
“And I command you to leave this club because you won’t get a fucking drink on the house.” I replied with an angrier voice. The tall stranger smiled. Yes, he was definitely as mad as Brendon Urie. “It was nice to meet you, Ryan Ross.” He then said and I couldn’t help but be surprised. That was supposed to be it after all the drama he had caused? I nodded. “It was nice to meet you too…” I realized that I didn’t know his name actually and wanted to ask him but he interrupted me. “Dallon. My name’s Dallon Weekes.” He spoke smiling at me one last time. “Dallon Weekes.” I said but he didn’t hear it anymore because he had already disappeared in the crowd.
“What the heck was that?” Pete asked me eventually and I just shook my head. “I have no idea.” I replied being honest for once. I tried to get rid of the weird feeling that I had experienced since Dallon had approached me but I couldn’t do it. We continued working again but today the time seemed to move as slow as possible. Five minutes felt like one hour for me and it seemed like I had been in the club for days already. 
Finally the last minutes of my work shift were about to happen. The club had already closed so Pete and I were cleaning everything while Andy and Joe were helping us. Usually Patrick only left his room at the beginning and at the end of a work day but it seemed like he wouldn’t be there this time. Maybe he had already fallen asleep. He certainly could allow himself doing that.
I said goodbye to everyone and was finally free to leave. It was completely dark outside but I hadn’t expected anything else since it was past 4 am in the morning. The streets were as empty as it was possible in a big city like Las Vegas and I smiled for a quick moment. This had always been my favorite time. After work when most of the city was still or already asleep and when you actually didn’t feel crushed by the masses of people that were usually running around.
I was focused on the area so I didn’t notice that someone was standing next to the door. After I had almost suffered a heart attack I realized that it was just Spencer Smith looking as dead as I felt. “You would’ve been dead if I would’ve been a murder.” He claimed which was certainly true. I nodded and we continued to walk down the street together.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I eventually said when I had calmed down. “I couldn’t sleep. Walking around feels like I’m doing something.” He explained. “Does this happen often?” I looked at him curiously but the other man looked away. “Sometimes.” Was the short answer but I felt like there was more about it. What could possible keep a guy like Spencer Smith awake at night? I thought about it but eventually realized that there was still so much I didn’t know about him.
Every person had their problems and that was why one shouldn’t judge them so quickly. But unfortunately that was how our society worked. “Have you ever heard of a guy called Dallon Weekes?” I asked Spencer to change the topic. It had certainly been one we both felt uncomfortable with. The other guy looked at me not being able to conceal his surprise. “It’s one of Brendon’s friends. But how do you know him?” 
“He came to the bar today. Said that I was supposed to serve him a drink on the house because he is one of Brendon’s friends.” It sounded weirder and weirder every time I thought about it. “And did you do it?” “Did what?” “Did you serve him the drink?” Spencer asked curiously and I shook my head. “No. No, I didn’t.” He nodded.
“Dallon’s a good guy, you know? Brendon and he have been friends for what – I think two years now. I really like him, don’t get me wrong, but it has just never clicked between us if you understand what I mean. I wouldn’t consider Dallon a good friend of mine but as I said he’s a good guy.” I thought about what Spencer had said. If this Dallon guy was apparently so good then why weren’t he and Spencer friends? We all knew that Brendon was definitely worse than everyone. But a part of me thought that maybe Spencer and Brendon just were friends at this point because they had been for most of their lives and because they didn’t know how to function without each other.
I certainly could understand that. I had been friends with Jon for years before he had died. And when he did I had felt like a part of me was missing. When two people had been friends for so long it felt like you could never be not friends because a part of you lived in the other person. And you certainly didn’t want to miss that part.
It was already November but seasons didn’t mean much here in Las Vegas. It was either passable or really hot. But because it was so early in the morning I was freezing in my light jacket. I always underestimated the temperatures in the morning. 
“Have I ever told you how I’ve met Linda?” Spencer eventually asked me but I shook my head. That was apparently an invitation for him to tell me.  “It had all started back in ’45. I had only been 15 and Linda had been two years older. I will never forget this time. The war had been over for a few months and everyone had still been so cautious. I remember that one day where a new family had moved to the neighborhood and they had visited us. But exactly on this evening I hadn’t been there. The next time we had visited them and that was when I had met Linda. I had been immediately fascinated by her but she was older and I’d have never thought that I’d even get the chance to date her.
“And for a long time I hadn’t had it. Eventually Linda had moved out and I hadn’t seen her for a really long time. I had been heartbroken and I had never forgotten about her. And then there was this day where Sarah – the two of them had been friends already – had told me that Linda had had a dream about me the night before. And I was like “If she’s dreaming about me, then I have a chance!”. The next time she had visited her parents I had asked her if she still remembered me and we had ended up talking for five hours. Eventually we had gone on our first date and we had married when I had been twenty and Linda had been twenty-two.” I had also been twenty when I had married but that didn’t matter now.
“And now there is Jude and I love him so much but I’m also so overstretched. Do you understand what I mean?” He continued and I nodded. “And I don’t know how this is even possible but sometimes I feel like Linda loves me maybe a little bit more than I love her and it’s killing me slowly.” Spencer’s voice slowly faded and I nodded again because I didn’t know what to say.
I knew how he felt at least to some extent. Z and I didn’t really love each other but I sometimes felt like my wife wanted more attention from me. Something I couldn’t give her. I thought about the night we had married each other. I thought about my sweaty hands because I had been about to marry someone I didn’t love but I had known that I had been the right thing to do. I still knew that.
I remembered how the priest had looked at us disapprovingly because he had thought that it would be a last minute-ceremony before Z would get her child. If it had only been that. If he would have known the truth he certainly would’ve looked at us differently.
“What about you and Z?” Spencer eventually asked apparently not being able to stop talking. “I know what you mean. Yeah, I really do.” I simply answered and the other guy nodded. We eventually came to a halt in front of my house and I inspected the other guy again. “Maybe it’s because women get the children and most of them feel an unconditional love for them and maybe they start to love their husbands even more.” I claimed even though I knew that this was the most stupid explanation ever and Spencer knew too.
“Are you really sure you’re OK? Should I maybe drive you back home?” I asked as we were standing in front of the house. What a strange pair we must made – two guys standing there on the edge of the morning on a Sunday. Spencer looked tired, but not just physically, also mentally but he just nodded. “There’s nothing you can do anyways.” He replied. “I’m used to wandering around like that. I even prefer this time so Linda usually doesn’t notice it.”
And maybe he was right. Maybe there wasn’t anything I could’ve done for him. I wasn’t even able to solve my own problems. No, it was worse, I couldn’t even name my own problems exactly so how was I supposed to work on them? “Alright, I’ll go then.” The younger man said and I nodded. “You can always come to me if you can’t sleep. I mean to the club. We could walk together and talk about stuff, you know?” I offered and he nodded. “I’d really like that.” And with these words he left. Spencer disappeared into the darkness and left me alone in front of my house.
I sighed eventually entering it and was surprised to see that the lights were already on. Was it already 5 am or had everyone had a sleepless night today? Z stood in the kitchen preparing breakfast looking at me accusingly. “Where the hell have you been, Ryan? I was worried.” She started and I didn’t understand why she would worry about me. “I’ve worked, Z, and you know that.” I replied. “Your work has been over at 4 and now it’s 4:45. One needs 15 minutes to come here, 20 minutes the most, so where have you been the last half an hour?”
I had a look at my wife because I couldn’t believe what she had just said. She had never been much of a control freak. There had been times where I had met people after work and we had had a drink or something but she had never cared. Why would she make such a drama because of 30 minutes now? And I realized that it hadn’t felt so long. Not at all. I had completely forgotten the time while I had been talking to Spencer.
“If you’re so keen to know, mom, I’ve walked home with Spencer and we’ve talked to each other and kind of forgotten the time.” In the exact moment where I saw Z’s expression and I knew that I shouldn’t have called her ‘mom’. It had obviously just been a joke but she was easily irritable these days. Z looked hurt, sad, angry, confused but most of all desperate and I couldn’t understand why she did. 
“We haven’t done that in a long time.” She started defeated. “Talked to each other until we have forgotten the time. We used to do that but it has been months now. Why, Ryan?” She looked at me again and I knew that she didn’t want to fight. It was just an honest question but I wasn’t able to answer it. “Yes, why, Z? I’m certainly not the one who has changed so much.”
My wife nodded and I realized that she looked like that more often. Z had never looked like that before. She had always been an energetic, strong person who had always liked to argue loudly but recently everything had changed. “Honestly Z, what is wrong with you recently? You’re like a different person.” She sighed and that sound would certainly be one I wouldn’t forget so fast. She sounded so hopeless.
“Can’t you see it, Ryan?” She whispered. No, I couldn’t. I couldn’t see it at all. But before I had the chance to follow her she walked out of the kitchen not having eaten anything at all. I knew that following her wouldn’t be effective because she wouldn’t tell me anyways. I realized how tired I actually was and got upstairs to go to sleep. Z would wake up Lizzy shortly before she had to leave for work and then the mother of a kindergarten friend would bring them to the kindergarten later. I didn’t even know who this woman was who always took Lizzy with her but I was eternally grateful because it was because of her that I was able to sleep more.
Fortunately Z’s daughter was pretty independent for her age and some time ago we had decided that Lizzy was supposed to read, draw or play something while she was waiting for about two hours. And if something happened but that had only been the case a couple of times she could always wake me up. I shook my head entering my room barely being able to keep my eyes open at this point.
I quickly undressed myself and took a shirt I usually wore when I was sleeping because I didn’t like to sleep without one most of the time. In the background I heard Z but I was too tired to really care about it and drifted into a sleep full of more memories.
“Ryan, pour me in another drink.” My father claimed sitting on his damned armchair. He was already way too drunk barely realizing what was happening anymore. I shook my head not even knowing if he had seen that. But of course he head. The weird thing about people and even about drunk people was that they always saw what they wanted to see. And in my father’s case he wanted to see my mistakes so he could at least have an excuse to harm me. Not that it felt different then.
“What was that? Do that again please?” He asked me but of course I didn’t. I was already fucked and I didn’t want to make it worse if that was still possible. But throughout the years I had learned that it could always be worse. There had been times where I had had to spend days in hospitals and where my father had introduced me as the clumsiest person. He couldn’t lie and this was the usual excuse anyways but he probably didn’t care anyways.
Everyone knew what was really happening to me but nobody cared. That was how people were. I had never wanted to be this guy who was still afraid of his father when he got older. Now I was sixteen and I still was.
“I have seen that, you fucking bastard. Your mother should’ve taken you with her to hell.” That was what my father said every fucking time. And even though I knew that I shouldn’t care what he said it hurt every fucking time. I had been so young when my mother had taken her life and I hadn’t understood it back then. I still couldn’t understand how she could’ve left me with that bastard of a father.
Maybe he had been different back then? People always said that persons changed when they lost someone they loved and I couldn’t remember how my father had been before my mother had died. He had always been like this for me. Had he even loved my mouther? I doubted that this monster was able to love anyone. 
There was this voice inside of me that screamed ‘Fight!’ but I never listened to it. What would be the good of this? If I punched him back he would’ve hurt me even worse. When the first punch came it hurt me like it always did. One could’ve thought that it maybe would hurt less after all these years but it still did hurt.
I felt the pain in my stomach and when the second punch followed it got even worse. I was barely able to breath and I almost had to vomit because of the intensity. Today would be one of the worse times. “You should’ve never been born, you bastard.” My father said with a calmness in his voice that was completely inappropriate in a situation like this.
I wanted him to scream, I always did, so maybe the neighbors would hear him and call the police and then maybe he would finally be arrested but he was always too damn silent. Even though he was drunk he was always too careful. But what could the alcohol possibly cause after all these years of drinking?
“Bentley would’ve never done that. Bentley would’ve been a good son unlike you bastard.” He continued and I felt a splash of spit on my mouth. I felt sick, sick, sick. Bentley could’ve been my brother because before I had been born my mother had been pregnant with another child but she had lost it in the fifth month. My father had named him Bentley and every time he beat me up he was talking about him as if he was a real person. As if Bentley would’ve been so much better than me.
Next to my father there was no person I hated more than the brother I had never had. Even though he had only been five months old and even though he wasn’t even alive it was just the way my father talked about him. I felt like all the love that he may have felt had died when Bentley had died too. I was just a b-good and my father certainly told me that regularly.
The next punch was in my face. Great, everyone would see that again and everyone would know what had happened here. People weren’t stupid when it was about something like that. Everyone at school would avoid me like they usually did. Jon had been the only friend I had had but now… I certainly wouldn’t think about Jon now.
At some point I didn’t feel the punches anymore because I felt numb instead. There was a ringing in my ears and I tasted blood in my mouth. Shortly after I also saw the red liquid on the floor but I couldn’t tell where it came from. I looked at my body as if it wouldn’t be my own. Who were I anyways?
There was blood. Too much blood but I felt nothing. I felt nothing that I maybe started to feel good. There were clouds everywhere and everything was white and appealing. I smiled because whatever this place was it certainly could be one I would feel comfortable to be.
I woke up because I heard someone screaming. It was an awful noise and I wanted it to stop. Just stop, please. I opened my eyes and needed a few seconds to realize that the person screaming had been me. This had happened eight years ago and I still couldn’t forget it. Maybe I never would. 
The next thing I realized was that someone entered the room and that person was my daughter. She looked terrified again and her look broke me. That had been the one thing I had never wanted – that my daughter was afraid of her parents. “It has just been a bad dream, Lizzy. Just a bad dream.” I whispered and she nodded running out of the room.
I fell back into the bed and sighed. No, I wouldn’t think about the dream now. I wouldn’t. A few moments later Z entered the room through the still open door. A look of concern was lying on her face. Z knew some things of my past but others she didn’t know. I had had bad dreams before and she had forced me to tell her some things but others I would never tell her. I would never tell anyone in general.
“I was just sitting on the toilet and then I heard you screaming. Fuck, Ryan.” She started and I hated the way she looked at me – like I had a mental illness and like I wasn’t a normal person. “Is everything OK?” She eventually asked and I nodded even though we both knew that nothing was OK. Nothing at all.
Our relationship was highly stressed, Z was different, I was broken and our lives where just everything but OK. The whole world wasn’t OK. “You still haven’t figured it out, haven’t you?” My wife changed the topic but I couldn’t tell what she was talking about. She had probably seen my confused facial expression because she added: “When we’ve talked yesterday I have asked you if you can see what’s going on with me but you have said that you couldn’t. Can you see it now?”
I looked at her, and I mean I really looked at her. Z had lost some weight, that was obvious. It wasn’t much yet but it certainly could’ve become more if she continued to live her life like that. She looked pale and desperate as she had already had yesterday. But other than that I still didn’t understand what she meant and Z probably saw that in my face again.
“Men are so stupid. Or maybe all people are so stupid.” She started breathing in what looked like all the air that could fit in Z’s lungs just to breathe it out about ten seconds later. “I’ve tried to show you for a long time. I have though ‘Maybe he sees what I’m trying to do. And maybe he feels the same.’ To be honest, I’ve hoped that you feel the same but now I know that you don’t.
“Since all the horrible things with Roger have happened I have shut off my feelings. The only people that have been important for me, really important, were Lizzy and you. Know that I will forever be grateful that you have married me all these years ago because very few people would’ve done that.” Did she really knew man so bad? Most man would’ve done it but for the wrong reasons. “I will forever be grateful no matter what will happen.” Z paused and I realized that she had started to cry throughout her speech. I attempted to embrace her but she didn’t let me.
“No, please let me talk. Please just let me finish this or else I will never.” I nodded horrified because of what she was about to say.
“Four years ago we have both agreed that we would only marry each other as friends and that had been a perfect arrangement for me back then. I mean what else could I’ve wanted? A little bit sex sometimes to satisfy us and some kisses so Lizzy wouldn’t suspect anything, at least not that early. Everything had been perfect, no really.
“But then something has changed. I don’t know why or how but a few months ago I’ve started to realize that there may be more. When you’ve left me after we’ve fucked or generally when you’ve entered your own bedroom every morning it had felt like someone would stab me. It had felt so wrong.”
She paused again and that was when I knew what she would say now. I knew why she had been acting so weird but when the words eventually left Z’s mouth I was shocked nevertheless.
“To sum this all up… I know that you don’t feel the same, Ryan, and that’s OK, but I have to admit that I’ve deeply fallen in love with you.” The world stopped spinning for a second, everything stood still. And then it started to rotate again but twice as fast. Or well, maybe that had just been my heartbeat. 
 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Ross. Ross!” Urie. Urie! I screamed back in my mind. This man would one day bring me to really punch him. Until now I had always managed to not do it but I had been close to punching him so many times. I came back to the reality and realized that both Urie and Spencer were looking at me as if they were waiting for an answer. But what had been the question? I had become lost in my thoughts again and if that happened I barely realized anything else.
“What?” I asked annoyed even though neither of the other two had actually done anything really. “Have you been listening at all?” Spencer asked but just half seriously. I shrugged. “I guess not.” “OK. OK, Brendon and I have just talked about his new casino that will open tomorrow. There will be a big party of course, so what do you say? Will you come?” I glanced at Brendon and he replied my look. “Of course I will.” Was my answer and the guy I disliked smiled. Of course he did. 
“Can I bring Z too?” I then added. Z certainly needed some distraction now. I still couldn’t believe what she had told me on Saturday, everything seemed to be so unreal. We had been married and lived together for more than for years now and we had even been friends before and now she had claimed that she was in love with me. I wondered when and how it had happened. I certainly hadn’t done anything different.
Z and I hadn’t really talked since that day but I understood that she needed some time now and I would give her all the time she needed. It was already bad when you had to experience unrequited love in general but I couldn’t imagine how bad it probably was when the one you loved was one’s husband so one had to live in the same house with him but he didn’t return the love. No, I definitely didn’t wish to be in her situation now or ever.
“I don’t think so, Ryan. The party isn’t really a thing for woman like Z, you know?” Urie responded grinning. I wondered what kind of woman Z was and why she wouldn’t fit in at the party. Which kind of woman was allowed there?
“Will Sarah be there?” I asked eventually and Urie’s smirk twitched for a moment. “Sarah’s is… different.” He just answered but I counted this as a yes. I wondered to what extent Sarah was different from Z and why the latter wasn’t allowed to go to the party. “Are you insulting my wife here?” I asked angrily because I felt the need to defend Z. “Don’t worry, Ryan. It’s quite the opposite actually.” Urie claimed but I didn’t understand what he meant.
“It’s just… I sometimes wish that Sarah would be different… that I would be different. That’s all.” We looked at each other and I saw honesty in his eyes even though I still didn’t really understand what he meant. Why would he wish to be different? What secret was he hiding and what about Sarah?
There were so many questions I wanted to ask him but Spencer prevented me from doing so. We all knew that it would be different if Spencer wouldn’t have been here. Spencer always was the one who prevented either Brendon or me from going too far – probably because he had been the one who had met both of us individually and also spent more time with each of us.
Brendon and I usually just met when Spencer was there too. Why would we meet when he wasn’t anyways? “Here we are.” The mediator eventually said as we stopped in front of the club we had planned to go in today. It was always weird for me to go into clubs that weren’t the one I was working in, especially on a Friday. 
I usually worked six days a week in one week and five days the next and the current week happened to be a shorter one so I was actually free on a Friday which had never happened before. Today I was on the other side – I was a customer instead of an employee and I had decided that I would get wasted earlier.
We entered the club and of course ended up in the VIP area. Everybody knew the infamous Brendon Urie and I wondered how I had never heard of him before even though I was living in Las Vegas for more than four years. But then, this wasn’t my scene, not at all.
We approached a corner where a person I immediately identified as Dallon Weekes was already sitting grinning at us. I realized how similar he and Urie actually looked in this moment. They both had dark hair and the same haircut. Both of them were wearing a suit and they were both skinny but in a way that it looked good.
“Ross, nice to meet you again.” Weekes greeted me but I doubted that he really meant it. We shook each other’s hands politely but neither of us actually cared. Spencer sat down next to Weekes and Urie followed him which meant that I had to choose between sitting next to the one or the other person I didn’t like. Without thinking about it further I chose sitting down next to Urie because I somehow felt that he was the lesser of the two evils.
A few seconds later a woman approached our table that was located in front of the circular sofa so everyone had a little corner for themselves. I felt like most VIP areas looked like that and it wasn’t anything really special at this point. But still, it was better than being trapped inside the mass of people who were dancing in the normal area. Maybe they were having more fun though.
“What do you guys want?” The woman whose name tag told us that her name was ‘Ariana’ asked and I realized that she was paying special attention to Brendon Urie. Of course she did. I didn’t understand why he was so special. I didn’t understand what woman liked about his grin and about men like him in general. But I wasn’t a woman after all so I would probably never understand it.
“How about you give me your phone number, sweetie?” Urie started and Ariana blushed like a teenage girl – actually she couldn’t be older than 19. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. Urie was married and there was definitely a line that shouldn’t be crossed. It was one thing to just flirt with woman but it was something else to ask them for the number when one was married.
Ariana attempted to write it down on a piece of paper where she would usually write down the orders but I knew that I wouldn’t let Urie win this time. “Fun fact, Ariana” I started maliciously pronouncing her name as if it would be a disease “this guy here – you may know him, it’s Brendon Urie – is actually married. But he never wears his wedding ring. Isn’t that runny, really?” The waitress first looked at me, than at Urie until she eventually ran away.
“Great, now she won’t bring us drinks.” Weekes claimed and for once I had to agree with him. Maybe we both felt that incredible urge to get wasted tonight. I then looked at Urie who mustered me with an unidentifiable expression. I would never be able to understand this guy. I would never understand why he was doing what he did. And I didn’t want to after all.
“I’m going to get us drink.” I eventually offered because I couldn’t stand the tension at this table any longer. There were two bars fortunately – one was for the normal people as Urie would say and the other was for the VIP area. But because most people of the latter category preferred to be served it was pretty empty fortunately.
The barkeeper looked so much like Pete that I actually thought that it would be him even though I knew that this wasn’t possible. Then I looked at him a second time and realized that it really wasn’t him. Sometimes you just saw two people independently of each other and they looked so similar that it was almost unbelievable that they weren’t related to each other.
As I stopped in front of the bar the guy already took one shot glass to fill it with any liquid I preferred but I laughed. “I think you better give me a tray.” I stated “We are some bastards who want to get drunk over there.” I pointed to the corner where our weird group was sitting but they were barely visible because of the bad lightning.
I ordered a four shots of vodka eventually because that was probably what everyone needed. We weren’t here to drink beer, no we all wanted to get drunk. “You really remember me of someone I know.” I started to speak even though this wasn’t something I usually did – talking to stranger. But I had done so many things I usually didn’t do recently so it didn’t matter.
“Oh really, that’s interesting.” The guy answered but it was obvious that he didn’t care actually. “Yeah, a former friend.” I added and now he looked up. “What is this former friend’s name?” “Pete.” “Well, I hope things will work out between Pete and you.” I looked at him sadly. “I don’t think they will, but thanks.” I said quietly. The barkeeper nodded and I pulled out my wallet to pay.
I just thought that even these four shots were damn expensive when almost out of nowhere Brendon Urie appeared next to me. “Let me pay.” He smiled at me. “And I want to add something please.” He said to the barkeeper. Urie ended up buying so much stuff that I certainly would’ve had to work a week to afford it all.
I hated this. I hated that Urie was so rich and that he could spent as much money as he wanted. I hated that he paid for everything grinning at me because he just could do it. He knew that I didn’t have nearly as much money as he had and he knew that I would let him pay because of it. I hated that he was so arrogant and disgusting and rich. I just hated everything about him.
Why were rich people always so pretentious? I knew that Urie hadn’t always been rich so when had he changed so much? I had so many questions and didn’t even know why I wanted to know all of this but somehow I just wanted to. It was probably because I had never known a rich person before. I wouldn’t say that I knew Urie or less that I was friends with him but he was probably the closest I would ever get to a person who had everything.
“Are you having a fun time, Ryan?” The other man asked me smirking like always. “Certainly.” I answered sounding as unenthusiastic as possible. Urie nodded and we got back to the little corner where Spencer and Weekes were waiting.
“Finally!” The latter exclaimed and I had to agree with him again. Maybe our need to drink was the only thing we shared today. It had been way too long that I had been really wasted and I had felt the urge to get wasted again for a long time but I had never actually had the chance.
Everyone at the table took a shot as we sat down. Urie had bought the whole bottle so we were able to refill them any time. “Three cheers for sweet revenge.” Urie said and I nodded even though I didn’t understand what he meant. Maybe he didn’t either. We clinked the shots and everybody chugged it down as fast as possible. 
And so it continued. Someone refilled the glasses, we drank, we laughed, someone refilled again and so on. I realized that we all changed after some shots, but everyone in a different way. They were so many types of drunk people and apparently many were represented here today.
Weekes started to tell everyone how much he loved them – no matter if it was someone he actually knew or someone who was just walking by. Weekes loved everyone unconditionally that night. Spencer started to talk about deep stuff that I couldn’t really process anymore but nobody listened to him actually. He was lost in his own world.
And then there was Urie – he was acting like a baby. I would’ve dared to say that he wouldn’t have been able to survive on his own anymore. He was laying on the floor laughing and talking nonsense. 
I had always been a rather quiet guy while drunk much to my pleasure but that was probably how my personality was anyways. It was when people where drunk that you really got to know them. If the latter was something you wanted to in the end was always different. I certainly knew that Urie was one of these drunks of the most annoying kind.
I poured myself more of the liquid in the glass. Maybe it was because of my father’s alcohol addiction that the good alcohol compatibility had somehow been transmitted but I doubted that – but I had always been the one who was able to drink the most before it was actually too much. I remembered times where Jon had still been alive and where we had tested that from time to time and where I had always been able to drink so much that he had wanted to call the ambulance. But I had been fine most of the times. Well, just not one time.
I tried not to think about that anymore and focused on Urie who was walking or rather crawling to the group of people that was sitting right next to us. Apparently I was the only person here that was still able to act properly and that was why I decided that it was my duty to stop him.
“C’mon, Urie.” I said apologetically looking at the three girls Urie had wanted to annoy. They just giggled and I tried to heave up Urie. Very fast I realized though that this was an impossible act so I ended up dragging him back to our corner. “I don’t want to!” He screamed exactly like a little child. What the hell was wrong with this guy? He was the owner of most of Las Vegas’ casinos but now he was nothing more than a little boy who wouldn’t survive without his parents.
Since I was the only adult left I decided that it was time to leave the club. If Urie wouldn’t have been so famous we probably would’ve already kicked out of the club anyways. Spencer didn’t protest when we announced that we would leave and even Weekes stood up still telling everyone that he loved them. The only problem was baby-Urie who made a scene. 
I ended up asking one of the security guards for help and together we dragged him out of the club. This night certainly hadn’t taken place as I had planned to before. Fortunately a taxi was standing in front of the club so we all got in. I told the driver Urie’s address but realized that I didn’t know Weekes’. What would these guys do without me today? Yeah, actually what did they do when they were out alone? I didn’t want to think about that further.
Eventually Spencer managed to tell the driver the address and he started the vehicle obviously annoyed by our group. But I was too, definitely. First we stopped in front of Urie’s mansion which I already know and second we approached Weekes’ house which wasn’t that big to my surprise. It was definitely adequate but not as big as I had expected it to be. I had thought that Weekes would be another rich guy but apparently he was just acting like he was.
“I love you all. Especially you, Ryan. You’re so…cute.” Weekes said as he was leaving the vehicle. People had called me many things throughout the years but certainly nobody had called me cute before. I wondered if Weekes had ever gotten beat up because of the shit he was talking when he was drunk. Certainly not every man would be so chilled when another one would call him cute but I didn’t want to start a fight – even less with a drunk person.
The tall guy closed the car door behind him and the driver turned around. “Where do you guys want me to drive now?” He asked and I realized that I hadn’t thought about it. Would Spencer go home now and therefore was the night already over? I didn’t feel as drunk as I had wanted to be yet. And who would pay for this taxi anyways? It would be so damn expensive.
“You can let us out here.” I claimed and Spencer looked at me confused. “What, Ryan!?” “How much is it?” I asked and the driver told me the price that was so high that I almost choked. I grabbed my purse and gave him the money exactly counted so he wouldn’t dare to take even more from me. “Let’s go.” I then said directed to Spencer who was still confused but knew that he had no choice anyways.
“What was that all about?” He asked as the taxi drove away and we started walking down the street. At least the other man was still able to walk, unlike others. As I inspected him further I realized that he wasn’t actually as wasted as I thought he was. “Have you heard how expensive this trip has already been? If the man would’ve driven us home I would’ve had no money to pay him anymore.” 
“You could’ve asked me.” Spencer suggested but the way he looked at me showed me that he wouldn’t have had much more money either. “And what are we going to do now?” The man asked and I shrugged. I hadn’t thought that through. “I mean… I could ask Z and you could come over if you want?” I suggested. Since Z had told me that she was in love with me things had been extremely weird and uncomfortable between us but that didn’t surprise me. We only talked with each other when it was really necessary but we still tried to act like everything was normal in front of Lizzy – though I knew that we were failing. 
We continued to search for either a bar or a telephone box where I could call Z from and eventually found the latter not so far away. I had seen pictures of these red telephone boxes in London – only pictures because I had never left the US before. The only two states I had ever been in were Utah and Nevada actually – but the ones that were standing around here didn’t wear any colors at all.
I dialed the number – the only phone number I could actually memorize everywhere – and after some seconds my wife finally responded. “Hey Z. It’s me.” I started because she obviously knew how I sounded. “Is everything okay?” “Yeah, everything’s fine. I just wanted to ask you if you could maybe come for Spencer and me?” I realized that I sounded like a little boy who asked his mother to pick him up somewhere. Not that I ever had had the chance to do that. 
There was a pause. A long pause and I actually thought that Z had hung up but then she answered eventually. “Okay. The problem is that Sarah’s here…” “What, Sarah Urie is at our house?” “Is that a problem?” I sighed. “No, it’s just… we have brought Brendon home like twenty minutes ago. He’s extremely wasted so I thought that it was the right decision. This servant of them had brought him in but I thought that his wife would be there too.” 
Another pause followed and then I heard muffled sounds because Z was probably talking to Sarah. Then the answer followed. “Okay, Sarah has said that this happens regularly. Brendon can apparently be a real child when he’s drunk.” I had definitely noticed that. “Anyways, she said that she’s going to stay here but I’ll quickly come for you guys. Where was it again?” I told her where we were located and then our conversation was over. Spencer was standing next to me impatiently and I nodded. We had to wait for a little bit more than twenty minutes until I saw our car. Z was barely visible in the dark because the light post was too far away but I could still recognize that she looked sad.
I sighed but then Spencer and I got into the vehicle. The trip to our house was shaped by uncomfortable silence. I was looking out of the window one side and Spencer on the other side – at least he had stopped talking. Z was concentrated – or at least she acted like she was – on the road and didn’t dare to look at me. But then, who would’ve blamed her? It certainly was a hell of a situation we were in now and neither of us knew how to act properly.
I wondered how people had acted in another century where it had been common to marry each other when you actually weren’t in love. Had it happened sometimes that one of the two spouses had fallen in love with the other eventually and what had they done then? I sometimes wished that there was a manual for life but when I really thought about it I didn’t actually. Because when everything was already predefined it certainly would’ve been boring.
Eventually we stopped in front of our house. Urie’s wife was sitting on our sofa and it was beyond to see her here. She didn’t belong here after all and I would always picture her in her mansion were everything looked so special while we were just living in an ordinary house. Not that I would complain though. I had never aspired to be rich or famous, not really, because most of the time those people changed because of all the money they had and it never was for the better.
I wondered how Urie had been before he had become rich. Spencer had mentioned that he had been different but I couldn’t picture him without a suit and without this smirk on his face. I approached the kitchen and opened a cupboard. Carrying a full bottle of vodka and four shot glasses I got back to the living room where our weird group of people was sitting.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Z asked only half-reproving. I looked at her. For the first time in one week I really looked at her and she returned my look just for a slight second. “Give it to me.” She then said and I couldn’t help but start laughing because of the expression on her face. I poured the liquid in every glass and then we all chugged it down immediately. It was the same procedure as in the club, just the atmosphere and the people were different.
“So, what did you actually do here together?” I asked the two woman and Sarah shrugged. “I was bored. Z was bored and then we have met up and talked, you know, about women’s stuff.” I had always wondered what kind of stuff women talked about usually but I certainly would never ask. Instead I nodded and poured as all in another round. And so it continued. After a few more glasses I finally started to feel what I had aspired to feel – this sensation when you just knew that you would feel like shit the next day. I didn’t know why I liked it but I had always had. If I didn’t feel it at some point it wasn’t a pleasant experience to drink alcohol for me.
“Have I ever told you guys how Brendon and I have met?” Sarah started talking at some point and that was when I decided that it was time for me to concentrate. Spencer nodded because of course he knew how everything had happened but Z and I didn’t. Sarah laughed and everyone was able to see that she was everything but sober at this point.
“Okay, okay. It had been what? – I don’t know how many years ago – but we had both been nineteen. Brendon had been working in this one casino that had belonged to my father and someday I saw him at the bar and I just thought: ‘That’s the man I’m going to marry at some point.’ You know that, right?” Sarah looked at Z and the latter nodded even though we both knew that it hadn’t been like that for us.
“Anyways” Sarah continued talking but then she was bothered by a hiccup and started laughing. Why did all women become so giggly when they were drunk? Even Z who was usually completely different wasn’t an exception. Both women couldn’t control themselves any longer and I knew that the story time was over. “I told you” Spencer said while we were both ignoring the women. “Brendon has been a normal guy once.” I nodded not wanting to show how intrigued I was by this guy’s life.
As I took the vodka bottle I realized that it was almost empty which made me sad. I attached it to my mouth and drunk the rest out of the bottle not tasting anything anymore at this point. “Ryan, honey.” Z said directed at me and I looked into her glazed eyes. Her beautiful eyes which I still adored so much. I didn’t have romantic feelings for her. I didn’t love her and I never would but still – I started kissing her. I kissed her in front of Spencer and Sarah which was completely inappropriate but I didn’t care. 
I closed my eyes tasting her but eventually realized that it felt wrong. It felt so damn wrong. The kiss itself felt really good and there was definitely nothing wrong with Z. The only thing that was entirely wrong was the fact that I wanted to kiss someone else. Someone I couldn’t even identify.
Way too abrupt I ended the kiss leaving Z confused. I needed to get out of this room which I eventually did. What had just happened?
***
There were so many people I didn’t know and everyone of them was wearing a suit. But unlike my own it was a damn expensive one and probably hand made just for the carrier of the piece. I felt like everyone realized that I didn’t belong here in this fancy casino – and maybe they did.
I didn’t belong here for so many reasons. Most obviously was the fact that I wasn’t rich while everybody in this room was. But then there was also the fact that I didn’t even like the promoter of this party and more important that I didn’t even like rich people. And I also had to mention that I didn’t like casinos either. So, why was I still here?
The only other person here that wasn’t rich was probably Spencer. But I couldn’t find my friend. I also couldn’t find Urie or Weekes and at this point I would’ve preferred even their company. I didn’t care what people thought about me. I didn’t care about the looks but maybe one part of me cared what Urie thought about me for some reason and I didn’t want to just stand there like some idiot.
Because I had no better plan I approached the bar realizing that the barkeeper was actually Pete. He didn’t see me first being too focused on cleaning glasses but when he did his eyes widened. “What the hell, Ryan?” He inspected me curiously and I realized that it was probably the first time that he saw me wearing a suit. I couldn’t even remember myself when I had worn one the last time.
“I could ask you the same question. Why aren’t you working in the bar? I mean I’m not working there either so who is?” I wondered while Pete poured me in a vodka. At least he knew my usual drinking habits. I chugged the shot down still waiting for an answer. “Yesterday Patrick has recruited new personal because from now on we will have to work here too sometimes. Oh man, you haven’t heard it yet, right?” I looked at my former friend shocked and confused.
“Patrick kind of made a deal with this Urie guy so he will partake in the business here, at least a little bit. And because of that there are new employees and from now on we will have to switch between working in the club and here. You can’t choose.” “Why haven’t I heard this before? Why hasn’t he told us?”
Pete looked at me apologetically. “He has only told us yesterday when you weren’t there. Said that it had been a pretty spontaneous decision which I don’t believe, to be honest. I mean this guy has been working on something for weeks now. I have felt that there’s something going on.” Why did the universe hate me actually? If I really had to work here sometimes this meant that I would possible meet Urie sometimes and there was barely a thing I would hate to do more than to work for Urie.
“We really can’t choose?” I asked realizing how desperately I sounded as Pete looked at me confused. But then he shook his head. Eventually I saw Spencer entering another room and decided that I would follow him. I excused myself and opened the door to the room that seemed to be just a vestibule next to the toilets. There were some people talking to each other or smoking but nobody paid attention to me.
I wanted to enter the toilet because I guessed that that was probably where Spencer had headed too but then my friend came out of it looking pale and shocked. He didn’t notice me first but when he did he looked even more shocked if that was still possible. “What the fuck, Spence?” I asked in the same second as he said “I wouldn’t go in there, Ryan.” so neither of us had actually gotten a response.
I was confused but more than that curious. What the hell could be in there that Spencer would look like that? “Why?” “It’s just… Brendon’s like really, really drunk. You don’t want to see this.” Spencer stood in front of the bathroom door as if he was a bouncer and at some point I admired how he was protecting the honor of his friend.
“What? You don’t think that I’m able to handle some puke?” I said jokingly but his facial expression didn’t change. “It’s not just that…” He started but it seemed as if Spencer didn’t know what to say himself. “What? Drugs? Nothing I haven’t seen before.” I claimed and I was able to see a little spark of curiosity in his face but he still didn’t move.
“No Ryan. Believe me. You don’t want to go in there. Fuck. Please don’t.” He almost pleaded and maybe I should’ve listened to him but I just couldn’t not go in there. It was too mysterious and to intriguing and I didn’t listen to my friend. I shoved him to the side and because I had the element of surprise on my side Spencer didn’t stop me. 
I opened the door and immediately closed it behind me but Spencer of course followed me, an expression of terror on his face. First I didn’t understand it. I didn’t see or hear anything unusual but eventually I heard a sound that was probably two people kissing. And that was when I understood it. Brendon was cheating on his wife and Spencer obviously had wanted to prevent me from seeing this.
As much as he had wanted to hinder me before he didn’t move now. I opened the door of the bathroom stall that wasn’t locked up wondering how stupid Urie actually was. He was lucky that Spencer had been the one to find him. I felt sorry for the woman that was hooking up with Urie and I felt even sorrier for Sarah whom I had somehow started to like at some point yesterday.
I didn’t realize it first. My brain needed a few seconds to process it and in these seconds the two people had already stopped making out. And then the realization kicked in and I almost collapsed because I was so overwhelmed. There wasn’t another woman in front of me. Urie hadn’t kissed another woman. It was a man and as I saw now it wasn’t just a random man, it was Dallon Weekes.

 

Chapter Text

“Dad. Is it okay when Amelia comes over today?” Lizzy screamed through the house and woke me up by doing so. It was Saturday and Z was working at the hotel which she sometimes had to. Because I had also worked yesterday I usually slept longer but I wouldn’t be able to today. “Oh. Sorry for waking you up.” She added as she entered my room but I shrugged. “It’s okay. I mean I wouldn’t have expected that you would spend half of the day alone.” “But I’m already really mature.” “I know that you are, Lizzy.”
I quickly glanced at the clock and saw that it was half past nine which meant that I had slept for roughly four hours. I had been used to that at some point but now it didn’t happen often so I would probably be exhausted at the end of the day. “Sorry, what did you ask again?” I wanted to know because I was still only half-awake. “I have asked if Amelia can come over today. To play.” She looked at me with these glazed eyes and in this moment I realized that after all it had been the right decision to marry Z. How could it have been wrong?
“Sorry, who’s Amelia again?” I asked, still confused. Had I heard this name before? “Dad, you jerk. Amelia or rather her mother is the one who always takes me to the kindergarten when mom’s working and you’re asleep.” My daughter explained and I nodded. I definitely needed to thank that woman because she was the reason I was able to sleep more these days.
“Yeah sure. Sure she can come over, my girl.” I had barely finished the sentence when Lizzy had already run out of the room. I wanted to have the energy only a child could have. It was because I envied them that I hated most children – excluding Lizzy of course. Children had everything, they didn’t need to worry because their parents took care of all the things and that was why they had so much time for themselves and were so much happier than adults would ever be able to be. But it was only when the childhood was over that one realized how precious the time had actually been. Well, at least this was the case for most children. I wouldn’t say that about my childhood.
***
“Ryan honey, please go to your room, won’t you?” The woman said sweetly but her face told me that she wouldn’t accept an objection. “But…” I wanted to protest but she stopped me from talking further. “Gorge Ryan Ross, I said that you should go to your room and I’m not saying it again.” She now said more strictly and I knew that I had no choice. After all I was just a little boy whose mother was dead and had been replaced by this monster.
They were two monsters actually. I realized that when I heard the screams. It was the same every day and because of that I couldn’t sleep and was always so tired at school. Everyone pitied me still but I knew that the phase of grief was now over and everyone thought that I was still bemoaning my mother which wasn’t the case anymore. Of course I missed her and I started to notice that her picture faded more and more every day – but this wasn’t the main problem. It was them.
My father had changed since my mother had died. But then, I also couldn’t remember how he had been before. I was forgetting everything and there was nothing I could do about it. I just knew that he had changed and I knew that from now on it would only get worse. I touched the bruise on my hip and that was when I couldn’t hold the tears back any longer.
My father always claimed that it was a weakness to cry so I tried to be strong all the time. I tried so hard just to realize that I would always fail eventually. First it was a single tear running down my cheek and I only realized it when I tasted the salt in my mouth. It was like the sea. But what did I know? I had never seen or rather tasted the sea before.
Crying was like so many other things. First you didn’t realize it but when you did it was already much too late to prevent it. My vision became blurred and my eyes started to hurt. Countless tears were rolling down my cheeks and my nose started to weep. That was the worst thing. Being in this room without a basin so the traces of my tears would stay. I was so fucked if my father would enter the room now.
The screaming stopped and all the other sounds I didn’t dare to identify did too. It was silent. Almost creepily silent actually but I was too tired to think about that. I fell asleep slowly and then all at once.
She was standing there in her nightgown with messed up hair but looking as beautiful as ever. Then my mother turned around quickly smiling at me. “How many do you want?” She asked motioning towards the pancakes she was baking. I laughed, too little and too carefree. “As many as you will give me.” I answered and my mother continued making the pancakes.
But something felt wrong. Something felt so wrong. Then I looked down on me and realized that I wasn’t that little boy anymore. I had grown a little bit but I was still a child. But most importantly the woman in the kitchen wasn’t my mother. It was a monster. And she wasn’t making pancakes for me, she only gave me three-day-old bread and ham that tasted like paper.
And my father wasn’t my father anymore. There was this guy sitting in front of me that looked like him but it was just a fucked up version of him. But then, who in this house wasn’t fucked up? My mother had killed herself and first I had blamed her for leaving me. I had blamed her for leaving me with this monster but now I actually wondered if she had done the right thing after all. Maybe she had been the only one who hadn’t been fucked up.
My father was an alcoholic who regularly beat me up and I knew that I would never have children because of him. Because he had fucked me up too. And then there was this woman whose name I didn’t even want to memorize. They were just monster number one and monster number two for me but sometimes I even forgot whom I had given which number. It didn’t matter anyways.
I often wondered how we still had enough money to survive because I never saw either of the monsters working. They were constantly drunk and didn’t care about anything but maybe this was just what I felt like. I quickly stood up from the table and realized that it had maybe been a little bit too abrupt because my father was now paying attention to me. “Where the hell do you think you’re going?” He asked accusatory. “To school.” I probably could’ve stayed at home the whole day because they wouldn’t have noticed it but at this point I preferred going to school anyways. What would have been every child’s dream was my nightmare: staying at home.
The monsters faded, I left the damned house and then…
***
I woke up in my bed in my house miles away from the one I had just been in. I had probably fallen asleep again because Lizzy was inspecting me standing in the doorframe. “Get up, dad. They’re going to be here soon.” My daughter said and in this moment I felt like she was the grown up here. I quickly got out of my bed and changed my clothes. But when I looked in the mirror I realized that I still looked like I had just woken up – which was the case.
Who was this guy staring back at me? He was skinny, maybe a little bit too skinny and he looked so exhausted, so dead inside. This couldn’t be me. It just couldn’t. But as I moved my hand the guy in the mirror did too. Maybe it was me. I certainly looked like a piece of shit. Sighing I walked down the stairs and in the exact same moment I heard that someone was actuating the bell.
“Dad, that’s Amelia.” Lizzy screamed so loud that probably everyone in the street had heard it. Yeah, right. My daughter opened the door and a girl her age next to a young woman appeared. The woman was certainly a few years younger than me and if this was her daughter than she must’ve been – what – 15 or 16 when she had gotten her.
The two girls ran away giggling and like almost every time I envied them. How pathetic. “Nice house.” The blond woman said because neither of us really knew what to say. “Do you maybe want to come in?” I offered because it seemed like a thing one would do even though I didn’t even know her name. She smiled. “No, thanks. I’d love to actually but I have some place to be.” I nodded.
“You’re probably Mr. Berg then?” She asked. “I have seen your wife sometimes. I mean we’re the ones who always take Lizzy to the kindergarten.” I nodded. “Yeah, thank you again for that. You’re literally saving my life.” And after a short pause I added “And actually, my name’s Ryan Ross. It’s just… Z and I have different last names.” The woman nodded not asking me why that was the case like most people did.
“I’m Nicole.” She said offering me her hand to shake it. “Nicole Row.” She added while we shoogled them. She attempted to leave but eventually turned around again. “And you’re welcome. Your house is on the way anyways so you don’t cause me any trouble.” I looked at her and then nodded. “It was nice to meet you, Mr. Ross.” And with these words she left. I didn’t even have to chance to tell her that she could call me Ryan or to return the words because she didn’t hear me anymore.
I closed the door and entered the living room to tell the girls that I would be in the kitchen if they needed me. Eventually I decided to make some toast and started eating unenthusiastically. My eating schedule was really unhealthy if I had to be honest. There were times where I ate too little and other times where I just couldn’t stop eating and I hated it. I didn’t want to but I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about what I had seen two weeks before. The picture of the two men was etched in my mind.
How could they just do that? How could two man kiss each other? It was forbidden and abnormal. I hadn’t talked to either Brendon or Dallon since that day for obvious reasons but I hadn’t talked to Spencer either. Generally I hadn’t talked to anyone really. I had attended work, I had gone home, I had slept and then I had done it all over again. This routine was the only right thing in my life at this point. I didn’t want to think about all the things that were wrong because it were too many.
I cleared the table and stood still for a second. I hadn’t told anyone about the incident – I would never do such a thing – because it certainly would destroy Urie’s life and even though I disliked him I didn’t want that. I had never been a person that would enjoy other people’s misery because I myself had had to go through so much. As much as I would never forget the sight of Urie and Weekes kissing I would also never forget the look on their faces – that look of terror – after they had realized that I had seen them. I wondered what they would have done in my situation. Would they have told someone? Maybe.
It was obvious that Spencer had known. Just in the way he had wanted to stop me from entering the bathroom it was obvious that he had known for a longer time. I wondered how he could still be friends with Urie. Did almost twenty years of friendship even justify something like that?
“Dad, can we play Rummy?” My daughter who had entered the room asked me with a light in her eyes that had faded in mine long ago. “Amelia has never played it before, so can we show her?” I forced a smile on my face like I did way too often. I was constantly pretending. I was always pretending to be someone else so I had now reached a point where I didn’t even know who I actually was – the real me. I doubted that anyone would like him anyways. Maybe everything was better like that.
“Yeah sure.” I answered and we moved to the living room. Amelia was already sitting there silently. Maybe she was shy or maybe she just didn’t want to talk in that moment. Lizzy grabbed the game and we started to play. It was moments like that that I probably felt the best. In these moments I forgot everything because they were just children whose biggest problem was that they didn’t want to go to sleep so early.
But then the moment was over because someone was knocking at the door. I got there expecting it to be Nicole but was actually surprised to see Spencer Smith standing on the other side. “Hey.” The other man greeted me and I nodded. “Hey.” I wasn’t angry with him – there was no reason for me to be – but still, something had changed. The picture I had had of him had changed and I still had to figure everything out.
I didn’t invite him to get in because I knew that he would follow me to the kitchen where we eventually sat down. I remembered the day already six weeks ago where we had seen each other for the first time. I couldn’t believe that I only knew this guy for such a short time because it certainly felt like years. I laughed trying to loosen the mood and when Spencer did to we just couldn’t stop anymore. Maybe this was one of the few occasions where it was just a real laugh or maybe my life was just too ridiculous.
But then Spencer stopped laughing abruptly instantly being serious. “I wanted to thank you again.” He started and I shrugged. “No honestly. I’m sorry that I only came here now but there’s so much going on recently. You know that Linda’s pregnant again and there are some complications and then…” He looked at me sadly. “I got fired.”
“What the fuck?” I asked because I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. Why would a nice guy like Spencer get fired? “Yeah, what the fuck.” He eventually replied. “I know what you’re thinking but no, I haven’t done anything. They just didn’t need me anymore as they have claimed. I honestly don’t know how we’re supposed to survive now. You know, Linda soon won’t be working anymore because of her pregnancy and now I’m fired.” Spencer raked his fingers through his hair desperately and I realized that my problems were definitely minor compared to his.
I offered him a cigarette and we got out on the porch. Smoking usually helped one to calm down and it was probably the right thing for Spencer now. “You’re young. You’re nice. You’ll find a new job soon.” I claimed but I didn’t sound really convincing. Why would I say stuff like that anyways? Was I even lying to Spencer now? “And even if you don’t, we’ll manage it somehow. You know, I could help out a little bit. I’m sure that Z wouldn’t mind.” I took a drag of my cigarette inspecting a woman a few houses further working in her garden.
Spencer looked at me astonished. “You would do that for me? You would do that even though we only know each other for such a short time?” I nodded without thinking about it further. We both knew that it didn’t feel like we only knew each other for six weeks. The fact that Spencer had come here instead of visiting Urie who had so much money only proofed that. I wondered why he didn’t go to his lifelong friend though.
“Brendon and I… I don’t know. It’s complicated.” The other guy stated as if he would be able to read thoughts. “Sometimes” He looked at me seriously and I wondered how we had ended up here considering that we had laughed like madmen only a few minutes ago. “Sometimes I think that I’m only friends with Brendon at this point because we both don’t know how to function without each other anymore. You know? We’ve been friends for as long as I can remember and he’s my family. Even though he has changed he is and will always be somehow.” I nodded and took another drag of my cigarette. Z would soon come back home and then we would eat together in awkward silence.
“I once had a friend. He was only one year older than me and even though he wasn’t old enough he went to war, you know? Sometime later his mother was standing on our porch and I guess I don’t have to tell you how everything had ended.” I felt like telling Spencer this because he was always telling me so much and I never did. Suddenly I felt sad because he didn’t know the truth about Lizzy but I wouldn’t tell him that. I couldn’t.
“What was his name?” Spencer asked while exhaling the smoke. There had always been something about smoking that had looked so appealing, no matter if it was a man or a woman who was smoking. For sure, in this moment I could tell that Spencer Smith looked great smoking. “Jon. Jonathan Walker actually.” I replied thinking about the only one I had had back then. “Was Jon a good friend?” “The best. No, I mean it. The fucking best.” Spencer nodded and we continued smoking.
He didn’t tell me that he was sorry like most people would do in such a situation and I appreciated it. Why would people be sorry about another person’s death anyways if they didn’t have to do anything with it? I had never understood it. When my mother had died everyone had said that they were sorry but why did they feel like that? Because of me? I certainly hadn’t needed their pity. I had rather needed someone to actually do something but nobody had cared enough to.
“Not many men would do what you did, Ryan. Honestly, most would certainly expose a fag or whatever Brendon is. You should know that we’re both very grateful.” Spencer looked at me eventually after neither of us hadn’t said anything for a few seconds. I nodded even though I didn’t even agree with him. “If Brendon’s so grateful then why hasn’t he come here yet?” I asked and wondered why I had done so. It wasn’t like I would like to have Urie in my house, I certainly wouldn’t like that.
“He’s ashamed, you certainly can understand that.” Spencer claimed and I nodded again even though I actually disagreed. I hadn’t been the one to kiss another man, no, even worse, a friend of mine. It would be like I would kiss Spencer and that thought was just disgusting. “How long do… how long is Brendon like that?” I whispered at some point realizing that most of our conversations were actually about the guy I didn’t like much.
I was always talking about him but didn’t want to think further why this was the case. I didn’t want to think anything at all but unfortunately that was not how minds were working. “I don’t know exactly. But I can tell you that that incident hasn’t been the first time that Dallon and he… you know.” Spencer looked at me and I realized that both our cigarettes were gutted. Maybe that topic should be too.
Of course I knew what he meant but I didn’t really want to think about that either. The image of the two men was stuck in my mind and there was nothing I could do to get rid of it. Spencer probably felt the same and I wondered why we were actually always talking about the other man. I wanted to say something else – anything – but then the doorbell interrupted me.
“Do you expect someone?” He looked at me curiously but I shook my head. “Well, I think I should do anyways. You know, there’s always stuff to do.” We both knew that Spencer’s stuff wasn’t the usual problems people had to cope with but I didn’t say anything. “Yeah sure.” We both approached the door and I heard Lizzy and Amelia somewhere in the background. Maybe they were playing in the garden.
I opened the door and wasn’t that surprised to see Nicole Row standing on the other side. She looked stressed but didn’t all people look so nowadays? There were so many things one had to do and often something failed and everything was just frustrating. “Hello, Mr. Ross.” She greeted me and I instantly wondered how old she thought I was. Sure, I was obviously older but I wasn’t so old that she had to call me Mister. I nodded and realizing that Spencer was still standing next to me looking confused.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Spencer this is Nicole Row, the mother of the girl who has visited Lizzy today. Nicole, this is Spencer Smith, my best friend.” I realized that neither Nicole said something when I called her by her first name nor Spencer when I called him my best friend. They shook each other’s hands politely but I couldn’t unsee the looks they were throwing at each other. But then the moment was over and it was almost as if nothing had happened
“Nice to meet you.” Both of them claimed in the same second and had to start laughing a moment later. “Isn’t Linda your wife?” Nicole eventually asked and Spencer nodded. “She’s nice.” The other man nodded again and I wondered if he had lost the ability to speak. “Spencer, didn’t you want to go actually?” I chimed in because I felt like I had to keep the two of them apart. My friend nodded apparently lost in his thoughts. “Yeah, right. It was really nice to meet you, Nicole.” He claimed again and I wondered why he did so for the second time. “I can only tell you the same, Spencer.” They smiled at each other and I almost threw the other guy out of the apartment because I felt like something was really wrong here.
“He is really nice.” Nicole said, still smiling, when I shut the door. I shrugged wondering what I had just witnessed. “And his wife is too.” I answered hoping that she would understand my allusion. The woman nodded looking straight into my eyes. “Yes.” I felt like the fact that the two of them had met each other had changed something for the worse. But then I realized that they were married and I could only talk for Spencer but I knew that he would never cheat on Linda, especially not now.
I tried to stop thinking these ridiculous things but my brain wouldn’t let me. I had always been an overthinker but this characteristic had probably reached its climax in the last weeks and it killed me internally. I wanted to say something else, wanted to start a conversation, but as usual I couldn’t think about a proper topic.
Fortunately the sound of keys in the keyhole saved me and shortly after Z opened the door and entered the house. She looked as stressed as Nicole or maybe even worse but when she saw the other woman it was visible that she tried to act like this wasn’t the case. “What are you doing here?” She asked instead of greeting us. Z looked at me quickly and then at Nicole who was still smiling.
“I just came here to pick Amelia up. She has played here today.” I wondered why she hadn’t done that before. After all Nicole always brought both girls to school. My wife nodded exhausted. “That’s great.” Z answered but it didn’t seem like she would actually care. Just in this moment the two girls entered the house again laughing. Wasn’t it enviable how little children were able to laugh because of every shit while adults ran around looking sad and annoyed the whole time?
“Let’s go.” Nicole said emotionless now after she had smiled before. Lizzy and her friend eventually said goodbye to each other and they left our house leaving me confused. There was something about this woman I didn’t like. Sure, she was a nice person and probably a good mother too but there were little things that were just so confusing. Sometimes one had that feeling after meeting a person that one instantly didn’t like them and that was just how I felt about Nicole Row.
“Have you prepared something for lunch?” Z asked me when the door snapped shut. I shook my head because I had actually forgotten to do so. Normally it was my job and I usually prepared lunch on days like these. “Thank you, Ryan. What are you actually capable of doing?” Z said loudly and I had to wonder the same. Yeah, what was I actually capable of doing? I shrugged not wanting to cause another fight.
“Spencer has been here before.” I claimed taking several ingredients to prepare a quick dish. “Great Ryan. Instead of doing your household chores you’re meeting up with random people and what… smoking, drinking?” Z looked at me accusatory but we both knew that Spencer wasn’t a random person. “Spencer’s my best friend.” I said still surprisingly calm but I had already known it before when I had told Nicole.
“Your best friend, yeah? You know him for what? Six weeks?” My wife started laughing and that was when my patience snapped. I didn’t want to make a scene in front of Lizzy again because the latter had to watch us fighting way too often recently but too much was just too much.
“You don’t know anything, Z, you don’t. I thought that after all we – you – have gone through you would understand that one shouldn’t judge people so quickly and that everyone had their own stuff to deal with.” I couldn’t believe that we actually had to carry such a conversation at this point. “What could a person like Spencer Smith possibly had to bear?” She said in a tone that made me want to punch her for the first time since I had met her. I would never punch a woman but the urge was there.
“They’re broke, Z. They have no money because Spencer got fired and Linda soon won’t be able to work anymore and maybe at this point I’m the only one Spencer trusts. Don’t ask me about Brendon, OK? He just needed a fucking friend and I was just here for him. Is that a problem big enough for you?” I looked at Z who now looked down to the ground abashed – at least she did so now.
“I’m sorry…” She started talking but I interrupted her. “No Z, I really don’t want to talk to you now. To be honest, I don’t even want to see you now.” She nodded ignoring Lizzy who was still sitting at the table and I realized that she had started to cry at some point. I continued to prepare a dish I doubted anyone would eat at this point and realized that I maybe wasn’t as different from my father as I had thought I was.

Chapter Text

“I have to go now. Will you be able to manage everything by yourself?” Pete asked me even though he had done so dozen times before. I nodded again assuring him that I was fine. Unfortunately I had to work in Urie’s casino today – something I had to do at least one time a week. It was the third time today and until I had been lucky enough to not see the other guy but I knew that at some point I wouldn’t be anymore.
Pete looked at me concerned but I didn’t understand why he was. It was a Monday today and that meant that there weren’t as many customers as on weekends. There were mostly businessmen sitting at the bar on their own and some other losers who needed to get drunk on a weekday. There were too many of them at this point and I had to admit that I was one of them too. “Go Pete. Do what you have to do.” I claimed not really knowing what it was. My former friend and I barely talked about really private things anymore for obvious reasons so I certainly wouldn’t ask him where he needed to go at two am in the night.
I definitely would be able to manage about two hours of working here by myself but apparently Pete thought that I didn’t. Just because he was about seven years older didn’t mean that I was a child but maybe he thought so. Eventually the other guy nodded and left the casino. It was so calm here compared to the club I usually worked in. There was some music but it was barely audible and at this time most people were too drunk to scream at each other.
I sighed, relaxing for a second because nobody wanted to order something. In a casino one always lost their sense of time and place and I did too. If it wasn’t for the watch I was wearing I certainly would’ve thought that it was about two hours earlier but the watch showed me that it was already two pm. If I who didn’t even gamble here felt like that, then how did people who were actually gambling feel? How did they ever get out of here?
I tried to escape my endless thoughts because a guy had approached the bar to order something. I needed a few seconds to realized that the guy was Dallon Weekes whom I hadn’t seen in about a months. Instantly the picture of him and Urie kissing came back into my mind and even though I would’ve preferred anything I smiled at him politely.
“What can I serve you?” I asked and the other guy inspected me probably searching for an emotion but I had perfected my poker face – especially while working here. “I guess it’s not on the house?” He asked jokingly but I still didn’t let any emotion slip through. Internally I wondered though why he didn’t just ask for Urie who would certainly serve him something on the house “No.” Weekes nodded instantly serious. Maybe he had realized that he shouldn’t play with the fire here. Even though I didn’t want to it was a weird satisfaction to know that I had the control over the future of Urie and Weekes.
“Give me anything really. I don’t care. I just need alcohol.” The tall guy claimed and I nodded grabbing my liquid of choice – vodka. I took a shot glass but Weekes shook his head. That won’t be enough. Instead I took a normal-sized glass and he nodded. I poured in the liquid feeling the desire to get it into my body too but I was the barkeeper here.
“You can drink too if you want. I don’t care.” Dallon claimed as if he had read my thoughts. I nodded thinking about it but then I realized that I didn’t care anymore. I took another normal-sized glass and also poured myself the much longed-for liquid in. I knew that this was a mistake because I worked here and because it was against the rules to drink with customers but I didn’t want to think about that at this point.
“Rough day?” I asked instead and Weekes looked at me with these tired eyes everyone seemed to have these days. “You could say so.” He answered but I didn’t want to ask him further. It wasn’t as if we in a normal barkeeper-customer-relationship and as if he would tell me about all his problems now. I nodded because I could understand him. Maybe I didn’t really like him but I certainly could understand him, at least to some extent.
“Do you have a wife?” The tall guy eventually asked and I placed my glass on the counter. “I do.” I replied and Weekes looked at me resigned. “Of course you do.” “Don’t you?” I then asked but the look on his face told me everything. I wondered why he didn’t have a wife though. He was certainly a few years older than me and everyone I knew had a spouse already when they were my age.
“I couldn’t. You have seen me and Brendon. I just couldn’t.” He whispered eventually and I nodded even though I didn’t even know why. I couldn’t understand him because after all I had also married someone I didn’t love even though the reasons had been different ones. Sometimes one had to sacrifice things and especially in Weekes situation it would’ve been advisable if he would’ve had a wife as a cover.
“I guess I came here to apologize.” The other guy eventually said and that was the moment my poker face twitched. I wouldn’t have thought that Weekes was one for apologies. “I’m sorry that you had to see what you have seen but as you have probably figured Brendon and I were both extremely drunk. We can both be lucky that it has been you who has seen us. I will be eternally grateful that you won’t tell anyone, honestly.” We looked at each other real quick and I realized that he genuinely meant it. I guess when it was about ones good name anyone would’ve been nice.
“Spencer has told me that this has happened before.” I then said and almost punched myself. Out of all the things I could’ve said it really had to be that? Weekes laughed – he really laughed but I didn’t understand what exactly about the situation was so funny. “No, it has. It’s… complicated as you can probably imagine. But usually we’re very careful. People like us have to be.” I wondered what he meant by ‘people like us’. Was Brendon also a faggot and had he only married Sarah as a cover.
“Ross, are you drinking in your working hours again?” Urie who had appeared next to us suddenly asked and I thought that it was only when two people were talking about a person that the latter actually appeared. I wondered why he had added the again because Urie had certainly never seen me drinking in my working hours before but it didn’t matter at this point.
“Having a nice chat here, my bros?” He then added towards the both of us. I certainly wasn’t one of his bros, here I was just an employee and he was unfortunately kind of my boss. “Actually we did have a nice chat before you interfered.” I stated and Urie looked at me dangerously. The good thing was that he would never fire me because if he did I would tell the world about what I had seen so we were kind of blacklisting each other. Theoretically I could actually do anything.
“Can I offer you something to drink, boss?” I eventually asked accentuating the last word sardonic. “I will take the same as the two of you, employee.” Urie answered in the same tone as me. It was a dangerous game of power we were playing here and I knew that neither of us could actually win but both of us could lose too much.
But instead of saying anything else I just took another glass and poured in the vodka. “You do realize that there are also other customers, Ross?” Urie said provokingly after the three of us had all taken a sip of our drinks. I looked around the room just to realize that all the people who were in the casino were either way too drunk or asleep to order something else or they still had enough. “So, how do you want to force me to serve them, Urie?” I asked in the same way he had before. We looked into each other’s for what felt like minutes but I knew that it could’ve been only seconds.
I saw a defiant expression in his, anger, resignation and what shocked me the most – fear. Was he afraid that I would tell anyone what I had seen? Was Urie afraid of me? “What brought you down here, Urie?” I asked another question eventually realizing that we had done that the whole time without actually getting an answer. “I wanted to see how my favorite employee is doing, isn’t that obvious?” Urie claimed teasingly and I laughed listless. Dallon was following our conversation observantly and I wondered why he didn’t say anything on his own.
“I’m doing alright. Why does everyone think that I’m not capable of managing the bar on my own?” Just when the words had left my mouth I realized that I didn’t actually mean to say them. Urie smirked – something I hadn’t seen for some time and something I definitely hadn’t missed. “You’re so young, Ross.” He then claimed and I laughed. “You’re even younger than me, fucker.” Something flared up in Urie’s eyes. I knew that no other employee would’ve called his boss fucker but I knew that I could afford it.
“I’m special.” He eventually said ignoring the expression I had used and I laughed again. “I bet you are.” I replied jokingly but even though I was laughing we both knew that his statement was true, at least to some extent. Brendon was only 23 years old, had no rich parents and had managed to build an empire of its kind and who could say that when one was his age?
“I think I should better go.” Weekes eventually interfered after I had almost forgotten that he was still there. He and Urie looked into each other’s eyes so briefly that one could only understand the hidden meaning when one knew about the relationship they had – but then, I didn’t know how to actually label them myself. “It was nice to talk to you, Ryan. “ He said eventually looking at me and I wondered if he actually meant it or – what I thought was more probable – if it was just a thing he felt he needed to say. “Yeah, it was nice talking to you too, Dallon.” I replied for the first time really expressing his name. And maybe one part of me really meant it.
“You two are best friends now or what?” Brendon said jokingly and I shrugged. “Yeah, right.” I took another sip of the vodka starting to feel dizzy. Drinking alcohol was always a dangerous thing. First one started to feel the dizziness really slow and eventually it kicked in like a punch and one was drunk. Even though I knew how this was going, even though I needed to work and even though there was nobody else here who would have been able to serve the customers, I still continued to drink like a madmen – and Brendon didn’t complain.
The time flew by and somehow I managed to serve the customers who didn’t care that I was drunk myself. I had always had the capability to act pretty normal while drunk but Brendon started to act like a child again. I realized that I could have done anything in that moment - he wouldn’t have cared or noticed. Why had I thought that it was a good idea again to get drunk with him? Right, I hadn’t actually had a choice.
Eventually it was time to close the bar and the casino and when all the customers had left the other employees were looking at us suspiciously. I wondered what a weird pair Brendon and I had to make – the boss drunk as fuck and the employee barely managing anything. We closed the institution and I dragged my boss out of the room while my coworkers dismissed us with dislike in their voice. I almost had to laugh because the situation was just too ridiculous.
“I definitely have to remember that I shouldn’t get drunk with you in the future.” I claimed but Brendon barely heard me or if he did he didn’t react to my words. Instead he looked at some point far away being silent for a chance. We sat down on the curbstone and waited for something I couldn’t even name. I always felt like I was waiting for something that would never happen. I was waiting and waiting and waiting and nothing changed actually.
“Can you see all these beautiful stars at the sky?” Brendon eventually whispered and I looked up to a cloudy and starless sky. “Yes, they are so beautiful.” I replied not wanting to destroy Brendon’s illusion. Wasn’t the picture of a sky full of stars much more appealing? “Fuck, I have no idea how they’re all called. My brother has told me something about Ursa Major and Ursa Minor once but I have no idea how they look like.”
I laughed wondering how this guy was still able to think in his state. “They both look kind of like a wagon. It’s a constellation of seven stars. There, can you see it?” I pointed somewhere in the sky where not one star was actually visible but Brendon nodded now appearing to be focused. “That’s Ursa Minor. And on top of it is the polestar, the one that shines so bright.” Brendon nodded again. “And geared to Minor is Ursa Major. It’s bigger like the name says. Can you see, the other end is geared to the polestar?” Brendon nodded one more time and I wondered if he actually listened to me. I wished that the sky was actually full of stars but it barely was inside of the city.
Brendon eventually looked at me and I felt like he was directly looking at me in a way he had never done before. It was probably because he was drunk. “You’re so smart. Ryan, why are you so fucking smart?” He asked me and I laughed surprised. Did he actually think so or was he just saying that because he was drunk? “I’m not smart, Brendon, I’m just… you’re smart, OK? You have said so yourself. How the fuck did you manage to get so rich? That’s smart.” “No, I’m not, Ryan.” Brendon fucking Urie responded and I wondered why he was suddenly so humble.
Neither of us didn’t say a word for a sometime because I actually didn’t know what to say. It was so quiet, even for this time. Las Vegas and especially the quarter with the casinos was usually well-visited at every time but now there were barely cars and people passing the street – and the ones who did didn’t care about two drunk people sitting on the curbstone.
“You’re so hot, Ryan. Honestly. How are you so fucking hot?” Brendon said after sometime and I almost choked. That was something he had definitely just said because he was drunk. He was drunk – but didn’t people say that one was more honest then? It certainly wasn’t the case now. Brendon couldn’t think about me like that and even if he did, was that something good or bad? I didn’t want to analyze it.
I wondered if we were playing a game inspired by Red Riding Hood now where the little girl asked the wolf all the questions and the latter responded something. Was I the wolf then? Would I be Brendon’s ruin? “Let’s stand up and find a taxi so you can get home to you wife.” I eventually said escaping my thoughts. I felt like this evening wouldn’t end well when we would continue to sit here even longer. It wasn’t even an evening anymore considering that it would soon be 5 am.
Somehow I managed to heave Brendon up who was now talking bullshit again and we started to walk down the street, than around the corner and at some point we actually found a taxi driving by. “Stay here. I have to call the driver real quick.” I stated not checking if Brendon was really doing as I had said. I approached the street and hoped that the driver would actually see me which he fortunately did.
I turned around to carry Brendon to the vehicle and wanted to go but he grabbed my arm. “You can drive with me.” He offered and I looked at him suspiciously. I would have done that if the evening would have taken another course but at this point I definitely didn’t want to spend more time with the other guy. “I will pay for everything.” He added maybe realizing that the money was a factor for me to decide if I would enter the vehicle or not. “Will you join now or not?” The taxi driver asked impatiently and eventually I sat down next to Brendon because it was a logical decision.
“Kind of reminds me of another night, right?” Brendon suggested and I realized that he was able to remember that night. Back then I hadn’t seen what had changed so much yet and back then I had surely had a different opinion about him. Right now he was just Brendon Urie. Just Brendon. “Where’s your purse?” I asked ignoring all the questions he was asking me and actually thinking about the important stuff. “Left front pocket.” He replied looking at me in a way that didn’t please me at all. “I’m your boss, Ryan.” Brendon claimed and I nodded. “Yes, you’re my boss.” I was talking to him in the same way I was usually talking to Lizzy and that was ridiculous considering the position Brendon was in.
Even though I would’ve preferred to do anything else in that moment I grabbed into his pocket and eventually managed to take the purse. Brendon was still looking at me but I tried to ignore that. What was he thinking? I focused on the important things and had a look at the inside. There wasn’t much cash money in the purse but I was pretty sure that there would be an incredible amount on his bank or maybe in a safe somewhere. It wasn’t stupid to only carry a little amount with one.
“You can have it all.” Brendon claimed and I wondered if he meant it or further if he was actually talking about the money. It wasn’t much in general but for a normal person like me it was still. I decided to blame this comment on Brendon’s insanity. Much to my pleasure Brendon didn’t talk much after this incident and not long after we arrived at his mansion. I wondered how he could just go in there every day and lie to his wife. They had seemed to be a happy couple before I had found out about Brendon and Dallon but now I doubted that they were. Did Brendon even love Sarah? I doubted that too. But what did I know. I didn’t understand anything.
“Thank you, Ryan.” My boss said as he got out of the car and I realized that before this evening either of us had called the other by the first name. I wondered what exactly the other guy was thanking me for but I just accepted it as it was. I thought that Brendon would close the door and approach the house but then he turned around once again and took out his purse.
“I told you that you can have it all and I meant it. Take the money.” Brendon said seriously and I wondered if he maybe wasn’t as drunk as he had wanted me to think he was. I shook my head because I certainly wouldn’t take money from anyone and even less from him – that meant that the other person wanted something in exchange at some point and I wouldn’t pay that price.
Brendon had probably seen the expression on my face because he just threw the money – about two hundred dollars – in the car and then closed the door abruptly. I saw how he was walking away straight as if nothing had happened – as if this evening hadn’t changed so much.
“If you don’t want the money I will gladly take it.” The taxi driver eventually said but I just shook my head. Brendon had already paid him at some point and I certainly wouldn’t give him more money than he deserved. Sighing I picked up all the bills and put them into my own purse. Brendon was a Sudoku with too little numbers to actually solve it. He was a crossword puzzle with too many technical terms nobody knew. Yes, Brendon Urie certainly was a riddle I would never be able to solve.
***
At some point a usual routine had come back into my life and that had been something I had really needed. I was now working at the nightclub three times a week and at the casino two times a week. The good thing about that change was also that I now had a day off on Wednesdays. Patrick still had big plans and there were so many new employees he had salaried. I felt like he had ordered Pete and me to also work in the casino because we already had some experience while many new employees didn’t.
At this point it didn’t matter anymore where I was actually working, sometimes I even preferred the casino – there were lesser people so it wasn’t overcrowded as usually in the club. “Ryan, serve me a vodka.” My boss who had approached the bar demanded and I did as Brendon had said because that meant that I could also drink something. After that one night many things had changed here but mostly I was glad that I was actually allowed to drink while I was working. It was probably because the younger guy had noticed that I had a high tolerance for alcohol.
I chugged the shot I had just filled down and Brendon did the same. The other guy looked at me quickly and I realized that there was again something in his gaze I couldn’t identify at all. It didn’t really feel like Brendon was my boss actually because I had known him before. I had seen him when he was extremely wasted and I had seen him in such casual situation that I sometimes forgot that he was actually one half of the reason why I got my money.
The time flew by like it usually did when I had started to drink and eventually I realized that it was already time to close the bar. The people left and the other employees finished everything until we eventually left the casino. It was a cold night – it was even freezing – which was pretty unusual for Las Vegas. I wrapped my coat around my body but realized that it was way too thin anyways.
“Where are you going?” Brendon who was the only one left next to me asked as I wanted to approach the parking spot. “I wanted to go to my car and then I wanted to drive home.” I claimed and my boss looked at me concerned. “In this state?” He asked and I wondered what the big deal here was. I had done that before and it had never been a problem especially considering that I wasn’t extremely drunk right now. “Yes.” I answered and wanted to continue walking when Brendon grabbed my arm.
“If you want to drive while you’re drunk then you have to do it right.” He claimed and grinned like a little child who had gotten their most-wished present. “What…?” I wanted to ask but he just walked away into the other direction and I followed him because I was curious unfortunately. We walked around the casino and then I saw it. There was an extremely expensive looking car standing in the background so nobody would actually find it. I didn’t know anything about cars but even I could tell that this one costed more money than I would ever have in my whole life.
Brendon who at least wasn’t extremely wasted today took out the keys out of his pocket and looked at me. First I didn’t understand what he meant but then the realization kicked in and I almost laughed because the situation was just too ridiculous. “You want me to drive this car that costs more than normal houses?” I asked suspiciously but Brendon’s face remained serious. “What if we’ll have an accident? What if I trash this car? I would never be able to pay you the money back.” Something flared up in Brendon’s gaze but generally he remained dead-serious.
“I don’t care, Ryan. You wouldn’t have to pay me back, I swear.” He looked at me and even though I didn’t mean to I nodded. “So?” I looked at the keys he was offering me, then I looked at the immaculate care and eventually I looked at me counterpart again. And then I started grinning like the madmen I was and Brendon did too. We were like little boys who were about to do something forbidden and we were loving it.
I took the keys even though it was probably the worst decision I had ever made and then I opened the door. I had never even touched a car like that so the fact that I would actually drive one was overwhelming even for me. Brendon quickly explained me all the important things which he managed to do unbelievably well considering the alcohol that was running through his blood.
And then I started the engine feeling like the richest of the richest and forgetting who I actually was. I forgot who I was but I also forgot who Brendon was – not that I actually knew the latter. I drove out of the backyard and couldn’t help but smile the whole time. “Whereto?” I asked the other guy but he just shook his head smiling. The streets where almost empty at this time because most people were either already asleep or not yet awake.
I rushed through the city crossing all the things I knew and I felt like I was flying. “Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” The other guy claimed and I couldn’t disagree at all. I wondered why Brendon was like that now. Why would he let me drive his car and why would he let me do so many things? I thought about it and it didn’t make sense at all. But then I decided to just enjoy the moment because it was one I certainly wouldn’t forget so soon.
I overtook every car that crossed my way and realized that if I would’ve driven with my own car as usual I certainly would’ve be annoyed by the one who drove so fast. And now I was the one. It was one of these moments that could’ve lasted forever but eventually I stopped in front of my house because I had figured that this would probably be the destination of choice.
I wanted to get out of the car but Brendon grabbed my arm again. “Why are you like this?” He asked as if I was the one who was acting so weird lately. “Like what?” I asked back but he didn’t answer. Instead he just looked at me intensely and I felt like he was searching for something he probably wouldn’t find. “Why are you like this? I mean you’re definitely the one who is acting so weird here.” I stated and the other man sighed. But instead of answering he just got out of the car and shut the door.
While he was wandering to the driver’s side I realized that one part of me maybe possibly missed the Brendon I had gotten to know first. Sure, he was an arsehole and he was disgusting but maybe he was still better than that shallow of a person I now had in front of me. Where were the sarcastic, provoking comments? Where were all the annoying words that came out of his mouth?
Brendon opened the door at the driver’s side wearing a poker face and I was doing the same. Working in a casino had helped both of us perfect it. “Get out.” He demanded as if I had done something wrong. But if I had I couldn’t name it at all. I did as he had said because I didn’t have a choice anyways realizing that the magic moment was now over.
If someone would’ve told me a few weeks ago that I would’ve actually wanted to stay around Brendon longer than I actually needed to I wouldn’t have believed them for obvious reasons. But now this was the case and I wondered if it was just because of the car. I stepped away from the latter expecting Brendon to close the door and drive away eventually but then he turned towards me one last time.
“You will come later, right?” He asked and I didn’t understand what he meant. I didn’t need to work tomorrow and we hadn’t planned to meet up otherwise. “The party?” I still didn’t understand. “Oh, come on Ryan. Today is fucking New Year’s Eve and we are having a big party at my house.” And then I remembered it. I had heard him talk about it before but I hadn’t actually thought that I was invited.
“Will Spencer come?” I asked realizing that Brendon’s smile twitched for just a slight moment at the mention of his friend’s name. “Of course he will.” He answered a little bit too late and I wondered if this was true or if it was just a lie because – for some reason – Brendon wanted me there. “Can I bring Z too or is it another party that isn’t adequate for people like her?” “Z is gladly invited too.” Brendon eventually smiled at me as if nothing had happened before.
“OK, then we’ll gladly come.” I claimed but then I wondered where we would actually leave Lizzy when we were at a party. Wasn’t it kind of asocial to exclude ones child on New Year’s Eve? I didn’t know. The other guy shut the car door and eventually started the vehicle. As I watched how he drove away and then disappeared around the next corner I realized that he couldn’t be more misplaced in an area like that.
I stood at the same place for a few seconds but when I turned around to enter the house I perceived that one of my neighbors was looking at me through their window. It was the same woman whom I had seen several times while she had been working in her garden but now she was just standing behind the window looking at me shamelessly. There was a disapproving expression on her face and not that I actually would’ve cared but I wondered if it was because of the car and the person who had been here and because of the image I had conducted.
I shook my head grabbing my keys and just when I was entering the house I realized that my car was still standing in the parking lot of the casino. And then the realization that it was actually already the last day of the year kicked in and I wondered what I had actually done the whole time.

Chapter Text

“OK Lizzy. You’re going to stay with Linda and Jude today and spend a fun time with them. And if anything happens they will help you, alright?” Z told her daughter and the four year old nodded. It was time for Z and me to attend Brendon’s party and the latter certainly wasn’t a place for a child to be. Linda had suggested to look after Lizzy because she had claimed that she would look after her son anyways and we had greatly accepted the offer.
There weren’t many people our age who stayed at home on New Year’s Eve but it was probably because of Linda’s advanced pregnancy that she did. “Is it really OK that she’s going to stay here?” Z eventually asked the other woman who smiled at us. “Absolutely. I mean, I would’ve stayed either way. I can’t drink anything anyways so I won’t miss much.” Linda laughed and we did too. “And is it OK that I’m going to leave you alone, honey?” Spencer who wanted to come with us asked. He and his wife exchanged a quick look. “Yes, honey. Everything’s alright.” Linda eventually replied eventually looking away.
The word ‘honey’ sounded like the latter was frozen when both Spencer and Linda had pronounced it. I knew that they were having problems – not just financial ones but also marital ones – that was unmistakable at this point. I wondered if Z and I also looked like that when we were talking. Or where we able to conceal it better?
“Let’s go then.” I started to break the awful silence. “Again, thank you Linda for taking Lizzy.” She nodded and then closed the door. It was a cold day again completely fitting the atmosphere in general. I didn’t feel as if we were going to attend a party, just the way we all looked showed it. Especially Z looked stunning: She was wearing a classical black dress that was floor-length and a black coat on top of it. But because of the way she had put on accessories and makeup it didn’t look like a normal dress. Actually nothing looked normal on her.
Spencer and I had both chosen the casual black suit that would fit to such an occasion – actually it was the only suit I owned but because of that it looked all the more noble. “You look stunning, Z.” I exclaimed towards my wife and she looked at me for a quick second just as Linda had looked at Spencer before. “Thanks, Ryan.” She replied as if I was just some guy who wanted to flirt with her. I tried to ignore the bad atmosphere as we got into the car and started the vehicle.
I already knew the way to Brendon’s mansion by heart. I hadn’t been inside of the building that often but I had often joined the other man on a taxi trip when he had been drunk. As we arrived there I parked my car in front of the building feeling completely misplaced here. This morning Brendon hadn’t fit in my life and now I wasn’t fitting in his as usual.
The servant already welcomed us as we approached the building and then we got in. Even though I had been here before everything was still overwhelming for me. The way this building looked was so special and I was pretty sure that one wouldn’t find that again. “May I take you coat, ma’am.” The servant eventually asked Z and she nodded eventually taking it off.
Sometimes I wondered how it was possible that I wasn’t in love with this gorgeous human being because she was gorgeous from the outside and also from the inside. And even more I wondered how she could be in love with me. Love was a mystery I would never understand. Sometimes I even doubted that there was a thing called love. Had I ever been in love? I doubted so. Maybe it was all just an invention to make people feel better.
I started to wonder where everyone was but then Sarah and Brendon came walking down the stairs. He was holding her hand like she was a princess and she certainly did look like one. I didn’t even want to know how much the dress she was wearing had probably cost. Brendon though didn’t look bad either. He was wearing a golden suit showing everyone that he just could do that.
“You’re early.” He claimed and I glanced at my watch again that confirmed me that it was actually even five past eight. “You said that we’re supposed to come at eight pm, so here we are.” I responded and Brendon laughed. “Sweet Ryan. You’ve got so much to learn. Eight pm usually means eight thirty or even later. Nobody is on time these days.” I hated that this guy who was actually even younger than me acted like he was an adult and I was just a child.
“We can come back in thirty minutes.” I just said instead of freaking out but our host shook his head. “Don’t be ridiculous. Now, come in.” Brendon led us to the gigantic living room where everything was already decorated. Everyone was able to say that this certainly wasn’t a party for people of the middle class. That fact made me feel misplaced all over again. “Take what you want. There certainly is enough of anything.” Brendon eventually said pouring in vodka into glasses without even asking me.
I could see how Z looked at me curiously when Brendon gave me the shot. She was probably wondering how the other guy knew my drinking habits so well. But I ignored her and chugged the liquid feeling a satisfaction that I almost couldn’t live without anymore. I had never wanted to become a mirage of my father but in this moment I realized that I maybe had started to become him already.
“Did you manage to sleep a little bit?” Brendon asked me as he poured more of the liquid into glasses. It seemed as if he wanted to make me drunk but I didn’t protest. "Barely.” I eventually replied because it was true. I had slept about two hours the last night because thoughts had kept me awake the whole until I had eventually giving up the thought of getting more sleep. Brendon nodded and we chugged another shot down. I knew that I shouldn’t drink so much so fast and even less should Brendon but it was New Year’s Eve and wasn’t that the best excuse to get wasted?
At some point other guests started to enter the room but I barely noticed them and I felt like Brendon didn’t either. Sometime I started to wonder where Spencer was but I didn’t want to search him. Maybe he had met someone. “Ryan, Brendon!” I suddenly heard someone scream and as I turned around I saw that it was Dallon who also looked like he wasn’t completely sober anymore. “I love both of you so much, especially you, Ryan. You’re so cute.” I chocked on the liquid and accidentally spit it all on Brendon’s golden suit. Expecting him to freak out I already prepared an argument but he just laughed it off.
I wasn’t cute. I wasn’t hot, I wasn’t nice, I wasn’t wise, but most of all I wasn’t cute. Anything but that. I wondered how it was possible that Dallon’s personality changed so much when he was drunk and I wondered if he was ashamed as hell when he woke up the next morning being hungover. “And you are…” I searched for a word that would neither insult nor please the tall guy. “Interesting.” I eventually replied knowing that one only said that when something or someone was weird. Dallon looked at me offended but I ignored it consequently.
Eventually the tall guy left and continued to tell other people how much he loved them. It certainly was a game with fire he was playing there because surely not any man liked to hear such things from another man and I doubted that many would overlook the fact that Dallon was extremely drunk. Even Brendon was everything but the elegant man in the golden suit at this point. I realized that I had already gotten drunk so often together with him that I exactly knew how to handle him.
I had a look at all the fancy-appearing people and wondered if even Brendon sometimes felt like he didn’t really belong here. After all he came from a middle class family himself. I also wondered if he still talked to them and what they thought of him today.
Z approached us with a disapproving expression on her face and I sighed. I had brought her here today because I had wanted her to have fun for a change but apparently it wasn’t working. “Don’t you think it’s enough, Ryan?” She asked as if she was my mother. I wondered where the happy fun-loving Z was at this point. “No, I don’t.” I replied laughing and Brendon started to laugh too. My wife looked at the other guy and she didn’t hide that she didn’t like him. Then I realized that I didn’t like Brendon either so why did I spent so much time with him? And where the hell was Spencer?
“Actually Z, do you know where Spencer is? Or Dallon or Sarah?” I realized that everybody I knew wasn’t in the same room as we were. Z shook her head. “I haven’t seen any of them.” Brendon laughed even though there was no reason to. He was probably just too drunk and was laughing because of everything. Both Z and I ignored him. “Come on Z. Have some fun! It’s New Year’s Eve. You know, a new year is coming. New chances, new life, whatever.”
“You know that it’s not working like that.” Z replied. No, I knew that but there was a noticeable amount of vodka running through my blood and I just wanted to help her. We looked at each other and there was a desperation in Z’s eyes that shocked me because I knew that neither of us could really do anything about it. And then there was the moment where her attitude changed. She said “Fuck it.” And grabbed a shot Brendon had just refilled only to chug it like we had done the whole time. “There she is.” I claimed smiling and Z returned my smile even though I doubted that it was a real one.
“So what were you two talking about the whole time?” My wife then asked. Yeah, what have we actually talked about? Dallon had called me cute which was just ridiculous and Brendon… I didn’t even know what I was supposed to think about him. “You know, things.” I replied which wasn’t a real answer but my mind couldn’t think about anything better. “Yeah sure, I know.” Z replied chugging another shot in a considerable velocity.
There was an awkward silence and I thought that it was sad that it had only gotten awkward when Z had approached us. My own wife had made everything awkward. “Oh, Sarah is over there.” The latter claimed after some time and literally ran away like we were villains who wanted to harm here. I followed her with my eyes and saw Brendon’s wife sitting at the top of the table seeming impatient. I realized that we actually hadn’t eaten yet. Normally a there was food first at a party so it was actually weird.
“Brendon, don’t you think that we should eat at this point. All the people seem to be waiting.” I offered because now that I really looked around the room it really seemed so. Brendon looked at me intensely and for a second I thought that he would protest but eventually he gave in. I realized how strange it was that he had only been talking to me until now. What about his other guests? What about Spencer? Where the hell was that guy?
The host approached the table taking a champagne flute and a fork. Then he bumped the latter against the glass to get everyone’s attention. Almost immediately everybody stopped talking and I realized that Brendon could conceal his drunkenness pretty well. “Hello everyone. I’m glad that you have all come here today.” I honestly doubted that. “I would say that we the buffet is open for everyone now. We shall eat.” Brendon smiled and it seemed like everyone expected him to say something further but when he didn’t some people started to take their plates to approach the buffet. I was glad that at least there was one and that we wouldn’t be served. I had always preferred self-service if I had to be honest.
I was slightly overchallenged by the decision where I was supposed to sit down. It seemed like there already were groups of people who were sitting together. Sarah was sitting next to Z and there wasn’t another free space. “You can sit next to me.” Dallon, who had apparently seen how lost I was offered and I gladly accepted the offer. The tall guy had chosen a place at the middle of the long table and I chose on of the few free ones left on his right side. There was a woman sitting on my right side who was covered with way too much make up, also her dress looked like she had wanted it to look gallant but in the end it just looked like trash. But maybe that was a trend. What did I know?
“So, what were you and Brendon talking about the whole time?” Dallon eventually asked and I searched for some emotion in his face but couldn’t find it. “Are you jealous?” I whispered realizing that his poker face twitched for just a second but I had noticed it. I didn’t know what kind of relationship he and Brendon actually had but maybe it was better if I didn’t anyways.
“We’re not… I mean…” Dallon started to explain but couldn’t really find the right words. “Brendon has a wife and Ryan, we’re two guys. I’m not jealous because the thing between us isn’t… I would never be jealous. People like us aren’t. We just can’t be, you understand?” I nodded. Maybe I actually did understand. And maybe I even pitied Dallon a little bit.
“I guess we should probably grab something from the buffet before everything will be gone.” I eventually stated because I had realized that most people had already started eating while we were still sitting at the table with empty plates in front of us. Dallon nodded, now grinning again and I wondered how it was possible that his mood changed constantly. In one moment he managed to be dead serious even when he was drunk but most of the time he was just silly and acting completely ridiculous.
I grabbed almost everything from the buffet until nothing fit on my plate anymore because I had realized how hungry I actually was. I had always been the type of person who got to the buffet only once with an overcrowded plate instead of going twice or thrice. Dallon and I were the last ones to sit down but eventually started eating too. I couldn’t even name everything on my plate but I could say that all the things were extremely delicious.
I was already full when the servants started to clear away the treats and eventually started to bring out the dessert. This evening would be the death of me in so many aspects. I started to laugh leaving the woman with too much makeup next to me confused and Dallon rose and eyebrow. “What’s so funny, Ryan?” “I don’t know… I mean, can you believe this evening?” I realized that it probably wasn’t as unusual for Dallon as it was for me but still continued talking. "I mean I would’ve never even dreamed about being invited to such a party where only rich people are. I just feel like I don’t belong, you know?”
Dallon looked at me seriously and I wondered why he wasn’t the ‘I love you’ drunk he usually was in that moment. I definitely would’ve preferred the latter over a serious conversation but then I realized that I had been the one who had started this whole topic. “You’re not the only middle class person here. Spencer isn’t rich and neither am I.”
I looked at the tall guy realizing that I barely really knew anything about him but no person would tell another their whole life story just at the beginning of their acquaintance. He probably didn’t know much about me either.
“I thought you had already figured.” Dallon continued eventually. “I mean that I’m not rich. I’m as normal as you, at least considering the amount of money we have.” Dallon laughed but it sounded rather desperately than like he would actually enjoy this moment. “I’ve met Brendon because I had worked in one of his casinos almost two years ago. He had just begun to build his whole empire and I was shocked that a 21 year old had actually managed to reach so much already. But then I had actually seen him – my boss, Brendon Urie – and I had understood it. He was so smart, was able to twist all the people around his finger and I knew that he would become even more successful eventually. I knew that I needed to know him more.” Dallon paused for a moment and I realized that scattered guests already started to approach the buffet for the dessert. I certainly wanted to hear the story first.
“So I have worked at the bar of that casino back then. Sounds familiar, right? Anyways, at some point Brendon had started to come down there to get drunk and we had started talking to each other. First it was just casual things but eventually we had started to talk about more meaningful things too and then…” Dallon laughed shamelessly. “You know, one thing has led to another and eventually we have done stuff.” The way how Dallon had said that sounded so normal. I had never actually thought that two mean could fuck each other. Sex had always been a thing between a man and a woman and surely I had heard stories about misguided people but I had never actually heard someone talking about physical sex with the same sex. How did that work anyways? And was it even real sex? I decided I preferred rather not to know.
“Oh my goodness, Ryan. Your face. Please tell me that you won’t have a heart attack here.” Dallon said laughing but I just shook my head. “I’m not going to tell you. I know that you’ve just asked yourself how that works but I’m certainly not going to tell you.” The tall guy just couldn’t stop laughing and I couldn’t help but blush like a little girl who had heard the word ‘sex’ for the first time in her life.
“That’s not what I’ve thought.” I claimed but my face definitely betrayed me. “No, it’s not!” I said more intense but eventually I started to laugh too. Who would have thought that I would sit here on New Year’s Eve when the New Year was less than two hours away and talk with another guy about homosexuality?
The latter had obviously been a thing I had heard of but I had never really cared about it to be honest. I didn’t understand it for sure but because I didn’t I also thought that I didn’t have the right to judge people. But I certainly didn’t understand why everyone hated these people so much? Why couldn’t everyone leave them alone? No, instead homosexuality was claimed to be a mental illness and when exposed the innocent people were being arrested and had to go through conversion therapy which was completely ridiculous. I constantly wondered what was wrong with our society.
“You have to be more careful, Dallon. The one time where I have caught you and Brendon or generally the way you mostly act when you’re drunk… It’s pretty obvious in general.” I looked at him seriously realizing that we were again the last ones to get food but the latter didn’t matter in this moment. “How am I acting when I’m drunk?” The tall guy eventually asked and I looked at him intensely. “I think that you know that pretty well.” I claimed which made Dallon sigh.
“I have to be honest with you. I tend to have a mental blackout the next day because when I get drunk I get extremely wasted and it just happens. It’s actually kind of creepy that I can’t remember so many moments.” I nodded wondering if Dallon would remember that conversation tomorrow. “But I’ve been told. Yeah, Ryan, I know that I have to be more careful, I know that.” He sighed. “I just hate it. I hate it so much and you can’t imagine how it is.” No, I definitely couldn’t.
I nodded feeling that this was the only thing I could do nowadays instead of actually giving plausible answers. Suddenly Dallon took his plate approaching the buffet and I knew that I had no choice but to follow him. Of course the things that I would’ve preferred were already gone but I took what I could get realizing that Brendon’s gaze laid on me curiously. The host was involved in a conversation but nevertheless looking in our direction – maybe it was just Dallon he was looking at.
“You coming?” The latter now asked ignoring Brendon’s look. They were both acting way too obvious which made me wonder how nobody else in the room noticed that there was something else going on between them. Maybe it was because nobody really watched out for the details. Nobody would’ve thought that a person like Brendon Urie would be involved with another man.
I realized that I had been standing at the same space awkwardly for too long and eventually followed Dallon back to our places. Actually I had lost my appetite at some point but I ate anyways. First of all the food was way too tasty and I unique and second of all it would have been weird if I would have been the only person who wouldn’t have eaten the dessert. I realized that maybe the enormous amount of food we were all eating now repressed the drunkenness a little bit because the stomach was actually filled with something real. By all means Dallon seemed to act more normal.
“Do you still want that?” Dallon asked me after I hadn’t moved my hand to eat anything for maybe a minute. I looked down at the plate to see something I couldn’t really identify there but even thought this something looked delicious I didn’t want to eat anymore. I shook my head. “Actually, no.” I replied carelessly and Dallon nodded happily. “Well, I don’t think that you’ll have a problem with me taking this delicious tiramisu then? I had wanted to try it anyways.” The tall guy asked me but he didn’t even wait for an answer. He just took his fork to eat from my plate.
“What the hell are you doing?” I tried to whisper but the sound that came out was much louder. “What do you mean?” Dallon replied and I could barely understand him because his mouth was full with the dish. “Dallon, what the fuck.” I just stated not being able to believe what the other guy was doing here. What would the other people think? It certainly wasn’t a normal thing if one guy ate from another guy’s plate while the wife of the latter sat at one end of the table.
I looked around to realize that nobody had actually noticed what Dallon had done. Maybe I had just been overreacting. Maybe it hadn’t been that big of a deal. I just shook my head as Dallon took the last bite but then I had to start laughing. Maybe it was because of the alcohol that was already flooding through my blood or maybe it was just because of how ridiculous the situation itself was but I had started and then I just couldn’t stop laughing. It was always like that: The extreme emotions always overrun someone in the most unfitting situations.
I realized that it was now me who caught people’s attention and not Dallon before. The woman with to much makeup interrupted her conversation with the man next to her to turn around and I felt like everybody in the whole room was looking at me. There was nothing I hated more than to be the center of attention but know my worst dream had come true again.
“Ryan, calm down. Nobody is looking at you. Nobody cares.” Dallon cared worry visible in his eyes. But I knew that it wasn’t true. I was able to see their looks, their disapproval, maybe even their hate. I shook my head trying to ignore it but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. It was too much. I stood up practically running out of the room and barely realizing that the chair fell to the ground.
I approached the porch and that was when I felt it. The nausea came so fast that I barely managed to reach the railing to lean over it. I depleted probably my whole stomach and the only thing I did while throwing up was thinking about all the delicious food that would lay on the ground eventually. Just when I thought that it was over another wave came out of my body and I held my stomach because it hurt. Nobody ever talked about how exhausting throwing up actually was.
I stood up straight again trying to get back the control over my body when I realized that someone was standing in the shadows. “Better now?” Brendon asked me seriously, no sign of amusement in his face. I nodded not being able to talk yet. “Has this happened before?” The host eventually added and I laughed listless. “Throwing up? Yeah, it certainly has.” “No Ryan, not throwing up. I mean has it happened before that you freaked out so much that you actually felt sick?”
I looked at the other guy trying not to appear like I was either a little boy or an alcoholic. But maybe I was a mixture of both. “Sure. I guess. I mean, maybe? I think.” I stammered not knowing what my point actually was. Brendon nodded. “I think that this has been a panic attack, Ryan.” I shook my head. “However Ryan, I really think that you have just had a panic attack.” I continued to deny it but then I actually thought about it. Brendon couldn’t be right, couldn’t he? I certainly wasn’t one to get panic attacks. Sure, I didn’t like to be the center of attention and I always got a little bit nervous but this hadn’t been a panic attack. I had probably just eating something wrong or maybe even drank too much but everything was OK now.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Brendon.” I replied forcing a smile on my face that felt so wrong in front of the other guy. “I’m OK. Throwing up is something that happens to people sometimes.” I claimed but Brendon’s facial expression didn’t twitch. “Sure.” He eventually replied though not sounding convinced at all. “I’m going to call someone so they will clean up this mess you made.” I wanted to tell him that I didn’t want his servants to clean up my vomit but then Brendon had already reentered the house and I was standing on the porch by myself.
Eventually I decided to get back inside to because I wanted to scour out my mouth. At least I hadn’t puked on my clothes. That would’ve been both disgusting and embarrassing. I approached the toilet located on the first floor and met no other person but Z there. Of course the universe hated me. My wife came out of the bathroom looking as gorgeous as ever and I could definitely how her expression changed when she saw me eventually.
“Are you okay, Ryan?” She asked worried and I nodded. Was I okay? No, I was everything but okay. I felt like shit but she didn’t need to know. I forced another smile on my face trying to strengthen my statement but even Brendon hadn’t believed my life so Z would even less. I knew that she didn’t believe me but neither of us said anything about it.
Just when I wanted to enter the bathroom myself Z began to talk again. “Listen Ryan, Sarah and some other ladies wanted to go celebrate the New Year later but, you know, ladies only. They have invited me and I wanted to tell you. Just wanted you to know that.” She turned around to leave me but I stopped her by grabbing her arm. “When do you want to go?” I asked curiously. “In like half an hour. We still wanted to stay until the New Year is officially heralded but then we wanted to go at some point. And by the way Ryan, you smell like shit.”
I ignored her last comment. “Wait, how late is it already?” “It’s 11:40.” My wife claimed. Where the hell did the time run to again? The New Year would already start in like twenty minutes and I wasn’t ready at all. Or maybe I was too ready. I actually didn’t know. “So, where are you going to sleep?” I then asked feeling like a parent who was asking their teenage daughter because they were too worried. But I wasn’t worried. Z was a mature, independent woman for sure.
“Probably here, I guess.” Her look seemed to say ‘You don’t care anyways.’ and maybe she was a little bit right. I surely had been an arsehole of a husband lately. “So you can take the car if you want. But I wouldn’t recommend that when you’re drunk.” She didn’t look into my eyes but I could tell that she didn’t approve of my drinking habits and I couldn’t blame her if I had to be honest. I nodded eventually because there was actually nothing left to say between us. “Have fun. And if we don’t see each other in a bit ‘Happy New Year’!” I tried to sound enthusiastically but I knew that I failed. “Yeah Ryan, Happy New Year.” Z didn’t look at me. Instead she just turned around and walked away leaving me confused. The New Year was coming way too fast but also way too slow. I didn’t know if I wanted it or not but one thing was sure: There were only about twenty minutes left of 1953.
I entered the bathroom eventually flushing out my mouth when Brendon surprised me again. Why was it that the younger man always appeared in the most inconvenient situations? “You can take the toothbrush in the small cupboard.” He stated. “You know, to get rid of the disgusting taste in your mouth.” I nodded eventually doing as he had offered because it seemed like a good idea.
I searched for the toothbrush and eventually found it next to a package of condoms. It could’ve been an uncomfortable situation but Brendon either didn’t see it or he didn’t care about it. I quickly closed the door of the small cupboard and started to brush my teeth realizing that the other guy was still standing there. “Is there something else?” I asked with the brush in my mouth. This situation was way too intimate. It wasn’t right that Brendon was seeing me in such a daily moment like that.
He eventually shook his head. “No, actually.” There was an awkward silence in which I continued to brush and wondered why the other guy was just standing there. But then he still said something else. “Isn’t it weird, Ryan? We know each other for – what? – ten weeks now but don’t you feel like it is much longer? Don’t you feel like we already know each other for years?” I stopped doing what I was doing for a moment and looked at Brendon intensely. His face was only half-visible because he was standing sideways in the doorframe and the bathroom lamp barely offered enough light. Because of the shadows he seemed to be much older than he actually was but even without them he did. If I didn’t know better I would’ve guessed that he was probably thirtyish.
It was a moment I certainly would remember for a long time: Him standing there in the doorframe and me standing at the sink brushing my teeth after I had thrown up. “Yes Brendon, I know what you mean.” I eventually replied and he nodded. I felt the same but still, he was a riddle I would never solve for me. All of this was beyond my mind.
I spit out the disgusting taste in my mouth feeling like I was a brand new person. I realized that I was actually sober now because I had thrown up all the alcohol or at least most of it. That would probably be my first start into the New Year where I wasn’t extremely wasted.
“What are you thinking, Ryan?” Brendon whispered. We were both standing there now neither of us actually doing something anymore. I wondered what Z would’ve thought about this situation if she knew what was going on here. “Stop caring about what other people think.” The other guy added as if he was actually able to read my thoughts.
“I just thought how funny it is that I’m kind of sober now on New Year’s Eve. Isn’t that a sin or something?” I laughed and Brendon did too. “Believe me” he then stated “I come from a Mormon family and I can tell you that it’s everything but a sin to be sober.” He continued laughing but I wasn’t anymore. “I didn’t know that.” I whispered realizing that there was still so much I didn’t know about the other guy.
“Sure you didn’t.” Brendon just returned not telling me further things about his past. But he didn’t need to. Because if he would tell me his life story he certainly would’ve wanted me to tell him mine at some point. That was how people were working and I didn’t know if I was ready for that at this point.
“Well, then should we go downstairs? There are actually only” He glanced at his watch “eight minutes left until the year’s over. 1954, yeah.” He sounded a little bit too enthusiastic but I didn’t mention that. I went out of the bathroom knowing that Brendon would follow me. Brendon Urie who had more than my family probably had had in the last twenty generations. I didn’t know. I didn’t want to think. Not now, not ever.
“Just a question… do the other people now…?” I asked embarrassed. “You mean that you threw up? No, why would they? Do you really think that I would tell that someone?” Brendon looked seriously confused and I already regretted to having asked that question. I just shrugged and eventually we entered the room where my misery had begun that evening.
Almost immediately Dallon approached us looking at me worried. I wondered if it was a good thing that two guys seemed to care about me while my wife was some place I didn’t know but it probably wasn’t. Still, I wouldn’t complain. “Honestly guys, why are you like that now?” I blurted out but immediately regretted having asked that. Both Dallon and Brendon looked at me as if I was an alien and I certainly felt like one.
“Like what?” Brendon eventually replied but I didn’t know how to put my feelings into words. Why were they so nice when they were drunk or generally why did they seem to care about me? I felt like we hadn’t had the best start and because of that I wondered if both of them were just pretending now or if they really meant everything.
I didn’t answer but Brendon still couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “Honestly Ryan, if you think that we’re just pretending like all the other people maybe do than you’re wrong. You’re an arsehole, yeah, but I would never pretend to do anything I don’t like. I ain’t got the time or patience to be someone else and Dallon doesn’t either.” He looked at me seriously and I tried to trivialize the situation by laughing which of course didn’t work.
But then someone said “Happy New Year 1954!” and I was released because everyone started to congratulate everyone else. I wondered why people were actually congratulating each other when a new year had started. Maybe it was because one had survived another year or maybe it was because so many thought that a new year was also a new beginning which it wasn’t really.
“Happy New Year, Brendon. Happy New Year, Dallon.” I said smiling because both men were still standing next to me. Brendon’s intense gaze pierced through my soul and when he said “Happy New Year, Ryan.” the only thing I could think about was if he really meant what he had said before because for some reason I wanted Brendon Urie to like me.

Chapter Text

“George. What do you plan to do when school is over? You certainly won’t sit at home and do nothing.” The woman asked me before she put a big slice of pizza into her mouth. I didn’t mention that I certainly wasn’t the one who was sitting at home the whole day. Both monsters I had to live with weren’t working and I realized how unfair it actually was that they still managed to afford pizza with their unemployment benefits.
I shook my head signalizing my displeasure. “Don’t worry. I won’t stay here after school.” I just answered standing up from the table because I didn’t want to talk to a person who didn’t care about me at all. She just wanted me to leave this house and that was probably the only thing we had in common. There was nothing I wanted more than to leave this hell and I knew that I would do anything to accomplish that.
“So what do you want to do?” The woman continued to ask. “I’m going to work any place possible. It doesn’t matter.” I claimed and she looked at me malicious. “Bentley certainly would’ve gone to college.” At some pointed she had started to talk about the brother I had never had like my father and even though the latter had never had the chance to live I hated him more than everything. Well, maybe the two monsters topped it.
“Yeah, and with which money would Bentley go to college?” I asked provokingly and saw that the woman’s cheeks turned red. “We would’ve managed it.” She said warningly and I couldn’t help but laugh. And that was the moment where everything escalated.
The first punch hit me right in my stomach and I almost choked. I heard her laugh like she would be miles away but I knew that she was still standing next to me. I calmed down slowly and did something I hadn’t done before – I hit her back.
Because the moment of surprise was on my side I was lucky enough to strike the punch. Adding to that I had also gotten older and stronger over the course of time. She held her stomach in a way that looked like she was pregnant but I knew that she wasn’t fortunately. People said that one shouldn’t punch women but everybody new that this wasn’t a woman and I thought that there could be made an exception in this case.
I aimed for her face the second time wanting to see blood. And I was lucky enough. Her nose was bleeding and maybe it was even broken. I wasn’t a sadistic person actually but as she was laying there feeling all the pain I had felt the majority of my life I felt the biggest satisfaction I had ever felt before. Still, I didn’t want to kill her.
I ran upstairs and locked up my room. Then I took my emergency bag I had packed two years ago when I had only been fifteen. Somehow I had always known that I would need it someday – that I would run away. I had never actually thought about staying here after I turned eighteen and now the desired age was only a few months away.
I checked the room quickly to see if I really had the most important things and when I realized that I did I opened the window. It was a cold night, actually it was freezing and I would probably die before I would’ve reached Roger’s parents’ house but death was certainly better than living in this shithole any longer.
I heard the screams of the woman and realized that she was rattling at the door like a mad person but I knew that she wouldn’t wax me today. Not anymore and not ever again. Even though everything was so fucked up a slight smile sneaked on my face. I heaved myself out of the window landing on the stem which was fortunately located in front of my window. Then I grabbed the bag and tried to keep the balance while going over the stem. Eventually I jumped down at a place where the distance to the ground wasn’t so big and then I was free.
Roger and I had talked about that before – he knew how my situation at home was and his parents had decided that I could stay with them for a while if the worst case would happen. And that certainly was the worst case. If my father would see that I had beaten up his lady he certainly would kill me and I decided that if I needed to die I didn’t want to be killed by own father – I wouldn’t give him that satisfaction.
Roger lived at the other end of the city and even though the shithole I lived in wasn’t big one realized that it was bigger than expected when one had to walk through the whole place.
I had met Roger almost one year ago when he had moved here and we had immediately gotten along with each other really good. He would never ever replace Jon – nobody would – but still, he was a good friend and I was glad that I had a place to stay now. I knew that I would never find anyone like Jon again. There was only one person in a million who was like my deceased friend and to find another one was almost impossible. Instead I knew that I had to settle with other people and I wouldn’t complain because Roger was great. Roger was really great, he just wasn’t Jon.
I shook my head trying to stop thinking about my best friend who was now dead for almost one and a half years which was still unbelievable. It felt like yesterday when we had laughed with each other and it certainly felt like a dream when his mother had told me that he wasn’t alive anymore.
I didn’t realize that a car approached me. Just when someone said my name I came back to the reality eventually. First I thought that it was the monster, that she had come back to bring me back to where they would probably kill me but then I recalled her voice and the voice I was hearing now was definitely way too soft to belong to the monster.
I turned around and saw that Z had stopped next to me. The streets were almost empty because nobody left their houses here when it started to get dark. This whole town was way too boring. “Hey Z.” I greeted her and she nodded. “Do you maybe want to get in? I wanted to visit Roger.” She claimed and I saw her sparkling eyes in the in the dusk. “Actually, that’s my destination too.” I replied and eventually got into the car.
Roger’s girlfriend was actually lucky enough to own a car by herself. It wasn’t big or fancy but at least it was her own. Everything that belonged to me was stuffed into the bag that I had placed on my crotch. Z looked at it curiously but she didn’t ask why I carried it along with me and I was thankful for that. “So, are you going to stay the night?” I eventually asked her and she blushed. “No, Ryan, what the hell? My parents would never allow that.”
I laughed. “But they allow you to drive through the city at a time like that?” She looked abashed. “Not exactly.” I laughed again because I loved her attitude. Most girls were so obedient and calm and would’ve never even thought about something that was against the rules. But Z just did it. “What about you, actually?” She eventually replied which left me confused first. But then I understood that she wanted to know why I was lurking in the streets at this time.
“I guess I’m doing the same as you.” I replied swerving. I didn’t know Z well enough to tell her the truth at this point. Z quickly glanced at me and I saw that she knew that this wasn’t really the truth but she kept her mouth shut. We hadn’t reached that level of trust yet.
“Roger’s parents will be surprised.” I claimed smiling but my friend’s girlfriend shook her head. “I don’t think that they will be, to be honest. You know how they are.” Yes, I knew how they were. Roger’s parents were everything one could have wished for in a father and a mother. They were caring, protective, but not too protective because they still allowed their son much and they did almost everything for the latter.
Still, my friend constantly complained about them which was completely unintelligible for me. But it was probably just when you didn’t have something or when you had lost something that you fully realized how lucky you had been and what you didn’t have.
“I’m not stupid, OK?” Z eventually started and I wondered where she wanted to get at. “I never said that you were. Actually you’re pretty smart.” She laughed listlessly and then continued talking. “I know that there’s something wrong with your father. I know that he’s beating you up. I can see the bruises. Maybe you are trying to hide them but I have always seen them.” I wasn’t able to say a word. I had thought that I was able to hide my injuries pretty well but apparently I hadn’t. Had anyone else noticed or was it just Z who was so observant?
“Don’t worry, Ryan. One only notices when one sees you regularly like I do.” She reassured me and tried to smile. “But let’s be honest here. I don’t think that you’ll return home tonight. I don’t think that you’ll ever return home again, am I right?” I looked at her while Z concentrated on the road which was empty as if everybody else was dead. As if we were the only two persons left on this planet.
“Yeah, you’re right.”
*** “Ryan. Ryan!” Someone called me and I came back to the reality. The first thing that I saw was Brendon’s concerned expression. And then I realized that I was laying on the floor of the stockroom for some reason. “What the hell?” I exclaimed confused realizing that my boss was kneeling in front of me. “Yeah, what the hell? You fell asleep, Ross!” He appeared so serious and that was when I realized that after all we’ve gone through he was still my boss.
“I could fire you.” Brendon continued which made me smirk. “And I could expose you.” There we were again, blackmailing each other because we both could. “We’re stuck here.” Brendon eventually analyzed and I nodded. “We are.” “I guess I won’t fire you then. But” He looked at me warningly. “Don’t fall asleep again or…” He started thinking about a menace but couldn’t find one. “Or what, Brendon? You can’t actually do anything.” My boss attempted to leave the room but turned around again to look at me concerned.
“But honestly Ryan, are you OK?” He asked and I nodded. “Yeah, I just didn’t sleep well last night.” I replied which was only half the truth. Brendon shrugged eventually leaving the room for good. Just when he was gone I realized that he didn’t take what he wanted out of the stockroom. I didn’t even know what I myself had wanted here anymore.
I thought about the dream I had had and wondered how it was possible that I had dreamt something like that laying on the floor. Actually my dreams were always rather memories. Maybe they were twisted a little bit but generally pretty accurate. The night I had in my mind had probably been one of the best ones of my life. I had felt like I could do anything by myself. Of course life had thrown me to the ground eventually but everything past the time where I had lived at my father’s was better.
I shook my head trying not to think about the past again. That was something I was doing way too often. A quick look at my watch showed me that it was already half past three which meant that my work shift would be over soon. How long had I actually laid here?
I stood up too quickly which caused a pain in my head. Maybe it was because of the alcohol I had drunk before. As I got back to the bar I saw that Pete was there inspecting me intensely. “You have been gone for almost 40 minutes. It wasn’t even time to take a break.” He claimed a mixture of anger and concern on his face. “Why didn’t you search me then?” I asked confused. “I figured that you probably have a good reason to disappear for so long. Did you have?” I shrugged looking abashed and the other guy shook his head. “What the hell is wrong with you lately?” I didn’t know. I couldn’t tell him because I didn’t know myself. I knew that I was acting irrationally recently but I couldn’t do anything about it when I didn’t know the reason.
I shrugged my shoulders again. “You’re unbelievable.” Pete claimed eventually and continued to clean a glass which he had done before. But we couldn’t continue to talk fortunately because a customer approached the bar and I had to serve him. One could always see the difference between the bar in the hotel and the bar in the casino. While there were also some normal people in the first one everyone here was wearing a suit and I would bet on everyone being really rich. Rich people could afford to spend their whole night here. Rich people could afford almost anything.
Pete and I continued to work next to each other but we didn’t talk to each other anymore. There was nothing to be said between us anymore. There wasn’t for months now. I looked around the room and realized that Patrick was talking to Brendon. I wondered why my actual boss was here, especially at a time like that. In that moment he returned my look and eventually he came to the bar. “Hey guys.” He greeted but both Pete and I just nodded as a response.
“How’s it going?” Our boss continued awkwardly. Patrick might be a smart business man but he had never been good at small talk and one could feel that now. I realized that I actually wasn’t good at small talk either. “Everything’s fine.” Pete eventually responded but it didn’t sound like it was. Patrick nodded. “Listen guys, Brendon and I have talked about something before. If it’s okay for you, Ryan, he wants you to work here every day so you won’t have to work at the hotel anymore. And Pete, you would only work at the hotel instead like it used to be.” The guy looked at us apologetically and my eyes searched Brendon. Eventually they found him sitting on a sofa. His face was half covered by the shadows but I still could recognize the malicious grin on his face.
“So, what do you say, Ryan?” Patrick asked more urgent and I realized that I had lost myself again. “No. I mean yes. Yeah, that’s okay.” I responded because I knew that I had no choice. And actually I enjoyed working here because I had something to blackmail Brendon with. Maybe a small part of me even enjoyed his presence at this point but if it was like that the part was really, really small.
“Fantastic.” Patrick just said and then he turned around to tell Brendon the wonderful news. “I guess we won’t see each other anymore then.” I told Pete because the realization was slowly kicking in. “I guess we won’t.” My former friend replied and I realized that there was some kind of sadness in his voice. It was the kind of sadness you felt when you knew that there was nothing you could do. Sometimes things were just over but that didn’t change the fact that one was sad about that. And I certainly could relate to how Pete felt.
“Let’s close this shithole.” Brendon who was actually sober for a change screamed through the whole place and I realized that it was already 4 am. It was incredible how fast time flew by. Even in episodes where I thought that it would never pass I always ended up wondering where all the time was. Where all the days, weeks, months and years had gone.
Now already two weeks of 1954 were over even though I felt like the quaint New Year’s Eve had only been the day before. “I guess that’s it then.” Pete said awkwardly and I nodded not being able to talk in this moment. Pete was usually an extroverted person who always knew what to say but even he seemed to struggle to find words now. “Maybe we can still like see each other?” I whispered and my former friend nodded even though we both knew that this wouldn’t happen. Not after everything that had happened.
“Come here.” Pete then said unexpectedly and hugged me really quick. I didn’t even have the chance to return the hug because it was over as fast as it had begun. My colleague looked at me one last time until he abruptly turned around and walked away. He left the casino without turning around again and I couldn’t blame him.
Sometimes it just wasn’t the right time for two people to be in each other’s life or maybe even not the right life. The thought of a parallel universe where Pete and I would get along with each other very good calmed me down a little bit because somehow I knew that I would never see Peter Lewis Kingston Wentz III again in this life. But in another.
“What the hell was that about?” Brendon who had apparently watched us asked amused. But his expression changed when he saw mine. I certainly wasn’t amused at all. “It doesn’t matter.” I responded roughly because I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to talk or think about anything anymore. I just wanted to lay in my bed the whole day and write and listen to music and forget everything around me. But that was not how life worked unfortunately.
“No it does. What…?” Brendon tried to get an answer again but I interrupted him. “I said that it doesn’t matter so can you please leave it like that?” We looked at each other and my boss looked defiant but eventually he gave in. “Are you coming then?” He said instead of asking further and I nodded.
If someone would’ve told me when I had met Brendon Urie, the rich, snobbish, fucking arsehole he was, that I would voluntarily enter the same came as him and that I would regularly spend time with him I would’ve laughed at that person because it would’ve been too ridiculous. But now Brendon and I had developed a relationship I couldn’t yet identify but it certainly wasn’t a normal boss-employee-relationship.
I had usually walked to the hotel I had been working in because the latter wasn’t far away from where I lived but the casino was obviously located at the Las Vegas strip which was really far away. I either had the possibility to take my own car or to drive with Brendon which I definitely preferred because like that I was saving money for gas. I knew that all my coworkers whom I didn’t really know hated me because I had such a good relationship to the boss but at this point I had crossed the line where I would care what they think.
Brendon and I closed the casino after I had realized that we were actually the only ones left and I realized how weird this situation actually was. I had gotten to know the other guy outside of his job and because of that I often forgot that he was actually my boss but when I realized it again it was just weird that he was treating me so differently. Maybe it was also because I hadn’t worked for him yet when we had met each other.
“Let’s go.” The younger guy exclaimed when he had finished locking up and as he was standing there in the dim lights of the lantern that was located a few feet next to us I realized how good-looking he actually was. I had never thought that Brendon Urie was ugly because I had never actually thought about how he looked. But now I couldn’t help but deny that he certainly was a beautiful human being. And that was just a fact, not a sign of attraction.
“What is it, Ryan?” Brendon whispered and I realized that I had probably looked at him for one minute straight. “It’s nothing.” I replied desperately trying to find another topic to talk about. “Can you see all these stars at the sky? Aren’t they wonderful?” I asked but when I looked up there weren’t any as usual. Brendon looked up and nodded. “Yeah. Where was Ursa Major again?” He replied and I was happy that he still remembered that night. Unlike Dallon Brendon didn’t suffer from amnesia usually when he was wasted.
I showed him the fictional place where the constellation was supposed to be located and he listened seriously as if it was really there on the sky. “Let’s go for real now.” I said now and Brendon nodded. It was a freezing night and I didn’t want to stand in the cold any longer.
Brendon and I approached the space were his car stood. Of course the boss had his own parking spot but this was highly advisable considering that it was more expensive than all his employees earned in years. “Do you want to drive again?” He asked me and I wondered why he trusted me so much. I doubted that I would’ve allowed any person to drive with such an expensive car if I would’ve owned one. His gaze pierced through me in a way that it was rather uncomfortable but eventually I nodded.
I took the keys so naturally that it was surprising me. One part of me was constantly telling myself that I shouldn’t get used to this because I knew someday things would change. Someday it would all be over.
I entered the fancy car not being as careful as I had been at the beginning anymore. Brendon and I both ignored the fact that I had drunk alcohol before because even that had happened before. Actually it barely happened that one of us was sober but now Brendon was and I wasn’t. The other guy had probably already realized that I had a high tolerance for alcohol or maybe he just really didn’t care about the car because he had too many of its kind.
I started the vehicle and couldn’t help but feel like I was a fancy rich person too. Who couldn’t while sitting in a car like that? I had never been the usual kind of guy who liked cars or even more, who would be at home in this subject but driving this car certainly was an incredibly experience all over again.
I cruised to the streets that were pretty empty as usual. Even a city like Las Vegas had a time were not many people were on the streets because everyone was either already asleep or not yet awake. I knew that working as a barkeeper wasn’t something for everyone but I loved my job just for having the ability to be awake at a time where most of the city was asleep.
Way too fast we had reached the area where I lived in and even though I knew that it was possibly the worst decision I would ever make I spontaneously decided that I just didn’t want to end this night here. I didn’t want to leave that car and that was why I just continued driving. I saw the house I lived in disappear in the rearview mirror and smiled. Then I glanced at Brendon and saw that he was doing the same.
He didn’t ask me and even less did he complain. Instead he just sat there silently and I continued to drive without having a destination. The other guy had been silent for so long so when he actually started to talk again it appeared to be so loud. It was weird that when there was silence for such a long time it always seemed to be so much louder when someone said something again. “There’s a nice place where we could, you know, stop.” He offered and I nodded. Brendon showed me the way and eventually we came to a halt on a hill where we had an amazing view over parts of the city.
We stayed inside the car because it was way too cold to enjoy the view while standing on the outside. “How did you find that?” I asked Brendon who seemed to have been lost in his own world. He looked at me confused and I wondered if that was how I looked when I was lost in my own thoughts. The latter happened way too often.
“I don’t know. I have just driven around one night and have eventually ended up here.” Brendon claimed and I wondered if that was true. Had he been alone or had he maybe been with Sarah? Even if he had been I shouldn’t care as much as I apparently did now. “Have you ever brought Dallon here?” I asked eventually but immediately regretted having asked that. Why would I bring the other guy up now?
Brendon’s expression was unidentifiable. As often he was wearing his poker face but I was sure that I was wearing mine too. The only moments where Brendon really showed emotions was when he was drunk but then, the latter wasn’t unusual for him either.
“No, I haven’t brought anyone here, Ryan. Not that it would actually matter.” He replied, his gaze piercing through me again. I wondered how it was possible to look at another person as intensely as Brendon was looking at me. Or was that just how I perceived it?
Even though I wanted to I wasn’t able to enjoy the beautiful view anymore. I opened the door of the over expensive car and got out of the vehicle that suddenly seemed to be too uncomfortable to stay in any longer. “Where the hell are you going?” Brendon screamed and I looked around the area but eventually realized that there would be nobody who could hear us.
“I don’t know, Brendon. I need fresh air or… fuck, I don’t know. What are we even doing here at 5 am?” I shrugged but either I or Brendon knew the answer. Why had I thought that driving here was a good idea again? All I wanted to do now was crawl into my bed and never leave my room again.
“You’re so fucked up, Ryan.” Brendon stated and I wondered why he would say that now. I was fucked up, I was so fucked up but we all were. Everybody wanted to be perfect and everybody tried to build a façade so it appeared that everything was okay but nothing was actually okay. We all had problems and we were all fucked up. We were all beautifully broken. “Everybody is, Brendon.” I replied eventually not knowing where this conversation would lead to. I generally didn’t know where my relationship with Brendon would lead to.
“What do you want from me actually?” “Dude, say something. Fight me, I don’t know.” I looked at Brendon who seemed to be lost himself. “Why would I fight you, dude?” I replied calling him the same as he had called me. It sounded so wrong. Brendon wasn’t my dude. I didn’t know what he was exactly but he certainly wasn’t my dude.
Brendon came near me so our faces were just a few inches apart from each other. I had never been so close to another guy’s face and it was the weirdest feeling ever. “Because I want you to, Ryan.” He replied leaving me confused. Why would Brendon want me to fight him? His expression twitched a little bit and now I saw anger in it. An anger I didn’t know I had caused.
It happened so fast that I was barely able to process it. Brendon punched me – not as hard as I remembered being punched because it was rather jocular in his case – but still, it was enough to trigger me, it was enough for my memories to come back to the surface. I awoke from my rigidity eventually and did the only logical thing – I punched him back. Brendon groaned and a shiver went down my spine. What were we actually doing here?
“Are you happy now?” I asked seeing that his nose was bleeding. But I knew that I hadn’t broken it. The punch hadn’t been that hard after all. “Fuck, Ryan. No, I’m not happy. I’m not happy at all.” The other guy claimed and I wondered if this statement concerned the situation or maybe his whole life. “Do you want a smoke?” I eventually asked because that usually calmed me down. I grabbed a pack of cigarettes out of my pocket and Brendon just took one without saying another word.
I searched for a lighter and eventually found it too. Brendon leaned in so I could light his cigarette and even though I had done that before with other people it was a strangely intimate gesture with my boss. He took a drag and sighed while I did the same. I was so addicted to these little things that destroyed one’s body.
“You know what? People always think that when a person is rich they have everything and that they’re always happy. People think that money can buy everything but that’s so not true. You know, when I have become rich myself I have thought that I would never have to worry about anything but that’s not true. I would even say that I have to worry about much more things now. But I was young and naïve and it took some time until I have understood that there are certain things you can’t buy with money.” Brendon looked at me sadly and suddenly I pitied him. I just did.
“You mean Dallon?” I asked again mentioning the other guy for no reason. Brendon’s expression changed from sad to astonished and I wondered why I had said that again. “No Ryan, I don’t mean Dallon. Fuck, why are you always bringing him up?” “I thought…” “No, I know what you thought but let me clear this up here. The thing that is going on between Dallon and me doesn’t mean everything. Okay, I like to kiss him when I’m drunk and we’ve done other things too” I tried not to imagine it but pictures immediately flooded my mind “but it doesn’t mean a thing. I know that Dallon is, you know, a homosexual but I’m not. I’m just fooling around but I love my wife, okay? Never think about me like that again.”
Brendon looked at me warningly and I felt exposed as I often did in his presence. “Okay, I’m sorry, Brendon.” I replied like a school girl who had done something wrong and was defeated by her parents. “Fuck, why are we like that? Why are we always messing each other up?” Brendon took one last drag from his cigarette and then he threw it on the ground to stomp on it. “I honestly don’t know. But I can tell you that you’re definitely more fucked up than I am.” I replied trying to change the mood. “No, I’m not.” He laughed and it looked so weird considering the blood around his nose.
“Look at yourself. You wanted to be punched by me and now you look like an idiot. I wish there was some possibility to capture that moment because then I would’ve had another thing to blackmail you with.” I laughed but Brendon’s look turned serious again. “Is that what we’re doing? Blackmailing each other?” “I mean, isn’t it?” I looked back at the city and realized that it had already started to dawn. The world was slowly waking up and I hadn’t slept yet. Instead I felt more energetic than I had ever felt before.
I also took the last drag of my cigarette but took another one out immediately. There were days where just one at a time wasn’t enough and this was certainly a day like that. I offered Brendon another one too and he took it immediately probably feeling the same frustration as I was feeling. Again, he leaned in so I could light his cigarette but this time he looked up at me and I felt like my legs weren’t capable of carrying my body weight anymore.
Brendon inhaled the smoke and eventually exhaled it right in my face. I also lighted my cigarette and did the same. Inhaling, exhaling. We were both kind of blowing the smoke at each other and that was weirdly satisfying.
“I could do that all night – or should I rather say day?” Brendon claimed and I nodded. “Me too.” For some reason I really could. I looked up at the sky where the sun slowly came out. Standing on the hill alone we could’ve been everywhere. We could’ve been everyone and it could’ve been any year. Time and place didn’t matter as we were standing there.

Chapter Text

I entered the house I lived in and that at this point rather felt like an alien area, excluding my room. I didn’t feel good living here anymore but I knew that there was nothing I could do because my uncomfortableness wasn’t caused by the house but rather by the people who lived in it.
“Where the hell have you been, Ryan?” Z who had appeared in the hallway exclaimed. I had so much hoped that she had already left for work because it was a quarter past six but she was still here. “Keep quiet or you’ll wake Lizzy up.” I whispered because I didn’t want to steal that child’s sleep because of such a stupid argument.
“Where have you been?” My wife repeated defiantly in an even louder voice and I sighed. Did she really want to wake her daughter up at a time like this? Z looked at me as if she was my mother and as if I was her son who had been out for too long. “It doesn’t matter.” I replied because I didn’t owe her an explanation. I was a free, mature man who could do what he wanted.
But my reply seemed to upset her even more. “It does matter, Ryan. Do you have an affair? Is that what you’re not telling me? Who is she? Who the hell is that bitch?” Z screamed digging a hole for herself which was completely unnecessary. “No Z, I don’t have an affair. I swear.” I said in a calm voice with the intention to calm her down too. But of course it didn’t work. “Then what the hell were you doing at a time like that?” She screamed and I was pretty sure that if she hadn’t been before Lizzy was awake now and I felt sorry for her.
“I could ask you a question too! Why the hell are you still at home? You should’ve left for work like twenty minutes ago!” I said as loudly as Z had exclaimed before. My thread of patience had never been that thick but recently I had tried to control myself because I was obviously the one in our marriage that was supposed to be calmer. Z had never been like that. She had always been an incredible mother and such a strong woman and these had been traits I had always respected her for but recently I didn’t know if I still could. She seemed to be a whole new person.
“Ryan, don’t fucking change the topic!” She continued to scream and I sighed. I knew that other husbands would’ve hit their wife if the latter would’ve acted like that but I would never do that. Never.
“If you’re so keen to know” I eventually started “I have spent some time with Brendon.” I looked at Z carefully inspecting her and worriedly realized that her expression didn’t change. She possibly got even more aggressive. “Why? Isn’t he your boss? Why would you spend time with him outside of work?” She inspected me with displeasure and I realized that this was how my wife always looked at me recently.
“My goodness, Z. Can’t you calm down please?” I said carefully even though I knew that it would probably outrage her even more. “No, I can’t!” She screamed and then she did something I had never seen her do before. I had never even dreamt about that she was capable of doing something like that. Z took the beautiful vase that was standing on the bureau and threw it on the ground.
There was this second where time seemed to stand still but it was over too quickly and then I heard the sound of the porcelain crashing on the ground. The vase broke into hundreds of pieces and when it was silent again neither of us said a word. Shocked I realized that Lizzy was standing on the stairs, crying and afraid. “Mommy?” She whispered and that was when Z seemed to realize what she had just done. “Oh my goodness. Fuck, I mean…” She stuttered lost.
“Everything’s okay Lizzy. It was just an accident.” I claimed and forced a smile on my face which had probably never been so difficult before. “Stop saying that, dad. Nothing is okay. I’m not stupid. I have seen that mom has destroyed the vase willingly.” The child exclaimed and I wondered when she had gotten so smart. People always thought that children were stupid and of course they didn’t know as much yet but their attentiveness was much better than the one of adults.
“Of course you’re not stupid, Lizzy.” I said rather to myself because I had to think about another way to calm her down now. I approached the girl and ignored my wife who was also crying now. Eventually I crouched in front of Lizzy who had now stopped crying but the traces of the tears were still visible on her face. “Okay. You’re not stupid, Lizzy. I know that.” I started again. “Your mother is having some problems but we will fix it eventually. Can you at least believe me that?” I demanded looking at my daughter genuinely.
She nodded and I wondered if she really meant it or if even a four year old had started lying already. I nodded too reassuring both of us that everything would be okay even though I highly doubted it. I had never wanted for this to happen. I had never wanted for Lizzy to grow up like that – afraid of her own parents – but I felt like she now was and no matter how hard I tried to change it there was always something else that happened and I had to start all over again.
“I’m going to work now.” Z claimed but I ignored her. All of this was her fault after all. I knew that I probably should’ve told her that she shouldn’t go to work in her state and that she should’ve stayed at home. Maybe that was even what she wanted me to tell her but I didn’t. It was another moment where I absolutely didn’t want her to be around me and I would even risk that she would upset her colleagues too.
“Greet Sarah from me.” I said instead and Z nodded not being able to look me in the eyes. I had once asked Brendon why his wife was working at all because they certainly had enough money without her doing so and he had told me that she just liked doing that. I wondered if I myself would work if my spouse had enough money but I only saw me being in my room writing the whole day.
“Actually, I barely see Sarah, You know, she’s more like the manager…” Z started but then realized how completely irrelevant this fact was now. “It doesn’t matter. Okay, I’ll go now.” She eventually put on her coat, grabbed her purse and then left the house.
There was a deadly silence for a few moments after Z had left and I desperately thought about something I could say. “Well, now that I’m still awake I can definitely wait until Nicole comes to bring you to the kindergarten.” I claimed. “Who needs sleep anyways?” I laughed but Lizzy didn’t. I realized that she was probably still thinking about what she had witnessed before.
“Okay Lizzy, I know that you’re afraid because Z is acting pretty weird lately but I promise you that we’re going to solve this problem. I promise you that everything will be fine and I’m not just saying this. I really mean it.” I nodded assuring myself that it was true. “You know your mom. She would never… She isn’t like that normally but we’ll fix that, okay?” “Do you really mean that? You won’t leave us?” The little girl whispered sadly. “No. Why would you think something like that? Why would I leave you two?” Lizzy sighed and I wondered how it was possible that she was already so mature. Certainly nobody would’ve guessed that she was only four years old.
“You know, Zara’s father has left her and her mother alone and she always says that men are arseholes and that nobody can trust them so I don’t know. Why wouldn’t you leave?” She looked at me with sparkling eyes and I started to wonder if Z would tell her one day that I was not her real father. I hoped that she wouldn’t because I didn’t want Lizzy to know that her father was a much bigger arsehole than I myself.
“Yeah, that’s right Lizzy. Men are arseholes but I hope that I’m not as big one as others. And I can assure you that I will never ever leave you and your mom.” Even though Z and I had problems I would never even think about that. Maybe I wasn’t that big of an arsehole after all. “Pinky promise?” Lizzy whispered and I nodded. I reached out my little finger and she did the same. Then we united them – her little one and my fully grown.
“How about a fancy breakfast now?” I suggested because I felt like we both needed it. There was still enough time until Lizzy would have to leave for the kindergarten and I doubted that I would get any sleep anyways. The little girl nodded gleefully and we entered the kitchen where the remains of Z’s breakfast were still placed on the table.
In the end our fancy breakfast turned out to be cereal and hot chocolate but both Lizzy and I were happy with that. Weirdly I didn’t feel tired at all even though I hadn’t slept. It was probably because of the adrenaline that was running through my body. I realized how fucked up my sleeping schedule actually was. Because of my job it had never been normal but recently it had become even more fucked up. The sleep deprivation wasn’t any good for me but there was barely a thing I could do about it.
Lizzy and I spent a great morning together and way too fast the time had come for her to drive to the kindergarten. Nicole was just in time to pick her up. “Ryan, it’s pretty unusual to see you awake at a time like that.” The woman claimed after I had opened the door. Amelia was standing next to her and I wondered who her father was because I had certainly never seen him before. Was Nicole even married?
“Yeah, I haven’t slept yet.” I returned and the woman looked at me curiously but didn’t ask me further. “Okay Lizzy.” I said as I grabbed her backpack to give it to her. “Have a great day and always think about what I have promised you, okay? Everything will be okay.” The little girl nodded and I just hoped that she really believed me because I didn’t know if I was able to do so myself.
“Goodbye Nicole.” I dismissed the woman. “Farewell, Ryan.” She replied and then the three of them left the house and I closed the door. Even I started to feel tired at this point so I decided to lay down for at least a few hours, maybe until Z and Lizzy would come back. I got upstairs to my room, my sanctuary and laid down in the bed. But just when I wanted to close my eyes I heard that the doorbell was actuated again. Apparently I wouldn’t be able to sleep today.
I got downstairs again and opened annoyed that there were so many interruptions this mornings. But when I saw who was standing at the other side I didn’t know how to feel anymore. It was Z but instead of being angry like she had been before she only looked defeated now and that was maybe even worse. “Why didn’t you use your keys?” I asked my wife but she didn’t respond. Maybe she had forgotten him.
But instead of answering she just entered the living room throwing herself on the sofa with her shoes and coat still on. “Why are you home, Z?” I continued to ask but she only shook her head. She shook her head as if she wanted to escape the reality in a way that wasn’t possible and that was more than relatable. “Why aren’t you at work?” I asked more urgently. “My boss sent me back home.” She eventually whispered without giving a further explanation. I wondered why my wife got sent back home. What had she done?
“What’s wrong, Z?” I asked carefully but she didn’t answer again. And then I realized that she had fallen asleep. I sighed doffing of her shoes and placing them in the hallway. Then I got back and took a blanket to wrap it around my wife. I had a deja-vu immediately and remembered a time where a few months ago where I had watched her sleeping like I did now.
All the people but especially Z looked so innocent while they were asleep. When one was trapped in their dream world it usually caused a soft expression on ones face no matter what age a person was or how they looked like. And Z certainly looked like an angel while asleep. Nobody would’ve even considered the problems we were having. Sleep was such a filthy liar.
I was so tired myself, so tired that I didn’t even have the energy to walk upstairs again. I just closed my eyes and relived my memories in my dreams.
*** “Are you sure that you want to move out already, honey?” The woman who could’ve been my mother asked. Roger’s mother was so nice, I would even dare to say too nice. I had been living with them for roughly five weeks and in my opinion that was way too much but this woman made it really hard to be independent. I wondered if Roger would move out actually.
“Yeah, yeah, thank you Mrs. Arnolds.” I replied overwhelmed. She nodded smiling “How often have I told you that you should call me Mary.” Was the usual answer and I just thought ‘How often have I not told you that I never will?’ Calling her by her first name meant that I would get even more attached to her than I was already but I knew that I had to manage things by myself now.
“But I guess I won’t change your plan, right?” She added knowingly and I nodded. I had found a small apartment in the next city which was probably even smaller than the one we were living in now. Actually, it wasn’t even an apartment, it was just a room in a house in which several people were living but it belonged just to me and that was a beginning.
“I have to do this.” I claimed eventually knowing that it was the truth. Mrs. Arnolds nodded again. I felt like she was at least a little bit sad that I was leaving and never before had a person felt like that because I had left. It was rather the opposite. In these last weeks I had obviously avoided the house the two monsters were living and I didn’t know if they suspected where I was but even if they did, nobody had searched for me. They totally didn’t care about me and that was how I wanted it.
“I know you do but that doesn’t mean that I like it.” The woman eventually replied and I wondered what exactly she meant. Maybe I was too young to understand it. “But you know that you can always come back if you need something. Even if it’s just food we’d all love to have you around.” She smiled at me and I assured her that I would consider the offer even though I didn’t actually plan to.
I turned around to leave the house I had lived in the last few weeks but then I realized that I had forgotten my bag which included all the things I owned. I got back to the living room and grabbed it realizing how weird it was that my whole life was in there. I was like a nomad without a real home. I had always been because the place I had lived in for the last almost eighteen years certainly had been everything but a home.
Shortly after Mrs. Arnolds and I were standing in the doorframe accompanied by Z who had parked her car in front of the house because she would be the one to bring me to the place where I would stay from now on. Roger’s mother embraced me tightly and because I felt too comfortable I quickly ended the embrace or I would’ve changed my mind after all.
“One last thing, Ryan. Tell me if there are some problems with the landlord or generally with someone because you’re still 17. You know that we can solve that.” She looked at me seriously and I nodded overwhelmed by her generosity all over again. How was Roger able to say just one bad word about his mother?
“Should we?” Z eventually asked and I nodded. I approached the car and put my bag in the backseat. Then I looked at the house one last time and beckoned Roger’s mother while Z started the vehicle. I didn’t have a look in the rearview mirror because I knew that it would’ve killed me. Instead I looked at the street in front of me and wondered what this new life would possibly hold ready for me. Whatever it was, it certainly couldn’t be worse than it had been already.
“Where’s Roger, actually? Why hasn’t he come with us?” I eventually asked the question I had wanted to ask since we had left the house. Z continued to look at the road but I was able to see her face twitch for just a slight second. Maybe it hadn’t been the best idea to bring the other guy up since they had some problems recently.
“I don’t know where he is. Why don’t you know? You’re his best friend.” She replied defiantly. “I’m not his best friend.” I said back but didn’t claim that she was his girlfriend. Z was still looking at the road attempting to be concentrated but I knew that the thoughts were racing in her mind. “What’s wrong, Z?” I eventually asked her but she just shook her head. “Nothing’s wrong.” She replied not at all sounding convincing.
“Honestly, Z, you can talk to me. Really. About everything.” I continued sticking to my guns. “But Ryan, there’s nothing to talk to about. I can assure you that everything is fine. With me. With Roger. With everything.” She quickly looked at me probably to confirm that but instead her look told me the complete opposite. And that was when I knew it. That was the moment I realized what was wrong. I just knew.
“What has he done, Z?” I whispered and a shocked expression appeared on her face. Quickly she managed to look normal again but I had seen it before. “He’s not doing anything, Ryan. We’re happy.” She tried to smile but she failed and it broke my heart in a way I had never thought it was possible.
“I’m not stupid, Z. You can fool me as you want but I know that something’s wrong and I’m pretty sure that I know what it is. And if it really is what I think than I can assure you that I will immediately quit the friendship with Roger and I’ll help you.” “There’s no need to, Ryan.” Z only replied looking at the road again and I knew that there was nothing I could do in this moment. I knew how it was so well and I had become so good at pretending myself but I swore to myself that I would help Z. I wouldn’t let her become such a mess as I was.
*** I eventually woke up to the sound of clattering plates and people talking. Needing a few seconds to realize where I was and what had happened I eventually recognized the familiar area of our living room on which floor I was currently laying on. The sofa was empty because Z was probably in the kitchen with Lizzy. I decided to get there too and saw my wife and her daughter preparing lunch.
“What time is it?” I eventually asked scaring both of them because neither had heard me apparently. “It’s half past two, daddy.” My daughter replied looking concerned – something I had never wanted her to look like at her age. I had actually slept for more than five hours and that was pretty good considering my schedule lately. Maybe I should consider sleeping on the floor more often.
“Do you also want some spaghetti Bolognese?” Z eventually asked me not being able to look me in the eyes again. I nodded because I perceived how hungry I actually was. As my wife filled another plate with the dish I realized that she was wearing the same expression on her face as she had a few years ago. Back then everything had supposed to be fine.
My brain still needed some time to differentiate Z’s 18 year old self and her current self because both versions looked almost identical and this was everything but a good thing. “Thank you.” I stated as she gave me the dish but Z just nodded absently as if she was somewhere completely else. And I definitely couldn’t blame her for wanting to be somewhere else.
“Why hasn’t mom picked me up today?” Lizzy eventually asked me because even she seemed to have realized that one better shouldn’t talk to her mother now. I sighed creating another lie in my mind. But what if I didn’t tell her lies? That certainly would’ve been worse. “Mom had to manage something today. An adult thing actually so she hasn’t been able to pick you up.” In my opinion this was a plausible explanation, at least for a four year old, but Lizzy had always been smarter than everyone else her age. Still, she didn’t say anything and we all started eating in silence.
I wondered how it must feel when parents were fighting with each other. I certainly had never experienced that because my mother had killed herself when I had been way too young. There were fragments I could remember about her but most things I couldn’t. The only thing I thought about and would always think about were the things that had come after her death.
Z, Lizzy and I used to have fun together. We had been able to laugh with and at each other and it had never happened that neither of us would say a word at the table. But now it happened more often and often. We silently finished eating and Lizzy took everyone’s plate to bring it to the sink. “Would you please go to your room? You could read your new book we have bought the other day.” I suggested but it was rather a demand.
Fortunately the girl did what I had said obediently and a few seconds later she left the room to go upstairs. Eventually I heard the sound of the door that banged shut and there was a silence for a moment that could only mean one thing – the calm before the storm.
I breathed in slowly and eventually breathed out before I started to talk. “Okay Z.” I started even though nothing was okay and we both knew that. “Let’s not pretend anything here when Lizzy isn’t here. We have problems, you have problems, and we need to talk about them or else we’ll both be wrecked by them.” There was no reaction from my wife first but eventually she looked up to meet my gaze. The expression on her face was exactly the same as it had been years ago – as it had been in my memory.
“Why do you look at me like that? Z, why is your expression the same as it has been when you and Roger where together?” “Don’t mention his name.” She said angrily but she also sounded so exhausted – not just physically but also mentally maybe. “I won’t anymore. Okay. But honestly, am I as bad as…? What have I done?” I saw that the expression on her face abruptly changed to something I couldn’t identify anymore. “What, Ryan? Why would you even think that?” She started and I realized that I didn’t know what to think anymore. “You’re the complete opposite of him. He was a monster and you’re… The problem is not what you do, it is what you don’t do or rather what you can’t do!”
Z started to cry silently and I wondered how often she did that in my absence. “I’m sorry, Z. I understand that it’s horrible to be in love with someone who doesn’t love you back but…” She interrupted me now angry again. “You don’t know anything, Ryan. How would you?” And maybe she was right. “You don’t know how corrosive it is to experience unrequited love. And it’s thousand times worse when it’s your husband whom you have to see every day. Your husband who isn’t in love with you even though that’s what a marriage is supposed to be about.”
I looked at her not being able to say anything at all because she was right. I certainly couldn’t judge about her situation. “Okay Z, I don’t know how It is. Yes, I don’t. But I know one thing and that is that you have to try to do things normally, at least for Lizzy. Or else she will grow up seeing her parents fighting constantly and that’s certainly not what you want.” My wife nodded wiping away the tears that were slowly running dry.
“And I also want to remember you that this has been what you wanted. I have asked you a dozen times if you would be okay with marrying someone who doesn’t love you and you were.” I added and that was when Z looked at me again. “Yes Ryan. It was. But the thing is that I haven’t been in love with you back then either.” She only said and then she stood up to leave the kitchen struck and I didn’t follow her because there was no way I could comfort her.
It was just the worst: Causing the pain of someone who was so important to you but not being able to do something about it. It was worse than everything else I had already experienced in my life and that meant something.
I was so trapped in my thoughts that I first didn’t realize that Lizzy had come back to the kitchen. The little girl looked so much older than just four years which made me wonder if that was Z’s and my fault or if it had always been like that. “What’s wrong with mom, daddy?” She whispered. “What has she done now?” I asked as if Lizzy was the mother and Z the child who had done something wrong again. It wasn’t supposed to be like that.
“Nothing really. She has just come upstairs and walked straight to her room. Then she has laid down on her bed and I have asked her something but she hasn’t replied. She’s just lying there, dad.” Lizzy shrugged and I thought about what I was supposed to tell her now because I didn’t even know myself what was wrong with Z.
“Lizzy, we both know that you’re a smart child, don’t we?” I eventually started and she nodded. “Okay. Because of that you know that parents usually tell their children lies in order to make them feel better.” She nodded again. “But that’s not what I’m going to do now because to be honest, I wouldn’t even know what lie I could create at this point. The truth is that I really don’t know what’s wrong with Z. I don’t, okay? I can only tell you that she’s just a human being and human beings aren’t perfect. Nobody is. We all have stuff to deal with and never let anyone tell you that you aren’t great exactly as you are. Because you are. And Z is too. She just has to figure some stuff out and until then” I sighed “until then we have to try to be patient with you mom, okay? Can you do that?”
The little girl nodded again and I kneeled down to embrace her. My arms surrounded her little body and in this moment I had to realize all over again that marrying Z had been the right decision. Lizzy had a father because we had done that and even though I had never wanted to be one I now didn’t want to miss her in my life anymore. Lizzy maybe wasn’t my child biologically but she was my child in every other aspect and that was what counted.
“Should we play Rummy again?” I eventually suggested because that seemed to be our new favorite game. But Lizzy shook her head. “Can’t you ask Jude’s father if we can play with each other today? I mean, you two are friends, right?” I looked at the girl for a few seconds not processing that she meant Spencer and realized that I hadn’t talked to him in two weeks. Actually the last time I had seen him had been the evening of New Year’s Eve.
“Yeah. Yes, I guess I could do that.” I eventually claimed. “So?” Lizzy asked and I realized that I hadn’t actually moved to use the telephone device. Eventually I got to the place in the hallway where it was located on the dresser, looked up Spencer’s number and operated the rotary dial.
The telephone rang at least five times until someone finally picked it up. Unfortunately it wasn’t Spencer but Linda who was at the other side of the line but it didn’t matter actually. “Hello Linda. It’s Ryan.” I started which sounded way too normal in my opinion. “I just wanted to ask if maybe Jude wants to play with Lizzy today. I know it’s pretty spontaneous but Lizzy has asked for it and I thought ‘Why not?’?” There was silence for a few seconds but eventually Linda answered “Yes. Yeah sure. Spencer will bring him to your place immediately.”
“Is everything okay, Linda?” I eventually asked even though I knew that she probably wouldn’t tell me the truth. Nobody did when they were asked that. The woman sighed but only said “Yeah. Sure Ryan. We’re managing it.” I highly doubted it but there was nothing I could’ve said anyways. Eventually she hung up and I told Lizzy that Jude would be here soon.
It was weird to realize that I hadn’t seen Spencer yet this year. He had disappeared somewhere on New Year’s Eve and since then we hadn’t had contact for some reason. Lizzy and I sat down at the table yet still to play one round of Rummy until we heard that the door bell was actuated. The little girl jumped to her feet and practically ran to open the door.
Spencer looked tired but I felt like this was how everyone did nowadays – at least everyone in my environment. Well, excluding the children who still thought that life was something better. “Hey man.” I greeted him and he nodded. The kids disappeared somewhere and I closed the door knowing that he would follow me to the kitchen.
“Do you want something? Water? Coffee? Tea?” I suggested which made the other guy laugh. “You’re offering me tea? Honestly Ryan, if you want to serve me something to drink it has to be something alcoholic for sure. Preferably something high percentage.” I shrugged. “I guess you’re right.” I eventually answered opening the cupboard where my greatly loved vodka was located. What would my life look like without alcohol? I couldn’t imagine it.
“So, how are things?” I asked as I sat down at the table next to Spencer placing two shots in front of us. Both of us chugged them down as if the alcohol was the only thing that still kept us alive. And maybe it was. I needed alcohol like I needed air, maybe even more than the latter.
“Linda has lost her baby.” Spencer eventually claimed and I almost choked because I would’ve expected everything but that. “What? When? What happened?” I stuttered looking at my friend who now poured both of us in another shot. I probably should’ve been responsible and said that it wasn’t a great idea to get drunk in the afternoon while the kids were playing around here but I kept my mouth shut.
“It has happened three days ago. Honestly Ryan, it has all been so fast and unexpected, that’s why I haven’t told you yet. Everything has been fine in one moment and in the next she has started to bleed and she has complained about labor-like pain but we have both known that it was too early for that. Then we have driven to the hospital where they have fetched the baby out of her body. Of course he was dead but… fuck Ryan, I have seen him. He was so fucking small and fragile… I feel so bad myself even though I haven’t even wanted this baby so I can’t even try to imagine how Linda must feel now.
“She’s just lying in our bed, only standing up when someone calls. Yeah, when someone calls she’s practically running to get the call. I don’t know, maybe she irrationally thinks that the hospital or someone else will call to tell her that it has all been a bad dream and that the baby is alive. I mean, she knows better for sure but you know, sometimes you just imagine stuff even though it’s impossible.”
I didn’t know what to say like usual. Especially in situations like that I never found the right words because nothing actually helped. Spencer looked at me sadly. “You don’t have to say anything. I just wanted you to know.” He added as if he had read my thoughts. I nodded pouring both of us in another shot. Not that it had deterred me before but if it was actually allowed to drink at one point it certainly was now. There was no better time to get drunk.
“Thank you for telling me.” I eventually replied because I really meant it. I knew that I wasn’t able to help Spencer actually but still, I was glad that he had come to me. “Sure, Ryan.” The other guy replied but eventually a slight smile appeared on his face. “We are best friends after all, aren’t we?” He added and I nodded. “Sure we are.” I replied hoping that it was really true.

Chapter Text

Z spent the next few days laying in her bed because she was sick – or at least she said so. I called her boss and generally did everything else she usually did because someone had to. I didn’t feel great myself but someone had to be there for Lizzy. I certainly didn’t want Lizzy to think that her parents were incapable of managing things at this point.
I didn’t talk to Z anymore because she was either sleeping, pretending that she was or doing other things to avoid me. And even though she had changed so much I felt that her stubbornness was still as distinct as it had been months ago. She needed time and I certainly understood that. All I wanted to do myself was crawl into my bed and never leave it but I couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t.
“Okay Lizzy. I have to leave for work now. You know what you have to do, right? Leave your mother alone if it’s possible and just stay in your room. Don’t provoke her in any way and everything will be okay, yeah?” “Yeah.” She replied but didn’t sound convinced. It was a Tuesday which at least meant that I would have my day off tomorrow. But I didn’t know if that was something good at this point.
I grabbed my wallet, put on my coat and then I left the house. I felt sorry for Lizzy because she had to witness the bad time we were currently going through. Z was so absent as if it was just her body standing in front of us but here mind was somewhere else completely. She surely had had to go through rough times before but it had never been like that and I felt incredibly bad too because I knew that it was mostly because of me.
It was horrible. It was horrible, horrible, horrible.
Brendon was already waiting in front of our house with his fancy car that I would never be able to afford. Not that I wanted to actually, it was just a fact. He smiled at me but eventually his smile faded when he saw the expression I was probably wearing on my face. “Come on, Ryan. Another bad day?” He asked instead of greeting me properly. I nodded. “Another bad day.” I replied. I hadn’t exactly told him what was going on at home – to be honest I couldn’t even define it myself – but he probably guessed that it was something with Z.
Normally Linda, Sarah and my wife did many things together. They had become good friends in the course of the last months but now everything had changed. Linda was mourning her dead child which was completely understandable, Z didn’t want to leave her bed either and I didn’t know what was going on with Sarah but I hadn’t seen her in a while.
“Will you come in eventually or will you stay there?” Brendon asked me and I realized that I was just standing next to the car. It had started to rain and I felt the drops on my head. They were thick and heavy and they fell down so quickly. Almost as if they couldn’t await their eventual burst on the ground. And when they hit the ground they were dead. The only sign the rain drops left was the wetness.
Eventually I entered the car on the passenger side for a change. Brendon hadn’t offered me to drive and I hadn’t asked. The weather fit my current mood perfectly. Actually, I liked rain but it was always associated with sadness and if I had to be honest I understood why.
Brendon smirked at me and eventually started the vehicle. Because it was January it was already almost dark on the outside at half past seven. I had always preferred driving in the darkness though. Generally most things were better at night, excluding being alone.
My boss started humming a melody I already knew way too well even though the record was barely out for three weeks. His voice sounded so wonderful. So good that I actually wondered why he wasn’t considering a music career. People certainly would’ve loved him.
My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Unphotographable
Yet you're my favorite work of art
“Sinatra.” I claimed smiling. He was one of my favorite artists and when the new record had come out I had immediately run to the store to buy it. And then I had sat down in my room and listened to it on repeat. “You know him?” Brendon asked surprised and I wondered why he actually was. Everybody knew Frank Sinatra for sure. “Who doesn’t?” I replied laughing. “Well, that might be true. Who doesn’t?”
“Your voice.” I stated. “What about it?” Brendon asked confused. “It’s really beautiful. Really powerful and breathtaking.” “You think so, Ryan?” The other guy asked me with an insecurity that was unusual for him. “Yes, I do.” I replied meaning it. “You know, this song is kind of stuck in my head. Maybe it’s because it’s the first song off the record and that’s usually what you listen to first but I think it’s rather because the words are so beautifully put together. ‘You’re my favorite work of art.’ Isn’t that wonderful?”
Brendon looked at me intensely and it was a weird situation considering what I had just said before. Of course I had just talked about the song but still, it was weird for both of us. “Yes, it is.” Brendon eventually replied. “No, I know what you mean.”
He wasn’t focused on the road for just a second but in this second everything could’ve changed. Brendon overlooked a red traffic light and continued to cross the street. I screamed “Brendon!” even though that was probably shocking him even more. A car almost crashed into his but we were lucky for once and managed to cross the street without causing a crash.
I almost choked because I couldn’t breathe but Brendon just laughed it off. “Isn’t it ironic that both of us almost died when we’re not drunk? That should be forbidden, don’t you think so?” I looked at my boss not being able to believe what he had just said. He was talking as if nothing had happened. As if we couldn’t have died just a few seconds ago.
I looked back at the disastrous crossroads trying to breathe again properly. “Are you kidding me, Brendon? What the fuck, we could’ve just died or even worse we could’ve been disabled for the rest of our lives. What the actual fuck?” One part of me felt like crying while the other wanted to scream. I certainly wouldn’t do any of the two things in front of the other guy, especially not the first one.
Brendon’s look finally turned serious and I wondered if he had been in a situation like that before. Did life mean anything at all to him or was it all just a joke. “Is that so funny, yeah?” I eventually asked still regaining my composure. “Life’s a joke for you, isn’t it?” Brendon laughed again but this time it didn’t sound like he actually found it funny. It rather sounded as if he didn’t know what else to do.
“If life is just a joke than why aren’t we dead, Ryan?” he replied his face inappropriately unserious for a topic like that. “You know what, Brendon? You’re unbelievable. You’re a rich, snobbish arsehole who doesn’t care about anything or anyone.” I claimed not really offering him an argument though. My boss looked at me defiantly. “I’m not. I do care about people.” Now I was the one who had to laugh.
“Yeah Brendon. Who do you actually care about?” I said sneering and inspected the guy who was still a riddle I would never be able to solve. “I care about Sarah. I care about Dallon and Spencer. And I care about you.” He looked at me and I almost felt that it was genuinely but I knew that it wasn’t actually true. “You know what, Brendon? If you would’ve told me that one hour ago I maybe would’ve believed you but now… if you would really care about me you wouldn’t have just shrugged of this situation as if it was nothing. You would’ve seen how terrified I was or still am and you wouldn’t have laughed. But because you acted like you have I can definitely say that you don’t care about me. And you know what? I don’t care about you either? I don’t fucking care!”
I literally jumped out of the car because I couldn’t stand sitting next to my boss anymore. “Ryan, what the hell?” The latter exclaimed but I didn’t listen to him anymore. Instead I just walked down the street in the direction of the casino which fortunately wasn’t that located that far away at this point.
He didn’t follow me which was great but generally I didn’t pay attention to the traffic anymore. I had to figure out how I could continue working with him after everything that had happened. We had gone through so much together at this point. So much that it was just too much.
I shook my head with the intention to get rid of these thoughts but of course it didn’t work. It never did. A few minutes later I already saw the casino in front of me but suddenly I heard someone run behind me and it didn’t sound as if that person was doing it because they wanted to do some sports. I just wanted to turn around to see what was going on there but then Brendon suddenly appeared next to me.
He looked sweaty – his hair standing up in all directions, his suit smashed and his eyes wide open – but he had never looked better in my opinion. “What the hell, B?” I asked but only realized that I had called him B when it was already too late. How did I get the idea of calling him so? He smiled gleefully still trying to regain his composure. Apparently Brendon Urie wasn’t an athletic person. But I wasn’t either. Sport was the cause of so many bad accidents.
“I had to park my car somewhere. But that’s not the point, Ryan.” He stated still breathing fast. “So apparently the only thing you do care about is your car, right? I thought that it doesn’t matter if it gets trashed but now you didn’t want to leave it on the street so that was a lie.” I claimed even though what I was saying was just ridiculous.
“I do care about you, Ryan.” Brendon eventually started seriously. “I know that I have been a complete jerk before – trust me, I do know – but you know that I can act irrationally sometimes or rather often. I often say stupid stuff but usually I don’t care about it afterwards. Usually I don’t even think about the stuff I say afterwards but you made me think about it now and I can only repeat that I’m sorry.” He looked at me so genuinely that I couldn’t be angry with him any longer. It simply wasn’t possible.
One streak of hair had fallen into his face and for some reason I felt the growing urge to brush it away. The thought was so ridiculous that I almost laughed. But this wasn’t a situation to laugh for sure.
“I care about you so much that it’s actually astonishing. I would’ve never thought that this would be possible considering that we only know each other for like three months but you have become one of the most important persons in my life. Don’t ever think that it isn’t like that. Don’t ever think that I don’t care about because, fuck Ryan, I don’t think that I would even be able to live without you at this point.”
I wasn’t able to say anything because I was so shocked. I barely was able to breathe actually and I wondered how I was still standing there on the sidewalk while all the people crossed our way unaware of the fact that I had just had two live-changing experiences in a row. Wasn’t it weird that one could have those experiences and all the other people just continued to live their life as it was?
“I…” I began talking but Brendon interrupted. “Don’t say anything now. I don’t want you to destroy this moment.” He whispered and I realized that destroying this moment maybe would’ve been the right thing to do. But instead of doing so I just kept my mouth shut.
Brendon looked at me again with an unidentifiable expression and I realized that I would’ve killed to know what was going on in his head. The other guy captured my gaze and I felt like I had never felt before. “Ryan.” He eventually exclaimed and the way he had pronounced my name was sending shivers through my whole body.
Brendon pushed me in the direction of a deserted alleyway but he didn’t stop looking at me, not for one slight second. It was completely dark and I was barely able to see him in front of me but I didn’t need to because a few seconds later another live-changing event occurred. I felt his breath on my lips and eventually he locked my lips with his.
It was so weird because it didn’t feel weird at all. Sure, it was different from kissing a woman because I could feel his beard stubbles but it wasn’t as different as I would’ve expected it to be. I didn’t kiss him back first because everything was still too unreal but then I gave in and did. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders kissing Brendon with an intensity that surprised me myself.
It didn’t feel like I was kissing a guy which had always been something where just the thought of doing it had already deterred me. But now I was doing it. I was kissing the rich, snobbish, arrogant arsehole Brendon Urie who maybe cared about me a little bit and I didn’t push him away. I didn’t even consider doing it for a minute.
My tongue slid over his closed lips until he eventually opened his mouth letting me in. I couldn’t help but moan excitingly and the amount of pleasure I felt was surprising me myself. I tasted Bredon’s saliva and he tasted mine. We both breathed in the same air as the other guy and even though I had kissed women before I couldn’t help but realize that a kiss certainly had never felt like that before. Did kissing men always feel like that? And if it did why was it a forbidden thing?
Eventually our lips parted leaving an empty feeling in my stomach and I choked for a moment because I my body was completely overstretched. “Brendon.” I whispered his name in the same way as he had whispered mine before but he didn’t respond. We just stood there in silence until he finally answered. “We got to go.” The content as well as the tone of these words were pretty obvious and I wanted to undo what we had just done but also I didn’t.
I felt like what had happened wasn’t just wrong because it was against the law. No, it was rather wrong because Brendon now regretted it and that was the worst. He sounded so similar to how he had when we had first met and that was something I completely disliked. “Brendon.” I tried again in a more desperate voice but I just heard him walk away.
Then there was silence again until I heard his voice again from a more distant point. “We got to get to the casino. You have to start working because it’s already” He gazed at his watch but he obviously didn’t see anything because it was dark. “It’s already way too late and everyone is probably already wondering where the two of us are. So could you please just… Let’s just go, okay?” It wasn’t a suggestion, no, it was a demand.
“Okay:” I eventually replied even though the situation was anything but okay. I had just kissed Brendon Urie. Brendon Urie who sometimes kissed Dallon Weekes when they were both drunk but now neither of us was drunk and maybe that was the blatant thing.
I heard him walk away further until I eventually saw Brendon in the light of a street lamp. He didn’t look at me at all. Instead he practically ran away. From the dark alleyway, from the kiss, from me. I didn’t understand anything anymore. First he had told me that he cared about me, than he had started the kiss and now he was running away?
I didn’t understand it and I was pretty sure that he wasn’t a riddle for me anymore. Now he was a safe with a code that consisted of hundred numbers and where I didn’t know one.
I breathed in deeply and eventually started to approach the casino too because I knew that I had no choice. I needed the money and I wouldn’t find another job so soon. And I didn’t even know if I wanted to actually. Brendon was already gone when I stepped back on the street. I tried not to think about what had just happened but it was impossible.
I had kissed Brendon Urie or rather he had kissed me but I had returned the kiss with a passion that was still shocking me. It had unarguably been a great kiss but that wasn’t because of Brendon for sure. It had just been because of the situation. Everything had fit and the shadowy atmosphere had contributed to the excitement which was completely normal.
It had been an experiment and even though it had been great I wouldn’t do it again. Brendon had made the right thing by breaking the kiss and walking away. I wasn’t a homosexual after all but still, it had been fun. I was so lost in my thoughts that I almost walked past the casino but eventually I got back to the reality and entered the damned place where I was working at.
The bouncer who already knew my face just nodded and I passed him without saying a word. The inside was already overcrowded with people who could afford to get wasted on a Tuesday or who just didn’t care that they had to work the next day. Mostly though the customers where rich people and being rich certainly brought some advantages.
I approached the bar and wasn’t surprised to see that Brendon was already sitting there. Did he actually have to work at some point or wasn’t he doing anything all the time? My boss looked at me again piercing through my soul and after what had happened just a few minutes before it felt even more intimate and shocking. “You’re late, Ross.” He stated using my last name like we had both used to at the beginning of our acquaintance. Maybe he wanted to create a certain distance between us again. It was the right thing but still, it hurt. It wasn’t supposed to though.
“I’m sorry, Urie, but I got distracted.” I claimed trying to look at him as intensely as he was looking at me. It felt as if he was denouncing me with his gaze. “What or maybe who distracted you?” He asked innocently and I laughed. I certainly didn’t want to answer that. Instead I got behind the bar and was shocked to see that Dallon was also there – not on the customer’s side but on the other side wearing the usual black clothes of a barkeeper.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I asked the guy who had become a good friend of me in the last months. It was weird to see the tall guy in different clothes than his usual suit but pure black suited him even better. “I’ve got some financial problems. Yeah, you could say that.” Dallon claimed and I wondered if everyone nowadays had financial problems – well, excluding the super-rich like Brendon. But this was supposed to be a good time.
I knew that Dallon somehow worked with or rather for Brendon. It had been obvious since the beginning even though I had never understood what he was doing exactly. Working at the bar again certainly was a downgrade for him now because wherever he was also working I never saw him so he was probably usually operating in the background.
“Isn’t Urie paying you enough money already?” I asked but immediately regretted having asked that. First of all I had called my boss by his last name again which I hadn’t done in weeks before and second the question was just inappropriate. I wondered if Brendon was the one who was too parsimonious to lend his friends any money or if Dallon as well as Spencer just didn’t want to take it. Spencer hadn’t taken my money either after all.
I inspected Brendon but at this point I couldn’t evaluate him anymore. I couldn’t say if he was a generous person or if he was as snobbish as all the other rich people. He probably was the latter though after all. And to kind of proof that he just walked away but I didn’t pay attention to him anymore, instead I focused on Dallon.
“He is. It’s just…” Dallon lowered his voice. “My wife has a great amount of debts and I have tried to help her out but I guess I have just made it worse for both of us.” The tall guy shrugged. “You have a wife?” I exclaimed shocked because Dallon had told me that he didn’t have a spouse. If he had though, why hadn’t I ever seen her? Just when you thought you knew certain things about another person you always got to know something else.
“No, I don’t. At least I don’t have a wife anymore. We’ve separated years ago, I have probably been your age.” Sometimes I forgot that Dallon was more than five years older than me because it certainly didn’t feel like he was. “I just couldn’t pretend any longer, you understand?” He added whispering and I nodded. Even though our situations were different that was something I definitely could understand. I didn’t know if I was able to pretend any longer myself.
“Was it hard?” I eventually asked processing what I had just gotten to know. “I mean was it hard to get divorced?” Dallon nodded. “Of course it was.” He just replied in the same moment as Brendon screamed “Ross, Weekes, start working!” I knew that he tried to create a certain distance between us and I had to admit that it was working. It was almost as if the three months in which we had gotten along with each other so well had never happened. It was just a memory and one couldn’t put their arms around a memory.
Eventually Dallon and I started to serve customers, clean up and generally managed everything. First it was weird to work alongside the tall guy until it wasn’t anymore at some point. It remembered me of the days were Pete and I had still been good friends and worked together. For some reason though I felt like even this alliance would come to an end eventually.
“What was that all about before?” Dallon said while there weren’t any people approaching the bar. “I mean why is Brendon acting so weird towards you? He’s calling you ‘Ross’ again. I mean what the hell did you do?” The tall guy inspected me curiously and for some reason I decided to just tell him the truth because if someone would understand it, it would be Dallon. At least I hoped so.
“Okay. Don’t scream now. Don’t freak out and generally don’t let any unusual expression creep on your face. Can you promise that?” I asked seriously but Dallon just shrugged it off. “What the fuck, Ryan? I’m always calm. “I looked at him incredulously and he smiled. “Well, maybe not always. But I promise to be calm now, whatever you say.”
I nodded but it was more a confirmation for myself than because I believed him. ”Okay.” I said preparing for what I was going to say. “Okay. You have probably realized that Brendon and I have both been a little bit late earlier, right?” I started still not believing myself what I was going to tell the other guy. But this was Dallon. Dallon whom Brendon had kissed before. Dallon who would certainly understand it. Just Dallon.
The tall guy nodded surprisingly calm and I wondered if he had drunk alcohol today or if he was completely sober. It probably was the latter but either way he was way too quiet. “Okay.” I said for what felt like the hundredth time even though nothing was actually okay.
“Brendon and I… well… technically” I stuttered. “Brendon and I have kissed each other.” I just said it careful not to blame it just on him because I had kissed him back. We had kissed each other. I would’ve expected many things but when Dallon started laughing that was certainly one of the things I wouldn’t have expected. “That’s a joke, right?” he asked not being able to calm down. But I stayed completely serious. At some point Dallon probably realized that it wasn’t a joke because he stopped laughing abruptly.
“What, Ryan? You can’t be fucking serious? What the fuck happened?” And then I told Dallon everything. Sometimes we had to take a break to serve customers but then I continued. I told him about the almost accident and how I had claimed that Brendon wouldn’t care about anyone. I told him how I jumped out of the car and how Brendon had followed me and claimed that he cared about me so much. I told him how Brendon had dragged me into the dark alleyway and how my boss had eventually started kissing me. And I told Dallon that I had replied the kiss and I didn’t know what that meant.
“But Ryan, you’re not a homosexual, aren’t you?” was the first thing Dallon said or rather whispered when I had finished. And I had sensed that he would ask that, it was reasonable. “Of course I’m not, Dallon. But, I mean, Brendon isn’t either, isn’t he?” Dallon looked at me with a serious expression and I came to the conclusion that he must be sober because if he wouldn’t be he wouldn’t have been so serious. He could only be when he was sober.
“No, he isn’t.” The tall guy eventually responded and I felt like he sounded disappointed. “But why did you return the kiss if you’re not a homosexual?” He continued ignoring our boss. Wasn’t it weird that we were talking about our boss whom we had both kissed before in the most inappropriate way? But Brendon had always been not just our boss actually.
“Other question: Why did Brendon kiss me in the first place if he isn’t a homosexual? Why did he kiss you several times and why did both of you do even other things I don’t want to think about?” I paused for a moment. “I guess we’re both just curious. Yeah, I’ve kissed Brendon Urie. It has happened but it certainly won’t happen again. I just don’t get why he’s making such a big deal out of it. It isn’t for me.”
Dallon looked at me surprised. “You’re certainly one of a kind, Ryan. But honestly, I can imagine that it might be weird for him. Trust me, I have experience. Maybe it wasn’t that weird for you but it could’ve been for Brendon.” The tall guy saw my concerned expression. “Don’t worry. He’ll calm down soon. I bet that you’ll be best friends again at the end of the night. And, I mean, you said it yourself: It’s something that won’t happen again, right?”
I nodded. “Right.” “Then I don’t see why you should worry about it. Just let Brendon sulk a bit longer.” Dallon laughed and I joined in even though I didn’t actually feel like laughing.
Pretending had become something like breathing for me at this point. I was always pretending to be someone else to a certain extent, even in front of Z. I often wondered who the real me was because I doubted that it was someone I had met before.
“Now, let’s get drunk. I don’t want to talk about shit anymore.” I suggested even though I knew that it was the next bad idea in a row of the many ones I had had before. But Dallon didn’t protest, of course he didn’t. Brendon was somewhere else and nobody else seemed to bother either. For some reason I wanted someone to tell me that I shouldn’t do this but nobody came.
Dallon poured in high percentage alcohol. Normal people started with beer but we never did. Why prolonging if you really wanted to get wasted? I chugged the shot like usually and felt that my body demanded another one. As Dallon poured in another round I saw that Brendon was watching us from across the room. And then he approached us.
“Drinking instead of working again, Ross?” He asked but then he demanded a shot too. “I could say the same about you, Urie.” I replied and it felt so weird that we were back at this point where we would call each other at our last names. I hated it. I hated it so much that I actually wondered how I had been able to do it for weeks at the beginning of our acquaintance.
“Oh you still have to learn much.” He continued and again I felt humiliated because I was actually the older one. But what did age say about a person? Nothing really. Dallon was about six years older than Brendon but the latter had reached so much more, at least professionally. Theoretically everyone could reach anything at any age. Theoretically.
“Yeah, what do I have to learn? Teach me.” I responded not wanting his provocation to succeed. “I’m a career drunk, Ryan. I’m rich and I can afford almost everything as you know. Why not being drunk often? But what is your excuse?” He looked at me intensely and I realized that I didn’t really have an excuse. I drank alcohol because I needed it. That was the sad truth.
“One doesn’t need an excuse to drink alcohol, Brendon.” I claimed avoiding the truth. Brendon nodded even though I doubted that I had really convinced him. Instead of saying anything else the three of us just continued to drink like in old times. I knew that we only knew each other for like three and a half months but it certainly felt a lot longer. And three months ago certainly felt like the old times.
“How’s Sarah?” I eventually asked trying to conduct small talk in which I always failed. “You certainly know how to kill the mood all the time.” Brendon just replied and I wondered what he meant by that. There wasn’t a mood that could’ve been killed and even if it was why would Sarah be the one to kill it? She was his wife after all.
I just shrugged not really wanting to continue trying to start a conversation. Instead I chugged down shot after shot until I had finally reached the point where I felt the alcohol in my body. Because of my high tolerance for the latter it always needed longer than usual.
“To answer your question, Sarah is fine.” Brendon replied after approximately five minutes had already passed and nobody had expected an answer anymore. I nodded because there was nothing else to be said. “What am I even paying you guys for? For drinking all the alcohol of the bar?” Dallon’s and my boss eventually laughed and I realized that he had a point. I got most of my alcohol supply from here. But the thing was that Brendon never said anything. He always let us drink and maybe that was the actual problem.
Eventually the younger guy turned around and left and I took the opportunity to follow him. I quickly got the opportunity to throw an apologetic look at my coworker but then my boss had already left the room. I felt that he knew that I was following him so I didn’t hide.
I followed Brendon to a room that looked like a conference room but fortunately it was empty. There was a long table in the middle with about twenty chairs placed around it. At the end of the room was a platform on which a desk was located. It looked like the latter would be useful if someone needed to hold a presentation or something.
“Why have you brought me here, Brendon?” I eventually asked to break the silence. Brendon giggled like a teenage girl and I tried to figure out if that was rather something appealing or disturbing. “I haven’t brought you here. You’ve followed me.” He returned and I shrugged. Maybe he was too wasted to lead a serious conversation. But maybe I was too. What were we even doing here?
“I don’t know. I don’t know… anything.” My boss added after a while. “Yeah. I don’t either. Believe me that.” I sighed. I looked at him, for the first time on this day I saw Brendon in a clear light because before we had always been outside in the dark or in the main hall where the lights were dim. But here they were so light and so normal as if it was a normal office.
Brendon looked as desperate as I felt and that was when I just tossed everything overboard. I took one, two big steps and seconds later our lips locked like they had a few hours ago. It was the messiest kiss of my whole life but because it was it was maybe even a little bit more beautiful.
My teeth clicked with Brendon’s for a second and I was pretty sure that I had bitten his tongue at some point but neither of us cared. I pushed him against the wall heavily and the moment I heard the younger guy moan I had completely lost my composure. My hands wandered to his hair and I touched the hair that had been perfectly styled until I had destroyed it hours before. And now I was doing it again.
My tongue slid into his mouth again and both his and mine started to fight with each other. Another fight nobody would ever be able to win. The desperation I felt in this moment scared me more than all the real horror I had already gone through in my life and when Brendon broke the kiss again one part of me wanted to cry. I was definitely even more wasted than I had thought. Normally it didn’t happen so fast.
“I’m not a homosexual.” My boss only stated what I already knew for a fact. At least he wasn’t running away now. “Me neither. That’s all just because we’re drunk.” I returned quietly. There was no need to be quiet actually because we had been so loud before but it felt better for some reason.
Brendon nodded assuring both of us that this all just happened because of the alcohol. Of course it did. Brendon had Sarah and I had Z and Lizzy and neither of us actually was a homosexual. It was all just for fun. Why couldn’t men have fun like that? Why was that forbidden?
Eventually Brendon was the one who kissed me again – softer this time but still with a certain intensity. I had already known it when I had met him the first time and I felt that now it would be confirmed one more time: Brendon Urie certainly was that kind of person to destroy your whole life completely. And I was drunk. And I was here for it.

Chapter Text

It was one of the worst days Z had ever had and I instantly wished for her to go back to bed. I had always thought that the latter would be the worst but now that she was screaming aggressively to a point where she started to punch thing I wanted the quiet tired Z from the last two weeks back.
Fortunately Lizzy was still in the kindergarten. The little girl had already suffered so much in the time where her mother had only stayed in her bed and how Z was acting now was certainly even worse. My wife hadn’t worked in weeks and I perceived that not only because she was constantly at home but also because there was less money available overall. I was pretty sure that Z would’ve already been fired because she wasn’t sick and still didn’t go to work if it hadn’t been for Sarah. I wondered if her state was a real excuse for not going to work.
I breathed it one last time and eventually left the bathroom where I had stayed in for the last fifteen minutes. I knew that I couldn’t avoid her forever plus Lizzy would come home soon.
Z was already standing in the hallway with an accusatory expression on her face. I had tried everything already, I never did everything that could provoke her but still, she constantly looked at me like that. There was a weird silence for a few seconds – a bad silence that could only mean that something unappealing would happen after that.
“Let’s fly to Europe.” Z eventually said with a big smile on her face. I would’ve expected everything really at this point. I would’ve expected that she would complain about everything again or that she would cry or scream – really everything but that. I looked at her intensely because I wanted to figure out if she was being serious because she couldn’t be. This had to be a joke. But then I received that her expression was dead serious.
“What the fuck?” I replied leaving her room for a plausible explanation. Maybe Europe was just some new restaurant and maybe she thought that it was funny to use the verb ‘fly’ because the actual Europe was so incredibly far away. “You don’t mean the actual Europe. You’re not talking about the continent, right?” I added desperately hanging on to my last hope.
“But Ryan, I am. Of course I am. I want to see the Eifel Tower and the Tower Bridge and I want to visit Venice. We have always talked about that, don’t you remember?” I looked at her still shocked because this was an entirely new Z all over again. At least she was not screaming anymore. ‘Not yet.’ I thought.
“We have.” I eventually replied stating a fact. Because we used to talk about travelling to Europe all the time. It had been a dream of both of us, maybe something that we would do when we would be old. But it had never been a real thing – even less at this point in our lives. “But Z, don’t you realize how ridiculous this is? We don’t have either the time or the money to actually do that. Plus Lizzy has to go to the kindergarten.”
I looked at the woman I didn’t even knew anymore at this point. Z was a stranger for me. It had needed only a few months for her to become a stranger to me and I thought that this was really sad considering that we had known each other for years before.
Now she looked defiantly as if I was her parent who forbid her something. “We can take Lizzy with us. And we’ll manage the financial things somehow. Come on, Ryan. Let’s do this.” Z was practically glowing because of the idea that was beyond ridiculous. I only shook my head wanting to disregard my wife but she grabbed my arm and even though I could’ve broken away any time I knew that it wouldn’t be effective because she would have followed me.
“You’re an arsehole, Ryan. That’s the chance of our lives, that’s our dream and you’re just throwing it away because of what? Money, time? Or is it because of something else or maybe someone else?” She looked at me intensely her gaze piercing through me. “You know what? I’m going to do it alone. I’m going to visit all the places we’ve dreamed about and I’m going to enjoy it so much without you!” A splash of her saliva trickled at my cheek because she had been talking so intensely but I only stood there like I had turned into a pillar of salt.
Eventually I turned around and this time she didn’t hinder me when I attempted to leave. Without looking at her again I said “You’re crazy Z. You’re a mad woman.” and left her alone in the hallway.
***
“Ryan. Ryan, where the hell are you all the time?” Dallon asked me bringing me back to the reality. And the reality was that I was working in the casino at the bar with Brendon whom I had kissed two times somewhere lurking around and my mad wife at home. Adding to that I had barely slept the night before like I had barely slept in the last few weeks.
I was inexpressibly tired and every bone in my body hurt but there was nothing I could do that would change my situation. There really wasn’t. I didn’t know what was wrong with Z or if I had to be honest I just didn’t want to think about it. It was better like that, just thinking that she was going through a rough time and that it would be better eventually.
“Yeah sorry, Dallon.” I eventually answered my colleague and friend who looked at me concerned. He knew that something was wrong with me but we had never really talked about it because I was still practicing the art of suppressing Z’s and my problems. If there was one thing I was the master of doing in it was suppression. That was why I was writing stuff – to escape into another world.
Dallon’s look pierced through me but he didn’t say anything much to my joy. We continued working alongside each other and I hoped that Brendon Urie wouldn’t get the idea to approach the bar at some point like I did every evening since the incident.
Much to my liking I hadn’t seen my boss in two weeks but if I did I wouldn’t know how to act properly towards him. Sure, the kissing had just been a drunk escapade, at least the second time, and I didn’t want to think about what it had been the first time. Another thing I rather repressed.
“Look who’s there.” Dallon eventually said after minutes of silence. My heart started racing as I turned around to look at where he was pointing at. I couldn’t even tell why. The mere thought of talking to nervous made me nervous but that was probably normal after what we had done. It had just been a casual hookup but still, it wasn’t nothing after all.
But then I looked at the person standing a few feet next to the bar and realized that it wasn’t my boss. It was Spencer who looked as lost as I felt. I didn’t talk to him as much as I’d like to anymore. Our connection had been so great and it still was but I couldn’t deny that something had changed for some reason.
Dallon and Spencer looked at each other quickly and eventually nodded as one would when they just wanted to be polite but didn’t actually want to talk to the other person. “What are you doing here?” I eventually asked because Spencer never came here. At least not anymore. “I wanted to talk to you.” My supposedly best friend said and I wondered if we really were best friends after all. Was that even something that two adult men could be?
“Dallon, can you take over for a minute?” I asked my coworker who just nodded and we left the main hall. Spencer led the way so naturally that I wondered how often he had been here before. Eventually we reached the elevator that was reserved only for the staff. There was a public one too but I figured that it made more sense to use the first one even though it was a longer way to go.
There was a security guard standing in front of it but he didn’t hold us back because he knew both Spencer and me. Generally the guy was pretty chill but I guessed that he would’ve been able to fight if it would be really important.
Spencer pressed a button and the door opened squeaking. He entered the elevator and I followed him wondering what Brendon would think about that if he would see Spencer and me. I hoped that we wouldn’t meet him because it would be to awkward in too many aspects. “Don’t worry. Brendon’s currently in a meeting.” Spencer claimed as if he had read my thoughts. “How do you know that?” I replied inspecting him. His lips were pressed together to a thin line which only moved when he bit on them occasionally. And when he did I saw that especially the bottom lip was chopped. Spencer had dark shadows under his eyes and generally looked as tired as I felt. Instantly I started to wonder what he wanted to talk about but I didn’t ask him yet.
“I saw him earlier and we talked.” He eventually claimed and I wondered when that had happened and what they had talked about exactly. But I saw his hostile posture and didn’t start this topic. “Where are we going?” I asked instead because I had realized that Spencer had pressed the button of the highest floor on which I had definitely never been before. “You’ll see.” My friend replied teasingly and I realized that he was smiling. Something I hadn’t seen in a long time. Maybe things would finally work out for Spencer and Linda. Maybe they would work out at least for one of us because if someone deserved happiness than it was definitely Spencer Smith.
After what felt like hours we finally reached the top floor of the building and a wave of excitement flooded through my body. It felt like we were doing something forbidden but considering that security guard had let us pass it probably wasn’t.
The door opened and we were standing in a hallway that looked similar to the ones of the first floor. But I realized that there weren’t any rooms, just one door at the other end. Spencer didn’t say anything, instead he just approached the ominous door and I followed him like a dog. Eventually my best friend opened it and I was surprised to feel the cold air from outside against my body.
I needed a few seconds to understand that this was some kind of roof deck. The door I was now closing was the center of it and all around was a great surface. There were scattered chairs and tables where one could enjoy the wonderful view but generally it didn’t look like many people would come here. Maybe it just felt like that though because it was winter and no sane person would come here in the middle of the night.
“You’ve really never come here before?” Spencer eventually asked and I just shook my head. I approached the railing looking at the city I was already living in for almost five years. Wasn’t it crazy how time flew by? One never realized it while living but then there was a point where one looked back and couldn’t believe that so many months, years, decades, had already passed.
“I mean, who would’ve brought me here? I didn’t even know that this place existed!” I answered honestly. Spencer looked at me confused maybe because he was thinking about Brendon. I had never told Spencer about the connection Brendon and I had and that we had gotten along with each other pretty well until recently – now I didn’t even know what was between us – but I guessed that he probably knew.
But now I really wondered why Brendon had never taken me here. He had shown me so many places, he had told me so many things, but he hadn’t brought me to the top of the building where he was working in. Maybe he had just forgotten that this place existed.
“Brendon and I used to come here all the time back when it has still been some shabby hotel. And now he’s the owner of this and has made something so much greater out of it. Can you believe that?” Spencer eventually continued probably for the first time maybe since we had met voluntarily talking about Brendon Urie. “Not many people know about this place so we’ve most of the time been alone here and we used to talk for hours about everything. It’s funny that up here everything’s still the same while everything else has changed.” Spencer stooped talking searching something in the dark.
There were just four lamps on the gigantic roof deck so the lighting was miserable but eventually the other guy found what he had searched. “It’s still here.” He said fetching a bottle of what I identified as vodka out of nowhere. I couldn’t help but laugh because even at a place like that there was alcohol. Maybe I should consider a hunt through the whole building at some point. But then I would probably need a container.
I took the bottle and my best friend grabbed a blanket that had also been hidden there. “Something else?” I asked curiously but Spencer shook his head. I took the gigantic blanket and wrapped it around us as we sat down on a bench but there was still enough space for both of us. Just when I was wrapped in the blanket I realized that I was actually freezing. A casual shirt certainly wasn’t enough for such temperatures.
“What happened with you and Brendon?” I eventually dared to ask and Spencer sighed. I opened the bottle of the hard liquor and took a sip immediately feeling as if it was warmer but that was just an illusion. Then I gave Spencer the bottle who attached it to his mouth without hesitation.
“Nothing happened, Ryan.” He responded after he had drank himself. I doubted that if I had to be honest. “No, I mean it. Nothing really happened and maybe that’s the problem.” Spencer sighed again. “You know that Brendon and I already know each other for almost twenty years. He’s my family, Ryan, fuck. And you know, families sometimes go different paths because they want different things in life. They barely meet up but they know that the other person is still there. And I feel like that’s how Brendon and I are working. It isn’t how it used to be between us and it will never be again but that’s okay. We aren’t little boys anymore and things change. But you know, after all this time I know that Brendon is always there and that’s what’s worth it.”
I wanted to tell Spencer that not all families worked like that. I wanted to tell him that some families never saw each other again and that this was certainly for the better and I wanted to tell him that there were children who couldn’t rely on their parents and who were rather afraid of them. But I didn’t say anything of that because I wasn’t ready to lead this conversation yet. Maybe I would never be.
“What did you actually want to tell me?” I asked instead changing the topic. Spencer needed a few seconds to arrange his thoughts. “Yeah, right. I wanted to tell you that Linda will go back to work on Monday.” He looked at me exhausted. “Already?” I replied only realizing afterwards how stupid that question was. Spencer looked at me confused. “What do you mean by that?” Because Linda and Z had been bedridden at the same time some part of me had thought that it maybe just was something women had to go through at the moment but now I realized just how ridiculous this thought had actually been.
Linda had lost a fucking baby and everyone could be astonished that she was already going back to work after three weeks. Z however… I didn’t know what was wrong with her and the thought of figuring it out made me more anxious than I wanted to admit.
“No, I just mean… It’s very applaudable that she’s already going back to work. Nobody would’ve blamed her if she would’ve stayed at home longer, you know?” I tried to come up with an explanation. “Linda isn’t like that. She wouldn’t just stay at home. She only does when she feels really, really bad.” I wondered what Spencer would think about Z if he knew that my wife was lying in her bed even though nothing major had happened and she wasn’t sick. Would he think that she was lazy? Was she?
“Yeah of course. I know that. You’re both hard-working and I would never say anything else.” I said truthfully. Spencer nodded. “But I have more news.” HE started and I could definitely see a slight smile on his face. “I found a new job too.” “That’s so great. Where and when and what?” I asked all the important questions. Spencer laughed.
“Well, as you know I’ve applied for several jobs here in Las Vegas. I’ve gotten rejection after rejection but three days ago I’ve finally gotten an invitation for an interview which would happen two days later. I went there yesterday and it went off so well that they immediately took me and now I’m officially a teacher at the McKinley High.” Spencer’s joy was so contagious that I couldn’t stop smiling either. “I’ve never heard of it.” I said laughing but Spencer just shrugged. “It’s at the other end of the city actually. About 50 minutes with the urban railway but that’s okay. At least I got something.”
“No, I mean that’s fucking awesome. Congratulations!” I exclaimed taking more sips from the vodka bottle that Spencer and I were exchanging the whole time. “I mean you and Linda had so many problems financially so it will all be okay again now that you’re both working again.” I claimed and Spencer just nodded taking the bottle out of my hand.
“Why hasn’t Brendon helped you?” I eventually asked more seriously. Spencer choked on the liquid and started coughing like crazy. He needed minutes to calm down again until he was finally able to talk again. “What do you mean?” I felt like I had said something entirely wrong but now I couldn’t take it back anyways. “It’s just… Brendon and you are friends for so long and you’ve said yourself that he is your family and in my understanding families help each other when someone has financial problems but he hasn’t.”
“You mean just because he’s rich I should’ve begged for money? Of course, because it wouldn’t hurt him to give me just a tiny amount of his money?” Spencer looked at me disapprovingly. “No, Spence, that’s not what I’ve said. You’re entirely twisting my words.” I tried to explain. “I also would’ve helped you, you know that. I have even offered to help you but we haven’t talked about that again. And then I’ve started to wonder why Brendon isn’t helping you actually but not because he’s rich but because you two know each other for so long.”
Spencer eventually sighed and I hoped that he had understood what I meant. But then he looked at me with a chill expression and I knew that he had. “I’m sorry Ryan. Of course you didn’t think about the fact that Brendon’s rich. The thing is – first of all I have to repeat that I’m really grateful that you have offered your help – but I’ve always hated to owe people money. I mean it. When I’d been only four years old I had forgotten my food one day and a classmate had offered me to lend me the money because I hadn’t had any with me. But even though it had been maybe one or two dollars I had declined because I couldn’t stand the thought of owing someone money. And twenty years later it’s still like that. I just can’t accept anyone’s money. Believe me, Brendon has tried to lend me money. One day he has even put an envelope in my bag which I have found later but I have brought it back to him. So this is everything but Brendon’s fault. It’s just how I am.”
I nodded respecting it for how it was. People were so stupid actually and I wasn’t excluding myself here. We were all judging way too quickly when we had too little information about a topic or person. There were so many misunderstandings that could’ve been prevented if people just would’ve talked to each other more intensely but we were all too impatient.
“I think I should rather go back to the bar. Dallon is probably furious already.” I eventually claimed because I had almost forgotten work. It was a completely different world up on the roof deck and it was so easy to forget about the important things. Spencer nodded. Maybe he had forgotten too.
My best friend placed the bottle at the same place where he had taken it from and then took the blanket. I was freezing in my light shirt but I didn’t really care about that after the alcohol and after the conversation. “We’ll come back here.” Spencer claimed and I nodded. That was definitely a great idea.
He took out keys out of his left pocket and opened the door. I hadn’t noticed before that he had used them but it made sense that the roof deck wasn’t available for everyone. “Brendon gave them to me a long time ago. Well…” He started as if he wanted to say something else but then he didn’t. Instead he just entered the hallway and I followed him.
It was weirdly silent for a moment because the sounds of the city were cut off and nobody else was on this floor. “Do you know that this is Vegas’ biggest casino actually?” Spencer eventually stated out of nowhere. I shook my head because I hadn’t known that but it made sense now. Most casinos were integrated in a hotel but this building only consisted of the main hall at the first floor, private gambling rooms at the second floor, a restaurant at the third floor and meeting rooms and other private ones at the fourth and fifth floor. To this day I had never known that there was technically a sixth floor too.
“Sometimes I forget just how rich and influential Brendon is.” I claimed because it was true. I often forget that he was my boss in the first place and even more did I forget how much he actually had. “Me too.” Spencer eventually replied. “You know, it’s weird for me because I had known him back when he had been a humble Mormon kid who had grown up in a middle class family and now he is… he is so different and everything else is. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this is actually life.”
Spencer pressed the button for the elevator to arrive at the top floor and the doors opened after some seconds. I used to hate taking the elevator because I had always been afraid that I would get stuck at some point and even though that could happen I now knew that help would come eventually. And I didn’t have a choice here anyways since there weren’t any stairs to the sixth floor.
“Tell me something about Brendon.” I started even though I didn’t even know why I was asking that. Spencer looked at me curiously. “Why do you want to know something about him? I thought you hate him?” I almost had to laugh because concerning Brendon and me Spencer apparently didn’t notice anything. “I don’t hate him. It’s just, I want to know how he used to be. I want to picture him before he got so rich.”
“He had been humble as I said. I would even say that he had been shy, you know. We had grown up in the same area in a small city in Utah” “Utah? I didn’t know that.” Was everyone who now lived in Las Vegas originally from Utah? “Yeah Utah. Just like you and Z.” I didn’t ask why he knew that but Z had probably told him and I was ashamed that I didn’t know where Spencer was originally from.
“Anyways, Brendon’s family had moved to Las Vegas when he was 12, I think. And that had been the first recess in our friendship. Of course we had still met each other because we had been best friends but the meetups had become less frequent. When I had been 18 I had moved here myself and that was when we had started to meet more often again and everything had been fine. Really, it had been such a great time but then Brendon had started to work in the casino that had belonged to Sarah’s father and really that was when everything had started to go down again.
“I know that it may not seem so, Ryan, but you have to know that Brendon has done things to reach the point where he now is. He has done every immoral thing you can think of and I’m certain that he has also gotten to where he is now because he’s just the type for being so influential but the things he has done certainly have helped him.”
Spencer finished and all I wanted to know was what exactly Brendon had done. I wanted to know it so badly and I even considered asking but then the elevator stopped and the doors opened revealing the first floor where no other person than Brendon Urie was of course standing.
It was the first time that I saw him since the incident. The first time that I looked at those lips I had kissed when I had been drunk and the first time that I got lost in these brown eyes that stared back at me revealing an insecurity that I was probably just imagining after everything that Spencer had told me now. People like Brendon Urie weren’t insecure.
“What have you done there?” My boss asked us pointing towards the elevator. From the corner of my eye I saw that the security guy was listening at our conversation curiously but I didn’t actually care if he got to know something. “I showed Ryan the roof deck. How is it possible that he didn’t know that it existed before?” Spencer eventually replied and I felt like a little boy whose parents were talking like I wasn’t able to do anything by myself.
“I don’t know, Spencer. I don’t bring every random employee up there.” Brendon replied but while saying that he looked at me and the way he did made something inside me break. It was as if nothing had every happened between us. It was as if we barely knew each other and well, maybe we didn’t.
“Aren’t you supposed to work, Ross?” He then nodded using the same business tone he had used before. Brendon wore a poker face but I would’ve paid him to show me what was going on inside him. “I could fire you, you know?” “You could.” I replied but I knew that he actually wouldn’t. I still had the thing I could blackmail him with and he wouldn’t risk his career just like that.
“Get back to work, Ross.” Brendon just said and I did because I couldn’t stand his attitude anymore. I left him and Spencer standing there and searched the way back to the main hall. Dallon looked as furious as I had imagined him to look. “Do you have any idea what the time is right now? Are you kidding me, Ryan? Brendon just came here and I had to tell him that you have disappeared again. He will certainly fire you this time.” He bursted out and I almost had to laugh because of his expression.
“I just met Brendon and I’m still working here.” I only said. “And what time is it?” “How is that possible?” Dallon exclaimed but then I saw the cogs in his mind move until he eventually realized that he was the reason because I was still here. Because I had seen Brendon and Dallon kiss and could therefore blackmail Brendon I was still working here.
“It’s 2:30.” My coworker replied as casually as if his outburst had never happened. I nodded and we started working alongside each other as if nothing had happened. Maybe everyone in the world was so good at pretending. Maybe that was the only thing people had always been good at.
The last one and a half hours passed by pretty quick and at the end I told Dallon that he could already leave because I had taken such a long break so it was just fair when I stayed a little bit longer. All the other people started to leave too and I was one of the last ones to do so eventually. When I came out of the building I was of course lucky enough to see Brendon Urie standing in front of me. That was just my kind of luck. I hadn’t met him in two weeks and now it didn’t happen once but twice on one day.
My boss didn’t see me or maybe he was just ignoring me but I eventually decided that I didn’t want this to go on like that. This damn incident couldn’t have destroyed everything we had had before.
“Brendon!” I screamed because the other guy started to walk away. He turned around wearing a surprised expression on his face that made me think that he had probably really just not seen me. “Why are you still here?” The younger guy asked and I shrugged. “I told Dallon that he can go a little bit earlier.” I looked at Brendon really quick because I felt that it would’ve been inappropriate to look at him longer. “Listen, I’m sorry about before. It’s just…” “I get it. Ryan. I was just teasing you. I get that you had to talk to Spencer about certain things and I mean, Dallon is perfectly capable of managing the bar himself. Don’t worry.” I wondered who this guy in front of me was. Brendon Urie had too many sides and I doubted that I would ever get to know them all. “Just don’t let it happen again.” He eventually added firmly and I nodded.
Brendon attempted to turn around again but I wasn’t satisfied yet. “Can’t it be like it was before again?” I asked barely loud enough for him to hear but I knew that he had heard me. Something flashed in his eyes and that was when I finally realized something. It was one of these moments where you as a person just thought ‘How stupid have I been to not see that?’ while you would’ve laughed at the person that you were when it was a movie.
Brendon’s brown eyes pierced through me so intensely that I got goosebumps all over my body. “I don’t think so, Ryan.” He eventually sighed desperately – it was the same desperation that I had heard in Z’s voice. It was the same desperation that could only mean one thing.
“It hasn’t been just a kiss, right? Not for you?” I whispered and when Brendon nodded I knew at the latest this moment was the one that would have changed my life forever. Brendon Urie turned around for good and this time I didn’t hold him back. I let him go and when he had left I finally collapsed on the ground.

Chapter Text

I opened the door to the house I lived in with Z and Lizzy, still in trance. I knew that I wasn’t capable of bearing a confrontation with Z because I was barely even capable of setting one foot in front of the other. It wasn’t possible that one men fell in love with another. It just wasn’t. Of course I knew that two men could have an affair but I had never thought of anything beyond.
Homosexuals didn’t fall in love. And Brendon had told me that he wasn’t one. But what was he, if not a homosexual? I pitied Sarah all over again and wondered if he had ever been in love with her really. It was one thing to kiss another person for fun but it was something completely different to tell them that you were in love with them and that was what Brendon had done theoretically.
He hadn’t pronounced the words but he had nodded when I had asked him if the kiss had been more than just what it was for him. And I had seen the expression on his face. This expression that he couldn’t hide behind his poker face because it was too real. And expression said more than words most of the time. I just knew.
I silently put off my coat and shoes and deposited the keys and my wallet on the dresser hoping that Z was still asleep. Standing still for a few seconds and not hearing a sound I thought that she probably was. Breathing out all the air I hadn’t realized I had kept I silently walked upstairs to my room and felt like I was a teenager who sneaked in back home in the middle of the night.
But when I saw that Z’s bedroom door was open all my hopes were destroyed. Eventually I heard her getting ready in the bathroom and got there because I knew that I had no choice. I opened the door quietly but Z didn’t look at me when I entered the room. She was brushing her teeth so lost in her own world that I wondered if she had even realized that I had come in.
“You’re late again.” She eventually claimed so suddenly that I was surprised. Then my wife looked in the mirror and her eyes met mine through the device. Z was wearing her usual work outfit which consisted of black trousers, a white blouse and a black blazer. I ignored her comment because I wasn’t that late actually. “What are you doing?” I asked instead even though I could figure what she was doing.
“I’m going back to work.” Z claimed what I had already guessed. I wondered where this sudden change of attitude came from. The woman in front of me wasn’t my Z but at least she wasn’t that far away from the woman I knew anymore.
“Why?” I asked even though this was a stupid question. I rather should’ve asked why she hadn’t gone to work in these last weeks because we both knew that she hadn’t been physically sick. Z laughed. “Why shouldn’t I go to work? We certainly need the money.” The latter was true but we both knew that she wasn’t actually capable of working at this point.
“You know what you should do, Z? You should see a doctor. That would be the only reasonable thing for you to do.” I exclaimed what I had already been thinking for weeks now. “No Ryan. I don’t need a doctor because you know what? I’m not sick. See, I don’t have a fever, I’m not in pain and I don’t feel sick.” She hedged even though we both knew that I didn’t mean physical sickness.
“No Z, you listen to me now. Linda has lost her baby maybe three weeks ago and since then she had laid in the bed which is completely understandable. She has mourned and she still is mourning but she’ll go back to work on Monday. But then there’s you. You’ve also spent the last weeks in bed but nothing major has happened to you. So you know what? Unfortunately I have to tell you that you have a mental illness.” I finally said the inevitable and both Z and I were shocked for a moment because neither of us had actually expected it.
“But I do have a reason. I have a really good reason, Ryan.” She claimed and looked at me. Our eyes locked and I already knew what she would say before she was actually pronouncing the words. ”It’s you.” I wanted to scream at her, I wanted to scream at the world and I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry for Z and Lizzy, for Brendon and Sarah, for Dallon and his ex-wife, for Spencer and Linda and I wanted to cry for me.
“No Z, I’m not the reason for all of this.” I looked at her meeting the desperate gaze in her eyes and feeling even more broken. “I’m not, okay. You’re sick and you need help because no sane person would act like you did in the last time, not even when their heart was broken. You have a problem and we both know that it can’t go on like that. Please, for Lizzy’s sake, go see a doctor!” I said as desperately as my wife looked.
Z stood still for a few seconds and then she did what I had feared – she started crying. The strong woman collapsed on the floor and I went down with her. My arms embraced her tightly even though I doubted that I as the contributory cause of her pain could actually be able to comfort her.
My chin rested on her head as we were sitting on the floor and I already felt the wetness of her tears through my shirt. And then I couldn’t hold myself together any longer. My sight got blurred and I had to hold back a sob. My father used to tell me that men where weak when they would cry and I had steadied that philosophy for such a long time but now I knew that this was bullshit.
Crying wasn’t a sign of weakness. No matter if a woman or a man was doing it, it was rather the opposite. Because when a person cried it meant that they still were able to feel emotions and that they weren’t as jaded as most people. Crying was the bravest thing one could do and it was even braver when one did it in front of another person.
“It’s going to be okay. For real, Z. You need help but eventually it’s going to be okay.” I whispered, voice broken, and maybe I really believed it this time. Z and I were two heroes sitting on the bathroom floor. We were the true heroes.
***
I had called Z’s doctor a few days ago because she had been too anxious to do it and she had gotten an appointment today. It was Friday morning which usually meant that I would be asleep at this time but I certainly wouldn’t sleep now. Both of us had decided that it would be better to ask for an appointment in the morning when Lizzy was in the kindergarten so she wouldn’t witness that her mother went to the doctor.
Z had one of her lows today being quiet and lost in her own world. It had been way too hard to get her out of bed but now we were leaving the house to go to the car. I closed the door knowing that everything would be different when we would come back here later.
“Come on.” I said in the same tone as I was talking to Lizzy even though Z was a grown up. She followed me reluctantly and eventually we sat down in the car – I of course at the driver’s side. The ride lasted about fifteen minutes but it rather felt like fifteen hours because neither of us was talking. The silence spread between us but it wasn’t a comfortable silence. It was the kind where you basically counted every second.
Eventually I stopped in front of the building where many doctor’s including Z’s had their praxis in. We got out of the car and I rang the bell as we were standing in front of the praxis. Taking one last breath I opened the door eventually and we approached the counter. Of course we had to wait in anteroom. I doubted that it had ever happened before that people actually were called at the scheduled time.
Because it was a general practitioner there were several different people in the room and it was impossible to figure out the reason why they were all here. One could only see the external diseases but one could never tell how a person felt on the inside.
We had to wait for more than an hour and when ‘Elizabeth Berg’ was finally called I felt like we had already been sitting there for days. My wife didn’t really react so I just dragged her out of the chair and without protesting she eventually followed me to the treatment room where the doctor was already waiting.
It was a middle-aged men who already knew Z for years and I hoped that if there was someone who could help her it was him. The three of us sat down and if he thought that it was weird that an adult person had to be consulted by another adult person he didn’t let it show.
“What can I do for you, Mrs. Berg?” He asked directed at her but I doubted that Z would answer. Instead I started to talk and described all the symptoms I had seen in the last few weeks or maybe even months. The doctor listened to me patiently sometimes nodding but his poker face didn’t show what he was thinking.
“Can I see your arms please?” He eventually asked directed towards Z and I wondered why he would ask such a stupid questions. But then I witnessed how my wife suddenly glowed up in panic. She shook her head vehemently as if the doctor would’ve asked if he could see her vagina.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Berg, but I really need you to show me your arms. Okay? It’s not that hard. Just ruck up your sleeves.” She started to cry silently but eventually she nodded. I didn’t understand what was going on here. But then Z rucked up her sleeves and revealed most certainly the most horrifying thing I had ever seen.
I had seen blood before. I had seen wounds before. But as I saw all the wounds on Z’s insides of her arms I felt like I was about to faint. There were so many cuts – some of them rather scars at this point but others new as if they had been inflicted at some point in the last few days. At least it didn’t look like Z was trying to kill herself because the cuts always ran horizontal instead of vertical like the arteries were.
The doctor looked like he had seen something like that a dozen times before – and well, maybe he had – but I certainly hadn’t and knowing that I was part of the reason that Z had done this made me feel beyond terrified. How was it possible that Z was doing something like that and that I had never realized it? What kind of shitty husband was I actually?
“I don’t want to say something prematurely but from what you’ve told me and from what I see here” the doctor eventually started to judge “I think that this looks very much like a bipolar disorder.” “What disorder?” I asked because I had never heard of something like that before.
The doctor sighed which was the first sign of emotion he let come through. “You certainly know what a depression is, right?” He then asked and I nodded. “Well, the depression is just one side of the bipolar disorder. The other side are elevated moods or rather euphoria but not as we normally know it. When a person suffers from a bipolar disorder they either feel extremely sad and useless or they feel like they can do anything and want to do irrational things which is described as mania. For example, you have told me about the Europe trip. That would be such a maniac episode.”
At some point in the doctor’s explanation Z had started to cry and I wondered if it was because of what the guy had said or if it was because of something completely else. Either way, my heart broke for the hundredth time that day.
“How will we proceed now?” I asked barely able to pronounce the words because my voice was so broken. This wasn’t real. This couldn’t be the fucking reality. I inspected the room which was a usual treatment room with a desk in the middle, lockers with pills and other stuff and some pictures to lighten the mood. Everything was supposed to be normal expect it was everything but that.
“I would definitely recommend a mental institution for a while. A change of the environment is usually a little help and…” The doctor started but Z cut him off. “I’m not fucking crazy. I don’t need to go to a clinic.” She said angrily but the traces of tears where still visible on her face. “Nobody says that you’re crazy, Mrs. Berg. But you do have a problem and in such an institution there are people who can help you feel better in the long run and that’s what we all want, right?”
Z eventually nodded desperately and the words slowly started to reach both of us. In order for Z to feel better she would probably have to be hospitalized which meant that she wouldn’t live at home for some time. How was that supposed to be better?
The doctor continued talking, gave her a signing over to a psychiatrist who would treat her further and eventually we left the doctor’s office. I had known that it would be bad. I had known that both our lives would change after that visit but never would I have guessed that something like that would happen.
Z and I said nothing to each other like usual and maybe that was the problem. Maybe the problem was that we didn’t talk to each other anymore. “I’m sorry, Ryan.” She eventually started quietly as we both entered the car. I sat down at the driver’s side and sighed. “What are you sorry for? There’s nothing you’ve done, Z. Nothing of this is your fault. You know what? It’s all mine because I’m not able to love you like a husband is supposed to love his wife.”
“Don’t say anything like that. I may have said stupid shit before but this isn’t your fault at all. Sure I’m extremely sad and desperate but sometimes that’s how it is. Sometimes you love a person and they don’t love you back but there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m just so stupid, you know? Because I’d known what I would come at. We’d both agreed that it would be a convenience marriage and I was fine with that. But now? Now I’ve been stupid enough to actually fall in love with you.” Z started to cry again and I wanted to do the same but I knew that I couldn’t afford it at this point.
“Let’s just agree that this is neither your nor my fault, okay? You’re sick and that’s not something one could control. But it will be better eventually, I promise you that. You’ll go to that stupid clinic and I’ll take care of Lizzy as long as you need to stay there. And when you come back everything will be better.” I claimed and I really started to believe it. Now we knew that there was something wrong with Z and that she could be saved.
“Thank you, Ryan.” My wife whispered as I started the vehicle. I looked at her intensely. I looked at her putting all my positive energy in it and eventually answered “Always.” Z tried to smile at me but she failed and I didn’t blame her. There were still so many things we needed to talk about – the cuts, the clinic, the pills, Lizzy – but now wasn’t the time.
“It will never be how it has been again, right?” Z eventually asked after both of us had remained silent for most of the ride. “No, it won’t. Of course it won’t.” I replied sadly but then I thought about it. Z and I had met when she had still been together with Roger and then he had started to abuse her. Then she had become pregnant and we had married and everything was fine. But had it really been fine? “But maybe that’s not a bad thing. Change isn’t always bad.” I added hopefully and Z nodded. “Maybe.”
I stopped the car in front of our house and we got out of it. Everything looked still the same but all the other things had changed therefore. As we entered the house I realized how tired I actually was. I hadn’t slept in about twenty-two and I had spent eight hours of the time I had been awake at work. Before the adrenaline had kept me awake but I doubted that I would be able to make it to work without at least a couple hours of sleep.
I looked at Z skeptically because I didn’t want to leave her alone. After what I had seen I never wanted to leave her alone again. “What do you want to do? Do you maybe want to eat something? I could…” I started but she interrupted me. “Stop it, Ryan. You don’t have to take extra-care about me now that it got confirmed that I’m crazy.” She claimed. “You’re not crazy, Z.” I said vehemently but she just sighed. “If you say so.”
“To answer your question, I honestly just want to sit down on the couch and do nothing. Nothing fancy honestly.” I nodded and kept on nodding which was completely ridiculous. Sleep deprivation kicked in like hell.
Z and I sat down next to each other and I put my arm around her trying to stay awake but it wasn’t possible anymore.
*** “Living alone certainly has its advantages, right?” Roger asked excited. I was already living in the other city for roughly two weeks but he had never visited me before. He had always been too busy – at least that was what he had claimed but I doubted that it was true. Z however had already visited me several times and for some reason I wished that she would be here too.
“Yeah, of course.” I replied not mentioning all the disadvantages of living in a shitty place like this one. Roger didn’t know how lucky he was to have such caring parents and that he could stay at home without being terrified. But people usually didn’t realize what they had. They just did when that thing was taken from them and for some reason I wanted that to happen for him.
“What do you have here to eat?” He continued asking as if I’d be able to afford much. “I could offer you some leftover pasta with tomato sauce from yesterday. The classic.” I said jokingly but he didn’t look as happy anymore. “Are you kidding me? I want to eat something delicious, not some shit like that.” Roger exclaimed so loud that probably the whole building had heard it.
The walls here were so thin that one was able to hear many things that one didn’t exactly want to hear. I had heard people fucking, arguing, crying and the worst, I had heard the shitting. Living in this building wasn’t really better than living on the street. Well, at least I had a bed.
“And how exactly do you want me to afford some fancy shit? Roger, I’m still underage and I’m working at some shitty bar I’m not even allowed to work in legally. I’ll barely be able to pay the rent and look at this shithole. Maybe you’ll understand how low my standards are now.” I almost screamed because I was so angry. Roger still didn’t understand that not everyone got such a big support by their parents.
He looked at me intensely and something I couldn’t identify glared up in his eyes. For a moment I actually thought that he would hit me but then he didn’t. “I have to go.” He just said as if that conversation had never happened. Roger took his coat and then left the apartment without saying another word. “I hate you.” I quietly said even though he wasn’t able to hear me anymore.
I could’ve followed him. I could’ve hold him back but if I was honest I didn’t want to. Instead I wondered how I could’ve ever been friends with such a person. Apparently Jon had been the only good person that had ever been part of my life. Sometimes I wondered what my best friend would say if he would know what I was doing here. Would he judge? I felt like I was doing everything wrong.
I got brought back to the reality by the sound of two people arguing. That wasn’t something unusual to hear here but as I listened more closely I realized that it was Roger and Z who were fighting. I escaped my rigidity eventually and crossed the apartment.
Then I breathed in one last time and opened the door to see the two of them in front of the door. First neither of them saw me but I saw the frightened expression on Z’s face. “I knew it. I fucking knew it.” Roger just said vehemently and I saw that he wanted to add something else but then he realized that I was watching them.
His expression got softer but at this point he wasn’t able to fool me around anymore. At this point I knew how much of an arsehole he was. “Could you explain to me, Ryan, why my girlfriend wanted to visit you at a time like that?” Roger said in a bittersweet voice. This voice could only mean that he was about to explode eventually.
I shrugged not wanting to give him more reasons to get angry. “She probably wanted to just see me and I don’t see what’s wrong about that. Just friends meeting friends.” I said in a calm voice but in the moment I had pronounced the words I knew that it had been a big mistake because Roger’s expression got even madder.
“I knew it, you fucker. I fucking knew it.” He claimed even though I couldn’t follow him. I couldn’t follow the sick fantasy he was making up again. Neither Z nor I answered so he just continued talking. “You don’t have to fool me around any longer. I’m not that stupid. I may not be such a poetic genius as you are, Ryan, and I may not be as smart as you, Z, but I’m not stupid either.”
“Nobody has said that, baby.” Z said softly but the words sounded so wrong out of her mouth. I quickly looked at her and she looked back desperately. In this moment both of us wondered why we had such a sick person as Roger in our lives.
I wondered why she didn’t end the relationship with him. Why didn’t she just break up with him? She certainly didn’t love him anymore and I actually wondered if she ever had. Why did she get together with him in the first place? But maybe Z was even more afraid of what would follow if she and Roger weren’t together anymore. Maybe that was the real problem.
“No, no! Both of you think that I’m fucking stupid. Why don’t you just admit it?” Roger screamed through the whole hallway. Fortunately I didn’t care what my neighbors thought about me. “Why don’t you just admit that you have an affair? That you’ve been secretly meeting up for weeks now?” Roger spoke so vehemently that some splashes of saliva flew out of his mouth.
I needed a few seconds to process the accusation but when I had I couldn’t help myself but started laughing. I laughed because that was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. And if Roger would’ve been another person he certainly would’ve known that I would never even consider fucking the girlfriend of someone else.
“What’s so funny?” He asked aggressively and that was probably the point where I should’ve stopped laughing but I couldn’t control myself anymore. “Stop, Ryan.” Z even said and maybe that was when I had finally realized that I had signed my own death warrant. The laughter died on my lips and there were some seconds of silence which could only mean the calm before the storm.
“You shouldn’t have done that.” Roger said in a terrifying tone and then he carried out the first punch. I felt the pain in my nose and then I felt how the blood ran down until it reached my lips eventually. It entered my mouth and I eventually tasted the metallic liquid. Something that was already way too normal for me.
Roger laughed sadistically and in this moment I wondered who was worse: My father or him. Maybe the latter would become such a monster as my father was eventually. “Fight me, you pussy.” He said provokingly but I wouldn’t act on it. It wasn’t worth it because I knew that Roger would remain an arsehole.
When he saw that I wouldn’t do anything he attempted to punch me again but instead of hitting me he stroke Z who cried out. I knew that I would never forget that sound of terror that was coming out of her throat. My brain didn’t work, it was just my body in this moment and I knew that I needed to punch him back. “You bastard! You fucking arsehole!” I screamed as angry as I had never been before in my life.
Roger ran down the stairs and I wanted to follow him but Z held me back. “Please don’t, Ryan.” She said quietly. “It’s enough. Please don’t do it.” Her broken voice brought me back to the reality and the reality was that a broken girl was standing right next to me plus it wouldn’t be effective to punch Roger back. Punching back never was.
“I’m sorry, Z. It’s just…” I stuttered trying to regain my composure. “How the hell could he do that?” “Are you okay, Ryan?” She asked me worriedly but I just shook my head. “I’m fine, Z. What I meant is how could he do that to you and then just run away? He’s such a bastard.”
“Hey, don’t insult his mother. She’s an angel.” Z said in a joking tone even though the situation was everything but funny. “Right. He’s…” I tried to think of the worst insult that didn’t include another person but I couldn’t think of one. “He’s a cunt.” Z simply said and I nodded. Actually, there wasn’t a word that could describe people like Roger but I liked to throw every insult I knew at him.
“You should break up with him. For real, Z, it can’t go on like that.” I said seriously looking at the girl in front of me. The tears were now dry because now she just looked angry and I could definitely understand that. Why did the worst things always happen to the best people? And why was it possible that such lovely people as Roger’s parents had produced such a cunt?
Z looked at me as seriously as I had talked before. “I already have, Ryan. It’s over. That’s what I actually wanted to tell you when I came here before…” She paused. “Yeah, it’s over, I swear.” I nodded while I still needed to process the whole meaning of her words. The way how Z had told me that it was over had been so casual as if this wasn’t a big deal. Expect it was.
“Wow Z, that’s… I mean that’s really great. Wow, I’m proud of you.” I replied not being able to find the right words. “You’re definitely better off without Roger, okay? We both are.” I nodded to assure that both of us. Z wasn’t able to look into my eyes and I wondered what was going on inside her head.
“Let’s go to a coffee shop. You can take what you want because everything will be on me.” I suggested even though I absolutely had no money to afford that. “You need to clean your face first.” She replied and painfully remembered me that there was still blood on my face that was now already starting to dry up.
I wondered how it was possible that nobody of my neighbors had walked up or down the stairs while we had been standing there but people where probably too much caught up in their own shit anyways. I quickly went to the bathroom to remove the blood and realized that it was one of these wounds that bled much even though the wound itself wasn’t that big.
Then I got back to the hallway where Z was still standing. After grabbing my coat, wallet and keys I eventually closed the door and looked at the girl next to me who looked down at the ground awkwardly. “Come on. We’ve got something to celebrate.” I claimed even though it certainly didn’t feel like that at all.
*** I woke up feeling completely disorientated as usual after such a dream or rather a memory. After these I always needed some time to differentiate the Z I had just seen and the Z like she was today. Now I realized that the two might have more in common than I wanted to admit.
I was laying on the sofa of the living room and Lizzy was sitting on the armchair inspecting me awkwardly. “Mr. Urie is here.” She only said and I needed a few seconds to process her words. Brendon was here in my house at daytime. “Where’s Z and how late is it?” I asked two of the many questions that were cursing around in my mind. Z looked at me as if she was already an adult and I needed to remember again that she wasn’t.
“Mommy’s in the kitchen talking with Mr. Urie. Mrs. Urie is also there. I don’t know what they’re talking about because they sent me away.” The little girl claimed. “And it’s about 4 pm now.” She added. This meant that I had slept for at least a few hours but I wondered why nobody had woken me up before.
“Stay here, okay?” I asked Lizzy and she nodded. I hated leaving her like that but I needed to find out why the Urie’s were here and they were certainly talking about something that a little girl shouldn’t hear.
I left the living room still half-asleep and as I was crossing the hallway I started to hear Brendon’s voice. The latter was so dominant and strong that I for some reason wondered why he hadn’t considered a different career path. He certainly would’ve been a great singer. But maybe the casino was just the right thing for him after all.
I realized that I had hold my breath unconsciously and now let it all out before entering the kitchen. Sarah as well as Brendon were standing with their backs towards me and Z was hidden by both of them. The Urie’s seemed so misplaced in a place like this just like Z and I were misplaced in their mansion.
I wanted to listen to them without being noticed but of course I was stupid enough to drop the pen I had picked up before. All three heads turned around in unison, surprise on their faces. I had intended to be prepared for Brendon’s appearance. I had known that he was here but now that he was looking at me so intensely as if he would really look at me and not just through me I was everything but that.
I wanted to faint and I wanted to scream and I wanted to cry and maybe I even wanted to kiss him. I definitely wanted to kiss those perfect lips that unlike mine weren’t chewed up like crazy. I wanted to touch his hair and I wanted to mess up the latter until it didn’t look nearly as perfect as it did right now. And I wanted him to put my arms around me to make me feel something Z would never be able to make me feel.
But then I almost laughed because of how ridiculous my thoughts were again. I was just confused because of what he had told me. Brendon had admitted that it hadn’t been just a kiss for him and because of that I was confused and that was completely normal.
I looked at Z who tried to smile at me. She looked so small in the big shirt that had maybe belonged to me at some point, I didn’t even know anymore. And suddenly I wondered how I hadn’t noticed that she was always wearing shirts with long sleeves because now that I knew what was underneath them, it was so obvious.
“What are you doing here?” I eventually managed to ask everyone. “They came over because of my job. You know, because I’ve missed for so long already and because I will for some more.” Z explained and I wondered what she had told Sarah and Brendon. Because she certainly hadn’t told them that she would live in a mental institution for some time.
I nodded eventually looking at Brendon again and realizing that he was maybe looking at me as desperately as I was looking at me. Just maybe. “Sarah, Z, could I maybe talk to Brendon for a second?” I asked even though I didn’t even know what I was doing here. The women nodded and attempted to leave the room but I stopped them. “No wait, you can stay here. Brendon and I will go for a walk, won’t we?” I claimed but it was rather a question.
The other guy nodded and our wives didn’t complain so we eventually got to the door and took our coats. I also took the keys and then I followed Brendon who had already left the house. It was a cloudy, grey afternoon which fit pretty well with the overall mood today but then I looked at Brendon again and couldn’t help but smile.
“What’s so funny?” He asked jokingly and that was when my smile disappeared completely. Nothing about this was funny and maybe that was the problem and he knew it. Brendon Urie was maybe in love with me and all I was able to do was thinking about kissing him even though I wasn’t even a homosexual. I shook my head but didn’t say anything. Instead I just set one foot in front of the other trying to ignore his piercing gaze.
Because it fit so well it actually started raining. First it was just tiny drops but eventually it started pouring and our clothes soaked up all the water in just a few minutes. It had been cold before but now that everything was soggy I was actually freezing.
“What are we doing here?” The younger guy asked confused as I dragged him under a bridge where we were save from the rain. Not that it would’ve helped us now that we were already wet to the bone. I looked at Brendon and realized that both of us could’ve been normal people in this moment if one didn’t look at Brendon’s suit. We could’ve been two casual guys who had just been unlucky enough to be caught by the rain. Right here Brendon wasn’t that snobbish rich guy and I wasn’t that guy who wasn’t able to love his wife.
As I looked at him I realized that his cheeks were red like he was blushing but I knew that it was just because of the rain. “Ryan, what’s wrong?” He whispered barely loud enough for me to hear but I just shook my head. Nothing was wrong and that was what was wrong.
And when Brendon said “Fuck it!” I knew exactly what he was about to do. His lips crashed on mine with such an intensity that I almost collapsed and I immediately kissed him back with the same intensity. There was no hesitating this time, no doubts, just this.
My body was pressed against Brendon’s and then I felt his hard cock through the fabric. It should’ve made me freak out but it didn’t and that was what frightened me the most but I didn’t show it. Brendon was so horny and I had to admit that I was too. His tongue slid into my mouth and my hands touched his hair finally messing it up like I had wanted to do the whole time.
And then he did something new: He slid his hands under my shirt and I screamed in shock. Brendon immediately backed away but I just laughed. “Fuck Brendon, that was too cold.” I said referring to his hands and he needed a few seconds to realize what I meant but then he laughed too.
Eventually we stopped laughing though and were looking at each other seriously. "Neither of us is drunk.” Brendon stated as if being drunk was the only excuse for doing this. And well, maybe it was. I shook my head. “No, we aren’t.” One part of me thought that Brendon would run away again but instead he just said “Fuck it!” like he had before and kissed me again.
I pressed my lips against his inhaling him like he was the air I needed to breathe and then I was the one who slid my hands under his shirt, but carefully so he wouldn’t be shocked like I had been before. I touched his stomach feeling the little bit of hair that a woman wouldn’t have there but it didn’t bother me. For some reason it didn’t bother me at all.
There was just this decomposed bridge, the pouring rain, Brendon in his suit and I in my casual clothes. It could’ve been the weirdest thing ever but instead it was the most wonderful. We were kissing each other completely forgetting about everything important and I realized that maybe Brendon Urie wasn’t the person who would destroy my life completely. Maybe it was the complete opposite and he would actually turn out to be the only one who could save me.

Chapter Text

“Do you have everything? Are you sure you don’t want to take the book?” I asked Z offering her ‘The Count Of Monte Christo” which was one of my favorite books. My wife was leaving for the mental institution today which Lizzy of course didn’t know. Instead we had told her that she would visit her mother because the latter needed some help. I felt like this time Lizzy really believed both of us because even she was probably too young to understand what a mental institution actually was.
Z attempted to smile at me and I realized all over again how broken and defeated she actually looked. This was all for the best. It was. “No, thank you, Ryan. We both know that I’m not a great reader – that’s your job.” I nodded putting the well-thumbed edition aside and eventually grabbed my coat and the car keys.
“Why can’t I come with you?” Z asked defiantly as I took Z’s luggage which really wasn’t much. We had told Lizzy to stay at home while I would bring Z to the train station from where she would allegedly travel to Utah. I shook my head vehemently. “No, you’re going to stay here but I’ll be back really fast, I promise!” I replied not being able to find a good excuse. “You’re even allowed to watch TV, okay?” I added and Lizzy’s face brightened. That was how one could always get little children.
She ran away to the living room and shortly after I heard the muffled sounds of people talking. Z and I took the opportunity and left the house silently because mother and daughter had already said their goodbyes before and I knew that the same problem would eventually evolve when they did so again.
We approached the car and I sat down at the driver’s side thinking about the time where we had still lived in Utah and where Z had always been the one to drive.
I started the vehicle targeting the institution that was maybe a thirty minute ride with the car. Z and I had talked to the psychologist first and he had only confirmed the statement of the doctor and the rest had passed off pretty fast. And now we were here.
Sometimes I still couldn’t believe that Z was actually the one who needed to be admitted to a mental institution. She had always been so strong and stable. Sure she had had some episodes when she had still been together with Roger but back then it had been nothing out of the ordinary and she had handled the situation relatively well.
Z had always been my idol in so many aspects and I had always admired her because I had thought that if one of us would be mentally unstable it would be me. I had always thought that one day I would end up in the place where I was now transporting her to but now everything was the complete opposite.
One never really knew another person and I painfully had to realize that I didn’t know my wife at all. I hadn’t noticed how fucked up she actually was and I hadn’t acted on it earlier.
“I’m so afraid, Ryan.” She eventually whispered after some minutes of silence. Just in this moment I crossed the road where Brendon and I had almost died that day and where he had kissed me afterwards and where I had returned the kiss and where everything had started but then also nothing. I surely shouldn’t think about that now.
I wondered what would have happened if I really would’ve died that day. Would Z even still be alive and what would become of Lizzy? I didn’t want to but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The fear crippled me in the worst way but I knew that I had to comfort Z.
“You don’t need to be.” I replied honestly but as I quickly looked at her I saw the terror in her eyes. “Everyone will laugh at me and everyone will think that I’m crazy.” She continued prognosticating and I sighed. “Nobody will laugh at you because you know what, Z? Nobody knows because we haven't told anyone where you’ll spend the next weeks. It isn’t anyone’s business but ours. And you’re everything but crazy. You’re the most gorgeous person and sometimes even gorgeous people can’t handle their problems alone. Everyone needs help from time to time and that isn’t something bad.”
I glanced at her for a second as the traffic light was red. Maybe Z believed me to some extent or maybe she didn’t but I knew that I had to have said these words. “Thank you.” My wife eventually whispered. I shook my head. “I love you, Z.” I blurted out realizing that I better shouldn’t have said that and saw her face glowing up for a second. “I know, Ryan.” She replied firmly but also both of us knew that we didn’t feel the same kind of love for each other.
Eventually we arrived in front of a building that looked like a normal hospital. Mental institutions literally had the worst reputation and I just hoped that it was another thing where people liked to exaggerate like they usually did. I took Z’s bag out of the trunk and then locked the car because I wouldn’t let my wife go in there alone.
We entered the institution together and I realized that also the entrance hall looked similar to one of a hospital. And I certainly knew much about hospitals. I had been there so often because of my mother, because of my mother but mostly because of myself and at some point in my teenage years the hospital in my home town had become kind of my second home. Sometimes I wondered if all the people I hated where still living in that city. Even though I hadn’t spoken to my father since I had ran away I sometimes wondered if he was still living together with that women and I also wondered what had become of Roger.
Hospital were my terrain, really, but I had never been in a mental institution before. That was new and it had been something I had never wanted to step in. “How can I help you?” The man at the counter asked and I was surprised to see a male person sitting there. Not that I wanted to discriminate anyone but usually it was a women’s job.
He inspected Z and I wondered if he was able to see why we had come here. Was everyone able to see what I hadn’t in so long? Even though both Z and I were extremely nervous I decided to talk because that was probably something Z would have to do much in the following weeks. “That is my wife Elizabeth Berg.” I started pointing at her. “We’re here… She’s here because she’s supposed to stay here for the next weeks.”
The expression on the man’s face changed and I guessed that he probably hadn’t been able to identify that Z was a patient before. If even he, who was working in a mental institution, was judging about Z so quickly than I didn’t want to know how other people would look at my wife if they would know that she was here. But nobody would ever get to know.
Eventually the man stood up to search through the alphabetically ordered records that were piled a few feet away. Everything seemed like a big mess but it seemed like it was still organized somehow. I looked at him from the side. He was probably my age but I had never been able to guess one’s age well. I wondered if he had a wife or even children and if he was happy with his job or if his dream was actually something else.
But then I guessed that it was probably the latter because who would’ve found fulfillment in a job in a mental institution. Most people were just doing their job even though they had another dream and I wasn’t to be excluding from them. I also had a dream which would probably always stay just that – a dream.
“Ah, here you are Mrs. Berg.” The man eventually claimed and I wondered what exactly was standing in that record as he was reading it. “The doctor already expects you and then someone will lead you to your room. But first, say goodbye to your husband and I will show you the doctor’s office.” The man had enough respect to pretend that he was doing something else so Z and I could dismiss each other.
Fortunately nobody else was in the entrance hall so we sat down on two of the many chairs that were probably standing there for people who had to wait or something. Z started to cry and I wanted to do the same but I knew that I couldn’t afford it – not only because I was a man and because we were in public, rather because I needed to be strong for my wife, especially now.
“Take good care of my girl.” Z whispered with a broken voice and I nodded. “Of course I will. I always do, you know that.” I replied feeling the need to justify myself. “But you take care of yourself Z. I mean it.” I looked at her and there were so many unspoken words between us but they couldn’t be said because either they were too private for the moment or maybe they shouldn’t be said in general.
I nodded like I usually did when I didn’t know what else to do. And the movement was also my way to say goodbye because my throat wasn’t able to form any more words at this point. The man from the counter approached us as if he had sensed that the conversation was over and Z stood up again. “Goodbye, Ryan.” She whispered as if it was a goodbye forever.
I could’ve said that I would visit her or I could’ve said that Lizzy and I would call. I could’ve said any comforting thing but instead I just nodded again and kept my mouth shut. The man grabbed my wife’s bag and then they turned around. Before Z left the entrance hall completely she turned around one last time and the expression on her face finally broke me. There was so much desperation, sadness and condolement in it – condolement because of what wasn’t and what could never be – that I simply couldn’t hold back the tears anymore.
I started crying not caring about who would see me and not caring about that people always said that men had to be strong and weren’t allowed to cry – fuck that – and I wondered if it had been the right decision to have brought Z here. Eventually I stood up and left the building with people in it who would hopefully be able to make Z feel better.
I knew that Z wouldn’t be perfectly happy after those weeks. Problems didn’t just disappear and people usually didn’t fall out of love with another person like that. It all needed some time but the mental institution was probably the first step in the right direction. At least I hoped so.
As I was driving back home it felt like I had just dismissed Z forever. It felt like she had travelled to Europe like she had wanted to in one of her manic phases even though the institution was only a thirty minute drive with the car. Maybe location-wise we weren’t that far apart from each other but therefore considering everything else. Z could’ve as well been at the other end of the world.
As I approached the street where our house was located in I already saw from afar that there was a car standing in the driveway, one I already knew way too well because I had driven it myself several times.
Brendon had never visited me at daytime before. Well, there had been one exception where he and Sarah had come over because they needed to talk to Z but Brendon alone had never visited me just like that. He just didn’t do something like that and I wondered why he did it now at the possibly worst point.
I still hadn’t processed the kisses and I didn’t even want to think about what this thing between Brendon and me was. There were too many other things happening in my life anyways and at least considering that I was happy about it. I sighed parking the car next to Brendon’s and wondered why Lizzy had apparently let him in. Z and I had taught her that she shan’t open the door for anyone and she didn’t knew Brendon all too well actually.
Quickly getting out of the car and realizing how misplaced Brendon’s looked next to mine I approached the house and opened the door. When I entered I immediately heard talking noises and occasional giggling. I closed my eyes imagining how Brendon and my daughter were sitting in the living room laughing with each other but I just couldn’t picture the snobbish arsehole with a child. But then I thought that I hadn’t pictured myself with a child either years ago.
I stopped in the doorframe of the living room because neither Brendon nor Lizzy saw me. They were playing Rummy which had become Lizzy’s favorite game at this point. Brendon was expounding something and the girl laughed again mentioning that this combination wasn’t possible. I wondered if Brendon was just pretending to be so stupid for the child’s sake or if he really didn’t know how the game was working. But maybe even a person like Brendon Urie had a side in him that could spend time with children pretty well.
I also puzzled if Brendon and Sarah had ever talked about getting children or if they had maybe even tried to get a child but then Lizzy dragged me out of my thoughts because she had seen me. I smiled but then I remembered that I actually wanted to be angry with her because she had let Brendon in. Well, maybe angry was the wrong choice of a word.
“Hey Ryan.” My boss greeted as if it would be completely normal for him to sit in my house and play Rummy with my daughter. I nodded but tried not to look at him because I felt like if I did everyone would be able to see what was going on between us and Lizzy had always been a smart child. Almost too smart in some situations.
“Lizzy, can I talk to you for a second?” I eventually asked instead of greeting Brendon back. She stood up looking confused and together we went to the kitchen. It was weird that Z wasn’t here at a time like this. Even though I had just brought her to the clinic it was already so weird that I wondered how I was supposed to survive the next weeks without having her here.
“Is everything okay, dad?” Lizzy eventually asked and I knee-jerk nodded because there was nothing else I could’ve done. “Sure, I just wanted to talk to you about… You know how we’re always telling you that you aren’t allowed to open the door for strangers.” “But Brendon isn’t a stranger, dad.” The little girl replied and I wondered when she had started calling him ‘Brendon’ instead of ‘Mr. Urie’ like she had usually done weeks before.
The fact that even the little girl was calling him the same as I was appeared way too intimate in so many aspects that it was practically impossible to describe. “It’s still Mr. Urie for you, Lizzy.” I therefore said in a rather strict tone. She couldn’t call him Brendon, that was too wrong. “But Brendon…” She started again but my expression didn’t change. “He has told me that I can call him by his first name.” Lizzy said defiantly and I sighed. “Well, I’m telling you that you shan’t and I’m your father so that should count more.” She eventually nodded and I almost gave in but then I remembered why I wanted to talk to her in the first place.
“So Lizzy, what I actually wanted to say is that you generally shan’t open the door for anyone, okay? Even if it’s a person you think you know.” I started again but before the girl was able to answer Brendon who had apparently been listening replied. “I emphatically asked her to open the door. Really Ryan, she’s just a little girl, okay? Nothing happened.” The younger guy replied looking surprised. He looked surprised as if he had maybe hoped that I would now give him a bigger place in my life which I hadn’t.
“Exactly Brendon. Nothing happened but who knows what will happen next time when a charming man will stand in front of our door. You don’t understand how serious this is, okay? We’ve always told her to never open the door to anyone. That’s not about you.” Finally I allowed myself to look at Brendon a little bit longer. He was wearing his suit as usual – how many of them did he actually have? – and his eyes looked tired as if he had barely slept the night before. His hair was the biggest mess and all I wanted to do was run my fingers through it like I had done before. I wanted to mess it up even more and I wanted to peel Brendon out of this fucking suit and I wanted to do so many things that I shouldn’t even allow myself thinking about with my daughter standing right next to us.
Finally I was able to regain my composure wondering if Brendon was realizing what was just going on inside of me. “Can’t Brendon stay here? Please?” Lizzy eventually asked and I thought about it. It would be the worst decision ever if I would say ‘Yes’. It would be the worst decision ever for both of us but I still did it. And this time I didn’t complain about that Lizzy had called him Brendon again.
So Brendon stayed and the three of us started playing Rummy together as if everything would be fine. As if Z wasn’t in a mental institution, as if I wasn’t wondering how I was supposed to survive the next weeks without her, as if Sarah didn’t exist and most importantly as if nothing had ever happened between Brendon and me. We were playing Rummy as if it was completely normal that the guy in the suit was sitting on the floor of our middle class house.
And suddenly it was already time for both of us to go to work. I guessed that Brendon probably had had other stuff to do too so I wondered why he had come here knowing that he wouldn’t get to talk to me all by ourselves. For the next weeks I would effectively never be alone.
Z and I had decided that Lizzy would go to sleep earlier and I would go to work later so she wouldn’t have to be all by her own. I used to start working at 8 pm and now it would be 9 pm which Brendon was fine with because Dallon was already there anyways. Sometimes I wondered if I was even needed at the bar. Maybe Brendon just didn’t want to fire me.
Actually Z and I could be really happy that Lizzy was such an independent and mature child because I knew that that wasn’t the usual behavior of a four year old. I carried her upstairs while Brendon was waiting downstairs and suddenly I got nervous because for the first time since that kiss under the bridge I would be alone with him.
“Is something wrong, dad?” Lizzy asked me concerned. Somehow children were always sensing when their parents didn’t feel good. Or maybe it was just Lizzy. “It’s just… I miss your mother.” I claimed which were only maybe like five percent of the truth, but at least it was something. “I miss her too.” The girl whispered and then continued talking with a stronger voice. “But she has to help grandma, right? She’ll be back soon.” I nodded swallowing down all the lies that I was telling that child. “Yeah. No, you’re right, grandma needs her help.” I replied.
Lizzy had met Z’s parents maybe two times because we didn’t have the best relationship with them. I was just glad that the girl hadn’t asked to see them now because that certainly would’ve cause problems. But maybe she sensed that it was better not to ask what I certainly wouldn’t let come true.
“Okay. You know what we’ve talked about, yeah. If anything happens – anything – you just call the number that is laying right here on your nightstand. And then I’ll come as soon as possible. But now you have to sleep. You can do that, right?” I explained again feeling bad that I was leaving her on her own. “Are there people who can’t sleep?” She asked with that innocent child voice and I thought about how to answer in a way that she would understand.
“I mean, everyone’s has to sleep at some point, you know that. But there certainly are people who have severe problems falling asleep or sleeping through the night.” I paused. “Sometimes I do have them too.” “Really?” She asked as if I wouldn’t be the time of a person to have problems like that. I didn’t tell Lizzy that I barely slept almost every night because the sorrows were eating me alive. “Yeah, that’s completely normal. But you, you Lizzy will fall asleep really quickly. Good night.”
I embraced her and then stood up to turn off the lights. Then I looked at her one last time and whispered another “Good night.” before I closed the door feeling like the worst father ever.
When I got back to the living room Brendon was still sitting on that same spot on the floor looking at the Rummy cards as if he was studying a highly scientific book. “Ready to go?” I asked bringing him back to the reality and he nodded. That was the situation I had feared since that kiss under the bridge. Because that last kiss had been so different than the ones before. Neither of us had been drunk and neither of us had named an excuse. It had just happened and deep inside me I knew that I for my part didn’t regret it.
“You know” he eventually started talking and because of his tone I was pretty sure that he would talk about the kiss, about us or about something related to us but then he didn’t. “Sarah’s free in the evenings and I think that it wouldn’t be a problem for her to come over her for like two hours, at least until Lizzy’s deep asleep. I think it would be better like that, right?”
“Sure.” I answered way too fast and then tried to take the word back. “I mean… you don’t have to do that but if it’s no problem for her… just if it’s really no problem.” Brendon laughed and I got goosebumps because it was the first time in a while that I heard him laugh genuinely and – why hadn’t I noticed it before – his laugh was so beautiful. It was nothing compared to that disgusting smirk he usually wore on his face as a mask because this was real. This was the real Brendon Urie and I realized that I maybe liked him a little bit too much.
I didn’t wait for a response. Instead I took two steps towards him, grabbed his shoulders and crashed our mouths together. The kiss was wet and messy and our noses bumped together and then there was the fact that Lizzy was upstairs and that she could’ve come downstairs any minute. But then I just stopped thinking about all of this.
My hands eventually started to rummage his hair like they had wanted to the whole time and I couldn’t help but smile against Brendon’s teeth. He used the opportunity to push his tongue into my mouth and both our tongues started to fight with each other. I tried to pull the younger guy even closer and that was when I felt his hard cock through the layers of clothes. And that was when I knew that I absolutely wouldn’t go to work anymore.
We broke the kiss taking a short break in which Brendon pronounced exactly what I had been thinking. “Let’s just skip work. I’m the boss, you know? I can do what I want and I order you to spend the evening with me.” He said in a commanding voice and now it was my turn to laugh. And then I realized that I hadn’t laughed in a fucking long time either and it felt good to do it again for real.
“Help, my boss is forcing me to spend the evening with him.” I said playfully but my right hand was still resting in his hair. “Oh, I don’t think that you have a big problem with that.” Brendon hinted at my hard on smiling. “Shut up.” I replied but only to keep me sane in this whole mess. There was the opportunity of doing something else then kissing, sure, but even if I wanted it we certainly couldn’t do that here. Not in the house I lived in with my wife and not while my daughter was sleeping upstairs. Even I wasn’t so fucked up.
Apparently Brendon was able to read my thoughts again because he suggested something that was more than what I could’ve ever imagined. “Let’s take a hotel room.” He looked at me seriously and I just said “Yes.” as seriously as he looked. I knew that this was by far the worst idea ever and I didn’t even need to mention why at this point but maybe sometimes one needed to implement bad ideas.
I grabbed the keys and then we left the house. Maybe I was the maniac after all because what I was about to do was totally irresponsible. Brendon offered me his car keys again and I took them without hesitating. It had been way to long since I had driven the car and I had honestly missed it. Or maybe I had just missed sitting in the car next to Brendon.
We entered the vehicle and then I started it not being able to repress the grin on my face anymore. It wasn’t because of the car. I didn’t care about the car anymore. But it was because I maybe for the first time in my life felt like a teenager who was about to do something completely crazy but didn’t care about it.
Brendon led me the way and eventually I stopped in front of one of the buildings that belonged to him. It was one of those where the casino was integrated in the hotel like in most cases. I had never thought that I would ever enter one of these buildings and even less that I would get to see a room from the inside but now I was there with the fucking boss and we both felt like we were teenagers.
The bouncer let Brendon pass for obvious reasons and because of the latter he also let me pass. Everyone was wearing suits and I probably should’ve felt misplaced now but I didn’t. Brendon approached the counter where a young woman was sitting at. “Good evening. What can I…” she started saying her standard greeting but then she realized who was standing in front of her.
“Oh my goodness, Mr. Urie. I’m sorry. What… how do I have the honor of talking to you?” She asked as if Brendon was the Pope or something. Well, maybe he was the Pope of Las Vegas’s casinos. I had no clue at all. “I just need a room for tonight. Can you please tell me which ones are still free?” Brendon asked politely and then the woman rattled off numbers so he could think about what would be the best choice.
“Let’s go, Ryan.” Brendon eventually said and I realized that he had apparently decided where we would go. I wondered what the woman probably thought about her boss appearing here at a time where he was supposed to work with a guy and asking for a room. But then I realized that I couldn’t care less because she hadn’t seen anything and it wasn’t her or anyone’s business what we were doing. If I myself would only know what I was doing.
Brendon led me to the elevator and pressed the button of the second-highest floor. “It’s not the penthouse because that was already occupied” he started explaining “but I guess it’s still pretty good.” I didn’t mention that nothing here was just “pretty good”, probably even not the basement.
The ride with the elevator seemed to last hours but then we finally arrived at the floor. The doors opened and we were standing in the middle of a hallway. Three doors were located on the left side and two on the right side and that was where were going. Brendon opened the door at the end of the hallway and I quickly glanced at the room but it wasn’t a normal hotel room – it was rather an own apartment itself.
Normally I would’ve been astonished and I would’ve inspected it further but in this moment I couldn’t care less about the damn room. I closed the door and it fell shut loudly and then I pressed Brendon against it and kissed him with the same intensity that I had already felt when I had kissed him before. This was no innocent kiss. It had never been between us but I had never really realized it before.
I opened the button of Brendon’s pants and unzipped them cutting away all the layers of textiles that were annoying me. I had never thought about having sex with another man because it had never been something I had desired. But now that Brendon was standing in front of me just with his boxers clearly visibly having a hard cock I knew that this was what I wanted. I wasn’t a homosexual, but I maybe was a little bit gay for Brendon.
His body was so well formed. He wasn’t too boney but also not too opulent. He had some muscles but also not too many. There wasn’t a perfect person but in this moment I thought that Brendon’s body was maybe the closest thing to that. “Have you ever done that before?” I eventually whispered between kisses barely able to breathe. Brendon sucked my energy in and I didn’t care. He didn’t say anything but the way he looked at me showed me that he had. I wondered if it had happened with Dallon but it probably had after everything the latter had told me.
“You don’t have to be nervous. Actually, it’s not that different from having sex with a women.” He paused laughing. “Or well, maybe it is. But still, don’t be nervous.” I nodded not being able to talk because his laugh captured me and I almost choked because it was all too much.
Now it was Brendon’s turn to kiss me. His tongue pushed into my mouth and I moaned feeling that my cock couldn’t handle all of this anymore. Brendon opened my pants too and soon after all our clothes were laying on the floor and we were standing naked in front of each other.
I felt exposed, but not just because I was naked, even more because I was trusting Brendon so much that we were actually doing this and that was what really got me. “Fuck, Ryan, you’re so beautiful.” Brendon groaned and these was the push I had needed. I kissed him again and our cocks touched which was the weirdest feeling ever.
And then Brendon did something I absolutely hadn’t seen coming. He got down on his knees and took my cock into his mouth. It all happened so fast that I was already halfway reaching my climax when I had completely realized what was going on. Brendon sucked my dick and I felt like this definitely wasn’t the first time that he had done that. I wondered if he had been drunk when he had done it before. I wanted if it had been a conscious decision.
“Stop thinking, Ryan. Relax.” He eventually said releasing my cock for just a quick moment. I nodded and then I just did what he said. I calmed down while he took my incredibly hard cock in his mouth again. And then I looked down and saw how Brendon fucking Urie was sucking my cock.
His tongue was so agile and he did it so good that it didn’t take long until I was close to reaching my climax. “Brendon, I…” I started but then I wasn’t able to say anything else. Brendon just continued even though I was pretty sure that he felt that I would come. He sucked my cock as if his life would depend on it and then I couldn’t restrain myself anymore. I came into his mouth and he swallowed everything as if it was the most normal thing to swallow loads of semen.
I collapsed against the wall realizing that we hadn’t even managed to reach the bedroom. How had we managed to not have sex before? I felt like now that we were doing it I would never be able to not do it again even though the act itself hadn’t even happened yet.
I took Brendon’s hand dragging him to where I thought the bedroom would probably be located not caring that our clothes were still lying next to the door. He motioned to the right side and I opened the door to an incredibly big bedroom with an amazing bed but again I didn’t really care about the furnishing.
“Wait here.” Brendon ordered me and I felt like I had done something wrong. But what was there to be done wrong when one received a blowjob? I waited for what felt like hours but were probably just a few seconds until Brendon finally came back. He was still naked which I counted as a good sign and he was carrying something in his hands that I eventually identified as massage oil.
“Did you really think I would run away?” Brendon asked jokingly but than his expression turned serious. “Fuck, Ryan.” He looked at me and there was a passion in his eyes that made me feel like he maybe wanted this as much as I wanted it. And then there was the voice in my mind that told me that he was maybe in love with me but I still didn’t know if I had misunderstood that or not.
This certainly wasn’t about love right now. It was just sex and then I realized that I didn’t even know how exactly sex between two men was working. “What exactly do we need the oil for?” I asked expecting Brendon to laugh but he remained serious and started to explain. “Okay Ryan. You’ll slather your fingers with the oil and then you’ll – I know it sounds weird – but you’ll have to insert your fingers into my anus. First one, then two, then three. That’s all to stretch me so your cock will eventually fit.”
The situation could’ve been weird because we were talking about something like that but the way Brendon was explaining it didn’t make it as weird as it could’ve been. The thought of inserting my fingers into his ass was alienating but I wanted to fuck him so bad and I would try to arrange myself with that. I nodded grabbing the massage oil and slathered my hands with it.
Brendon got down on all fours as if it was the most normal thing in the world and well, maybe it wasn’t so weird if I wouldn’t make it that. “Okay, no first one…” Brendon started but in that moment I already inserted my forefinger into his anus and he stopped talking.
It was a weird feeling first, of course it was. I felt the heat and he was so tight. How would my cock ever fit in there? But after stretching him for a bit I eventually inserted my middle finger too and then the annular finger. The other guy already started moaning and I wondered how something like that could be stimulating. But just the thought of putting my cock into his anus made my cock twitch.
“Okay, I guess that’s enough.” Brendon eventually said with a rough, deep voice and I put all fingers out of him. Then he turned around and I kissed him hard barely capturing his lips whole. Eventually Brendon laid down on his back and I wondered how I was supposed to fuck him like that. “And now put my legs on your shoulders so you can penetrate me.” I did as he said again and realized that this was a pretty great position.
His legs were thus resting on my shoulders and I was full of excitement. My cock was incredibly hard as I eventually tried to insert it in Brendon’s anus. He was so damn tight and first it was difficult to move at all but then I put more of the oil on my cock and then it was working.
At the beginning I didn’t move at all. I just stayed there for a second because my body needed to process the unknown situation. But then I slowly started to push deeper in him only to almost retrieve my cock out of his body completely and then I did the same. Brendon had been right. To some extent it was like fucking a woman but then it was also so different.
Eventually I found a rhythm that seemed to be appealing for both of us because Brendon started to moan and that made it even harder for me to restrain myself. “Fuck, Brendon, you have no idea what you’re doing to me.” I said croaking and we looked at each other while I continued pushing inside him. Brendon seemed as if he wanted to say something but then he just moaned deeply.
Slowly I started to lose control over what I was doing and the pushes became even deeper but Brendon didn’t seem to care. He even appeared to like it. “Fuck, that’s the point.” He exclaimed and I wanted to cry because of how beautiful he looked in that moment.
I felt that I wouldn’t be able to repress the climax any longer and when Brendon said “I’m gonna…” I knew that he felt the same. There were no more words needed between us. I touched his throbbing dick and to help and now I didn’t even think for a second that it was weird to touch another guy’s cock Not while my cock was placed in his ass.
Brendon moaned so loud that I was pretty sure that the people in the next room could hear him but I didn’t care. We were certainly having the better sex here and the sounds that were coming out of his mouth eventually made me reach my climax.
I also couldn’t hold back a deep groan at this point while there were stars dancing in front of my eyes. I shot my semen into his body and in the same moment I felt like he was also coming. The muscles of his anus contracted and for a moment he was so fucking tight again and then the white substance shoot out of his cock and reached my hand, my stomach, his stomach, but I didn’t care.
The last waves of our orgasms ebbed away as I removed my cock from Brendon’s arsehole and we laid down next to each other. The bed would’ve been big enough for two other couples certainly and just now I started to realize how fancy this whole shit actually was. I started laughing but not because I was making fun of the situation. No, it was rather the opposite.
“Which hotel is that actually?” I managed to ask at some point completely out of context. “Brendon laughed too but it was his genuine, authentic laugh that made my heart flutter and I realized that at this point he was maybe the only person I could completely be myself with.
Sure, he didn’t know everything about me and I didn’t know everything about him either – by far not – but every person got to know just a part of myself and Brendon was probably the one who had gotten the biggest part.
“That’s the Flamingo. I know it’s not as fancy as…” Brendon started and I interrupted him astonished. “You call that ‘not that fancy’? Dude, that’s the fanciest bed I’ve ever laid in.” I claimed not wanting to think about how Brendon’s bed in his mansion would probably look like.
Brendon looked at me with an unreadable expression. We were both still naked lying next to each other as if it was the most normal thing in the word. And maybe it was. It was just all the people who made a big deal out of two guys fucking but why shouldn’t it be normal?
“Room 2705.” He eventually added. “You know, because we’re on the 27th floor.” I nodded wondering why he was telling me all that. Brendon’s hair wasn’t messed up now but a real catastrophe at this point. There was still some sperm on his face and his cock was half-hard and he had certainly never looked better.
“Let’s make room 2705 of the Flamingo ours. Let’s make it our little haven.” I whispered not really knowing where these words were coming from. But when Brendon whispered “Okay.” I knew that this was exactly what we both needed more than anything.

Chapter Text

I woke up but on the contrary to all these stories where people said that they needed a few seconds to organize themselves in a new environment I immediately knew where I was and what had happened. It also had to be mentioned that Brendon and I had been completely sober and that was something where I still didn’t know if it had been better or not.
As I looked at the clock which showed me that it was almost five am I realized that I was literally the worst father ever. I had spent most of the night in this room with Brendon instead of working or instead of being with Lizzy.
I looked at him eventually. He was still naked like I was too and the sheets were covering only his legs, his upper body was out in the open. The moonlight shone through the windows and I almost didn’t want to leave but I knew that I had to. I couldn’t believe what we had done because it certainly still appeared to be a dream.
I eventually forced myself to look away and wanted to leave the room to grab my clothes that were still lying next to the entrance door but then Brendon started to talk. “Where the hell are you going?” He asked with a tired voice. “Are you really one of these people who just sneaks away?” He sounded disappointed and I was glad that it was too dark to see his expression.
“No, I’m not, Brendon but I have to go.” I started trying to explain the situation. “C’mon Ryan. Stay. Please stay.” Brendon begged apparently not understanding that I really meant it. “I really have to go. You don’t understand it anyways.” I continued not wanting to start a fight at this point.
“What do I not understand, Ryan? That you’re sneaking away now? That you’re acting as if this didn’t mean anything? Well, maybe it didn’t mean anything to you but it did to me.” “Fuck Brendon, it isn’t always about you, when will you ever understand that, you arsehole? My four year old daughter is alone in our house and my wife is in a mental institution and…” I stopped abruptly realizing what I had just said. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Brendon suddenly sat up in the bed being fully awake now. “Your wife… Z is in a mental institution? What? I thought… so this has all been an excuse?” He stammered and I sighed. “Of course it has. Or what do you think people will say about her having a mental illness. They will call her crazy…” “She isn’t.” I exhaled deeply and nodded even though I doubted that Brendon would be able to see me. “No, I know that but that’d be what most people would think. So please don’t tell anyone, okay?”
At some point I realized that both of us were still naked and I was eternally grateful for the darkness that disguised not only the nakedness itself but also my shame, my expression and everything else.
“Of course I won’t.” Brendon replied and I decided to trust him because somehow it had always been the right decision so far. I attempted to leave again because I knew that I couldn’t bear talking about this any longer but Brendon started to talk again. “Just tell me one thing” he began probably sensing that I really needed to go. We would talk about everything later, I knew that we would, but now was not the time. “Do you regret what we have done?” his voice was barely audible but still, the words sounded so loud in my ears.
I didn’t answer for a long time but not because I was thinking about an answer. No, it had been clear from the start that I wouldn’t regret this. I couldn’t. But the tone in which Brendon had spoken shocked me. It shocked me that he even considered that I would regret this because I had thought that he knew that I wouldn’t. Maybe Brendon Urie wasn’t overly self-confident after all, or at least not in certain situations.
I took a deep breath approaching the bed again and then I sat down next to his silhouette. Our mouths found each other in the darkness and I thought that this was probably enough of an answer. At this point kissing Brendon was like breathing for me. It was completely normal and it was something I needed to survive, maybe even more than the actual air.
My hand automatically started to mess with his hair and my tongue slipped into his mouth really quick but then I took all of the strength I could gather and broke the kiss. I heard his uncontrolled breath and saw the glow in his eyes and I would’ve preferred staying in room 2705 forever over everything else but I was an adult and unfortunately the latter group had to deal with problems – a construct that was called real life. And I knew that this room was too good for being the real life.
I didn’t say a word anymore when I finally left the room to dress myself and Brendon didn’t follow me to hold me back. Instead I left the suite quietly and approached the elevator. I had to wait for almost two minutes until it finally arrived on the 27th floor but then I finally got in and pressed the button of the first floor.
Everything still seemed like a dream but it wasn’t a bad one, it was just surreal. It was so surreal that I almost punched myself to prove that this was the reality. The elevator eventually started moving down but then it stopped again at the 18th floor and two people got in. I needed a few seconds to realize that they weren’t two random people, instead they were Spencer and Nicole who were smiling at each other awkwardly before they realized who was standing in front of them.
“Hey Ryan.” Spencer started trying to appear casual but he failed. “What are you doing here?” He then added as if it wasn’t highly suspicious that he and Nicole were here too. “I had a conversation with the manager of this hotel about maybe switching to work here.” I pronounced the first lie that I could think of. It was a shitty lie because Brendon was actually the owner of this hotel as well as many others and if I really wanted to switch I could’ve easily asked him.
Spencer knew that it wasn’t the truth but he just nodded accepting it and I thought that he probably wouldn’t tell me the truth either when I asked him why he and Nicole were here. “We just bumped into each other because I was talking to Brendon and Nicole was spending the night with a friend who’s staying here in the hotel.” Spencer explained and I could definitely say that he won the contest of who was the worst liar on earth.
Brendon had been with me and it was highly improbable that two people just randomly met on the 18th floor but as Spencer before I just nodded. Neither of us wanted to explain ourselves to the other. Nicole didn’t say a word at all but I wasn’t stupid. Maybe I wasn’t highly intelligent when it was about sex or relationships but even I was able to count one and one together.
I wanted to scream at Spencer because he was cheating on his wife but then I remembered that I had done the same, that I was doing so for weeks now theoretically. After what felt like hours the elevator finally arrived at the first floor and I let out all the air I had hold because the tension had been too high.
Spencer had talked about not loving Linda as much as she loved him before but I hadn’t known that the situation between them was so tensed. I wondered if he had actually really loved her at some point because I couldn’t imagine that there were many guys like me. Because I didn’t love Z romantically it was different. I wasn’t claiming that cheating was good at any point but in my situation it wasn’t as bad.
I had never thought that Spencer would do it though. And maybe he also hadn’t until he had met Nicole. He turned around eventually not being able to look me in the eyes but if I was being honest, I wasn’t either. “We’ll talk later, right?” I nodded wondering when ‘later’ would be and then Spencer walked away.
Nicole was still standing next to me and I realized how her hair looked probably as messed up as Brendon’s. It was all so obvious that I wondered how they couldn’t be more careful. They could’ve at least left the hotel at different times but like that it was overly obvious. “It was nice talking to you, Ryan.” Nicole eventually claimed even though it hadn’t been nice for either of us. “I’m going to pick Lizzy up on Monday so maybe we’ll see each other then or anytime else. Well, I got to go. But it was really nice talking to you, yeah.”
“Bye.” I said as a final words because Nicole just couldn’t stop talking. Maybe there were people who just kept talking in certain situations but I just tended to not open my mouth when I was nervous or something similar. She nodded and finally walked away too so I was standing alone in the hotel lobby.
I still needed a few seconds to process all the information – if I had to be honest I probably would’ve needed weeks to do so but I didn’t have the time – but eventually I left the hotel too wondering how I was supposed to come back home now that I didn’t have a car. Either way, it would’ve been damn expensive and money wasn’t raining from the sky for me. It never had.
“Ryan! Ryan, wait!” I eventually heard Brendon’s voice and as I turned around I saw him running towards me. He was wrapped in a hotel bathrobe and I realized that it was probably the first time I saw him not wearing a suit, well, excluding that I had seen him naked before.
His hair looked even worse than I could’ve imagined but that was just what made him more attractive and authentic. All I wanted to do was grab him and kiss him right there but I wouldn’t do that. I wanted to not care about what other people would think but I knew that I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t afford ending up in prison while Z was mentally instable and a little girl was waiting at home.
And then I thought about Lizzy and desperately realized that I really, really had to go. “I got to go, Brendon, you know that.” I started but he interrupted me. “That’s why I came down here. I have hoped that you were still here and I’m glad you are because I wanted to offer you my car.” He claimed and as he grabbed the car keys out of one pocket of the bathrobe I realized what he meant.
“But… Don’t you think that your outfit is maybe a little bit inappropriate for being in public?” I stuttered but really just wanted to laugh. “We are in public already, Ryan.” He replied motioning at the outdoor area of the hotel where occasional people were already lurking around. Nobody seemed to care though about what Brendon was wearing. Maybe it was because it was too early and still dark or maybe it was because there were many crazy and maybe even crazier things happening here.
“I think you know what I mean.” I replied not knowing why I was making such a big deal out of this. Nobody would see Brendon anyways because he would just sit in the car. “Are you ashamed of me?” “No, it’s just…” I started but didn’t even know what it was. I certainly wasn’t ashamed of Brendon but I knew that there were people who would be.
“Don’t worry. It was just a joke, I mean I get it.” Brendon eventually added and I wondered why he was so understanding of everything suddenly. There had been several opportunities to start a fight today but he had never done it for some reason. And then he gave me the keys looking at me seriously. “I’m going to come by later to pick the car up. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” He claimed and I didn’t understand what he meant.
I was sure that I was looking at him like an idiot because Brendon started laughing. “Dude, don’t look at me like that. You’ve driven the car before so I trust you.” “You trust me to drive a car that costs more than I will ever earn in my whole life all by my own?” I asked puzzled and he nodded as if this was a completely normal thing. “Don’t think about it, Ryan. Just think about that you will reach your daughter much sooner like that.” There was something sad in Brendon’s expression and I wondered if it was because of the fact that I had a daughter or because he hadn’t.
I pushed him in a dark corner on the between two bushes and then I kissed Brendon for the hundredth time that evening because I knew that I would never get enough of him. It was just prolonging everything even more and I knew that at this point I would’ve been faster if I just would’ve walked straight to the urban railway but I needed this one last kiss more than everything else.
I quickly touched Brendon’s hard on that I could feel even though there was a thick layer of textiles knowing that it would just make him hornier and then I broke the kiss abruptly leaving him breathless. I wasn’t able to see him in the dark but I was able to imagine his expression way too well.
Before I would start to do anything else I just grabbed the car keys that were still placed in his hand and pressed a “Thank you.” out of my mouth trying to keep my composure which was probably the hardest thing I had ever had to do.
***
It was now more than a week since Z had left and without having her in the house it was certainly the most stressful time of my life. Sure, she had been absent before and there had been days where she had just laid in her bed but knowing that she wasn’t in the same house as Lizzy and me was something completely else. I hadn’t even seen Brendon since that day and that was certainly not because I didn’t want to.
Sure, we had sometimes talked to each other while I had been working but that certainly wasn’t the same. Nobody shan’t expect anything when we were talking to each other in public. Only now I realized how hard it was to keep such a secret, even more when one was in Brendon’s situation.
It was finally Wednesday which meant that it was my day off and I had never needed the latter more in my life. Lizzy was in the kindergarten where fortunately Nicole still took here and I had a few hours for myself. After what had happened in the hotel I didn’t know what to think about Nicole anymore. She had been weird from the beginning, so obviously flirting with Spencer even though both of them were married but at this point I couldn’t judge about any of them because I actually wasn’t any better.
I wondered if Spencer and Nicole loved their spouses or if maybe all people who cheated didn’t do so actually. I doubted that anyone who was actually satisfied with their situation would cheat on their spouse.
It was still early in the morning and I had tried to lay down again because I had only slept for three hours before but like often it hadn’t worked so I had decided to sit down in front of my typewriter again. Sometimes there were days where I really wanted or rather really needed to write but where it just didn’t seem to work and I felt like today was such a day.
The words where a complete mess in my mind but I just couldn’t write them down. Maybe it was because they were too many. There were too many words for one person to think properly. They choked me in a way that it wasn’t even funny anymore.
I thought about Brendon and about everything that had and hadn’t happened between us and that was when the words finally started to flood. All the incapability to form words that had been there before was now gone and I started typing like my life depended on it. And maybe it did.
***** We’ve met in a stupid club and I’ve hated you immediately. You were so snobbish and arrogant and just completely like rich people are. You were disgusting and I’ve hated you.
And then I’ve still hated you but maybe not as much as I had before because I’ve gotten to know you. I’ve gotten to know the other side of you and maybe I haven’t hated it as much anymore.
You were so different than I would’ve estimated you to be and I’m pretty sure now that I’ll never see all of your sides. You’re still a riddle which I’ll never solve. Who is the real you? How can I answer that if I don’t even know who the real me is?
There has been that night where everything has changed. Everything has changed so much but it didn’t matter to me because it was all for the better. And now, now I maybe don’t hate you anymore. Maybe I don’t hate you at all. Maybe.
2705. You’ll never read this but you know what it means and I know what it means and that’s what counts. 2705 has changed my life and the person in it maybe isn’t that disgusting. Maybe you aren’t arrogant at all and maybe I even like you. Maybe you’ve changed my life.
Maybe, just maybe I really like you.
***** I stopped typing because someone was ringing the doorbell so I had to escape my thoughts. I hated being interrupted in a situation like that where I was practically in a flow because most of the times I wasn’t able to write as good as before later.
Sighing I got up and approached the door expecting nobody in particular but when I opened it and saw Brendon standing on the other side I was still surprised. I wasn’t that surprised that it was him because he had come here before but I was surprised because of the time he had chosen.
“Hey.” He greeted me breathing heavy and I looked at him. Brendon wasn’t wearing his usual black suit, no, instead he was wearing a golden suit and I remembered the day where he had seen him wearing one the last time. Now, it all seemed to have been another life. Sometimes I forgot that I only knew the other guy for a bit more than four months. With Spencer, Dallon but especially with Brendon it felt like they had been in my life for years now.
The golden suit suited him so well and I wondered how I hadn’t seen that the last time. Now that I had had sex with Brendon Urie I would never be able to unsee his beauty. It wasn’t even a romantic thing or something, it was just a fact that Brendon Urie was beautiful. “Fuck, you’re so beautiful.” I repeated the words that he had said to me that night. My voice was heavy and frangible and I wondered how it was possible that he was causing such physical reactions in my body.
Brendon looked at me completely seriously and I half-consciously closed the door because it had still been open. And this time he was the one who started to kiss me. I had done it so many times now that it was weird to actually be the one who was being kissed for a change. First Brendon dominated me but soon enough I turned us both around pressing him against the wall and that was when he lost his balance and crashed into the coats and other jackets that were placed behind him.
There were a few seconds of silence but eventually I couldn’t hold back the laughter anymore and soon after Brendon started laughing too and we couldn’t stop like we were teenage girls. And maybe every person had a teenage girl inside them in certain situations. The sight of Brendon fucking Urie in his golden suit laying in this pile of clothes was just too ridiculous.
At some point we managed to calm and then Brendon was completely serious again. “We actually need to talk, Ryan.” He claimed. “About what?” I asked innocently. “I think you know pretty well about what. Fuck, Ryan, this can’t go on like that forever. Don’t you realize that?” Brendon looked at me desperately and I realized that it was the same desperation I had seen in Z’s eyes so many times.
“What is this anyways? Brendon, what is this thing between us?” I asked hoping for a good explanation for what I couldn’t name. I was the creative one, I was good with words but I couldn’t give this thing between us a name and that was what frightened me.
Brendon sighed eventually standing up again and we went to the living room. He sat down at the exact same place where Sarah had sat months before. That night she, Spencer, Z and I had gotten drunk and I had kissed the latter. All of this certainly seemed to have been years ago too.
Sometimes I wondered what was wrong with the time itself. There were episodes that just didn’t go by and where one kept wondering how just that little time had passed but then there were episodes where time literally flew by and these were definitely more usual. And then there were people who just seemed to have been in one’s life forever even though it had actually only been months. Time was an abstract construct.
“We’re fucking. Or rather we have fucked but I’d like to do it again. That’s it.” He replied objectively and I nodded. That was how it was but still I couldn’t help but feel a stitch in my body that I couldn’t identify. Maybe on some level I had hoped for him to say something else. Maybe I had hoped that Brendon would say that this was more than just a sexual thing even though I didn’t even think so myself.
But I still remembered the look in his eyes when I had asked him if it had been more than a kiss for him. Back then I had assumed that Brendon was in love with me but he probably wasn’t. Now all of this just seemed to be so ridiculous. Brendon Urie certainly wouldn’t fall in love with another man and I wouldn’t either. He had Sarah and they were trying to get a child. They were happy and this between us was just fooling around. It certainly was hot but it was just fooling around.
“So, are you interested in doing it again?” The other guy eventually asked as if we were talking about some stupid restaurant visit or a ride on a roller coaster. I nodded. Of course I wanted to do it again. The sex had been fucking amazing and if nobody else would find out why shouldn’t do it again. Nobody would know and nobody should care.
Brendon nodded as if we were really just leading a conversation about a random topic. “Okay, that’s all I wanted to know really. I just wanted to clear up that we’re on the same side here.” I looked at him deeply and even though we were talking about all that shit now I still wanted to kiss him again. I wanted to so much but I didn’t give in this time.
“No, I mean of course we are. It’s just fucking. What else should it be?” I answered instead tasting a something bitter in my mouth. “Okay.” Brendon said again and then he opened the door and left the house without saying anything else. I watched as he entered his fancy car and eventually drove away and I was still standing there when he had probably already reached his next destination but I just couldn’t stop thinking that maybe this was the biggest lie of both our lives.
***** “Any plans for the weekend?” My coworker asked me and I shook my head. I never had plans because I didn’t have any people in my life to make plans with. It had been months since I had talked to Z and more than a year since I had talked to Roger. I didn’t regret the latter but I sometimes missed talking to Z. It wasn’t that we had argued or something, we had just stopped meeting at some point and now it was too late to revive our friendship anyways.
I finally shook my head because my colleague was still looking at me expectantly. “Maybe want to join me and my wife eating dinner?” He added and I wondered why he would ask that. Kenneth was maybe six years older than me and why would they possibly want a 19 year old to join them? I wanted to decline politely but then I saw the desperate look in his face and thought that maybe all of us needed a distraction.
“Sure, why not?” I instead replied and Kenneth looked at me astonished because I had never accepted the offer before. I was a loner and a misfit. I had always been and I always would be and I was more than fine with that. But maybe even I sometimes decided to meet other people. “Okay. Yeah, that’s great, Ryan.” He said and I just nodded not really sharing his enthusiasm.
Kenneth left the bar and I followed him to his car that was standing around the building. I didn’t own a car myself for obvious reasons but I knew how to drive. That was something I had learned from Jon – when he had still been alive. I had only been fifteen back then and even though I hadn’t driven often since then I obviously still knew how to do it. My colleague sat down at the driver’s side and eventually started the vehicle.
We drove for approximately ten minutes until the car stopped in front of a random house. It looked exactly like all houses did nowadays: it had an angular roof which was painted in a dark grey color while the rest of the house was painted in white. And then there was a porch in front of it and above the windows there were triangular increases.
Kenneth grabbed his keys and opened the door. Instantly an appealing smell waved towards us and I wondered how it must feel like to have someone cooking for one every day. I had never had the pleasure of being cooked for, or just when I had been very little.
“Honey, I’m here and I brought a guest.” My colleague eventually screamed and I wondered why he didn’t greet his wife properly. Weren’t husbands supposed to enter the house, go to the kitchen and give their wives a kiss? But what did I know.
A few seconds later a woman appeared in the doorframe and if I hadn’t known that it was Kenneth’s wife I would’ve thought that they were maybe remoted cousins because of how unaffectionate they were towards each other. Kenneth didn’t kiss her and his wife was barely able to look into his wife. And that was when I understood why he had wanted for me to come here. He wanted someone to distract him from the life he hated so much and I doubted that I was in a position to blame him.
“This is my wife Victoria.” My colleague eventually introduced us to each other. “And this is my colleague Ryan.” “Why haven’t you told me that you would bring guests?” The woman asked accusatory and I was immediately able to see the tension between them and it wasn’t one of a good kind.
“My god, it’s not guests, it’s just one guest.” Kenneth explained and it sounded like this was a topic they frequently argued about. “But still, if I would’ve known I would’ve prepared more for dinner.” “You always prepare way too much anyways.” The woman’s gaze pierced through my colleague and I felt slightly misplaced here but then she looked at me nicely as if she hadn’t just been about to kill her husband.
“But of course, Ryan, it’s nice to have you here. How long have you two been working together?” I thought about it. I was already working in the bar for more than a year which was almost unbelievable especially considering that I wasn’t even of legal drinking age yet. Of course I had drunk alcohol before. I did on a regular basis and nobody in the bar really cared but officially it was a twilight zone.
“Maybe a couple of months.” I eventually replied because I didn’t know when exactly Kenneth had started working there. Victoria nodded as if she actually didn’t care either and I felt like the fact that I was here now didn’t make the situation better for anyone.
“Shall we eat then?” I eventually asked and we decided to do so. The food was delicious. It was probably the best meal I had ever had and when I thought about that this was a regular meal for my colleague I almost considered marrying any woman because having that every day certainly was a wonder. The food was delicious but the company wasn’t great. Neither of us knew what to say and I almost regretted having come here – like I usually did when attending a social event – but then I thought about the food again and decided that it had been worth it.
“Should I bring you to your apartment? It’s late already.” Kenneth eventually offered when food and topics to talk about where already fordone long ago. I nodded because I didn’t want to walk down it being so cold on the outside and who would’ve declined when they got such an offer.
I quickly and awkwardly hugged Victoria even though it felt wrong. I was pretty sure that she was a really nice woman but I had probably met her at the wrong point in her life. I always seemed to meet people at the wrong point in their lives.
Kenneth eventually left the house and I followed him. The ride passed off with neither of us saying a word and I wondered if he would ever invite me to his house again or if he now thought that it had been a bad decision. Finally we came to a halt in front of the apartment complex I still lived in. It was a shithole but I still held on to what I had said when I had moved in: At least it was my shithole.
“Well, thank you for the ride.” I eventually said leaving the car. Kenneth nodded but then he was motioning towards something that was located behind me. And when I turned around I realized that it wasn’t something, but rather someone.
Z looked even a thousand times worse than I had seen her last time and I didn’t mean her looks because she was always beautiful to me. No, I was looking at all the blue spots, the scratches and the blood that was all over her. I could only hope that it wasn’t hers. I approached her and that was when I saw that it was indeed her blood, at least some of it. There was an open wound on her chest and it probably wasn’t as bad but to me it looked like she would die any second.
“Hey Ryan.” She whispered and her eyes fluttered. Suddenly Kenneth was standing next to me and we were heaving her up carrying her to the car. I didn’t want this guy whom I barely knew to see Z like that but I knew that it was the only rational decision one could make here.
My coworker drove so fast that I thought that we would probably die in a car accident after all but after what felt like a hundred painful hours we finally arrived at the next hospital. I constantly checked if Z was still breathing and I wanted to break down but I knew that I couldn’t afford it.
Kenneth didn’t ask me any questions and I was more than grateful for that because I certainly wouldn’t have been able to deal with that too. We carried Z into the hospital and the woman at the counter looked up lazily but when she saw us carrying Z her expression turned shocked and suddenly she stood up and ran down the hallway hopefully to get help.
Shortly after she appeared again with a doctor – at least I thought that he was one. “They just walked in.” The woman from the counter claimed as if that wasn’t obvious and the doctor just inspected us as if Z’s life didn’t depend on him. “She’s pregnant. We have to be even more careful.” He finally said and these were the words that changed everything. How was it able that I was so inattentive towards my environment? Because now that he had mentioned it, it all made sense. Of course Z was pregnant. That innocent child was the reason why he had done that and I would kill him for that.
On the brink I heard the doctor asking if any of us was the father but that was when I was already leaving the entrance hall. I was a shitty person again because I should’ve stayed with Z but instead I only thought about vengeance. I wanted to kill Roger and I would do so, no matter what.
***** I woke up because of the doorbell that someone seemed to ring constantly. My head hurt and the clothes were stuck on my skin because I had perspired so much. The memory was way too real but eventually I got up and opened the door. Lizzy was standing on the other side and it was horrifying to remember the night where she had almost died. Next to her were Amelia and Nicole, the latter looking stressed.
“I thought that you weren’t at home actually.” She started but after inspecting me further she added. “Is everything okay?” I nodded. “Yeah, everything’s okay. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.” Nicole sighed and I couldn’t help but wonder how long this thing between her and Spencer was already going on. Was she happier than before? Did she look so? I didn’t know because in my opinion Nicole Row always looked stressed.
“It’s fine, I mean I’m picking up Amelia anyways so it isn’t a big problem to take Lizzy with us. Just, it would be nice if you’d tell me that you aren’t coming next time.” “It won’t happen again. You’re already doing so much for us, Nicole, I’m honestly so grateful.” I looked at her and our eyes locked for a few seconds. I was pretty sure that we were both thinking about the incident in the hotel and I wondered what Nicole thought what I had done there.
“I don’t judge you.” I eventually added neutrally so the children wouldn’t know what I was talking about. Nicole looked at me just a little bit surprised. Maybe she had known that I was cheating on Z myself or maybe she didn’t really care. Either way, I wanted her to know that I would never judge her because in the end I wasn’t better myself.
The woman quickly nodded and then she turned around. “Okay. We got to go. Amelia, say goodbye to Lizzy.” The children dismissed each other. “And Ryan, let me know if you need anything.” She added towards me. “And you let me know. Honestly.” I replied and then smiled at her. She returned the smile shyly and I felt like it was probably the first genuine smile we were sharing since we had met.
The two left and I closed the door. “Do you want to call mommy?” I asked and Lizzy’s face brightened up. Z and I had talked about it. She was allowed to use a telephone from time to time and we had decided that she would just pretend to be in her mother’s house because we didn’t want to keep Lizzy away from her.
I dialed in the number and the phone hooted many times until someone finally picked up. I smiled at Lizzy while I was talking to the woman at the other end of the line until she eventually transferred me to Z. “The line’s a little bit broken but you can talk to mommy soon.” I created a lie because Lizzy was already impatient.
Then finally I was hearing Z’s voice and doing so I almost started crying but I managed to keep my composure in front of the child. I talked a little bit with Z but fast gave the phone to her daughter and they talked for a while but then I got it back. There was only a limited time so we had to use it resourceful.
“Lizzy’s gone now.” I started our rather private conversation. I had sent her to watch TV because that usually worked. “I have remembered something today and I don’t even want to talk about it because we haven’t got the time and it certainly would depress you but…Z, fuck, I need to listen to your voice. Fuck, I need to know that you’re okay.” I started stammering realizing how often I was cursing, especially when I was nervous and overwhelmed.
I could have sweared that I heard her smile through the phone but maybe I was just imagining it. “You know, Ryan, I could say… Yeah, I think I could say that I’m okay. Nothing more and nothing less but okay.” She replied and she sounded so genuine that I believed her. And suddenly I wasn’t able to hold back the tears any longer. I started crying and she was definitely hearing it but I couldn’t care less.
“You know what, Ryan? You’re a real man because you’re crying in front of your wife and that certainly isn’t a thing you should be ashamed of even though everyone else seems to think so.” Z eventually whispered and I heard that she could barely keep her composure too. I bit on my lip and nodded only to realize instantly that she couldn’t see me.
“I love you, Z. I love you so fucking much.” I eventually said desperately but I needed a few seconds to realize that the line was already dead and Z was gone.

Chapter Text

Someone actuated the doorbell but I barely realized that. Today was finally the day where Z would return home after having spent about one month in the mental institution. I never would’ve thought that it was possible for me to miss her so much because there had been so many moments where I had wanted her to leave before but it was always when one didn’t have anything or anyone anymore when one really started to worship what they had.
“Dad. Can I open the door?” Lizzy suddenly asked bringing me back to the reality. I went to the hallway and nodded so Lizzy opened it. Spencer and Linda where on the other side followed by Jude who was carrying a floral bouquet and I wondered if the latter was destined for my wife or for Lizzy.
At some point I had decided that it maybe was a good idea to gather around some people because firstly it was Lizzy’s birthday and secondly Z was coming back from the trip to her mother’s – at least that was what everyone was thinking. Everyone but Brendon. The latter’s car now appeared in front of my house and then he and Sarah got out.
I had barely had the chance to talk to him and even less to do something else in these last few weeks. There had been some quick and hot kisses from time to time and sometimes we had even managed to blow each other in a break at work but nothing more had been possible. 2705 had remained unused.
The two couples and Jude came in and we all got to the living room. Fortunately Lizzy started to play with her friend in the garden – it was a warm day but not too hot yet – so I took the opportunity and decided that I would quickly pick up Z. Lizzy had constantly begged for coming with me but I had constantly declined for obvious reasons.
“Can you guys look after Lizzy for some time? I need to pick up Z from the train station?” I eventually asked the adults who were still gathered in the living room. Sarah was sitting on the sofa with Brendon who had wrapped an arm around her shoulder next to her. Linda was sitting on one of the armchairs and Spencer on the other. It was obvious how everyone’s relationships were but I wondered if Brendon and Sarah were just pretending.
“I can drive you there?” Brendon said but it rather sounded like a question and I wondered why he would offer something like that considering that I had my own car I could take and that I wasn’t a fucking teenager anymore. I thought about it realizing that Brendon was the only one besides me who knew where Z really was but eventually nodded because I didn’t see a negative side about his offer.
“Wait, Brendon.” Sarah eventually started as we both wanted to get up. They looked at each other sharing something the rest of us couldn’t understand and I felt like I was interfering in an intimate moment which was kind of ridiculous considering the times Brendon and I had been intimate with each other.
“Later, okay?” Brendon replied as if he knew exactly what his wife was suggesting and well, maybe he did. I envied him for the relationship he and Sara had because I had to admit that it seemed real. The relationship between them seemed to work for some reason and that was frightening me.
Sarah finally nodded so Brendon and I left the house in which the air had suddenly become way too thin. My boss’s car was standing in the driveway as if he was owning all of this. And technically he did own everything because Brendon was the one who was paying me. “Do you want to drive?” He asked like he often did and I couldn’t help but smile like an idiot. I took the keys naturally and sat down on the driver’s side.
At this point I had driven this car so often – this car that had changed so much between us – that it already felt like it was my own. A voice inside my head kept telling me that I shouldn’t get used to that. I shouldn’t get used to any of that but I didn’t care. Instead I looked at Brendon grinning and saw that he was doing the same. Maybe all men turned into little boys when they were allowed to drive a fancy car at some point. Or maybe that wasn’t even about the damn car.
“What did Sarah want?” I eventually asked as I was cruising through the city. There was so much traffic because it was Saturday afternoon so I wasn’t able to drive as fast as I usually did when the night was ours. Brendon’s smile twitched for a second and I was only able to see that because just in this moment I had stopped in front of the traffic lights. “Doesn’t matter.” He only replied and the traffic lights turned green. I looked at him skeptically before I continued driving.
“Honestly Ryan, it doesn’t, okay?” He added more firmly and I nodded even though I still wasn’t convinced. “Does she know about us?” I whispered barely loud enough for the other guy to hear but of course he did. His face turned red but it wasn’t a blushing because of embarrassment. No, Brendon was enraged and maybe even angry. “Fuck Ryan, of course she doesn’t.”
“Okay. It’s just… I thought…” I tried to focus on the road which I was semi-successful with. “What, Ryan? You thought that I’ve told her about something that isn’t even there? There’s nothing I could tell her. It’s not always about you, you know?” Brendon repeated the same words I had said to him after we had fucked.
I only nodded because I certainly wasn’t able to say anything at this point. I was frustrated and outraged myself and couldn’t even really say why. Never had a person ever confused me as much as Brendon Urie. He was the biggest wave in the sea and would either mean that the surfer would manage to do the best stunt of his whole life or that he would go down with it. There was no in-between.
I continued to drive in silence until we finally reached the mental institution. I hadn’t visited Z for various reasons but certainly not because I hadn’t wanted to. We had talked over the phone from time to time but that had also been pretty unsatisfying considering that there had always been a limited timeframe.
I looked at Brendon wondering what he really thought about all of this but then I thought about Z who didn’t know that Brendon knew and I realized that she would most certainly be angry. The man at the counter recognized me and only said “Your wife will be here in just a few minutes, Mr. Ross.” I wondered if he maybe had such a good memory or if there was another reason why he knew my name.
But instead of saying something I only nodded and sat down on the chairs realizing that Brendon sat down two chairs apart from me. There were so many occasions where I kept my mouth shut. Sometimes it was because it would’ve been inappropriate to say something but mostly it actually was because I was too introverted to open my mouth.
I was a 24 year old man plus I was a barkeeper but it still was so difficult for me to talk to people. There just were a few exceptions. “Does she know that I know?” Brendon eventually asked after neither of us hadn’t said anything in minutes. I was confused first because my stupid mind was thinking about the sex but then I realized that Brendon was talking about the fact that Z was in a mental institution.
Finally I shook my head and Brendon looked at me shocked. “Fuck, you should’ve told her. She’ll freak out.” “Should’ve told me what?” Someone asked and as I turned around I saw that it was Z. It was really my Z standing in front of me and I couldn’t believe it. It all seemed like a dream. So much had happened and now she looked much better than she had weeks before.
Z had gained some weight and now finally looked a little bit healthier which was also visible at her smile that seemed to be genuine for the first time in a while. I wasn’t able to talk at all. I just shook my head because it couldn’t have been real. It couldn’t be real that Brendon Urie was standing next to us awkwardly while Z and I finally saw each other again.
I laughed out loud and then I grabbed her face to kiss her. First Z didn’t kiss back but then her lips melted with mine and I realized that at least considering our kissing nothing had changed. She sighed and I let my tongue slip into her mouth to make it a rather not so innocent kiss anymore. It felt like coming home after I had only kissed Brendon in weeks now. Brendon was a hotel which was constructed for being a guest in for just a short time but Z was my home and the place where I would always come back eventually.
We quickly broke the kiss and I looked at the other guy who was standing there appearing rather abashed. Our eyes locked for just a moment but then I closed my eyes and kissed Z again. I kissed her to make up for all the things I had done to her but felt like I was actually only making it worse.
After what felt like hours we eventually parted from each other and I realized how my wife blushed at the sight of Brendon. “I’m sorry. I…” she started but my boss interrupted her. “It’s okay, I can certainly understand that.” He said calmly looking at me really quick and I wondered if he was thinking about me because when we kissed it usually was as unpredictable and messy as it had been with Z and me now.
My wife nodded and I tried not to think about the other guy while I had just kissed my wife but it was hard. “I’m sorry that I’ve told Brendon. I really didn’t intend to but it slipped out in a rather inconvenient moment.” After we have fucked. Z looked at me as if she didn’t understand what I meant but then finally she waved her hand like it was nothing. “I haven’t even thought about it, to be honest.” I wondered where she took her self-confidence now because weeks before she was freaking about even thinking about someone finding out about her mental illness.
Brendon didn’t actually know the reason why she had been here because he had never asked and I had never told him but he knew much more than all the others and I didn’t know what to think about that. “Does anyone else know?” Z finally asked being a little bit concerned but I shook my head. “Nobody. I swear. I didn’t even intend Brendon but…” “I said it’s okay.” Z interrupted me and I nodded. “Can we please leave this place now? I want to see my baby girl again.” I laughed. “I wouldn’t say that she’s a baby anymore. She turned five today, Z.”
And that was when Z looked at me shocked in a way I could relate with so much. I also couldn’t believe that Lizzy was already five years old but I either couldn’t believe that Z would turn 25 this year. Time flew by and it was only after years that one wondered where this precious good was.
“Fuck, I don’t have anything for her. I’ve forgotten my baby girl’s birthday.” Z claimed and I was afraid that she would start crying any second.
“Calm down, Z. Everything’s okay. You’ve been here these past weeks so you didn’t have the opportunity to think about something plus you certainly had other things to care about.” I tried to calm her down but that had always been something I hadn’t been overly good at. “But she doesn’t know that, Ryan. Lizzy thinks that I’ve been at my mother’s.” “Don’t you worry, okay? I’ve prepared something.” I touched her shoulder and realized that Brendon had already left us probably to give us some privacy. Not that this was needed at this point.
“What did you buy her?” Z eventually asked calming down and I took her bag so we would finally leave this place which neither of us would hopefully ever have to enter again. I smiled thinking about the present which fit perfect in my opinion. “An acoustic guitar.” “But isn’t that too expensive? I mean, are you sure that we can afford this in our current situation?”
I looked at my wife and had to realize that she had been herself this whole time. All this time I had thought that she had changed and she had but that didn’t always have to be a bad thing. And maybe I just needed to accept Z like she was now. She wasn’t that energetic woman she had been with 20 years when she had gotten Lizzy and when our new life seemed to have opened endless possibilities for both of us. We had both changed so much but that was completely normal.
“As I said, don’t you worry. It wasn’t that expensive really.” I smiled at Z and then we reached Brendon who was leaning upon his car looking way too good for this world. Z arched an eyebrow as he saw the fancy car instead of our shitty one. “Don’t ask.” I only said before she was able to leapfrog me and she just shrugged.
Eventually we all entered the car – Brendon on the driver’s side this time and me sitting down next to him. Everything was as usual, just the fact that my wife was sitting behind of us wasn’t.
“I hope you know, Z, that I haven’t told anyone about where you’ve really been this last months. I’d never.” Brendon claimed while he started the car. The mental institution disappeared behind us and I breathed out the air I hadn’t realized I had kept in my lungs. My wife nodded but didn’t say anything so the rest of the trip passed off rather taciturnly until we eventually reached our house.
I took Z’s bag still not fully realizing that she was finally back. Even though she had only been away for about one month it had certainly felt much longer. I wondered how Pete actually managed to take care of his boy just on his own, especially considering his working hours. And that was the moment I started to regret everything I had said to him.
“We should maybe warn you that Spencer and Linda with Jude and Sarah are also there.” Brendon brought me back to the reality as we got out of the car and I realized that I hadn’t told Z that. Even though it weren’t many people I knew that Z didn’t like the company of most people at this point. Sometimes I wondered if meeting all these women with their children to chat and attending other social events had all just been a farce. Maybe Z just hadn’t been able to keep it up any longer but why had she tried in the first place?
We entered the house and my wife was greeted happily. Lizzy didn’t want to let her go anymore but eventually we decided to sit down to eat. I wasn’t the best cook so I had decided to be generous and invest in a good meal for once. And then it was time for Lizzy’s presents.
I went to my bedroom where I had hidden the guitar. It had been impossible to wrap it up so I carried it into the living room just like that. Lizzy’s eyes brightened up and her reaction was as good as I had hoped for it to be. “I’m going to teach you how to play.” I claimed wearing a real smile on my face because hers was just contagious.
Jon had showed me how to play on the guitar years ago but it had been a while since I had played myself. And then I had been on my way to work about one week ago and I had seen this music store. It had only felt right to buy a guitar and as I saw the look on Lizzy’s face now I realized that it had been the right decision.
“Can we start now?” The girl exclaimed and I laughed. “Well, maybe later, considering that the guests are still here.” “Right, we also have a present for you, Lizzy.” Brendon interrupted me and I was surprised because I hadn’t thought that he would get her a present. Sarah started to rifle through her bag until she eventually found what she had searched for.
“I hope you like it.” The woman said smiling but I was also able to see an indescribable sadness in her eyes. And then I remembered that she wanted to have a child so bad and wondered how she managed to be surrounded by children so often. Wasn’t it ironic that people who didn’t want to get children got children and those who wanted them so bad just weren’t able to get any?
Lizzy looked at me quickly as if she was seeking my approval and when I nodded she started to unpack the present. It appeared to be a book and when the paper was gone I saw that it really was one. “I used to love this one as a little girl and I still do actually.” Sarah continued as I saw that it was a really old edition of “Little Women”. That’s actually one of the first editions ever being printed. My great grandmother was friends with the author, Louisa May Alcott. Back then she has lived in Pennsylvania and only later moved to Michigan – that’s where I’m originally from – because of my great grandfather. Now I want you to have it because I think that you’ll take good care of the edition, won’t you?” Lizzy nodded and certainly everyone in the room excluding Brendon was shocked. The latter just smiled knowingly.
“We can’t accept this present.” I instantly replied not even wanting to think about how much this book was worth now. “Oh, you can. I want Lizzy to have it.” Sarah looked at me and there was something resonating in her voice that said ‘I want Lizzy to have the book because I won’t be able to give it to an heir myself.’ The woman looked so sad that I just nodded apparently accepting the present after all.
“Dude, Ryan, it’s just a stupid book.” Brendon eventually chimed in looking amused but neither Sarah nor I were. It wasn’t a stupid book and she and I both knew it. Books were worth so much, especially this one being a first edition. I wanted to defend all of the people who read out there but then I thought that it wouldn’t be effective after all because Brendon certainly wasn’t a reader and there were things that just a certain group of people would understand.
“I guess we’re the kids from yesterday, Sarah.” I blurted out but only after having said it realized how true this actually was. Reading seemed to become more and more unattractive these days as well as so many other things. I was only twenty-four years old but already felt like a fifty year old in many situations – and that was not because I claimed to be so wise. It was because through reading I had already experienced so many things that people who didn’t read would never understand.
There was an awkward silence for a while. Maybe everyone was thinking about what I had said or maybe they were just thinking about how stupid I was. But then Jude raised his voice claiming that they also had a present for my daughter. “It’s nothing compared to what you already got, but I hope you’ll like it still.” Linda said smiling at Z’s daughter who gladly took the last present.
Lizzy quickly unwrapped and was holding a random game in her hands that I had never heard of before. “Say thank you, Lizzy.” I demanded because I saw the growing disappointment on her face even though it had been a really nice gesture. Lizzy did as I had said and then Jude chimed in again giving her the bouquet of flowers that I had seen before and where I had wondered if it was destined for my wife or her daughter. “That’s also for you.” He cleared things up rather looking like his parents had forced him to give the flowers to Lizzy.
“Now, can you please show me how to play on the guitar?” Lizzy demanded again appearing to be unimpressed by Jude’s gesture. I almost laughed but then shook my head. “I already told you that I’m going to do that later.” “But why don’t you do it now? I want to hear it.” Brendon interrupted me and I looked at him again. It was weird to have him here in this house now but with all the other people including his and my wife.
I thought about it but then took the guitar that Lizzy was offering me. “Okay, but I have to be honest and tell you that I haven’t played in a really long time – it has probably been ‘48 or ’49 – so I don’t even know if I’m still able to play.” Everyone seemed to be unimpressed by that so I thought about which song I could play. There weren’t many I still couldn’t remember how to play but then I thought about “It’s Too Soon To Know” by The Orioles which was weirdly stuck in my head and I just started to play.
First it was weird to play on the guitar again after about five years but after I had figured out the basic riffs again it seemed to be the most normal thing. And then Brendon started singing and I wanted to melt into the ground because I was pretty sure that everybody would realize how I was looking at him in a way that wasn’t amicably at all.

Is she fooling?
Is it all a game?
Am I the fire
Or just another flame?

A one-sided love
Would break my heart
She may be just acting
An' playing a part

I couldn’t stop looking at Brendon fucking Urie who seemed to be made for being a singer and when I finally managed to take my eyes off him I realized that everybody else felt the same. He had closed his eyes but was opening them in this moment looking confused. “What is it?” He asked as if he hadn’t just entranced all of us by singing just a few lines.
“Dude, I knew that you could sing but this was truly magical.” Spencer eventually stated and Lizzy agreed. “Don’t exaggerate. It were just a few words, nothing special.” Brendon replied being unusually humble. I had thought that he would make a big deal out of it now and it certainly would’ve been justified this time but instead he just looked abashed.
I for my part had heard him sing before but it had never been like that. Maybe it was because of the fact that I had played on the guitar – but I doubted it – or maybe it was because of the lyrics that were just so powerful and completely fitting in a weird way.
“Ryan, can I talk to you for a second?” Spencer eventually asked and that was when all the others started to compliment Brendon too. I wondered if there was a thing he couldn’t do. He was fucking rich, he had a wife and he could sing so well that he could actually make it. What more did one want? “What’s up?” I replied casually even though I doubted that it would turn out to be a casual conversation.
“No, I mean in private.” He added and I had definitely understood that so we went upstairs into my bedroom. Spencer already knew that Z and I had each a bedroom of our own and I had told him that it was because snoring too loud so he hadn’t questioned that but I felt like now he did.
“Ryan. Can we please agree on something here? No more lies, okay? We’re best friends or something. Let’s just tell each other everything, please?” Spencer started and I wondered if he was referring to something – if he already knew something. I thought about it but then I came to the conclusion that – fuck – he indeed was my best friend somehow and why should we keep secrets from each other?
Finally I nodded and Spencer sighed. “Okay, I’ll start then. I mean you probably know already but I have an affair with Nicole Row. Remember when I told you that I feel like I don’t love Linda as much as she loves me?” I nodded not being surprised at all. “Well, that’s definitely true. Fuck, Ryan, I’m trapped in this marriage and don’t understand me wrong. I love Linda, of course I do, but not the way she loves me. And when I have been here on this doomed day and Nicole has appeared on your doorstep… Fuck, I knew that she would be my downfall. You know.”
I nodded again because I had already known all of this. It was way too obvious since the beginning. When Spencer and Nicole had met for the first time I had already seen that there was a tension between them and I had suspected that they would act on it. Back then I had blamed my friend for cheating but now I wasn’t even better.
“Did you ever love Linda as much as she loves you? I mean, has your love lessened over time or has it always been not that strong?” I eventually asked and then added “And do you love Nicole?” Spencer actually started laughing and I wondered why this completely rational question was so funny.
“My goodness, Ryan. Don’t you know anything about affairs?” No, I didn’t. “When two people do have an affair like Nicole and me it’s all just about fucking. No feelings, just satisfying your needs, you know?” I nodded even though I wasn't convinced at all. He, who had told me to be honest with each other, was lying again and I felt like we weren’t moving forward at all.
“And what about you? With whom are you having an affair with? And what about the way Brendon and you act towards each other?” Changing the topic was probably the best thing people could do. Changing the topic and ignoring the real questions and problems.
“Can’t you figure?” I sighed but the other guy shook his head and I was actually relieved because I had thought that our affair would be more obvious. But maybe people just saw what they wanted to see. “Don’t freak out now but your questions are actually connected to each other.” I claimed and that was the moment Spencer realized what was going on. His expression turned shocked and he stumbled eventually sitting down on my bed.
“You and Brendon? What? I thought you weren’t a homosexual?” He finally managed to ask whispering the last few words. I shook my head. “I’m not. But neither is Brendon.” Spencer looked at me as if I had just told him that the sky’s color was green. “Look, Spence, it’s really not that big of a deal. It’s just fucking as it is with you and Nicole. And I personally think that it doesn’t matter who you fuck as long as you’re not in love. You get what I mean?”
I saw the cogs moving in his brain until he eventually nodded. “I think I do. But… So you’re not in love with Brendon, right?” I instantly shook my head. “No, of course not. As I said, I’m not a homosexual. I only love women.” I replied even though I had to realize that I had never loved a woman before. I had never loved anyone romantically. Maybe I wasn’t capable of doing so.
“Honestly, dude, it’s just fucking. You certainly understand that.” He nodded and we eventually got back to the living room while I felt like this conversation hadn’t been enlightening at all. We were still lying at each other and I hadn’t even told Spencer the biggest lie of my life – the fact that I had only married Z to help her. The fact that I had never and would never love her romantically and most importantly the fact that Lizzy wasn’t my biological daughter.
The rest of the day passed off without something special happening. Brendon and Sarah as well as Spencer and Linda with Jude left by late afternoon so that the three of us were finally together again. Even though Z and I certainly had our problems all of this felt like nothing had ever happened. For a few moments everything was like it used to be.
People always tended to say ‘Years ago everything has been better.’ but I doubted that this was true for me. My childhood had been a disaster and even though everything had been different only six months ago I had now realized that I had probably always been like I was today. I had always been a mess, just the time that Z had spent in the mental institution had proven me that I was a bigger mess than I had thought.
“I didn’t know that you could play on the guitar so well, daddy.” Lizzy eventually said while we cleaned up the living room and the kitchen. I had stopped playing around the time Lizzy had been born so she had never heard me before. I certainly wasn’t great but I knew that I wasn’t that bad either.
Jon had been the musical genius. He had been able to play so many instruments because somehow he had just had the gift of learning them pretty easily. His favorite one had been the bass though and the latter had actually been the only instrument he had owned next to a guitar. Thinking about him after all these years made me more emotional than it was supposed to make me.
“My best friend has shown me how to play.” I eventually replied that Lizzy basically knew nothing about my past. And that was certainly better like that. “Maybe I’m going to tell you about him one day.” “Why aren’t you best friends with him anymore?” Lizzy asked with the innocence of a child because that was what she was. She was only a child and sometimes I forgot about that. I attempted to answer but then Z did instead of me.
“Because he’s no longer alive.” She said stating the fact so emotionlessly and maybe that was okay because Z hadn’t known Jon. Lizzy’s eyes widened but fortunately she didn’t ask anything else. It was the most unfair thing that Jonathan Jacob Walker had died at the age of 16. He had been the most special person and I still didn’t understand why I hadn’t died instead of him.
I was a Nobody barely having any skills but something big could’ve become of Jon. I hated myself for not having tried harder to stop him from enlisting to the war or even better not having gone to the war myself and being killed there. Because that certainly was what I deserved.
“Go play something, won’t you Lizzy?” Z eventually said or rather commanded and defiance flamed up in the girl’s eyes. “But I thought dad would show me how to play on the guitar.” “We’re going to do that tomorrow, okay? Tomorrow is Sunday so we’ll all be at home and then you can spend the whole day trying to learn how to play on the guitar. But now please go play something.”
Z’s tone was strict and Lizzy probably also realized that because she left the living room to go upstairs. A few seconds later we could hear the sound of the fallen to door and then it was silent in the house.
“How do you feel?” I eventually asked Z who had sat down on the sofa. Just from her appearance I could say that she looked better than she had one month ago but I knew how little the outside meant. There was a storm inside of me too but I tried not to show it.
Her hand stroked over her eyes and she sighed. “Do you want me to be honest or do you want the pretty version?” She eventually asked. “I want honesty.” I replied and realized how much I really needed at least one person to be honest with me. Everyone was lying or embellishing things and I was doing it myself the whole time so I needed someone to tell me the whole truth so badly.
Z nodded and then started to talk. “I’m not okay, Ryan, I can promise you that. I’m not okay and I don’t know if I’ll ever be completely. You know, over these last years I always had some problems but they have never been that bad. The therapy certainly has helped to some extent but you know, they can’t to everything and it’s not like anyone would be ‘healed’ after having been in a mental institution.” I nodded because that hadn’t been what I had thought. If it would only work like that.
“I just want you to know, that’s not your fault, Ryan. No, it really isn’t. That’s” She motioned towards herself “That’s just who I am but the medication helps a lot. We’re going to get through this, right? We’ve already gone through so much together. Fuck, Ryan. Tell me that we will.” She practically begged and I said “Of course we will.” even though I now highly doubted that myself. And so the lying started again.
“So, what have I missed these last weeks?” Z eventually tried to change the topic but her words were now etched into my mind. I have kind of started having an affair with the biggest arsehole ever and you know what, maybe he isn’t that big of an arsehole? And you know what? My best friend has started an affair with the woman who brings Lizzy to the kindergarten every day and we’re both twisting things constantly. And then I’ve nearly broken down because I’m not able to live without you but, I don’t love you, you know?
I sighed but eventually just said “Not much. Work’s been as usual and Lizzy has been a great child.” Z nodded but I doubted that she really believed me. And then she said the words that would change everything and I realized that I maybe hadn’t hidden my feelings so well after all.
“You don’t have to fool me around, Ryan. I’m not stupid. You know, all these years I’ve wondered why you didn’t love me. I mean first of all I was fine with it because I haven’t loved you either, at least not romantically, but then I’ve started to develop feelings for you and when you’ve told me that you didn’t love me back I have realized that you’ve never loved anyone romantically. I mean even before we’ve married you’ve never been in a relationship and after I’ve never seen you with a girl either. And then the realization has kicked in.”
Z looked at me and I suddenly knew what she was implying and I knew that she was wrong. “You’re a 175 as they say in Germany, right?” I struggled to breathe, stumbled and eventually sat down on the sofa that was the nearest opportunity to do so. It was one of the worst insults to be called a 175, even in America. Everyone knew what it meant and I had never feared being called one, not while having a wife. But now the latter was the one who was calling me that.
“Fuck, Z I’m not.” I replied and then more insistent. “I’m not a 175, I can assure you that. Just because I don’t love doesn’t mean that I am. I’m everything but that and I don’t even get where you got the idea that I am what I don’t even want to pronounce.”
Z looked rather sad than really angry and I felt like she again didn’t believe me. She certainly wouldn’t understand that I was just fucking another man. Everybody immediately thought that one had to be a 175 to do so but that wasn’t true. Or maybe that was just what I was trying to convince myself of since I had kissed Brendon fucking Urie for the first time.

Chapter Text

I took one last drag from the cigarette and Brendon gave me another one immediately. These days one cigarette at a time was never enough. Actually I doubted that one package would’ve been enough. Brendon was smoking too but not as fast and aggressive as I was. We were currently standing on the balcony of 2705 and it was just one of these nights.
Sarah was out of town for the weekend so Brendon had offered we could meet up overnight and the night from Saturday to Sunday was the most convenient one because we had both worked before and I had convinced Z that afterwards I would sleep at Spencer’s. After doing so I had felt like a teenage boy who was lying to his parents. Not that my father had ever cared.
I was exhausted because my sleeping schedule was constantly fucked up for months and I doubted that it would get better at any point. Either I couldn’t sleep or I just didn’t want to.
Brendon and I stood next to each other in silence but it wasn’t an awkward silence like it used to be. This time we were both just enjoying the sunrise because the latter was really beautiful. There was this point every time when the sun came up where the sky was covered in that one special color that I would never be able to describe because I never saw it anywhere else but in a sunrise.
I eventually also finished the second cigarette and wanted to ask for another one but then I was interrupted by Brendon’s lips who covered mine desperately. Kissing him had become more normal than kissing Z at this point and I knew that I should be worried because of that but I didn’t care actually. I threw the cigar butt in the ashtray and embraced him tightly drawing him closer towards me.
This wasn’t a soft, sensitive kiss. Instead it was one that could only lead to one thing – fucking. My tongue pushed into Brendon’s mouth and I tasted the cigarettes that we had both just smoked as well as the vodka that we had drunk and the pizza that we had eaten before. But I didn’t care what he tasted like anyways.
I dragged the younger guy into the bedroom and closed the balcony door behind me. And then I kissed him again, as desperately as he had kissed me before. “Ryan.” Brendon moaned completely giving me the control over the situation. It was still incredible for me that a person like Brendon Urie could be so submissive, almost begging for getting fucked. But it also was kind of a surprised that I myself liked adopting the dominant part.
“Get on your knees.” I ordered him and he immediately did what I had said. I already felt how my cock got hard just thinking about what would follow now. “Undress yourself.” I added and then I went into the bathroom to grab the massage oil that was always located there. I looked at myself in the mirror real quick barely recognizing myself. My cheeks were red, my hair was messed up and my shirt knitted. Basically I looked like we had already fucked and I wondered how I would actually look like after we had done so.
Eventually I got back to the main room and saw that Brendon was still on his knees, but now without any clothes on. “Fuck.” I said in a desperate attempt to express my feelings but that wasn’t possible. I quickly undressed myself too because I realized that both of us needed it to be fast now. Maybe we would have softer sex later but right now this wasn’t possible for either of us.
I grabbed the bottle with the massage oil and put some on my hands only to push one finger inside of his tight arsehole already. Brendon moaned and I started to stretch him which now wasn’t weird anymore. The last time had been so overwhelming that I was barely able to imagine how it would be this time where I actually knew what I was doing. At least I thought so.
After some time I also added a second finger and eventually a third one. I felt Brendon move towards my fingers which was the confirmation for me that I was really doing this right. “Fuck, Ryan, I can’t wait any longer.” He then said and that was my command to eventually put massage oil on my cock too because I couldn’t wait any longer either.
I pushed into him without a further warning because the latter wasn’t needed. While fucking, Brendon and I didn’t need to exchange words because we understood each other without talking. Then I almost removed my whole cock just to push into him even harder and Brendon groaned deeply. I needed a few moments to find a good rhythm but when I had finally managed to do so it felt as good as it had the last time or maybe even better.
The last time his legs had rested on my shoulders but this time he was kneeing in front of me and I felt like this made the experience even more intense. Brendon moaned and I also couldn’t repress it because I had needed this so fucking much and now we were here again. We were in room 2705 which was so different from everything else in my life but it was ours and it was perfect.
I immediately understood when I had reached the point that made Brendon freak out because even thought I couldn’t see his expression I heard that his moans became even deeper, almost animally. And that was when I also started to lose control over what I was doing. My pushes got even harder and I was pretty sure that the other guy would have difficulties walking tomorrow but neither of us cared in that moment.
My cock now hit Brendon’s point every time and I saw that he had started touching himself additionally and that made the whole experience even hotter. “Fuck you, Brendon.” I said and only after having said that I realized that that was what he was actually doing. Even being so close to my climax I started laughing and he did too. But then the overwhelming feeling of being so close came back and I doubted that I was able to repress it any longer.
I touched his hips probably leaving bruises there and then I pushed inside him so hard that it almost hurt even me until I released my semen into his ass not being able to repress the final moan. I almost collapsed but it wasn’t a feeling I’d ever want to exchange for anything. I felt that Brendon hadn’t come yet so I got an idea. Until today it had always been Brendon who had sucked my cock but I realized that I wanted to try it too.
I removed my cock from his ass and the other guy protested vehemently but then he seemed to realize what I was about to do and his eyes widened. Brendon had already blown me so many times that I had to give him something back and how hard could it actually be?
Brendon sat down on the bed and I swallowed down some saliva until I eventually got on my knees to take his cock in my mouth. It was the weirdest feeling ever and I couldn’t even really describe it. I could only say that his cock tasted half-salty and half-bitter which was just weird. But that didn’t mean that I didn’t like it. I didn’t even know if I did.
I probably took only half of his cock in my mouth but more just wasn’t possible and I wondered how Brendon managed to take my whole thing in his mouth. Maybe it wasn’t as easy as I had thought. Eventually I tried to just lick up and down the cock and Brendon started to moan. It was probably because he was already so turned on but moments later I felt an awful lot of a really bitter substance in my mouth and then realized that it was Brendon’s semen.
He had reached his climax and I hadn’t even noticed that. His hands were resting in my hair and the latter was greasy because we had both touched it so much but I saw that Brendon’s hair didn’t look better. The streaks were sticking out in every possible direction and his lips were swollen but he had never looked more beautiful to me.
I got up again and then I forced my lips on Brendon’s realizing that we were both tasting his semen now. There were so many different flavors in my mouth that I wasn’t even able to name them all anymore.
We were both still naked but this time it was a softer kiss because the biggest wave of ecstasy was over and now it was the aftermath. It had never been like this with Z. Of course it was different with her because she was a woman but it wasn’t just that. It was never so intense with her that I almost collapsed and that was usually the case when I fucked Brendon. And I never was as harsh with her as I was with Brendon but now I had to admit that I liked the relentlessness even better.
Brendon grabbed the pack of cigarettes that was almost empty already even though we had only opened it the day before and then he gave me a cigarette which I gladly took. I leaned towards him so he could light it and then he took one himself and lighted it too.
Even though we had fucked only minutes before I now felt exposed and ashamed. The light of the nightstand seemed to be way too bright and all I wanted to do was put it out so we would lay next to each other in the dark. But instead I took the blanket and wrapped it around my body which made Brendon look at me surprised. “I’m cold.” I claimed even though it was actually the complete opposite and I was already sweating under the sheets.
“It’s April, Ryan. It’s already like 65 degrees on the outside.” Brendon claimed and I just nodded. “Still, I’m cold.” I replied taking another drag of my cigarette. We both knew that it was a lie, of course he did too, but we just continued smoking – I wrapped under the sheets and Brendon laying on them confidently exposing his half hard cock.
And then I felt how tired I actually was. Before I had been pumped with adrenaline but suddenly I was barely able to keep my eyes open any longer. I quickly finished the cigarette squashing it into the ashtray and then I laid down still wrapped into the sheets not caring about what Brendon was doing because the sleep was fetching me.
“What name do you want to give her?” I asked Z who was sitting on the passenger’s side of the car for a change. Her tummy was already so big because and generally I didn’t want to stress her more than we already were. We were currently driving to Las Vegas to get married there and I realized how ironic this actually was because usually young people did that because they were so in love but we weren’t.
I loved Z like a sister and somehow I knew that that would never change but because I did I had offered her the marriage. Roger had disappeared after what he had done to Z but I knew for sure that if I would ever find him he would be dead.
“How about we officially call her the same as I’m called but maybe her nickname could be Lizzy? Is that a good idea?” The fact that she was already talking about a ‘we’ shocked me for a second. Theoretically I would be the father of this child. I would be a father and that was something I had never ever wanted.
“Are you really, really sure that you want to do this, Ryan?” My soon-to-be wife asked one more time and I nodded determined. Of course I was scared but I wouldn’t leave the most wonderful woman I had ever met alone. “We’ve talked about that. If there’s one woman I’d like to marry in a purely platonic way than it’s you.” And then I thought that there probably wasn’t any other woman in general I’d even consider marrying. I had never seen myself doing that.
“And I like the idea with the name. I really do.” I eventually added. “Our daughter.” Z smiled at me and I concentrated on the road. I had thought about this enough and I knew what I was doing but of course it wasn’t just a casual thing to marry a woman one didn’t love and act as if her child was ones.
“We’re going to be fine, right? We’re going to build up a new life without… without all the shit and let’s just forget about everything that has happened.” Z asked and I nodded even though I knew that I would never be able to forget what had happened.
After we had brought Z into the hospital I had searched for Roger but when I had appeared at his parent’s house I had only found his mother who had been crying and who had eventually told me that her son had run away. The police had started searching for him but I still hoped that I would find him first so I could kill him. Because I would. I would kill him but I’d do it so that nobody else would suspect me or ever find his body.
One needed about two hours from that shithole where we came from to Las Vegas and I felt like the distance was way too little. I would’ve preferred to move to the other end of the world but Las Vegas was the nearest possibility to disappear. Eventually we entered the city and immediately were part of a completely different world.
I had been in the city before because there had been a school trip once but that was already years ago and also it was something completely different to enter a city one would start living in.
When we had left Utah, Roger’s mother had insisted on giving us money probably as a compensation for something that could never be compensated. Normally I wouldn’t have taken it but both Z and I were desperate having only the savings from our jobs that would’ve never been enough to afford the house I was now stopping in front of.
The latter wasn’t overly big but it surely was enough for three people to live in and much more than I could’ve ever hoped for after having lived in a shithole for such a long time. I helped Z to get out of the car but she protested claiming that she was still able to do that by herself even being heavily pregnant. Medically looked at it was probably the worst time to move but it wasn’t as if we had had a choice.
Neither of us had been able to stay in that shithole any longer. It wasn’t just our birth city, it was also the one I had moved to. Utah was a doomed state in general.
“Welcome home, I guess.” Z finally said as we were standing in front of the house. I nodded. “Yeah, welcome home.” I replied because I already considered Las Vegas more of a home than I had ever considered Utah one.
I woke up being confused and disoriented but then I had remembered what had happened last night. The room smelled of the alcohol that was still standing on the nightstand, the cigarettes that we had smoked in a row and the pizza where two slices had remained before. And then there was simply the smell of sex.
I got up but suddenly realized that it had been too quickly because a knife seemed to be dragged in my head. Maybe it had been a little bit too much alcohol and a little bit too much of everything the night before. Realizing that I was still naked I finally managed to leave the bed and stalked Brendon who was still sleeping.
The sheets only covered his legs but his upper body was visible. I wondered if he had done that before. Sleeping with someone who wasn’t his wife and then waking up next to them. Again I was thinking about Dallon and remembering their kiss I had witnessed now only made me feel miserable. It was ridiculous.
I quietly got to the bathroom trying to distract myself and started searching for pills or something else that would lessen my headache. And eventually I found some painkillers in a drawer. Not caring about the recommended prescription I just took some of them and gulped them down.
I was just about to put the package back to the drawer when I realized that Brendon was standing in the doorframe. We were both still naked and it could’ve been a funny situation but the expression on his face was serious. “Why are you holding my medication in your hand?” He asked motioning towards the package that was still located in my right hand.
“What do you mean, your medication?” I asked wondering if the other guy had a serious illness he hadn’t told me about before. “Fuck, Ryan, don’t you know that I have ADHD?” He asked as if that was so overly obvious. Of course I didn’t know because he had never told me before. “Please tell me that you didn’t take some pills? That’s Ritalin, Ryan, that’s serious shit.” Brendon added worriedly and the body of what he had just told me still hadn’t completely reached me.
“How many did you take, Ryan?” Brendon said more intensely literally panicking in the bathroom. Through all of this I remained unusually calm. “I don’t know. I just took some but I haven’t counted.” I replied and Brendon shook me as if I was unconscious but I was actually fine. Just the headache was still there.
“Fuck Ryan, why the fuck are you so stupid? Can’t you like read? How stupid does one have to be to just take some pills one doesn’t know the ingredients of?” It could’ve been ridiculous and if Brendon wouldn’t have been so deeply worried I probably would’ve laughed but like that I repressed it. “What if I wanted to take the pills?” I asked provokingly which made Brendon freeze for a second but eventually he shook his head.
“No, you didn’t want to take the pills. I mean, you probably wanted something against a headache but I know that you didn’t intend to take Ritalin.” He said this with such a firmness that I wondered if he maybe knew me even better than I knew myself. “Okay, you’re right, Brendon. I didn’t want to take the Ritalin but what’s the big deal about it now? Many people take them and I feel fine. I feel great, honestly.”
“I’m fucking serious, Ryan. This isn’t a joke. Maybe some people take the pills but they know how to dose them and you don’t.” Brendon stated talking like a professional but still all I felt was the sensation power and ease of mind. “Come on. Let’s get dressed and go somewhere.” He eventually added and I shook my head vehemently. I didn’t want to go somewhere. Instead I wanted to stay in this room and do all kinds of things with him.
“Can’t we stay here a little bit longer?” I begged but Brendon remained harsh. He took his boxers and eventually the rest of his clothes and dressed himself until I was again standing in front of him naked while he wasn’t anymore. “Come on. Please, Ryan.” He added and that was when I finally started to dress myself too even though I would’ve preferred anything else.
“Now can you please think about it again and tell me how many pills you think you gulped down?” Brendon wanted to know again and this time I really thought about it because maybe the situation wasn’t that funny anymore. “I’d say seven or eight, but it could’ve been more or less. They were so little, Brendon.” The other guy shook his head as if I was a little boy who had done something that was against the rules. I certainly felt like I had even though I had just wanted to lessen my headache which now was still present.
“Let’s say this makes like eighty grams. I think that’s still okay but it certainly is a lot when you’re not used to taking Ritalin, especially so much at a time.” Brendon looked at me still wearing a worried expression on his face and I wondered if he really cared for me or if he just cared about the great fuck he would lose if something happened to me. “How do you feel? Tell me exactly.” He then added.
“Brendon, if you’re going to ask that one more time I’m going to kill you.” I started and then couldn’t repress a smirk any longer. “Or…” I started again looking at his lips and then leaning forward to capture his with mine.
First Brendon didn’t kiss me back, it was rather as if he would protest, but after some seconds he eventually did – sighing and kissing me with such an intensity that still surprised me at this point. If I needed to decide for one person I’d had to kiss for the rest of my life I knew that I’d choose Brendon fucking Urie and that thought frightened me.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be just a sex thing between us but I felt like it wasn’t anymore. I quickly broke the kiss wanting to say something I couldn’t even name yet but Brendon prevented me from doing so. “Please Ryan.” He simple said and these words could’ve meant anything but I felt like he maybe knew that I wanted to say something deep and meaningful – something that shouldn’t be said between two men – and maybe it was better that he had prevented me from saying whatever.
Suddenly the moment between us was over and I wondered if he had even felt anything that wasn’t just about sex. Maybe it was all just my imagination. “You wanted to know how I feel?” I eventually rasped. “Well, I think this is enough of an answer.” I laughed even though I rather felt like crying or screaming or dying but Brendon didn’t join me. There was an unidentifiable expression on his face and I would’ve given everything to know what was going on inside his head in that moment.
“We should go. It’s already late and Z will be worried if you won’t be back home soon.” Brendon stated as if he was such a responsible and mature adult now. I could’ve said something else but our moment was over anyways so I just nodded grabbing my stuff and then we left 2705 that didn’t feel as much of a haven anymore.
Brendon and I didn’t say anything to each other while we went to the elevator and eventually got downstairs which seemed to be a never ending process. And then exactly like last time the elevator stopped on the 18th floor and nobody else but Spencer Smith entered the latter, but this time without Nicole.
He looked at us knowingly and I wondered if Brendon knew that he knew but it probably wouldn’t be that big of a surprise for anyone. “Rough night?” Spencer asked as if we were three colleagues who had to do after hours the day before. It really was afternoon already which I now realized and which also made me wonder why Spencer was here alone at such a time.
“You could say that.” Brendon eventually replied sighing and I wondered what exactly made him sigh. The sex had been fantastic and we had actually both slept for some hours. But then I realized that he was probably referring to the Ritalin I had taken but which still didn’t cause me any problems. Maybe Brendon was just exaggerating.
After what felt like an hour we finally arrived downstairs where I practically jumped out of the elevator. It was so weird knowing that another person was cheating but doing it oneself. One wanted to shout at them but then had to realize that one wasn’t better actually. But I knew that it was different in Z’s and my case. I didn’t love her so it wasn’t cheating really.
Spencer eventually got to his own car which was located at the other side of the building but Brendon’s obviously had a special place reserved for it. “Do you want to drive again?” The younger guy asked and I just nodded taking the keys but not being able to look into his eyes. I couldn’t even really name it but something had changed up there. I could only say that I didn’t like it.
I started the engine steering it towards my house because I thought that that was probably where Brendon wanted me to drive but then he asked me if it would be okay if we could pick up Dallon first because the two of them wanted to meet. And then more and more questions emerged. Did they plan to meet beforehand and was that because Brendon was so keen to leave earlier? Or was that just an excuse for I didn’t know what? And did all of this mean that I was supposed to stay or was I supposed to go home?
I was acting like an insecure teenage girl again but that was actually what I was. I had never experienced something similar to this thing I couldn’t even name and I certainly didn’t know how to act.
The silence between us spread again until we reached Dallon’s and I realized that I hadn’t talked to the older guy in a really long time. He had barely come to the casino in months even though both Brendon and he himself had claimed that he would work there with me. But maybe he had found something else and maybe his financial problems had somehow been solved. Why was I so bad at maintaining a relationships to people?
“Hey Ryan.” Dallon said in a not surprised way at all as he entered the car. I nodded and he sat down in the back so I started the engine again. I didn’t want to ask where we were driving to because I figured that Brendon would probably tell me at some point but after minutes of him just talking to Dallon I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Where are we driving to?” I blurted out probably sounding harsher than I had expected. And that was when Brendon finally looked at me again. Again his expression was unidentifiable and at this point I would’ve given almost anything just to know what was going on inside of him. “What do you think, Ryan? Of course we’ll drive to your house first and then Dallon and I will do what we have planned.” Brendon answered maybe as harsh as I had before.
I felt hurt and couldn’t even tell why. Brendon and Dallon had been friends for much longer and it was completely normal that friends did things together but I couldn’t help but be jealous of whatever they were about to do. The picture of the two of them kissing that was etched into my mind came up again and then I almost had to laugh at myself because of how ridiculous I was acting. I wasn’t some jealous teenage girl and Brendon could do whatever he wanted to, of course also kissing other people.
“We just have to resolve some financial stuff. Nothing big, honestly.” Dallon explained looking at me intensely as if he had sensed that I was disappointed and hurt which was completely stupid. I was acting completely irrational and maybe Dallon was feeling that somehow.
“Whatever.” I eventually answered trying to sound as uninterested as possible. After some more minutes we reached the street where I lived in. My house seemed so little compared to the hotel or to Brendon’s mansion. And it was. Brendon was even a few months younger than me but he had already reached more than most people would in their whole life.
I had never wanted to be extremely rich or famous and I still didn’t want that but I couldn’t help but feel a little bit jealous because of everything the younger guy had. Or maybe I wasn’t just jealous because of the material things he owned but also because of something else.
I got out of the vehicle and Brendon did too because he would now continue driving. There was a quick moments where our eyes locked but then it was already over and I started walking towards the house while Brendon closed the passenger’s seat door. And then he froze for a second and I almost forgot that Dallon was still sitting in the car and that Z could’ve had a look out of the window any moment. I almost forgot all of that and wanted to kiss him shamelessly but of course I didn’t. I couldn’t afford it.
I walked a few steps back towards him until we were standing right in front of each other. Close, but not too close to raise a suspicion. And that was the moment Brendon finally looked right at me and not just for a second. We were practically starring at each other and maybe that was a little bit too suspicious after all but I absolutely didn’t care.
“I’m sorry about how I have acted earlier.” He simply said shocking me with his words. Brendon Urie usually wasn’t a person to apologize but now he was looking at me with this sorrowful eyes that made everything just so much harder. I wondered if he realized that. “It’s okay.” I eventually sighed even though nothing was okay. Nothing about this moment where I just wanted to grab and kiss him and nothing about the general situation was even far to being okay.
“No Ryan, it’s not. I freaked out, okay? Imagine you took much more of the pills which by the way you shouldn’t do with normal ones as well as with Ritalin or something else. Please be more careful, okay? “He practically begged and I nodded. I didn’t even know why I had taken that many pills before. I didn’t intend to harm myself in anyway. I really didn’t because I couldn’t afford it. Z and Lizzy needed me and maybe Brendon did too, at least a little bit.
“I’ll be, I promise.” I finally returned and the younger guy nodded. There were still so many unspoken words between us but it wasn’t the right time to speak them and maybe it never would be. “Okay, I got to go now. Dallon’s waiting.” Brendon eventually laughed dryly and I nodded again. He attempted to enter the car but then came back to me one last time to lean towards me.
First I feared that he would kiss me which was completely ridiculous because we were in public and we could’ve been arrested for that but then I realized that his lips were a few inches next to my ear. “I’m not fucking Dallon and I never did, okay? We have only kissed each other and maybe we’ve blown each other of couple of times but I’ve never fucked him and I never will.” Brendon whispered in my ear and I felt his breath against it.
He leaned back eventually and I looked at him puzzled. “Whatever, I don’t care.” I lied because I actually did care way too much. I cared so much that it really wasn’t healthy anymore but I didn’t want to think about why it was like that.
“I just wanted you to know, that’s all.” Brendon fucking Urie finally said and I wondered if it was his way of telling me that I was the only one for him at the moment. Of course there was his wife but that was something else because he really did love her. And maybe that was why all of this was even worse because I didn’t love Z romantically.
I wondered with whom he had made his experiences before if it hadn’t been Dallon because when we had fucked for the first time I had immediately recognized that Brendon hadn’t done that for the first time. But even the thought of him being intimate with another person made me want to throw up. I wanted to erase Sarah’s existence.
“Okay. Then, have a great rest of the day, I guess.” I eventually managed to say but I realized how insincere my voice sounded and Brendon probably did too. But he only said “Yeah, you too.” And then he turned around for good and sat down at the driver’s seat.
I realized that Dallon had managed to sit down at the passenger’s seat at some point while Brendon and I had talked to each other and now he was looking at me and I simply knew that he knew. He was a homosexual himself after all and maybe the latter could sense things like that because I knew that Dallon Weekes knew about the affair Brendon and I had.
His look pierced through me and I felt exposed but then the car already drove away and I only looked after it until Brendon and Dallon were gone.
“You lied to me. Of course you did.” A voice that I immediately identified as my wife’s suddenly said and I realized that Z was standing a few feet next to me, still wearing her pajamas even though it was already late in the afternoon. “I didn’t lie to you. I was at Spencer’s but Brendon and Dallon were there too and…” I started but my wife interrupted me and I felt like she was rather my mother and I was the teenage girl again who had broken some rules.
“You don’t have to lie to me anymore. I talked to Linda. Do you know how embarrassing that was? I called her this morning because I wanted to ask her if we should meet up since our husbands are apparently stuck together and then she has asked me what I was talking about. She has probably thought that I’m crazy because I don’t know what my husband is doing. What were you doing, Ryan? Why can’t you tell me the truth? Do you think I dislike Brendon or Dallon?”
“Well, you do dislike them, especially Dallon.” I replied but then sighed. “Shouldn’t we rather go in and continue talking there?” I asked motioning towards our neighbors who were already watching us occasionally. Z only nodded because she certainly would’ve disliked a big drama as much as I would’ve.
On the way inside I already prepared for what would follow now but I doubted that this was possible in any way. The door was barely closed when Z started shouting “Tell me, Ryan!”. I wondered if she had taken her medication today but it certainly wasn’t the right moment to ask. “Lizzy is at Amelia’s.” She then added completely out of context but I just nodded.
“Okay, you’re right. I did lie to you. I was at Brendon’s because Sarah isn’t there over the weekend and we thought that it would be conveniently. Not that I dislike Sarah but you know. And I didn’t tell you because, well, you really dislike Dallon for some reason and I didn’t want to aggravate you even more.” Exactly in the moment I had pronounced the words I knew that I had only made everything worse now because Z’s face turned into such a dark red color that I was actually worried that she would explode.
“You didn’t want to aggravate me even more? Well, that’s what you just did, Ryan. What, did you think that I would hinder you from going to Brendon’s just because I dislike Dallon? I’m not your fucking mother, Ryan but wait? You don’t have a fucking mother anymore and maybe that’s where your problem actually lays. You’re unbelievable.”
I wanted to punch her so badly that I actually felt the need to throw up. But I certainly wouldn’t punch my wife or a woman in general. I wasn’t that big of an arsehole. And maybe she had only said that because she hadn’t taken her medication. Maybe it wasn’t the real Z talking right now.
I ran to the bathroom and threw up the pizza that had been so delicious the day before along with all the other things I had eaten which wasn’t much anymore. My stomach hurt and I was as exhausted as one would be after having participated in a marathon. And that wasn’t just because of the puking.
The latter had probably only occurred because the Ritalin had been too much for my body. Even though I had felt great the whole time I suddenly hadn’t anymore, just like it was working with alcohol. First a person either felt great or at least didn’t really feel anything and then suddenly one felt like shit and the substance needed to come out of the body.
When I looked up and flushed the toilet I realized that Z was standing in the doorframe wearing a horrified expression. “I’m sorry, Ryan.” She said, tears in her eyes and suddenly I felt like crying too. I only shook my head because even though most of the things she had said before had been true I couldn’t face her in this moment. Not after what she had said about my mother.
Z didn’t know the whole story. She knew that my mother had died but she didn’t know that she had actually killed herself. She knew that my father had been an alcoholic or maybe still was – I didn’t even know if the guy was still alive at this point – and she knew about the beating up but she didn’t know about Bentley or about so many other things. Nobody knew the whole story.
But because Z knew so much of it, everything just hurt even more now. I ran upstairs shutting the door of my room and then I started crying like the teenage girl I apparently was. Or maybe I was just a human being because all human beings where broken, just nobody liked to admit that.

Chapter Text

Z felt like shit, I felt like shit and everything was just the most inescapable situation I had ever experienced. Even when I had still lived with my horrible father I had always had a goal which had been living that shithole but now I was completely clueless about how we should proceed to live life.
Even though Z was constantly telling me that I wasn’t the cause of her lethargy I knew that it wasn’t true. Of course I wasn’t the cause of her bipolar disorder but I felt like me being around her just made everything worse. I felt like I was making everything worse in general.
It was some minutes past eight pm, Lizzy was already asleep and Z had gone to her room claiming to go to sleep too but I doubted that she actually was. Or maybe she had just taken some pills and was now really sleeping.
I ate the last bite of my dinner which I had eaten alone and then got up because I knew that Brendon was probably already waiting in front of the house. Grabbing my purse I eventually left the house silently. It was already warm enough for only needing a light jacket in the evening and there were days where one didn’t need one at all throughout the day.
As I had already suspected Brendon’s car was standing in our driveway as if it would belong there which it of course didn’t. It was way too fancy for an area like this. Brendon’s and my life didn’t fit with each other at all if I really thought about it but somehow we still couldn’t stop seeing each other. And that wasn’t just because he was my boss which I often forgot.
“Good evening, sir. Can I offer you a ride?” Brendon asked gallantly as I reached his car and I shook my head about his silliness. “I’d be honored.” Was my answer and I realized that I really meant it. When I had met Brendon Urie I had completely disliked him and I’d have never wanted to voluntarily spend time with him but at this point the time we were together – the routine we had kind of built – was maybe the only thing that was still keeping me alive.
I entered the car, this time on the passenger’s side and the younger guy started the engine again. I was already spending more time with the other guy than with my actual family and that should’ve concerned me but it didn’t. I loved Lizzy like a daughter, I really did, and I was incredibly sad that she had to witness all of this but even her presence couldn’t lighten up the mood in the house anymore.
“How’s Z doing?” Brendon asked after we had spent some minutes without talking. There had been this day where I had been extremely drunk and where I had told him that she had a bipolar disorder. And it wasn’t like that was something extremely surprising since Brendon had already known that Z had been in a mental institution. Fortunately though, he didn’t seem to look at her in a different way. Maybe that was because he had ADHD.
“Not that great, to be honest.” I replied truthfully. “I feel like everything I’m doing is wrong and I doubt that the medication still helps. Our current situation is like a downward spiral that pierces its way through our life to destroy everything.” Brendon nodded because he was concentrated on the road but eventually he quickly looked at me and replied properly.
“Remember when I have once told you that I have four siblings – two brothers and two sisters?” He started talking completely out of context and I nodded puzzled. “Right, so they’re all older than me and back when the war had occurred both my brothers were enlisted. They both survived but neither of them has ever been the same since that. Of course that’s something completely different than what you’re experiencing with Z but let’s just say that I already have my experiences with mental instability and I’d never call a person crazy.”
“Thank you, I guess.” I only replied looking at him from the side. He was of course wearing his usual black suit again which I was already so used to and then he was wearing sunglasses that he had only just put on even though the sun had already sunk. But Brendon Urie certainly was one of these persons who could wear sunglasses in any situation. He was too cool for everything.
“Do you like what you see?” He eventually asked smirking and I laughed. “Sure I do.” Brendon’s hand broke away from the steering wheel and then he quickly drove his hand through my hair. It was just a little gesture but it caused me having goosebumps all over my body.
“It’s not like you have to hide either. You’re so fucking beautiful, remember that.” Brendon removed his hand from my hair but I still felt it there while I tried to process the words. It wasn’t the first time that he had said that but I still couldn’t believe that he had. I was nothing compared to Brendon Urie and I wondered why he thought that I was beautiful, really.
Fortunately Brendon had to pay attention to the traffic because I was pretty sure that if we would’ve been alone now it would’ve been an awkward situation. But like that it wasn’t. I didn’t know what to reply to his compliment because I had always been so bad at accepting the latter – mostly because many people didn’t really mean what they said but I felt like Brendon maybe really meant it.
We both remained silent for the rest of the drive until we reached the well-known casino where the car came to a stop at Brendon’s reserved spot. “Where’s Dallon actually?” I managed to ask because I still hadn’t really talked to the older guy, at least not about the important stuff which was why he didn’t work here anymore apparently. Brendon shrugged. “You know, works as one of the managers but as you know he has had financial problems so he needed to work at the bar too but apparently he and Breezy have solved it somehow and now he just doesn’t anymore.” The younger guy looked at me portentously and I felt like the reason why Dallon’s financial problems were now solved included more people than just the two of them. I felt like Brendon’s part in it was bigger than he liked to admit now.
We entered the main hall where some people were already gambling and I could identify some of my colleagues but I didn’t care enough about them to even remember their names. The only colleagues I had ever cared about had been Dallon and Pete and I realized that I hadn’t talked to the latter in a really long time and maybe I never would again.
“Let me show you something.” Brendon eventually suggested leading me out of the hall which made me protest. “What are you doing? I have to work, I need the money.” I claimed and Brendon laughed. “You know that I’m the boss, right? And I order you to relax and follow me. You’ll get your money and there are enough people there anyways. You know, everyone wants to work here.”
“If really everyone wants to work here than why haven’t you fired me already?” I whispered even though I didn’t even want to suggest that. Sure, barkeepers were always needed but I was pretty sure that I’d never find a place like this one again. Brendon’s look pierced through me in a way that still made me shiver after all these months. It was so intense – to intense – and because of it I sometimes started to believe that there was more in it.
“I don’t want to fire you. Why should I?” Brendon eventually replied sounding so naturally as if even the thought of him firing me would be completely ridiculous. “Calm down, Ryan, everything will be okay. You need a distraction now and that’s why I got this idea.” For one second I thought that Brendon would drag me into an empty room where we would fuck and I definitely would’ve been there for it but when we got out of the elevator on the fifth floor where some kind of party took place I knew that he probably didn’t mean this kind of distraction.
While the rather normal people where gambling on the first floor this was certainly the upper class of the upper class and again I felt so misplaced because everybody was wearing a suit and the few women I saw were wearing robes. “Everyone’s looking at me.” I claimed and Brendon looked at me confused. “Do you really care about what these idiots think about you?” He asked and I realized that I didn’t. I didn’t care at all because there was only one person on the floor whose opinion mattered to me.
I shook my head and Brendon dragged me into one of the rooms where fewer people where. I saw that there was a gambling table in the middle they were all sitting at and when Brendon asked me “Did you ever gamble before?” I knew where this would all lead too. “Never.” I replied because I really hadn’t. I had never been able to afford it and also I had never had the time. All these games were a riddle to me because I didn’t even know how poker worked. The only thing I knew about the latter was the poker face which I had mastered over the course of time.
“Do you want to try it? Of course you wouldn’t have to pay.” My boss added and I looked at all these rich people at the table who seemed to be too focused on the game to actually notice me. And maybe it would be funny if they would actually loose against an amateur like me. I eventually nodded and Brendon started to explain the game to me while some woman gave both of us glasses filled with some alcohol I couldn’t identify. But alcohol was alcohol so I gulped it down like it was only water.
To my own surprise I quickly understood how poker was working and at some point Brendon claimed that I was ready for a real game. We joined the men around the table and I realized that the only women in this room where wingwomen who were practically sitting on the men’s laps.
Now everyone was of course looking at me because I wasn’t wearing a fancy suit like everyone else and by the way I acted one could easily tell that I wasn’t like everyone else at the table. I wasn’t rich and snobbish and arrogant.
Brendon gave me some chips and I organized them just how he had shown me before. I knew that everyone was playing for real money here but I of course wasn’t. Why were people so stupid though to risk that much money for just a stupid game? When the game started I could see that everyone silently laughed at me and I was pretty sure that if it hadn’t been for Brendon I’d have never been allowed to even join the rich men. But with the alcohol in my blood I got a new confidence.
The women brought us more and more of the delicious liquor and the game passed off quite well. I didn’t win but I also wouldn’t have loosed that much money if I really would’ve played with real money. At least the rich men now didn’t look at me as contemptuously anymore as they had before.
Brendon and I left the room again and when I stood up I could already feel the alcohol in my blood which wasn’t that big of a surprise after all the drinks I had had. “You okay?” My boss asked me worriedly but I just laughed it off. “Yeah, everything’s fine. Look, I can still walk.” I demonstrated the latter because I really could do it properly which Brendon acknowledged.
“Where’s the toilet?” I eventually asked because I still hadn’t figured that out. “Don’t worry, I don’t need to throw up, I just need to pee.” I then added because I had seen Brendon’s worried expression again. Why was he constantly worried? Hadn’t I always been the person who had acted more like an adult while I had to keep an eye on him?
Brendon motioned in the right direction. “It’s right at the end of the hallway. You won’t be able to unsee it.” I nodded and started walking towards there. There were some people who were looking at me curiously but most of them didn’t care, either because they were too drunk or maybe distracted with something else.
Because of Brendon I had been on many rich people’s parties at this point but it had never been like that. Even in the upper class’s structure there was a class division. Downstairs were the people who already were rich but up here were only those who were super rich. And I couldn’t even imagine how much they all owned.
Eventually I got to the end of the hallway but even though Brendon had said that the bathroom couldn’t be unseen I didn’t know if it was the right or the left door. I decided to just try my luck and opened the door on the right side. First I didn’t see anything because it was dark in the room but then I heard something and when I actuated the light switch I saw that there were two people kissing each other in one corner.
One of them – a man – was dragging another man towards a wall and they seemed to be so absorbed in the situation that they first didn’t realize that someone had entered the room and actuated the light switch. But then they broke apart and I realized that it was nobody else but Dallon Weekes who had pinned the other man against the wall – the latter I didn’t know.
I laughed because apparently I had the virtue of always walking in a room while Dallon was kissing another man. I didn’t want to think about the last time though. Last time it had been a shock while this time I was chilled because I wasn’t surprised at all. Dallon wasn’t either but the other man seemed to be freaking out.
“Don’t worry. He knows. Actually…” Dallon started and I wondered if he would expose me here but then he started again. “Ryan doesn’t care. Honestly, he won’t tell anyone.” I nodded even though I doubted that it would be reassuring for the frightened man. I certainly could understand that he was though because if the wrong person saw two men kissing each other it could be fatal for both of them.
“Just, next time please think about closing the goddamn door or something. Or don’t start kissing in a public place at all.” I advised but then I had to realize that Brendon and I weren’t better really. There had already been so many occasions where we could’ve easily been caught but fortunately this hadn’t happened – yet.
The man still didn’t seem to be convinced at all and I didn’t blame him. I was technically the person who could destroy his life. I didn’t know his name actually but I could’ve easily figured that out one way or another. And then I got an idea which was completely ridiculous but weren’t ridiculous ideas always the best ones?
I approached the man who seemed to be about my age but the latter was always hard to guess and then I did something which I simply blamed on the alcohol. I kissed him immediately using my tongue. It wasn’t like kissing Brendon – of course it wasn’t, nothing was like kissing Brendon – but it wasn’t a bad kiss for sure. The other man hesitated first but then he gave in and returned the kiss with the same intensity as I had started it.
Maybe kissing men was generally that great or maybe I just didn’t care about the gender of a person. Because that was great kiss for sure. Our tongues played with each other and I tasted cigarettes and vodka on the other guy – something I immediately liked. I pinned him against the wall like Dallon had done before and got completely lost in the kiss with a person whose name I didn’t even know.
“Wow, that’s hot.” Dallon’s voice eventually interrupted us which made us break the kiss, breathing heavily. The other guy now smirked and me knowingly not being frightened at all anymore. “What about closing the goddamn door though?” I looked at Dallon who couldn’t hold back his laughter anymore and I had to start laughing too. When Dallon said “That’s so completely unlike you, Ross.” I could only agree. Normally I wouldn’t do such a thing but the alcohol and maybe some kind of interest and security had brought me to kiss the guy I didn’t even know.
“That’s Ryan Ross actually. He works for Brendon in this casino.” Dallon eventually managed to introduce me to the other guy and then looked at me. “And that’s…” He paused. “Sorry, what’s your name again?” He asked the other guy who answered “William Beckett. What a surprise, I’m also working here.” I had already figured that the guy called William wasn’t a rich person because of how he looked. Wasn’t it funny that we were three normal people at a upper-upper class party and that we had somehow found each other?
“So, you’re a homosexual too?” William eventually asked me and normally I would’ve thought that such a question was completely inappropriate but considering that I had just kissed him it was probably justified. “No, I’m…” I began not even knowing what or who I was. “I just like kissing man.” And fucking them. And sucking their dick. And licking every inch of their body. Or maybe I just liked to do that things to one certain man.
William nodded not really seeming to care and that was when the situation got a little bit awkward. “I think we need some more alcohol, don’t we?” Dallon eventually stated and I completely agreed. Even though I had already consumed something I felt like I was completely sober now that the waves of excitement slowly ebbed away.
We got back to the hallway but nobody really noticed us which I really appreciated. The thing was, I didn’t actually care what other people thought about me but I still didn’t like when others looked at me because I felt weirdly exposed then.
A woman with a tray approached us and each of us took one glass with the liquor I still couldn’t identify. When the admired alcohol flooded down my gullet I immediately felt better. I didn’t see Brendon anywhere but maybe he was in one of the rooms again.
Dallon, William and I sat down on a sofa which was fortunately free and I grabbed another glass with the liquor because I needed to exploit the opportunity of getting such delicious stuff. “Where do you actually work, Ryan?” William asked at some point and I needed a few seconds to realize that he was talking to me. “Oh, I usually work downstairs at the bar.” I replied. “Have you never seen me before?” “Oh, I haven’t, but now I wonder how I could’ve actually unseen you.” He replied and I couldn’t help but blush. There was another compliment I didn’t know how to react to.
And William was good-looking. He had dark brown hair – color similar to Brendon’s but it was longer – and matching brown eyes. He was smiling as genuinely as few people did nowadays and he wasn’t wearing a suit like me which made me like him even more. Well, it wasn’t that I disliked Brendon Urie wearing a suit – not at all – but most people wearing one in these circles where snobbish and fake.
I ignored the remark and asked William where he was working himself. “I’m working at the restaurant. Have you ever been up there? Because I have never seen you and I think I would’ve seen you. You should come one day, I can let a free meal slip through for you, just hope that Urie doesn’t find out.” I nodded not wanting to say anything about the relationship I had with Brendon and fortunately Dallon didn’t mention it either.
“Yeah, I think I’ll come by at some point. But you should also come to the bar then. I could serve you a drink on the house, anything you want.” I smiled at the guy I had only just met and kissed in the first minutes of our acquaintance. “You know, normally I don’t do stuff like that.” I said alluring to what had happened before and he understood. “Don’t worry. I have definitely preferred that over ending up in prison. One has to be so careful.” “Yeah, one has to be.”
I had never really thought about what homosexuals had to go through but now that I was fucking a man myself I had to think about the consequences when one got caught. And I certainly couldn’t afford ending up in prison, not while Z needed me as well as Lizzy. But I definitely wouldn’t think about the two of them now that I was at a party where I was apparently kissing random men.
At some point William stood up probably to go to the toilet for real and I realized that I still hadn’t gone there even though I needed to. But first I wanted to use the moment I had alone with Dallon. “Is everything okay with you and your ex-wife?” I asked trying to bring up that topic. The older guy looked at me puzzled because he maybe hadn’t expected me to talk about such a topic while we were drunk.
“Has Brendon told you?” He eventually replied but I didn’t quite understand what he meant until I suddenly figured. “There’s no shame in accepting a little help, Dallon.” I claimed but he looked ashamed. “Well, it wasn’t a little help. You don’t even want to know how much it was.” He sighed and took another sip of his drink. “What did Breezy even do? I mean did you have such a pile of debts?”
“Well, it had already started when we had still been married. We had never been rich, you know? Always middle class people and I’d always been fine with that but she hadn’t. She had started buying stuff we couldn’t afford, especially clothes and accessories for herself but also decoration for our house and several other things. At some point she had drawed on a credit which she hadn’t told me and she had continued buying stuff until someday the bank has decided to not give her anything anymore and then they wanted the money back.
“And even though we haven’t been married anymore at that point we were when she had bought most of the stuff so of course I had to carry all the debts on my shoulders. I’ve tried to work more as you’ve seen but at some point I had to realize that I would never be able to repay all that money and, well, that was when Brendon has helped me. Of course I’ll try to pay it back to him but like that there isn’t a deadline where I have to. I’m not that much under pressure but still it sucks and I hate myself for having taken that offer.”
Dallon finished and I wanted to say something comforting but that was when William came back grinning and I certainly wouldn’t talk about that stuff in front of a stranger – I doubted had Dallon had met him before this night. “I really fancy a smoke right now. What about you guys?” He asked and I wondered if there was actually a person who didn’t smoke these days.
But then I nodded and we all left the party. When we approached the elevator William wanted to press the button of the first floor but Dallon interrupted me pressing the one of the sixth floor. The latter was only accessible for certain people but of course Dallon Weekes was one of them.
William looked puzzled probably because he didn’t know that there was a roof deck upstairs like I hadn’t known for a long time. The elevator moved upstairs but this time it didn’t take long until we arrived at the top. I remembered the last time I had been here with Spencer where I had gotten to know many things about him and Brendon and this time everything was so different. Many things had changed and I doubted that that was okay.
Dallon took his keys and opened the door which made a light wind blow against us. It wasn’t cold though. I was only wearing my suit and William was too but Dallon of course was wearing a suit. I wondered why he did though. Maybe he wanted to be like Brendon but I doubted that that was really it.
When we arrived at the roof deck I got to the ledge to look at the city. There were many higher buildings around the casino but it was still an amazing view. And then I remembered the alcohol that was probably still located at the same place like it had been last time. Maybe it had already been enough for all of this but neither seemed to care. Dallon smirked when I hauled the bottle out of the hideout and William first seemed surprised but then did too.
Dallon fetched a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket offering both of us one and even though I also had a pack of my own I accepted the offer. I continued to search through my pockets for a lighter but couldn’t find one. “Come here.” Dallon eventually said and it reminded me so much of how Brendon would say it shortly before we would kiss each other that I was frightened.
But then I leaned in and the older guy lighted my cigarette which had always been something intimate in my opinion, no matter with whom you did it. We looked at each other really quick and it was weird. It was so weird but I couldn’t even tell why.
I wasn’t in love with Dallon Weekes, not at all. I didn’t even want to fuck the other guy or something but maybe it was just weird because he knew about Brendon and me or because I had kissed another guy in front of him.
Soon enough we all started smoking and I almost forgot that Brendon Urie was probably still downstairs doing whatever. More alcohol, I definitely needed more alcohol. I attached the bottle to my lips and took a sip, then giving it to Dallon who eventually gave it to William. “Vodka. That has always been my favorite.” I claimed. It wasn’t that the liquid was overly delicious but it was just so easy to get drunk with it and that was usually what I aimed for.
“I love you, Ryan. You’re such an amazing person. And hot.” Dallon eventually started and I was shocked for a second until I realized that he was drunk. And when Dallon Weekes was drunk he usually loved everyone. William seemed shocked too and I realized how this probably looked like. “He’s just drunk. He loves everyone then. It’s not… We’re not involved in any way, we’re just friends.” I stuttered not seeming to find the right words.
William nodded but he didn’t seem to be really convinced. “I’m married.” I added as if that would explain everything. I had kissed him before and I had done even worse things with Brendon – of course William didn’t know that – so it was obvious that marriage didn’t mean much to me but suddenly I wanted to defend the latter.
“Okay, whatever. I don’t care.” He finally replied taking another drag of his cigarette. When Dallon’s hand started to run through my hair I wanted to tell him that this was definitely too much now and that William who already was suspicious even though there wasn’t anything between us would be even more now. But then I didn’t stop him and I just let it happen.
I closed my eyes ignoring William’s piercing gaze. We were drunk and we were all involved with men so nothing actually mattered up here. This freedom and the drunkenness made me kiss Dallon eventually. Now I was the one who was running my fingers through his hair and messing it up.
It was weird to kiss a person who was actually taller than myself because I myself wasn’t the shortest but Dallon was really tall. Z was of course smaller than me and most women in general as well as Brendon but in our case now Dallon was the one who had to lean down a little bit.
I drew my body closer to his touching him at his hips and realizing how good looking he actually was and how well his body was formed. It was weird because six months ago I hadn’t even kissed one man at all and now I could already count three – two of them at one evening.
Dallon’s tongue pushed into my mouth and I couldn’t repress a moan because I was weirdly turned on. This was all because I was drunk for sure because I knew that when I wasn’t Brendon Urie was the only guy I wanted to kiss sober.
“You guys, I got to go now.” William’s voice interrupted us at a point where things had started to get really messy. Dallon and I broke the kiss and he opened the door for the other guy because stupidly one could only go down with a key. And then we were alone and I hesitated for only one second until I kissed him again. This time it was even harsher. I unintentionally bit his lip so hard that I tasted a little bit of blood shortly after but Dallon didn’t really seem to care.
I could feel his hard on and I couldn’t deny that I was horny myself which was only natural but I knew that we wouldn’t act on it. Compared to what I had with Brendon this was only kissing but, fuck, it was hot. How was it possible that I had never kissed another man until a few months before in my more than twenty-four years of existence?
Dallon and I continued kissing each other and I was so lost in the situation that I didn’t realize that something was severely wrong. Only way too late I realized that someone had come upstairs because now the door fell shut again. I couldn’t recognize the person but I could only hope that they hadn’t seen as much because it was pretty dark up here. There was one light but not the entire roof deck was captured by it and Dallon and I were standing in a pretty dark corner.
I approached the other person and the older guy followed me until we were standing in a lighter area where the other person joined us eventually. And that was when I realized who it was. Of course it was Brendon fucking Urie. He was smirking but I felt like this was only a coping mechanism for hiding another emotion I couldn’t really identify.
“I guess that’s becoming a habit now?” He asked and I needed a few seconds to realize what he meant but then I understood that he was alluring to the fact that one of us always seemed to watch the other’s kissing. And when I knew that Brendon had seen the kiss Dallon and I had shared I suddenly knew what the expression on his face meant.
It was desolation – and somehow I felt like I had just made the biggest mistake of my life right now.

Chapter Text

I woke up with an enormous headache because it had been another night where Dallon, William and I had consumed way too much alcohol. It was already June which meant that I usually slept just in my boxers and without a blanket because otherwise it wouldn’t have been bearable. Vegas’ climate wasn’t appealing at all to me. Months and months of extreme heat were something my body wasn’t made for. It was great to work in the night where it cooled of a little bit but it was horrible to sleep throughout the day.
I looked up seeing that William and Dallon were still sleeping on the latter’s bed while I had been sleeping on the mattress that was now always laying there. In these past two months we had spent way too much time in the older guy’s apartment but somehow it was the only place that was now left for me. I hated being in my own house as well as I hated working in the casino where Brendon was looking at me with that hurt expression that I couldn’t really identify.
Dallon was the only hope for me but definitely not in the way that Brendon could’ve been. I felt like it would never be like it was with Brendon with any other person and that thought made me just want to die.
I sighed and got up quietly and just when I had closed the door of the bedroom I heard that someone had actuated the doorbell so I got back in and grabbed my shirt and trousers to dress myself. I tried not to look as if I had slept here but I knew that I probably failed. My hair was a mess and most people would probably smell that I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet but there was no time to do the latter now.
Eventually I approached the door and when I opened it, it was nobody else but the person I couldn’t stop thinking about standing on the other side. Brendon wasn’t wearing a suit for a change but maybe that was because it was Sunday and maybe even he didn’t care about looking fancy on this day.
Instead he wore a casual black shirt and black trousers so everyone was able to see his appealing arms. The latter weren’t muscular but they weren’t too skinny either. In my opinion they as well as everything else about his body was just perfect. I tried to stop myself from thinking stuff like that but I was already lost.
Brendon barely looked surprised when he saw me. His expression twitched for only one second but then he didn’t show me any of his emotions like always. And I was careful enough to not show him any of mine either.
“Ryan.” He eventually pronounced my name in such a weird way but still, it caused me having goosebumps all over my body. I wouldn’t kiss him this time. No, I certainly wouldn’t kiss Brendon fucking Urie after I had managed to not do it in weeks.
“I hate you.” I eventually whispered and then said it again, louder and more intense. “I hate you.” Because I really did. I hated Brendon Urie for making me want him in the first place but then not just wanting him sexually but needing him on a completely different level. I hated him for being such a snobbish arsehole which he wasn’t really under his mask. I hated him for wanting children with his wife like everyone else did today but still kissing me and letting me fuck him like that was a completely normal thing to do. But mostly I hated him because I loved him.
I hated that I hadn’t been able to love anyone romantically in the almost twenty-five years of my existence until this fucking guy had just appeared in my life. And I hated that he was so unlike everything else in my life and that he had a wife he genuinely loved while I only loved him. It was crazy and irrational but I wasn’t able to repress it any longer. Brendon Urie was my first love and would probably remain my only one. I couldn’t repress that any longer and that was why I urgently needed to switch my work.
Brendon looked at me desperately and I had to restrain myself so hard to not start to kiss him. His lips were open just a little bit as if he wanted to say something but then he didn’t. Instead he casually walked into Dallon’s living room and that was another point I hated about him. I hated the casualness with which he was able to do everything while I was slowly falling apart.
“Why did you even come here?” I eventually asked not caring about what I had said before. This was Dallon’s house after all and I doubted that Brendon had come here to see me because he had also been avoiding me in these last two months. He hadn’t picked me up at home one day and then he never had again so I had started to take my own car again and when I arrived at work he was never there.
Brendon shook his head as if the reason why he had actually come here didn’t matter anymore and maybe it really didn’t. I wanted to be the only thing that mattered to him but I knew that this would never happen. Not with Sarah and the unborn child they both wanted to have so much.
“Why do you hate me, Ryan?” Brendon finally asked as if he really believed that I hated him. If it would’ve only been like that. I wanted to jump back in time to a day where I hadn’t met Brendon yet to tell myself to avoid meeting him in the first place. I had immediately known that Brendon fucking Urie would be the one who would destroy my life completely but I had never thought that it would be this way. I had imagined so much but not that impossible love would destroy me. Love that I had never experienced before.
“You’re a fucking arsehole, Brendon. I knew it from the beginning.” I continued to insult him because maybe that would work. Maybe when I only called him bad enough things he would disappear from my life and I’d never have to see him again. But I knew that that actually wasn’t possible because I saw him every time I closed my eyes.
“No, you are the arsehole here, Ryan. I come here just wanting to see my friend and then you’re here insulting me for nothing. If you have a problem with me than tell me straight in the face.” Brendon’s look was sharp but I still laughed because he had so absolutely no clue that it was really ridiculous. A problem. A fucking problem.
Brendon who had been semi calm before now turned furious and seconds later I felt his fist in my face. It all happened so fast that I didn’t fight back first. Who would’ve thought that this day would start like that? I collected my thoughts feeling the pain in my nose and then I stroke the next punch right in his abdominals. Brendon groaned and I wanted to scream and cry because it hurt me to see him like this. He was the reason for my problems and he was the problem. And suddenly I completely understood how Z felt this whole time. Unrequited love was the worst feeling I had ever felt and that meant something.
“What the fuck, Ryan?” The younger guy exclaimed holding his stomach and I realized that the punch had maybe been harder than I had intended it to be. “You’ve started.” I claimed as if we were little boys vindicating themselves in front of their parents.
Brendon shook his head wearing the most serious expression ever on his face but I knew that he wouldn’t punch me again. Oh, but I wanted to punch him. I wanted to punch him or I wanted to kiss him. I needed to do either the one or the other or I would freak out. Just when I wanted to really do one of the two Dallon and William entered the room looking shocked.
“What the fuck is going on here?” The tall guy said in the same moment as William asked “Why the hell is our boss in your living room?” and that was when I realized that William had absolutely no fucking clue. But I certainly didn’t have the nerves to tell him about our relationship right now. Instead I smiled at Brendon ignoring the blood that was running down my lip and would probably drip on the floor soon.
“Brendon just wanted to visit you, I guess. And we had a little nice chat.” I smiled even though it hurt and Dallon looked furiously. “Are you guys kidding me? You have to be kidding me, right? Argh.” Dallon looked as if he wanted to punch either of us too now and William just looked lost.
“You guys, you have to fucking solve your shit. I don’t know what the fuck is going on between the two of you or actually I do know but you have to talk to each other or else all of us can’t continue to be friends any longer… or whatever. You each have mouths so speak. And William and I will go eat something in the kitchen hearing every single word you will say.”
And with these words Dallon Weekes left the room and William followed him, still too perplex. “What a diva.” I said laughing but when I looked at Brendon I saw that he wasn’t. He was still so dead serious that it almost hurt. “You know that he’s right, Ryan.” Brendon then started, sighing. “We do need to talk.” I looked at him another time realizing that I would never forget his face. Even if we wouldn’t see each other for years I wouldn’t be able to forget him, that was for sure.
“Great, Brendon. What do you want to talk about then? About the fact that you’ve come into my life being a complete arsehole but still, you’ve changed everything and now… So let’s start eight months ago where you came into that stupid club with that stupid smirk and where I have already wanted to punch you. Oh yes. So maybe that’s just built-up tension.” I stopped myself from talking further because I had already said enough and I certainly wouldn’t demonstrate Brendon our whole story from my perspective.
“I don’t think so, Ryan.” Brendon replied and I wondered which part he was alluring to. Because there was definitely some kind of tension between us, I only didn’t know if we were thinking about the same kind. “You might not believe me but you’ve changed everything for me too. You did, honestly. I’ve never had this kind of a thing with… anyone. Yes, I really haven’t. So yeah Ryan. Maybe you’re not the only one who is confused and overstretched here. Maybe…” He stopped and I wondered if we were thinking about the same thing but I knew that this wasn’t possible. Brendon was in love in Sarah, I knew that.
There were still so many unspoken words between us – words neither his nor mine vocal cords were able to form – but at least I didn’t want to punch him anymore. Or well, maybe I did. Maybe I had always wanted.
“Guys, that’s not all yet.” Dallon eventually screamed from the kitchen and I wondered if he would force us to form these words now. These words that were like stones held just under our tongues, too ridiculous to be outspoken. And suddenly the tall guy was standing next to us and I felt exposed because I now realized that he as well as William had heard everything. The latter looked at us shocked because he hadn’t known about Brendon and me before. Hell, he hadn’t even known that Dallon and Brendon were friends so it certainly was much to process.
“I’m not letting anyone out of this apartment if you don’t say what you really want to say now. Don’t worry, everything will be okay, I promise.” Dallon claimed showing us the key he was holding in his hand. I knew that it was just a figurative gesture but maybe it was just what Brendon and I needed.
The two other guys disappeared again and I almost collapsed on the sofa. “Fuck, this guy really means it.” I said laughing again but as before Brendon was still serious as hell and I wondered if he had always been like that and if I had maybe only imagined that smirk that I now wanted back.
“I love you, Ryan.” He finally spoke the words that I had maybe hoped for but never would’ve thought that he would actually pronounce him. And now he had said these three words that would probably drag me into a grave eventually. “It’s not only a sex thing for me and it never has been, okay? I really do love you and that’s what’s really frightening me because the thing is…” And that was the moment I knew that his declaration of love didn’t mean anything because of the words that would follow now.
“I also love Sarah. I really do love both of you. Fuck.” I looked at him not being able to speak. I was shocked but that word didn’t really capture how I felt. I was maybe a little bit happy but even more I wanted to cry because even though Brendon had said the words I had internally hoped to hear for months now they of course came with a bitter taste. We were living in the 50s so what else had I expected? Even if there were no Sarah and no Z things would never work between two men anyways.
Eventually I managed to regain my composure at least enough to speak. “I love you too, Brendon. And I’m not just saying that because you’ve said it, okay? I’ve fallen in love with you slowly first but then all at once so that it has already been too late. And now we’re stuck here.” And then I added “And of course I do love Z too.” Because I felt like that was needed even though it was a lie.
Like I had already suspected I didn’t love Z in the same way as Brendon loved Sarah. I had known it but still, it was a shock. They wanted a child together and they wanted to play happy family together but Brendon also loved me. Was it even possible to love two persons with the same intensity? I was confused and hurt and desperate and I doubted that either of us felt better now after that confession.
And then Dallon came in and screamed “Congratulations!” wearing a big smile on his face but nobody else was smiling. William looked disturbed, Brendon looked hopeless and I probably looked like I would start crying soon because I did want to so bad.
“What? What is it now?” The tall guy who apparently didn’t understand anything asked eventually but Brendon just shook his head, left the room and seconds later the apartment. Maybe he was crying now. Crying because of the aporia of our situation – that was what I was doing at least. I ran into Dallon’s bedroom hoping that nobody would follow me and then I started crying
I approached Dallon’s record player, took a special album by The Orioles and when “It’s Too Soon To Know” started playing I broke down completely. People said that you only heard the music when your heart began to break and I felt like this statement was so true because the only thing I could hear was Brendon’s voice singing this song.
After what could have been hours or just minutes Dallon entered the room looking resigned. “I’ve told William that he should go home.” He claimed even he wouldn’t have needed to do that because the other had already gotten to know too much anyways. It was kind of ironic that William now knew more about Brendon’s and my relationship than my best friend. And suddenly I felt bad because I never told Spencer anything. I generally didn’t tell people much because it was so hard for me to open up but now William Beckett knew more about my love life than Spencer Smith and that sucked.
“I’m sorry that I’ve acted like a fool earlier. I shouldn’t have forced you guys to talk about…” “No, Dallon, it’s okay. Nothing of this is your fault.” I stopped him because it was true. Maybe Dallon had forced us to pronounce the words somehow but there had been a tension between us for months already.
“It’s not, Ryan. I was just so excited because it is so clearly obvious that you guys love each other and I thought finally saying it would make it better but…” He looked at me sorrowful but I stopped him again. “As I said, nothing of this is your fault. The situation itself is just completely fucked up.” Brendon was in love with Sarah and I was bound to Z and Lizzy and we were living in the 50s – certainly not the best time for two guys to be in love with each other. But when had it ever been a good time? Never.
I had never believed in this thing called love that apparently made people do completely ridiculous things. I had never believed in love where one couldn’t stop thinking about the other person and wanted to spend every single minute with them but now I had found this thing called love with another guy. And it was shit.
“I just feel that I’m doing everything wrong. Not just the thing with you and Brendon which – okay – maybe wasn’t really my fault overall but generally. I’m a homosexual working in a casino while my boss who is six years younger than me and whom I have sometimes made out with has a wife and apparently everything one could wish for. And then there’s Breezy who’s actually a wonderful human being and who’s only bought all that stuff because I’ve been such an arsehole to her. I’m fucking everything up, fuck.” Dallon looked like he would start crying soon and I was glad that I wasn’t the only one who felt like that. At least my tears had now dried up.
“Dallon, calm down. You’re not fucking everything up. You’re a wonderful friend but there a things that we just can’t control. Sometimes things just happen – don’t ask me why – and most of them suck unfortunately but nothing of this is your fault. I mean you’ve married a woman so it’s pretty obvious that this didn’t work out” I motioned towards his cock, almost laughing. “And Brendon just has been incredibly lucky. You know how I feel standing next to him? Like the biggest looser, honestly.” Now I really laughed. “You know what? Brendon and I are so fucked up anyways, nothing you could do or say would change that.”
“Nothing?” Dallon whispered barely audible and I nodded. “Nothing.” And then Dallon kissed me violently. It wasn’t like the other times we had already made out with each other because this time Dallon was leading, dragging me against the closed bedroom door and placing his hands on either side of my head. I knew that the older guy needed this dominance now. He needed to know that he didn’t fuck everything up because what we were doing was great.
Of course it wasn’t like kissing Brendon because I didn’t feel anything beyond friendship for Dallon but I couldn’t deny that it was a great kiss. And the fact that it was so violent this time made it even better. My lips hurt but I continued kissing him or rather Dallon was kissing me and I bore everything willingly. It was something completely different to not lead for a change but be the submissive part in a kiss.
My hands were messing up his hair like I usually did when I was kissing another person and as the tall grew drew me closer pushing his tongue into my mouth and groaning deeply I could feel his boner and that was when I knew that this was enough. We had to stop.
I softly pushed Dallon away who protested first but then he looked at me and understood that I really meant it. “What are we even doing here?” I finally asked breathless shaking my head. Maybe this was a mistake or maybe it wasn’t really. I didn’t know anything anymore.
Dallon sighed. “Of course you don’t want something else happening between us. Not while you are in love with Brendon.” It was weird to hear it out of his mouth. It was weird to hear another guy say that I was in love with a guy but it was inevitably true.
“This isn’t about Brendon, Dallon” I claimed even though this was the biggest lie. Everything nowadays was about Brendon. “He’s also in love with Sarah so what would hinder me to also make out with other people while he’s doing it himself?” “What about Z?” Dallon finally asked and I didn’t understand what he meant. What did my wife have to do with that?
“You didn’t mention that you’re in love with Z but you are, aren’t you?” Dallon looked at me concerned and I thought about what I would answer him. I could’ve lied about everything. I could’ve lied like I always did but I didn’t want to anymore. Maybe I just had to try to tell people the truth from time to time.
“No, Dallon, I’m not.” I sighed. “I’m not in love with Z and I never have been.” I paused letting the words sink in with the tall guy who couldn’t close his mouth now. I realized that we were still standing pressed against the door so I moved away sitting down on his bed that was still unmade wearing the traces from last night.
“We’ve married out of convenience, you know? Neither of us has loved the other until Z has slowly started to love me but I haven’t.” I finally spoke the words I had never told anyone before. Dallon looked shocked and I couldn’t blame him. It certainly wasn’t something one could just shrug of. And then he asked “But why did you do that?” and I told him everything. Well, not everything but most of it.
I told Dallon how Z’s boyfriend used to abuse her until he had one day almost killed her and her child. So I also told him that I wasn’t Lizzy’s biological father but her real father in every other aspect. I told him how I had never wanted to have children but that I had needed to make up for having left Z with that monster Roger so marrying her had been the only logical thing to do. I told him how I had never loved anyone before Brendon had come into my life and I also told him how I had hated Brendon as well as Dallon himself at the beginning.
I told Dallon almost anything but I didn’t tell him about my own family because that certainly would’ve been too. And then I realized that I also didn’t know much about the older guy either. I knew that he had had a wife and that he had tried to lead a sham marriage but obviously had given up the latter eventually. But I didn’t know anything about his parents or generally family. Not that it would matter now.
Dallon didn’t say anything for a long time – the latter felt like hours for me again but I was sure that it was probably just about one minute. “And here I thought that I had a shitty life.” He finally replied and I started laughing because out of everything he could’ve said now it was that and it was just so typically Dallon. But his expression was still serious.
“Okay Ryan, I don’t want to claim that you understand your situation because I won’t ever know how shitty it must feel like but I can tell you that I partly know how it does. You know, about Z being in love with you but you not being in love with her. That’s similar to what Breezy and I had to go through and maybe that’s really why she had started buying all that shit. I don’t know.
“But honestly, can I give you an advice? You don’t have to listen to me of course but that’s just how I see it.” I nodded preparing myself for what would follow now. But when it did follow I actually wasn’t prepared at all. Dallon looked at me deeply and I wondered how it was possible that I had kissed those lips only minutes ago and that those eyes now looked so serious.
“Okay, as I said, Breezy doesn’t have a mental illness but because Z does I can only advise you… Fuck Ryan, you’re going to hate me for this.” Dallon struggled but now I wanted to hear what he had to say. Finally he continued talking. “I think that Z and you should get divorced.” The words sunk in and when they had I started laughing. That was supposed to be his advice?
“Don’t be ridiculous, Dallon. I can’t leave Z. We’re…” I stopped, thinking about a fitting word but then Dallon already started talking again. “Yeah, Ryan, you’re what? A man and a woman who can’t look into each other’s eyes anymore? A couple who destroys themselves and whose love is only one-sided? Or basically just a mess? Face it, Ryan, your little fantasy won’t work out anymore. It has been an unsteady framework from the beginning but now it has completely collapsed.
I thought about what Dallon had said just for a second but then I started laughing again. “Right, Dallon, if you’re so eager to give me advice than please let it be useful next time because what you’re implying here is just ridiculous.” My laugh was to strident, too high and too fake but I wouldn’t even consider what Dallon had suggested here. I couldn’t ever leave Z.
“Fuck, Ryan, can’t you see that it’s the only way for the two of you to feel better? Sure it’ll be hard first – very hard – especially for Z but eventually everything will be better. I can promise you that.” Dallon looked so desperately that I almost really wanted to consider what he had said. But then I laughed again shrugging it off. It was the only way.
“Don’t be ridiculous here, Dallon. Z and I can’t separate, that’s crazy.” And with these words I finally left his bedroom, his apartment and the building he lived in not caring about my personal stuff that was still located there. It certainly could decompose there.
I entered my car and started the engine seeing that the tank was almost empty but my destination wasn’t that far away. I had to reach it. The streets were pretty empty which wasn’t a big surprise it being a Sunday afternoon where everybody was either staying at home or visiting their relatives. In record time I stopped the car in front of the ‘Flamingo’ not caring about that it wasn’t allowed to park there.
When I entered the lobby everything already seemed to be so familiar. All the men in their suits and the fancy-looking women as well as the decoration didn’t intimidate me anymore. And when I approached the counter and the woman there greeted me by saying “Hello Mr. Ross.” I felt like I actually belonged here.
This was the only place where I still felt good these days but it was also the one that would destroy me from time to time. It already was. I eventually took the keys and took the elevator to the 27th floor. My hands were shaking when I opened the door there and I was a little bit or maybe very much disappointed when I saw that Brendon wasn’t there. But what had I expected? Of course he had gotten back to his wife after having told me that he loved me.
I looked out of the window enjoying the breathtaking view over the city. I was only one of the ten thousands of people who were living in this city. The population had almost doubled in the last few years and there were more and more tourists visiting the city mostly because of the casinos. But generally I could understand this development. I hated the heat but Las Vegas also had its beautiful sides. And I was waiting for one of them.
I waited for hours barely moving at all and even though I had been so sure that Brendon would come at some point I started to doubt that. And then I heard how someone inserted a key into the hole and seconds later Brendon Urie was standing in front of me.
I had already seen him earlier but it wasn’t the same now. He was still wearing his casual black shirt and black trousers and fuck, why did he look so good? It should’ve been forbidden. I felt like every time I touched him I burnt myself a little bit until I would catch fire completely at some point.
“Brendon, I’m so sorry…” I started not mentioning that I had waited for hours but he interrupted me shaking his head. “There’s nothing you have to be sorry for. Our situation is just so fucked up. But” He looked at me seriously and I doubted that I would like what would follow now. “I’ve told Sarah.” My eyes almost fell out of their holes because I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. “You did WHAT?” I exclaimed not knowing if I should cry or laugh now. Maybe both.
“I’ve told Sarah that I love you but that I of course love her too. Of course I haven’t told her any details but I’ve explained that there’s this thing going on between us for months now and that I can’t live without you anymore but either can I live with her.” The way Brendon talked was just how one would talk when talking about the weather. He sounded so calm and casual even though this information was maybe even more shocking for me than the fact that he loved me.
“What did she say? I mean how did she react? And why, honestly why the fuck would you do such a stupid thing?” Finally Brendon showed me some emotion but I couldn’t really interpret his expression. “Because I’m sick of lying to anyone at this point. I’ve told you before, I’m just sick of it.” He looked at me and I realized that after all the months we were now fucking and even considering that we loved each other he was still a book of seven seals for me. And he probably would always be.
“And actually she didn’t react too badly. But you have to know that we’ve already gone to something similar years before.” Brendon sighed. “Shortly after we have married she has told me that she has been seeing this guy she had known for years but of course I didn’t know him and I still don’t know who it has been but it doesn’t matter anyways. So, Sarah has claimed that they had been together once and that she had actually wanted to marry him but don’t ask me why it hadn’t worked out.
“And then she has started crying and admitted that she still loved him but that she also loved me. And somehow I have just accepted it like that because freaking out wouldn’t have changed it anyways, you know? And maybe that’s just how we were and how we’ve always been.”
Brendon stopped looking at me again and I wondered if this story was supposed to make me feel better because it didn’t at all. Instead I felt even worse because I knew how all of this would end. I knew that Brendon would stay with Sarah just like Sarah had stayed with Brendon instead of this other guy. And I would stay with Z of course but that was something completely different.
“Say something, Ryan.” Brendon eventually begged but I didn’t know what to say. I felt like no matter what either of us was saying it only made everything worse. We were destroying each other in the best possible way but in the end everything would be even worse.
“Does she know about Dallon?” I eventually asked the first thing that came into my mind. Brendon looked confused first and then just angry. “Yes, she knows that we’ve made out from time to time. But she also knows that I don’t love him.” He answered shortly and I wondered how a woman could be so calm about her man kissing and fucking with other guys. But I had always thought that Sarah Urie was pretty weird. And maybe that was what Brendon had always been talking about when he had claimed that she was different.
“Why are you always coming up with Dallon anyways? What the hell is going on between you guys?” Brendon eventually nodded sounding a little bit jealous and that made me a little bit too happy. “We’ve only kissed a few times. Or well, maybe a few more times but I swear that it has only been kissing.” I justified myself as if Brendon was a woman. “Whatever.” He replied trying to sound causal but I could tell that he didn’t not care about it.
A silence spread between us and I didn’t dare to look at him because I knew that looking at Brendon Urie always led to things that were rather bad in the end. And then I thought about everything he had told me now and realized that I simply had to tell him everything. I had already told Dallon and Brendon was certainly the more important person for me.
“I don’t love Z, at least not romantically. And also Lizzy isn’t my daughter. That’s my biggest secret.” I watched the other guy’s expression change from desperation to confusion to anger and eventually to shock and then I started to tell him everything. Well, not everything-everything but all the things I had already told Dallon before. I had already done it once and even though I still regretted having done it I was already so exhausted now that I didn’t care anymore.
It was weird to not talking about that in such a long time but suddenly telling the story for the second time in one day. But I knew that the time of telling lies indeed was over. Not that the truth was better but at least it was the truth. And I guessed that that still counted something.
When I finished, Brendon was sitting on the bed – at some point he had probably sat down but I hadn’t realized that. It was weird to see him sitting there being awake and fully dressed because usually when we were on this bed neither of us was wearing clothes and we were doing completely different stuff. But now wasn’t the time for that. Maybe it would never be again.
“So, you have never loved Z?” The younger guy finally whispered. “Not romantically. But…” I started but then stopped again because I would never be able to explain how I felt about Z. It wasn’t a sibling like love between us and even less was it an amicably one because it was so much more than the two things but it just wasn’t this kind of love where I was constantly thinking about her having butterflies in my stomach and all that shit. The latter was already reserved for someone else.
“So this means…” Brendon began talking but suddenly stopped. He was looking at me and that was when I knew that he had finally understood it. He had finally understood that he was the only one I loved – that he was the only one I had ever loved. He was the one for me but I wasn’t the one for him.
“Ryan, I’m sorry.” He apologized and I shook my head. “What could you possibly be sorry for, Brendon? We love who we love. It’s not like we can choose that.” I laughed. If I would’ve been able to choose whom I would fall in love with I definitely wouldn’t have decided to love the rich arsehole Brendon Urie. Instead I would’ve chosen Z and having a normal family with her because that was something I had never had.
But now I knew that Lizzy wouldn’t ever have that either. Z and I were everything but normal and I felt like at this point neither of us was able to hide it any longer.
“But…” The younger guy started again but I just shook my head. And then I realized that maybe even 2705 couldn’t safe me anymore. The place that had been our little haven in the last few months had now become another place where I felt miserable. And maybe that was just how I constantly felt now.
I felt miserable when I was with people and I felt miserable when I was alone. So I was stuck in a dilemma and didn’t know what to do. I had always had a rough plan in the last years but for the first time in a long time I had absolultely no clue what to do now. And it was the scariest feeling ever.
I looked at Brendon one last time and then I left 2705 not turning around while opening the door and closing it behind me. It was the second time this day that I was leaving a room so drastically and I didn’t know which time felt worse.
Walking down the hallway and eventually reaching the elevator I wondered if I would ever enter 2705 again.

Chapter Text

Dallon was standing in front of my house but not coming in. I saw him looking out of the window and he saw me but neither of us was moving. “How long do you two want to continue doing this? Aren’t you getting tired of acting like that? It’s been two weeks now, Ryan.” Z asked standing next to me. Lizzy was getting ready for the Fourth of July celebration at Spencer and Linda’s house and Z was already wearing a long black dress while I was still in the clothes I had slept in.
“I could do this forever.” I eventually answered looking away from Dallon and going to my wardrobe to get dressed too. Maybe I would actually wear the only suit I owned today. Why not being fancy for once?
I took my shirt and pushed it over my head standing in front of Z with a bare upper body. It was weird because we were already married for more than five years and we had slept with each other several times – even though the last time the latter had happened had been a while – but now I felt completely exposed. We were so alienated that I’d rather undress myself in front of several guys than in front of my wife.
I felt Z stare and I couldn’t blame her because if I would’ve been in her position and Brendon would’ve stood in front of me I certainly would’ve stared at him too. I didn’t understand why love was a feeling people wanted to feel because it was the most destroying thing ever. Even if two people loved each other on a mutual basis it never ended great.
Finally I took my shirt buttoning it up in the front but leaving the last button unclosed. I wasn’t that much of a snob. And then I took the suit jacket feeling like I looked completely ridiculous. “You look good.” Z said hesitantly contrary to my own opinion. I wondered if her feelings for me were still as strong as they had been months ago. Because if they were I felt even worse.
“Thanks.” I then replied not being able to look her in the eyes. It was like this for months already. Every time I thought that it couldn’t get worse it always did. Because right when Z had told me that she was in love with me so many months ago already there had already been this tension between us but now we weren’t even able to look into each other’s eyes anymore.
I wondered if Z knew about Brendon somehow or if she would react like Sarah had when Brendon had told her. Probably not. And it wasn’t like telling his wife had actually changed things between Brendon and me. Actually they had only gotten worse to a point where he hadn’t talked with each other since the incident had happened.
“I’m ready to go.” I eventually stated because Z and I were just standing in front of each other awkwardly. She nodded and we left my room without looking out of the window again but I guessed that Dallon was probably still standing in front of it.
Lizzy who now came out of her room was wearing a wine-red dress that had floor-length and smiling at us. I realized how much I needed that little girl now. Even though children were so damn complicated they never ceased to lighten up ones mood with their innocent smiles. Lizzy was the only one of the three of us who was wearing something colorful and I realized how I ironic that was considering each of our situations.
Black was usually combined with something sad but I was usually wearing the latter. Actually I had been wearing only the latter since I was a teenager, there were just a few exceptions were I was wearing different colors but the latter would only be greyish or blueish tones.
“You look pretty, mom.” Lizzy finally said and I looked at Z again. She did look so damn pretty and I hated myself for everything I was doing to her. A slight smile evolved on her face and I wondered when she had laughed for real the last time. It was months now. I also wondered if Lizzy realized that something major was wrong in this family or when she would realize that. Because at some point she would, that was for sure.
Lizzy wouldn’t stay that innocent little girl who was already too smart for her age. She would make her own experiences in life and therefore she would eventually get hurt. Just the thought of the latter happening made my heart hurt.
“Ryan, you driving?” My wife eventually brought me back to the reality and I nodded. I took the keys opening the door and of course Dallon was still standing in front of my window. He had in the afternoon standing in front of my house for a few hours maybe hoping to impress me with his dedication. And I had to admit that I was impressed but still, it didn’t change anything about the fact that I was angry with him.
The older guy who was acting like a teenager now realized that we were coming out of the house and I knew that it was inevitable to talk to him now. “Hop into the car but don’t say anything.” I claimed because Dallon certainly would join Spencer’s party anyways. The tall guy wasn’t wearing a suit like usual and I felt like we had exchanged roles because usually he was always looking fancy and I wasn’t.
Now Dallon was only wearing a casual t-shirt and I couldn’t blame him because it was so damn hot outside – even now that it was already in the evening – and I already regretted having chosen to wear the suit.
Finally he just did what he said sitting in the back of the car next to Lizzy and not saying a word. What an interesting quatrain we were. Z and I didn’t talk while I approached Spencer’s house but Dallon and Lizzy seemed to whisper something I couldn’t quite figure out. I looked at the tall guy through the rearview mirror and even though I couldn’t hear his words I could still tell that he was great with children. Dallon Weekes certainly would’ve been an amazing father, much better than me.
It was all a shame. Brendon and Sarah wanted a child but weren’t successful in producing and Dallon would never have the possibility of having a child now that he had accepted his lifestyle. And then there was me who had never wanted children and even though I loved Lizzy having a family wasn’t what I would’ve chosen for myself. But when did a person ever have the opportunity to choose something in life? Maybe we could actually choose the minor things like what school we would send our children to and what to eat for dinner but nobody had choice about the really important things.
Eventually we arrived in front of my best friend’s house where another car was already parked in front of. My heart jumped even though I knew that it wasn’t Brendon’s. “You guys” Z finally started vehemently “will stay in this damn car and you will solve your fucking problems. And only when you have you’re allowed to enter that house.”
She looked at me – like, she really looked at me this time – in a way that she hadn’t done in a really long time. There was the usual desperation in her expression but then there was also a determination I hadn’t seen in a long time either. Dallon seemed to be impressed because he had never seen my wife like that. He had gotten to know her when she had already been a wreck but now something of her character had finally slipped through and I couldn’t help but smile.
Lizzy had already left the car and Z was too looking at me one last time and then the door fell shut and a silence spread between me and the tall guy. I turned around realizing how uncomfortable this position actually was to lead a serious conversation but I was too lazy to get up.
“Can you please just let me talk here, Ryan?” Dallon asked and I nodded, sighing, because I knew that I didn’t really have a choice. “I just want to say that I’m deeply sorry, okay? I really am because I shouldn’t have thought about your marriage in such a deprecating way. That was absolutely inacceptable.” I nodded but didn’t say anything. “And I don’t want to suggest anything like that again, I won’t ever, I just want to say that something has to change between you to. It really has, I mean you have to see it, right?” Another nod from my side. “I know how damn complicated it is because I’ve gone through a similar thing. In my situation a divorce has been the best thing because look at me now.” Dallon laughed and I wondered if he was really happy. His behavior was always so contradictory but I guessed that he probably made the best out of his life.
“Yeah, in my situation it has been the best but that doesn’t mean that that’s the case for Z and you. There are other ways like therapy for married people or I don’t know what else.” I nodded again not telling him that I wasn’t that determined about not having a divorce anymore. In these last two weeks I had thought about nothing else but the possibility of ending the marriage with Z. Since Dallon had brought it up this thought haunted me and one part of me had started to believe that it might really be the best decision.
“Thank you, Dallon.” I replied actually meaning it. Maybe the other guy was the only one whom I could still trust next to Spencer. “What are you thanking me for? I haven’t done anything really. I’ve just given you stupid advice.” “No, you’ve done very much. You’re here for me and you’re listening to me unlike other people.” I now realized how wrong I had been in rejecting Dallon. He had only wanted to help and maybe he actually had.
Spencer had been right from the beginning. Dallon was a genuinely nice person and an amazing friend. How was it possible that I had once disliked him? He was so different from Brendon and now I started to wonder where the latter actually was.
“Brendon’s in Michigan practically since the day after you two have talked. He and Sarah are visiting her parents there but I have no idea when they’ll come back.” Dallon explained even though I hadn’t even asked. But of course he knew that I was thinking about Brendon. Certainly Dallon should’ve been the guy I should’ve fallen in love with. If it actually had to be a guy Dallon was the perfect choice: He was genuinely nice and he cared for the people around him. Dallon also looked incredibly good and he was just sweet. Anything a guy could’ve wished for in another guy, wasn’t it?
“We can’t choose whom we fall in love with, Ryan.” The older guy eventually claimed and I nodded. I knew that. I knew that way too well because love was the thing that had brought me all the misery in my life. Well, love and maybe also the monsters that I had had to live with as a child and teenager. But that was something completely different.

I looked at the tall guy and then I stood up from the driver’s seat placing one knee on the latter and the other on the passenger’s seat and leaning towards Dallon who was sitting in the back. He moved to until our mouths were just a few inches apart from each other until he suddenly took my wrists pushing me away from him.
I looked around but there was nobody watching us but I knew that I should’ve been more careful, still. Dallon shook his head looking desperate and hurt and I wondered why. I already knew that expression way too well because apparently everyone around me including myself was wearing it. “Stop it, Ryan. Please don’t kiss me anymore.” He eventually whispered and I sat back in the driver’s seat looking at the street as if I would want to drive somewhere far away from here. And well, I actually did want that.
“Why not? It’s fun, isn’t it?” I said but not sounding as enthusiastically as I should have. “Yes Ryan, it is fun but I know that you’re just kissing me because you can’t kiss Brendon and that is wrong.” I shook my head in disbelief. “Why do you care now? If you see it this way it should’ve been wrong all this time. What has changed suddenly?” I didn’t turn around but I saw Dallon in the rearview mirror and couldn’t quite identify his expression.
I had always been so bad with people. I wasn’t able to talk to others properly but I also had problems understanding others emotions sometimes and the latter certainly happened more often recently. Or maybe it was just because all people tried to hide their real emotions and some did it better than others.
“Plus you’re wrong, Dallon. I’m not just kissing you because I can’t kiss Brendon. Brendon and I aren’t like a couple or something, we both have wives and we both fuck other people. It doesn’t actually matter.” “Oh, but it does matter, Ryan, don’t you see that? I know that the situation is fucking complicated but you two really love each other and that’s why this is so wrong. Who do I have?”
Suddenly I had the enlightenment and I started to understand what had been going on here the whole time. I wondered how I hadn’t realized that before but that was probably where my incompetence with other people came to the surface.
Dallon Weekes was in love with Brendon Urie. He had been this whole time, he probably had been in years and I wondered how he was still alive constantly being around the other guy and kissing him but knowing that the love wasn’t returned.
Finally I turned around now being able to interpret the expression in Dallon’s face and understanding it way too well. It was the same expression I had seen on Z’s face so often – the one of unrequited love. At least I wasn’t the reason for it this time or not really.
“Does Brendon know?” I eventually whispered because I didn’t dare to speak out loud. “And why don’t you hate me? I mean…” “Oh my goodness, Ryan. Why should I hate you? Just because the love of my life doesn’t love me back but instead loves you? As I said, love is not something we can control.” Maybe Dallon Weekes was just a way too much person and weren’t nice people always the ones who ended up alone?
“And yes, Brendon indeed does know. I’ve already told him when I’ve first developed feelings for him years ago because I’m a pretty upright person. I hate lying, especially when it’s about my feelings. You know, at the beginning it had started as just kissing and then we’ve sometimes blown the other person but never more. It has been a sexual thing the whole time until it suddenly hasn’t been anymore.
“It’s a little bit similar to Z’s and your relationship. I mean of course the roots are completely different but, I mean, at the beginning neither of you had loved the other until Z has started to develop feelings for you at some point. You know what I mean?” I nodded suddenly wondering when exactly Z had fallen in love with me. How long had she kept this secret before having told me?
“I’ve never been in love with anyone before. I honestly thought that I wasn’t capable of romantic love. And then fucking Brendon has changed everything. Fuck Dallon, what do we do now?” I asked desperately but not expecting an answer. Dallon shook his head and here we were sitting in a car, two guys being in love with the same guy.
“Guys, what do you need so long for? Have you killed each other?” Linda who suddenly came out of the house screamed but when she saw us sitting in the car, she approached the latter, eventually opening the passenger’s side’s door and leaning down to talk to us. “I just wanted to tell you that we wanted to eat now. Z has told me that you two had to declare yourselves. Everything okay now? Did your talk go as planned?”
I almost laughed because if Linda would’ve known what our talk had actually been about she certainly would’ve behaved much differently. I of course didn’t tell her that I had just had one of the most intense talks of my whole life but instead I wondered if she knew that Spencer had an affair. Affairs were actually so shitty but still, so many people were having one. I had never wanted to have one myself but that was before I had met Brendon. Life never went by as planned.
I nodded telling Spencer’s wife that we would come and then Dallon and I got out of the car grinning at each other because he had also sensed how ridiculous that situation was. We eventually entered the house where about twenty people were gathered. I knew most of them but there were some unfamiliar faces too. There were so many people but the one person I wanted to see wasn’t here.
“Do you know when Brendon and Sarah will come back?” I whispered in Dallon’s ear but he shook his head looking as desperate as I felt. And that was what we actually were: Two men desperately in love with another one with no chance of ever being happy. “I don’t know, Ryan. I don’t even know if he’ll come back at all.” Dallon sighed and I suddenly felt the need to cry.
“You know that he’s told Sarah about you two and let’s just say that she didn’t take the news very well.” Dallon claimed and we sat down at the table that seemed to be way too large for this small room. If it would’ve been placed in Brendon’s mansion it would’ve fit perfectly or would’ve even been too little. “But Brendon has told me that she had reacted pretty well.” “I don’t know, Ryan. Maybe he has lied to you to make you feel better. I can just tell you what I saw and it has looked like Sarah has dragged him out of this city, away from you. You know that her parents are damn rich so she can afford almost everything.”
I hated rich people and I hated Brendon but I also loved him and I had never felt such opposing feelings towards one person. “Is that why Brendon’s rich? Is it just because he’s together with Sarah?” I finally whispered, on the verge realizing that everybody had already stood up to go to the buffet which was placed on three different tables. And suddenly I had to think about New Year’s Eve where it had also been Dallon and I talking deep stuff and I had to realize that it was always the two of us having the deepest conversations.
“Partly, Ryan. I mean of course Sarah’s father had helped Brendon at the beginning but mostly he had really gotten rich because he himself is such a smart person when it’s about money and business. Well, but therefore there are other things where Brendon Urie isn’t smart at at all.”
“What are you two chatting about the whole time?” Spencer eventually approached us holding a filled plate in his hands and looking at Dallon and me concerned. Maybe he was jealous because of the relationship the tall guy and I had built up and I certainly didn’t blame him because my best friend and I hadn’t talked to each other genuinely in a really long time.
“Would you fancy a smoke after dinner?” I eventually asked realizing that we definitely had to talk about stuff if we wanted to continue our friendship. And this time we both needed to be honest. Spencer nodded and got back to his place while Dallon and I got to the buffet and loaded up our plates with food. I was so damn hungry actually.
After dinner most people stayed at the table to talk to each other and wait for the dessert while some went to the kitchen. Spencer and I got outside and sat down on the bench that was located in front of the entrance door and I had to think about the first time where we had talked to each other in front of my own house and that seemed to have been years ago already even though it was less than nine months ago. So much had happened since then.
I fetched a pack of cigarettes out of my pocket and offered Spencer one but he was already holding a cigarette in his hands already. Of course he was carrying a pack with him too. “Things are pretty fucked up, aren’t they?” He eventually claimed and I nodded. Maybe that was my invitation to start talking but that was what I did finally.
“I don’t love Z romantically but she loves me and Lizzy isn’t my daughter.” I started, sounding so casually even though what I had just said wasn’t casual at all. I expected Spencer to look shocked but he didn’t, not at all. “I know, Ryan.” He even said and I wondered if I had told him before but I actually knew for sure that I hadn’t.
“One day Z has told Linda the whole story and my wife has told me. First I was angry as you can imagine. I was angry because my best friend was hiding the biggest secret of his life from me but Linda has repeatedly claimed that Z had forced you to not tell anyone and then I thought that it was actually pretty heroic of you to really not do so.” I definitely didn’t tell Spencer that I had told Dallon and Brendon before him because that certainly and understandably would’ve made him furious.
First I was a little bit mad at Linda because she had just told her husband such a big thing but then I was actually relieved because the fact that Spencer had already known now made our conversation much easier. “But you do love Brendon, don’t you?” My best friend eventually asked and instead of denying it I just nodded this time. Brendon knew that and Dallon knew that so why shouldn’t Spencer know it too.
My best friend nodded not being surprised again but this time it was probably because he had already figured that. And then I told him everything. I told him everything I hadn’t told him before and it felt good. It felt good to finally talk to someone whom I wasn’t fucking or who wasn’t fucking men in general but who still understood me and who wasn’t disgusted by everything.
Spencer looked at me intensely and I felt like our friendship had just reached a whole new level. “Nicole’s and my affair is over.” He finally said and that didn’t surprise me either. I had long ago guessed that the two of them wouldn’t keep this up for a really long time. “Where there ever feelings involved between the two of you?” I asked realizing that when I had done so the last time Spencer had only laughed at me claiming that affairs didn’t involve feelings. But this time his expression remained serious.
“I feel like at some point we’ve both started to like the other person too much. I don’t love her and I never did and I’m pretty sure that it’s the same for Nicole but maybe we’ve both just started to like the idea of us being together too much. You know what I mean?” I nodded even though I didn’t quite understand what he meant. Spencer sighed. “But at some point I had realized that it can’t go on like that. I really do love Linda and I want to try to save our marriage, for Jude’s sake but also for ours.”
I nodded achingly realizing that I was already beyond the point where I wanted to do that with Z. “Does Linda know about the affair?” “Hell, no.” I looked at my best friend seriously. “Well, I think in order to be happier again you have to tell Linda because otherwise you’d just continue lying at each other and that’s not what either of you want, right?” Spencer sighed.
“But if I tell her she will hate me, Ryan.” “She won’t hate you, okay? It’ll be hard, sure it will, but you’ll figure things out eventually. I know both of you and I promise you that you will.” Maybe I really meant it because I had realized that Z and I wouldn’t manage to fix our marriage this time. And someone just had to.
“What about you and Z?” Spencer eventually asked as if he had read my thoughts and I shrugged. “You know, I’ve already talked to Dallon about this – and please don’t be mad that I’ve talked to him first, it just happened – “ Spencer shook his head but he didn’t seem to be angry so I continued talking “and I guess we can all agree that Dallon certainly isn’t a marriage expert but he has said something that has really made me rethink everything.”
I laughed dryly. “He has suggested that Z and I should get a divorce and first I’ve freaked out and haven’t talked to him in two weeks but then today we’ve talked again and I have realized that he maybe isn’t as wrong as I’ve thought first. You know, he kind of inspires me because he has left his wife not caring about what anyone thinks and maybe ending our marriage is just what Z and I need in order for both of us to feel better.”
There was a soothing silence on the outside because everyone was inside of their houses celebrating the Fourth of July – the Independence day of a country that had way too many problems wedging us all into corsets until we were choking. And now the Fourth of July would always have a completely different meaning to me because it would always be the day where I had realized that my marriage was completely over. And I wondered if Z’s and my relationship could ever have been considered as a marriage.
We were actors playing our roles as husband and wife and I had never thought that life had hold such a role for me and maybe it hadn’t. Maybe marrying Z had been the biggest mistake of my life but still, I didn’t regret it because I had saved her and Lizzy. I just doubted that I was able to do that any longer.
And if I left her I would be the arsehole this time and it wouldn’t be Z who would be doomed because she was a pregnant lady without a husband. And I could definitely live with that. I could live with being the arsehole because I actually was.
I finally looked at Spencer speaking the words I hadn’t dared speaking before because they had seemed to surreal and too ridiculous. But suddenly they didn’t anymore. Maybe they would be the only right thing I would ever do in my whole life.
“It’s over, Spence. It’s definitely over now.”