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Accidentally In Love

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~

Ryan has disappeared.

Spencer sighs, glaring aimlessly around the room at large for a minute, but there's no Ryan to be seen, and from the intense way he was staring at the scruffy camera dude earlier, he's probably gone for the night. Again. What a dick.

He'll give it thirty minutes, just in case Ryan strikes out with camera guy and comes looking for him, and after that, he's out of here.

"Hey," says a tall guy with longish hair and hips that could cut glass. He tilts his head to one side, smiling at Spencer.

"Sorry," Spencer tells him apologetically. "Straight."

The tall guy wrinkles his nose, and then laughs. "I'd say 'my bad,' but...well." He gestures vaguely at the plethora of rainbows around the room.

"Yeah, no." Spencer grins. "I'm here with a friend, who totally just abandoned me for sex, but whatever."

Tall Guy has already locked eyes with some other dude across the room. The new target is also freakishly tall, and wearing this really violently purple hoodie. Spencer laughs when Tall Guy turns back to face him apologetically.

"Go," Spencer says, waving a dismissive hand. "Abandon me for sex."

"Thank you, I will," says Tall Guy, laughing, and then Spencer is alone again.

"Everybody's getting some tonight but me," he mutters under his breath. He stands around kind of aimlessly for a minute, and then heads for the concession window in the corner. At least the party is in the SUB, so there are actual fountain drinks instead of some kind of lame punch bowl or whatever.

He gets a Coke, eyeing his watch and determining that he still has another twenty minutes to kill before he can leave. There's a vaguely uncomfortable-looking guy a few feet away, leaning against the wall by himself, staring out at the roomful of laughing people with kind of a helpless expression on his face. Spencer wonders if he's gay and shy, or just straight and bewildered.

"First time at one of these?" he says over the music, surprising himself a little.

The guy glances over, startled. "Um," he says, and laughs awkwardly. "Yeah. Pretty obvious, huh?"

Spencer grins, and the guy stares, his cheeks going a little pink. Spencer flushes a little, himself. Okay. Gay, then. There's that question answered.

"I came to one last year," he says, instead of acknowledging it. "I came up here to visit a friend, I wasn't out of high school yet. But so he brings me to this party and disappears with some guy and I didn't even know my way back to his dorm room. I spent three hours sitting on the stairs by myself waiting for him to show back up."

"Dude," says the guy, wide-eyed. "That's...some friend."

Spencer shrugs. "Who do you think dragged me here tonight? He's somewhere right now having sex with the camera guy, I think, but at least this time I have my own dorm room, and I know how to get there."

The guy laughs. It's kind of a nervous sound. He bounces on his toes a little, and Spencer feels kind of bad for him.

"So. Where's the friend that dragged you here?" he asks. He's not sure why he doesn't just leave the guy alone.

The guy ducks his head. "I, uh...dragged myself?" he admits awkwardly, and it sounds like a question. "I think I thought it would be different than it is," he adds, and it's quiet enough that Spencer steps a little bit closer so he can hear.

"Different how?"

"I don't know." The guy shrugs. "I guess. I'm, uh. Kind of new to this? Like, my family is super-religious, so I didn't really...I kind of just came out, like, right before I left? And I was just really tired of hiding and I thought, you know, it'll be different in college, there'll be all these other people like me, and I sort of thought...I don't know. That I'd fit in? But. I don't." He shifts, darts a glance at Spencer. "I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm--"

Spencer shakes his head. "No," he says. "I mean, I get that. Like. I think I thought a lot of things about college would be different. It's weird, trying to figure it all out. But why do you think you don't fit in? I mean, you're kind of hiding in a corner, so -"

The guy looks up, stares out at all the dancing, laughing, flirting people. His shoulders hunch up a little. "I don't know. I guess, it's just. Everybody seems so comfortable. Like. They all know who they are and what they're doing and they just...make it look easy. I don't - I'm still trying to figure shit out, I don't -" He stops abruptly. "I'm sorry. I'm whining, and I don't even know your name. I'm, uh, Brendon, by the way."

Spencer smiles. "Spencer," he says. "And I don't think you're whining. You should meet Ryan. He kind of went through the same thing when he was coming out, he'd probably be able to help you a lot."

Brendon bounces on his feet again, edging just a little closer to Spencer. "How did it go for you?" he asks, tilting his head in a way that reminds Spencer of Tall Guy. "Was it totally easy and everything made sense right away?" He sounds kind of wistful, but there's something kind of suddenly shy about him, too. He's chewing on his lower lip, and - oh - reaching out to touch Spencer's elbow, an awkward but clear attempt at flirtation.

Spencer's stomach sinks. "Oh," he says, feeling like a total shithead. "I'm actually not gay. Just..." He forces a grin, trying to seem casual, like he didn't notice. He's an asshole. "Really supportive, I guess."

It takes a second, but Brendon's face burns a bright, sudden, painful red, and his hand drops immediately. He actually takes a step backward, like he thinks he's done something wrong, and Spencer can feel his own face burning in sympathy. "Oh," says Brendon. "Um. I'm -"

Spencer doesn't want to hear him apologize; it wasn't his fault, it was totally Spencer's. He hadn't even thought about the fact that to Brendon, it would obviously totally look like he was flirting. "So," he says, too loudly, and steps deliberately closer again. "What're you in for?"

Brendon hesitates, still flushing brightly, but Spencer just leans against the wall, determinedly holding onto the pretense that nothing is weird. "Uh," says Brendon, after a moment. "Music, I - scholarship."

"Really?" Spencer stands back up, interested. "What do you play?"

Brendon gives him a strange, kind of searching glance, but seems to relax marginally after a moment. "A bunch of stuff," he says, shrugging. "I kind of like everything, you know?"

"Awesome," says Spencer. "I'm a drummer - well. I fuck around with it, I'm not actually here for music or anything. But my friend Ryan plays guitar, we used to have this shitty garage band -"

The next thing Spencer knows, it's two hours later and the party is starting to wind down as more and more people disappear, alone or in pairs. Brendon, Spencer has decided, is pretty much awesome. He's hyper and bouncy and kind of a huge dork, but he's also really knowledgeable and opinionated and funny, and Spencer hasn't managed to think of a single band or song or style of music, no matter how obscure, that Brendon doesn't know at least something about.

Ryan's sudden appearance at Spencer's elbow startles the crap out of him.

"Hey." Ryan says, glancing between Spencer and Brendon curiously. "I figured you'd have bailed by now."

Spencer flushes unaccountably, and gestures at Brendon. "Got busy talking," he says. "How'd it go with the camera guy?"

Ryan rolls his eyes. "His name is Jon."

"Okay," Spencer says slowly. "How'd it go with Jon?"

"It was nice," Ryan says defensively. "He's really nice."

Spencer starts laughing, and Ryan knocks him irritably in the arm.

"Shut up, I can hear you thinking. I didn't strike out, I just...wanted to get to know him. Is that so wrong?"

"Just unusual," Spencer retorts, and then catches Brendon's wide-eyed gaze and grins. "This is Ryan, the guy I was telling you about. He's kind of a whore, so don't let him seduce you, but he's still okay to hang around with. Ryan, this is Brendon. He knows pretty much everything there is to know about music, it's awesome."

"Hey," says Ryan, nodding at Brendon.

Brendon flushes again, but smiles brightly enough. "Hey."

There's a short, awkward silence. Brendon bounces on his toes again.

"Well," he says after a minute. "I should get going. Uh. It was nice to meet you, Spencer. Ryan."

"Hey, yeah," says Spencer hastily. "Which hall do you live in? We're heading out too, so..."

Brendon smiles. "Bennet."

"Cool. I'm in Vance, we can walk with you partway. Ryan's off-campus this year, so his car's in my lot."

Ryan pokes Spencer in the side, obviously amused, and Spencer does know what this looks like, but it's not like Ryan thinks. He can't exactly make a big deal out of it, though, so he just picks back up where he left off with Brendon, halfway through a debate about pop music versus scene cred and what, exactly, constitutes a sell-out. Brendon is of the opinion that there is no such thing, that music is meant to be enjoyed, and if you're writing music that a lot of people enjoy, that's supposed to be a good thing. Spencer secretly agrees, but can't say so in case Ryan ever finds out.

Ryan, for his part, is quiet but attentive all the way to the edge of the Vance Hall parking lot, where Spencer and Brendon spend another five minutes bickering. They've somehow managed to get onto the subject of movie soundtracks, about which all of Brendon's opinions are just legitimately wrong, especially the part about Disney, and it takes a discreet cough from Ryan to bring them back to their senses. Brendon bites his lip.

"Okay," he says, suddenly awkward again. "Well. I should -"

"We're going to see a friend's band play tomorrow night," Ryan cuts in, out of nowhere. "You should come."

Brendon looks totally taken aback. "Oh," he says. "Um. Okay? I mean. Where?"

"The Attic," Ryan supplies. "Meet us here at like six, we can all ride over together."

Brendon looks at Spencer, as if to ask permission, which seems weird. "It'll be awesome," says Spencer, because Brendon is obviously waiting for him to say something.

"Okay." Brendon smiles again, and bounces on his toes. "Awesome. Six o'clock. I'll see you here, I should - I still have a fuckload of homework, so..." He takes a few halting steps backward, then turns and heads toward Bennet with his head down, shoulders kind of hunched in. Spencer watches him walk away, and then turns to find Ryan staring at him.

"Shut up," he says, rolling his eyes. "You fucking abandoned me, again, so whatever. I made a new friend. It had to happen sometime."

Ryan laughs. "Did you make a new friend? Or a new boyfriend?"

Spencer flushes. "You're a dick. Leave him alone, he's kind of...new."

Ryan doesn't have to ask what that means. He just pokes Spencer in the side again, still grinning, and heads for his car.

Spencer sighs, and goes inside. He still has a bunch of his own homework to do.

~

Ryan's friend turns out to be Tall Guy, much to Spencer's amusement. The band is good, and Tall Guy - whose name turns out to be William - laughs when he comes by to say hi to Ryan and discovers Spencer standing there.

"Ryan Ross," William says, laughing. "You're the one who abandoned your friend for sex? Shame. Shame!"

Ryan rolls his eyes. "I didn't have any sex," he returns, like that's a legitimate defense, and Brendon chooses that moment to edge back up with his hands full of drinks, effectively rescuing Ryan.

"Thanks," Spencer says, accepting his drink. "This is William, Ryan's friend. William, this is Brendon."

William gives Brendon a very distinct once-over, which Brendon doesn't seem to notice - he's too busy trying to wipe some kind of unidentified moisture off his glasses and say hello to William at the same time.

He clearly notices, though, when William sidles a little bit closer and smiles at him.

"Before I make the same embarrassing mistake twice," says William, grinning, "Tell me you're not somebody's straight friend, too."

"Uh." Brendon fumbles with his glasses, shoves them back on his face, and blushes bright red. "...No?"

"Excellent." William looks like he's getting ready to say something else, but Brendon is visibly edging closer to Spencer, so Spencer gives Ryan a look, and Ryan snorts but obediently drags William away.

"I suck at being gay," Brendon tells Spencer in an undertone.

Spencer laughs. "You do not. That guy is just a little much."

"Yeah." But Brendon doesn't really leave Spencer's side after that, and Spencer can't help being amused by the skittish expression on Brendon's face whenever William finds another minute to pop over and bother Ryan. Ryan must have said something to him, because he doesn't talk to Brendon again at all beyond casual greetings.

By the end of the night, Brendon has relaxed considerably, and is deeply involved in a conversation about guitars with the lead guitarist of William's band, some dude with blondish hair and an Australian accent. The conversation long since started sailing way over Spencer's head, so he's kind of zoned out by now, and is mostly trying to figure out if Brendon and Guitar Guy are engaged in some weird kind of musical flirtation, or what. It doesn't really seem like it, and Brendon keeps glancing over at Spencer like he wants to make sure Spencer is still there, but Spencer doesn't want to be in the way or anything.

He taps Brendon and says he'll be back, then wanders off to get more drinks. He doesn't know where Ryan is or what Guitar Guy is drinking, so he just grabs sodas for himself and Brendon. When he turns back around, Brendon is twisting around in his seat, obviously looking for Spencer, and Guitar Guy is kind of scanning the room too, so Spencer shrugs to himself and heads back over. He hands Brendon his drink.

"Oh." Brendon grins, clearly relieved. "Thanks."

"Hey," says Guitar Guy. "I've gotta go, but it was cool to meet you. You should come play with us sometime."

Brendon looks flustered. "Thanks," he says. "Maybe sometime."

Guitar Guy wanders off, leaving Spencer and Brendon alone again. Ryan is nowhere to be seen and, knowing him, probably won't be for the rest of the night, so when Brendon starts yawning, Spencer pushes him toward the door.

"I'm sorry," Brendon says, sheepish. "I was up really late last night."

Spencer rolls his eyes. "Do I look like I'm complaining? I have to be up at the asscrack of dawn tomorrow for my stupid Chem lab, I'm more than ready to get out of here. Come on, we'll take Ryan's car."

Brendon looks amused. "Won't Ryan...need his car? Or at least wonder where it went?"

"No," Spencer says dryly. "Ryan won't remember he has a car until tomorrow, and then he'll just assume it's in my lot. He needs a fucking keeper."

Brendon laughs, and it's not until he's closing the door and walking around to the other side of the car that
Spencer realizes he totally just opened Brendon's car door for him.

He flushes, abruptly confused and weirded out by himself, but Brendon doesn't seem to think anything of it. He talks easily on the way back to the dorms, and by the time Spencer drops him off in front of his own building, they've got plans to go to another show on the weekend.

Spencer feels unsettled as he drives back over to his own dorm, but pushes the feeling impatiently aside.

It's just been a really long time since he actually had a real friend besides Ryan, that's all. It's not like Spencer didn't ever have other friends, but that was just casual high school shit, not actual, legitimate friendship. He's just out of practice at this, that's all. It makes sense; if you think about it, the last time he actually made a friend, he was five.

By the time he gets back to his dorm, he's over his weird little freak-out, and ready to face the reading for his Chem class.

~

"I hate October in the midwest," Spencer announces, walking into Brendon's dorm room and flopping down on the bed. It's been a month since the night of that first Academy show, and Spencer was totally right. Things have smoothed themselves out with Brendon, it's like they've been friends for years. Spencer doesn't know what he was ever worried about.

Brendon wanders into view in the doorway of the bathroom his room shares with the room on the other side. He's in jeans, but he's shirtless, and there's a toothbrush hanging out of his mouth. "I hate the Midwest, period," he says, enunciating carefully around a mouthful of foam.

Spencer drags Brendon's pillow over his face and sighs. He kind of does, too. It's cold here, and the sky is mostly grey all the time, and they're only a month into school and it's just going to keep getting colder. It sucks.

"I also hate my lab partner," he calls out over the sound of the water running and Brendon spitting. He's said it a thousand times before, but really, it bears repeating.

"I hate my roommate," Brendon calls back, and spits again.

Spencer grimaces, because everybody hates Brendon's roommate. The guy is huge, and plays football, and he's dumb as a brick. He's also an unmitigated asshole. Sometimes Spencer is afraid for Brendon, living alone in a room with him. The guy doesn't exactly seem like the type to march at Pride, or whatever.

Brendon pokes his head around the door. His face is covered in shaving cream, and he's pointing his razor at Spencer. "Hey. It's your turn, asshole. Pay attention."

"I hate Alex Greenwald?" Spencer offers contritely.

Brendon grunts, and disappears back into the bathroom. Spencer doesn't really hate Alex Greenwald. He just hates that Ryan went and got himself a roommate at all. Spencer can't move out of the dorm until next year. He figured Ryan would wait for him.

"I hate cafeteria stroganoff," Brendon volunteers. "Also, for the record, I hate food poisoning."

Spencer laughs. "You didn't get food poisoning, you drama queen."

"You don't know that. You never take me seriously. I could have died."

"You had a stomachache for an hour and a half. Are you almost done primping? We're going to be late."

Brendon huffs, reappearing in the doorway. He's wiping the last remnants of shaving cream off his face.
"Don't rush me. I need time to get pretty."

"You're the prettiest. Put a shirt on and let's go, before Ryan and Alex smoke all the pot without us."

Brendon rolls his eyes, but rifles obediently through his closet. He's moving deliberately slowly, because he's a dick, but at least he's moving. Several centuries later, he's fully attired, all the way down to his fluffy scarf and fingerless gloves, and Spencer makes a huge production out of yawning and pretending to wake up from a deep sleep, but Brendon just elbows him out of the way and locks the door.

~

When they get to Ryan's place, Alex isn't even there, but scruffy camera guy totally is. It takes a minute for Spencer to connect him with an actual name in his head - Jon - but he's really nice and really funny and has some of the best weed Spencer has ever smoked. More importantly, Spencer has never known Ryan to maintain a crush for this length of time. Jon must actually be special. Spencer will have to remember to mock Ryan shamelessly later.

Brendon and Jon immediately hit it off and start, like, singing medleys at each other and shit. Spencer and Ryan exchange dubious glances, but Brendon happens to be sprawled on the floor with his head on Spencer's stomach, and it seems rude to just get up and leave them to it. Spencer closes his eyes instead, and focuses on the way his fingers are tingling.

"Seriously," he says, slow and lazy. "Best weed ever."

"Jon's my favorite," Ryan says smugly, and Spencer laughs really hard but doesn't actually say anything, so there's no excuse for the way Ryan glares at him.

"Don't laugh," says Brendon, poking Spencer in the side. "Don't laugh at Jon Walker. He's my favorite, too."

"I'm your favorite," Spencer says comfortably.

Brendon grins at Spencer, soft and kind of goofy. "My favorite after you, then."

"I'm nobody's favorite," Ryan says morosely.

"Whatever." Brendon waves a hand. "You've been Spencer's favorite since you were embryos, don't be selfish."

"You'd be my favorite," Jon tells Ryan apologetically. "But Brendon plays bass. So obviously he's cooler than you."

"I never get to be cooler than anybody," Brendon says happily, at the same time as Ryan mutters, "That's not fair. Brendon plays everything."

Spencer closes his eyes and hums quietly.

~

"It was cute in the beginning," Ryan says quietly, when he manages to corner Spencer in the act of rummaging through the kitchen for snack food. "But at this point you're being kind of a dick."

"What?"

"Brendon." Ryan gestures irritably at the doorway to the living room. Brendon is currently kicking Jon's ass so hard at Guitar Hero that there is not likely to be anything left of Jon by the time the brutality is over. "It was funny at first, his little crush or whatever, and you playing at being boyfriends. But, like. You're pretty much leading him on at this point, dude. It's sort of shitty, what you're doing. You're going to...break his little heart or something. You need to talk to him."

Spencer flushes. "It's not like that," he objects immediately, but this is Ryan, and Ryan stopped taking Spencer's shit years ago.

"It's exactly like that, and you know it," he says flatly.

There's a short silence, broken only by the sound of Brendon's whoop of triumph and Jon's immediate demand for a recount.

"Best of three, best of three," Jon bargains, and Brendon laughs.

"I told him," Spencer says, quiet and stiff, once Jon and Brendon are safely distracted again. "I told him I was straight the very first night. It's nothing. He knows there's nothing."

Ryan rolls his eyes. "Bullshit," he says levelly. "Even you don't believe that shit. Look, I like the kid, okay? He's loud and annoying and whatever, but I don't want to see him get fucked over. Just talk to him. It doesn't mean you can't be friends, it just - it's kind of sad, okay? He's, like. Really serious by this point. It sucks to watch."

Spencer's stomach twists, because he knows. He hasn't wanted to admit it, even to himself, but no matter how many times he's told himself that everything is totally normal and fine...he knows.

"HA!" shouts Brendon, in the living room. "You are no challenge for me! Where's Spencer? Spencer, get out here, I need a real man to take me on!"

"Hey," Jon objects mildly, and in the kitchen, Ryan raises a telling eyebrow.

Spencer exhales sharply, nods once at Ryan, and heads for the living room. It's not like he can talk to Brendon right now. He may as well play some Guitar Hero.

~

Later, when Spencer has been effectively murdered, though not as badly as Jon was, he flops down on the couch in a lazy sprawl. Brendon instantly drops down beside him, flat on his back with his head on Spencer's thigh, and comfortably continues his conversation with Jon, hands waving everywhere.

Spencer pulls on a strand of Brendon's hair, and ignores the weight of Ryan's eyes on him. Brendon stops talking long enough to beam up at Spencer for a second, and Spencer thinks, fuck.

~

Brendon turns up at Spencer's room the next night. Spencer flushes for no good reason, and manages not to hear a single word Brendon says in the entire first fifteen minutes he's talking.

What in the fuck is he supposed to say?

"Hey. Hello? Dude, are you even in there?"

Spencer snaps out of his daze, making an apologetic face. "Sorry. I - uh. Sorry." He clears his throat. "Listen, as long as you're here. We...I need to talk to you about. Um. Something."

Brendon flops back across the foot of the bed. "Everything okay?"

He's looking up at Spencer, playing idly with a string that's hanging off the bottom of Spencer's ragged jeans. Spencer blows out an unsteady breath.

"Yeah, no, I just -" He breaks off.

He can't do it. His cheeks are burning, and it feels like he can't breathe, but he just...

He just doesn't want Brendon to stop looking at him like that.

The thought is big enough to be overwhelming in its implications, and Spencer can't think about it right now. He just can't. It's - it's all fucked-up and impossible and stupid and he seriously cannot think about it right now.

"I think I'm failing Comp," he says lamely.

Brendon sits up, alarmed. "What? You got a B on your last term paper! How the fuck are you failing?"

Spencer gestures vaguely; he's never lied well under pressure. "You know what? I'm probably just worrying about nothing. Let's go get something to eat."

Brendon gives him a weird look. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine." He's an asshole. "Come on. My treat."

Brendon smiles, and Spencer ducks his head.



Such
 an asshole.

~

"You haven't talked to him," Ryan says neutrally, two weeks later.

Spencer groans, and covers his face with his hands. "Can we not do this right now?"

"Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?"

"Oh my god. I mean it. Not right now, okay? Please."

Ryan sighs. "What's the problem?"

Spencer makes a strangled sound, muffled behind his hands. "I don't - look. I've tried, okay? I just. I can't." But that's not the truth, and Spencer knows it. He drops his hands, his face burning hot and scratchy, and forces himself to look Ryan in the eye. "I...don't want to."

"You -" Ryan stares at Spencer for a long moment. "Are you saying what it sounds like you're saying? Seriously?"

"Argggh!" Spencer drops backward on the couch and yanks a pillow over his face. "I don't know, okay? I don't fucking know!"

"Whoa." Ryan collapses onto the nearest chair. "Holy shit. Um. Okay, how're you doing? With...everything?"

Spencer pulls the pillow off his face to glare. Ryan really sucks at being comforting. It's lame; Spencer was way better at this when it was Ryan freaking out.

Ryan flaps a hand at him. Spencer pulls the pillow back over his head.

"Fuck you," he mumbles.

"Look, what do you want from me? I'm doing my best, here. I remember what it feels like to be where you are, but that doesn't mean I know what to do about it. Are you...I mean. Are you sure? Are you okay? Are you - do you need to...talk about it, or whatever?"

"If it weren't for all the paisley and flowers and makeup and shit," Spencer says gruffly, "you would be kicked out of the Gay Stereotype Club. Aren't you people supposed to be all sensitive and shit?"

"I don't know," Ryan shoots back. "Why don't you tell me?"

Spencer sits up, letting the cushion fall away with a sigh. "Low," he says, and Ryan has the grace to look at least a little abashed.

"Sorry. It's just...Brendon? Really?"

Spencer stiffens. "What's wrong with Brendon?"

"Nothing!" Ryan holds up his hands, abruptly amused. "I've got nothing against your boyfriend, I swear. I just...you've never shown an interest in guys before. Is this the real thing, do you think, or just...curiosity?"

Spencer flails. "How in the fuck am I supposed to know that?"

Ryan sighs, a heavy put-upon sound. "Come here," he says.

"If you try to kiss me," Spencer says flatly, "no one will ever find the body. Do not even think that thought ever again, do you understand me?"

"See," says Ryan, "that's definitely a check mark in the 'Not Gay' column."

"Because obviously any actual gay man wants in your pants? How do you explain Jon, dickface?"

"Low," Ryan says sharply.

"Sorry." Spencer huffs a breath. "Look. Can we just drop it? I'll...figure it out. I just have to - like. Figure it out. That's all."

Ryan is looking at Spencer with a vague sort of pity, but he doesn't object. "Pizza?"

Spencer nods, a little stiffly. "You're buying, because I'm having a crisis. And I get to pick the movie."

"Fine," says Ryan.

He even leaves the mushrooms off the entire pizza, instead of just Spencer's half, because Ryan doesn't totally suck at comfort.

~

Spencer spends the better part of the next week thinking pretty much non-stop thoughts about kissing Brendon.

He's trying to get used to the idea that he's, like...bisexual, or whatever. It never fazed him when it was Ryan, except for in the obvious way where his best friend was freaking out, but it's just different when it's him. It's not even the part about actually being bi, it's just so fucking weird to suddenly apply that label to himself. Like. It's a total reevaluation of something he's never even really thought to question about himself before. Whatever, right, Spencer can recognize and acknowledge a hot guy when he sees one, but it's never been personal before, never been real. It's just...weird. That's all.

But Ryan made a valid point, even if Spencer never ever wants to think about the idea of kissing Ryan ever again - it would really suck to string Brendon along if this isn't even the real thing. Maybe he's just curious. Maybe he's just flattered by Brendon's interest in him. Maybe he doesn't even really want the things he thinks he wants.

Brendon bursts in the door of Spencer's dorm room late in the evening, dusted with something vaguely wet and sparkly.

"It's fucking snowing! You have to come outside and see this, dude, it's like - actual snow!"

Spencer laughs. "You're like a little fucking kid sometimes, you know that?"

"Shut up and come play in the snow with me, dickface."

Spencer lets himself be dragged outside, where it's not so much snowing as, like...misting icily. There aren't even actual snowflakes to speak of.

"Oh, yeah, let's have a snowball fight," he says, shoving Brendon sideways off the edge of sidewalk. "Hey, watch out for that snowdrift."

Brendon laughs, and shoves him back. "Don't be an asshole, it's fucking snow! I haven't seen actual snow since I was, like, five!" He tips his head back, closing his eyes and letting the cold mist hit him in the face. It makes his skin sparkle.

Spencer has totally seen this movie. This is the part where he's supposed to kiss Brendon in the falling snow underneath a glowing streetlamp, or whatever the fuck. And maybe Brendon knows it too, because he opens his eyes when Spencer steps closer, laughing goofily.

"Your nose is sparkly," he says.

"Your mom is sparkly," Spencer replies automatically.

"Lame," Brendon decides. "My mom is sparkly. You lose."

Spencer kind of can't breathe. He does, he wants it. He wants to kiss Brendon in the stupid snow, under the stupid streetlight. He wants to drag Brendon back to his dorm room with lame lines about wet clothes, and make out on his stupid narrow bed until they both fall asleep. He's not sure he's ready for much more than that, at least not without some more time to freak out and maybe some internet research, but...he wants it. It's real.

Brendon trips on cue, because Spencer's life is suddenly a cheesy chick flick, and Spencer catches him,
and here it is. The Moment. Spencer's eyes drop to Brendon's mouth, and it takes a second for Brendon to realize they're actually having a moment, but as soon as he does, he stops breathing.

Spencer takes a shaky breath big enough for both of them, and wets his lips nervously with the tip of his tongue.

"Um," says Brendon suddenly. His eyes are huge. "I think it stopped snowing."

Taken aback, Spencer lets go of him, glancing around in confusion. It has indeed stopped snowing, and Brendon is...backing away?

"I have to go," he says hastily. "To. My room. I was doing homework, is the thing. And then - snow. So. I should do more." He almost trips again, trying to walk backwards. His cheeks are pink enough to be noticeable even in the yellow light. "See you tomorrow. Lunch."

And then Brendon is gone, and Spencer is standing alone in the glow of the streetlamp, wondering what the fuck went wrong.

~

It's weird, because at lunch, Brendon is totally normal. It's like the whole snowy-moment thing never even happened. Even after lunch is over, when Brendon goes back to Spencer's room to kill the rest of his weird two-hour lunch break before he has to show up for Music Theory, he throws himself just as eagerly as ever onto Spencer's bed and lays his head on Spencer's thigh and wrestles Spencer happily for the remote control. Spencer thinks about kissing him again, but as much as it sometimes seems like he doesn't have a roommate, he actually does, and sometimes he even comes back to the room. Usually in the middle of the day, mostly to drop off a pile of dirty clothes and pick up some reasonably clean ones before he disappears again, but still. This isn't the time to start something.

Brendon stays through half of that stupid Dog Whisperer show, and by the time he leaves, Spencer is halfway to wondering if he actually imagined the whole almost-kissing-in-the-snow thing. Maybe Spencer is going crazy. Maybe Brendon is making Spencer crazy.

~

"So? Made any official major lifestyle changes lately?"

Spencer frowns at Ryan. "You're an asshole."

Ryan rolls his eyes. "Gay? Straight? Have you decided? Have you done anything about it?"

"Oh my god. Seriously. What is even wrong with you?" Spencer glances around the plane, but nobody's
paying them any attention.

"Spencer, jesus."

"Fine, fuck." Spencer flails. "I'm...I mean, yes. Or. Not gay, bi, but. Definitely bi. At least - definitely interested.
In Brendon. I...want him, or whatever. Okay? Is that what you wanted to know?"

"Wow."

"Fuck off."

"No, I mean." Ryan makes a vague gesture. "It's good, it's - just. Wow. That's all."

Spencer exhales. "Yeah."

"Have you told him yet?"

"No, I - I don't know. I tried to...like. Kiss him? But he kind of freaked out. I don't know." Spencer scrubs a hand over his face. "Maybe he's not interested after all."

Ryan snorts. "He's interested."

"But -"

"Seriously," Ryan cuts him off. "He's interested. He's been interested since the night you picked him up at the LGBT thing or whatever. I promise, he's interested."


"I didn't pick him up, jesus."

"You kind of really did," Ryan disagrees. "Whatever, that's not the point. You should just tell him."

"Right," say Spencer. "I'll get right on that."

"And...you might want to consider telling your parents," Ryan adds delicately. "If this is a thing."

Spencer winces. Happy Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad!

"Yeah," he says. "I'll get right on that, too."

~

They fly back in on Saturday, and then on Sunday, Ryan hosts a post-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner in his apartment, apparently at Jon's insistence. Alex stays long enough for dinner and then bails, but Jon, Spencer, and Brendon stick around, mainly because Jon is bound and determined to Christmas the place up a little, and Ryan can apparently refuse Jon nothing. To Spencer's knowledge, they are still not dating. He doesn't pretend to understand the whole thing.

Brendon and Jon take over the living room, fake garlands and strings of tacky colored Christmas lights everywhere, and Ryan and Spencer retreat to the kitchen to clean up the mess from dinner. Ryan arches a questioning eyebrow at Spencer, who flips him off by way of response. Ryan snickers, and Spencer would very much like to take this opportunity to point out that it's not like he's having so much better luck with Jon, but it's not like he can say so with Brendon and Jon both popping in and out of the room like hummingbirds, hanging mistletoe and garlands from every available surface.

"Why the hell not?" Jon demands from the living room, loudly enough for Spencer and Ryan to hear.

Brendon's response is too quiet to hear, but Jon's isn't.

"Well, fuck them. Bastards."

"No," Brendon says firmly. "They're my family, and they're trying. It's just going to take some time."

"Well," says Jon. "You're coming home with me for Christmas."

Spencer moves to the doorway of the living room. "What?"

Brendon looks flustered. "Nothing," he says, but Jon is already talking over him.

"Brendon spent Thanksgiving by himself. His family called and told him it would be 'better for everyone' if maybe he didn't come, because his grandparents might not 'understand.'"

"What?" Spencer demands dangerously.

Brendon sighs. "Give them a break, please. They're Mormons. This is hard for them. It's not as bad as it sounds."

Spencer opens his mouth, but Ryan coughs pointedly behind him, and Spencer forcibly shuts himself up. After a minute, he manages to speak without yelling. "You should come home with me, instead," he says. "We live in Summerlin, you could even maybe see your family, like -your mom and dad and stuff? And my mom really wants to meet you."

Behind Spencer, Ryan starts laughing. Spencer quietly tries to kill him with his brain. He still hasn't gotten over how it felt to actually sit down and, like, come out to his family. He'd almost puked, and that was already knowing how cool they were about Ryan, and that they would absolutely be supportive.

They hadn't let him down, but now they're totally insisting on meeting Brendon over Christmas anyway, and Spencer still doesn't know he's going to explain that to Brendon, what with how they're not actually...dating.

"...I don't know," Brendon says after a moment, looking overwhelmed. "I - can we worry about it later? I appreciate it, both of you, but I just...let's just decorate for now. Okay?"

Jon instantly attaches a piece of mistletoe to Brendon's forehead with duct tape, because they are nothing if not classy about their Christmas decorations, and lays a smacking kiss right on Brendon's mouth. Brendon laughs, and Spencer turns around and goes back into the kitchen. A few minutes later, somebody's iPod (probably Jon's, but it's impossible to say) starts blasting a playlist of really annoying Christmas music, and Spencer and Ryan exchange a look over the last of the leftovers.

"Hey, Ryan," Brendon says cheerfully, appearing in the doorway. He still has the mistletoe taped to his face. What a dork. "Jon requests your presence in the living room, please."

Ryan flicks the mistletoe on his way past, and Brendon shoves him into the living room a little harder than he really needs to. Then he comes to stand by Spencer.

"I am at least ninety-five percent certain there is a mistletoe-related makeout about to go down in the living room," he whispers confidentially. "And I figure I'm probably not invited. So what can I help with?"

Spencer snorts. "Finally," he says.

"I know, right? I have no idea." Brendon picks up a pumpkin pie in each hand, because Ryan and Jon totally shopped high and bought half the fucking grocery store, and heads for the refrigerator to put them away. His mistletoe falls off, plopping sadly into one of the pies.

"Gross," says Spencer. He plucks it out of the pie, sticking it on Brendon's forehead again as best he can. The tape is gummy and there's a bit of clinging pumpkin goop one one of the leaves. Spencer has to push his thumb against the tape a few times, but eventually he gets it stuck in place.

"There," he says, satisfied.

Brendon has gone very, very still, clutching a pie in each hand and staring at Spencer. He swallows thickly. "Thanks."

Spencer hadn't really realized how close he'd been standing, but now that he does, he can't think of anything else. Brendon is just standing there, watching him, and there's mistletoe on his face and Christmas music everywhere, and here they are again in another perfect moment, and Spencer is fucking terrified Brendon's going to run away again.

"Um," he says awkwardly, touching the mistletoe lightly. "You've got a little something on your face."

Brendon laughs, a high nervous sound. "Funny."

"Hilarious," Spencer counters, but he isn't really paying attention to what either of them are saying anymore. "I'm a fucking comedic genius."

"Yeah," Brendon says vaguely. Spencer watches his mouth move.

"Technically," Spencer mumbles, his stomach squirming, "you are standing here under the mistletoe. I just...thought you should know that."

Brendon looks frozen in place. "Uh."

Spencer exhales slowly, and starts to bend his head.

"Hey!" comes a shout from the living room, cutting into the moment and startling Brendon and Spencer both into jumping half a foot in the air. Brendon narrowly avoids flinging a pie across the room. "Hey, you guys! Ryan totally just made out with me!"

Spencer wants to kill Jon, and stick the body on the top of the fucking Christmas tree. He stares helplessly at Brendon, who stares back at him for a second and then bursts into motion, going up on his toes and pressing the worlds cheesiest smacking kiss right onto Spencer's mouth and then whirling away.

"About time," he yells, and somehow manages to hide the entire upper half of his body in the refrigerator in the process of putting the pies away. He doesn't reemerge right away, and Spencer clenches his fists tightly and makes himself turn and go congratulate Ryan and Jon.

This can't keep happening. Something's got to give soon, or he's going to lose his fucking mind.

~

"So, there was this guy."

Spencer is throwing his books into his bookbag, and he almost drops one, twisting around to stare at Brendon in his doorway. At seven-fifteen in the morning. "What're you doing awake?" he asks, bewildered.

"We were in high school," Brendon continues, still standing stiffly by the door instead of coming all the way into the room. "And he was like, 'I think I'm gay,' and I said, 'Yeah?' and he said, 'Yeah, I think I am.' So he asks me to this movie, right, and I go, because hey, awesome. We, uh. At the end of the night, I kissed him? And he kind of freaked out. He...apparently wasn't as gay as he thought he was? Or. I don't know. But the thing is, he doesn't...actually speak to me much anymore. Like. We email and shit, he's got a girlfriend now and she's apparently awesome, but. He, Shane, he was pretty much my best friend. And now everything is fucked up."

Spencer's pulse feels like it's roaring in his ears. He takes a step toward Brendon. "That won't happen with me."

Brendon bounces on his toes, a nervous gesture. "Yeah, well, I like to think he wasn't exactly planning for it either, okay - it's really easy to be confused, Spencer, it doesn't mean anything bad about you if it's not...what you think it's going to be, or - but. I don't want to be that guy again. You know? I don't want to be the guy who helps you figure that out."

"I could...kiss somebody else," Spencer says slowly. "But. I mean. I don't want to. I want to kiss you, and - I can't tell you I won't freak out, there's a lot of shit I never even thought about doing before I met you, but. I want to now. Okay? I just...I do. And I get that you don't really think I mean it, or that...I can know that I mean it, I guess. So if you need me to - whatever, I guess I can go fuck a football team if I have to. If you need me to."

Brendon huffs a breathless laugh. "Please don't fuck a football team. I just..."

"Can -" Spencer steps closer. "Can I kiss you? And then we'll know. And - look, I promise you that even if it turns out I'm not even a little bit bi, our...our friendship or whatever, it will be fine, it won't be - broken."

"My self-esteem might take a critical hit," mutters Brendon, but he isn't moving away. He's looking up at Spencer and his knuckles are white against the doorjamb, but he's standing still, letting Spencer approach.

"It's not going to be a problem," Spencer promises. "You, uh. You want to come all the way in so I can maybe shut the door? Or. We can do this in the hall if you want, but I figured -"

Brendon chews his lower lip, stepping inside in what feels like slow motion. Spencer shuts the door, his stomach twisting up anxiously. This is worse than the first time he kissed a girl. His hands are actually shaking, for the love of fuck.

Brendon doesn't look like he's much better off. He gives Spencer a skittish look when Spencer steps closer, but there's no denying the way his eyes immediately lock on Spencer's mouth, either, or the way his tongue comes out to wet his own lips.

Spencer swallows. He tries to think of something to say, maybe something that will reassure both of them, but he can't. This is stupid; it's only a kiss. It's just a kiss, it doesn't have to be this big of a deal.

Except it's Brendon, so it kind of is a big deal.

The first brush of lips is slow and uncertain and almost painfully chaste. Spencer is deathly afraid to fuck this up, so he just...sort of rubs his mouth over Brendon's, soft and slick, and waits for Brendon to give him some clue what's okay. It's...it's not that different, this part. Brendon smells like apple shampoo and aftershave, and he's taller than most girls Spencer has kissed - not that there have been so very many - but his face is smooth and his mouth is soft and almost, almost this could be any other kiss. Except for all the ways in which it's maybe the most important kiss in Spencer's life, it's almost normal.

Then Brendon opens for him, just a little, just enough, and Spencer lets himself step a little closer, slide his arms around Brendon as he licks into his mouth, and wow, fuck, this part...this is different. Flat planes and angles all over Brendon's body, and it's weird - good, but weird - because this...this is kissing a guy.

Spencer is kind of dizzy with it all.

When Brendon finally kisses back, it's tentative at first, just brushes of tongue and faint scrapes of teeth, but Spencer's hands flatten against his back anyway. He sucks in a breath, shaky around Brendon's tongue, and pulls Brendon in closer. He wants to push it, wants to kiss harder and deeper and maybe push Brendon against the door or something, but he doesn't want to scare him off. He keeps it careful, slow and lazy, until Brendon finally pushes for more, threading his fingers in Spencer's hair, and everything gets better, hotter, more urgent all at once.

Brendon is the one to break away, breathless. He looks at Spencer, like a question, like the stupidest question Spencer has ever seen, and Spencer does back him up against the door then, firmly. "I still want you," he says.

Brendon flushes, dropping his forehead to Spencer's shoulder and laughing. "I'm glad," he says dryly. He is glad, though, Spencer can tell by the way his hands are trembling where they're tangled in Spencer's shirt. "Um. Okay. So. I guess...you need to go to class," he continues after a moment. "And tonight we can...well. If you still -"

Spencer rolls his eyes. "Fuck class," he says. "I do still. I still right now, and tonight I will definitely still, and I'm totally skipping class so I can make out with you all day, so stop looking at me like I'm about to run away."

For a second, Brendon looks speechless and overwhelmed and maybe a little skittish again, and Spencer wonders if he's pushed too far, but a second later, Brendon is laughing.

Spencer really likes Brendon's laugh. He likes it even better when Brendon tilts his mouth up for another kiss.

~

Over the course of the next three weeks, Spencer figures out a few important things about sex.

Specifically, dick is weird.

It's a good weird; Spencer is very excited about dick. (No one is more surprised about this than Spencer.) It's just...weird.

It's weird when Brendon gets hard against his thigh, and it's weird giving a hand-job - like jerking off backwards - and it tastes weird in his mouth and it feels weird on his tongue.

Objectively, sex with boys is probably not better or worse than sex with girls, just different. Except that this is sex with Brendon; loud, noisy, funny sex, all breathless laughter and playful biting and easy experimentation while they figure out what works, and that makes it far and away the best sex Spencer's ever had in his life.

He's still going to maybe need to wait a little while before they move on to involving ass, though. He can only handle so much weird at a time.

~

Vegas is...well. It's Vegas. It's home.

But more importantly...it's warm.

"I have never been so happy to see the desert," Spencer mutters as the plane pulls up to the gate. He loves the sun, and the stupid dry grass, and how everything is brown and dead. It's perfect.

Brendon doesn't look overwhelmed with joy. Actually, he looks a little like he wants to puke.

"It's going to be fine," Spencer tells him. "Seriously. Ryan and Jon will be right there with us, and I've been pushing my parents off on Ryan since I was five. Trust me, okay? No one will even notice us."

Brendon smiles weakly, and then a little bit more brightly when Ryan reaches forward from the seat behind them and smacks Spencer in the back of the head.

Jon looks only slightly less freaked-out than Brendon does; it was a last-minute bargain, getting him here. Ryan had to agree to go spend spring break with Jon's family in return. Spencer plans to laugh himself sick when it's Ryan's turn to freak out.

In the meantime, he just nudges Brendon out of his seat, fumbling carry-ons and periodically making reassuring faces when Brendon hesitates long enough to glance back at him, eyes wide and terrified.

They're barely out of the gate when Spencer's mom descends upon them, leading the rest of the family like a pack of dogs. She smothers Spencer and then Ryan in a flurry of hugs, like she didn't just see them last month for Thanksgiving, and then turns her attention to Brendon.

"So," she says brightly. "You're the boy that turned my son gay!"

...Maybe Spencer should have warned Brendon about his family's idea of "humor."

"I'm...happy to be of service?" Brendon offers weakly.

"Come here," says Spencer's mom, and then Brendon briefly disappears into a smothering hug of his own. He looks a little shell-shocked and wobbly by the time Ginger's attention veers over to Jon, who is staring like a deer in the headlights.

"Blah blah blah, intentions toward my son, young man," Spencer's father says dismissively to Brendon. "Yadda yadda shotgun, and so on, and so forth."

Brendon blinks. "I'll take good care of him, etc., etc.?" he offers.

Spencer's dad grins. "You'll do just fine," he decides.

Brendon looks at the twins with some trepidation, but they've already lost interest in the entire thing, and are busy checking out a group of guys on the other side of the terminal door.

"I didn't stalk him, oh my god," Ryan is saying, somewhere off to the side. "Stop saying that, he can hear you!"

Jon edges away, attempting to hide behind Brendon. "We can probably still escape if we act now," he mumbles. "I think I can afford a ticket."

Brendon grins, and sneaks his hand back to tangle his fingers with Spencer's, hidden from sight. "I think I'm gonna try to stick it out."

Spencer leans forward, perching his chin on Brendon's shoulder, and watches his mother terrorize Ryan some more. He tilts his head until it touches Brendon's. "You'll do just fine," he teases lightly, and Brendon elbows him in the stomach for his trouble.

"You laugh now," he says, "But I totally plan on dragging you to my parents' house when I go. We'll see who's laughing then."

Spencer winces. "Hey, about that escape--" he says to Jon.

"Shut up," says Brendon, and squeezes Spencer's hand. "You'll do just fine."

~

End.