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~

Spencer has a crush on the twins' piano tutor.

It's the lamest thing ever. 

Honestly, Brendon is the lamest thing ever.  He's loud, and obnoxious, and dorky as fuck.  He makes stupid jokes, and he has stupid glasses, and he smiles all the time.  Big, huge, dorky smiles, like everything is awesome and nothing ever makes him sad, even though Brent told Spencer specifically when he brought Brendon over to meet Spencer's mom that Brendon is living in some shitty one-room apartment and working at, like, the fucking Smoothie Hut, for the love of God, and trying to finish high school, all at the same time. 

It probably started out as curiosity, actually, this stupid crush of Spencer's.  It's not like Brendon is so hot to look at or anything, except for maybe his eyes and that big stupid smile.  And, like, his ass.  But whatever, the point is, it's not like he's all that hot, and his taste in movies is kind of obnoxious, and Spencer totally caught him singing Frank Sinatra one time while he was walking up the sidewalk to Spencer's front door.

Lame.

But he's interesting, you know?  All smiley and stupid and smelling like smoothie and making the twins laugh all the time.  Just.  Very cheerful, which is weird enough for a teenage boy without adding in the whole 'kicked-out-of-home-and-living-in-squalor' thing.  It's just interesting, and so Spencer started paying attention, kind of hovering around his sisters' lessons sometimes, doing homework in the kitchen or whatever like a lameass, but at that point, he kind of just wanted to see.  Solve the mystery.  Whatever.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, 'paying attention' landed him here, with a raging crush and a best friend who will never stop mocking him, and a big stupid idiot plan.

It's Ryan's plan, so it's almost certainly doomed to failure.  But at least it's something.

~

"Mom."  Spencer has chosen his moment carefully.  His mom is cooking dinner.  She likes to cook, it makes her mellow.  Plus, it's Friday and she actually has the weekend off.  This is about as good as her mood is going to get.  "I, uh.  I was thinking."

She looks up from chopping carrots, and gives Spencer a look that says he's not fooling anyone.  "What do you want?"

Spencer cringes.  "Piano lessons."

His mom puts down the knife, and studies him suspiciously.  "Mooom," she says in the gruff, whiny voice she always uses to imitate Spencer.  He hates that voice, and she knows it.  "Piano lessons are stupid.  Everybody plays piano.  I don't want to be a sheep, Mom.  I want to be my own man--"

"Shut up."  Spencer can feel his cheeks flushing. So he was a pretentious douchebag when he was thirteen, what-the-fuck-ever.  Somebody should have stepped in and made him stop hanging out with Ryan, if they didn't want to put up with the consequences.  "That was four years ago, I was an asshole."

"Hmmm," she says noncommittally.  "What's changed?"

"Hey."  Spencer scowls.  "Not funny."

"It was funny to me," she says mildly.  "Anyway, you don't want piano lessons."

"No, I really do," Spencer says earnestly.  "I think it would be really good for me--"

His mom starts laughing.  "Spencer.  Sweetheart.  You are not as subtle as you think you are."  She grins at him.  "You have a crush on Brendon."

Spencer's already-warm face goes up in flames.  "Oh my god," he says, strangled.

"I think it's sweet," she says, picking up her knife and placidly returning to her chopping.  "He's a good kid.  You could do worse."

"Mom--"

"Is he even gay?"  She waves the knife around in a vague pattern.  "I mean, there's the hoodies, I guess, and I'm pretty sure some of his jeans have sparkles on them.  Is that how you know, nowadays?  Maybe that's what happened with his family.  That would be sad."

"Mom," says Spencer, covering his face with both hands like that will make this entire conversation go away.  "I hate you so much."

"You don't hate me," she says, unfazed.  "You love me.  You especially love me because I am going to let you take piano lessons."

Spencer's head pops up in spite of himself.

"Don't look at me like that, I'm not doing it for you," his mom says, rolling her eyes.  "I'd hang you out to dry and make you ask him out like a normal person."  She throws the carrots into the salad bowl and moves on to slicing a tomato.  "Fortunately for you, I am basically desperate for a reason to throw money at that kid, and maybe make him stay for dinner sometimes.  I don't think he's getting anything close to enough to eat.  So be warned--"  She points her knife at Spencer firmly.  "No matter what happens, if you start these lessons, you're sticking with them until I say otherwise.  I don't care if you're dating him, or if you start dating somebody else, or if he does--if you do this, you do this, at least until I say you can stop.  Get me?"

Spencer swallows thickly.  "I get you," he manages.

"And we have a deal?"

Spencer makes his way across the kitchen to give his mom a hug.  Sometimes, he forgets she's kind of awesome.

"We have a deal," he agrees.

His mom grins at him.  Spencer can't quite help grinning back.

~

Spencer recants every thought he's ever had about his mom being kind of awesome.  She is the opposite of awesome.  She is evil.

"Uh," says Spencer, shuffling awkwardly in the doorway to the kitchen.

Brendon grins at him.  "Hi."

Spencer's face is turning red again, he can tell.  "Hi," he says lamely.  He hates his mom so much.  He cannot believe she is making him ask Brendon for this himself.  She thinks it's fucking funny.  She's a sadist.  He should call Child and Family Services on her.  "Uh.  I, actually--um."  He coughs awkwardly, and just forces himself to say it.  "You wouldn't be willing to, like.  Take on another student or whatever, would you?"

"Wow, really?"  Brendon looks startled.  "You want to learn piano?"

Spencer swallows, and nods.

"Huh.  Yeah, of course."  Brendon chews on his lip.  "You--to be fair, I should probably...I tried to tell Brent and your mom and whatever, but nobody seems to want to listen.  I just--like.  I'm not actually a tutor, you know?  I just really like to play.  Don't get me wrong, I love helping your sisters and stuff, I just.  Thought you might like to know there are people who would be better teachers than I probably will."

"Oh."  Spencer waves a hand.  "No, yeah--that's.  The twins, you know, they say you're really good and everything.  So, like.  If you don't mind or whatever--"

"I don't mind," Brendon puts in hastily.  "I'd like to!  Really.  I just didn't want you to think--I know you have a band and stuff, so you're.  You know.  Already kind of more advanced, and you might have wanted somebody better.  That's all."

"Yeah, no.  No, that's cool."  Spencer is the absolute lamest person in the history of time.  "Um.  Is there, like, a time that works best for you or anything?  I know you have...stuff...."

Brendon works the early shift on weekends, so they make arrangements for Saturday afternoon.  Remembering what his mom said, Spencer makes a point to push it as close to dinnertime as he can. 

Brendon beams at him, and Spencer's stomach does a little stupid swoopy thing that makes him want to die a little.  His mom chooses that moment to walk in from the kitchen--she's probably been listening, Spencer hates her so much--and she's totally laughing at him over Brendon's head.  Spencer hightails it out of the kitchen and up to his room, putting his closed door between himself and the total humiliation that is his life.

Still.  Saturday.

His stomach swoops again.  Spencer faceplants onto his bed, and pretends not to exist.

Saturday.

~

Saturday does not go well, at least according to the Plan.

The Plan called for Spencer to impress Brendon with his natural musical genius, which is the first thing to go wrong.  It turns out that Spencer doesn't have any. 

Well, that's not fair.  It's true that he picked up the drums incredibly fast, and has actually written some pretty complex shit in the last year or so since he and Ryan have gotten serious about the band.  But apparently, Spencer's fingers don't care that he's an awesome drummer; they flatly refuse to do what he wants as soon as he puts them on the keys.

Brendon is all patient smiles and dorky jokes and, "Hey, hey, it's your first day, dude, you're doing awesome," or whatever, but Spencer just gets more and more frustrated.  All the keys look the same, okay, and it's not like he didn't know that--he's not an idiot--it's just that...it's really intimidating, when you've got the guy you want to impress sitting there trying to teach you which notes go with which keys and they're all fucking identical.  Meanwhile, Brendon keeps talking about "sharps" and "flats" and "naturals," and he has pointed out at least seven or eight different keys, all of which are apparently "C."  Spencer is never going to get this.

Plus, his mom keeps finding excuses to walk past the doorway, and Spencer just knows she's laughing at him.  Seriously, evil.

On one of her thousand trips past them, she sticks her head into the room.  "Hey, Brendon," she says, super-casual.  Spencer wants to roll his eyes so hard.  "I'm trying out a veggie lasagna recipe tonight, and it looks like enough to feed an army.  You'll stay for dinner, right?"

Brendon looks a little uncertain.  "Um," he says, and glances awkwardly at Spencer.  "Sure, I--if it's okay.  That would be...thank you."

"Awesome," says Spencer's mom.  "Spence, you should call Ryan.  Brent and Trevor too, if they want to come.  Seriously, I could feed half of Vegas.  You guys could all watch a movie or something."

Dammit.  Spencer hates it when his mom is awesome and evil at the same time.  It always makes him feel so conflicted.

Brendon waits until she leaves again before saying softly, "Your mom is really cool."  He sounds wistful.  Spencer wants to ask a hundred questions, but settles for just saying, "Yeah," and fumbling for his phone.  It's probably a bad idea to bring Ryan into this, but now he's backed into a corner and there really isn't any way out.  At least Brendon and Brent are sort of friends.  Maybe that will make this less awkward.

It's a slim hope.  But it's better than nothing.

~

Dinner is equal parts success and disaster.  Trevor can't come at all.  Ryan shows up first, takes one look at Brendon and instantly bursts into laughter, which causes Brendon to shrink in on himself and Spencer to try setting Ryan on fire with the power of his eyeballs alone.  Also, the twins do everything in their power to monopolize Brendon, who seems skittish enough around Ryan that he's sort of willing to be monopolized.

On the other hand, Brent's arrival smooths things over a lot, and once he and Brendon get into a conversation about Brendon's new guitar, Ryan's interest is piqued in spite of himself, and he gets a lot friendlier.  Then Brent mentions Brendon playing the drums, because it turns out Brendon plays basically everything ever or some shit, and suddenly all four of them are involved in a really intense conversation about music.  Ryan starts talking a lot about what an awesome drummer Spencer is, which is totally humiliating but is also a clear vote of approval, so Spencer supposes that's something.

They don't end up watching a movie, because they basically don't shut up, but Brendon accidentally helps Ryan work out a chord progression he's been fucking with for one of their newer songs, and he sits very close to Spencer on the floor, and Spencer thinks maybe his stupid crush isn't quite as lame as he thought.

~

The next two piano lessons are pretty much identical to the first one, except that Brendon doesn't stay for dinner, on the grounds that he has fallen so far behind in his homework that he is totally within sight of a failing grade unless he drags it back up. 

"Let's try something else," suggest Brendon, about halfway through the fourth lesson. 

Spencer slumps forward.  "I suck."

Brendon laughs.  "No, you don't.  I think maybe you're just used to making, like, music.  You know?  This is boring for you, all this scales shit.  Want to learn to play a song?"

Spencer straightens.  "What song?" he asks suspiciously.

"Heart and Soul."  Brendon doesn't even look apologetic about it.  "Everybody's gotta start somewhere, dude.  At least it has a tune."

Spencer sighs heavily, and stares back down at the keys.  "Don't tell Ryan and Brent about this, okay?"

Brendon laughs.  "I promise to have you playing Fall Out Boy as soon as possible."  He presses himself onto the bench beside Spencer, close and warm along his side, and reaches for the keys.

Yeah, okay.  Spencer can totally get behind learning Heart and Soul.

~

The problem is, it's not going anywhere.

Like, every week Brendon comes over, and he's dorky and awesome and Spencer is stupid and fails at everything ever, and then Brendon leaves.  He is showing no signs of being bowled over with the desire to make out with Spencer, and frankly, Spencer can't blame him.  He hasn't even made it past step one of the Plan, much less progressed as far as step two, which according to Ryan is to let Brendon "catch" Spencer writing some kind of deep and insightful song.   Spencer has no earthly idea how he's supposed to accomplish that, since he doesn't even write songs, and also he is frankly not all that deep or insightful.  But Ryan swears that this is how he gets all of his dates, and it's better than the plan Spencer had, which was basically: hover around and stare a lot while Brendon is in the house.

Oh, god.  He's never going to get laid.

"Spence," his mom says reasonably, a few minutes before Brendon is due to show up for lesson number five.  "Does Brendon even know you're gay?"

Spencer blinks.  "I assumed Brent told him," he says blankly.  "But--I don't know?"

"Maybe you should start there," she offers.

"Mom."  Spencer scowls.  "Don't help me get dates.  It's weird."

His mom rolls her eyes, and goes back to scouring the cookbook for something vegetarian that she can claim to be "trying out."  She made Brendon promise to bring his homework with him today so that Spencer's dad could look over his trig problems.  Spencer's dad is kind of a math nerd.

Huh.  Now that his mom said that, Spencer isn't actually sure Brendon does know he's gay.  He finally did manage to confirm that Brendon is, but he only managed that via the sneaky and underhanded method of making Ryan ask Brent why Brendon got kicked out of his house.  Apparently Brendon's family is Mormon.  That had to be rough.

"Okay, fine," he says, exasperated.  "How am I supposed to drop that into a conversation?"

His mom looks up and laughs at him.  Spencer stares at her, and hopes that his expression conveys his deep disdain.  Anyway, he never gets to hear what her answer would have been, because that's the moment Brendon arrives. 

"Hi, Brendon!" yells Crystal, barreling into the kitchen as Brendon walks in.  "I didn't get to practice very much this week, Spencer was hogging the piano the whole time.  Jackie will tell you."

"Oh my god," says Spencer, glaring.  "Are you ever going to grow out of being a tattletale?"

"No," says Crystal, like Spencer is an idiot.

Brendon is laughing.  He tugs on the end of Crystal's hair and says, "I'm sure you're fine.  Hi, Mrs. Smith."

"Ginger, sweetie," says Spencer's mom absently.  She's still poring over the cookbook.  "Why are all these recipes designed for a thousand people?  Brendon, you brought your homework today, right?  If I make this veggie stir-fry thing, you'll stick around and help us eat it?"

Brendon looks nonplussed.  "Uh, sure.  I mean, sure, thank you."

"Thank you," says Spencer's mom brightly.  "You want Spencer first, or Crystal?  Jackie's at dance class for another half an hour."

"Um."  Brendon looks down at Crystal, who is hovering next to his elbow and all but vibrating with eagerness.  She's actually getting pretty good, damn her.  Anyway, she's pretty crazy about her lessons.  "Crystal, I guess.  If that's okay with Spencer?"

Spencer nods dumbly. 

"Awesome," says Spencer's mom.  "That means Spencer can go pick Jackie up for me!  I love my life."

Spencer rolls his eyes, but doesn't bother to argue.  He just holds out his hand for the keys.  His mother has never once sent him out of the house without a list of shit for him to pick up while he's out; he knows full well he's leaving right now.

"Bell peppers, veggie broth, corn starch, and zucchini," she says sweetly.  "Thank you.  You're my favorite son."

"That is no funnier now than it ever was," he tells her darkly, and lets his shoulder bump Brendon on his way out.  He'll take what he can get.

~

Spencer's lesson goes a little better this time around.  He'd never admit this to Ryan, but he's developing a sort of fondness for Heart and Soul.  It has more to do with the satisfaction of hearing actual music coming out from under his fingers than it does any particular affection for the song itself, but Spencer's pretty sure Ryan would still kick him out of the band if he knew.

Plus, Brendon has totally started nagging Spencer about his frame, which involves a lot of brushing his hand over Spencer's back to remind him to straighten up.  Spencer has never been so grateful for his poor posture.

He's in a pretty good mood by the time the lesson ends, and he and Brendon are heading for the kitchen.  The stir-fry smells awesome, and Spencer made music, sort of, and Brendon sat really close to him again on the bench today.  Spencer doesn't care how lame it makes him that that's pretty much all it takes to make his day.

It isn't until he's almost all the way to the counter that he sees what his mother has done, and his stomach drops into his feet.

"Hey, guys," she says cheerfully.  "Spencer, come help me dish up.  Brendon, sweetie, do you mind clearing the table off for me?  You can just stick those papers over on the desk.  Thanks."

Spencer stares in open horror at the scattered piles of PFLAG papers, fliers, and pamphlets all over the kitchen table.

Holy shit, she's diabolical.

He will kill her to death, holy fuck.  He's practically shaking as he makes his way across the kitchen, and he might slam a couple of plates down pretty hard on the counter, but his mom just runs her hand lightly over his back and keeps up a steady stream of chatter with Brendon.  Spencer can't even make himself look to see what Brendon's reaction is.

In fact, if Brendon has any reaction at all, Spencer doesn't see it.  Neither he nor Brendon say much of anything during dinner, and Spencer's dad monopolizes what little conversation Brendon does engage in with explanations full of words like "cotangent" and "secant."  Spencer doesn't pay much attention.  He mostly just stares at his plate and waits for the ground to do that whole convenient-swallowing thing. 

Somehow--Spencer isn't really following the conversation at this point--it is apparently decided that Brendon will go up and work on a few problems in Spencer's room after dinner, so that Spencer's dad can make sure he's got it before he leaves. 

Spencer gets no homework done whatsoever.  He opens the book and stares at the page, but he isn't even trying to get any homework done, not really.  Mostly, he's thinking that Brendon is sitting two feet away, and they are finally alone in a room together, and Brendon's leg is bouncing and his fingers are tapping and Spencer wants to kiss him until they both die of not breathing, but he has absolutely no idea how to make that happen.

He's just opening his mouth to say--something, God, Spencer doesn't even know--when footsteps come pounding down the hall toward his door, and Jackie starts banging on the doorframe.

"SPENCER," she yells, at a volume they can probably hear in Canada.  "MOM SENT ME UP TO FIND OUT IF YOU GUYS ARE MAKING OUT YET."

Spencer chokes on nothing, and promptly falls off the bed, coughing violently. 

"JACKIE," yells Spencer's mom from downstairs, just as loudly, "YOU MAKE A REALLY CRAPPY SPY."

Spencer just lays there on the floor, staring at the ceiling and praying for death.  He wonders if he could crawl under the bed without Brendon noticing. 

"WELL, WHAT DID YOU WANT ME TO DO?" Jackie bellows back.  "THE DOOR IS CLOSED, IT'S NOT LIKE I COULD SEE ANYTHING."

Brendon's face appears over the edge of Spencer's bed, all pink cheeks and huge, uncertain eyes.  Spencer actually covers his face with his hands like a four-year-old, but seriously, it's not like he has any dignity left at this point anyway, right?

"I WOULD JUST LIKE TO POINT OUT," yells Spencer's mom, still downstairs somewhere, "THAT THIS IS TOTALLY JACKIE'S FAULT.  BLAME YOUR SISTER.  I WAS TRYING TO BE SMOOTH AND SUBTLE."

"EVERYBODY STOP YELLING," yells Spencer's dad.  "JESUS CHRIST."

A quiet sound from directly above Spencer's head is enough to make him pull his hands away and look. 

Brendon is laughing.

"I want to die," says Spencer, sort of to Brendon and sort of just to the room at large.  "I want to kill my family, and then I want to die."

Brendon laughs harder, his own face buried in his hands by now.  Spencer wishes his bedroom came equipped with a hole he could crawl into. 

After a few minutes, Brendon manages to get himself mostly under control, though his face is still pretty pink, and he can't seem to control the way his mouth is twisting and twitching.  He peers down at Spencer again.  "Are you--" he manages, and then has to clear his throat and start over.  "Are you, um.  Going to stay down there forever?"

"That is my current plan, yes," says Spencer flatly.  "I want to be ready for when the floor opens up and swallows me whole."

Brendon bites his lip, eyes bright and mouth wobbling.  "Okay," he says, after a moment.  "Okay.  Um.  I have...I have this crush on you."  He kind of blurts the last part out in a rush; it takes Spencer a second to catch it.

"What?" he manages, once he's sure he heard that right.

"Yeah."  Brendon makes a flaily gesture with one hand.  "Big crush.  Huge.  I just...thought maybe I should say that.  What with everything."

Spencer stares, then swallows thickly.  His stomach is doing something fluttery and stupid, but that might just be leftover nausea from the burning humiliation.  "Seriously?"

"Seriously."  Brendon is starting to look less amused-and-nervous, and more just-plain-nervous.  "It's...that's a good thing, right?  Because it sounded like--but--"

"Dude," says Spencer fervently.  "I didn't even want piano lessons."

Brendon looks startled at that, then mildly indignant, then mostly flattered.  His face is ridiculously expressive.  There is a short, awkward silence.  Then Brendon coughs.

"So, uh.  You know.  If your family...if they come to check again, or whatever.  You.  You might have more to report, if...are you still really hooked on this staying-on-the-floor thing?"

Spencer sits up sharply, almost smacking Brendon in the face with the top of his head.  Brendon starts laughing again, but Spencer forgives him for that, because Brendon wants to kiss him.

In the end, it's actually Brendon who leans forward, brushing Spencer's mouth with his own.  It's dry and hesitant and as kisses go, it is actually incredibly lame.

But then, so are Spencer and Brendon.  So it's pretty much the best kiss ever.

Spencer is the one to push back in, stomach swooping and hands shaking, and kiss Brendon the way he's been thinking about kissing him since this whole stupid crush began.  Brendon kisses back, eager and enthusiastic and still kind of laughing sometimes into Spencer's mouth. 

Spencer breaks the kiss before he's really ready, sitting back on his heels and staring at Brendon for a second, just to sort of make sure this is actually real.  Brendon grins at him, bright and stupid and dorky, and Spencer grins back in spite of himself.  Then he turns his head toward the door.

"NOW WE ARE MAKING OUT," he yells, and Brendon's head falls forward onto Spencer's shoulder as he loses his shit laughing again.   Downstairs, a cheer goes up.

Brendon is laughing too hard to kiss right now, but that's okay.  Spencer can wait.

~

END