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"Brendon's back," Spencer says, because Ryan looks like he’s about to ask why in God's name he's smiling at seven in the morning on the first day back to school.

"I don't care," Ryan says. "I care so little, you don't even know. And you're too cheerful to be allowed in my car, my car is a sacred place free of anything that might interfere with this shitty mood."

"Drama queen. I have coffee."

Ryan frowns at the locked passenger-side door. Spencer doesn't think Ryan will actually drive off without him, but there's a definite danger he'll drag this out long enough to make them late, and Spencer had counted on having time to stop in the cafeteria for a bagel. He unlocks the door without arguing any more, though—sure, Spencer could have reached in through the open window and unlocked it himself, but there are, like, boundaries involved—so whatever.

"By the way, Jon's an idiot and we're not talking to him today," Ryan says as he drives off without waiting for Spencer to get buckled in.

They've had the argument about how Spencer is totally his own man and Ryan doesn't get to tell him who to talk to enough times Spencer doesn't bother to start it again, especially since Jon and Ryan's fights hardly ever last more than twelve hours. "What'd he do this time?"

Spencer regrets asking when Ryan gets so engrossed in the story of Jon's epic betrayal—something about paying for dinner or something, their fights are the stupidest—that he sits through a green light. Spencer really wanted that bagel, too.

*

Brendon goes to a summer camp every August. This year it was only for two weeks, instead of the whole month it would have been if he'd gone to church camp instead of music camp, but it still sucked. Obviously Brendon's parents don't understand how annoying it is to hang out with Jon and Ryan without Brendon there, because Spencer’s either the fifth wheel on a makeout date or in the middle of one of their dumb fights about something pointless.

It's not—Spencer's not an idiot, not as oblivious as Ryan thinks he is. He’s totally aware that he has a giant stupid crush on Brendon. He just doesn't want to admit it, not to Ryan, who'll tell Jon and make fun of him for the rest of forever, and not to Brendon, who wouldn’t be enough of a dick to laugh at him, but who’d probably try to be all nice about it, which would be ten times worse.

"Spencer Smith!" Brendon hollers from way at the other end of the science hallway. "I come bearing bagels!"

One of Brendon's shoes is untied, his tie is just kind of tangled loosely around his neck, and he's—summer has been good to him, apparently, he's filling out his blazer in a way that makes Spencer's stomach kind of clench up. Awesome.

"You're my favorite," Spencer says, when Brendon gets close enough that Spencer doesn't have to shout like an asshole. "But come here."

Brendon obediently stands still and lets Spencer tie his tie; Spencer has no idea how, after three years, Brendon hasn't learned how to do it himself, or how he hasn't noticed the way Spencer's breath catches in his chest when he's sliding the knot to rest gently at the base of Brendon's throat. He's not going to complain, though, even if it might be the most pathetic thing in the world to look forward to straightening Brendon's blazer and fixing the one shirt button that always somehow comes undone.

"You're a mess, Urie."

"A mess with a bagel."

"It's like you knew Ryan was gonna screw me out of breakfast this morning."

"I spent most of last night on the phone with Jon, and I know Ryan's weird when they're fighting.  If you want to give me credit for being psychic, though, I'll totally take it."

"Hm," Spencer says, and takes a bite so he doesn't ask Brendon why he's holding himself differently, all self-assured confidence where he was dorky and awkward a couple months ago. Obviously, music camp was better for him than the weirdo church camp he used to go to. It also keeps him from making some kind of embarrassing noise when Brendon reaches out to squeeze Spencer's bicep.

"Someone's been drumming a lot this summer," Brendon says. Spencer doesn't know what to say to that, which is okay, because he's not sure his voice would cooperate if he could think of anything. It doesn't matter; the bell rings and Brendon drops his arm.

Their first class—together, at least half their schedule is together, which was Brendon's idea so Ryan can shove his knowing look up his bony ass—is chemistry, right near Spencer's locker. Brendon tries to drag them to a table in the back, but Spencer plants his feet and gets a firm hold on the back of Brendon's blazer. Science is awesome, okay, and they might get to blow stuff up, or watch stuff blow up, and there is no way Spencer's going to sit too far away to enjoy it.

"This was the stupidest idea ever," Brendon says. "Why did I let you talk me into this? First period on a Monday morning should be, like, easy. My brain isn't on yet."

"Your brain's never on," Spencer points out. "And this is the price you pay for talking me into a poetry class."

"You let me talk you into poetry because you have a crush on the teacher," Brendon says. "And—"

He's cut off by a voice from the back of the room.

"Why do chemists like nitrates so much?"

Spencer looks over his shoulder; the speaker looks too young to be a teacher, but he's not wearing a uniform, so he must be. He vaguely remembers rumors about a new science teacher, but Spencer hadn't exactly expected—well, this.

"Because they're better than day rates!" the teacher finishes, when he reaches the front of the room. Spencer can't tell if the smile on his face is a genuine I'm-so-funny smile, or if he knows how stupid that joke was. "I'm Mr. Weekes, and laughing at my jokes is part of your grade."

Spencer glances down at the notebook open in front of Brendon, expecting a note about how corny the new teacher is. The page is blank, though, and Brendon's looking up front with more focus than Spencer's ever seen him have, especially on a Monday morning.

Cuter than Mr. Van Vleet, y/y? Spencer scrawls on the empty page. Brendon glances down when he sees Spencer's hand move, but just shrugs and looks back up front. Huh. That’s—something.

*

Through some glitch in the universe, one of the handful of classes Brendon and Spencer don't have together is band. That glitch, of course, is that Brendon refused to take more than one semester of gym a year, so while Spencer has this year and next blissfully free of running around in the too-hot gym and trying to cram in a shower between classes, Brendon had to give up an elective, and band happened to be in the wrong time slot. Plus, Spencer never would have forgiven Brendon if he’d abandoned poetry after talking Spencer into it, no matter how hot the teacher is.

There's a tiny dude whose hair is at least twice the size of the rest of his head sitting back near the percussion section; Spencer vaguely recognizes him from last year, although he doesn't remember his name. Names aren't important, though. What's important is Spencer's pretty sure that's Boba Fett on the t-shirt the guy has under his uniform button-up. Clearly, hair boy is an awesome person.

Spencer sits next to him, mostly because it’s the only chair left near the drums but also because of the potential for awesome. “Hi,” he says, and hair boy squeaks. “Um—“

“Sorry, wow, hi.”

“You’re, uh, staring at me.”

“Sorry! I like—sorry. You just, uh, I’ve watched you messing around during, um, free periods. Well, your free periods, I was here for, y’know, learning. And, um, you’re really good. And stuff. So.”

“Um” Spencer says. “Okay. Cool. Uh, thanks. I’m Spencer.”

“Yeah, I know,” the guy says.

Spencer waits for him to introduce himself, or say something else, but he’s just smiling at Spencer. Um, okay. “And you are?”

“Oh! Right. Ian, sorry.”

Hair boy’s—probably it’s not okay to think of him as “hair boy” now that he has a name—a little weird, but whatever, he thinks Spencer’s awesome. Spencer could definitely use more people recognizing how great he is. Maybe he can get Ian to talk him up in front of Brendon.

*

A good friend would make fun of Brendon for how much effort he obviously put into his appearance this morning; apparently he does know how to tie his own tie. And brush his hair. And he's got to be wearing last year's uniform, and probably all his clothes being a size too small shouldn't be a good thing, but it kind of highlights how he filled out over the summer.

Spencer's having trouble making fun of him. Spencer's having trouble finding his voice and can’t seem to look away from the pants Brendon is definitely going to get scolded about if the wrong teacher sees how tight they are.

"Well hello, handsome," Jon says, because Jon never has trouble teasing. "Hot date?"

"Shut up," Brendon says, but he looks almost proud.

"Since when do you even own contacts?" Ryan asks. "Why would you ever wear your stupid glasses if you had other options?"

"My glasses are awesome."

"Which is why you're wearing them now, I guess, hot stuff?"

"I'm sorry you're so jealous of my hot bod," Brendon says. "At least Spencer's on my side."

"Don't assume my silence means anything," Spencer finally manages. "I just needed to adjust to how much of your dick I can see right now."

"You're not going to be able to have babies," Jon says, sadly. "Your poor sperm."

"Oh my God, you're so weird." Ryan drags Jon away, either to class or somewhere he can't embarrass Ryan by being weird. There's no possible way to be weird enough to make Ryan look any worse than he makes himself look, but he never listens when Spencer points that out.

"Um," Brendon says, "do I really look stupid?"

Spencer rolls his eyes. "You look good, dude," he says, because as long as Brendon asks first, it's not giving anything away to tell him that, right? "What's the occasion?"

"Nothing," Brendon says, too quickly. "I just, y'know, wanted to try something new."

When Spencer glances at the schedule taped to the inside of his locker door, he gets why Brendon might have picked today to change his look; he kind of hopes he's wrong, because his thing for Brendon is going to get real sucky real fast if Brendon actually has a crush on their chemistry teacher.

*

"Jon and Ryan are fighting at my locker," Brendon says, from somewhere behind Spencer. He's dropped the hot-stuff look, back to his normal state of I-don't-know-how-to-dress-myself, complete with red glasses. Spencer feels better about it until he realizes it's not a chemistry day. It’d be nice to have his hunch about Brendon's thing for Mr. Weekes proved wrong, instead of supported.

"I know you know how to tie this now, so I'm not going to take pity on you anymore."

Brendon doesn't look worried, probably because while Spencer made his threat he grabbed Brendon's tie and started tying it anyway. Whatever, if Brendon gets detention for breaking dress code too many times, he'll have less time to hang out with Spencer. And Ryan and Jon. But mostly Spencer.

"When I left, Jon was telling Ryan to act like a normal human for once, so."

Spencer sighs. "I'll be Ryan's friend today, you be Jon's."

"I hate being Jon's friend," Brendon says, making a face. "He's fucking annoying when he's sulking."

"Yeah, well, I saw Ryan first."

"Fine, but you owe me. Also, twenty bucks they're over it by lunch."

"You don't have twenty bucks. You’re on, though, I guess I can figure out payment when you lose. They’ll make up after school, but before Ryan pulls out of the parking lot. And since I get to be Ryan's friend, I'll even go break the fight up so you can get to your locker."

"That's almost enough to make me forget how much I hate you," Brendon says, and ruffles Spencer's hair before darting off down the hall.

*

"I'm way better off without Jon," Ryan says when he sits down for lunch with Spencer, loud enough for Jon to hear from one table over.

"If you believed that, your fights would last more than a few hours," Spencer points out. Brendon waves at him over Jon and Ryan's shoulders; Spencer's about to wave back when Jon starts sighing about how if Brendon would rather go sit with Ryan, it's okay, he'll understand, Brendon doesn't have to feel sorry for him. Jon is a gigantic pain in the ass when he's pouting, and Spencer feels a little bad for Brendon. Not bad enough to offer to be Jon's friend next time, but still bad.

"Let's not talk about the worst boyfriend in the world," Ryan says, and Spencer tries really hard not to roll his eyes. "Let's talk about your situation."

"I don't have a situation."

“Of course you do, idiot. The Brendon situation.”

"He's sitting right behind us," Spencer hisses, and considers all the ways to murder someone with a cafeteria tray. It would solve so many problems. "And there is no situation. And I hate you."

"You love me. I'm your favorite. And that's kind of bad for my ego, considering how much of an idiot you are. Like, I don't know if I want to appeal to complete morons."

Spencer doesn't actually kill Ryan with the tray, but by the time the bell rings he's come up with forty-six different ways to do it. Of course, the stupid hardcore bullying policy might have a clause about murdering fellow students, so Spencer leaves the tray intact instead of breaking it on Ryan’s idiot head.

*

Jon's leaning against Ryan's car after school, bearing a slushie he must have skipped last period to get and the pout that always gets Ryan to forgive whatever terrible thing Jon did to start the fight in the first place. Ryan doesn't say anything, but he smiles that special Jon-smile that Spencer didn't even know Ryan's face was capable of making before Jon moved here.

"Have you figured out a payment yet?" Brendon asks, as Jon and Ryan climb into the backseat and Spencer starts trying to figure out how he's supposed to get home if he strangles Ryan with his backpack for leaving him standing in the parking lot like a moron. "How about sexual favors?"

Spencer knows, he knows how he's supposed to react to that, but his mouth's gone too dry for him to speak. Maybe there's a way for him to accept that will look like a joke but will also make Brendon realize he's totally hot for Spencer. Possibly in a way that also won't give Ryan or Jon new ammunition. That would be ideal. That would also probably be impossible.

"Let me in, assholes," Spencer says, ignoring Brendon. He only has to bang on the back window for five minutes before Jon and Ryan stop making out, which is a new record. Spencer's life is the worst.

*

"What do you call a benzene ring with iron atoms instead of carbon atoms?"

Brendon raises his hand so enthusiastically he almost falls off his stool. It would serve him right, especially if he split his too-small pants and also cracked his head open. Mr. Weekes blinks at him in surprise; up until this minute, the class has mostly responded to his puns with awkward silence.

"Ferrous wheel!" Brendon practically squeaks, without waiting for Mr. Weekes to call on him.

Mr. Weekes high-fives him, which is just great, because now Spencer's going to have to hear the story of how totally great he thinks Brendon is—it’s so obvious, he doesn’t high five anyone else, does he, Spencer?—all fucking day.

I googled chemistry jokes last night, Brendon scribbles in the notebook they've been using to talk to each other, he's impressed y/y?

Spencer ignores it in favor of wondering how, only a week and a half ago, he could have been stupid enough to compare the stupid-looking and not at all funny or charming or awesome Mr. Weekes to the actual hottest teacher in school. Clearly he was young and naïve then.

*

None of Spencer's jeans are tight enough. This isn't usually a problem, since Spencer isn't Brendon or Ryan, isn't even Jon; he's perfectly happy to use clothes to hide all the ways his body isn't exactly what he'd want it to be instead of using them to show it off. Except he had a plan, okay, a brilliant plan, and his closet is refusing to cooperate. How is he supposed to look irresistible wearing any of this crap?

"This is just sad," Ryan says, from Spencer's doorway. "I texted, like, forty-five minutes ago, so you've officially taken longer than me to get ready."

"Shut up," Spencer says. That's a serious accusation, Spencer and Ryan have missed entire movies because Ryan couldn't decide on the right My Chemical Romance t-shirt. Obviously, this calls for drastic measures. "Make me look hot."

When Spencer turns to look at him, Ryan looks like all his Christmases have come at once, and half his presents were Spencer letting him pick Spencer's clothes and the other half were enough ammunition to make fun of Spencer for the rest of their lives. "I—yes, totally," Ryan says. "I'll make you look so hot for Bren—"

"Shut up, or the offer's canceled."

Ryan actually mimes locking his mouth shut and throwing away the key. The way he manages to make Spencer wonder why they're friends while also reminding Spencer exactly why they're friends is pretty impressive, actually. Not that Spencer will ever tell him that. Well, maybe on their deathbeds, that would be pretty cool of him.

*

"Looking good, Spencer Smith," Brendon says when he climbs in the backseat of Ryan's car. Spencer very definitely doesn't blush even a little bit, but he does remind himself to do something nice for Ryan.

"Your two-sizes-too-small shirt thing would probably be hotter if it didn’t say ‘Bible camp’," Ryan says, glancing in the rearview mirror while he pulls out of Brendon's driveway.  Spencer can't tell if he purposely cut in before Spencer tried to stammer out a "you too,” but if he did, Spencer should probably do something even nicer for him.

"Bible camp is totally hot," Brendon says. "The whole, y'know, slutty innocent virgin thing."

"I don't think you can be a slutty virgin."

Brendon and Ryan argue about it all the way to Jon's house; Brendon's so into it he never catches Spencer checking him out.

*

The problem with local shows is that so many local bands are complete shit. Sometimes it's a fun way to kill a night, and it's not like they have anything better to do, but Jon and Ryan have been making out since they picked a spot on the floor, and the first band was so bad Spencer could barely hear the second through the ringing in his ears. Judging by the look on Brendon's face during their set, he should be grateful.

"We should pry those two apart and get going," he shouts towards Brendon.

"What?"

"I said—"

"Oh my—oh my God, look!"

The headliners are setting up; Spencer looks where Brendon's pointing, blinks, looks again, rubs his eyes and looks one more time. Of all the people in the entire stupid world, Mr. Weekes is sound checking the center mic. Maybe he's just helping friends set up, or something, maybe he's not a musician on top of being really hot and exactly the right kind of stupid-funny. If he is, Spencer's way more fucked than he ever thought he was.

Brendon's beaming and bouncing in place so enthusiastically that Ryan and Jon actually separate their stupid faces. When Ryan shoots a sympathetic look in Spencer's direction, Spencer starts calculating all the ways to murder him with items within an arm's reach. At the very least, he's totally screwed himself out of whatever nice thing Spencer owed him for finding the one hot pair of jeans Spencer owns.

"This is gonna be hilarious," Jon says, just loudly enough for Spencer to hear. He'll never get them out of here if Ryan and Jon are intent on watching Brendon be annoyingly obvious about his stupid crush on their stupid hot teacher.

The band—Spencer remembers them from the flyer, vaguely, but all he can picture is the pink font, not the actual name—is good. Because Spencer's life is the worst. The music is catchy and creepy—the good kind of creepy, like some of Ryan’s stuff—and Spencer would probably be having a lot of fun if he didn't have such a vested interest in Mr. Weekes being horrible at something.

During some weird song about Mr. Weekes murdering his girlfriend, or something, Brendon presses against Spencer's side and throws his arm around Spencer's shoulders. The crowd's small, and sparse, and there is no reason for him to be so close except to torture Spencer.  He tilts his head in so close Spencer swears his lips brush Spencer's ear. "This is awesome! He's a musician, I totally have an in!"

A good friend would remind Brendon that Mr. Weekes is a teacher and probably older than he looks and Brendon's jailbait and, anyway, someone as good-looking and funny and, like, gainfully employed as Mr. Weekes probably has a girlfriend by now. Even a shitty friend, the kind of friend with a stupid crush who can't even have a normal conversation without getting all weird and stupid, would probably do that.

Brendon keeps his head tilted close and his body tight against Spencer's and his hand on Spencer's shoulder, near the collar of Spencer's t-shirt, and Spencer can feel Brendon's sweaty hand on his skin. Spencer isn't a good friend at all. He’s not even an okay-but-kind-of-shitty friend.

*

"Mr. Weekes, that was awesome! I didn't know you were a musician! That was so cool, I loved the one about—"

Brendon starts babbling a mile a minute almost before Mr. Weekes has turned away from the woman who looks like she's really invested in Mr. Weekes noticing her cleavage. He's unbuttoned the shirt he played in, revealing a t-shirt with chemists do it periodically on the table in faded black lettering. It's funny. Spencer doesn't laugh.

"Wow," Mr. Weekes says when Brendon pauses for a breath. "I, uh, thank you, glad you liked it. And you guys can call me Dallon, I don't really feel like a 'Mr. Weekes' here." He laughs a little.

"Okay, Dallon," Brendon says, and Spencer can practically see it spilling out of his mouth with hearts dancing around it. This is absolutely the worst night of Spencer's short but miserable life.

*

"Dallon, you're so handsome!”

“Dallon, you're so talented!”

“Dallon, you're the best songwriter I've ever met!”

“Dallon, bend me over that merch table and put your magnificent dick in me!"

Brendon doesn't even have the decency to look embarrassed by Ryan and Jon’s (sadly, pretty accurate) teasing. Maybe that means Brendon won’t be embarrassed in school, when the kids Spencer had recognized from Chemistry start talking about his dumb crush.

Brendon's flushed red, still sweaty even after the twenty minutes they spent in the cool air outside the venue while Dallon helped load up his drummer's van, and he’s so fucking good-looking it hurts. It especially hurts knowing while Brendon’s smiling and sticking his tongue out at Ryan, he’s probably planning his stupid wedding to stupid Dallon. Brendon Weekes isn't even a bad name, way less boring than Brendon Smith.

Spencer thunks his head against Ryan's headrest; apparently his brain gets heavier when it's following the world's most pathetic train of thought, and his neck doesn't want to hold it up anymore.

To his credit, Ryan waits until after he's dropped off a still-beaming, practically-bouncing Brendon before he starts laughing at Spencer. Considering he laughs all the way to Spencer's house, though, and doesn't just laugh but almost runs a red light because he's laughing too hard to see it, that credit doesn't really mean much. His “Sucks to be you, dude, sorry,” when he drops Spencer off is pretty sincere, though. Ryan’s friendship is a complicated thing.

*

“There once was a man from Nantucket,” Brendon starts; Mr. Van Vleet groans.

“I’m banning limericks from my classroom forever,” he says. “You’ve just denied future generations the joy of torturing me like this; are you proud of yourself?”

“I think that’s a trick question that I shouldn’t answer.”

“You’re smarter than you look. Sit down.”

Brendon grins over at Spencer; if Spencer were a little more self-centered, he might think Brendon provokes Mr. Van Vleet because he knows how boring Spencer thinks poetry class is. There’s a real poem in Brendon’s notebook, a good one, because he really does take the assignments seriously, so Spencer’s not sure why Brendon would bother pretending otherwise.

It’s probably dangerous to think like that, though, so Spencer just grins back and tries to pay attention to something other than Brendon’s mouth.

*

"Like, how hard is it to remember I hate blueberries? It's like he tries to piss me off."

"It's a fucking muffin, Ryan." There's a high risk to trying to give Ryan perspective; for whatever reason, it's important to him to turn every little thing with Jon into either the best or worst thing ever, and trying to make him find a middle ground is mostly pointless. It's a chemistry day, though, and Spencer's pretty sure Brendon's getting better at making himself look like a filthy jailbait fantasy, and Spencer isn't actually in the mood.

"You have your stuff, I have mine," Ryan says, in that voice he uses when he thinks he's being all brilliant and wise. Usually it's kind of hilarious. "It's the principle of the thing."

"Your boyfriend cut first period to buy you breakfast and you threw a fit, what's the fucking principle?"

"It's a pointless gesture if he gets me breakfast I hate, isn't it? Sometimes Jon does stuff just to do stuff, like he thinks if he does whatever his idea of good boyfriend stuff is, he's a good boyfriend. I dunno, skipping mornings so we don't get to hang out before class kind of sucks, especially when he gets detention for skipping and then gets grounded for getting detention and has, like, no time for me. And then he expects me to be grateful that he did anything instead of actually doing something nice I should be grateful for.”

Spencer shuts his locker and fumbles for a way to admit Ryan has a point without actually admitting he's right. Being friends with Ryan is so trying.

"I know you think I’m stupid about him,” Ryan says. "But I think you're stupid about Brendon, so if I don't get to judge you for that, you don't get to judge me for this."

"I don't—"

"I'm stupid about Jon, Spencer, I'm not stupid about you."

"I know you aren’t.”

“No, you don’t,” Ryan says. "You think you do, but that's not the same thing. Come on, we're missing lunch, and since I'm fighting with Jon we can sit by ourselves and you can complain about how Brendon hasn't eaten with you all week and I'll pretend like I don't think you're a codependent moron."

*

Ian, he of the small stature and giant hairdo, won't look Spencer in the eye when Spencer gets to band, which is kind of weird. They'd definitely gotten over Ian's weirdly flattering you're-so-cool-and-talented thing a couple weeks ago. It had been kind of nice, though, while it lasted, Spencer can admit that. He’s not exactly the most popular kid in school—well, their school doesn’t really have “popular” kids, unless you count the ones who are always picked first for school plays or to have their art hung in the corridors, or the little group of cheerleaders and soccer players who are popular, teen movie style, in their own heads. But Spencer and Ryan and Jon and Brendon usually keep to themselves, they’re — Spencer’s mom had used this word once, although she’d sounded worried instead of happy — “insular.”

"You're friends with Brendon Urie, right?"

"Um," Spencer says, "yes?"

"Did you—a couple of my friends were talking at lunch, and I told them—um, if there's a rumor about him, you'd know if it's true or not, right?"

Fuck, fuck, of course this would happen—of course it’s been happening, Spencer shouldn’t pretend that him not hearing all the weird embellishments to make “Brendon was flirting like an idiot” into an actual interesting story was because those stories didn’t exist and not because he’s always around Brendon.

“What exactly are they saying?”

Ian bites his lip and looks around with big eyes. Miss Evans is late, again. Last year a bunch of kids were spreading a story about her sleeping with Principal White on her lunch break, which was apparently why she could come late to class without getting fired. Spencer knows what kind of rumors this school likes best, and he's not sure he wants confirmation people are saying that kind of stuff about Brendon.

"I just—um. Some people are—I told them it's nothing, right, Brendon's just, like, a musical kid, right? So it makes sense that if he's spending a bunch of time with Mr. Weekes in the band room, it's probably a music thing."

Spencer's going to be sick, what the fuck. "There's—no. That's fucking gross, there's nothing weird going on."

"That's what I said!" Ian says, vehemently, but Spencer's not interested in his solidarity, or whatever; he's more concerned that he's not as sure as he'd like to be he's right about Brendon and Mr. Weekes. Brendon tells him everything, but Spencer had no idea about this private-band-room-time thing, and there has to be a reason for that.

*

"If Brendon doesn't want to play laser tag with us, that's his problem," Ryan says to his watch. "I reminded him like six times."

Jon frowns. "I paid for all of us, though."

"It's, like, ten bucks."

"Yeah, but I'm also out like fifty bucks on muffins, and coffee that apparently has too much sugar, and—"

"No," Spencer says, and puts his hand over Jon's mouth. "Not today. You can go one day without fighting. Do it for my mental health."

Jon scowls a little, but he doesn't bite or lick or otherwise try to make Spencer move his hand. Jon's nice like that.

"You could invite that kid," Ryan says, "the little one who thinks you're God."

"We took care of the God thing, I told you. And I don't have his number."

Jon grumbles behind Spencer's hand; luckily, Brendon picks then to come sprinting out of the school towards Ryan's car.

"Sorry! Sorry, sorry, I had a project. Project type thing. Tutoring, and stuff."

"What are you being tutored in?" Spencer asks; from the way Brendon looks, he didn't quite keep the suspicion out of his voice.

"Nothing special," Brendon says, too quickly, and pushes his way past Jon and Spencer to get in the passenger seat. It hasn't escaped Spencer's notice that Mr. Weekes's car is still in its spot, but if Brendon had given a real answer Spencer would have believed him. Probably. Most likely.

Jon whimpers a little, and when Spencer looks his knuckles have gone white from the way he's squeezing his hand over Jon's face. He drops it quickly, flushing red.

"Sorry."

"You have issues, dude," Jon says, but there’s no venom in it and he smiles and pats Spencer on the back on his way around the car.

*

Talent shows are always stupid wastes of time, because the people with actual talent are generally doing better things with it and don't have time to practice something extra to perform for a half-full auditorium of bored parents and teachers who want to look like they care about what their students are up to. So there's a lot of people who think carrying a tune is the same as singing well, or being able to keep a beat is good drumming, or if they can remember all the words to a monologue it means they're an actor.

Spencer can think of at least fifty things he'd rather be doing than sitting in the auditorium between Ryan and Jon (they're fighting, again, but it can't be too bad because Ryan decided it was okay for Jon to sit on Spencer's other side), trying to figure out what the tiny cheerleader in the second row is doing so far out of her element—the ten or so girls who insist every year there should be a squad as long as there’s a soccer team like to pretend they go to the kind of school where being a cheerleader means something, where an essential part of that meaning is, “stays away from arty kids.” Brendon had made them promise to come, though, and Spencer's trying to be a better friend, since obviously Brendon needs someone to look out for him.

"Isn't that your disciple?" Ryan half-whispers, when Ian shuffles out on stage after a truly mediocre performance of a Spice Girls song.

"I told you he doesn't do that anymore. Also, learn how to whisper."

Ryan rolls his eyes, but at least he actually puts his hand over his mouth to stifle his laughter when Ian starts singing that awesome Weird Al song about Star Wars. Whatever, Ryan doesn't appreciate fine cinema; Spencer’s going to have to remember to brace himself for a lecture on the ride home about how some songs just shouldn’t be parodied.

By the time Ian finishes, Ryan's at least gotten himself under control enough to take his hand away from his mouth and clap. The reaction isn't great, because this school is full of plebeians who don't understand art. Well, it’s mostly not great—the tiny cheerleader gives Ian a one-girl standing ovation. Spencer is definitely never going to let Ian live that down (if he's already mentally rehearsing his "Aw, you have a little admirer" speech, it's only because he appreciates the craft of mocking his friends. Also because he's bored out of his skull).

Everything else is exactly what Spencer expects from these stupid things, complete with Jon basically crying because someone who didn’t understand the difference between a good husky voice and a horrible croaky voice tried valiantly to sing 'Imagine'. Spencer can't tell if he's legitimately that upset—you never know, with Jon, when he's actually being weirdly sensitive and when he's only pretending to be—or he just wanted to get Ryan to hold his hand. It worked, at least; that shit always works on Ryan. Spencer kind of wishes it had worked before Ryan made him sit in between them, though. Not that he doesn’t love them holding hands over his lap.

Mr. Weekes is sitting across the auditorium, next to Mr. Van Vleet, in the middle of a row pretty far back. There was a time Spencer would have totally filed that away to jerk off to later, but he is a bigger person now, he totally knows there is more to a teacher than how hot he is, like his personality and how likely he is to take advantage of Brendon.

Brendon looks towards Spencer when he finally takes the stage, but not even long enough to see Spencer waving before he's looking at Mr. Weekes. Ryan pats Spencer's shoulder comfortingly; Spencer considers strangling him with his scarf. After Brendon's song, maybe. It would be rude to interrupt.

"Could this be love at first sight, or should I walk by again?" Brendon sings, and Spencer is suddenly glad he didn't use Ryan's scarf to strangle Ryan, because he needs it to strangle himself. He recognizes that song, and not from anywhere fun. Mr. Weekes is sitting straight up, when he'd been slouching the whole show, smiling this totally not-at-all-handsome smile. Ryan keeps patting Spencer's shoulder. Clearly somebody needs to die tonight.

Brendon's voice is stupidly good, better than it was when he played last year, and it isn't fair, it's total bullshit that Brendon can be so many things Spencer wants but not want Spencer. And the song is pretty, because Mr. Weekes is a good musician—because he's so many things Brendon wants, and therefore Brendon wants him.

"If you want to leave," Ryan whispers—actually whispers, not his usual too-loud sort-of-whisper—"I'll tell Brendon you got sick, or something."

"I'm fine."

"You're, like, bright red. And you're holding onto the armrest so hard I think you might break it. Or your fingers."

"I'm fine. I'm awesome. Shut the fuck up, I'm listening."

"All of these are the prettiest things," Brendon sings, and if Spencer weren't so messed up, the way Brendon looks at Mr. Weekes through his eyelashes while he says it would be hilarious, "when I'm in love."

Spencer waits for Brendon to leave the stage before he bolts, because Spencer is a good friend.

*

Avoiding Brendon all weekend is surprisingly easy. He doesn't know why it wouldn't be, he had a life before Brendon and he has a life outside of Brendon and it's not like he spends all his time with Brendon. Spencer is totally his own man.

"An independent woman," Ryan agrees, distractedly, without looking up from the book he's reading. He's read it before, at least twice. Spencer hates Ryan.

"I feel like if you were paying attention to my emotional distress, you could probably get some great horrible poetry out of it."

Ryan frowns, considering, and slides the cat bookmark Jon bought him in place. "Good point. Are you admitting there's emotional distress now?"

"Maybe."

"I'm going to pretend you did, because you made me cancel Jon time and also book time, and you have to give a little or this won't be a very healthy relationship."

There are one hundred and sixty-seven ways to kill Ryan without leaving Spencer's room. And there aren’t any teachers here to lecture him on how violence is never the answer, so he’d totally get away with it, at least until his mom gets home.. "Whatever. If you're so smart, fix it."

"Get over him," Ryan says, like it's the simplest thing in the world. One hundred and sixty-seven.

"Wow. I never thought of that. I'm so glad we had this little talk, go back to your stupid book."

Ryan rolls his eyes like Spencer's being the frustrating one here. "You've never tried. So try. Like, when I want to get over Jon, I flirt with someone else, right? You get rid of bad habits by replacing them with something else, so just find some other guy to replace Brendon with."

Someday, Spencer's going to master taking Ryan's advice without actually telling him he's right. Sure, Ryan and Jon hardly ever fight long enough for anyone to need to get over anything, and even when they do fight for longer than half a day, they still always end up back together—but it sounds like it makes sense. And Spencer's a little desperate.

"That's stupid," Spencer says, but Ryan smiles like he knows what Spencer's really saying. He probably does.

*

"Are you busy Saturday?"

Ian blinks up at Spencer almost the way he had at first, like he doesn't actually believe Spencer's talking to him. Spencer kind of hates that, but whatever. Ian's cute, under his hair, and obviously he has good taste in everything, and Spencer's other options are basically Ryan and Jon. He really needs to get out more.

"I, um, why?"

"We should hang out," Spencer says. "Like, go to a movie or, y'know something, uh, fun."

"Are—you're asking me on a date."

"Yes. Totally."

"I'm, um, that's—I mean, that's, y'know, cool that you asked, but I'm gay."

Spencer's officially confused. "Yes?"

"Um. I'm—you didn't—I can't tell if I'm more embarrassed for you or me right now. Spencer, dude, did you not realize I'm a girl?"

"You're—what? Your name is Ian. And, like—" Spencer tries and fails to find a way to say you have no boobs gracefully. “—everything else. You wear the boys’ uniform.”

"My parents are weird, and pants are more comfortable. You, uh, you really didn't know?"

Spencer can't think of a single way to get out of this one with any dignity intact. Luckily, Miss Evans picks today to actually show up on time.

*

Wednesday is shaping up to be the worst day of Spencer's life, and he hasn't even made it out his front door yet. It's beautiful out, the sun already shining because the weather doesn't have the decency to cooperate with Spencer's horrible mood. Even worse, when Spencer makes it to Ryan's car, Ryan's smiling like he doesn't even understand that Spencer is a moron and also an idiot and also pathetic and needs sympathy misery.

"What the hell are you so happy about?"

Ryan shrugs, which is stupid, because Spencer needs an answer so he can pick it apart and destroy Ryan's mood. Ryan is totally the least considerate best friend ever.

"Come on, we have time to get breakfast."

"Food is stupid. Everything is stupid."

"Okay, well, I'm hungry."

"I don't even care. I hope you starve."

Even being mean to Ryan isn't making Spencer feel better. What kind of mutant bad mood is this? Fine, whatever, Brendon's fucking their hot teacher, or trying to fuck their hot teacher, and Spencer probably made Ian feel horrible and insecure and stuff and he didn't even get a date out of it, life is over and high school is the worst thing in the entire world. That still doesn't mean his brain can just decide all his usual outlets shouldn't work anymore.

Ryan buys Spencer a bagel in the cafeteria because Ryan actually is a good friend, and he even hangs out with Spencer while they eat instead of abandoning him to make out with Jon. Of course, that means he starts rambling about these lyrics he's writing and they actually sound interesting enough Spencer stops paying attention to the clock and starts paying attention to Ryan until the bell rings. The, uh, second bell, the one that means he should already be in his seat. Whatever, being late to class is totally fitting for the worst day in the history of everything.

"Mr. Smith, glad you could join us,” Mr. Weekes says when Spencer walks in. “Important business this morning?"

Brendon's wearing his too-small pants again, and they're riding so low his uniform shirt's come untucked where he's leaning way too far forward over the table. Spencer can see his skin, pretty and pale, and Spencer absolutely hates his life.

"You can sit down, Spencer." Mr. Weekes looks confused, a little.

"I'll sit on your mom," Spencer says, and walks out without waiting for a reaction. Later he'll be mad at himself, because maybe if he'd been clever, or at least the kind of stupid Mr. Weekes's jokes are, he might have looked super cool instead of like a little asshole who can't handle his stupid feelings. Right now, he just knows he can't sit there for an hour watching Brendon lick his lips and stretch and ask for help from Mr. Weekes with stuff he knows Spencer could help him with.

“Spencer,” Mr. Weekes calls before Spencer’s even made it to the end of the hall. Brendon’s probably going to be disappointed to lose these precious minutes of Mr. Weekes-ogling time. “Is everything okay? If you need to—”

“Everything’s awesome,” Spencer says, and turns the corner without looking back at Mr. Weekes. Luckily, Mr. Weekes doesn’t come after him, and he’s free to sit in Ryan’s car and stew until it’s time for History and a test he can’t skip.

*

"You can go, Mr. Smith." Mr. Van Vleet is standing in front of Spencer's desk; the room's empty and from the look on Mr. Van Vleet's face it's not the first time he's said it. Whatever, Spencer was wallowing; it says a lot for how messed up he is that he hasn't even appreciated an hour of extra time with his favorite hot teacher. Possibly if he’d realized detention meant Mr. Van Vleet time, he would have broken a rule when he was in a position to enjoy it.

And maybe if he were Brendon, he would have enjoyed it the way Brendon probably enjoys all that extra time he was spending—maybe still is spending, even though he claimed it was to practice for the talent show, and that's over—with Mr. Weekes. Maybe he should find a way to learn Mr. Van Vleet's first name so he can say it the way Brendon says "Dallon," like it's supposed to mean "kiss me, fuck me, love me" all at once.

"You know," Mr. Van Vleet says, "I have a life that I'd kind of like to get to, so while I know staring vacantly into space must be incredibly fun for you, I'd appreciate it if you'd find somewhere off school grounds to do so."

"Right," Spencer says, "sorry." Mr. Van Vleet is totally laughing at him. Everything is so awesome, wow.

The science hallway is deserted; it's only four o' clock, but with the lights dimmed and the school so quiet, it feels later. Mr. Weekes's door is open, and Spencer considers poking his head in to apologize for being an asshole. Unless Mr. Weekes is actually fucking Brendon—and Spencer kind of feels like that's the kind of thing Brendon would tell him, or at least tell Jon and Jon would tell Ryan and Ryan would tell him—he hasn't actually done anything wrong.

When he passes the door, though, the voice coming from inside stops him in his tracks.

"No one would have to know," Brendon's saying. "I can keep a secret."

"That's not the point."

"But if no one knows, it doesn't matter, it—"

"I think you should go home, Brendon. If you'd like to be transferred to another chemistry class, I can take care of that for you."

"No. And I'm not going home until you—"

"Brendon!" Mr. Weekes cuts him off, voice sharper than Spencer's ever heard it. "I'm sorry, this is my fault, I should have—for anything I've done to lead you on, I am, I should have been better, but there's—this can't happen. There's nothing to happen."

"There is though." Brendon's voice is small, scared, the way he used to sound when Spencer first met him, when he was tiny and unsure and thought God hated him and expected people to feel the same way. Spencer hates that voice. "I'm—I love you."

Spencer shouldn't be hearing this, and not just because it makes him want to throw up. He should—Brendon will kill him, if he finds out Spencer heard this, he'll kill Spencer and then he'll die of humiliation. Mr. Weekes is still talking, gentle and firm and using "sorry" as almost every other word, talking over Brendon's objections, and Spencer pulls himself away.

His locker is between Mr. Weekes's classroom and the exit, far enough away he can't hear, far enough away Brendon won't be able to think he heard. It's—that's good, Spencer can act like he was just getting his books, and when Brendon comes out with his heart broken, the first thing he'll see is a friendly face. And he can tell Spencer about it, and he'll be sad but he'll feel better, Spencer will make him feel better, and then -

Mr. Weekes's door slams; Brendon comes around the corner so fast he almost falls, and sprints down the hall to burst out the door without ever looking at Spencer. Spencer swears and starts cramming books in his bag, almost slams his locker shut on his fingers in his hurry to follow Brendon.

Brendon's face is all red and scrunched up while he swears up a storm, fumbling his bike lock. And that's—Spencer hasn't heard him swear like that since the night he sat on the hood of Ryan's car out in the desert and told them he doesn't believe in God, since being able to swear was a fun, new thing. Brendon's a mess, and if Spencer were a good friend he'd have something to say, something like the advice Ryan gives where even when Spencer wants to argue, he knows Ryan's right, and he can't help but feel better.

"Ryan's coming to pick me up, if you want a ride," is all that comes out. It's not right, it's not anything, but Spencer doesn't exactly expect Brendon to startle so badly he falls on his ass, or his eyes to get wide and terrified like that.

"Oh god, shit, I didn't see you there." He sits up and goes back to fiddling with his bike lock, with hands that look like they might be shaking. "How long have you—what are you still doing here? Shit."

"I, uh, I had detention, remember?"

"Right, yeah, I—of course you would, 'cause of the thing." Brendon's blinking too fast, and Spencer doesn't want to see him cry, oh god. "I don't—I'd have to get a ride in the morning, and I don't want to leave my bike here all night, and—no, it's cool, thanks."

"But—"

"Spencer!" Brendon's almost shouting, and his eyes are definitely wet, and Spencer has never in his life felt so helpless. "Please leave me the fuck alone right now. Please."

Brendon shouldn't be alone right now, not when he's like this, and there's no way he can safely ride his bike when he's almost crying. Spencer wants to tell him that, offer to call his mom, remind him there's room in Ryan's trunk for his bike and promise Ryan won't ask questions, but more than anything he never, ever wants Brendon to yell at him like that again, like Spencer's the last person in the world Brendon wants around. So instead of making offers, or reminders, or promises, Spencer just walks away so when Ryan pulls in he won't get close enough to the bike rack to see Brendon.

*

Maybe everything would be easier if Spencer had someone to talk to, but that's not really an option. If Brendon doesn't want to tell Jon or Ryan—or even Spencer, really, since as far as he knows, Spencer doesn't know what really happened that day—it's not Spencer's place to. It wouldn't be his place to tell Ian, either, really, except Ian's pretty neutral, so Spencer could totally get away with "I have this friend, who..." stories. Maybe. Except Ian knew about the rumors, so there’s probably no way to be vague enough. It doesn't matter, anyway, Spencer can't look at Ian without getting embarrassed all over again, without worrying about how shitty he probably made her—her, shit, Spencer can be kind of self-absorbed but how the fuck did he miss that?—feel, so a conversation isn't really likely.

Brendon’s weird around Spencer, which makes sense, but it sucks. He's weird around everyone—yelling at Ryan and Jon for fighting instead of rolling his eyes and whining at Spencer about how it should be Brendon's turn to be Ryan's friend this time, writing sad little lyrics that sound like something out of Ryan's notebook for poetry class instead of the dirty limericks Mr. Van Vleet rolled his eyes about but gave him credit for anyway, slouching through the halls instead of running around and crashing into people. So of course he's weird around Spencer. It’s not personal.

Unless it is. What if he thinks Spencer overheard exactly what he overheard? Or maybe he finally figured out how pathetic Spencer is about his crush and can't handle that on top of everything else? Or maybe -

"Your emo is painful," Ryan says. "You are causing me physical pain with your sulking."

"I'm not sulking."

Ryan doesn't point out that Spencer's shoes are untied and his uniform's wrinkled and his hair’s kind of gross, or that he basically looks like the dictionary definition of "sulky". He doesn't say any of that out loud, at least; Spencer hears it anyway.

"Did—what the fuck happened? You and Brendon both—"

"It has nothing to do with Brendon." It has everything to do with Brendon, with Brendon being in love with someone else and so heartbroken he can't even manage to be Spencer's friend, with Spencer feeling like maybe he lost what little he had—what little he was totally okay with having—and he's not sure what he did wrong or how he could have done it right.

Mr. Weekes hasn't told a joke in a week and a half. Spencer hates chemistry, suddenly, hates the weird way Mr. Weekes carries himself and the silences where before he would have started a joke and Brendon would finish it, hates the pop quizzes he's started giving, hates doing labs by himself because with Brendon gone he’s partner-less. Mr. Weekes makes eye contact all the time now, or looks over their heads, like, what, he thinks acting like they weren’t just floating heads encouraged Brendon? It's weird and unsettling and Spencer thinks maybe he could fix it, could tell Mr. Weekes he knows what happened, but that he's the only one who knows and he definitely won't tell anyone, so it’s okay, he doesn’t have to be this paranoid.

Spencer doesn't say anything, though, not to Ryan or Jon or Mr. Weekes or Ian, and definitely not to Brendon. He gets an A on the first lab they do after it happens, and misses the Bs he got with Brendon skipping steps accidentally and doing the wrong thing on purpose so Mr. Weekes would have to show him how to do it right.

"I think we all need some cheering up," Jon says at lunch on Friday. Brendon keeps his eyes on his plate, and Spencer knows that nothing Jon could come up with is going to make anything any better. But Ryan looks so hopeful that Spencer manages a smile and agrees.

*

A headache was exactly what Spencer needed on top of everything else. Awesome.

"Why don't you ever make sure the cheap shows you find aren't cheap for a reason?"

Ryan shrugs. "If there were any good bands around here, we wouldn't be able to afford them, so what does it matter?"

Spencer rolls his eyes, then closes them. Maybe if he shuts out the crappy lighting, his head will clear before this apparently decent band starts, and he'll be able to enjoy it. He has to give Ryan credit, though— even with the headache, this might be exactly what Spencer needs, too-hot press of bodies and shitty overdramatic lyrics he can let pound through him even while he's making fun in his head. Brendon's loosened up some, too. Maybe they'll actually get past all this, maybe it won't have been the end of the world, or even the end of their junior year.

"Oh no."

"Brendon?"

Jon sounds worried, which is a bad sign; Jon's not always good at picking up on people's feelings, so if he's noticed something wrong from two people away, Brendon probably wasn't just "oh no"-ing a stupid prop or bad outfit. Spencer opens his eyes and tries with everything he has not to yell at the two assholes who brought them to a Brobecks show without warning.

"Brendon, what—"

"Nothing," Brendon says, hasty. "It's nothing. Someone stepped on my foot."

If Spencer were a better person, he'd have something to say right now, something to make this easier for Brendon, or to distract Jon and Ryan, or—God, anything, anything would help, but he's as frozen as Brendon. He should ask, maybe, find out if Brendon's okay, make sure Brendon knows they can leave if he needs to, but that means letting Brendon know that Spencer knows exactly what's wrong, and what if that upsets him more?

"This is a song about falling in love," Dallon says, and before he even plays the first note Brendon's gone, moving surprisingly quickly through the crowd.

"What did he—what the fuck? I figured with his crush, he’d—"

"I'll tell you later," Spencer says, and starts knocking people out of the way to catch up to Brendon.

When Spencer gets outside, he almost thinks Brendon left, which is kind of a terrifying thought, because this is a shitty neighborhood and there's no way Brendon could walk all the way home from here even if it wasn't. Just as he's seriously considering panicking, though, he sees Brendon, curled in on himself against a section of wall too far away for the smokers to bother walking to when there's so much space to take up in front of the door.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Spencer asks, gently. The wall is rough through his t-shirt when he leans next to Brendon.

"No, I'm—it's embarrassing, no. Can we—if I tell them I'm sick, do you think they'll be mad about leaving?"

Spencer ignores the question. They won't, not with Brendon this upset, but Brendon probably knows that. "I, uh, I know what—I know about you and Mr. Weekes. That—when you were so upset, when I had detention, I heard you."

“Shit,” Brendon says. “You must think I’m an idiot.”

No,” Spencer says. “You’re not, dude, you’re brave.”

"I don't—if you don't think I'm an idiot I don't think you actually heard much."

"Shut up, idiot. Um, I mean, shut up, Brendon, I heard plenty. It's—I mean, it's really ballsy, right, to be all, whatever, there are rules and consequences and shit, but fuck all that. Like, to go for it, that's..." Spencer trails off. Something I couldn't do, obviously, hovers on the tip of his tongue.

"Don't make it sound so good. It was stupid, I'm stupid."

"You are not, shut up. You're not stupid."

Brendon doesn't say anything to that, doesn't agree but doesn't argue, either, so it's probably okay. Maybe he's thinking about it, processing, finding that part of him that trusts Spencer to actually tell him when he does something dumb and believe that part wouldn't lie when it says Brendon isn't doing something stupid. They can just hear the music out here, thumping drums and the faint strains of Dallon's voice.

"Did I tell you I asked Ian Crawford out?" Maybe if Brendon knows how stupid Spencer is, he’ll feel better by comparison. It’s not like looking good to Brendon matters, not anymore.

Brendon blinks and tilts his head. "I thought you were gay?"

"I didn't, uh, I didn't know she's a girl. I thought, y'know, she was a pretty cool dude."

When Brendon starts laughing, it hits Spencer with the force of a freight train how much he missed it,—Brendon finding things funny, Brendon laughing like life is funny, not like he thinks laughing will make his teacher fall in love with him. Spencer is stupidly in love with Brendon's laugh. He’s stupidly in love with Brendon.

"I was trying to get over you," Spencer says, because he hasn't made enough of an ass of himself.  "I thought—it was a stupid idea. Obviously. I just—y'know. I'm no—if you'd asked me, I wouldn't have said no.” Spencer scrubs his hands over his face. “I don’t—I wish you’d asked me. That you wanted that."

Brendon stops laughing so abruptly that Spencer winces, and then he doesn't say anything. The sudden silence is the only sign that Brendon even heard what Spencer said. The music pauses, changes, and after an eternity of silence from Brendon it pauses and changes again. If this—fuck, if this is what Brendon felt like after he told Mr. Weekes, if everything inside of him was vanishing into the black hole that opened in his stomach, no wonder he had to switch to a different chemistry class.

"Spence," Brendon says, after another eternity. "You—Spencer."

Spencer opens his mouth, to tell Brendon it was a lie—not a lie, fuck, he wouldn't lie to Brendon, but a—it's a joke, he could say, he was joking. Or trying to make a point, about how being in stupid unrequited love can happen to anyone, it doesn't mean anything bad, or maybe to make Brendon feel like Mr. Weekes must have felt, so he can know it wasn't anything personal, Mr. Weekes not loving him doesn't mean there's anything wrong with Brendon unless Brendon thinks there's something wrong with Spencer.

Before he can say any of that, before he has his thoughts in order enough to even know what he was going to say, Brendon's pressed against him everywhere; his lips are soft against Spencer's and the thoughts he couldn't get control of have sorted themselves into one giant YES.

“What the fuck?” Spencer asks, when Brendon pulls back. He kind of wants to pull him back in, kiss him again, kiss him forever, but what the fuck?

“I’m an idiot,” Brendon says. He sounds almost happy about it. “You’re an idiot. Oh my god.”

“Um.”

Brendon tilts his forehead against Spencer’s. “I’ve wanted to do that forever,” he says, and kisses Spencer again.

Spencer has questions, so many fucking questions, but there’s no way he can make Brendon stop kissing him. He can ask later, like when he’s dead, because he probably won’t stop kissing Brendon long enough to eat.

“Fucking finally,” Ryan says, because of course this would be the day he chooses to be a considerate friend and come check on them. “Jon, get the crowbar, there’s no way we’ll be able to pry them apart without it.”

*

It's starting to get chilly out, enough that Spencer's reconsidering the plan he made to only wear the uniform polo shirt for the rest of the year, instead of the button-down with the tie and blazer. Considering he planned it because Brendon had complimented his arms, and he doesn't exactly need to work on winning Brendon over anymore, it's probably okay to reconsider.

Brendon's been in the school so long that Spencer's ass is going numb from the unforgiving surface of the picnic table. He’d promised he wouldn't eavesdrop, though, and he’s going to stay exactly where Brendon left him so Brendon doesn't worry.

Ten minutes later, Spencer's ass is completely numb and he thinks maybe Brendon would believe he didn't go near the science hallway if he came out to see Spencer standing next to the picnic table instead of sitting on it. Before he has time to get up, though, the door opens and Brendon appears. He doesn't look upset—he doesn't look happy, either, but at least he's not all hunched in on himself.

"Wanna go hang out on the soccer field?" he asks, instead of answering any of the thousand questions he must know Spencer has.

The grass is chilly under Spencer's back, but Brendon lies down with his head on Spencer's stomach and tangles his fingers with Spencer's, so Spencer would be totally happy even if he were lying on a giant block of ice. For a little while, anyway.

“I told him, um, that I was sorry, and it wasn’t anything he did, it was just me being stupid—“

“You’re not stupid.”

“Yeah, that’s what he said.” Brendon doesn’t sound like he really believes it, but he keeps talking before Spencer can tell him he’s an idiot if he thinks he’s stupid. “Maybe I should have let you come in with me, he looked a little freaked out when he saw me.”

“Are you switching back to our science class?”

“Next semester. He thought it’d be weird if I came back, but it’s not like people aren’t already talking about me.”

They’re the stupid ones.”

Brendon smiles up at him, but doesn’t say anything; he’s quiet for so long Spencer thinks maybe he fell asleep.

“I didn't think you liked me,” he says, like he’s not sure he wants to admit it. “I had the biggest crush on you for the longest time and I didn't think it was ever going to go anywhere. Like, I was—I thought maybe while I was at camp, when I wasn’t around you all the time, I could make myself get over it."

“And it worked, obviously. Or, like, worked for a little while? Or—“

“What? No.” Brendon props himself up on his elbow. “I, like, wanted it to? So, like, I don’t know, I guess if my little crush on Dallon—Mr. Weekes replaced my thing for you, that could fix it. And it got—I dunno, a little out of control. I just thought it’d be easier to be over you, but, um, obviously not.”

"Maybe I was wrong," Spencer says, squeezes Brendon's hand so he won't take it the wrong way. "Maybe you are stupid.”

"Shut up."

"Make me."

Brendon waits long enough Spencer starts to worry he's not going to take the obvious invitation before he takes the hint and puts Spencer's mouth to better use.