The house party was in a pretty crowded basement that had clearly not been inhabited or cleaned in a decade or two. The “stage” was just a corner with some amps set up, and there was really no way to hear what the lyrics were or even make out the tune the band was playing.
That didn’t stop Spencer from watching them with approximately the same level of interest a teenage girl might have in a Justin Timberlake concert. Brendon couldn’t stop laughing, but he mostly hid it by turning and muffling himself against Ryan’s shoulder. The three of them were hanging out by the wall in the back, trying to look marginally cool, except Spencer kept craning around to the crowd to see the band better.
“Do you want a drink?” Ryan asked. There was a keg and a couple of coolers filled with beer. For all that it was dirty and crowded, it was a pretty cool scene. Brendon was still excited that he’d gotten in at all. The guy at the door had looked epically skeptical, until Brendon had started explaining how he knew Jon. Spencer had been ready to just shove past anyway.
“Would you kiss me if I tasted like beer?” Brendon asked, tilting his head up to look Ryan in the eye.
Ryan made a face. “Uh,” he said. “It’s not… It’s not about me. It’s about what you want, and—”
“It’s about you, too,” said Brendon firmly. “So, no. Plus, I’m the designated driver!”
“There are three of us, and none of us are drinking.” Ryan rolled his eyes. Having a car was a brand new thing; Spencer had gotten some money to subsidize it for Christmas, and he and Ryan were still trying to figure out how to split their time with it.
“Right, but I’m the only one designated not to drink,” Brendon said.
“Shut up, I’m trying to hear,” Spencer ordered. Brendon started laughing again.
When the set was over Spencer put his hands on his hips and started explaining why house parties sucked. He kept accidentally looking over at the band, catching himself, and then very determinedly not looking at them for a couple of minutes. It was endlessly amusing. He was trying to argue that sweaty scenesters crowded in to dimly lit rooms were stupid, but he was distracted and kept repeating himself. It took all of Brendon’s will power to keep his giggles about it on the inside.
That was how Spencer missed Jon walking up behind him, looking all sweaty and disheveled and grinning. “Hey,” he said. Spencer jumped. “You guys made it.”
“Jon, you were awesome,” Brendon said, and hugged him. He’d considered not hugging Jon for a second, since it seemed kind of weird with Ryan being right there and all, but Brendon wasn’t going to pretend to be a person who didn’t hug. Ryan could deal.
“We sucked,” Jon laughed, “but thank you.”
“Everyone else sucked. You were great,” Brendon said loyally. He knew how to play bass and he’d seen Jon doing a totally good job.
Spencer was just staring and trying not to look like he was staring. “Hi,” said Ryan. “I’m Ryan. Brendon’s boyfriend.” It was really, really cute the way he was trying not to sound a little jealous. It made Brendon feel melty inside. He snuggled up next to Ryan, who wasn’t normally comfortable with that kind of stuff in public. This time Ryan didn’t roll his eyes or anything.
“Nice to meet you,” said Jon. “And Spencer, right? We met at Starbucks. It’s cool that you could make it.”
Spencer was blushing and hiding under his bangs a little. It was hilarious. Brendon was never going to stop laughing at him. “How’s the cat?” Spencer asked, looking mostly at the floor.
“Oh man, Dylan. He’s great. He’s a champ. We made him a MySpace, where he writes all this angsty poetry about being abandoned.” Jon grinned. Spencer smiled back. “So, uh,” said Jon after a mildly awkward pause. “Do you have a boyfriend around here somewhere, too?”
Spencer stared for a second. Jon tilted his head uncertainly. Brendon couldn’t stand people being idiotic like that, so he punched Spencer in the shoulder and gave him a stern look.
“No. I mean,” Spencer stuttered, “I don’t have one. A boyfriend. So he’s not here.”
“Cool,” said Jon. “That would have made the part where I’m gonna hit on you kind of awkward.”
“Brendon, let’s go look at the, uh, over there,” said Ryan suddenly, grabbing Brendon’s hand and dragging him through the crowd.
“I wanted to watch,” Brendon complained. “Spencer was blushing, it was so cute.”
Ryan rolled his eyes. “You’re new to the whole Spencer thing,” he said, “so you’ll just have to trust me. Spencer doesn’t smile like that normally, okay? That is a special, stupid smile, so we’re going to just let them be stupid at each other by themselves.”
Brendon considered, glancing over his shoulder. Spencer’s smile did look a lot like… Like the sun coming up or something. Ryan hustled them over to the wall on the far side of the room.
“Fine,” Brendon said, “but can we at least spy on them from over here?” It was hard to see through the crowd, but he could pick out Spencer’s hair reflecting in the party lights.
“No,” said Ryan. “You are totally the worst spy ever.” He paused. “How about, I’ll watch and just tell you what’s going on, because if you watch you’ll distract them.”
“From all the way over here?” Brendon objected, but Ryan had already turned them both so he could see Spencer and Brendon’s back was to the room.
“I’ll make it up to you,” Ryan promised, kissing him.
Brendon let himself be mollified with kissing and a little groping for a couple of minutes. Brendon was an enthusiastic participant when it came to groping, even in public. And then he couldn’t stop being curious anymore and pulled away. “Well?” he demanded.
Ryan rolled his eyes. “Jon’s doing that thing where you lean in too closely to talk to someone. You know, when you pretend you can’t hear them?”
Brendon had a vague idea, but he added it to his mental checklist of things to try sometime. “And Spencer?”
“Is totally blushing and playing with his soda and making stupid jokes. And – Ha. Jon just put his number in Spencer’s phone.” Ryan looked at Brendon. “He’s cool, right? I’m not going to have to go poison him later or anything?”
“Jon is awesome,” Brendon assured him. “We love Jon.”
“I think he’s leaving to go play again,” said Ryan. “Yeah, Spencer’s coming over here.”
Brendon fidgeted. “Are we pretending we don’t know what just happened?” he asked.
He was saved the trouble of worrying about it because the first thing Spencer said was, “Jon gave me his number. Oh my god.”
“Of course he did,” said Brendon.
“No, shut up, this is so cool,” said Spencer. He was still smiling and he sounded a little incoherent. “Isn’t this cool?”
Ryan was on the verge of dissolving in to laughter, so Brendon said, “Yeah, it’s really cool.” He poked Ryan and gave him a look. Hopefully a stop-making-fun-of-your-best-friend look, although it might have just been a scrunchy face.
Spencer’s phone beeped. He looked down. “Jon just texted me,” Spencer said. He sounded awestruck. “‘Are you sticking around until the show is over?’ Oh my god, Ryan, are we? Can we?”
“You sound like a thirteen year old girl,” Ryan said, choking on laughter.
“Shut up, Ross, or I’ll tell Brendon every stupid, girly thing you’ve ever said about him,” Spencer ordered, glowering.
“Ooooh, tell me,” Brendon said immediately. Ryan looked mildly horrified, which was awesome. Brendon made plans to extort as much information from Spencer as possible when they got back to the dorm. The band started up a minute later, though, and Spencer’s attention was totally lost to Jon again. Brendon let Ryan crowd him back against the wall. It wasn’t actually much of a hardship having a totally hot boyfriend who wanted to distract you, after all.
“I still say,” said Ryan, “that we should have told Jon I’m Spencer’s boyfriend. He owes me.”
“You think you’re way more of an evil mastermind than you actually are,” Brendon pointed out. “The minute Spencer looked sad you’d fold.”
Ryan looked disgruntled. “That is not true. I’m totally ruthless.”
Brendon figured bursting in to laughter would mean less chance to fool around with Ryan after the party. He decided not to point out that ten minutes earlier Ryan had been actively helping Spencer and Jon hook up. “Okay,” he said. “Sure. C’mere.” He tugged on Ryan’s scarf so he could reach his mouth, and then did that jaw-nuzzling thing Ryan liked until Ryan forgot that he was trying to scheme.
It was, all in all, a pretty freaking excellent night.