The thing is: it's not a frat party, except in the most technical sense of the term, because, well. It's June, okay, finals two weeks gone, and pretty much the only people left in the house are Brendon, Nate, The Butcher, Tom, and his friend Sean-van-V. Five guys, assorted alumni (because for some reason, Gabe, Beckett, and Travis are back in town again, and Pete never left), and various and sundry friends do not a frat party make.
But they *do* make a party.
They're on the third floor of the house, in the communal lounge; Brendon's room is off to one side, Butcher's off to another, and he's the one that's got the music going, the speakers on his computer turned up loud. Beckett keeps ducking through the door to poke at the playlist, to change the order of things, replay songs so that he can sing them at the top of his lungs, add things. The third time he does this, Butcher takes careful aim with a hackey sack and belts him between the shoulders.
"Yeah, no," he says when Beckett squawks. "I know you, dickwad. I know your tricksy ways and you'd better believe me that there will be no Journey coming out of my speakers tonight. There's not enough alcohol in the fucking *world*, okay?"
Beckett looks offended enough that, well. They all laugh. Tom and Gabe and Pete, the few girls that are hanging around: Vicky T., from Delta Gamma, her friends Dusty and Katie Kay, Greta, and for some reason, Gerard the crazy art major's little brother's girlfriend, Alicia. Cash, too, dropping his forehead to Brendon's shoulder. He's got one of Travis's mixes in his hand: coke and coconut rum, heavy on the rum, and Brendon takes it from him while Cash is distracted, takes a swallow. He's worked his way through three already tonight, but sharing is caring, right?
Cash glares at him when he hands the cup back, but it's a soft, blurry sort of look, like his frown just isn't quite working. He does punch at Brendon's shoulder, though, knuckles connecting to their target, and Brendon leans away from him, laughing. Well, he tries to lean, but Greta's sitting on his other side and, well, she punches a lot harder than Cash does. Hard enough that he actually has to rub his arm.
"There will be no squishing of me," she says. She raises her strawberry pina colada in a mock toast, or maybe a promise, then, as she takes a drink, grins around the straw in her mouth.
"Yeah," Pete says from across the room. He's sprawled across Gabe and Nate, taking up far too much room on the couch. "Didn't you hear? There will be no squishing of Gretas tonight."
"But you're more than welcome to squish each other," Alicia says, and okay, Brendon might be hearing things? But he thinks that she actually sounds sort of hopeful. Then, at a not-so-delicate cough from Beckett, she says, "What? It's not like either of them are hard on the eyes."
Vicky, who's been doing dancing of the belly variety off to the side of the room, says, "They really aren't." Katie swivels her hips as she makes a noise of agreement.
Pete says, "Hey, I'll have you know that some of the rest of us are not hard on the eyes either. I have it on good authority, even—"
"You even have pictures of Pete and I not being hard on the eyes with each other," Gabe says, probably at Vicky, Brendon thinks, but he's sort of distracted because Alicia's watching them expectantly. "So?" she asks.
She makes a little hand gesture, a 'go on' sort of signal, and Brendon's, well, not actually sure what's happening right now, because he's pretty sure that five minutes ago there were other conversations going on in the room that did not involve discussion of Brendon and Cash not being hard on the eyes together and, um, *squishing* each other.
*Everyone* is looking at him now, though, including Cash, and most of them seem to have expectant looks on their faces, like some sort of challenge has been issued, a gauntlet thrown, and Brendon, well—
Okay, the thing is: he and Cash have been together for all of five weeks now, and this is only, like, the fourth time that Cash has been over at the house for a longer period of time than it takes Brendon to grab his bag, a change of clothes. And, well.
And, well, okay, as Brendon's looking at Cash, trying to figure out what to say, do, Cash leans forward and grabs a hold of Brendon's chin, tilting his head to the angle he wants it at, and he tastes like coke, coconut, rum, a little bit of kahlua and chocolate from earlier, and apparently this is all the encouragement Brendon needs, because his hands are sliding down Cash's shoulders, down his back, pulling him closer, fingers slipping into the back pocket of Cash's jeans. Cash's tongue is in his mouth, running over Brendon's lips, licking at Brendon's own, and he's shifting on the couch, moving up onto his knees, balancing a thigh across Brendon's legs, and for a few moments, Brendon's totally lost, has totally forgotten that they have an audience. Until he leans back, that is, and is pulled back to reality by a fist hitting his shoulder for a second time.
Given the way Cash jerks back and rubs his arm a moment later, Brendon's pretty sure that he's not the only one suffering abuse.
He blinks once, twice, then turns to look at Greta. She's got her straw gripped between her teeth again, but she still manages to look fierce as she says, "*I* told you and *Pete* told you. There will be no squishing of Gretas tonight. Gretas are much happier unsquished."
"You could come squish *me*," Alicia says, wiggling her eyebrows, but now Brendon's able to laugh. He rubs a hand across his mouth, feels the heat of where Cash's stubble rubbed across his lips, his skin.
Cash is sitting back down next to him, laughing now, too, looking about as red as Brendon feels, and across the room from them, Gabe is totally making kissy faces at Pete, saying, "Pucker up, little dude," and Brendon watches them smack lips, fake a few moans, and if when Cash finally settles, his bent knee is balanced on Brendon's leg, well. No one calls them on it.
It starts out with Brendon running for his life.
Well, okay, there's a slight, *miniscule* chance that he might possibly deserve just a little bit of what's coming to him, because he's the one who was holding the glass of water that, you know, totally jumped out of his hand and dumped itself over Cash's head. Because glasses of water can be sneaky like that, you know?
In Brendon's defense, though, it's, like, 97 degrees out in the shade, with what feels like 500% humidity going on, and even though Cash showed up at the FBR door a whole four minutes ago, fresh from his job at the copy shop, he also hadn't stopped complaining about how hot he was in that time.
So really, Brendon was just trying to help.
Cash doesn't seem to view Brendon's actions in the same light, though, because as Brendon drops the glass back in the kitchen sink, Cash stares at him in shock for a few seconds, his mouth opening and closing. Then he lunges at Brendon.
Brendon is the youngest of five, though, and knows the tell-tale signs of lunging, so he's already starting up the stairs to the second floor by the time Cash's fingers close around empty air, and then Cash is following him, feet quick behind Brendon's.
"Dude," Cash says, "what the fuck?" and Brendon would maybe try to explain himself, except he's giggling too hard. Also: running.
He dashes down the hallway, makes the quick turn to the third floor staircase, taking the steps two at a time, and already he's breathing hard, and Cash is swearing at him, gaining, and then he reaches the third floor lounge and he sprints for his room, slamming the door behind him. Or he tries to, anyway, but Cash opens it almost immediately and starts stalking towards Brendon.
Brendon backs up, stepping to the side to avoid his table, then halfway tripping over some magazines he's left scattered on the floor, and then his ankles are hitting the mattress he's using this summer and he sits down hard. He scrabbles backwards, but Cash is right there, crawling towards him, on top of him when Brendon can't go back any farther.
Cash grins at Brendon and then sits down on his thighs. Brendon raises his hands to Cash's hips, habit, and feels the heat of Cash's skin through his t-shirt.
"Hi," Cash says, and Brendon says, "Hi."
He's wary, though, because Cash may be smiling now, but he *knows* Cash. Still, he can't help but encourage Cash just a little bit closer. Even when he notices that Cash's grin is taking on a sort of evil glint. Even if that's all the warning he gets before Cash shakes his head like a dog would, splattering Brendon with water droplets.
"Ack!" Brendon says, trying to back away again, but he *is* already as far as he can go, and, well, now Cash is leaning in, nudging Brendon's nose with his own.
"Hey," Cash says again, but this time, instead of answering, Brendon kisses Cash, runs his hands down Cash's legs, hooks his hands behind Cash's knees and pulls him closer still.
Back to school, finally, and it only takes until 10 o'clock that first night for Brendon to start to feel like nobody ever left, because, okay, it's Brendon's room, see? And yeah, he's being selfish, trying to get in a last few hours with Cash before they all buckle down for Recruitment preparations, but Nate isn't coming back until the next morning, and so for the night, at least, it is totally his room, to do with as he pleases. Which is why the door is closed and Cash is on his couch.
And okay, so it's not like he's planning on doing many (dirty, dirty) things with Cash when there are, like, 40 people (guys, girlfriends, assorted others) wandering around the halls, like, shouting and getting rooms set up and stuff, but Cash's eyes are half-lidded and his lips are swollen and he's got his hand up Brendon's shirt, tracing Brendon's ribs, and Brendon's maybe got a hold on Cash's hips, fingers flexing, thumbs catching in Cash's waistband, and—
--and there's a knock on the door, and before Brendon can do more than groan, start to pull away, the door's opening and Jon's sticking his head in, covering his eyes at first, then totally peering through a slit in his fingers as he says, "Yeah, so, I just thought you might want to know? Ryland and Alex are giving the house a speculative play-by-play of what exactly is going on in here. Just, you know, FYI."
And for a moment, Brendon just stares at him, because seriously, what? But then, from the room next door, he hears Ryland saying, "And now Brother Walker is ruining the spontaneity of our story by telling our unlikely heroes that their lives are now subject to a voiceover track, describing their every move."
Brendon stares at the wall for a long moment, then climbs off of Cash, grabbing one of his shoes off of the floor as he does so, and tosses it at the wall.
"Lo," Suarez says. "A thump. Could it be that our unlikely heroes have thrown something at the great and all powerful voiceover-ers?"
"Jesus," Brendon says, and he would like to think that it takes a lot, nowadays, to make him blush, but yeah, he's blushing now. But he's laughing, too, as is Cash—thank God—and while Brendon might, possibly, want to hide, instead he shouts, "And the mighty voiceover-ers might want to remember that the unlikely heroes know exactly where they sleep at night!"
Jon laughs, and while Brendon might wish that he would leave so that Brendon and Cash could get back to what they'd been doing, he also knows that the mood is totally gone. Which is why he only sighs a little when Keltie pokes her head around Jon and says, "Everyone decent? Do we get to come in and say hi now?"
Because yeah, they've only been back at school for 10 hours—doors to the houses opened at noon, officially—but of course Keltie and Haley and oh, look, Cassie, are already over at the house. Just like they were the last day of the school year; just like they've never been gone at all.
Before Brendon knows it, his room is full of people: the three girls, Jon, Spencer and Ryan, too, Joe and Patrick and Tom, and Brendon would complain except—mighty voiceover-ing excluded—he has actually missed this. The conversations, the bickering, the talking over each other as everyone tries to relate their summer stories.
It takes a little bit for him to notice that Cash has gone quiet beside him, but when Brendon turns to look at him, to ask if he wants to leave, if he wants Brendon to kick everyone out—because this wasn't exactly what they'd planned, after all—Cash grins and shakes his head, as if anticipating Brendon's question. Then he grabs Brendon's hand and squeezes, even as Haley picks her way across the room to sit down in front of them.
"So I would like you to know," she says, tapping Brendon on the knee, "my parents took our family to Disneyland this summer? And we saw one of those Disney princess revue things? And I totally knew all of the words to, like, 90% of the songs. I blame you."
"Oh, totally," Cash says before Brendon can respond. "I actually had musical cred before I met him. Now, like, I find myself humming Aladdin when I wake up in the morning, what the hell."
He squeezes Brendon's hand again, and smiles widely enough that his nose crinkles up, and his lips are still red, swollen, and Brendon wants to lean in and kiss him again. So he does.
Brendon doesn't pull away until he gets hit in the back of the head with a flying stuffed monkey. He glares at the rest of the room—all of whom are looking far too innocent—then sighs, pulls Cash's arm over his shoulder as he leans back against him, and listens to the conversations rise up around them again.