When Brendon released his hands from curling tightly in his own hair, the locks sprouted up between his fingers, sticking out in every direction haphazardly when he moved his hands to instead cradle his own jaw. His elbows were planted firmly on his knees, and he was hunched over in the chair, staring at his guitar. He had been playing- showing Ryan a new series of chords he thought had potential- but evidently his dear loving husband, the love of his life, did not agree. Or at least- didn’t think it was right for their ‘sound’. He looked up, jerking his head back in a singular motion, and with it, his hair was swept backwards, still messy and visually representative of his stress. ”What sound, babe? Are we fuckin’ rippin’ off the Beatles again? As much as I’m a McCartney fan, I think it’d kinda be overkill.” Brendon reached out to pick up his abandoned guitar and nestled it in his lap, shifting in the chair, resting his back against the rest and letting his fingers drift across the strings- it was in tune already, but out of frustration, twisted at the machine heads anyway, acting entirely absorbed by the instrument when in fact he just wanted to talk this out with Ryan, properly.

Ryan was sat across from him in their at-home studio- he was lounging on a couch instead of sat upright on a chair, but was holding his own guitar anyway, holding it by the neck. Since he wasn’t playing, Brendon had picked up his own to break the brief moment of silence, almost physically needing the music to tide them over this weird area of stress. All the time they’d known eachother they’d had musical differences, differences in taste and direction, but compromise was easy because they all just wanted records finished and out there, anticipating success. Now, though, four albums in, the distance in taste opened up like a chasm, compromise they were usually able to reach swallowed up by the rut they were stuck in as two people with very different styles and skill sets. It was almost funny how goddamn perfect they were for eachother considering how different they were as musicians, when music was such a huge part of their lives. The last album had been successful but very much Brendon-oriented, with a lot of support from Spencer. Ryan and Jon contributed, sure, but with less enthusiasm. It was clear they were disillusioned from the pop-y route they had taken and Brendon tried his hardest not to get irritated by this.

“I just- We need to evolve as a band, y’know? Not go backwards. Not that I don’t love our old shit, but come on, Ry. For me?” That might’ve been unwise to say- as mentioned, the latest album had been practically ‘for Brendon’, entertaining his new idea for their band’s direction. And Ryan was passionate about music, he wouldn’t put his best effort into something he didn’t sort of- connect to. There was nothing Brendon could do about that and he felt a little bad about it- but not bad enough that he’d let up more than he wanted to, properly take criticism. It was an issue, but a work issue. Because this was their job. A passion, but still a job- they were able to separate it from their own relationship, finding it second nature to write their own songs for eachother, collaborate on personal projects not meant for the world to hear, sit for hours messing around with chord progressions and coming up with lyrics and tunes that they both loved.

Coming up with a new album was hard, though, and stressful, and it was inevitable that the stress would kind of creep up between them and resonate, even when they weren’t even discussing music. It was little things like choosing what song to play on the speakers in their home, or in the car; the content of little notes they left eachother, like maybe one wasn’t as ‘loving’ as usual, because they were really that childish sometimes, what to have more lunch or where to go for dinner. Nothing disastrous; normal strain. But it was preventable- that’s what annoyed Brendon. With work and life both experienced together, they had no solace- not in the sense that they got sick of eachother, just that it was hard to know where to channel this frustrated energy. It presented itself especially now, while they were trying to be productive and get work done so they could send at least something to their bandmates and then their label.

There was a pause as Brendon strummed his guitar, humming the tune he was creating. He then rested his hand against the body and it made a hollow sound from the accidental force he used bringing it down against the wood. “Like- what it is about it that you don’t like? And my lyrics, what’s wrong with those? I think they’re cool!” There was no aggression in his voice, only protest, like a scolded child. The reason he was so defensive was perhaps because he looked up to Ryan so much as a musician, even at their level of intimacy he was never used to his talent and his intelligence and Brendon loved him so much but felt he couldn’t match up, still a sense of idolisation and adoration remaining from the days that Brendon was just a strong fan of a band just at the horizon of their dawning popularity. It was ridiculous. They were married, in love, for God’s sake. Brendon just valued his input above all else and unfortunately this was at war with his desire to be independent and take the route he thought was the only viable one. “I love you,” He said lamely, looking up and smiling at him, genuine despite its relative weakness, considering Brendon’s usual smiles.