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In contrast to his new and possibly most significant partner thus far in his life, Ryan did not come from privilege. He wasn’t poor, either; he was the classmate who had to move house in 2008 and maybe had to subsist off of a free lunch once in a while when Dad forgot to stock up his lunch account. He was the kid who wore already-dirty cleats in the beginning of the season, but they were perfectly functioning regardless. He came home to frozen meals and sometimes takeout, went to bed with a full stomach, never had to wonder whether he was going to go hungry - because even if his father was passed out at five in the evening, there was at least something microwaveable. So, he was middle class, and the middle class wasn’t all about financial income; there were also values that went with his upbringing, which, even if they weren’t quite delivered via family, he picked up on them some way, somehow.

It wasn’t anything perfect. He could be spoiled, and callous and hateful and too full of himself, you name it - but he was realistic at most times. He was humble, knew that when there was a crowd, he was part of it, not the leader or anyone special to stand out. It was funny; Brendon didn’t receive any attention when he was younger, and neither did Ryan, not quite. In Brendon, it fueled a destructive streak, hurting himself without calling it what it was, making people wonder about him and fret or watch in wonderment as he wrecked himself and his life. It fueled a neverending chase after contentment, after things that only made him happy for the briefest of moments. In Ryan, it left him uninspired to find anything beyond not getting attention - he didn’t want to explore the possibilities, never hungered after more unless things got very desperate and he became self-victimizing. His ‘destructive habits’ were curiosities explored occasionally, most things in moderation except for a reclusive streak.

If Ryan was more self-aware, thought about his side of the story, he’d wonder where that difference came in, wonder what separated them when they could potentially be so similar. But he wasn’t totally insightful, and he tried not to overanalyze Brendon’s upbringing anymore when he realized he turned so dreadfully patronizing after a minute of it. So, it got left alone.

Questioning it, though, might guarantee an answer to why Brendon was fighting him so much right now, why he thought he was so starkly in the right, here. Still, Ryan stuck to not delving. He had to dumb it down to ‘Brendon’s being a fucking asshole’ to avoid turning into more of an asshole himself (though maybe he was being part of the problem, too, by simply accepting things the way they were). You sure as hell implied it. ”Then let me be clear. You’re not an alcoholic, and I’m not stupid enough to think so.” He was probably being too stern, but Ryan’s probable worst fear was looking anything close to unintelligent, so. He had to argue. Stupidly. You’re a hypocrite, dude. Ryan looked at him critically, challengingly. ”Explain to me how. Do I chainsmoke, binge drink, do a line every night? Tell me what I don’t do in moderation.” Arguing again. Yeah, Ryan had never had to approach this before... ironically.

Don’t fucking baby me, you manipulative freak. This is the point at which Ryan quieted, now on unsteady ground when he realized exactly how unreasonable Brendon could be - apparently, when he particularly wanted to be. ”Manipulative,” Ryan repeated, his voice low, kind of smirking at Brendon disbelievingly. Okay, maybe in another situation he could be construed as manipulative, in an unintentional way. He had a habit of being like that, obviously never meaning to. But right now, it definitely didn’t apply. He stared at Brendon, waiting for him to take it back, or something, and then he didn’t. Didn’t even look like he wanted to undo what he was saying. Ryan looked away, his lips pursed and his jaw tight.

It could get worse, though, and it did. Ryan gave him another chance to fix it, comparing him to Shane of all things, and he still wouldn’t change a word. I’m good. Brendon’s heated gaze met his, cold and resigned, and somehow nothing catastrophic happened between them despite the differences and how pissed Ryan was. He watched Brendon’s hands trail down his face then creep into his hair, almost vicious with his frustration, and usually Ryan would be sympathetic to how he felt, really, but right now he couldn’t muster up anything. It served him right. My health is my fucking business. Not yours. You’re so entitled to me. ”I’m allowed to show concern for you without it being entitlement. Recognise the difference.” He shook his head, looking down at the counter tiredly, rubbing his fingers over his forehead. Ryan didn’t know how else to get the point across how serious he was: he gave him an ultimatum.

Get the fuck out, then. You know where the door is. Ryan stared at him again, incredulous, before it became apparent that he wasn’t kidding. Ryan stood abruptly, unfolding to his full height and circling the counter to come close to Brendon, careful not to touch him but placing a hand on the surface closest to him, a warning. ”Just let me get my things so I don’t have to come back.” He wasn’t going to be the one to compromise this time, like he always tended to bend over backwards to do. Ryan stepped away, holding his gaze steadily, almost calm, before he turned, headed directly to all the files keeping Brendon’s life together sitting on his coffee table, stooping to gather them without any concern for organization. Clearly he wasn’t good enough for him if he was just like Shane but mostly he wanted an apology, and Brendon wasn’t an idiot, so this was how to get one, he figured. Ryan tucked his paperwork under his arm and made a confident path to Brendon’s room, picking up every random hoodie he’d left behind, a toothbrush he’d bought just to keep here.
Ryan- came the inevitable scolding, and Ryan was partially affronted that he’d been interrupted, partially amused by the suddenness. He grinned lopsidedly, like he didn’t have a clue what was wrong with any of this, prepared to continue his tangent regardless of how many protests he heard. Ryan, fucking hell, man. He still didn’t see a problem. It felt like he’d held this in for a long time - he’d tell Brendon parts of it all, brief glimpses and summaries, but being able to say every stupidly thirsty thing that crossed his mind was nice. Recalling that he’d been drinking, and usually he did keep his mouth shut when he was sober, Ryan made a sudden resolution (as one was wont to do when they had enough alcohol in them): he was going to be more outgoing. Yeah, that was the problem. He was going to remember this idea, not regret the entire night and therefore rule out that plan, and he’d change for the better. Presumably, drunk Ryan was better than normal.

And he was ready to impress his boyfriend with it all, if only he could get to him quicker, because this car ride felt like for-fucking-ever, but then. Brendon was there, and suddenly life was one hundred percent better, Ryan wasn’t going to throw up and he was super capable of being fully functioning and this night was the best night ever. Everything, right side up. He had to hold Brendon still for a moment (though he was still, and Ryan was the dizzy one) before it fully processed that his nearest and dearest was here, that all his wishes had come true. Unfortunately, though his excitement was one-sided, his immediate physical intimacy was not. Ryan decided it didn’t make much of a difference to what he’d just been rambling about. Brendon was still delightful to kiss even when it appeared he was just putting up with his boyfriend for now - and then Ryan pieced together that maybe he should step back, then, so he tilted his head away, waiting to read his tone.

Were you really, that’s fuckin’ wild. Sounded very resigned. Ryan placed his hands on Brendon’s shoulders to lean himself slightly back until he could face Brendon fully, apparently unable to balance himself otherwise. Nothin’ too personal, yeah, babe? Ryan paused, blinking once, twice, considering this. ”A little. Perhaps.” He raised his eyebrows, the picture of innocence, and awaited forgiveness that he hadn’t even remembered to ask for. ”I speak verrry highly of you. Only the truth.” Which was completely different from ‘too personal,’ but alright. Speaking of, he was just talking about how Brendon was the bottom, but being perched in his lap - albeit awkwardly, terribly mismatched - was oddly comfortable. Maybe he had a secret calling. Ryan didn’t voice that, for once, but he did, in fact, crack up audibly at the thought, unexplained.

Anyway, he had his priorities, and Zack - who he’d conveniently forgotten since Brendon’s arrival - didn’t seem too fond of them. If you even touch it, I’m quitting. Ryan laughed again, rolling off of Brendon and aside. It’s not like you haven’t seen it before, dude. ”That’s true, Ryan said, as if he’d only just realized, sounding vaguely put off by the thought. He seemed to forget just as quickly, though, maintained at least three inches of space between himself and Brendon for a moment before he reconsidered. Ryan very carefully fit an arm around his shoulders, manoeuvring so slowly it was like he was handling fragile property, and rested his head on Brendon’s shoulder. Which, given their heights, would again be beyond awkward if only he wasn’t leaning at a ridiculous angle. As much as I’d love to, darlin’. Zack wouldn’t be happy. Ryan sighed, absent. He’d already figured as much a few seconds after he asked, enough time to play detective. Zack.

It was quiet for a long moment, a blessing for everyone aside from Ryan, while he chewed on his lip tentatively. ”Okay. So what are we gonna do when the king of cockblocks’s gone?” he asked, keeping his gaze ahead as if it was at all a nonchalant thing to say.
Ryan was, unsurprisingly, the most impatient of all of them, although he wasn’t rude about it (his asshole side really only came out around his bandmates - the crew didn’t deserve him having a tantrum after a show), so he often disappeared first to their tour bus. He would help put some equipment back in the van trailing their bus, he’d thank people and shake hands and if there was anyone waiting at the barrier outside for the band, he would take as much time as it took to talk to everyone. But that didn’t mean he outlasted Spencer, Jon, and Brendon on the kindness front. Spencer usually came up right after him, Jon a few stretched moments later, and because Brendon was basically a saint if you asked anyone not in the band, he was last. He had the most battery of all of them, first of all, always charged up; second of all, he was genuinely too kind to say goodbye until he’d spoken with everyone. Much to their security’s disapproval - they barely got to do this anymore, not when they were at bigger shows.

But that was a would, and they were headlining, so they didn’t get to meet anyone. Some nights it came as sort of a relief even if they felt bad for whoever’d waited a long time - they were just exhausted, needed the break as soon as possible after a show. Nevertheless they still came in their usual formation, Ryan watching as Spencer and Jon immediately went to their kitchenette and looked for what was best to pregame with. Obviously. He looked on for a count of three seconds before losing interest and curling into his bunk, ducking until he could sit cross-legged facing inwardly, digging through the collection of belongings he hoarded at the end of his bed (swear to God, he nearly fell out of it constantly). He landed on a Palahniuk, already read but a classic regardless, then folded in on himself until he could turn again. At such a ridiculously lanky build, he had to lie awkwardly, legs crowding the aisle, back mostly across the width of his bed, pillow beneath his head against the wall.

He was reclusive, sure, but not this unaware of his surroundings all the time, completely ignoring his bandmates then taking up so much of their limited space. But. He was getting sick of the stage act, not being able to snap and scare Brendon off when he was too close and too vocal, but it’s not like he could do that offstage anyway. The closest he could get to ‘scaring Brendon off’ was being just aggressive enough to make Brendon impatient, too, and then both of them were too tired of it all to pick a real fight. On stage he sucked it up, maybe played along a little, though that was a more recent development for them - he’d lean towards Brendon invitingly, or actually look at him longingly rather than avoiding eye contact altogether, walk to him crowd his space before Brendon could crowd Ryan’s. Then, that was a rare occasion, or he would only follow through on one of those options. He just didn’t have the patience.

Not that the act itself was what pissed Ryan off, but the fact that it was Brendon, who he had such a complicated relationship with behind the scenes. Yeah, they hated each other beyond belief, had no trouble reminding each other all the time. On the other hand, they did, in fact, participate in their own version of the vicious fucking Brendon talked about every night. Two polarities, except maybe not, because the opposite of hating one another was inaccurate, too. When Brendon put on so much dramatics that his closeness alone affected Ryan, that was a problem. When they’d been together fairly recently and thus the memory was fresh, Ryan had trouble focusing on the music itself, and he hated that Brendon could do anything to knock him off track. He suspected it might be a silent competition between them, seeing if Ryan would break each night, but that was slightly paranoid. Maybe.

So, Brendon was posing a problem for him already, nothing new.

Ryan heard his voice stream in and only lost focus intermittently, catching a few words here and there. ...getting too old for going out after shows, man. Later, following Spencer commentary, some quip about physically being fifty. Ryan begged to differ, from personal experience. Either way it sounded like the conversation was over and Ryan carefully kept his attention on his book, pulling his feet in absently as Brendon entered the bunk space, pointedly ignoring him. Again, stage act. He had experience nudging Brendon’s presence aside - most of the time. Annoyingly, Brendon was apparently good at doing the exact same, because he hardly spared a glance at Ryan. Ryan readjusted naturally, uncomfortable with being invisible for once, sitting a little more upright and diagonally until he was dug deeper into his bunk. He chanced a glance up, once, fast as hell, greeted by the image of Brendon’s shirt coming off, torso bared. Alright. So what.

A few moments later, after plainly ignoring the words in front of him and listening instead to the sound of Brendon shuffling around, he chanced a glance up, once. Alright, the jeans were going, too. He looked back down before that processed and he blinked at the empty words, actually annoyed again, for who knew what reason. Maybe the fact that whatever Brendon was up to, because he was always up to something, was working. When he cast his embarrassing third glance up, Brendon was stretching, lithe and lean as ever, and Ryan hated his guts. So much so he dropped his book on his chest, still open, when Brendon turned away to pull the jeans down, the V Ryan was so hooked on exposed, everything he dumbly stared at when no one was looking. On the way down, the denim didn’t go easily, and Ryan seriously, cross his heart, hated this idiot.

Brendon caught his gaze, finally, and Ryan held it for that half second, pissed, but Brendon wasn’t even looking at him. He’d just happened upon his eyeline, apparently. God, he needed so much fucking attention, and Ryan pushed his book aside to duck out of his bunk, because he wouldn’t give Brendon what he wanted even on his deathbed. So he walked out, dropping with an angry air onto a seat in the lounge, trying to expel the energy before he somehow exposed their weird situation.

You coming with us, Ry? Ryan snapped out of it, looking at Spencer carefully and shaking his head simply, suspecting he’d sound too obvious if he spoke already. Jon chimed in; I guess it’s just us then, Spence. Yeah, get the hell out already, Ryan needed to yell at Brendon uninterrupted, thanks. The man of the hour appeared right after, looking normal as ever still, and Ryan twitched, noting that that asshole had decided on what his nightly drama was going to be. He tried again to speak, just to show how balanced his voice was, or how balanced he could make it be, anyway. Yeah, I’m, uh. Tired. Alright, dumb move on his part. He pointedly glared at Brendon, but the fucker was still not looking his way. Don’t be back too late, I gotta get my beauty sleep and don’t need you, like, accidentally getting into my bunk with me at 2am. God, he was such a fucking princess, and. His dumb plan was working. Ryan was beyond annoyed, and every tiny thing made it worse, like he was looking for offenses. Ryan stared at him, pointed.

Gross, was Spencer’s response, at the exact same time Jon started on are you hinting at something? I’m not interested. They were already finishing their drinks and shrugging jackets back on, clearly disengaged. Alright, we’ll start early, then. See ya, was Spencer’s half-hearted farewell, evidently pleasantly warmed up from pregaming already. Jon was already down the steps when he distantly called his: Don’t kill each other!, and the door slammed behind him.

Ryan immediately untensed, relieved to finally talk shit out loud. ”I’m killing you first, you little fucker,” he said immediately, and Jon would definitely be disappointed. ”What the fuck are you up to? Looking for attention tonight?” He was not going to admit that it was working. Ryan rose up as he spoke, facing Brendon directly, needing the height advantage at least.
In your way 9 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
Brendon was so unbelievably calm, so incredibly collected in this situation, and Ryan had always thought he was the less emotional and expressive one, but - here they were, Ryan falling apart at the seams, Brendon adjusting so quickly to the new level their relationship had taken. It’d come so far, from nemesis to just sexually involved to maybe-friends, lovers-if-you-could-call-it-that, and then, for a while, they weren’t anything. There wasn’t even a promise of more, of a conclusion to their wonderfully complicated story - until now. It was difficult not to be in denial for either of them, considering every new twist they took was something usually almost unwelcome and always very unexpected. Here Ryan was, giving up on being in denial, having admitted to himself quite some time ago how he really felt, and now... to Brendon’s face, dauntingly. He felt like he must look so dramatic, and in contrast, Brendon so calmly returned his confession, like it was nothing, like it hadn’t haunted either of them before.

So in response Ryan had no choice but to mirror him. Was it really that serious? They worried about other peoples’ opinions constantly - but other peoples’ lives didn’t revolve around them, so who would care when it was so unimportant to them? Their friends, at most, would be stunned at first, maybe their respective bandmates would tell them from personal experience that it was a bad idea for them to be involved. And, stupidly, Ryan had been so worried about Brendon’s reaction for so long, whether he’d lose him if he wanted to continue seeing him after tour or if he admitted something he was sure went unreciprocated; now Brendon’s calm response made him feel silly for all of that, wonder why he hadn’t seen it before. Suddenly things were obvious, suddenly things fell into place.

And, suddenly, things weren’t scary and shaky and unfamiliar. It was warm, comfortable, anticipatory in a good way where Ryan could tell this was opening new doors for them. He didn’t expect them to announce to the world what was between them; in fact he was in no rush to do so anyway. He was excited to take this new start with Brendon, where they were on the same page and he didn’t have to act ‘subtle’ all the time and neither of them suddenly remembered what the reality of their relationship was supposed to be and gave the other distance. When Ryan first met Brendon, he was sure that this was the end of his musical career, that Brendon was a poison to his success and would tamper with his ambition - now he wanted to treat him like a boyfriend, and they were equals, and Brendon was quite possibly the best thing to happen to him, considering how much he contributed to the good things in Ryan’s life.

Brendon smiled like things were simple and Ryan instantly returned it, his breath steadying with his, because somehow Brendon’s good attitude was contagious. Oh, yeah. I’m serious. He sounded like he was joking around but Ryan understood, just laughed softly, let his eyes roam over his face while he tried to fully comprehend their new circumstances. Can I just say I’m very impressed you haven’t started undressing me yet. Ryan laughed again, this time in almost-bewilderment, his eyebrows shooting up. I’m actually kind of offended. ”Well, then, we’ll have to fix that, won’t we,” Ryan replied easily, his voice a thousand times more balanced than it had been in his brief panic. Brendon had the worst timing, but sure, he could work with that. ”Need I remind you, I was very against this ten minutes ago. You’re convincing.”

They were both evidently little enough for this massive armchair, but momentarily Ryan doubted he’d have room to do much there, but. For one thing, he was impatient, and getting to the bedroom would take, like, twenty unwelcome seconds. For another, he didn’t really want any space right now. His fingers travelled over the fabric of Brendon’s oversized T-shirt for a moment before he began to lift it over Brendon’s head, on the brink of laughing again because - ”Is this mine? You have such a crush on me.” Ryan probably shouldn’t be welcoming those kinds of jokes, because he’d probably die of embarrassment should it be returned, but regardless. It was endearing enough to convince him, so Ryan slipped from the chair onto his feet, lifting Brendon with him, legs around his waist, to carry him the short distance to their bed - well, really, someone’s bed, since they weren’t quite intended to be shared. Either way, he half-placed, half-dropped Brendon onto the sheets, climbing up after him between his legs.

And maybe his version of bedroom talk was expanding on the sentiment they’d already shared, mostly because it was a little funny. So, he ran his fingers along Brendon’s waistband before undoing the button, looking at Brendon quizzically. ”Since when did you know?” he asked, apparently evil, because he slowed down until he heard a response.
In the same way Brendon could read his tone, Ryan could read his body language, every tiny turn, every detail changed in his expression, so forth. He was a good actor, but he couldn’t control everything about him - and luckily, sometimes he didn’t even care enough to try and act. For example. As soon as Ryan spoke, Brendon dropped what he was doing, dropping to his height and standing still. Ryan took that as a pretty bad start. Ryan, darlin’? He turned and leaned against the counter, and Ryan studied his face, the edge that directly contradicted his deceivingly patient tone. Yeah, he really didn’t want to have this conversation, suddenly, knew exactly how it’d pan out and how much Brendon wouldn’t like him for however long of a time, and when Brendon didn’t like him life was kind of the worst. First of all he was still employed right here in this apartment, even if their relationship was, uh, otherwise complicated. So his job became a lot more awkward. Most importantly, Ryan sort of enjoyed having a loving boyfriend, and Brendon became passive-aggressive and avoidant when Ryan was being his biggest problem.

Ryan had barely begun and already Brendon’s eyebrows were up, unamused, and maybe his word choice was not the best. Self-concious suddenly, and worried about whatever the response would be, Ryan turned his gaze into his coffee, like he could dive in and hide in his mug. Alas, all he could do was shrink down more in person, sleeves curled in to his fingers, raising his shoulders closer to his ears. He could feel Brendon’s gaze. Yeah, he definitely wasn’t a fan of Ryan right now - Ryan imagined he was no longer ‘my sweet boyfriend’ but ‘my annoying assistant.’ Man. And to think he’d graduated that role. Jesus, not this again. Ryan, I’m fine. Look at me. Ryan deliberately did not look at him. He wasn’t, like, scared, but he felt bad bringing anything up like this. It felt too pointed, too much like he was attacking Brendon’s lifestyle, and he never meant disrespect - he just worried, maybe a little too much. Do I look like an alcoholic or whatever you think I am? Fuck. ”I didn’t say that,” he mumbled, reserved, and pursed his lips as he pulled his coffee closer to him, hovering over the warmth.

Fuck off. Ryan glanced up again as he turned around, watched him crumple over the counter, feeling guiltier by the second. Not guilty enough to leave him alone about it, but enough not to snap right back at him for being on the defensive. I don’t need to. I want to. ”Okay, either way, it’s not good for you, and you know it. You haven’t seen you when you’re fucked up - you haven’t had to take care of you. It’s bad, baby.” It felt like a moot argument when Brendon was this adamant on not hearing him out. He could’ve started this out better, probably. Brendon turned and he redirected his gaze again, dropping his head and lifting one hand to cradle it. Just leave me alone about it, alright? Tempting offer. But, he wasn’t going to, as much as he disliked this confrontation so far.

You know what’s scary. You’re just like goddamn Shane. Ryan stopped looking into his coffee, straightening up slowly and looking at Brendon, meeting his gaze finally. Trying to motherfucking control me, it’s fucking bullshit. Yeah, suddenly, he did want to leave Brendon alone about it, if he was going to say such stupid things right to his face. Obviously he didn’t mean it, but it was still annoying that that was the defense that came out of his mouth. Ryan was sitting upright now, moving to fold his hands in his lap, tilting his head curiously at Brendon. ”I think you wanna try that again,” he said carefully after a long pause, his own gaze challenging Brendon now, all the guilt he’d felt about bringing this up gone. He had a right to a conversation about it, he thought, and one that didn’t involve him being compared to Brendon’s abusive ex.

”I’m not sure what’s worse, Bren. That you don’t give a fuck about your health, or that you believe me showing genuine concern about it for you could even vaguely be compared to anything that asshole did.” Ryan set his jaw, turning his head until all that could be seen was his profile, then drank his coffee resignedly, deciding this was all a little too petty for his tastes. ”So should I leave now, or do you want to correct that mistake? I don’t want anyone just like Shane to be near you, so if I do leave, I may as well not come back for a while.” Yeah, he didn’t even want to look at him - but he still stared on unrelentingly, waiting for Brendon to possibly come to his senses.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ryan was conscious of the fact that Brendon wouldn’t want some of this information public. He’d be pretty embarrassed being outed as a complete bottom - for god knows what reason, his boyfriend insisted on being ‘vers’ or something, even though every experience they’d ever had said otherwise. The conversation came up between every couple about changing things up but Brendon, specifically, was so iffy about ‘switching’ that it was clear he only claimed to be more than he was. So. They stayed relatively the same, all the time, except Ryan apparently wasn’t allowed to state that fact. He might’ve even felt guilty about the admission if he wasn’t so ridiculously far gone. I don’t think we need to know. Well, too late, because Ryan was on a roll, and once he started, apparently he couldn’t stop.

And maybe he was being too descriptive about what exactly designated Brendon to his position, but he was nothing if not an artist with his words. Okay, Ryan, I think we- Again, too late, because Ryan cut him off anyway, going on to continue his lost rambling about his boyfriend. It became clear a few moments through that whoever he was ranting to wasn’t listening anymore (though the front of the car seemed torn between listening intently for entertainment purposes and ignoring it all to save themselves from disgust) but he continued regardless, looking very pleased with himself. ”And you saw his mouth, right? I can’t describe it, like, he’s an experience. Ryan placed his index finger gingerly against his lip, like he was remembering kissing him, the issue being that he couldn’t quite carry a thought longer than a moment or few.

”When I kiss him, he’s just... I can sink into him, I get so lost in it. I could kiss him forever.” Well, that was the sweet part of it. Ryan released a soft exhale, let that float in the air for a second, before continuing. ”And he is, undoubtedly, the best at sucking dick, like, of anyone, ever. Sometimes it’s hard to not look at him and think about how perfect his mouth is for -“ Ryan glared up at the front as Zack loudly cleared his throat, uncomfortable if amused. Evidently he didn’t care how comfortable anyone in the car felt, because he finished his sentence anyway. ”For blowing me.” He sighed again, running a hand sloppily over his face, a distractd smile still adamant on staying there while Brendon was on his mind. Maybe in the most inappropriate ways possible, but that was a given.

Ryan was about to continue about the rest of him he hadn’t already rambled about, but Brendon was suddenly urging him up, and, confused, Ryan started to sit up, slowly rolling up by latching on to Zack’s headrest and pulling himself forward. Ryan, Jesus, it’s me. It’s Brendon. Ryan huffed, bewildered, still trying to settle in his seat again. Look at me, stop being thirsty, I’m here. What,” he mumbled airily, simultaneously turning as he straightened up. It was a pointless endeavor, because a second later he was leaning again, closer to Brendon, resting his head against the seat because it felt like it was spinning and that’d, hypothetically, keep his vision straight. ”Hey...” He reached out, placing a hand on one side of Brendon’s face, squinting, then eventually putting the other on the opposite side of his face, holding him still and concentrating hard.

”Oh my God, Brendon, baby,” Ryan said suddenly, after a good twenty seconds of processing everything, and he was immediately clicking out of his seatbelt and climbing over to Brendon’s side of the car. He apparently didn’t realise how ridiculously long he was and therefore how awkward this position would be, but he folded over Brendon’s lap anyway, knees at either side of his hips, back bent until he could cradle his face and look at him properly again. ”I missed you so much, I was just talking about you.” As if he didn’t hear. Ryan pressed him against the seat, mostly sinking against him for lack of his own coordination, and kissed him as sloppily as he’d possibly ever been. He did until he was well and truly out of breath, then trailed just as messy kisses down from his lips to his neck, eyes still loosely shut. ”Bren, hey, you should totally blow me. Like, now.” Evidently the car full of people was still not an issue.
Surprisingly (or very much not), Ryan was often bad at fully communicating everything he thought, or when he tried without a whole lot of preparation or speaking carefully, slow, it didn’t meet his high standards. Even so, there was a rather small list of ‘allowed topics’ he could openly talk about, specifically his own feelings on the matter. Unfortunately for Brendon, Ryan couldn’t get past maybe a couple lines of dirty talk, of any kind, before he was awkward and sheepish (moreso than usual, but this was to a point where it was so cringey it hurt to listen to him try to talk enticingly). He could write songs about his love for him, too, but then when he tried to put it into practice in the moment, say something - something sounding exaggerated, but was so true - to his face when they were anywhere but comfortably alone in each other’s arms he’d stammer and hate the way the words came out instantly. He was incredibly specific, concise, but it didn’t come naturally.

So it made sense that, all inhibitions cast aside by even a little alcohol, he did not care whatsoever how he sounded. Nor could he even recognise how ridiculous some of the thing coming out of his mouth were. They were his true feelings, stuff he completely meant, but not the type of thing Ryan would be saying to someone he (thought he) didn’t even know. He could try his best with Brendon, maybe, but not come close to the brutal honesty drunk Ryan was apparently so intent on sharing with a full car of people. In truth, it wasn’t the fact that it was Brendon or anyone listening, whenever he was sober and anxiety overtook him. Ryan was mostly afraid of sounding stupid, funnily enough. He hadn’t quite mastered the art of “owning it,” in any given situation, even apart from conversationally.

He sounds like your eye candy. Ryan sighed thoughtfully. ”True. Sweetest eye candy around.” Too many s’s in that one, he almost blurred his words together. Evidently, he didn’t quite notice his fading clarity. Surely you have photographic evidence. Ryan looked suspicious but couldn’t direct it at Brendon properly, squinting at his phone and letting the screen go black. Hey. For me. And me only. Get your own.” Ryan held it together for a few moments, letting that float in the air, before suddenly snickering, grinning at absolutely nothing funny at all. The laughter lasted maybe ten seconds before promptly forgot why he was so amused in the first place, a dumb smile remaining even afterward.

Ryan got to ramble for a surprising amount of time before the supposed stranger actually cut in and he realized again that he actually had an audience. I’m sure he loves you too, I- are you sure he’s a bottom, he sounds more vers to me... Ryan openly laughed again, placing his hand on his forehead, letting the other one stay hanging off the edge of the seat he lay on. ”Closest he’s come to being vers is when he’s in a ‘power bottom’ mood. Listen, listen - pull his hair just right, lift him for a better angle, he’ll fall apart. He’s submissive.” Maybe this was as bad as showing lewd pictures. Ryan painted an interesting image already, and poor Zack and the driver were on the clock, being paid to witness this nastiness unfold. ”It’s a good thing,” Ryan added, his voice light as if he was, like, coming to a compromise about the matter or something.

”You wouldn’t expect it, ‘cause he’s so confident... God, he has every right to be.” No one even had to prompt him to talk at this point. He just kept doing it, little pauses here and there to gather himself. ”He’s stunning. There’s this little... his V-line, you can trace along there, the velvety skin, and, like, he wears his jeans so low on his hips, so low, it’s like art, it’s so fuckin’ hot. First thing I go for when I hold him.” While Ryan spoke, he had his hand in the air again, like he was miming the actions he described. He paused once more. ”Second thing is - well. I think I already covered his - is there a gentler word for ‘ass’? I feel like I’m yelling.” Classic drunk talk. He lost his train of thought for a couple moments. Hey, I haven’t even told you about his face.” For one, Zack made an impatient sound from the front immediately. For another, yes, he did already show Brendon a picture of himself, but he had words, apparently.
I’m sure he wouldn’t mind one little kiss. Ryan looked visibly annoyed by now, his brow furrowing and his lips pursing. At least here was an opportunity to show some loyalty, although both of them had no doubts in their mind about it... nor was this intentional whatsoever. Ryan was hardly an actor. ”Even if that was true, I mind.” His usual unhurried way of speaking, calm and vaguely intelligent sounding, was disrupted by the alcohol; he stumbled over his words and merged them together, not quite slurring but clearly trying very hard to remain coherent. If he were sober making this argument to an actual stranger, he’d also like to point out that, nevermind the consequences, he wasn’t even close to interested in cheating. Never had the temptation to, never would. What was there to miss out on when you were with Brendon? He was the definition of ‘full package.’

He sounds pretty lame. Ryan blinked and looked at Brendon again, hardly looking as critical as he meant to. You’re lame,” he shot back, as if it was a powerful argument, and as if that wasn’t hilariously ironic. Brendon was right: he was dating a dumbass. A dumbass who clearly had been waiting his whole life to unleash a tangent about Brendon. He leaned over to share and felt the ‘other passenger’ steady him, automatically shrugging him off like he had some kind of contagion. Nah, I’m looking at the hottest man alive right now. Ryan actually managed a real glare that time, sitting up slightly from his awkward slant in the middle seat as if the closeness was what prompted these compliments. Usually he would need the flattery, oftentimes a touch too self-conscious for his own good; now he was just mad about it. Sober Ryan, on the other hand, would have probably pulled Brendon into his lap by now.

He was showing Brendon himself, apparently expecting an outpour of appreciation. Yup. That’s him. Ryan was distracted by his screen for a moment, offhandedly wondering why the hell someone-clearly-not-his-boyfriend wasn’t admiring his boyfriend, before his train of thought switched tracks, running towards, evidently, a more thirsty route. What about it? Ryan had more commentary, endlessly grateful for a question to urge it out. ”I have to walk a couple inches behind him. Even if we’re holding hands. It’s, like... the law. I need the view.” Ryan shut his eyes again, as if he was imagining it, probably looked like he was going to sleep again. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t all that sleepy anymore, at least not as much as he was a minute ago - it seemed the new twist in conversation woke him up more, brought out an unusually talkative side to him.

Like what? Ryan inhaled slowly, literally taking effort, too relaxed to do anything but manually take breaths. ”Like, he wears them on stage... and how am I supposed to fuck him when he’s doing a, like, forever-long show? And he takes his shirt off onstage...” Ryan sighed again, lifting his hand belatedly, moving it lazily in the air for a moment as if he was still talking and needed to gesticulate. ”I want to touch -“ He put his hands up again, finally resting his back on the middle seat, staring at the ceiling at an awkward curve while he over-expressed himself. ”- every inch of him, he looks so fucking good up there, he looks good all the time. On stage, yeah... but also, like... just normally. When we’re running boring errands. Or when he’s just chilling on the couch.” Ryan dropped his hands dramatically, plonking them against the seat and pausing for a moment while he got his thoughts straight. ”I think God made me... and then he was like, you know what... he needs a bottom. So he made Brendon. He’s my other half, man, I love him so much.”
Despite the differences between their fathers, and the fact that they’d never met (or forced from meeting, along with the rest of either family), Ari and River were kind of similar. Both would agree that their fathers were huge, dumb assholes, capitalistic and obsessed unnecessarily with money. Both would agree that the feud was ridiculous, and anyone following the offspring of those feuding like paparazzi were stupid, too, because what the hell did two rich guys’ kids have to be famous for? Well. There started the differences: Ari was vaguely aware of how River utilised his platform, for the better of the world and to speak out for what he believed in. And, y’know, Ari might hold the same views, but he definitely wasn’t much of an activist. An activist was more eloquent than he was, with unoriginal one-liners like ‘eat the rich,’ ‘kill the one percent,’ and, less politically, ‘get your fucking camera out of my face.’ Ironically that just earned him more coverage.

Yea, Ari had seen magazine covers about him, particularly the kind you looked at absently next to all of the convenience candy by the register while you waited for your turn to check out at a corner store. He’d seen those ridiculous Snapchat newsstories, and links from friends, like, ‘hey, check out what your arch nemesis is up to,’ as if he had ever seen or spoken to River himself. That was about it, though, he only heard headlines, never a full story, never delved too much for fear that he’d get too involved in his dad’s stupid catfight that’d gone on all his life. Now it was different - said stupid catfight had apparently found its peak and was getting so fucking annoying that Ari saw an opportunity to potentially piss his dad off and took it. Plus the fact that River might be a little attractive, that didn’t hurt. He was already well aware, yeah, whatever, but what you see in pictures versus what you see in person... River seemed to just get better.

So. He maybe sort of invited him along. Scott looked like he was going to argue more about it when they both heard River from behind, turning in unison as they guiltily pretended they weren’t just arguing about him. After a moment’s thought they both stood up, Ari hurriedly in order to seem vaguely polite (almost as if he’d ever striven to make a good impression on anyone), Scott more calmly and composed. Hey. I saw you guys come outside and- well, it seemed smarter than taking part in the circus. Scott laughed first, naturally, and Ari looked at him briefly before deciding to smile, too, shrugging his shoulders. ”That’s the plan. Avoiding the idiots.” River seemed pretty calm considering it was their first time meeting, two kids supposed to hate each other in solidarity with their fathers, probably. So maybe they were as similar as he thought.

River turned again then looked back at him, and Ari was almost concerned. This might sound a little rude, but I feel like I should know who you are. Oh. His gaze flickered to Scott, who had his lips pursed like he was going to burst out laughing any second now. And I don’t. It was maybe a little embarrassing how often he’d seen River for the same not to apply to him, although they did have different personalities despite their views. For instance, he was sure the only media River paid attention to was shit that mattered, like world crises and environmental issues, whatever. Ari, on the other hand, kept up with all trashy news available to him, was embarrassingly knowledgable on subjects that made zero difference in his or anyone’s life. So it wasn’t that hard to believe River didn’t know what he looked like, or if he had seen him, didn’t remember his face. But it was kind of pissing him off how funny Scott clearly found it, so he set his jaw, shooting an annoyed look from the corner of his eye to the tallest of them all.

Ari held out a hand, half-smiling as much as he could muster. ”I’m Ari Livingston. Our fathers have hated each other for about a decade and a half.” He saw Scott opening his mouth to introduce himself and decided to cut him off, since he had decided to be more of an asshole than usual today. ”Scott Whitaker, he’s one of my dad’s investor’s kids. You can ignore him. He’s a dipshit.” Scott was already reaching to take River’s hand after him, clearly ignoring the comment. Nice to meet you. Yeah, yeah, shut up. ”Glad we both agree that the feud is ridiculous.”
Sorry, baby. Sounded just like what Brendon called him. Ryan sighed inwardly; if only he wasn’t across the country, or whereever... alas. Here he was, with Brendon directly to his left, and yet a drunken overcast that kept him both from being able to see straight and without complete blurriness, so he simply had to wish his boyfriend was here. In the backseat of this fancy car, with a driver and Zack right in front, preferably making out with him, or something. Knowing drunk Ryan, he would probably take that several levels further, but it’s not like any Brendon, sober or drunk, would take issue with that. They were sort of on the same level, as far as intoxicated behaviors went: both happy, giggly drunks, with a penchant for public displays of affection and maybe speaking their minds a little too much. Basically, boundaries disappeared. It was better than being the angry or melancholy type, at least.

This ‘stranger’ seemed surprised by the fact that Ryan vehemently turned down his kiss, and to that he wondered what the hell they were expecting. For him to cheat on his boyfriend? Mind you, a boyfriend far out of his league and therefore one he was way too lucky to have? No. Should’ve seen Ryan’s reaction when he got a simple response text from Brendon earlier: I love you too. He just about lost it. Wh- Ryan tried to look at him very seriously, but his vision was so unfocused that he ended up losing concentration, gaze drifting off to the window past Brendon’s shoulder. Hmm. He was losing interest surprisingly fast, or maybe just forgetting the conversation as it was happening. Oh really. Yes, really. ”Yes, really.” Ryan took his hand off of his chest before it could be misconstrued as something affectionate, ‘cause yes, he really did have a boyfriend, who he missed dearly.

What a lucky boy. Ryan considered that for a moment. A compliment, but he disagreed. Brendon could pretty much pick and choose anyone he wanted, and yet... Famous? That’s dope, dude. Ryan sighed longingly, letting his own head bob back against the window, mirroring Brendon without meaning to. ”Yeah,” he said distantly, busy remembering his far away boyfriend. ”That’s how he talks. I love that.” Ryan shut his eyes, prepared to fall asleep comfortably with Brendon on his mind. What’s he like, then? Is he pretty? Ryan was almost annoyed by the premise of having to talk again, what with this guy contantly interrupting his train of thought, and then he realized the opportunity to gush about his favorite person in the world. He opened his eyes, rummaging through his pockets for his phone, his disengaged limbs moving like he was in quicksand.

Ryan got a grasp on his phone finally, then leaned over slightly, slumping almost into the space of the middle seat. Pretty. He’s fucking- he’s the hottest man alive, I’m telling you. I first saw him, and I swear...” Ryan trailed off, holding his hand against the cushion of the center seat, phone screen facing up. He pressed the home button, revealing a screen full of notifications from Zack, one from Brendon, and in the background, Brendon and Ryan themselves. Look. He’s the... the one on the right.” As if it wasn’t obvious which one wasn’t Ryan. ”You can’t tell from this, ‘cause it’s, like, it’s just us, but if you could see his ass, oh my God.” Zack was sighing from the front seat, the whole situation a lot less funny suddenly. ”He wears these tight jeans that make it so hard not to stare. And, like, think about anything but, you know.” Zack muttered something like ‘we know’ from ahead, and Ryan figured he’d answered the question at least partially, so he continued looking at his lockscreen, enamoured.
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