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Brendon, in contrast, was no stranger to ‘one night stands’. There were rarely nights when he went to bed alone, because in honesty, he detested the silence and emptiness of a huge apartment to himself; though he could find lots of ways to entertain himself on his own, he was a social creature, and preferred human company to his own thoughts in a lavish but lonely penthouse. He wasn’t particularly picky, but then he was spoilt for choice every night, and his phone was full of unsaved numbers and an average of five ignored texts from each. He preferred not to fall on the same person twice, out of some misplaced fear of somebody actually getting to know him and advance from surface-level, usually meaningless physical intimacy to some kind of emotional connection, one he simultaneously had craved all his life and avoided whenever it became even the most minuscule of possibilities. This vulnerability was closely guarded by defensiveness, almost a shell of self-preservation, in that he avoided growing close to people simply because he was convinced that nobody would even want him beyond physically, beyond materialistically, beyond for his wealth and status. Years of his father telling him they only want you because you’re famous and you’ll never find real love if you live your life a thousand times (rich, coming from a married man- but then his father hadn’t started off as he did, and was one of the lucky ones who ascended so far from nothing) had rendered him almost afraid of people showing apparent affection beyond the two-dimensional. He saw lovers in the street and he was both stupefied and angered by their stupid comfortability.

It wasn’t all bad, though. Again, he very much enjoyed the endless affection that practical strangers showered him with, and sometimes when he saw couples he just wanted to ask them how they weren’t bored of sticking with one person for so long. He could barely make a relationship last five days, let alone five years. Brendon knew that his attention was easily lost- if somebody didn’t command it completely, if only briefly, he wouldn’t even bother continuing a conversation. He tended to cut people off mid-conversation or just walk away while they were talking, and he was rich and famous enough for people to just nod and shrug, as if to say that makes sense, everybody says he’s an asshole. As much as he hated to admit it, the endless amounts of headlines trashing his name had almost lead him to just believe it, and if not, he’d play along- if you can’t beat them, become what they say you are. Ironically, it didn’t take much for Brendon to do so.

Though he often wasn’t serious, sometimes his offhandedness lead people to think his comments were geniune; for example, now, when he mentioned that he had a thousand other people willing to call aside from Ryan, and if he left he could be replaced in an instant- this was a lie. Ryan was high on his list of favourite people already, and brendon could count the people who actually, geniunely cared about him as a person and not as the heir to a huge inheritance on one hand. He didn’t like to complain, save denounce every other ridiculous privilege he had in life, but it really was lonely at the top. Overindulgence was the only thing that kept him vaguely fulfilled, but there was an always an emptiness that any manner of luxuries couldn’t fill. Once he realised Ryan was pretending not to care, he looked over in slight concern, wondering whether it was appropriate to say something- but he decided instead to move on, and his assistant seemed to appreciate the distraction.

You remember the brand and the artist, despite the language barrier. Brendon laughed incredulously, eyes flicking quickly down to Ryan’s mouth for a split second then back to his eyes. ”That’s what you’re fucking surprised about? Not the fact I spent $60,000 on a bottle of water?” He grinned, relaxing again despite the odd sort of tension in the air, and reminisced on the evening he bought that. In a small triumph, he had succeeded in getting his uptight older brother (Mason) pissed out of his mind, but then said brother had convinced a similarly wasted Brendon into splashing on a very luxurious bottle of water. As it stood, intoxicated Brendon was easy to persuade. Right, well, tap water works, too, in case you weren't aware. It's 2018, you've got filters. In the manner of a true pompous ass, he wrinkled his nose in disgust. ”Ew, what am I, poor?” No need for some Louvre water or whatever, rich boy. Rich Boy. Brendon smiled faintly. Was Ryan flirting with him?

There was only so far a conversation about a water bottle could go, even if said water bottle was based on the works of a late Italian sculptor and cost an exuberant amount of money. So Brendon effortlessly started to execute one of his most practiced habits- flirting like Ryan was the first and most attractive man he’d ever seen. Which, honestly, wasn’t too far from the truth, from Brendon’s point of view. Those eyes. His hands. Brendon really couldn’t believe that Ryan had nobody of romantic interest in his life- he wondered whether this was voluntary or not, and also wondered why he’d never asked before. Yeah. No one. ”You say that like it should be obvious. You’re gorgeous,” Came his soft, easy response, his voice taking on a sensual lilt as he shifted his weight from one foot to another. ”Really fucking... God.” Quite obviously his poor assistant was taken off guard. Brendon liked it. He liked sweeping people off their feet.

To his amusement, he swore he could almost hear Ryan’s erratic, quickening heartbeat as he let his shirt fall back off his shoulders and then he rolled them forward to loosen the knots. All of this felt like a replay of a broken record in Brendon’s mind, he’d done this countless times, and honestly he wasn’t sure what was motivating him this time apart from very intense attraction. This was his friend, one of his only geniune friends- what the hell was he doing? Ryan seemed to be one the same wavelength and stopped him with a hand on his shoulder before he got too close. Please don’t he messing with me. Messing with him? Was Ryan blind? He just stared up at him, eyelashes still lowered. Listen- I don't know if, if you know what you're doing. I don't even really know. ”I know exactly what I’m doing, and so do you,” He said in a low voice, persisting and moving closer against his hand, reaching out himself and moving his hand down to hook his fingers in the belt loops of his jeans and tugging almost playfully. I’m not that kind of guy, Brendon.

That was a line he’d heard before. ”What kind of guy, Ryan?” He asked, liking the way his name felt and sounded on his tongue. ”I’ll make you that kind of guy.” There was a promise in his words of things he didn’t care say aloud. Ryan wasn’t stupid- nor did he have much of a willpower. A man who was both so, so easy and painfully pretty- Brendon felt a prickle of anticipation, could see Ryan’s chest rise and fall, and his breath catch in his throat- and he let his lips part again. ”C’mon.”
Through Brendon didn’t have low standards, per say, the cast of people that drew his attention was varied and numerous- though a general rule of ‘they had to be taller than him’ was almost universal and rarely ignored. Varied taste aside, Ryan was, ironically enough, more or less the ‘type’ he described if he had to limit himself to one; tall (taller than him, at least), with dark, almost curly hair and the most ridiculously gorgeous honey-hued eyes he had seen in his entire life. He also had guitarist’s hands, long-fingered and calloused, and Brendon didn’t even realise he had a thing for that until he met Ryan. But he definitely did. When it came to personality, he was equally as open for difference, though again, Ryan’s relatively quiet, sardonic and often dry personality (interspersed with some level of shyness and rare but astounding smiles) drew him in, so different from Brendon’s obvious, boundless energy and his fiery passion for everything he did. Ryan was more low-key, and somewhere he guessed he kind of needed that- even if he had no intention to date this guy, he had other plans, and Ryan would hopefully stick around for a long time due to his job title. It didn’t cross Brendon’s mind that maybe Ryan had actual morals, unlike him and his countless amount of previous no-strings-attached lovers.

Just like how Ryan couldn’t imagine a life of such extravagance, fame and fortune, dining with stars and partying with A-listers, Brendon could barely stand thinking about living as a regular person- Sure, he’d probably attract the same kind of attention from all the people he met, but a life without vintage wine and Versace and penthouse apartments was no life for him. Brendon was okay with the life that a lot of magazines and media claimed he was ‘trapped in’; though perhaps he was trapped by the responsibility and pressure on his shoulders from his comparatively more succesful and put-together family, he definitely knew he lived a life of privilege and luxury and wasn’t prepared to ever give that up. He’d been in Ryan’s house just once (just out of curiosity), even when professionalism called for him to stay at the door, he had wandered in, and though Ryan was by no means struggling, his apartment was nothing compared to Brendon’s most frequently occupied spacious residence. It was a nice neighbourhood, really, and Brendon had given him salary enough and over to not just survive, thrive in the expensive area. He even gave ridiculous bonuses. But to Brendon, money’s value was detached, and paying people and throwing money at them to gain favour was just as natural to him as breathing. Brendon Blake, famous, rich and handsome, required validation and appreciation, and he seemed to think money was the only way to acquire it.

Brendon had a habit of addressing people with seemingly intimate pet names offhandedly, and though he didn’t intend to make people flustered, he was amused by Ryan’s reaction- that slightly dizzy smile he only just caught provoked him to curl up the corner of his mouth just slightly in a retaliatory smirk. Probably sooner than you think of you keep on using soda to get me here. He frowned instantly, glancing over at his can and then the remaining five in the pack, noting belatedly that he didn’t even really like Dr. Pepper that much. Like he was going to actually admit he just wanted Ryan over- he’d pretend Dr. Pepper was his favourite drink, endorse the fucking company if he had to. Anything to defend his reputation. ”First of all, this is the first and last time I’m calling you at 3am, there are plenty other people who would appreciate the gesture much more,” He retorted, raising his eyebrows, ”And anyway, it’s not that deep- I called you to get soda because I wanted soda.” Maybe start asking for bottled water, or, like, spinach. He considered this for a second. Brendon was both extremely unhealthy and very fitness-focused- he worked out, ate relatively well, but he also dabbled quite comfortably in drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, and indulged in way too much sugar. Maybe Ryan had a point, but he didn’t much care.

”I bought a $60,000 bottle of water, once,” He mentioned casually, glancing down in amusement at his plain can of Dr. Pepper. Acqua di Cristallo Tributo a Modigliani. It was, uh, encased in 24k gold and the bottle was, like, a sculpture based on artwork by this Italian artist- Amedeo Clemente Modigliani. Brendon finished off his can and left in on the balcony ledge before turning more directly towards Ryan. ”Mixed with 5mg of gold dust. Tasted like normal ass spring water. In my defence, I was high as a fucking kite when I bought it.” On that note, an example of his lavish and unhindered spending, he then challenged Ryan’s apparent declaration of friendship by asking whether he could cut his pay in half- and his assistant just smirked, knowing him enough by now to know this was entirely a joke. Sure - then you can watch me wither away while I barely make rent every month. You live in a ridiculously expensive neighborhood, you know. Brendon nodded mournfully, wondering whether that was a geniune complaint, then pushing past it either way.

Yes, sir. Brendon cocked an eyebrow, not used to that formality. What he currently had playing through his mind was by no means professional- and this might’ve been a problem if Brendon a) wasn’t bold as anything, b) has ever faced consequences for stepping out of line. Instead, because he was used to being immediately complied with out of wonder and fascination with the famous and geniune attraction to his rather angelic general presence and appearance, his hands moved and his fingers worked quickly to undo a few more buttons, only half-assing at playing it off as the heat. It was a relatively cool evening. Now slightly chilly, he beckoned Ryan inside with him and wasted no time in completing his mission. Flirting successfully was one of his numerous gifts- almost by birthright of being the offspring of somebody so globally known and internationally respected and feared. No, not really. Thank fuck. Brendon’s mouth noticeably curved into a satisfied smirk.

Just Trevor Reznik waiting on me. But he’s a creep. Brendon laughed more out of politeness, but then his eyes became a little darker again and his voice lowered noticeably. ”Sweet. But, seriously? Nobody expecting you? But you’re so...” He let his eyes travel Ryan up and down fleetingly but obviously and then searched for the right word. He didn’t find it- any word he conjured up wouldn’t fit. Brendon just knew he really wanted him. Absently, he clenched his jaw, then pressed his tongue against his cheek more in passing than suggestively. He wondered whether Ryan had caught on yet- surely he wasn’t that stupid to still think his was normal behaviour for Brendon. Well- this happened pretty frequently, so maybe it was normal. Um, but, you know, I should probably go home, right? You should be asleep. I'm supposed to make sure you do healthy stuff like that, aren't I? Go to sleep before the sun comes up, at least. His nervousness was cute. But he was clearly in panic mode- Brendon quickly racked his brain for ways to calm him down.

”I think you should stay,” He said softly, almost huskily, watching him through his eyelashes, hands moving back to his shirt to finish unbuttoning it. He then shrugged it slowly off his shoulders and held onto his left forearm with his right hand, smoothing it up and down over the ink on his upper arm. Evidently fearless, he took a few steps closer, tilting his head back to properly meet his eyes. Brendon’s stance was relaxed, his expression expectant, poised and inviting. He wondered how much more subtext Ryan required, and flicked his eyes over him again.
Though he was definitely a misfit amongst his family of haughty characters and superiority, Brendon never claimed to want a normal life, never droned on about how he wasn’t supposed to be rich or famous, et cetera- he did feel comfortable lounging on velvet sofas in suits that cost several times more than ordinary people’s rent, drinking ridiculously expensive wines and champagnes in restaurants where no bottle cost less than a hundred dollars, enjoying the company of A-listers and being invited to prestigious events despite the fact he wasn’t even strictly an entertainer. Brendon was just rich, but maybe he just got out a lot- he was apparently easy to befriend, even easier to bed if the rumours were true, and wherever he went, trouble and drama and cameras tended to follow, so he always added a little spice to usually boring occasions. These didn’t always end up in praise, and often after high-profile nights out his alleged behaviour was reported on in a spiteful light and a hateful sting, criticising him as the disgrace of the family and much too morally flexible; though, no matter what the media tried to do, spat on his name and stamped over his image, he somehow came out smelling of roses.

Brendon was independent and capable of getting himself both in and out of trouble with relative ease- to get into trouble, he just behaved as normal, and to get out, he flashed a few enticing smiles, said a few charming words that obscured whatever he’d got up to into insignificance, and it was like he had a clean slate. Well. Not to Boyd. Brendon pushed his luck all the time with his mother and father (his mother usually didn’t do anything beyond shaking her head disapprovingly), but he wasn’t stupid, and at this point was uneasily aware of the fragile state of his relationship with his father. The last thing he wanted to do was bite the hand that fed him, so he fell in line just enough that he would stop breathing down his neck for as long as it took for him to get involved in his next big scandal. It wasn’t as if Brendon was without talent- though he rarely demonstrated it due to lack of opportunity, he was an incredibly talented vocalist and musician, skills he demonstrated on any of his dozen favourite guitars or the grand piano in his penthouse. Nobody had ever really showed this much appreciation, though; his father had once told him that if he was as skillsd on the piano as he was with keeping his image clean, he’d skip Brendon’s older siblings and hand the company straight to him. Brendon didn’t respond, just continued playing.

As much as he’d scorned the idea of getting a second irritating babysitter, Ryan was easy to be around and quickly became a source of entertainment in the life of an easily bored sycophant who needed constant stimulation or he’d probably trash a hotel room. Ryan was more like a friend (though still a glorified servant), even if Brendon knew that if he didn’t pay him he wouldn’t stick around for long. Nobody ever really did, and Brendon just tired himself out thinking about it. He didn’t like to wallow in self-pity- he had everything he ever wanted, what was the point? Even so, only a week into their working relationship and Ryan was comfortable calling him by his first name, interspersed with ‘sir’ or ‘Mr. Blake’ just for the sake of feigning some kind of professionalism. Brendon wondered if Ryan had bragged to his friends about meeting him, or had told them how much of a pompous, irritating ass he was. Honestly, he didn’t much care- curiosity just brought up the questions in his mind, which was odd, because usually he didn’t care what people thought of him as long as it was about him. Any publicity was good publicity. His father would not agree.

Though he had countless ‘friends’, Brendon’s instinct was, rather shamefully, to call his paid assistant and think up a lame excuse for his company close to 3am. Luckily, Ryan was compliant even when Brendon thought it would be a lost cause due to the initial snap he was greeted by from over the phone. Ryan brought the sodas Brendon was requested, and though he quickly internally registered that he wasn’t even thirsty, he felt obliged to crack open a can away if only to show some kind of alleviation for Ryan’s commitment to the role. He wondered when it would be appropriate to start asking him to buy drugs for him to save him the hassle. Before he got chance to consider that properly, Ryan had touched on a sore spot seemingly out of nowhere and Brendon recoiled in self-defence before he had time to steel himself and brush it off with a laugh. Of course he got lonely- even with, in the grandest cliché, almost a new lover every evening in Brendon’s life, his encounters were fleeting and forgettable and lacked substance- leaving him fulfilled during but not after. All feelings of closeness and companionship quickly fell to dust as the door swung closed on the way out. It was the only time he ever felt vulnerable.

He had friends, too, and family- but 99% of his supposed friends were fake as all hell and his family was irritating and patronising and treated him like a problem that needed to be solved, a wrinkle in the cloth that needed to be smoothed out. Ryan was only his employee, sure, but he seemed genuine, and he hadn’t let him down so far, so- that’s why he called Ryan. He didn’t feel like he had anybody else to call who would answer, nevermind come over at 3am. Over his dead body would he admit that, though. Then say I’m off-duty. Brendon laughed, tapping his fingers absently against the aluminium of his can. "You’ll be off-duty when I’m dead, babe.” Came his reply, grinning effortlessly through his words, ignoring the inappropriate nature of his pet name. I’m not paid to be your friend. I chose that part. Huh. Brendon mulled this over as he shrugged off his jacket and quarter-way unbuttoned his shirt, finding that statement unfortunately hard to believe. ”So, with that in mind, can I cut your pay?” He tested, raising an eyebrow and tilting his head to the side to watch Ryan’s reaction.

You make it sound so absurd. ”You’re my employee, I’m meant to be professional. Believe it or not, this is me trying my fuckin’ hardest,” Brendon murmured, amused, leaning his side against the balcony ledge and meeting Ryan’s eyes, just before his PA glanced out at the skyline. He followed his eyes, and blinked; he’d seen this view so many times it didn’t seem extraordinary anymore, but when he studied it, the appeal kind of came back. It was a weird feeling- so high above everyone else, almost on a pedestal, but so isolated. Looking down at the chaos and beauty of the city. Something dumbly poetic crossed his tongue but he kept his mouth shut and his thoughts in, where they belonged. 3am was the time to take chances, sure, but not a time to be completely stupid. My visiting hours officially end at 4 a.m., so you just made it, yeah. I would've come over. Brendon half-smiled. ”Sweet.”

Yeah, you don't need, like, a bribe, or a cover story. You're enough, you know? Almost stunned, Brendon’s easy, bright smile quickly faded, and instead he was left looking a little dumbfound by the apparent genuity of his tone. Opening his mouth to respond, he found himself without words for once in his life, he so he just laughed without breath, moving his hands automatically down to his shirt again to pull another few buttons from their loops. It was a warm night dispersed with breezes few and far between, so he had some excuse- but mostly he now had a goal so typical of him and he knew exactly how to achieve it. Brendon had done this before. I'm wondering 'why me' when you probably could've called, like, the Queen, though. Shrugging, Brendon picked up his can of Dr. Pepper- half left- and gestured with his head for them both to go back inside his apartment, leaving the remaining cans out on the balcony, quickly forgotten. ”The Queen wouldn’t take my shit,” Brendon responded after a moment, setting his suit jacket carefully down on one of the sofas and then giving Ryan his full attention, his dark eyes lingering and his eyelashes casting shadows against his cheekbones again. He exhaled, and left his lips slightly parted, and then he folded his arms loosely across his chest after setting down his can on a mahogany coffee table. ”So, are you in a rush? Got anyone to get home to?”
Brendon had four older siblings, each more responsible and more publically refined than Brendon ever hoped or wanted to be. He knew that his father wanted him to be more like them; his mother, Grace, didn’t much mind, she just always shook her head and tutted in disappointment to support her husband as Boyd berated their soon for whatever dumb shit he’d done most recently. There was Matt, and then Mason, his older brothers; Matt was next in line to take the reins of the company (Brendon didn’t even know what it was, just that his father owned it and that’s why he had a ridiculously substantial inheritance to look forward to- if he didn’t blow it with his father before he got his hands on it, the likelihood of which was increasing every day), and Mason was a self-described entrepreneur, more like Brendon than Matt but still way too uptight and self righteous for them to get along too well. Brendon didn’t talk to either of his brothers much. Then there were his two older sisters, Kyla and Kara, who had started a joint make-up/fitness company of some kind that, again, Brendon didn’t care enough to ask about. He preferred their company to the rest of his family, but again. He hardly saw them. That left Brendon, the troublesome child, the nuisance, the liability, the one that Boyd wasn’t proud of and the liability he needed to sort out if he wanted to keep their family’s relatively clean-slate image. Brendon knew some secrets about the Blake family that would cause endless scandals, and all it would take would too much alcohol and the wrong people for those to slip out of their youngest son’s mouth. Whenever Brendon met up with the rest of his family, all he got was ‘friendly advice’ and ‘gentle reprimands’. He avoided them as much as possible without distancing himself too much from that at-risk inheritance.

In last ditch efforts to clean him up a little, Boyd had recommended his son hire a PA, to act as a glorified babysitter/servant to make sure Brendon didn’t step too far out of line that it was irreversible. There was no way he was going to be another Matt or Mason, but the problem with appearing on the cover of magazines every month was that not all publicity was good publicity for someone like Boyd Blake. Brendon had, typically, scorned the idea, accusing his father of just wanting someone to stop him having fun and snitching on him to his parents. This was, to certain extents, true; but Boyd laughed it off and was smooth enough to convince Brendon that a PA would just make having fun easier. Glorified servant. Brendon was certainly used to being in charge and commanding people, but somebody he personally employed? The possibilities were endless. His first PA was a disappointment who did that job that his father wanted to do- not buy drugs for him, reccomend he miss a party every so often, keep him relatively in check while behind the disguise of being friendly and helpful. Brendon got bored of having someone breathing down his neck and fired the guy, citing irreconcilable differences like it was a divorce and a difficult working relationship.

Unfortunately, Boyd got back on his case to hire another one, this time giving him the freedom to interview and pick his assistant himself, without heavy-handed guidance from his father. This was a big mistake, because Brendon didn’t have a professional bone in his body, so it took him half an hour to trash 90% of applications before even reading them, spilling wine on some, and picking the rest based on names alone. Then, the interview process- completely informal, in Brendon’s living space, complete with vintage red wine that cost a neat few hundred dollars, bought and consumed just because it was expensive. In honesty, Brendon preferred the cheaper wine, but felt sort of dirty drinking it, like he should ditch the Alexander McQueen, too, and throw his Versace off the balcony of his penthouse. So he was something of a sycophant- he had everything he could ever want, it was in his nature to be over and self indulgent. His favourite applicant, Ryan Ready, was apparently too good at pretending Brendon wasn’t a complete nutcase that he even won the man himself over and got the job in just a few hours (and the only reason it took that long was because Brendon was obliged out of courtesy to see the remaining applicants). After he’d shooed the last one out, he lounged back into the plush velvet of the sofa and called him, laughing fluidly at Ryan’s surprise. You start tomorrow, he’d said, find somewhere to live close to mine, you’ll be able to afford it. And that was that.

Brendon liked to pretend he didn’t care what people thought of him, but nevertheless he found himself wondering whether Ryan considered him a spoilt brat. Maybe that observation would sadly be true, but still- he never gave much thought to have people perceived him, usually, but since this guy would have full access to pretty much his entire life and timetable, he wasn’t just another nameless face. He was Ryan Ready, his personal assistant, underqualified but surprisingly good at his job, English major, apparent guitar player (they’d talked about it before, but Brendon could tell before he even mentioned from the callouses of Ryan’s hands). Brendon liked him, and that was more than he could say for most of the characters he tended to associate with. Behind the party animal was- well, a party animal, but he had a heart and a conscience that some of his rich and famous ‘friends’ (who didn’t really qualify as ‘friends’- he was pretty sure his father paid some of them to stick around him) didn’t have. Ryan and Brendon had settled quite easily around eachother within the first day, and a week later, when they talked it was just like they were close friends, even if Ryan called him sir and Mr. Blake.

This odd, quickly developed friendship meant that Ryan was comfortable enough that he wouldn’t lose his job that he snapped to his boss on the phone, clearly a little annoyed that Brendon demanded his full attention at 3am. Brendon was about to pull the ‘I’ll cut your bonus’ card, but he heard Ryan’s compliant movements in the background and settled against the balcony edge, satisfied and taking another drag from his cigarette just as Ryan hung up. Honestly, he already had soda- coca-cola, anyway, so he hoped Ryan would bring Dr. Pepper or something. In all honesty, it was just 3am and he wanted company, and he was in the slightly tipsy mood to take chances, even more so than he did when he was sober. Fleeting scenarios played through his overactive imagination, one starting up just as Ryan set the sodas on his side to announce his arrival. Brendon grinned, shaking his head free of thought and turning his attention instead to his PA. No problem. Somewhat amazed that Ryan didn’t look like a corpse, he shrugged one shoulder, pulling free a can of Dr. Pepper and cracking it open after Ryan had taken his offer of a shared cigarette.

No, Brendon. I don’t think I intend to, either. Affronted, he turned away, glancing out at the skyline and shrugging off his suit jacket, placing his can on his edge of the balcony after he’d taken a sip. ”It’s fuckin’ divine. And I don’t use that word lightly,” Brendon warned, turning back to watch Ryan lean his chest over the balcony and smoke the remainder of his cigarette. It was 3am, and Brendon was just a little tipsy, and his heart was thrumming with a want that emerged from nowhere, but made itself known pretty quickly. He glanced back out into the night, but then turned and leaned his back against the balcony edge instead, staring back through the curtains that were half-drawn closed into his warmly lit apartment. He realised belatedly that he didn’t want to be alone tonight. He wanted to share that bed with someone. Were you actually out, or were you just lonely? Sharply, he snapped his head in Ryan’s direction, his eyes narrowing and his eyebrows furrowing with uncertainty and initial offence. I don’t get lonely.” Came his unconvincing response, as he remembered that he’d left his glass of wine back in the apartment, and became preoccupied with that thought halfway through his reply.

You could just ask me to come over. Brendon laughed, his eyes even crinkled at he corners, and he reached a hand up to fix his hair despite having done nothing to have messed it up in the past few hours. ”Yeah, right. That isn’t very professional, is it?” He mused, taking another sip from his can and closing his eyes as the still, warm evening was interrupted by a gentle, cool breeze. Turning towards Ryan slightly, he unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt, and bit his lip hard when he realised he really didn’t want to spend the night alone. A week, he noted in his head- he’d managed to last a week without coming onto someone. He hadn’t done it yet, per say, but it was helpful to count on anticipation; his urges tended to rule his head, and if only Ryan had stood a little closer he was 90% sure they’d be in his bed right now. That’s usually how it went with Brendon. Oh well. ”Would you even say yes if I asked you to just come over?”

He remembered first meeting Ryan- it was an interview, probablt the tenth out of a dozen personal assistant applicants that he’d narrowed down from the hundreds of application forms and resumes he’d been sent. In all honesty, he hadn’t read most of them, and towards the end, he realised he only had about three to interview and needed to flesh out his options, so he picked the people with alliterative names because he felt a kind of kindred spirit with them. That’s probably how Ryan Ready ended up in the group- Brendon Blake’s pure laziness and unwillingness and inability to concentrate on something so boring for more than ten minutes without hunting for something more interesting and self indulgent. Even during the interviews (that, to the dismay of his father, he insisted take place in the living room of one of his penthouse apartments), he sat there drinking ridiculously expensive wine, scoring applicants down when they didn’t accept the offer (he didn’t want to spend a lot of his time with someone boring and uptight). Funnily enough, Ryan Ready sort of fitted the bill of those last two qualities, but he accepted the wine, and made Brendon feel easy and comfortable, like he wasn’t being judged for the first time all day. Even though he was wealthy and famous and sort of intimidatingly attractive, Ryan seemed to show no signs of either silently judging him for his overindulgence or any boring traits like over-the-top obedience. Plus, he was pretty. Brendon decided immediately during the first thirty seconds of meeting him that this was his new PA.

Ryan asked a question no other applicant brought up- what happened to Brendon’s previous assistant? When those almost hesitant words reached his ears, Brendon’s mouth twitched and he tried not to smirk. He answered a question with a question and had asked Mr. Ready what he thought had happened to his previous employee. Ryan had responded along the lines of saying it couldn’t be problems with salary (Brendon was quite a generous man when it came down to it, but then, he was rich, how generous could he really be), and the employee wouldn’t have quit such a prestigious job. Brendon was also known to be a charming and entertaining man, so he doubted the employee quit- so he must have been fired. Right so far, Brendon had responded, pouring himself another glass of wine after topping Ryan’s up. Then, to his surprise, Ryan said something incredibly bold- People say you fired him because you slept together and then got bored of him. Stunned, he almost choked on his wine and had to straighten up. That almost accusation was he last thing he expected coming from this polite man’s mouth.

Brendon had paused, looking at Ryan from over his wine glass, eyebrows raising minutely as he took in a short, amused breath, regaining his composure. He pursed his lips to quell a smirk for a moment before taking a sip, glancing down so his eyelashes cast long shadows over his cheekbones in the soft glow of the room- the apartment light was warm and golden, but dim, so the corners of the room were swathed with shadows and the usually bright red of the velvet sofa was muted to a deep scarlet. Shifting, as if restless, he exhaled in a way that was almost exasperated, and set his glass aside before leaning back and considering the man before him again, and the words that had just left his mouth. ”Slept with my assistant?” He had repeated, feigning shock. Though this rumour was strictly true, it was no surprise to him that people thought it to be fact. Ryan looked almost ill, clearly kicking himself for costing himself a career. Brendon had laughed softly, shaking his head. ”Don’t clam up now, c’mon.” Ryan recovered only a little to say people consider you something of a playboy, sir. People weren’t wrong. Brendon frowned just for a fraction of a second, wondering exactly what his public image was these days. Maybe his father was right- maybe he was a liability.

Brendon found it fitting to just laugh it off and sweep past it, and in another ten minutes their conversation was over, Brendon shook Ryan’s hand and told him he’d get a call- or not- by Monday. Not even a few hours passed and Brendon had called him, grinning the whole time, bringing news that Mr. Ryan Ready was now his personal assistant, congratulations, you start on Monday, you’re technically underqualified but you’re a Virgo so you’ll figure it out, I’ll see you tomorrow. Ryan barely got a word out and Brendon got bored and hung up, then decided to go out to dinner that evening with his father to see if he could smooth over any bumps in their relationship. He kind of needed that inheritance. The next day, he and Ryan met again, and from then, Ryan had proved himself both a capable assistant and enjoyable company. They found it easy to be around eachother, and in less than a week, if Ryan hadn’t been working for Brendon, Brendon would have considered the two of them friends.

He also thought he was incredibly attractive and wondered whether it was too soon to sleep with him. In Brendon’s life, it was usually never too soon. Ryan was definitely into him, he wasn’t stupid; he was both observant and an Aries and that meant he wouldn’t tread lightly. Brendon had never tread lightly around anyone- that’s usually how he ended up in so much trouble. Either way, one night, Brendon was lonely- and even though he had countless friends he could call, he only wanted the company of one person, and they were at the top of his call list because Brendon never answered his phone. Calling back at 3am, to his surprise, Ryan picked up pretty quickly, sounding very irritated. What do you want? ”Wow, chill the fuckin’ attitude. I want some soda, I’m out. Get me some?” Brendon sounded hopeful, and he wandered out through double doors onto the balcony, lighting a cigarette while he held his phone between his head and his shoulder. He then put his lighter in his jacket pocket and took a drag, listening intently to Ryan obviously getting ready on the other end of the phone. "Is that a yes? You’re the best. Love ya.” He hung up, and spent the fifteen minutes between that phone call and Ryan’s arrival at the apartment out on the balcony, reading and not responding to texts.

Ryan had to live very close to Brendon, so it did only take fifteen minutes for him to go and get some six packs of soda and then drop them off. Brendon heard him come in, and walk out onto the balcony, but he didn’t turn around until Ryan was behind him. Slowly turning, he leaned back, resting his elbows on the edge of the balcony and tilting his head to the side. Extending himself in a languid, lithe stretch, he then stood up straight, biting his lip to stop a smirk. ”So good of you to come at 3am. What more could I ask for from an assistant, huh?” He paused, offering Ryan his second cigarette since the phone call. ”Hey, you should just crash here. Ever slept with silk sheets before?”
I’m glad you’re at least self-aware. Brendon shrugged, suddenly stretching out lithely in the soft caress of the sunlight; his shirt rode up a little, a little expanse of skin so typically exposed at his waist, the lean muscle he possessed pulled tight as he extended himself, still stiff despite having slept for less than six hours. The glow of the late morning illuminated his skin, and even the faint scatter of freckles that dusted his face were more prominent. Brendon really was gorgeous. His ever-easy smile was bright and charming, and so were his eyes- deep in colour, so clearly warm, just like the sun that Ryan so loyally compared him to. Out of the blue, some rather pretentious lines of Shakespeare he didn’t know that he knew crossed his mind- If I could write the beauty of your eyes, and in fresh numbers number all your graces, the age to come would say, “this poet lies— such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces.”- and he almost rolled his eyes at himself when he finally relaxed his muscles, remembering absently that it had definitely been Ryan who taught him that and Ryan had definitely been enamoured by the words similarly to how he was enamoured by Brendon. And it was vice versa. They were so overdramatic and sweet, and that was proven by how Brendon ended up with a warm swell of strong affection in his heart when his boyfriend looked like a whole hot mess.

He’d almost forgotten that Ryan had even spoken, he was so distracted in his untimely romantic mental imagery and pretentious literature. ”...When am I not self aware?” He finally responded, finally snapping out of his daydream and almost flipping his mood on its head, from sweet and serene to very irritating and an intentional nuisance. It was one of his many talents- unpredictability. Sure you were. Cause i’m so desirable right now. Brendon raised an eyebrow, eyeing his boyfriend doubtfully. Sure, he wasn’t looking his best, but honestly Brendon hadn’t really thought about that. He shrugged offhandedly. ”When has that ever stopped me?” He offered, before growing bored and checking his phone, dying to let Gabe chew Ryan out. He considered calling them for a second, but honestly, if he did, the call would last for hours (Brendon was too afraid to actually hang up on them, lest they take revenge in some typical Carrasco-esque way).

Abandoning the idea, he instead grew frustrated with Ryan’s persistent negative attitude towards alcohol and drinking; though he didn’t blame Ryan for having a bad perception of it due to arguably very traumatic experiences with it both when he was younger and into adulthood (the latter was in fact because of Brendon, what could he even say?), he had hoped that his 21st would loosen him up a little, allow him to have fun and actually enjoy drinking without constantly being weighted by worry for Brendon or whole horrible flashbacks of his father. He hadn’t expected a miracle- maybe an improvement of some small magnitude- but now Brendon was regretting getting his hopes up. He expressed his irritation, and Ryan met his eyes immediately. Brendon was then uncomfortable, but didn’t break eye contact, just rose his eyebrows minutely, almost as if a challenge. This conversation had all the potential and ingredients to take a turn for the worse.

Luckily, it didn’t, because Brendon started complaining about his 21st party, one he already expected to be boring. You underestimate my ability to throw an alcohol-free party. Not to spoil anything, but you should totally expect a fuckton of weed to make up for the loss. That got his attention. Brendon grinned immediately, reminiscing on every birthday party/celebration Ryan had thrown him or organised in the past; all involved almost excessive amounts of weed, sugar, and now, karaoke so Brendon could destroy everybody while both stoned and riding a sugar high. ”It’s gonna be my 21st, so you better outdo yourself this time,” He warned, as he was walking towards the bedroom door to go and get the medicine Ryan had requested, leaving his phone on his dresser face-up, hoping that Ryan, when he moved over, would see how pissed Gabe was. Honestly, Brendon was convinced that they didn’t even care- they still got to get wasted, and that was usually good enough for them. From what Brendon heard.

He came back obediently with the aspirin and the water, then waited respectfully until Ryan had chugged the water and taken the medicine before climbing onto him again, evidently not willing to give up his comfortable position. It wasn’t just about that, though- he was still feeling rather devilish, so to speak, and nothing was funnier than catching Ryan off guard- so that’s just what he did, same old trick every time, still succeeded in making his breath hitch like an idiot. Sure, sure, you’re right. Brendon laughed almost affectionately, surprised by lack of argument by Ryan, but he was also on a roll, so he pressed forwards again as his boyfriend dragged him into a second kiss. He no longer tasted like alcohol, Brendon noted, pulling back as much as he could with Ryan gripping onto him like his life depended on it. This was new behaviour- desperation, almost, the kind of clingy reaction usually reserved for Brendon.

I'm having a moment of weakness and you're being like that. I have good cause to be a whiny bitch. ”I’ll give you that, babe,” He murmured, but he had his eyes narrowed- this really usually was the other way round, and Brendon was suspicious. ”What just happened?” He asked, dead serious, though Ryan’s dizzy smile was infectious. Like, apart from my baby hangover, I mean. It really was a baby hangover, too- Brendon had seen and experienced much, much worse. Anyway, that wasn’t important right now- Brendon had more pressing issues to cover. ”So, did drinking turn you into a bottom, or what?” He asked outright, pulling back to regard his boyfriend carefully, devising a plan to quickly get it back to how he preferred it. ”Joking. Hey, your 21st would have been so much more fun if I was there. There was this one time at this shitty dive bar, I met this guy called Josh and he made a bet with me, who can chug a beer the fastest- he fuckin’ destroyed me, can you believe it?” Brendon paused for effect. ”He made me wear high heels as penalty for losing. Also, he was hot. 99% sure he took me home, it’s all a bit foggy.”
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