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Brendon knew the owner of the club well enough that he received a loyalty discount, but not well enough that they would ever disclose anything about business to eachother, more specifically the identity of their suppliers. Both of them employed the services of bootleggers but it was generally known but not spoken that the one thing they didn’t talk about was business ventures- it was just safer that way. Even if it wasn’t as dangerous as everyone had at first made it out to be, with most of the police force corrupt anyways and the rest left to deal with crime empires and an illegal trade of an unmanageable scale, there were still some righteous officers out there and every so often there was an incident where a speakeasy would be charged and everyone inside would be arrested that kept the rest of the underground community less complacent, on their toes, cautious. It paid off to be wary. To be honest, it was probably more of an issue for vendors like Dallon, who ran a reasonably fancy relatively secret establishment but was at full risk from being caught by someone sticking their nose where it didn’t belong, whereas Brendon, a near-household name, had the privilege and fame and the immunity that came with it. He was no national superstar but he was rising up on his way to becoming the revered prince amongst men in state-specific music scenes. This more or less granted him guaranteed protection but there were always people who hated his guts enough to want him going under.

It’s not like he ran any speakeasies like Dallon did, acting all hush-hush and his business only being advertised by word of mouth- he was, arguably, playing a much more dangerous game in that everything he did was public and infamous- namely, his parties, thrown often and each time more lavishly than the last; they were invite-only and guests were carefully selected but he was taking a gamble every time as he hid the gallons and gallons of alcohol he offered at the party in plain sight.

These events weren’t a new thing or an act of rebellion against the Act on Brendon’s part- these parties had been a regular thing even beforehand. The only thing was that, hilariously, prohibition had popularised drinking even more, taboo becoming sought after in a period of rowdiness and overindulgence and rebellion against what was considered social norms. Brendon’s parties were of even more interest since prohibition and for this reason, he actually supported the ban- controversy and rumours about his supposed ‘illegal drunken escapades’ were publicity, and any publicity was good publicity, especially when the image Brendon was going for wasn’t exactly straightedge and traditional. He was openly gay, for god’s sake- and this was another reason that many didn’t care as much about the very suspicious secrecy of his house parties, they were more obsessed with who he fucked and why. Brendon thought it was hilarious- the most old-fashioned, traditional people were the ones that thought about gay people and gay sex the most and in an increasingly accepting society it became easier to laugh at them than to be afraid. Especially when Brendon was in that strange position of immunity as a public figure.

Even still, it wasn’t like he could just drop into normal bars and flirt with whoever he saw fit, because he could still end up dead. Many wouldn’t care if he was famous or the goddamn president, it was a dangerous lifestyle Brendon was leading in many ways and most of these were by choice, but this was a way he wished he didn’t have to. He figured they’d probably peaked as far as liberalism went- there was nothing to do but to get on with it.

Luckily, he wasn’t yet instantly recognisable and what he liked about Dallon’s place was that there was a fancy- if slightly ridiculous- dress code, which highlighted the necessity of a burlesque-style mask. He wasn’t sure where Dallon got that idea because he tended to be the only one who didn’t wear one- everyone there knew who he was anyway, and he knew who everyone was because he asked every new mask to show him their identity before he ever relaxed. By that way Dallon had recognised Brendon and was incidentally a fan of his music, and they immediately got on- they were in similar business and Dallon was a decent enough man that he didn’t care about Brendon’s sexuality. It wasn’t like they’d had a direct conversation, but Brendon had often risked his neck trying it with who he presumed to be like-minded at this very establishment and Dallon had never even thrown him a second glance. He appreciated that. Brendon knew it wasn’t normal, but people really didn’t need to be assholes about it.

Brendon had come to O’Leary’s tonight for no particular reason other than maybe encounter some new people he liked enough to invite to his parties (the ones that he rarely actually attended, much to the new guest’s usual surprise. He much preferred to remain alone and simply watch what was happening like observing animals in a zoo, or something). Due to his friendliness with the owner he managed to get in early before the next increase in the surge of customers and take a seat at the bar, and for about twenty minutes he’d just been talking to Dallon- until, from the side door, he heard and then saw activity, turning his head and automatically pulling his gold-accented mask over his eyes as who he identified immediately as bootleggers move another keg in and behind the bar. From his peripheral he saw somebody sit down but wasn’t interested enough to look properly, instead looking out at the costumed people drifting in. Over the noise he heard a voice but paid little attention once he realised it was just some business transaction. He’d heard a thousand beforehand, nothing interesting.

However, thought the speakeasy scene quickly bored him and he chanced a look over at who he presumed was the leader of the operation, interested. He wondered if he knew this one- but the mask made it difficult to tell, until... Whiskey with Mint? Huh. He met his eyes and identified from this and his voice that this was who he worked with for his own supply- Ryan Rowe, he recalled. Was he propositioning him, or just being polite to a client? He didn’t see any recognition in his eyes and was admittedly slightly offended. He nodded, though, watched as Ryan’s business partner poured them drinks, and caught his glass when it was slid down the bar to him, shifting in his stool slightly when Ryan moved into the one next to him. You look like you belong in West 58th Brendon smirked, because he knew he did- he upstaged this whole place just by sitting at the bar. What brings you here?

Brendon picked up his drink and took a sip, then flicked his wrist slightly in a circle and watched the liquid move in the glass. He placed it back down and clicked his tongue. ”Illegal activities,” He said in a hushed, secretive voice, leaning in closer to Ryan as if it was classified information. ”I’m undercover, y’know.”
Sometimes, I open my eyes, stare right at the blinding light above my head, and wonder if I’m still alive. I always hope so. If I am to go I don’t want to go unexpectedly and quietly in my sleep- I want to know so he can be there, so I can be in his arms, so I can look up into his eyes and he will be the last thing I comprehend before I die.

Sometimes I adjust to the light and realise I am still seemingly in a hospital room, the steady drone of machines and a constant beeping surfacing, but sounding as if drowned, underwater. And then I see him- sat beside me, like always- and sometimes, this is not enough to convince me that I am still living. When I am delirious and numb and tired he is my angel, gorgeous, astounding, and I am ready to go with him, but then- I hear my own laboured breathing and a familiar voice and I connect the voice to my angel and suddenly everything is harsh and real and I’m alive and I’m in pain.

But it’s okay, as long as he’s with me. He always has been. He’s been through so much because of me, because of my disease, and he promised when we married that he’d stay with me in sickness and in health and he kept his promise but I’ve made so many and broken them all. I’ll stay sober, I promise. I’ll try, I promise. I haven’t had a drink, I promise. I promise I’m not drunk. I promise I’m not lying. Addiction has made me a liar and either I was a damn good one or Ryan so desperately wanted to believe that I was telling the truth that he didn’t pry any further and took my word for it. And why wouldn’t he? A man should be able to trust that his husband wasn’t continuously and habitually lying to him.

Ryan is sat to my left and he catches the light, illuminated, celestial, and I cannot look at him directly. There are a lot of things I can’t do now, at least without assistance- walk for a long time, sometimes I can’t walk at all, have showers, go anywhere by myself. If it were anyone else looking after me like this- anyone else saw me so vulnerable but fully conscious of my terrifying fragility- I’d have broken down by now. Being helpless is the worst thing about this and he makes it so much easier and I couldn’t love him any more than I do. I have never deserved him and nothing I can do in the remainder of my life will ever make me deserving of him and I consider and accept this as I stare out of the window quietly, too tired to sit up but more or less fully conscious.

What could have been minutes or hours ago, for I have lost track of time completely due to an immobilising fear that I will start counting down the hours and days until I am no longer here, Ryan told me that he wanted to take me somewhere and elaborated no further- at first I thought he meant, like, the hospital visitor’s café, or something, and therefore I was both reluctant (because the food there was depressing) but simultaneously eager (I’d finally get some time in surroundings that weren’t so jarring). Not bothering to ask questions I agreed and he helped me out of my hospital bed because though I am ell enough to walk today I still need assistance just in case. My condition is not exactly stable, and the doctors take great care in telling me this pretty much whenever I’m conscious- and since Ryan never leaves my side, he hears it to and is therefore extra paranoid, holding me like I am glass and I will shatter if he handles me too roughly, which I always try to reassure him that he has never done. Ryan has always been gentle with me when I needed it and he is always in tune with me and knows exactly what I need- and this is why I have faith he is taking me somewhere I will like when, to my surprise, he leads me out of the hospital and into his car.

This short journey takes it almost completely out of me and I am now slumped in the passenger seat, slack but with my jaw tense, eyebrows twitching as if about to raise but then giving up halfway through when I expect Ryan to take the exit towards home but he doesn’t, we carry on. ”You missed your exit,” I murmur, blinking at him and finding it in me to smile, but I’m confused and I feel my blood pressure begin to rise from the disorientation, but as his hand tightens only gently on my knee I exhale, relax, trust him. I always trust him. I let my eyelids droop and for the rest of the journey I lapse in and out of consciousness, and I have no idea where we are going until I feel the car pull to a stop and I open my eyes.

The sea. I smell it before I see it- the first thing I see is the dashboard of Ryan’s car and I ease myself up properly against the seat, turning my head to smile at him as he squeezes my thigh to get my attention. We’re here. ”Where’s here?” I ask, blinking rapidly- then I glance out of the window and see sand, hear the tides, see them lap against the shore. My breath hitches. I know this place. I feel my throat begin to close from the association. Before I realise Ryan has even gotten out of the car he is opening my car door and I immediately try and do it without any assistance but he evidently has no faith in my independent motor skills (I don’t blame him) and helps me out of the car, his arm- so, so strong, now, or maybe since I’ve lost weight it’s all relative- wrapped around my waist to steady me. I lean against his side and I breathe, trying to time it with the ebb and flow of the tide.

Thought you might like some fresh air. Damn right I do. I spend 95 percent of my time stuck in that stupid hotel room- 4 percent other parts of the hospital- the remainder of my time I spend supervised just outside, on the grounds but outside of the building just so I can get some fresh air. Except, it’s never fresh, because people smoke outside anyway. Nobody listens to the signs. Out here, though, I look around and we are the only ones at the beach; I recognise it as the one I brought Ryan to for his nineteenth birthday and I automatically go to bury my face into his chest but he holds me at a certain distance, safe and close in his arms but far away enough so he can frame my face with his hands and I meet his eyes, immensely thankful that he would do this for me. Of course he would. ”Thank you.”

Remember my birthday, a few years back? Immediately, I nod, but I don’t look around and drink it in, I am fixated on my husband and I figure that he could have taken me anywhere and I would still be just as choked-up-emotional. ”Yeah,”, I breathe, returning his gorgeous smile with the brightest one I can manage, completely disarmed. Suddenly I am a teenager back on the beach with the love of my life and I am strong and healthy and I have been sober for some time and things are looking up. Then I shiver, despite it not being cold, and suddenly I am again sick and weak and reliant on my lover. Oh well, I tell myself. There’s nobody else I’d rather be reliant on. ”I remember, you’d never seen the sea before.” A fond smile briefly crosses my face. Mourning the loss of being able to stare into his stupefying golden-brown eyes, I bite my dry bottom lip and feel the skin crack but I don’t react, just stare out at sea. I guess I missed it.

Nodding slightly, I follow as he leads me across the sand and suddenly I am eighteen again, head over heels, willing to do absolutely anything for him within or without reason. My fingers intertwine with his as tightly as I can. I still barely look at the sea. If my days are numbered I want to fill them with the most beautiful things on the planet but I am yet to think of any more than one.

”I missed it too.” A pause. ”I miss everything.”

In your way 6 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
Feeling nostalgic? Well, yeah. In what universe would Brendon not? The familiarity of the evergreens springing up around them at all sides was close to haunting- the trees definitely had eyes and Brendon could feel them trained on him, urging him to remember. It wasn’t like he needed any reminding, he told them silently, slightly bitter that it would always be impossible for him to come even vaguely close to Seattle and not think of Ryan. The whole place was ruined for him and he couldn’t even hear it’s name without being immediately dragged back to that stupid hotel suite that he sort of wished they had never left, because that’s when everything started to go wrong. Brendon often fantasised about them just staying there, exchanging inexhaustible kisses and pretending they’d never been unimaginably cruel to eachother. Wishful thinking- but anything would be better than now. Brendon was at the point of not wanting to open texts from Ryan out of fear that he would have sent a message breaking their arrangement off- and out of fear that he wouldn’t. It was messing with his head and it was intoxicating, Ryan was intoxicating and it was embarassing, how quickly within their first ever encounter on this damned tour that Brendon had effectively crawled back to him. They had crawled back to eachother and neither of them could really explain why. These days it was easier to just avoid him, telling himself it was so he could figure it all out. But it wasn’t that deep, sometimes. Often, Brendon just found himself amused and drawn to Ryan’s persistence.

He was proud of himself for having the willpower to reject Ryan’s advances, actually, considering how much his ex-bandmate affected him. It was strange- somehow, Brendon felt more vulnerable when he was with Ryan and fully dressed, like the times they just sort of sat around and played video games and made jokes and were frighteningly similar to just- a couple. But that would never work. It hadn’t before, and it wouldn’t. Though admittedly they’d never really tried- common sense just told them that they’d end up ripping eachother apart. Anyway, he had found that he could resist it all if he tried hard enough, and turned down Ryan more and more- seemingly without purpose, but as chaotic as Brendon seemed to many, he rarely did things without reason- especially concerning his actions towards other people. This unresponsive behaviour was partially self-defence- and partially because Brendon was bored and figured if he kept Ryan tightly wound and wrapped around his little finger, eating out of the palm of his hand, the next time he did accept Ryan’s propositions would be- well. He busied himself thinking about it a lot, but kept it to himself. Which, if you knew Brendon, you would know was very difficult for him to do. Telling Ryan, of course, was out of the question- he’d seen Ryan angry. He didn’t particularly want to ever again, they were past maliciousness now.

Demonstrating this mock ‘frigidity’, he ignored Ryan’s text, and just sat with his temple rested against the cool glass of the window, his eyes only barely following the constantly changing blurring of colours outside- green, white, brown, blue. Even still, Ryan occupied his thoughts, all the way up until the reached their hotel- all of the bands on the tour were staying in the same place. Usually, once their bus had pulled up and parked, Brendon was one of the first off and into the fresh air, no matter the heat or cold- he had an excess of energy and found it difficult to stay in the same confined space for long, needing movement and activity to stay sane. This time, though, he was slightly more hesitant- he his unreliable behaviour towards Ryan was getting to him, making him antsy, and though this was his his intention, he didn’t quite want to face confrontation because of it. He knew Ryan would be waiting outside of the bus, lingering until he stepped off. In fact, he spotted him through the tinted windows and exhaled, leaning and slumping back in his seat, dragging his hands through his hair and down his face, preparing himself. Easing himself off the chair he stood up, cracked his neck both ways and walked towards the doors of the bus, cracking his knuckles habitually as he went and shoving his hands into his pockets when bothbhus feet were planted on the solid concrete of the parking lot.

It was freezing. Brendon was even more poorly prepared than Ryan- he was in a overized but thin t-shirt and ripped jeans that he was 90% sure weren’t meant to be ripped. His hair was unkempt from five hours of pressing it into the seat and the windows, and it had been a while since he had shaved so he had a slight stubble that he grimaced at when he touched, hand scrubbing over his jaw. He was a long shot from the immaculately dressed, over-the-top persona he had adopted for this new era of Panic, but Brendon was a chameleon at best and fairly decent with stage makeup at worst, so it wouldn’t be a big deal once he got into the dressing rooms. He was shivering when Ryan nudged him with his elbow, and his first reaction to encountering him was to stare enviously at his hoodie. It wasn’t like he hadn’t stolen clothes from Ryan before- but he reminded himself he was supposed to be driving him mad by acting distant. But being completely detached was boring. He had to be somewhat sultry for this to work. Hey, hey. The corner of brendons mouth pulled up slightly as Ryan stepped back, and he followed his eyes towards where Ryan was watching his bandmates leave the bus. He looked back at him, expectant. ”Hey, man, what’s up?”

Think you’ll be free tonight? There it was. Brendon had been expecting this, but so immediately- it seemed that this tactic was working even better than he’d hoped. Even so, he was surprised and a little apprehensive, and reluctant to just flat-out refuse, so he tilted his head as if considering and parted his lips as if about to speak. I just got a Netflix. It’s gonna be wild. Wow, okay, so Ryan was so out of loop that he couldn’t even see the loop. Brendon grinned. ”I, uh- do you know what you just asked me?” Maybe he didn’t, maybe he did and was just playing dumb, maybe he did and was just being subtle- either why, Brendon’s first impulse was to just immediately say yes, he was free, because it was true, he had nothing planned for tonight- but he controlled himself and bit his lip, scrunching up his eyes a little as if weighing his options. He planned to drag it out- but Ryan evidently had other ideas. Or are you gonna nail like you have been?

Brendon’s eyebrows rose but even so he backed up against the bus automatically, freeing his bottom lip from between his teeth and resting the back of his head against the metal so he could tilt his chin up slightly towards Ryan. He knew his angles. ”Bail?” He echoed, folding his arms loosely across his chest. ”Bail from what?” Laughing, he shook his head. ”As much as I want to Netflix and chill with you, baby- I gotta raincheck.” A pause. ”You’re looking a bit wound up. You feeling alright?”
Brendon was often tired these days- between working tirelessly in their studio at home, collaborating with songwriters, going to other studios, going to interviews, doing photoshoots and showing up to meetings, he didn’t have much free time anymore, definitely not as much as he used to because he’d blown up so much and now had so many more people on board rather than just the label and the band members and maybe the bodyguard. He had so many people surrounding him and though he was immensely grateful for the talent he surrounded himself with- it didn’t make anything any easier. In fact, he had to work even harder to try and impress everyone- he even gave his input on the merch when he could finally find some time to look design ideas over. It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy being busy or anything; having a lot to do and being motivated to do it was his Brendon wanted to live, because he was full of energy and could usually handle that. It was just- there were downsides, like the fact it did sometimes take a toll on him; lots of shows and recording meant his voice suffered and he was sometimes put on vocal rest by his own husband, and all the travelling and work he had to do meant that sometimes, a lot of the time, he did get tired. Even being an Aries couldn’t save him from that.

Another thing, the main thing, was that he didn’t see as much of Ryan anymore- since Ryan’s departure from the band (which, yes, was suggested by Brendon himself) they didn’t work together anymore and rarely even sat down to play music or write songs because they both had their own separate ventures now and that was okay, he just... Missed it, desperately. Performing with him, bickering with him over lyrics and chords, their lives completely intertwined, work and all. So maybe it was cringey and he was being slightly dramatic- they were still married and still lived in the same house, for god’s sake, they still slept side by side and Ryan still carried Brendon to bed when he fell asleep on the couch- their lives were just so drastically different now that things had changed and Brendon still wasn’t okay with that yet. He didn’t consider the fact that all of this was his fault anyway- he had practically kicked his own husband out of the band he had started, citing- creative differences, of all things. In fairness to Brendon, though, their music tastes had diverted considerably from the similar path they had stayed down for a long time and had done so in opposite directions. Not only this, but Ryan came round to the idea eventually anyway. He refused to accept all the blame- though Brendon suggested it, the agreement had to have been mutual.

They still wrote eachother love songs and Ryan still attended his shows and went with him on tour, and Brendon still attended every rare live appearance Ryan made no matter his schedule (some things were more important)- they were very much in love, but Brendon was kind of worried, irrationally so, that they were at the tail end of their ‘honeymoon phase’ so to speak. Theirs had been an extended one that had lasted for years but now they had individually gained increased levels of independence and confidence (Ryan in particular), that codependency was melting away, he could see it, and Brendon wasn’t quite ready to let go. Of course, they’d always be each other’s priorities, but they’d found that their worlds were capable of not quite revolving around their significant other and the sky wouldn’t even fall down. Even so, he was- admittedly- apprehensive. Brendon had a bad habit of making everything a hundred times more emotionally jarring than it should be and the slightest neglect he perceived from Ryan could turn into a full-on cable drama- and this became most obvious when Ryan started to expand his circle of friends. This by itself sounded awful, like Brendon didn’t want Ryan to have a wider social circle, wanted to keep him to himself. It wasn’t that- he was just jealous they got to spend time with him doing stuff they used to do, writing songs and recording music. He was wistful, and also worried that maybe somebody more talented than him would come along and suddenly he wouldn’t be special in Ryan’s eyes anymore, or something. Brendon’s overactive imagination would be the death of him.

One of these new friends, a stand-out one, was Z. Ryan absolutely adored her- he gushed about her all the time and Brendon thought it was endearing and was immensely happy that Ryan found a creative outlet when writing with Z, but- he was also soulcrushingly jealous because writing songs was always their thing, did Ryan think Z was more talented than he was? Did he enjoy it more? Z was incredibly talented and ethereal and Brendon loved her too, even he wasn’t petty enough to dislike her just for being good friends with his husband. But he was petty enough to be snarky with Ryan about it on the odd occasion when he felt particularly neglected. But- he could never complain properly about feeling this way, because it was usually times when Brendon was incredibly busy that Ryan hung out with Z the most, and he’d just seem unreasonable. But unreasonable was Brendon’s middle- or it could be. That was about to become very obvious that morning- one after a night in that had followed a very long and tiring string of meetings all day, pretty much back-to-back.

He and Ryan had just curled up on the couch together looking for new Netflix shows to watch but they never ended up deciding and just sat laughing at their own inside jokes and holding hands, Brendon pressed into his side so closely it was like he just wanted to become part of him. By Ryan’s side was where he felt most at home and he’d felt deprived of such a feeling lately. Eventually, though, they’d both given up with Netflix and decided to go to bed. Ryan had been quite productive that day, he had decided to clean their studio and cook them both dinner because they finally had the time to eat a proper meal together like that. Brendon, though, was exhausted. He passed out curled against Ryan’s side almost instantly and remained that way until Ryan got up, to which he responded by semi-unconsciously whining in complaint and pulling the blankets closer to him to make up for the lost sensation of Ryan’s skin. It didn’t compare at all but he was so tired that he lapsed right back into deep sleep until hours later.

When he woke up he immediately rolled over with a groan of complaint as the sun hit his eyes. Squinting, he scrambled at the bedside table for his phone, taking it and checking the time. Fuck. It was way past noon already and- oh. He smiled slowly, putting his phone back down and shutting his eyes, exhaling. He had a day off, for once, which meant he could spend his day with Ryan. Maybe get the guitars out, who knew. Go for lunch- okay, late lunch. Suddenly invigorated, he sat up, stretched, and swung his legs over to rest his feet on the floor, sitting on the edge of his side of the bed. He pulled on some pyjama pants he was pretty sure were Ryan’s because they were- uh- too big, too long, what have you, not the right size, and then stood up, finding a sweater (one of his own for once) and pulling that over his head as he blindly moved in the direction of their bedroom door. When he finally managed to get the sweater on properly, he was walking out into the living room, smiling brightly. ”Hey baby, It’s so late, how come you didn’t- Oh.” Brendon’s eyes widened and then narrowed ever so slightly but he recovered quickly and flashed Z a welcoming smile. ”Hey, Z. Didn’t know you were coming. Ryan forgot to tell me.” He looked at Ryan doubtfully and just nodded at him. There was a moment of silence. Brendon sullenly stared at the guitars in each of their arms, then turned around to drift into the kitchen. ”I’m getting coffee.”
Even though it would be a lie for Brendon to say he had never imagined him and Ryan in certain compromising situations before, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Brendon had never once considered not hating Ryan’s guts, not even for a moment; and definitely not for long enough so that they didn’t approach the morning after with an uncomfortable spite, and instead were in eachother’s arms, all soft, sunkissed skin (until moments ago when Ryan shut the blinds) and heat and Brendon’s eyes following and fingers tracing the scratches he’d left down Ryan’s back whenever he turned so that they were in view and within reach. He’d imagined Ryan in a lustful context but never one like this, where they’d be bantering, almost, Ryan laughing, the smirk plain and barely controlled on his face. It was still somehow surreal, felt unreal, even though he knew Ryan was flesh and blood and if he pressed his head against his chest he’d hear his heartbeat and grin as he felt it begin to speed up. Well, I’m sober now, so I guess we’ll have to try again. Brendon suppressed an outstandingly pleased smile. ”I suppose we’ll have to, but let’s see if you’re still willing when you’re sober and not still enjoying the afterglow.”

He was kidding, but only a little- the truth was they were unstable as a duo of any kind and god knows what could happen between now and the opportunity for a ‘next time’. One of them could snap and throttle the other, or something. It was an unknown but Brendon sure enjoyed fantasising that the next time they’d encounter eachother alone that they’d both be relatively non-confrontational. The one thing he hadn’t quite seen as a success here was that now, because Ryan apparently wasn’t too gentle when he was drunk, he was in a considerable amount of pain and walking wouldn’t be possible for a while, let alone performing on stage. Oh well. Worth it. I’m sure you’ll be okay. He so desperately wanted to whine and complain that he definitely wouldn’t be okay, Ryan had fucked up the whole show because he went too hard like a dumbass, but he also wasn’t quite ready to sink that low with Ryan yet. So he stayed quiet, just looked on. On the bright side, when I’m sober, I remember the whole ‘aftercare’ part. I’m nice. Brendon cracked up, tilting his chin up to shake his head in disbelief at the ceiling. ”Oh, really?” He inquired, eyebrows lifting playfully. ”You’re sweet, are you? Could’ve done with that last night, y’know, when I totally didn’t have a huge fuckin’ show the next morning.”

Staying on that wavelength, Brendon then humiliatingly misread the signs that he thought Ryan was making and interpreted ‘what now’ as meaning ‘how should we pass the time until room service gets here’. To be be fair to Brendon, the last question he expected from his arch-nemesis (he still had the honour of that title whether they’d slept together or not) was ‘what now’ as in ‘what does this mean for us’. Brendon didn’t know the answer to the actual question Ryan was posing him because it was so vague and far-reaching and all he could do was kind of hover over Ryan for a few moments before he caught the look in his eyes, one of slight surprise, seeing that as discouragement and sheepishly backing off so he was sat beside him. It felt distant and strange considering how close they’d been over the past 24 hours, and he poked him in the side if only retain some contact, even the most meagre source. There was a beat of silence where Brendon looked Ryan once up and down for the seventieth time this morning and Ryan simply stared at him until Brendon averted his gaze and admitted that he didn’t think it was deep enough to warrant a ‘what now’ conversation. Not that he was totally opposed, but- it did make him recoil slightly at Ryan’s forwardness. He hadn’t expected it.

The silence extended past the point of ordinary and suddenly it was uncomfortable. Brendon desperately tried to decide which would be less obviously an escape route- going for a shower or going to the toilet- but then there were a few smart knocks on the door of the hotel room and Brendon thanked his lucky stars for the convenient timing of the breakfast delivery. His jaw went slightly slack as he watched Ryan stand up but he started scratching his neck totally inconspicuously when Ryan shrugged on the robe. He sighed deeply, resounding, once Ryan was out of immediate earshot, and shifted around a little, fixing the bedsheets best he could so it didn’t look as- well- damning. Clicking his tongue, he sat up straight and pressed his back against the headboard, watching quietly as Ryan brought in the cart. Admittedly, it looked, and smelled, delicious. For a second he really did forget about the awkward situation Ryan had put them in just moments before. Managing a genuine smile, he shifted aside to leave room for Ryan to sit down. When he placed the tray down considerately he was truly enamoured for a few seconds- that tended to happen with Brendon. Check it. I call blueberry.

“Fuck,” Brendon cursed, but stared at the spread for a few moments before he made his decision and grabbed a simple, humble sugary waffle. ”Fine. I call everything else.” He wasn’t as hung over as Ryan was he wasn’t craving sugary and unhealthy food, but still. This would ease the baby hangover that he was starting to feel the effects of. Absently while he took a bite out of the waffle, Brendon noted Ryan sitting down beside him. And I think I've found our new tour costumes, whenever we rebrand. This is absolutely a look. Brendon laughed and dragged his attention away from Ryan’s exposed skin (somehow affected though they’d been fairly naked and lying with eachother for god knows how long now, he didn’t know what time it was), instead focusing intently on the waffle like it was the most fascinating thing on the planet. ”A look? You even sound gay. How did you and Keltie even-“ Hm, rethink that, Brendon. He ripped his waffle into many small pieces nervously.
Brendon knew deep down just how much of an asset he really was to the band and how much more popular it had become since he joined and wrestled the coveted role of frontman from Ryan’s cold, dead hands- but for some reason, as much as he was confident especially of his vocal talents, Ryan’s constant criticisms wore him down and seeped through the cracks of his outwardly self-assured exterior. He wasn’t sure what it was- when he’d joined, fresh-faced, just new blood for the music industry, he didn’t have much mettle to begin with, just pure unharnessed youthful energy and enthusiasm. Ryan’s constant and merciless mocking and insults dressed up as constructive criticism had forced him to build up a self-defensive wall, and all but completely destroyed any confidence he had in writing- he’d never considered himself an incredible lyricist and he doubted he ever would be but, god, had he tried, and Ryan had just kicked down the foundations and watched him crumble because he was passed that somebody was a better singer than he was, more charismatic, more frontman-friendly altogether.

After a while it became easy to ignore because Ryan’s harsh words and their borderline violent fights became oversaturated and it always ended up the same, they’d almost come to physical blows and then they’d both back off, coaxed by whatever third party tried to intervene before things got too serious. Brendon really consider just punching the fucking smirk off his face sometimes but then it’d ruin the Van for good and Spencer and Jon didn’t deserve that. They didn’t sign up for such pointless drama when they enlisted Brendon’s help in the band- all they wanted was somebody more suited to the songs and more up to the challenge of fronting a very theatrical live band, and instead their lives were made more difficult as they had to both manage the band and look after two perpetually fighting toddlers only they wanted to kill eachother. It was a routine, soon- even comfortable because it was familiar- but even though Ryan was running out of material and some insults lacked bite nowadays due to repetition, he still knew just what buttons to press and Brendon hated it.

So he tried to give back as good as he got. Ouch. Brendon watched him cross his arms, bitterly recalling how just before they’d been wrapped around Keltie’s waist, wound around her, he was doing it on purpose, showing her off just to get a rise out of Brendon, he knew it. At first he told himself he wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of a reaction but when he saw them walk into the bus all that sensibility went immediately out of the window. Because of his anger and frustration, he couldn’t quite come up with particularly affecting insults and Ryan’s reaction to that infuriated him even further. He would be hurting in a minute, if Brendon decided to swing for his fucking jaw. Ryan might’ve been considerably taller but Brendon had more muscle and figured he was stronger. It’d be like snapping a toothpick. These thoughts calmed him a little but he stayed silent, going back to his original plan of not satisfying Ryan with some kind of grand spectacle of rage. He just rose and strolled over, his knuckles clenched and white, and brushed intentionally past Ryan as he walked towards the exit of the bus. He then turned and made a remark about dating- to which Ryan reacted not as he had expected but how he had hoped.

He was admittedly alarmed when Ryan’s hand shot out and tightened in a vice grip around his arm, and his eyes widened as he staggered backwards out of the bus, held in balance by Ryan and clearly for his benefit, not for the benefit of Brendon not falling. So much for him being stronger, he thought bitterly. Oh, yeah? What are your options? You gonna pay someone? Brendon yanked his arm away defiantly as Ryan let go and crossed his arms over his chest. He really did want to wipe that smartass fucking smile off his face. ”Oh, please. I could get them to pay me if I wanted to. You’re so sexually confused that you’d be first on my damn doorstep,” He spat, rubbing the arm that Ryan had held onto. It’s not like anyone would stick around for free, obviously. Brendon sneered, already knowing where this was going. There’s not much to redeem all of this. Brendon raised his eyebrows as Ryan looked him fully up and down. It was almost laughable how he dug his own damn grave. ”That’s right, motherfucker, take a good look. It’s all you’re ever gonna get. Die mad about it.”

Oh, and, you know, the emotional baggage of you being obsessed with your guitarist even though he's got a girlfriend. Not sure anyone would want to be with that. He scoffed, wringing his hands together all the same. He just wanted to be left alone. ”Don’t flatter yourself. And anyway- are you sure it’s a girlfriend? How many have you had before that poor girl you’re whisking along now with your sad damaged English dropout act? I heard you’ve got some on the side. How about that? That true?” He cast a venomous glare back towards the bus. ”Maybe Keltie would like to know about Jac, and Helena, and...”
No, you’re right. I look at old photos of me and wonder how an album ever sold. Brendon vehemently disagreed with whatever Ryan was trying to imply- that before Brendon has reinvented his look he was ugly, or embarassing, or something. ”You would say that.” Considering that when he and Ryan had first met, Brendon thought he was annoyingly handsome, handsome enough that Brendon actually didn’t want to leave the bar and politely excuse himself from such situations like he usually did, no, there was no wonder Ryan’s albums sold, if they were basing everything solely on appearance. Sure, he had outgrown his hair and clothes and looked younger than he was, but Brendon admittedly somewhat fell for that boyish gaze and smile- and he all he did after that was drop himself in further shit by winding up getting employed by the guy he thought would be lying in bed next to him by the next morning, and then making said employer into his practical perfect man. Now they were stuck in a midpoint between professionalism and attraction and neither of them had the guts to make the first move. So, they did this, instead, address serious subtext in light and humorous ways so things didn’t get too deep. That wasn’t them yet. God bless. Brendon laughed, raised his eyebrows. ”So I’m God now?& like this, keep it coming.”

Wow. Brendon grinned, but honestly, when he thought about it, he knew he’d be equally exposed by whatever evidence people claimed to have of Ryan and Brendon’s ‘secret relationship’. It was so secret that even they didn’t know that they were in it, that was their running joke- but, ridiculously, he often considered whether that had a ring of truth. They shared the same hotel room, for god’s sake. Ryan had never done that out of choice with anyone, not even Spencer, his closest and oldest friend. Yeah, they're running out of content and relying completely on Instagram fan account photos. Brendon became all faux somber, shaking his head with a soft, disappointed sigh. ”They’re starving, Ryan, starving. You might say thirsty. Give them some goddamn content so they can call me a rich man’s whore using sources straight from the horse’s mouth.” More a self burn than anything, but Brendon was still cautious of his gifts being taken away as punishment for being annoying, so he sucked up real fast. Luckily, Ryan tended to be forgiving. Otherwise he’d be dead already. Sad, But you better watch it. I have purchase receipts for all of that. ”I’d rather you sell Spencer than return these,” Brendon declared, fully not kidding.

To be honest, the varied responses from fans of Ryan on social media didn’t really bother Brendon unless the insults were directed to anyone other than himself. Dating rumours he could handle because he understood them, accusations of him of taking advantage of Ryan’s wealth and being some kind of thirsty chaser of his fifteen minutes of fame he could sort of understand if you had a very spiteful point of view. Most of it seemed positive, anyway. If Ryan approved, the real fans tended to approve too. Not that Brendon cared whether he earned their acceptance or not- Ryan’s attention was all he really cared about in that sense. Those titles don't go hand in hand? Damn it. Why are you even here? He arched an eyebrow, daring him to go there and not waiting for further prompting. ”To be honest, I’m not quite sure myself. What I gather is that some fashion disaster rockstar thought I was cute but found out I was in just the line of work he needed and decided I’d be better off as his employee than as the subject of a sex scandal.”

Back to subtext, it seemed, that was getting a little tiring to navigate when at this point it was difficult to tell whether Ryan was joking or he was just being how he was. The trouble Brendon had was that Ryan made jokes so much and treated it so lightly that Brendon barely knew how to respond because he’d either make a fool of himself for being deeper than the situation called for or he’d seen rude for making a joke in return. It was difficult to navigate and though it was bound to be a conversation with more at stake, he’d prefer Ryan just tell him than to assume that Brendon knew exactly how he felt. Otherwise, he really didn’t know how to behave. He tried not to be too deep, though, again- and it wasn’t too hard because Ryan was being so stupendously obvious again it was almost laughable, but it clearly wasn’t because Brendon was flushed and even flustered, no matter how much he attempted to hide it. Yeah! You’re something special, really. ”I mean, yeah, obviously.” Well, only to you. Why else do you think I always walk a little behind you? Honestly, Brendon, I'm obvious.

A pause. Brendon smirked and his eyebrows lifted and dropped with deft speed. ”I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. But- I don’t blame you.” Brendon turned his attention back to the jeans and looked inside them for a second at the label, checking the measurements- not quite his size. Maybe Ryan didn’t do his research, though he imagined it was a test he enjoyed studying for. ”Should I be offended by the smaller size or is it intentional?” I guess we'll see. You know, in all my wildest fantasies, I never imagined I'd be putting you in more clothes. Immediately, Brendon started giggling, but he shrugged and lay the jeans back down on the back of the couch. ”You’re forgetting something,” He pointed out. I have to get undressed first, right? Anyway. You gonna give me some privacy, or?”
/I’m so productive
/so I Know
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