the claw-foot Lady (softlyforgotten) wrote in word_plays,
the claw-foot Lady

Part 7/9

Continued from here.


Ryan finishes the last of his homework at six o'clock on Sunday, and stretches back in his chair, cracking his fingers over his head and dropping his pen triumphantly on the floor. He spends about five minutes flipping through his books, half to check he didn't forget anything and half to feel smug and superior for a while. Then, he stands up and goes downstairs, heats up some instant noodles for a brief dinner. His dad isn't home, and Ryan feels a little aimless for a while, drifting stupidly from room to room. Eventually he heads up the street to the corner shop and buys three packets of candy. It's always ten times more expensive at the movies.

It's about forty-five minutes on public transport to get to Brendon's place, Ryan thinks on his way back. He could drive, but his car has started making dubious clunking noises, and it's probably for the best if he gives it a rest for a while. Jon usually drives them around during school time, anyway.

He hesitates for a moment. It's too early, really, to be getting ready, but he figures if nothing else he can go and meet Brendon at his place. He wonders if they'll watch the movie. So far, they don't have the best track record at doing something for longer than forty-five minutes before pausing to fight or make out. He goes and showers, washes his hair, sings quietly to himself under the stream of the water.

It takes some rummaging through his drawers, but after a while he comes up with a clean pair of jeans and shirt, and he blow-dries his hair and puts some eyeliner on, too. He hasn't gotten dressed properly in a while; he spent most of the time in Brendon's apartment slobbing around, barely dressed at all, and he doesn't bother that much when he's going to work. Now, he moves quickly; sure, deft movements, and there's a song stuck in his head, something with trumpets and strings.

He's almost about to leave when the sight of himself in his mirror catches his eye. He was just looking in it a moment ago, of course, but now he stops and stares properly. He looks dressed up, looks his best, hair falling artfully over his face. He also looks kind of excited. Mostly, Ryan thinks, mostly, he looks like he's about to go on a date.

Ryan freezes. This was never meant to – but now he thinks about it, Brendon's cautious expression on Friday, and Ryan hadn't stopped smiling all the way home, and he doesn't, he doesn't want this. He doesn't even like Brendon, this whole thing is fucking his head up, and he rips his shirt off almost viciously, tossing it on the floor and throwing himself back on his bed, kicking off his shoes.

"Fuck it," he says. He doesn't have any sort of fucking obligation to Brendon, doesn't need to go anywhere if he doesn't want to, and this is too much, too weird, too close. Ryan breathes out and turns around, shoves his face in his pillow. He doesn't put music on. He lies there unmoving, the minutes passing with his excruciating slowness.

His phone doesn't go off at eight o'clock, or anytime after that, and Ryan doesn't move.


The first morning of school is never great. Ryan's always grumpy and pissed off and feeling cheated, like the vacation has gone too fast, and he's very much not a morning person, anyway.

The first morning of school, Ryan finds out, is considerably worse when it begins with Spencer and Jon hurrying across the parking lot towards him. Jon looks cautious but Spencer opens, bluntly, with, "Ryan, did you know everyone's talking about how you apparently sucked off the English substitute teacher under his desk last term?"

Ryan gapes at him. "I what?"

"Easy, Spence," Jon murmurs, and steps up properly. "Don't freak out, Ryan. But um, yeah, we heard it from Cash, who heard it from one of the Alexes—"

"—who heard it from Lindsey, who heard it from Vicky, who heard it from Quinn," Spencer finishes.

Ryan runs his hands through his hair, mind reeling. "How the fuck did Quinn come up with this?"

Spencer smiles grimly. "Well," he says. "For that, I'd ask the guy who apparently saw you in the first place."

Ryan swallows hard. "Who's that?" he asks, a heavy weight settling in his stomach. He already knows.

Jon looks sympathetic. "Brendon Urie," he says.


Ryan's first reaction is blind fury because seriously, how dare Brendon, who the fuck does he think he is, spreading rumors like that? When Ryan passes a group of football jocks who wouldn't be out of place in one of those clichéd high school comedies, their heads turn towards him, one of the guys hollowing his cheeks while the others laugh. Ryan balls his fists in his pockets and keeps his chin high.

Next to him, Jon shakes his head. "It's not like anyone believes it," he tells Ryan. "It's Brendon, and you. They all know better than that."

"Really?" Ryan keeps his voice even. "Then why's everyone laughing at me, huh? Why are they all fucking talking about it?"

Jon knocks their shoulders together as they turn the corridor towards the biology classroom. "Hey, it's as good as opportunity as any to have a little fun. No need to believe it to drop nasty comments, you know how it is."

Yeah, Ryan does.

He's about to reply when his gaze settles on Brendon, leaning against the wall opposite the classroom. His shoulders are hunched in and he's glaring at the floor while two vaguely familiar guys and a girl are mocking him, thou shalt not lie, hey, ever heard of that?

It didn't occur to Ryan that Brendon might have hurt himself more than he hurt Ryan. Brendon isn't stupid; he knows that his own runaway mouth and snappy attitude haven't endeared him to people. Maybe that's why he hasn't tried anything like this before.

Ryan isn't stupid, either. He's perfectly capable of adding up two and two, and what it boils down to is that Brendon cares. That it wasn't just Ryan's subconscious that made him dress up as if he were on his way to a date.

Ryan's breath comes a little harder, but he manages to pass Brendon on his way into the classroom without so much as a sideways glance.


They've never been good at ignoring each other. Somehow, Ryan makes it through biology without any outward reaction to Brendon hissing instructions at his lab partner, and then Ryan leaves as quickly as he can, Jon hurrying to keep up. He manages to avoid Brendon for the rest of the day.

When he gets home from the clothing store, he cooks himself a pot of pasta, far too much for one person, and he eats in on the couch in front of the TV. He doesn't think about going over to see Brendon.

wanna come ovr? Spencer texts him shortly after eight. Ryan doesn't reply.

He goes to bed early that night, still no trace of his dad, and then he just lies awake for what feels like the better half of an eternity. His dad gets home some time after midnight, stumbling about the place and cursing as he runs into a wall or some other solid object, whatever.

Ryan lies very still and silent and pretends to be asleep when the door creaks open. He wonders why his father bothers to check in the first place; Ryan doubts he has any lingering notions of being a good parent even when he's sober long enough to give it a thought.

It's another half hour before the house feels entirely peaceful again. When Ryan reaches over to press the button that makes his clock light up, it's shortly past one.

His car keys are on his desk. He could—

Ryan squeezes his eyes shut and rolls over, facing the wall.


He's up way before his usual time and it gives him a chance to actually make some breakfast. He eats slowly, but it's still three quarters of an hour until he really has to leave. The kitchen feels too quiet and big for him.

His dad hates waking up to Ryan turning the music up too loud, so Ryan doesn't even bother turning on the stereo. The definition of 'too loud' is one that changes continually. It doesn't stop him from crouching down by the pile of CDs, running his fingers along the cases, most of them cracked in corners. Not that different from Brendon's laptop.

Ryan pauses on his copy of The Clash's London Calling. Some of the letters are in a faint pink, clearly not a modern design, and the CD falls out of the case when he opens it. He puts it back in and looks at his watch. Still more than half an hour. Brendon won't have left the apartment yet.

Ryan grabs the CD, his backpack and the car keys, and then he's out of the house. He vaguely wonders when he last spoke to his dad – four days, or five? It doesn't matter.

The drive over to Brendon's place feels almost too familiar by now. Ryan taps his fingers on the steering wheel when he has to wait at a red light and considers turning around, driving around the city until it's time to actually go to school. Instead, he catches a glimpse of his own tired eyes in the rear-view mirror when he twists around to reach for a bottle of water behind the driver's seat, and he thinks of Brendon's closed off expression yesterday.

He doesn't turn around.

The door downstairs opens without anyone having to buzz him in, and Ryan climbs the stairs slowly. The strap of his backpack cuts into his shoulder. Maybe Brendon already left.

He knocks twice, tentatively, then presses his ear to the wood. He doesn't hear anything and is about to take a step back and leave when the door is suddenly pulled open.

Brendon looks like shit. His face is tired, much more so than it was during their vacation, as if one day of school and work was already enough to exhaust him. He blinks at Ryan, slowly, and it takes longer than it should for his frown to appear. "What?" he says harshly.

Ryan shifts his weight from his left foot to his right. "Can I come in?"

"I'm about to leave."

"I can drive us both."

If anything, Brendon's eyes narrow. "Why? We don't have enough time for a quickie. That'd be fast even for you."

Ryan snorts and takes a step forward. Brendon doesn't step back. "Look," Ryan says. "I'm sorry I missed our—" Date. "I missed the movie."

"Then you shouldn't have." Brendon crosses his arms.

There's no nonchalant way to give him the CD, so Ryan doesn't even try. He lets his backpack slide to the ground and crouches down, mumbling, "I brought you something," without looking up at Brendon.

When he holds out the CD, Brendon doesn't take it right away. He keeps his arms crossed, and Ryan glances at him to find that the narrow-eyed stare has transformed into a full glare. It looks like he's biting the inside of his cheek.

Ryan rolls to his feet and lifts his head. "Oh, stop it, okay? It's not a gift, or whatever, and could you just stop it with the fucking cheap thing? I just, this was lying around, there's two of them at home, and it's pretty broken already, so, you know."

It takes two seconds, three. Then Brendon's shoulders slump and he reaches for the CD, fingers brushing accidentally as he takes it from Ryan. "Really?" he asks, abruptly soft.

"Keep it, I don't care." Ryan shrugs, and he tries not to show how much lighter he feels when Brendon smiles at him, tentative at first. When Ryan returns it, Brendon's smile widens.

"Okay," he says.

Ryan nods and glances at his watch. "We should go."

Brendon takes a step back, his posture challenging. "We still have a few minutes."

"Yeah," Ryan says, repeats, "yeah," and then he kicks his backpack into the apartment, nudges the door shut with his hip, and it's hardly even a second before Brendon is pressed up against him, their mouths aligning easily. Brendon's tongue flickers out against his bottom lip and Ryan pulls him closer, one hand on the back of Brendon's neck.

He doesn't know why he went three days without this.

Brendon kisses hard, biting and licking and squirming right up against Ryan, until it feels like they don't have any space between them anymore and usually, usually Ryan would class this kind of thing in the 'fucking awesome' category of his head. Now, though, he's acutely aware that they've got about three minutes before they have to leave, and he pulls back just a tiny bit, enough to soften the kisses, small and easy. Brendon follows his lead and after a while it's barely the ghosts of kissing, mouths brushing lightly against each other.

Ryan murmurs, "Under the desk? Really?"

"Shut up," Brendon says. It doesn't have much heat behind it, and Ryan opens his eyes, grinning, to see Brendon watching him with a half amused, half annoyed kind of expression.

"I'm just a little surprised," Ryan tells him. "That was seriously the best you could come up with?"

"All the best lies have a hint of truth," Brendon answers, smugly, and Ryan rolls his eyes.

"Yeah, whatever," he says. "Wishful thinking, Urie."

Brendon screws his mouth up and pulls away. "We're going to be late," he says, crossing to pick up his bag and shove some books spread haphazardly across his kitchen table into it. "Come on."

"I'm ready," Ryan says. He steps aside with an exaggerated gesture while Brendon closes the door behind them, locks it. Ryan lingers close behind him, not enough for Brendon to call him on it, just enough so that he can watch the carefully straight line of Brendon's back, the way his hands are just a little unsteady with the keys, and snicker to himself.

He stops smirking when Brendon steps back deliberately fast, knocking his elbow into Ryan's chest hard. Ryan huffs in surprise and Brendon laughs, darting down the stairs easily. He carries himself with a sudden lightness, and Ryan swallows around the sudden tightness in his throat.

"Hey," he calls, and Brendon turns, looking impatient. Ryan starts down the stairs towards him and says, "I will, if you want."

"Will what?" Brendon asks, starting to walk again a little behind Ryan.

Ryan pushes his hair out of his face and turns his head to look at Brendon. "Suck you off under a desk," he says. Then he speeds his steps up, laughing stupidly to himself, and Brendon trails after him, grumbling under his breath about stupid assholes who think they're funny.

Ryan means it, is the thing. But maybe he'll tell Brendon that later.


They don't really talk on the way, but Ryan's humming under his breath again. It's taken Brendon a long time to notice he does that, mostly because generally Ryan doesn't get in the exact right mood of absent-minded and vaguely contented combined that it takes for any such humming to begin very often. A while ago, maybe, he would have called Ryan on it; now, it's just background noise. Every now and then, Brendon will admit grudgingly, it's maybe a little comforting.

When they're about three blocks away from the school, Brendon unbuckles his seatbelt and drags his bag up into his lap. "Alright," he says. "Pull over."

Ryan looks at him like he's a moron. "We're not there yet," he drawls, raising his eyebrows. "I would have thought you'd know the difference between the place you've spent the last four and a half years and a closed gym, science boy."

Brendon rolls his eyes. "Yeah, yeah," he says. "I'll walk from here."

Ryan blinks, and pulls over a little slower than usual (and that's saying something). "I don't – what?" he says, voice confused, and, fuck. Brendon shifts uncomfortably. It would be now that Ryan picks to turn into an idiot.

"Well," he says, trying to be patient, even though he's not so good at that, especially not when it comes to Ryan. He knows a peace offering when he sees one, though, and the CD and Ryan's face – anyway. "Unless you want to turn up to school together and freak everyone out…"

"Oh," Ryan says. His face goes stony, and he taps his fingers against the steering wheel, a little sharply, ratatatat. "Right. Of course."

"Thanks," Brendon says, awkwardly. "For the lift."

Ryan lifts one shoulder and drops it, not looking at Brendon. "Sure. Whatever."

"Jesus," Brendon spits. He leans in and kisses Ryan hard once, mouths knocking together a little awkwardly. "Don't be such a fucking loser. Aren't you over sulking yet?"

Ryan glares at him, but the corners of his mouth are twitching. "Fuck you," he says, and it comes out naturally, almost warm.

"Most people get over tantrums once they go to high school," Brendon tells him, hopping out of the car, and Ryan rolls his eyes and doesn't say anything else. When Brendon closes the door he just pulls away from the curb and drives off, and Brendon crouches over his bag, pretends he's checking something. The lights are red ahead, and he doesn't want to have that awkward moment when they're alongside each other again.

He looks up when Ryan's car peels away around the corner, and slings his bag over his shoulder. "Fuck," he says. He starts walking.

At school, Ryan is standing on the steps with Spencer and Jon on either side of him. He looks up and Brendon ducks his head, but it's too late, and when he glances back up again, Ryan is still watching him, expression unreadable. Then Jon grabs his arm and all three of them turn away, and disappear through the doorway.

"Fuck," Brendon repeats.


If Brendon thought senior year was hard last semester, this semester seems determined to make him miss each comparatively tiny load of homework. By Wednesday afternoon, he's already been forced to call work and tell them that he needs to cut down on his shifts per week, or there's just going to be no way he can finish school. Then he goes and sits in the corner of his apartment and freaks out a little bit.

He wants to call Ryan, sort of. Ryan's number is in his phone – Ryan gave him his number – but it's, Brendon feels too uncertain around Ryan these days, too unsure of his own footing. They've barely had a chance to speak these past few days, anyway; both of them incredibly busy, and the only real interaction they've had was a chance encounter between classes on Tuesday after lunch. Brendon's music class had been cancelled and he was on his way home when Ryan appeared, caught his gaze, and then pulled him into the nearest bathroom, leaning up against the door to block it from intruders and kissing hard and frantic for a moment.

"You look tired," Ryan had said, and then ducked away, back to his class, leaving Brendon wide-eyed behind him.

No, he can't call Ryan. He presses two on his speed dial instead.

"Hey, honey," Kara picks up with. "One sec, I'll call you back."

"Kay," Brendon says, and hangs up. He counts to fifteen and then the phone rings again, and Brendon answers quickly. "Hey."

"How's it going?" Kara asks. "Is everything alright? I haven't heard from you in a while."

"I know," Brendon says. "Sorry, I was working and stuff. Did you have a good New Year?"

"Yeah," Kara says. "It was a bit lame, though. Tommy had an upset tummy the night before and I was tired, so I fell asleep before midnight and everything." Brendon laughs, and he can hear Kara smiling across the line when she says, "I suppose it's unnecessary to ask if you stayed up?"

"Yeah," Brendon says. "Found the top floor of this place to watch the fireworks and everything, too. It was pretty cool."

"Awesome," Kara says. She hesitates. "You sure everything's alright?"

Brendon scratches his forehead. "Yeah," he says. "Yeah, I – I just had to cut down some shifts at the smoothie place, is all. It's like. I really need to get a scholarship if I want to – to get to college, but I have to be able to get rent and then transport over there and stuff—"

"You're still set on Chicago?"

"Yeah," Brendon says. He and Kara fought about this for nearly a month when he first moved out; now she just sounds resigned. "I just. I need to not be in Vegas for a while."

"I know," she says. "I know, Brendon." She's quiet for a moment and then says, "I was sorry I didn't get to give you a Christmas gift."

"Hey, no," Brendon says. "I didn't get you anything, either. I wasn't expecting—"

"I know you weren't," she says. "But it was unfair, all the same. I had to wait a bit, Brendon, though. For Grandpop's gifts, you know, and some other stuff. James was down here for Christmas, did you know?"

"I heard," Brendon mumbles. Kara doesn't ask how.

"Yeah," she confirms. "Anyway. He was here, and Susie couldn't come down from Hawaii, but I talked to her. Have you checked your mail today?"

"No," Brendon says, slowly.

"Go on," she says, and Brendon gets to his feet and runs quickly downstairs to where their letters are kept, phone pressed to his ear. When he unlocks the little metal door, there's a bill and a plain white envelope, with just his name and address on the front, no return address at all.

"What is it?" he asks.

"Open it and see," Kara tells him, and Brendon opens it carefully. His heart feels like it stops for a minute, and then he eases out the cheque carefully. It's nearly twelve hundred dollars.

"Oh my God," he whispers. His voice comes out as little more than a soft wheeze.

"Merry Christmas, honey," Kara says. "You'll get to college. I promise."


They're supposed to turn their cell phones off during their shift. Brendon doesn't get a lot of calls and he forgets sometimes, so when it buzzes just as he's putting together an apple-vanilla-mango thing, he's glad it's just Haley with him today. He's fairly certain she won't tell on him.

The blender whirs over the music, and Brendon throws a covert glance at the line of customers before turning his back. He tries to be inconspicuous about pulling out his phone, the display already a little darkened with age. Ryan's name is at the top of the short message.

Brendon flicks another glance at the customers before he allows himself to read it. He's not eager to. It's just that he's happy to seize upon anything that will relieve the boredom of work, no matter how small.

my dad's on business for a few days leaving tomorrow. wanna come over?

Quickly, Brendon rereads the message before letting the phone slide back into his pocket and turning off the blender. He ran into Ryan at school today, but it was just a passing glance in the hallway. It made Brendon's heart speed up stupidly, so he had turned his head away and frowned at some kid that was standing in his way.

He waits with his reply until he gets off work. The bus is almost empty this late, only a couple of teenagers at the back while Brendon sits right above the wheels, trying not to let the humming engine lull him to sleep.

The ceiling light nearest to him is broken, so the display is glowing faintly when Brendon starts writing his reply.

As long as there's food.


Brendon doesn't look up when Ryan shoves past him on the way to the lockers with a snapped, "Get out of my fucking way, Urie," but he does feel the ghost of Ryan's hand on his hip, two fingers slipping into Brendon's pocket before he's gone. For good measure, Brendon levels a glare at his back and isn't quite sure when this became about going through the motions, keeping up appearances rather than any purpose behind it.

Once he rounds the corner into the next corridor, shouldering past other students on his way, he withdraws the note from his pocket. It looks like Ryan tore it out of a pad or something. There's no signature, just Ryan's wide scrawl. If you're not working, I'll pick you up at four. (Am out of phone credit.)

When their eyes meet in the cafeteria, Ryan's tray full while Brendon decides that he'd be fine with just an apple, Brendon nods quickly, nearly imperceptible, before he looks away.


It's ten to four when Brendon lets Ryan into his apartment, a remark already on the tip of his tongue; so desperate to see me. Before he gets around to it, though, Ryan has pushed him back against the wall, mouth rough on Brendon's, tongue sliding inside without so much as a courteous greeting. Brendon's heart wasn't in the mocking, anyway. He curls his tongue around Ryan's, tilting his hips to rub up against him, and there's a frantic moment when they simultaneously reach for each other's shirts, hands knocking.

With a breathless laugh, Brendon slumps against the wall and allows Ryan to take the lead, lifting his arms for Ryan to pull the shirt over his head. Fuck, it's been a week.

"Tough week?" Ryan asks into the curve of Brendon's neck, just before he sucks on a spot below Brendon's jaw. Brendon lets out a sharp breath and tips his head back, and it takes him a moment to discard his initial surprise at Ryan reading his thoughts. You look tired, his memory supplies, along with the image of Ryan's eyes unguarded in the clinical light of the school restroom.

"Yeah," Brendon mutters. "Second half was better, though."

Ryan looks up from underneath his lashes, and it makes something tighten in Brendon's chest. "Generous tip from a customer?"

"Christmas present from my sister," Brendon says, without thinking.

"Oh. I didn't know you still—" Ryan cuts himself off, but it's not as if the sentence isn't easy to complete. Brendon lifts one hand to the small of Ryan's back, pushing the shirt up enough to get his fingers on bare skin. It's warm to the touch. He blinks up at the bland white-gray of a ceiling that hasn't seen fresh paint in years.

"We talk on the phone, when she's sure no one's around to notice. And she leaves me food and letters, sometimes, you know."

Ryan clears his throat, pausing with his lips pressed against Brendon's jaw line. "Okay," is all he says. Brendon isn't used to being grateful to Ryan Ross, but just this once, he is. Something about it feels strangely surreal, the moment stretched too tight, suspended. Brendon dips his fingers below the waistband of Ryan's jeans, enough to feel the crack of Ryan's ass through the boxers.

"Your week?" Brendon asks.

Ryan exhales against Brendon's cheek. "Fine."

The word sounds like empty bottles and heavy silence. Brendon kisses it away before it has a chance to really manifest between them, and Ryan sinks against him and presses closer. He makes a soft noise when Brendon's hand slips into his boxers, the dry tip of Brendon's index finger just barely touching the puckered entrance to Ryan's body. Ryan's reaction consists of trying to shift forward and back at the same time.

"Bed?" Brendon suggests.

Ryan's eyes flutter open, and it looks like it requires effort. "What, too weak to fuck me against a wall?"

Wow, that shouldn't be hot. Or should it? Brendon isn't sure. "Strong enough for your bony ass, Ross." Then it hits him that they're bantering, Jesus Christ, and he immediately shuts off that thought and pushes the tip of his finger into Ryan, just nudges it inside and feels Ryan's breath damp on his cheek.

"C'mon," Ryan mutters, and then he's the one tugging Brendon towards the bed. They fall down still tangled, pressed close, Ryan on his back with Brendon sprawled over him, wrist twisted at an awkward angle because his hand is still on Ryan's ass. Ryan wraps one leg around Brendon's waist and does this thing where he lifts his hips off the bed, rubbing up against Brendon, and shit, shit, Brendon doesn't want to come already just from this, Ryan would never stop mocking him if he did. They didn't even take off their pants yet.

He manages to untangle himself enough to reach for the lube on the floor. Then he pauses, half-suspended over Ryan who gives him an impatient look. "What?" Ryan asks.

"Um." Brendon sits back carefully, and he's in between Ryan's legs and it's been a week, fuck. "Condom?"

"What do you mean, condom?" Ryan's fingers still on Brendon's thighs.

"Well, you're the one who put on the last one, I thought you'd—"

"If I put on a condom to, like, fuck your brains out, okay, because you weren't complaining." It looks faintly ridiculous, Ryan glaring up at Brendon with his hair tangled on the pillow, his hard-on still obvious. "Anyway, just, how does that make me the one who has to buy more?"

Because you're the one who doesn't have to eat on three dollars a day, Brendon doesn't say. He crosses his arms and evenly meets Ryan's glare. There's an excited flush high on Ryan's cheeks.

Suddenly, Ryan's lips twitch and he looks away. "Sorry," he says, but he's clearly suppressing a snort of laughter. Brendon shoves at his shoulder, and Ryan easily rolls with it, mattress dipping under him and upsetting Brendon's balance, making him collapse half on top of Ryan. A faint trace of laughter starts vibrating in Brendon's stomach, traveling higher up into his chest.

"Asshole," he tells Ryan, but even he can hear there's absolutely no heat in it.

Ryan grins up at him, eyes bright with amusement, and it takes a moment before Brendon shakes his head and snickers softly. "I have condoms at home," Ryan says.

"We could just do something else, like…" Brendon lets the sentence trail off and flicks his eyes down at the bulge in Ryan's jeans.

"We could, yeah." Ryan pauses. His voice is hesitant and defiant at once, daring Brendon to make a wrong comment. "Just, okay, I'm kind of in the mood for fucking, okay?"

"You want me to fuck you," Brendon says slowly. He doesn't even try to fight his shit-eating grin because this? It's worth savoring.

"So? I remember you begging for it, Urie."

Brendon lifts one shoulder, and his grin doesn't fade in the least. "You have a nice cock."

For a second, it looks like Ryan has no idea what to say. Then he shakes his head and snorts, rolling out from under Brendon with one swift movement. "Get your laundry," he says.

Brendon stares at him. "What?"

"Laundry." Ryan meets the stare with a blank expression. His shoulders are inched back, just a little. "Dirty clothes, you know? I have a washing machine at home. And detergent. The works."

Brendon draws a slow breath and tries not to think. There are a lot of questions in his head, stupid ideas and a sick feeling in his stomach, but all he says is, "Okay."


The car drive over to Ryan's house is mostly silent. Brendon's laundry is in two plastic bags on the backseat, and Ryan is oddly unreadable again, staring straight ahead in a show of being focused on the traffic. Something about it irritates Brendon.

When they pull up at a red light, he takes the opportunity to reach over and rest his hand in Ryan's lap. Ryan is still hard under his palm, hot even through the denim, and he snaps his head around to look at Brendon. "Eyes on the road," Brendon says softly.

Ryan frowns. Brendon drags his knuckles down the length of Ryan's cock, and Ryan inhales sharply, bucking up against the touch as if he can't help it.

"Eyes on the road," Brendon repeats.

Ryan swallows and obeys. The light turns green and he steps on the gas again, driving faster than he did before. Brendon lets his hand rest in Ryan's lap and bites down on the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. He's pretty sure Ryan would take offense to that.


Ryan's house looks slightly cleaner than Brendon remembers it. The curtains are all open, and the afternoon light makes it seem a little friendlier; there are no bottles in the table, although the faint scent of beer still pervades through the house. Brendon squints around the place and then turns to Ryan, raising his eyebrows.

"Did you vacuum?" he asks. Ryan glares and opens his mouth, but Brendon can only keep his expression straight for a second before he bursts out laughing, dropping the bags of clothes leaning back against the wall. The week feels like it's getting better still, and when he glances over, Ryan looks annoyed and amused at the same time, and he's smiling, the big one that Brendon's still not used to.

"If you're finished," Ryan begins, coolly, but Brendon starts to mime pushing a vacuum and makes a zooming noise with his mouth, and promptly starts laughing again.

He closes his eyes and begins to say, through his giggles, "Did you wear a little apron – mmf." He kisses Ryan back a little tentatively, almost shy all of a sudden, and then sighs when Ryan pulls away.

"Yeah, you'd like that, I'm sure," Ryan says, soft in his ear, and Brendon opens his eyes and smiles up at him, can't help it, not with Ryan pressed all along his body like this, like it's easy, like everything's going to be fine.

"I dunno, Ross," Brendon says. "Is it one of those flowery things? My grandma used to wear them. That would be pretty scarring."

"I think I'd have better taste than that," Ryan tells him.

"Have you seen some of the shirts you wear?" Brendon raises his eyebrows, voice skeptical. "I'm not sure if we can avoid the flower obsession."

"Hey," Ryan begins, scrunching up his nose, and to prolong an inevitable and boring argument, Brendon rocks up on his toes (it's hard, Ryan's busy leaning against the wall and over him in a way that means he gets to work the few scant centimeters of height he's got over Brendon) and kisses him, closing his eyes and humming out something soft and small when he slips his tongue into Ryan's mouth. Ryan sighs and slips his hand under Brendon's t-shirt, warm on his back, and Brendon hooks an arm around Ryan's neck and drags him down closer.

Ryan, in a spectacularly smooth move that Brendon plans on reminding him about for, oh, the rest of all time, loses his balance and knocks both of them over onto the floor. Brendon lands heavily on his back, all of his breath rushing out of him, and it doesn't exactly help that Ryan flails around and slams his pointy elbows into Brendon's stomach when he lands on top. Brendon blinks up at him.

"Wow," he says. "That was really cool. You're pretty impressive, you know?"

"Fuck you," Ryan grumbles, and Brendon pushes himself up a bit, kisses Ryan hard and quick, ripping his mouth away and grinning.

"You've got condoms?" he says.

Ryan scrambles to his feet, looking stupidly eager, and Brendon follows him.


"Dude!" Brendon says, when Ryan walks into the bathroom, but Ryan just gives him an unimpressed look and, to be fair, Brendon takes his point. Still, it feels weird – there's sex, and then there's walking in while Brendon's having a shower.

"S'my bathroom," Ryan says, and Brendon's not sure if that really makes a huge difference, but, sure, whatever. "I was just – I thought, uh, pizza for dinner. Is that alright?"

"I want one ham and pineapple," Brendon says immediately, "and one Napolitano."

Ryan blinks. "You're gonna eat both?"

"You paying?" Brendon asks. Ryan nods. Cheerfully, he says, "Yup!"

"Pig," Ryan mutters, but Brendon just laughs, and puts his head back under water, washing the shampoo out of his hair. When he's done, he realizes Ryan's been talking, eyeing Brendon through the glass door. Brendon resists the urge to do some foggy silhouetted dancing. He is not, he reminds himself, in a bad romantic comedy. Something twists a little bit in his stomach.

"Huh?" he says.

"I said," Ryan repeats, "How long are you going to shower for?"

"Have you seen my shower, Ross?" Brendon asks. He could be petulant, he knows, or mean, or even play the sad little abandoned kid angle, which seems to shut Ryan up more often than not, but he's enjoying himself, and the good humor shines through a little too easily. "This is awesome."

"It's not that great," Ryan says. Brendon can hear him rolling his eyes.

"It's got actual water pressure," Brendon says, blissfully. "And heat. And hey, lookit." He extends his arms, hands held up like he's in the process of waving, and, carefully, turns in a full circle. His hands just brush against the sides.

Ryan takes a slow step forward. "It is," he says, slowly, "Kind of big. Bigger than most, I guess."

"It's awesome," Brendon agrees, and then says, "Hey, what are you—"

"It's a big shower," Ryan says, and kicks off his pants.

"Again, Ross?" Brendon bites his lip to hold back his grin.

"Bite me," Ryan says, comfortably, and pulls the fogged up door open. He steps in and says, almost quietly, "Fuck, how hot do you have it?" but Brendon isn't listening, too busy tugging Ryan closer, spanning his hands over Ryan's bony hips. He drops his head and mouths along Ryan's collarbone, and then up his neck, Ryan tilting his head back obligingly, and he skims his hands along Ryan's ass, and down. Ryan's still wet, and Brendon presses just a fingertip inside, scrapes his teeth along Ryan's skin, and Ryan moans and shudders most gratifyingly.

Brendon tilts his head down and says, "Condom?"

"In my jeans pocket," Ryan murmurs, pressing back on Brendon's finger carefully, like he's vaguely worried he's going to slip over. "I thought – in case we wanted to, uh, downstairs—"

"Okay, one, dude, who's the eager one again?" Brendon grins and lets go of Ryan, hopping out of the shower and smacking Ryan's ass quickly when he makes a complaining noise. "And two, ow, carpet burn, no, thanks." He picks up Ryan's jeans from where he left them twisted on the floor and pulls out the strip of condoms, ripping one open and rolling it on as quickly as he can. When he gets back in, he gives the shampoo bottles a suspicious look, but there's a red stamp on the side of the conditioner that says 'organic', so Brendon sends up a silent prayer for the best and slicks his fingers up. Ryan presses up against him, mouth hot on his, rolling his hips against Brendon's, and man, Brendon forgets, sometimes, how incredibly needy Ryan can be when he gives up caring so much what Brendon thinks about him.

"Who says it's your turn to top?" Ryan breathes into Brendon's ear, and Brendon laughs and doesn't bother answering. Instead, he kisses Ryan again, soft under the hot water, and he likes this, even though the water makes it harder to breathe, he likes both of them pressed together naked and wet, likes the way this feels like something more adult, like maybe they're both of them somewhere sure and safe and this is something other than desperation and last-ditch attempts for something, for anything. Maybe more than all of that, though, he likes the soft, gasping sound Ryan makes when he slides a slick finger inside him, and the way Ryan drops his head so that his mouth is resting, soft and tentative, on Brendon's shoulder.


Ryan dials for pizza and then, before Brendon gets the chance to find out where Ryan's living room is, drags him off to do the laundry. Most of "doing the laundry" seems to consist of Ryan giving him a bossy, stern and meaningless lecture about exactly how to work the washing machine (and really, Ryan is the worst at explaining things, he actually uses the phrase "you turn the thing three clicks to the left and then pull out the thing for the other stuff" at one point) while Brendon blinks politely at him, and then of Ryan doing the whole thing for him. At some point Brendon unloads the clothes and puts them in the dryer, and with that one he's allowed to twist the dial, but the whole exercise is pretty ridiculous.

They finish just as the – ridiculously late – pizza guys arrive at the door, and Ryan goes and pays for it, and returns with three boxes that are hot and smell perfect, like cheesy fatty goodness that Brendon hasn't had in a million years, and he's grinning widely when he starts making grabby hands for them. Ryan rolls his eyes and says, "Living room, c'mon," and then leads the way.

Brendon takes one step into the room and freezes.

In the corner, with the lid down and dusty, is a relatively new – by Brendon's standards, anyway, and compared to his old one; maybe ten, fifteen years old? – and seemingly abandoned piano, a couple of books of sheet music on top of it, and then a bunch of other things (two empty candleholders, some textbooks that Brendon vaguely recognized from the year before, a couple of old yearbooks and a pile of junk mail) apparently shoved there over time and since forgotten, and Brendon guesses that the piano has been a storage area for some time, now. He can't look away from it.

"Brendon?" Ryan repeats, sounding kind of pissed off, and Brendon looks at him, forces himself not to get too carried away. It's just a goddamn piano, for fuck's sake. He just - he hasn't seen one outside of school since he left home, and especially since they've stopped letting kids into the music room to practice at lunchtime, he's barely gotten to play. Mr. Stump's helping him develop classical guitar stuff for the college apps, even though Brendon will still be trying to get in with piano, to make up for a year of lost learning. Stump says that with a decent couple of weeks of practice before the auditions/interviews Brendon will be fine, that he'll be good enough to pick it up again quickly, and Brendon trusts him, but oh, fuck, he's missed it.

"Sorry," he says, glancing up. "I just. I didn't know you played." He jerks his head at the piano, and Ryan looks uncomfortable.

"Oh," he says. "I don't. Play. I
it was my mom's, she didn't take it with her when she left."

Brendon flushes, despite himself. "Sorry," he says. Ryan shrugs and flips open the first box of pizza, and Brendon blurts out, "The music on top, is that hers too?"

"Yes," Ryan says, tightly, and then, quick and mean, "Shall we put a movie on? I'm not really that fond of hearing you talk."

Brendon thinks regretfully that he probably deserved that.


It's late when Ryan finally drifts off to sleep, Brendon half-curved around him, a comforting weight across Ryan's waist. They'd watched two movies, in the end, and then fucked again, up in Ryan's room on the - reasonably large - mattress he'd dragged up last night for Brendon to sleep on. He'd been meaning to climb back up on his own bed, he really had, but it was warm and easy where he was, and besides, Brendon had fallen asleep almost suspiciously quickly, and since he was half on top of Ryan - anyway, Ryan just doesn't particularly want to wake him up.

It's too easy, he thinks uneasily, to be comfortable like this, with Brendon, but he falls asleep anyway.

When he wakes up it's still dark outside, and his radio alarm clock's flashing 3:19 at him, but there's music coming from downstairs, and Brendon's gone. Ryan staggers to his feet and reaches blindly for the sweater on his desk, pulling it on over his head. He's a bit cold - he guesses that's what happens when you fall asleep in boxers in late winter. Especially, he thinks, a little grumpily, when the eternally boiling up human blanket has hightailed it out of bed to listen to a CD too loudly in the middle of the night for whatever reason.

He almost trips going down the stairs and grumbles to himself. The music sounds faintly familiar, but he can't put a name to it - full, rolling piano that seems to take up all the space, heavy and rich and blossoming and a singer he doesn't recognize, said she'd like to meet a boy who looks like Elvis (and no, seriously, he knows this song), but they're good as well; a full, throaty voice. He wonders for an instant if it's one of his dad's CDs, but that's stupid, because his dad pretty much only listens to country music, and then he freezes in the doorway of the lounge room, because it's not a CD at all.

No, it's Brendon, back curved in front of the piano and hands moving and reaching with a surety that Ryan's never seen before, Brendon stretched and moving and singing huge and incredible, raising his head and wailing at the ceiling (it's Counting Crows, Ryan thinks numbly, he does recognize the song after all: round here we talk just like lions but we sacrifice like lambs).

Ryan thinks, I have known you for a long, long time, known you well enough to smash your face in as a sideline to my stupid fucking life, and how could I have not known this, and Brendon tosses his head and closes his eyes, selfish and unknowable and radiant, and sings, "Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late."

Brendon plays, and Ryan doesn't move, just leans there motionless, unable to take his eyes away from Brendon. Brendon plays incredibly well, plays like he could be doing it for a living. Ryan thinks about the times he and Jon sit around with guitars and Ryan's shitty voice and flushes, and then he thinks about the lyrics he doesn't have music for, and Brendon's voice, and then he stops, doesn't think about anything at all, leans against the doorway and listens.

The song finishes, and Brendon hums out something content and pleased, cracking his fingers. He's about to play something else, Ryan knows, and Ryan could stay and listen for as long as he likes, because Brendon hasn't bothered to turn on any lights and Ryan's out of his line of sight, but Ryan's tired of feeling like an intruder in his own home, so he steps forward slowly, coughs. Brendon whirls around so fast that Ryan expects to hear the whiplash.

"Shit," Brendon says, eyes wide, face tight and strained and looking like he's just waiting, just waiting for Ryan to cut him down, and Ryan breathes in sharply, wants to touch Brendon and kiss him, wants to sit beside him on the piano bench all night, wants to ask why he stopped, why he never did that before, why he's doing it now, all of a sudden.

Instead, he says, "I never knew that you could play like that."

"Oh," Brendon answers, meaninglessly.

Ryan looks at him and says, "You don't – you don't have a piano, at your apartment."

Brendon swallows hard, Ryan can see the way his throat moves. He says, quietly, "No."

"Or a keyboard."

"Or a keyboard," Brendon agrees.

"Okay," Ryan says. He pushes his hair behind his ear, looking down, suddenly shy. Then he crosses to the couch and lies down on it, says, "Play something else."

Brendon hesitates for a minute, like he's going to say no, but after a moment, he turns back and starts to play. Ryan recognizes it as something classical, though he couldn't name the composer. It's long and sad and wistful, and it has these tiny little detailed bits in it that Ryan likes and that make him wonder at how hard they must be to play, how good Brendon must be at the same time. Ryan lies back and listens to it and breathes in and out, but Brendon doesn't start singing again until he thinks Ryan's asleep.

Ryan's not asleep.


Ryan wakes up stiff, sore and sweaty. Needless to say, he's had better mornings.

He groans and tries to roll over – only the heavy weight of another body is trapping him in place, keeping him pressed against the… right, the backrest of the couch, with his head awkwardly propped on the armrest. Ryan blinks one bleary eye open to find his vision taken up mostly by a heavy, scratchy woolen blanket and partly by Brendon's head, his mouth slack and quiet snuffles underlining each inhalation.

Ryan lets his head sink back onto the armrest and stares up at the ceiling. The sun's peeking in through the window, the too-bright beams adding to the headache that's starting to gather behind his forehead.

Brendon's voice, fingers sure on the piano keys, is the last thing Ryan remembers before he must have drifted off to sleep, long after midnight.

He untangles himself gracelessly, nearly tripping over his own feet as he climbs over Brendon's body. The house is eerily silent, except for the rhythmic, short-long-short ticking of the grandfather clock in the hallway that hasn't shown the correct time in years, even though Ryan winds it weekly. If he didn't know Brendon was here, he'd probably feel a restless need to fill the rooms with sounds, music, anything that would keep the heavy silence from closing in on him. As it is, he still feels restless and unsettled, but he's pretty sure it's not connected to the lack of audible life around him.

He takes a shower to wake up his stiff muscles before he pulls on new clothes in his room, just a shirt and old sweatpants that sit loose on his hips, sliding down to show off his hipbones. For some reason, Brendon likes them. Ryan doesn't think Brendon would ever willingly admit it, but it's easy to recall the ghost sensation of Brendon's teeth sucking on the skin and pressing his thumb into the dip next to the arch.

With a vague sense of disgruntlement, Ryan glares down at his hardening cock. This is just… getting ridiculous.

Ryan quickly checks on the couch to find Brendon still asleep, one arm covering his face, before he wanders into the kitchen. The fridge is well stocked, Ryan made sure of that yesterday after school, but somehow, he can't decide on anything that appeals to him. Scrambled eggs, maybe. Then he remembers the first night at Brendon's place, waking up to an apartment smelling of burnt eggs.

He kicks the fridge door shut rather viciously.

When he goes to get a glass of water, he comes across his cell phone lying on the counter next to the sink. It shows him three missed messages, like a reproach, and Ryan's stomach contracts the moment he remembers that it was Friday, last night. Ryan hasn't missed the weekly movie marathon even once in those two years since they introduced it.

Predictably, two messages are from Spencer and one from Jon, combinations of where are yous and you okays. Ryan starts typing a reply just as Brendon comes trudging into the kitchen, knuckling sleep out of his eyes, his hair standing up in wild tufts. Quickly, Ryan looks back down at his phone. "You look fucking ridiculous," he mutters. sorry, sorry, I forgot, is all he can think of before he sends the text off.

"Huh." Brendon doesn't sound offended, more puzzled. When Ryan glances over once again, Brendon is just standing there, openly watching Ryan, his head tilted to one side. Ryan is pretty sure he hates him.

He does.

"Your sweats are too big for your lack of ass," Brendon eventually replies.

"At least mine's not so big I have to shop in the girl section," Ryan shoots back.

Brendon's smile isn't very sleepy anymore. "You like my ass, Ross. Don't lie."

And just like that, Ryan's at a loss again. He puts the phone away and rolls his shoulders back, and when his gaze meets Brendon's, he can't quite make himself look away again. His spine feels hot. His throat is too tight. "Thanks for covering me up, last night."

A fleeting expression of surprise passes over Brendon's face. Then he nods, shrugging. "Sure thing. Thanks for letting me use your piano."

"Yeah." Ryan bites the inside of his cheek until he tastes metal before he inhales deeply. "Since when do you play?"

"A while." Brendon's tone is hesitant, and for a long moment, silence closes in around them and it doesn't look as if he's going to elaborate. Then his lips quirk up at the corners. "My mom taught me, at first. When I was four. We had this huge black thing in the living room, and I'd been stabbing at the keys ever since I could reach them. Guess she was tired of me just randomly hitting whatever I could."

Brendon's mom.

Ryan tries to ignore just how much he feels like the breath's been knocked out of him. It doesn't mean anything that Brendon is just offering things like this. It's just… It's them. It's nothing.

"You're good," Ryan says.

Brendon beams like the sun, and Ryan's headache pounds behind his temples. "Thanks." Brendon takes a step closer, taking the glass from Ryan's loose grip and reaching around him to fill it with water. When Brendon turns his head, his breath is hot against Ryan's cheek. It takes Ryan a moment to realize that Brendon's offering the full glass to him.

He accepts it with a small smile that's too shy and uncertain. Brendon leans against the counter beside him, close enough for their shoulders to overlap. In a move that could almost pass for casual, Brendon slings an arm around Ryan's waist, fingertips resting on Ryan's left hipbone. "I hope," Brendon says, voice slow, "I'm good enough to get a scholarship."

"Did you apply already?" Ryan asks. He thinks of the application forms that have been spread out on his desk for a while now, how he couldn't make himself even fill in his last name just yet. He still hasn't told his dad he's not going to study law.

"Not yet." Brendon exhales. "I just, I haven't had the time, and I still need a recommendation from Stump, and I'm not sure—I was thinking Chicago."

"Chicago?" Too high and surprised. Too… too fucking affected.

"It's a nice city." Brendon sounds like he's not quite sure it really is, like he's mostly reciting something people told him. Stump, maybe; Stump studied in Chicago, and so did Wentz. Rumor has it Wentz followed Stump here, and Jesus, why's Ryan even thinking about stuff like that? "And Northwestern is a good school."

"Whatever," Ryan says, and then he twists away from Brendon and takes a step toward the fridge. His voice still doesn't sound even when he asks, "Pancakes?"

If Brendon notices – he probably doesn't, the fucker – he doesn't call Ryan on it. All he says is, brightly, "Pancakes would be great. Make me breakfast, Ryan Ross."

Ryan ducks his head into the fridge. He's grateful for the cool air on his heated face. "So d'you really think," he asks from his hiding place, "that running away to Chicago will make things easier with your family?"

Short-long-short, the grandfather clock counts out the passing seconds.

"What was that?" Brendon says, uncomfortably low.

Ryan doesn't turn around. Icy air blows across his face. "You heard me."

"Yeah." Then Brendon is silent. Ryan straightens, the box with eggs in one hand, milk in the other and a cheap smile on his face.

"You wanted pancakes?"

Brendon's eyes are cold. "I'm not hungry anymore."

"Suit yourself." Ryan lifts one shoulder and deliberately walks a wide circle around Brendon on his way to the stove. The milk carton sweats against his palm. He sets everything down on the counter and hums to himself, cheerfully.

It's, by all appearances, the last straw. "You fucking asshole," Brendon explodes, and then he's behind Ryan, shoving him forward against the edge of the counter. It digs painfully into Ryan's stomach and he manages to kick out against Brendon's ankle. Rather than lose balance, Brendon keeps himself upright with a too-tight arm around Ryan's chest, cursing low as he squeezes the air out of Ryan's lungs, Ryan's arms trapped by Brendon's grip.

Without much thought, Ryan pushes back with his whole body, making both of them stumble backwards. Brendon crashes into the table. He takes Ryan along when he falls, pulling him down, and it's probably not planned, but Ryan lands heavily on Brendon's chest with Brendon still keeping him turned around.

"Let me go," Ryan hisses. For good measure, he tries to plant his elbow in Brendon's stomach.

"Fucking give up already." Brendon's arm tightens painfully. There might be ribs cracked, Ryan thinks. There probably aren't. There'll be bruises, though, and he wonders if Brendon will kiss them later, trace them with his—


Ryan tries to free himself with a full-body turn, but Brendon anticipates the move and uses Ryan's own momentum to shove him onto the floor, the weight of Brendon's body pinning Ryan down. His arms are twisted at an awkward angle.

"Fuck you," Ryan mutters. His cheek is pressed against the kitchen tiles.

Brendon snorts triumphantly from above him. "Been there, done that."

"Fuck. You." It's about as eloquent as Ryan gets, right now. In response, Brendon grinds down against his ass, and… Whoa, okay. Ryan is pretty sure Brendon is hard. The thought is enough to make his own dick twitch, and that just, that can't be normal, can't be healthy, Jesus.

Brendon bends down enough for his lips to brush Ryan's earlobe. "You're such a slut for me."

"Look who's talking," Ryan grits out. When Brendon rocks down against him, wordlessly, breathing harshly into Ryan's ear, it makes Ryan's hips press into the floor, and. God.

Ryan shoves back and Brendon meets him, still heavy on Ryan's back, lips damp on the back of Ryan's neck. He's rutting against Ryan, utterly graceless, and the friction of Ryan's body sliding a few inches back and forth on the floor is painful, not really a turn-on except for how it is, somehow, and Ryan will never be able to come from this but that doesn't mean his body isn't trying.

His cheek is dragging over the floor each time Brendon grinds down, again, again, and Ryan squeezes his eyes shut, nothing but the feeling of Brendon hot against his back and the tiles cool under him. The ticking of the grandfather clock thumps behind his temples.

He bites down on a grown when he feels Brendon jerk one last time, forcefully, followed by a choked noise before Brendon stills. Ryan rests his forehead on the tiles and tries to calm his breathing.

He's still hard.

Brendon's weight eases suddenly. "Roll over," Brendon orders roughly, voice harsh.

Ryan doesn't bother opening his eyes. "Fuck off, asshole."

"Roll over and I'll suck you off." It still sounds like a command rather than an offer, but it's enough to make Ryan twist around, and a moment later, Brendon's hands are working the sweatpants down his hips. There's this frozen moment when Brendon exhales, warm against Ryan's cock.

Then Brendon swallows him down. No hesitation, no foreplay, just opens his mouth and sinks down and down and down, and Ryan is arching his back off the floor until Brendon shoves him back with one arm braced over Ryan's stomach to keep him still.

"I hate you," Ryan tells the empty air, breathless and weak, and Brendon hums something around Ryan's cock, hand tightening on Ryan's thigh.

Ryan's fingers find Brendon's head, mindlessly tangling in Brendon's hair. "Really," Ryan says, and then Brendon's tongue flicks out over the head of Ryan's cock. His eyes are steady on Ryan's face and, just, Ryan can't watch this, he can't, it's too much. He drops his head back onto the floor, allows himself to let go, and he's pushing against Brendon's hold as he's coming, coming, his mind black and his body convulsing in hot shudders while Brendon works him through it, throat moving as he swallows.

When Ryan comes back down, Brendon is lazily licking his cock clean and it hurts a little, the oversensitive skin twitching with the stimulation. "Stop," Ryan says softly, then adds, "please."

Brendon snorts and moves away. For a moment, Ryan thinks this is it, Brendon will get up and leave, one of them finally went too far. Instead, Brendon moves slightly up Ryan's body until he can rest his cheek on Ryan's stomach.

Blindly, Ryan stares up at the ceiling. He brings one hand up to massage tiny circles into Brendon's skull, and he doesn't let himself wonder.

He closes his eyes instead, and tries to move without knocking Brendon off, lifting his hips off the ground so he can pull his sweatpants back up. Brendon lies there quietly, doesn't say or do anything, and Ryan's hand goes back to his hair almost automatically, even as he watches Brendon narrowly out of the corner of his eyes. Hot, fierce anger wells up in him again, and there's something wrong with him, probably, but he still wants to touch Brendon, wants to hit and punch and scratch and lay his fingers all over, every inch of skin.

"I hate you," he says again, for lack of anything else that makes sense anymore, and Brendon's hair feels so soft against his fingers.

"You're a fucking liar, Ross," Brendon tells him, simply, like it doesn't frighten the hell out of Ryan, like it doesn't freeze him in place. "I'm going to shower."

Continues here.
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