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

Part 2/9

Continued from here.


School the next day kind of sucks, and by 'kind of', Brendon means 'totally'. He sleeps through most of his classes, occasionally rousing himself enough to give an incorrect answer to a disapproving teacher. He doesn't even rise to Ryan's deliberate comments during Biology about how, wow, someone's a little slow today, guess the little science genius was just faking it, huh. Brent looks at him with mild concern but when Brendon tells him that he's fine, Brent doesn't push it, just nods.

"Lots of homework," Brendon says weakly, voice rough and sore, and Brent nods. Brendon sort of wants to cry.

Between three and four he goes and sits in the library and attempts to get some homework done, throat still too sore for the idea of eating anything to be appealing. Kara texts him a bit before four, telling him she's got him an appointment at the doctor's for Thursday after school, which Brendon both appreciates and is annoyed by – going to get checked out is probably a good idea, but it's during a shift, and he's going to have to switch around the times. Maybe the new girl will swap with him, he thinks hopefully. Anyway, the prospect of feeling better is still a good one, and that and finishing a set of Chemistry problems (actually ahead of time, for once) is enough to put him in a slightly cheerful mood, and he's not quite at the wanting-to-die point when he heads to the little filing office.

Ryan is already there, sitting inside and stubbornly refusing to do anything until Brendon shows up, and Brendon rolls his eyes before flopping down in front of his current pile of sorting. Ryan is avoiding looking at him even more than usual, and Brendon's almost curious about it until he remembers suddenly, with a spike of embarrassment in his stomach, the last detention they had, Ryan's weight warm above his. It seems like a long time ago, his sickness blurring the passage of time and making the event itself almost dreamlike, but it's clear that Ryan is still furious or disgusted or both about it, and Brendon feels the helplessness crawling up his throat again.

He's not used to having passive kind of emotions around the other guy, or at least ones that make him more upset than furious, and it's an unpleasant feeling. Brendon ducks his head and they don't speak for the whole time, even though the air feels hot and thick, stifling. By the time detention's almost over Brendon feels angry and ugly, mouth twisting every time he happens to look at Ryan.

Once, he looks up to find Ryan watching him. Ryan goes to duck his head and then apparently thinks better of it, mouth curling into a sneer, and Brendon meets his gaze levelly, chin jutting out. God, Brendon hates him.

Eventually, Beckett (supervising today) comes in and tells them they can go and Brendon gets up, slamming his shoulder into Ryan's hard in a childish attempt to get out the door first. Ryan takes a step back, hissing an obscenity, and Brendon grants him an unpleasant grin over his shoulder.

Outside, he spots his bus at the bottom of the hill and goes to hurry for it, only to have Ryan somehow sneak in front of him and curl his foot around Brendon's ankle, twisting out and sending Brendon tripping forward. Brendon's head is fuzzy and sick, still, the world bright in front of him and his head throbbing, and he isn't in time to catch himself. Instead, he falls straight to the ground, grazing the heels of his hands hard along the concrete. He draws himself up into a sitting position and takes in a shuddering breath, about to pull out the (nonexistent; fuck, his head hurts) strength to launch himself upwards and into a fight, but Ryan isn't even looking at him.

A car pulls over to the curb and the Jon guy sticks his head out of the window, waving Ryan over. "Come on," he shouts, "Spence's already at the diner," and Ryan's face just, brightens. It's like he's forgotten that Brendon's there, grinning broadly, and he almost jogs to the car, jumping in.

Brendon hauls himself to his feet and watches the car drive off, despite himself. Ryan looked happy, he thinks, something small and tired and numb stuck in his throat, and he curls his fingers in the hem of his shirt before he turns and sets off in the direction of home. Who gives a fuck, he thinks, who needs people like Walker and Smith. Brendon's doing fine.


Ryan likes shopping. Part of the reason why he works at the second-hand store is that it gives him a great chance at snatching clothes that he won't also have to see on two other people when taking a bus; there's a lot of fun, individual stuff to be found amongst the pile of clothes some people have outgrown.

The problem is just that Spencer takes shopping to a whole new level.

With Spencer, it isn't just one or three select stores; it's a long row of stores, one after the next, a shoe store thrown in between Gap and Miss Sixty. ("So you'll find something, too," Spencer said.) To make matters worse, Jon isn't there to support Ryan because he has some job interview at Starbucks. Well, Jon's always liked coffee – which begs the question why he'd want to work at Starbucks, but when Ryan voiced that question, Jon rolled his eyes and called him an indie snob.

"Seriously," Ryan complains when seven o'clock rolls around and Spencer shows no sign of tiring even though darkness is creeping up all around them. He's happily swinging two bags that contain three pair of shoes and a t-shirt. "Seriously, how can you possibly be straight?"

"I just am," Spencer says, unfazed. "I just happen to like boobs, thank you very much. If it's not my own, dicks just aren't very interesting."

"You don't know what you're missing," Ryan says.

Spencer gives him a shrewd look. "Oh, please. You don't, either. Have you even kissed another guy?"

Well, not in a technical sense. He's kissed girls, though, and for all Spencer knows, he could have. "Sure," Ryan says haughtily, and he isn't thinking of Brendon stretched out under him.

"Really," Spencer says, dry, and he doesn't know about the Brendon thing, Ryan didn't tell him because it somehow slipped Spencer's mind after the movies, and Ryan wasn't about to bring it up. So, Spencer doesn't know; there is no reason for the amused twitch to his mouth.

"So what?" Ryan says.


"You're laughing at me."

"Only on the inside," Spencer says earnestly.

"I hate you," Ryan says.

"You really don't." Spencer's grin is bright. "Let's grab a smoothie."

"What?" Ryan says. "Why?"

Spencer's expression is the equivalent of the 'duh' that Homer Simpson is so fond of. "Because I feel like one. And because it's right there, see?" He points at the shop sitting near the intersection of this street and the next one. Mid-November is drawing near, but it's already decorated with tinsel and golden bells.

"Um." Ryan shifts his weight, and suddenly, he's not so sure that Spencer really ever forgot about his evasion of the Friday detention recount. "You know that Brendon Urie works in there, right?"

"We've been there a few times, yeah." Spencer raises a brow. "Last time we went, you could hardly shut up about how great it was to order him around when he couldn't do anything to stop you, not while his shift manager was watching."

"I'm not in the mood for a smoothie," Ryan says. "The coffee shop where Tom works, it's not that much farther."

Spencer stops and sets his bags down in the middle of the sidewalk, crossing his arms. "Okay," he says, his smile pleasant. "Spill. Did he knee you in the balls? Did he smudge your eyeliner? Seriously, what happened?"

"He got turned on," Ryan says, then groans and covers his mouth.

For a long second, Spencer appears speechless. Then he bursts out laughing.

"Shut up," Ryan hisses. "It's not that funny."

"Oh, but it is," Spencer says, breathless. "The kid's Mormon, he's part of that group that always rags on how gay your eyeliner is. I mean, c'mon, you were probably fighting it out if your black eye is any indication, and then he, like, popped a boner? And you don't think it's funny?"

I maybe sort of wanted to kiss him, Ryan doesn't say, because it's not true. "Maybe," he says reluctantly.

Spencer's eyes narrow, and Spencer just knows him too well, can read him perfectly since they were six and seven and Ryan's dog died after being sick for a week, and all it took for Spencer to figure it out was one look at Ryan's face. "Maybe," Spencer repeats slowly.

Ryan turns towards the smoothie place, clutching his own bag in a tight grip. "It's funny, yeah," he says, voice firm now. "So, are we going to get a smoothie, or what?"

"Sure," Spencer says. He picks his bags back up, but he looks thoughtful, and Ryan can feel Spencer's questioning look boring into his cheek for most of the time it takes them to get there. Ryan keeps his chin up and his gaze straight ahead.

It's kind of anti-climatic to find that Brendon isn't working.


"Rest," Dr. Hayman tells him with a grave voice. "You need a lot of rest, and I can prescribe you some antibiotics, of course, but what you really need is rest."

Brendon wonders if he really changed his shifts and came all the way out here, changing buses and waiting for ten minutes at the station while people gave him weird looks for sneezing every fifteen seconds, just to hear that he needs rest. He fucking knows he needs rest. "Yeah, thanks," he says. "Antibiotics would be good."

The doctor sighs and bends over his desk to scribble down a few notes. The antibiotics will probably punch a hole into Brendon's budget; he wonders if he should get them at all. But then, if he's self-indulgent enough to buy contacts (even if they're the cheapest ones he could find on the internet, and he's wearing them for two months when it should be one, and he's also good at misplacing or destroying his glasses, so that might not even be cheaper), not buying medication is probably a little ridiculous.

He accepts the prescription and averts his eyes when Dr. Hayman tells him seriously that he really should catch some sleep. Brendon nods and stops at a pharmacy, on his way back to the smoothie shop.

Haley, a mostly nice girl even though she's in that wide-eyed I'm-new-here stage, waves at him from behind the counter. He kind of owes her since she agreed to stay longer today and in turn leave the latter part of her shift the next day to him. Brendon isn't looking forward to working after detention, after almost three hours with Ryan fucking Ross. Hopefully, the antibiotics will help so that it wasn't all in vain.

"Some guy asked for you," Haley tells him. She brushes a strand of hair back behind her ear, and Brendon supposes she'd be pretty, if he were into girls.

"Some guy?" he repeats, tying the apron around his waist. Maybe if he doesn't look at her, she'll get the hint and leave him to his misery. He'll just have to make sure he doesn't fall asleep on the counter.

"Brown hair, kind of cute. And his friend was wearing eyeliner. They said they went to your school." She smiles. "Asked why you weren't working today, so I told them you were at the doctor. Friends of yours?"

Eyeliner, Brendon's brain repeats a little numbly. "No," he says curtly, and thinks, I don't have any friends. He doesn't want any.


For once, Brendon is already there when Ryan comes into the filing room, Wentz happily munching on some cookie while reading through a novel that's on the reading list for one of his classes. Brendon doesn't acknowledge Ryan's presence, and it grates on Ryan's nerves, being ignored.

On his way to his own pile of files, he accidentally kicks Brendon in the ankle. Brendon doesn't even react, and that's strange. Ryan pauses to take in his face, pale and exhausted in the grey light filtering through the dirty windows. So maybe that girl wasn't lying when she said he was visiting some doctor. Even if Spencer only asked because he was trying to chat her up, but whatever.

Ryan turns his back on Brendon and begins sorting. For the next hour, the only sound that fills the room are Brendon's occasional sniffles.

It's broken when Brendon snorts out a derogatory laugh. "Seriously, Ross, a D in Chem last year?"

Ryan looks over. Brendon is kneeling on the floor, a document open on his lap. "You know you're not allowed to do that," Ryan says slowly.

Brendon's smirk is infuriating, superior. "Oh, yeah, because you're such a stickler for rules, sure. Another D in Math? In 7th grade? I didn't think that was even possible. How did they let you get this far?"

"Yeah, because you're so brilliant in every single subject." Ryan's fingers twitch with the need to do something; make that smirk fall right off Brendon's face. "English, in particular. I still can't quite believe you managed to read Camus all by yourself. Or did you have your mom read it to you?"

Brendon's eyes narrow, mouth opening for another comment, and before Ryan knows what he's doing, he's already crossed the space with the thought of shutting Brendon up the most prominent idea in his head, bright and furious, and Wentz is right next door so they'll have to be quiet, really quiet. Ryan fists one hand in Brendon's stupid ugly t-shirt and pulls him in, lifts his other hand to punch him in the jaw, only that somehow it ends up curled around the back of Brendon's neck to drag him into a rough kiss.

Brendon's mouth parts under his, in protest or surprise or something else. Ryan doesn't really care, just reads it as an invitation and slides his tongue inside, pushing at Brendon's chest to get him to lie down.

Brendon surges up against him, bites down on Ryan's tongue. Ryan pulls back sharply, tasting the thick tang of blood, only to have Brendon follow him, draw Ryan's bottom lip into his mouth, suck on it until Ryan is sure it's red and swollen, and still he doesn't stop it. Instead, he even twists closer, forces Brendon's legs apart until he fits in between them, raking his nails down the back of Brendon's neck.

Brendon turns his head away and groans softly, and.

And they both freeze.

For long seconds, neither of them moves. Then Ryan tears himself away, stands breathless in the middle of the room while Brendon is staring up at him, his eyes wide and helpless.

Ryan swallows. "This never fucking happened," he says tightly.

It takes only a moment for Brendon to chuckle darkly. "What, you think I feel like bragging to the school about how you fucking molested me?"

"Not the way I see it," Ryan says. He consciously unclenches his hands. "The way I see it, you were the one who got so turned on you couldn't even keep in the cheap porn movie noises."

Brendon raises his head, his gaze sharp and the curl of his mouth smug. "You'd know about cheap porn movies, I guess."

"And you wouldn't, since that religion of yours probably thinks anything sex-related before marriage is a sin. Hey, and it's not too happy about same-sex stuff either, is it?" Ryan keeps his tone flat and dry, cutting, and he sees Brendon formulate a reply, about to spit it out when there's a knock on the door.

"Boys?" Wentz pokes his head in.

Ryan releases a breath and nods. "Sorry," he says. "Just discussing the right way to do this… sorting thing."

His back to Wentz, Brendon sticks his tongue out at Ryan and that's just, oh God, wow, how can one person possibly be this childish, there should be laws against it. "Okay," Wentz says, retreating.

Ryan crouches back down at his own pile of records, and they don't speak for the rest of the time. Whenever Ryan glances over out of the corners of his eyes, Brendon's head is bent over his work.

The moment Wentz tells them their time's up, Brendon is up and out of the door. Ryan stays for another moment to discuss potential college courses for Creative Writing. Ryan listens to Wentz's suggestions and tries not to show that he's feeling itchy and overheated.

By the time he leaves the school, Brendon is long since gone. There are a few people at the bus station, but he's not among them.

Not that Ryan cares, God. He wipes a hand across his forehead and turns the other way, and he isn't thinking about Brendon's mouth on his.


Brendon somehow manages to last through work without blowing up at anyone (especially a customer, which, shit, that could get him fired so fast), but then he gets home and almost immediately slams his fist into the wall, as if he wasn't feeling shitty enough already. He shakes his sore knuckles out and swears and hops around the room on one foot for a while, furious and twitchy in his own skin and fuck, he'd wanted to break something, not himself. Miracle of miracles, there's some ice in the freezer so he takes it out and wraps it in a dirty dish towel and knots it around his fist so that the ice stays cold against his knuckles. Then he kicks stupidly at his crappy little dining table and smashes a glass in his sink.

God, he's so – he can't think properly, seething with a red-hot fury that rises up in him. He puts on the angriest Taking Back Sunday album he can find and stomps his way around his apartment until his neighbor pounds in a particularly irritated way against the wall. Then he turns it down and sinks down to the floor, resting his head against the wall, glaring at the ceiling.

Just, the fucking hypocrite, he thinks. Making a big, dumb deal over Brendon getting – whatever, and then attacking Brendon (with his mouth, Brendon thinks a little hysterically) out of nowhere. Brendon would feel better about it, honestly, if he hadn't just – if he'd been able to – like, control himself, or whatever. It's too hard, it's too hard now, he can't concentrate on anything, not with Ryan fierce and hot against him. He'd made fun of the noises Brendon had made, but Brendon remembers Ryan's rough breath, the ragged swell of his chest.

Fuck, fuck. Brendon looks down at his hands, the tea towel wrapped clumsily around his right fist, and tries not to imagine Ryan under them.


Friday night is movie night, and Ryan can't miss movie night. He takes his time getting there, though, and by the time he's arrived Spencer and Jon are already settled on the mattress with a cardboard box of pizza open on the carpet next to them, watching I Am Legend. Ryan's almost glad; usually he hates this movie, it freaks him out and he doesn't get why they have to kill the goddamn dog, but he appreciates the idea of a little bit of distraction right now.

"Hey," Spencer says, when Ryan walks in. "How was detention?"

"Fine," Ryan says curtly. His mouth feels swollen and red; he hopes it isn't noticeable, still. It shouldn't be. Not after all this time. Still, he feels twitchy and exposed and he slides down next to Jon and keeps his eyes fixed on the screen, doesn't look Spencer in the eye.

Spencer's quiet for a moment, and then he says, "Brendon still that bad?"

"Always is," Ryan says. Onscreen, there is the sound of howling and Ryan shudders and presses his nose against Jon's shoulder, hiding his face as best he can. Spencer looks away, seemingly satisfied for now, and Ryan surprises himself by drifting off to sleep before the end. It's not that late but he feels exhausted, mind tumbling over with rambling thoughts, and he falls asleep halfway through a mental preparation of stuff to throw in Brendon's face the next time he sees him.


Saturday night, Ryan goes to a party with Jon and Spencer, which actually means him and Spencer leaning against a wall and poking fun from a distance at Jon trying to talk casually to Cassie. It's a pretty boring party, really, the kind that looks cool (lots of people, loud music, no adults to be found) but actually turns out to be fairly shitty. After a while, though, Spencer turns to look at him with a serious expression, eyes clear.

"Alright," he says, close to Ryan's ear so that he can talk over the music. "What's going on?"

Ryan blinks at him, unease stirring in his stomach. "What?" he asks, eyes wide.

"That girl," Spencer says, nodding over to a pretty brunette girl in the corner of the room, "Has been like – eyeing you for the past half hour, and usually you would have abandoned me twenty minutes ago."

"Yeah, well," Ryan says. "Didn't feel like being a shitty friend tonight."

"Ryan," Spencer says, and Ryan's mouth twists.

"What?" he demands. "I just don't feel like it! Jesus!"

Spencer blinks at him and Ryan makes a huffy noise, twists away from him and makes his way outside. He goes to the front, where the party has mostly stayed away for fear of attracting the neighbors' wrath, sits on the porch with his shoulders hunched up and glares at the night sky.

After a while, Spencer sits down next to him. He nudges Ryan's shoulder and Ryan nudges back, maybe a little too hard to be friendly. Spencer rolls his eyes next to him – Ryan's not looking, so he doesn't exactly see, but he can tell – and Ryan sighs.

"Sorry," he says.

"It's cool," Spencer tells him. "You'll tell me if something's going really wrong, right?"

"Yeah." Ryan exhales loudly. "Yeah, I just—"

"I get it," Spencer says simply.

"Thanks," Ryan says. "Thanks, I'll. I just need to sort some stuff out."

"Okay," Spencer says. Ryan tilts his head towards Spencer, leans against him, and closes his mouth against I just really fucking hate Brendon Urie because that would be a bit too obvious, even if it is true.


The weekend seems to go too fast for Brendon's liking; he takes on an extra shift on Sunday, works all day both days, and while the work is mind-numbing and repetitive enough to stop him from thinking about anything else except I am so bored, it also means the weekend seems over before he's really begun. At least the antibiotics are kicking in enough that Brendon can eat more easily, and is sleeping through the night again, but he's behind on homework and closer to yet another detention, and by Monday morning he's in a really unpleasant mood. He's even rude in Music, which makes him feel worse, because Mr. Stump is his favourite teacher for his favourite subject, and Brendon really doesn't need another person to write him off. Especially not someone who Brendon needs recommendations from to get into college.

He's still feeling vaguely guilty about it when he walks to his locker after lunch, and when someone bumps into him and starts toppling sideways, Brendon reaches out without thinking. "Oh, sorry," he begins, and then the person wrenches away from his hands and Brendon glares at Ryan, shoving his hands into his pockets.

"Watch where you're going," Ryan snarls.

"Oh, yeah, sorry," Brendon says, eyes narrowed. "Forgot it was your corridor, and we're to skulk along the sidelines and leave it clear for your strutting purposes—"

"God," Ryan cuts in clearly, voice thick with disdain. "You're so not even worth the time," and then the guy with him, Spencer or whatever, puts a hand on his arm and they walk off together. Brendon's hands are trembling when he gets to his locker, and he screws up his combination three times.

Monday is bearable, though, Monday is okay; it's Tuesday that Brendon really can't stand the idea of. Ryan isn't in Biology, which gives Brendon faint hope until he notices that Ryan's friend isn't either, and that – okay, that makes it more likely that Ryan's skipping. Brendon just hopes that it's for the whole day, and not just the class.

No such luck; they arrive at detention at pretty much the same time, approaching at opposite ends of the same corridor. For a moment Brendon thinks, a little wildly, that it's like a scene from an old cowboy movie, both of them reaching for their guns with the thump of their boots on the dirt, and then he blinks and decides to check the dosage on his antibiotics.

Wentz wanders around the corner and calls, "You know what to do, boys – I brought some more files in for you to get started on once you finish the last batch. No fighting, no biting!" and then he cackles his stupid, braying laugh and Ryan even smiles a little bit, stupid suck-up.

Brendon pushes his way into the filing room first and blinks; by 'some more files', Wentz apparently meant piles and piles of boxes, that take up at least half the room. Brendon sighs and goes and sits back in his corner, and after a moment Ryan sits kind of close to him, in the small space that's left between the boxes. Brendon swivels, obstinately turning his back on Ryan and the shuffling noise behind him tells him that Ryan's followed suit.

They work silently for nearly an hour. Brendon sorts the dumb files almost on auto-pilot, hyper conscious of keeping his back perfectly straight, not wanting anything about him to indicate anything else to Ryan. God, if he just hadn't kissed back – and then he shuts off that line of thought really fast. It was Ryan's idea, anyway, he thinks coldly, he was the one who – whatever.

After a while, though, the endless monotony of his task gets to him and he slumps a little bit, nearing the end of his pile. The air in here is so thick and hard to breathe, and Brendon finds himself smothering yawns almost constantly, huge gaping ones that make his jaw crack. Behind him, Ryan makes small, impatient noises that Brendon's sure are deliberately calculated to piss him off, and he grits his teeth and resolutely does not react.

After a while, he gets down to the end of his pile (Young, Sarah), and says, swivelling around, "I need more—"

"Whatever," Ryan says snidely, and wow, Brendon thinks, real mature. He restrains himself to just rolling his eyes because he doesn't really want to start anything, not today. He'll be sluggish anyway with the remnants of his illness and antibiotics anyway, he thinks, and leaves it at that, rather than: I really don't want to touch him.

He has to, though, to reach the files, because Ryan seems obstinately stuck on not moving to help Brendon in the slightest. He moves forward as little as possible and stretches across Ryan to reach for the closest binder of files, legs pressed against Ryan's back, and it's then that Ryan looks up. Brendon thinks absently that judging by the expression on Ryan's face he's about to say something rude, but he's obviously miscalculated where Brendon would be because his gaze lands straight on Brendon's mouth, and they're too close.

They freeze, for a moment, and then Brendon kind of rolls down at the same time Ryan reaches up and they're kissing again, Ryan's hands clenched in Brendon's shirt, dragging him closer, closer towards him, mouth hot and frantic on Brendon's. Brendon loses his balance and slips down, kicking his carefully ordered pile askew (damn it). He can't quite bring himself to get pissed at Ryan about it just yet, though, or at least not until he can work out a way to make it undoubtedly into Ryan's fault, so he just pushes closer, hands bracing his weight on either side of Ryan's body and slips his tongue into Ryan's mouth.

Ryan doesn't bite, not like Brendon did on Friday (shit, what are they doing), and it's Ryan that makes the first noise this time, a weird, gasping sound when Brendon's mouth slides off of his and down his cheek, sloppy. Ryan says, "Fuck, fuck," and then he surges upwards, twisting and shoving with violent, slippery force until he's rolled them over (and, whoops, there goes the files Ryan had spent the past hour sorting) and Brendon's pinned underneath him again. Later, Brendon thinks, later he'll find some way to right this, but now he thinks if they shoved at each other any more they might possibly knock over one of the carelessly balanced piles of boxes, and that would be really bad.

Ryan forces a leg between Brendon's and he's half-hard already, Brendon can feel him, and he laughs soft and cruel against Ryan's mouth, pulls away long enough to ask, breathlessly, "Sorry, who's the hypocrite?"

"Shut up," Ryan snarls, and then he's grinding his hips down against Brendon's and Brendon does what he says, but only because Ryan's mouth is on his again, biting at his lip and then sucking it into his mouth, hot and forceful and Brendon bets Ryan likes to take control (could have told anyone that already, judging by what an arrogant ass the guy is) but he's not going to let that happen. He gives back as good as he gets, rolling his hips up against Ryan's and there's nothing elegant or comforting about this, the two of them rubbing off against each other on the filthy floor, but that's okay, Brendon doesn't need that.

He can feel it building in him, though, little darts of pleasure up his spine every time Ryan rubs their dicks together through the (uncomfortable) denim of their jeans, and Brendon pants, tries not to thrash on the floor beneath him, or do anything particularly dumb. It's a little uncomfortable, having to constantly watch himself for stupid sounds or faces that Ryan can use against him but he keeps enough of an eye on Ryan (red mouth and rumpled hair and dark eyes, blown pupils) to store up some counterattacks, just in case.

Ryan is making these rough, ugly grunting noises, pushing down harder and harder against Brendon, almost painful, and it's then, of course, that the sound of footsteps rings through the corridor outside there room and Brendon shoves Ryan off of him, scrambling to sit in his corner with his back to Ryan, and the door. He peeks over his shoulder and Ryan is shoving his hands uselessly through his hair, rubbing his swollen mouth against his sleeve, and when Brendon looks over at him he makes an awful, sneering face at him.

Wentz sticks his head around the door then, says, "Everything alright?"

"Yup," Ryan mumbles to the floor, head ducked down. Brendon peeks over his shoulder as best he can, pressing his mouth against his shoulder, and thankfully, thankfully Wentz just nods and turns away. He leaves the door open, though, and neither Ryan nor Brendon move. Brendon's so hard, God, and his hands are trembling again, but he focuses on trying to get his pile back into order.

He shoves out of the door before Ryan again when they leave. Outside, on the pavement, Ryan shouts behind him, "Hey! Hey, asshole!" but Brendon just hurries up the hill, hands in the pockets of his jacket, shoulders hunched. Maybe, he thinks vindictively, he'll get Ryan sick, too. That'd show him.


Brendon kicks the door to his apartment – the door to his dump – shut with the heel of his foot and tosses his backpack on the floor. He's not— Oh God, what the hell just happened with— Stupid fucking Ryan Ross, how dare he just—


Just suck every last bit of control from Brendon, reduce him to a wanting mess that can't even pretend not to want Ryan's hips against his, not to want Ryan's mouth and his tongue and his body hot and hard above Brendon, fingers tight around Brendon's wrist, and even as Brendon mutters curses under his breath, he slides one hand down his pants and sinks to the floor.

This was not supposed to happen. Not… not with Ryan Ross, of all people.

Maybe if someone else had touched him in the last century or however long it's been, but no one did and Brendon's always been weak when it came to needing physical comfort. Ryan isn't offering comfort.

Brendon curls his hand around his painfully hard dick and runs his thumb along the underside. He nearly comes right on the spot, has been too close for hours, stupid fucking Wentz for barging in right then even though it spared Brendon the embarrassment of coming while Ryan was watching him. Spared him having to watch Ryan come into his pants while grinding himself down against Brendon. Fuck.

Brendon squeezes and twists his wrist, jerks his hips up into the touch and sees bright spots as warmth floods his hand.

He lies motionless for long moments, hand still shoved down his jeans and the carpet prickly through the worn cotton of his t-shirt; blinks blindly up at the ceiling and tries not to cry from the embarrassment of it.


He manages to calm down while making himself some pancakes. Brendon isn't a very good cook, but pancakes were always his comfort food, something about the rhythmic process of spreading the batter to cover the entire bottom of the frying pan, wait for the first side to be honey-brown before turning it over. It's a bitch to make pancakes for seven people, but sometimes, when they all had breakfast together Sunday after church, Brendon would join his mother in the kitchen, and the scent was the same greasy, warm smell that surrounds him now.

He transfers the first pancake to a plate, spreads sugar over it and eats it standing up, leaning against the counter. He changed his underwear so that it doesn't stick to his skin anymore. He only has four clean pairs of boxers left; he needs to make a trip to the Laundromat fairly soon.

It's Ryan's fault that it will have to be a day sooner now. Ryan is the one who initiated the whole of it, or at least Brendon is pretty sure because it was Ryan's gaze that dropped down to his mouth, Ryan who shoved him onto his back.

Brendon was just along for the ride, swept up by his hormones and the fact that this is easily the closest he's come to having actual sex. He knows Ryan isn't a virgin; the first time he slept with a girl, back in – 9th grade? 10th grade? – his friends wouldn't stop clapping him on the back for a full day at school, as if he'd done something great and admirable.

Whatever, really. So Ryan's cheap. Brendon feels a little cheap, too.

He pushes the thought away and takes another bite of his pancake. The sugary sweetness lodges right into his brain, and by the time he's finished it off, he's calmed down enough to think about picking up his guitar and fooling around with some melody he's come up with during yesterday's shift.

Anything to keep him from dying of boredom.


Ryan's dad forgot to give him his allowance, yet again, so when the store manager called Ryan the day before and asked him to take over the late shift on Tuesday and close up afterwards, he was more than happy to accept.

He's been regretting that decision for the better part of an hour. At least his erection is long since gone, and he doesn't think his lips really look as swollen and bruised as they feel.

Ryan numbs his mind by checking the dates of clothes, sticking an orange point on every item that's been with them for longer than three months. Thanks to his dad, he's gotten a lot of practice in the denial department.

And yet, somehow, it's a lot easier to ignore a bottle of vodka hidden behind a row of books than it is to forget about one of Brendon's legs wrapped around his waist, the utterly graceless way they rutted against each other.

Ryan has no idea how he's going to make it through another hour before he's finally allowed to lock up.

At the end of his shift, though, Ryan finds himself halfway to Spencer's house before he's even made a conscious decision of where he's going. For a moment he hesitates, but Spencer never asks questions, not if Ryan needs him not to. Secretly, he's also pretty sure that being at Spencer's place will be a pretty good deterrent to jerking off. He's not going to get off to the memory of Brendon Urie, Jesus.

Spencer opens the door and looks at Ryan warily, which makes Ryan think he's been watching his approach through the window or something. Ryan looks back at him, evenly as he can, and Spencer sighs, says, "Come on, then. Mom's made lasagne."

"Cool," Ryan says.

Spencer looks sideways at him. "You gonna tell me what happened?" Ryan shifts uncomfortably and Spencer sighs, rolls his eyes, says, "Yeah, thought not."

"Nothing happened," Ryan says.

"Shut up, Ryan," Spencer says tiredly. "Don't tell me if you don't want to but don't give me the bullshit, either."


Wednesday is a whole day of class without Brendon Urie, but Ryan's on edge the whole day anyway, jumping and looking over his shoulder when he sees a flash of dark hair. He doesn't even know what to do – ignore him or pick a fight or say something deliberately calculated to make Brendon get that pinched, furious expression, and he can't remember which of these is the normal thing to do.

He doesn't see Brendon at all, though, and he supposes that's why he's feeling fine when he leaves History that afternoon to go to the bathroom. The chances of running into Brendon there, after all, are not exactly high, but he's barely walked in before he's frozen, his last footstep cold and echoing around the walls.

Brendon's slumped between two of the sinks, head leaning on the mirror and eyes closed. He's resting each hand on a sink and as Ryan watches he pushes his weight up on them for a second, feet dangling in the air, before dropping back down again. It looks like an automatic gesture, something he's not even thinking about.

Not that Ryan gets much of a chance to observe; the door bangs shut and Brendon opens his eyes at the same time, and then they're staring at each other. Brendon's face goes kind of white, and Ryan wonders, something ugly and cruel stirring in his chest, if he's had a big gay crisis overnight, if he's prayed and cried and talked to his precious fucking family.

He opens his mouth to say something to that effect but Brendon beats him to it, saying, "Fuck. Off." His voice is colder than Ryan could possibly have imagined it, clear and calculated and not angry in the slightest, just full of an immeasurable hate.

Ryan turns on his heel and walks out, because he was either going to start a fight or kiss him, and he honestly doesn't know what would be worse.


The Problem – and yes, Brendon's thought about it and it's definitely The Problem, capitalized and all, but not hysterical enough to use only capitals, and it's maybe a little pathetic how much time Brendon wasted thinking about it, okay, but whatever. So, anyway, The Problem is that it's more than just slightly unfair that the closest Brendon's ever came to having actual, full-out sex with mutually achieved orgasms and all, that the closest he came to it just happened to be with Ryan Ross. Because for all that he hates the kid's guts, Ryan's weight above him had felt good, and Brendon maybe sort of wouldn't mind doing it again, and yeah, Brendon is thinking about The Problem kind of a lot. Sometimes with his hand around his dick.

Which is a whole new level of pathetic in and of itself.

Brendon doesn't sleep well Tuesday night, so when he runs into Ryan eventually on Wednesday, after keeping half an eye out for him all day, he's just exhausted and frustrated enough not to listen to his hormones. He doesn't expect Ryan to leave him alone just like that, but maybe it's the universe's way of making up for some of the shit it's been throwing at him lately.

Thursday is worse, somehow. Brendon makes it through Biology by keeping his head down, careful not to look at Ryan's hands and remember them wrapped around his—ah, fuck. He breaks one of the fragile glasses they get for the microscopes, something that never happens to Brendon. When Brent asks if he's okay, Brendon throws him a glare and tells him to mind his own fucking business. He has no use for pity.

In English, Ryan spends the entire class sucking up to Beckett, and he doesn't look at Brendon even once. Not that Brendon wants him to.

He heads for the smoothie shop straight after classes. When he gets home that night, his hands smell of bananas, but he's too tired to take a shower. He falls straight into bed, and for the first time since that Godawful Tuesday detention, it takes him only minutes to sink into a deep, restful sleep. He doesn't dream.


From the moment Ryan enters the record room, he feels suffocated and itchy. Brendon is already sitting in his own corner, cross-legged as he straightens out the pile they knocked off-balance last time. He doesn't look up, doesn't acknowledge Ryan's presence in any way.

Ryan huffs out an impatient breath and goes to sit in his own corner of the room.

They work in silence for what feels like hours, but when Ryan glances at his watch, it's actually no more than forty-five minutes that passed. The itchy feeling in Ryan's limbs hasn't subsided, has, in fact, even grown until he feels restless, bouncing his leg while he reaches for another record, Kent, Jeanie, and God, who in their right mind names a kid Jeanie, like the one in the bottle, pink lace and dumb blonde hair. Ryan pulls a face and tosses the pile onto the 1979 pile, glancing over. Brendon's back is a straight line, and there's a hole in his t-shirt, right below his left shoulder blade.

"There's a hole in your t-shirt," Ryan says, before he can stop himself.

Brendon slowly turns his head to look at him, face devoid of any expression. "So?" he says.

Ryan gives him an edged smile, and he feels better already, not quite as restless. "So you might consider throwing it away. Or just tell your mom to stitch it up, or whatever it is you do."

"Shut," Brendon begins, pointed. "The fuck. Up."

Ryan leans forward, still smiling. "Or?"

"Or I'll tell Wentz there was a tragic accident, and you unfortunately fell into one of the cabinets and hit your head so hard you have a concussion. Concussion, Ross. Three syllables." Brendon tilts his head, light slanting into the room at just the right angle to turn the circles under his eyes into dark smudges. "One of those awesome words that keeps you up at night."

"Well, you sure as hell aren't doing the trick," Ryan says. He wants to take it back a moment later because okay, they're not talking about this, it never fucking happened. Then he sees that Brendon flushes darkly and blinks, and feels a thrill of cruel satisfaction. "What's the problem?" Ryan asks sweetly. "Feeling guilty because rolling around floors with guys isn't in line with what your high and mighty God up there says?"

"You are my fucking problem," Brendon says, then laughs a little hollowly, as if it's some kind of inside joke.

"Oh, really?" Ryan raises a brow and shuffles forward, closer. "What a coincidence, because guess what, you're my problem, too."

He's about to reach out – to hit Brendon, or to grab his arms and pull him in, Ryan doesn't even know anymore, all he knows is that his head is buzzing with an excited kind of white noise – when Wentz opens the door without any warning at all.

Ryan flinches away guiltily, and Brendon jerks back. (Was he about to move in? Ryan shouldn't care, God.)

"What's going on?" Wentz asks, glancing back and forth between them.

"Nothing," Brendon says at the same time as Ryan does. Their eyes connect for a moment, hold before they both skitter away.

"Right," Wentz says, dripping sarcasm. For all that Ryan really likes him, he kind of wishes he'd just go away right now.

"We were just," Ryan pauses and smiles up at Wentz. "Just discussing the right way to sort these. De Meron, Pascal. Brendon says it's under M, because the 'de' is a title. I think it should go under D."

"Hmm." Wentz narrows his eyes and Ryan, and Ryan gazes back as blankly and innocently as he manages. He's ignoring the incredulous look Brendon throws his way. Then, suddenly, Wentz shakes his head, a grin spreading over his face. "Oh, you know what? Have it your way. Put it under D, and I'll leave the door open."

"Of course," Ryan says. He moves into his own corner, turns his back on Brendon and waits for the sound of Wentz receding footsteps before allowing his shoulders to sag. He doesn't glance over at Brendon. Not even once for the whole remainder of their detention.


Weekends, Brendon has quickly realized, actually suck. They're meant to be this whole break thing but instead it's just working and doing homework and falling asleep again, and then it's Monday and once again Brendon feels like he's on his tiptoes trying to tilt his head above the water. And shit, no wonder he's so bad at English.

He feels a little bit better when on Sunday afternoon he comes home to find three Tupperware containers strategically placed behind a potted plant that wasn't there when he left. He laughs despite himself, reaching down to pick them up and pull off the post-it note attached (yeah, yeah, I know you're a "vegetarian". chicken soup for the sick boy, xoxo. Kara).

Vegetarianism can wait, anyway, he thinks cheerfully as he heats up one of the meals. Kara makes the best chicken soup in the world, apart from their mom, and she has a habit of sneaking around and dropping food off when she knows he won't be there (when she can say truthfully to the rest of the family that she hasn't seen him).

He puts the potted plant in the middle of the table; it's not that decorative, green and leafy rather than pretty, but Brendon thinks there's a better chance of him keeping this alive than there is for the fish he was considering for a while. He pours a glass of water into the soil and says, "Sorry, dude. The desert probably isn't your favourite place to live, huh?"

The plant doesn't respond. Brendon pats the top leaves in sympathy anyway and tells it, "Don't worry. You and me won't be here much longer."


Generally, Ryan doesn't even notice Brendon in English. He didn't even bother ignoring him properly – English is Ryan's favourite subject, and Brendon being in his class didn't even matter. He didn't let the guy spoil it for him. Only apparently he's started to fail at even that, because first thing Monday morning, Ryan's sitting halfway towards the back with Spencer and all he's aware of is Brendon on the opposite side of the class, staring out the window and clearly paying no attention whatsoever. He's twirling his hair, for fuck's sake, and Ryan thought it wasn't possible to feel any more disdain for the guy but hey, there you go.

Disdain or not, it's distracting, and about halfway through the class Spencer starts to give him weird looks again. Ryan says, "Sorry, didn't sleep so well last night," which isn't exactly a lie (he didn't sleep very well all weekend, actually, and when he did up he woke up hard and furious) and turns back to his work. He pretends he's fascinated by his notes on Ken Kesey for the rest of the class.

In Biology on Tuesday, Brent is away (Brent's actually a pretty nice kid; Ryan has no idea how Brendon conned Brent into partnering with him) and Brendon still finishes the experiment before everyone else. He smirks at Ryan when he saunters back to his seat to get a head start on the write-up and Ryan scowls and then walks past with his beaker full of dirty water, stumbles on his way past Brendon's desk and slops some of it on Brendon's work, a puddle forming in the middle of Brendon's carefully neat handwriting.

Brendon shoots to his feet, chair rocking aside, fists clenched, but Hurley is watching them with a beady eyes and in the end he just says, coldly, "Watch it."

"Sorry," Ryan says breezily. "Accident. Hope it's not ruined."

Ryan gets to detention first, and picks up the pile he'd been working on last Friday. It's nearly done and he busies himself with it so he doesn't have to look up when Brendon walks in. His back stiffens when Brendon walks in anyway, but he doesn't look up, not until Brendon walks straight to him and kicks at the pile of papers, sending them fluttering all over the room. Ryan looks up in gaping astonishment and fury.

"Sorry," Brendon says cheerfully. "Accident. Hope it's not ruined."

"Fuck, I hate you," Ryan says, scrambling to his feet. He doesn't like Brendon looming over him and he straightens up, trying to glare down as much as he can with the few scant centimeters he's got over Brendon.

"Aw, shucks," Brendon says. "And I'm just so fond of you."

"God," Ryan says, narrowing his eyes. "It's like you're—"

"Yeah, whatever," Brendon says, and then fists his hands in the material of Ryan's shirt and tugs him down to kiss him. Ryan flails for a moment despite himself, hands flapping awkwardly in the air, and then he settles, putting them around Brendon's waist and tugging him closer, hands slipping up under the material of his shirt.

They break away, and Ryan says, breathing raggedly, "So we're just—"

"Whatever," Brendon says again, too quickly. "Like I even give a shit—"

"Fine, then," Ryan says, glancing quickly to check the door's closed, and they're kissing again. They sink to the floor and Brendon sits half in Ryan's lap, fingers just tight enough in Ryan's hair for it to be kind of uncomfortable, and he rocks his hips down against Ryan's cock deliberately, laughing soft and mean when Ryan gasps. He does it a few more times but then gets a slightly frustrated expression, and Ryan gets the feeling Brendon can't get very much friction against his own dick in this position.

He bites at Brendon's mouth, nails scratching down hard through the cotton of his t-shirt, and Brendon pushes him down to the floor. Brendon's weight is hot and heavy, pressed all along him, but when he spreads his legs a bit Brendon settles between them and that's better.

Much, much better, panting into each other's mouths and grinding against each other. Brendon's got good rhythm, Ryan thinks a little stupidly, and he rolls his hips down again and again, and Ryan can feel his hands trembling a little bit in Ryan's hair. He mumbles against Brendon's mouth, "You gonna cry as well, Urie?" but Brendon doesn't understand, just gives Ryan a confused, pissed off look and bites at the line of his jaw.

Ryan has a feeling that he's not going to last very long, so it's more of a relief than anything else when Brendon's rhythm gets jerky, short, hurried jerks of his hips and then he makes a strangled groan, mouth slipping off of Ryan's and trailing wetly down the side of his cheek. He's still for a moment, Ryan rocking awkwardly underneath him, and then he goes to roll off and really, what an asshole. Ryan says, "Fuck you, no," and curls his legs around Brendon's knees, pulling him down close and rubbing himself off as quickly as he can. It doesn't take long before he's making involuntary, anxious noises, pushing himself up, the floor hard against his back.

"You're too fucking loud," Brendon hisses, and kisses Ryan again, mouth hot and stifling over Ryan's. Ryan moans into it, can't help himself, and then comes, black spots dancing across his vision.

His legs fall weakly to the side and Brendon gets off of him almost immediately, standing up and moving to his side of the room. He looks a little bit wobbly on his feet, Ryan notices with satisfaction, and he sits up carefully, cursing the disadvantage he's got. Brendon's had time to recover; which reminds him—

"Hey," he says. "Nice stamina, man. Really impressive."

Brendon looks at him and, as quietly as possible, starts to make breathy noises. "Oh, oh," he moans, eyes rolling up into his head. "Oh, fuck, yes, oh, please—"

"Shut up," Ryan says tightly, jaw clenched. Brendon ducks his head and turns his back and, to Ryan's surprise, does just that.

They don't talk for the rest of the time. It seems to last much longer than usual, and Ryan tries not to squirm too much, his underwear gross and sticky. When Beckett tells them they can go, they set off in different directions outside, shoulders hunched, and neither of them look back.


Spencer has a crush on the smoothie girl. Either that, or he can see right through Ryan's bullshit about just needing to work some stuff out by himself, at the moment. Ryan really hopes it's the smoothie girl.

"Tell me again why you suddenly feel a constant craving for smoothies?" he asks. He has his hands in his pockets, and okay, yes, he's maybe acting a little sullenly, dragging his feet as he follows Spencer. So what? After what was no more than six hours of sleep last night – and feels like three – he thinks he's entitled. Fucking Brendon Urie, and oh, wow, Brendon's fucking mouth.

Ryan bites the inside of his cheek and deliberately doesn't glance into the shop to see if Brendon's working.

"It's not a constant craving," Spencer answers absently. He makes no secret of checking out who's behind the counter.

"This is the second time in, what, two weeks? Since when are you into vitamins?"

Brendon fucking Urie isn't worth it.

"I don't mind them if they taste good," Spencer replies, a little lamely. He pushes the door to the shop open, Christmas bells tinkling, and Ryan finally allows himself to glance over at the counter.

He's not prepared for the instant surge of heat at the sight of Brendon. Shit. Ryan's cheeks feel warm and obvious, as if one look at his face was all it would take for Spencer to know just what happened during the last detention. And it's not that Ryan suddenly thinks Brendon is attractive or anything like that; he's wearing a stupid apron in cheerful green (what, because the smoothies are healthy, or something?), and there are dark shadows under his eyes, and his hair is mussed and he's wearing his glasses instead of the contacts and they clash with the color of the apron. His mouth, though. Ryan maybe has a thing for Brendon's mouth.

Brendon doesn't notice him immediately. He's talking to Spencer's smoothie girl, apparently explaining something about one of the gleaming electronic devices they have standing around behind the counter. It's only a few seconds after the sound of the doorbells has faded that he does look up.

Ryan is mostly certain that Brendon's eyes widen for just an unguarded moment before his expression smoothes over.

"Hey," Spencer says. His smile is startlingly bright and honest, aimed more at the girl than at Brendon. Ryan breathes out a sigh of relief and meets Brendon's gaze for no more than a second before he looks away first.

Continues here.
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