|lisaroquin (lisaroquin) wrote in spookathon,|
@ 2008-10-31 03:29:00
|Entry tags:||author: lady deathangel, panic at the disco, ryan ross/brendon urie, spookathon08|
FIC 08: All A Part Of Me by Lady Deathangel, Panic at the Disco, Ryan/Brendon
All A Part Of me
Lady Deathangel ~*~ PG-13 ~*~ 6,310 words ~*~ Ryan/Brendon, implied Jon/Spencer, some others
||Disclamer: Not true, not claiming it is, if you found this googling yourself please leave, etc., etc., don't hurt me.
Summary: Ryan and Brendon, the things they know, and the things they figure out in the nick of time.
A/N: Sort of put together quickly because I've let my life get away from me! Plotted with a very good friend of mine who inspires me to writewritewrite. Thanks so much, K! And this is for anyone who's hoping for a little magic on Halloween. May you all get what you want in your pillowcases and pumpkins. ||
Decaydance Billiards is always spooky after dark by virtue of its location deep in the brick-laid depths of the Turnhale building. The last few weeks it's been spookier than usual because midway through October, Pete went to great lengths to make it the most festive spot on campus.
It's certainly a far cry from some of the other offices and shops with their generic window decals and adorable-looking scarecrows and plastic pumpkins full of Twizzlers. The decorations in Decaydance may border on the edge of taste, but they set a pretty specific mood. From the cobwebs lodged in corners and along the walls to the smoking, bubbling cauldrons, grotesque skeletons and syrupy bloodstains, walking into the room is like walking into that one house on the block that's never going to be on the level of a haunted house but comes eerily close every year.
The patrons love it and there was even a write-up in the paper, small though it was, citing Decaydance as the place to see before Halloween.
It's been packed all month long, noisy and warm with laughter and chatter and the smell of beer and pizza, but it's past closing now and the only sounds in the room are coming from the basement theatre just below the main room. Ryan leans against the bar, watching idly as Jon wipes down tables, and listens to the soft sounds of a piano being played, a song being sung.
“So,” Jon says casually, which puts Ryan on the defensive immediately. Jon Walker never has to try to be casual so when he makes the effort, something is most definitely up.
“So,” Ryan parrots, raising his eyebrows.
Jon halts his task and looks at Ryan with an innocent expression. “Are you going to show me your costume, yet?”
Ryan snorts and rolls his eyes. “Don't you people ever give up?”
“The correct answer is “no”,” Victoria says, making her way in through the back entrance.
“You don't even know what we're talking about,” Ryan points out, and Victoria shrugs.
“No, but I do know that's always the correct answer, except for when the correct answer is “yes, please, right now”,” she shoots back, before jerking her thumb over her shoulder. “By the way, please tell me Pete didn't catch a black cat just so we could have one wandering around the alleyway.”
Jon shakes his head slowly and says, “I'd like to be able to tell you that, Vicky T, I really would.”
Ryan laughs at the resigned look on Victoria's face and is silently thanking her diverting the conversation when Jon turns to him without warning.
“You didn't answer the question, Ross,” he says, leveling him with an even stare.
Ryan sighs and rakes a hand through his hair. “I told you guys it's a surprise. You can't walk into a masquerade knowing who's who. That defeats the purpose.”
Victoria flicks Jon's ear as she walks past him and says, “the boy has a point.”
Jon makes a face and says, “I'm just curious.”
“You and everybody else,” Ryan mutters.
He's been fielding questions about his Halloween costume from everyone for almost two weeks. He probably wouldn't be having this problem if he wasn't making his own, but he is and he let it slip to Pete who let it slip to pretty much anyone who would stop and listen long enough and now Ryan Ross is the Masquerade Mystery.
Ryan's fine with that. He has plans of walking into this place a virtual stranger and leaving the same way. That's part of the excitement and Ryan's been looking forward to it ever since Gabe sent the invitations out.
Although, it's not like Ryan's alone in that. Everyone's been buzzing with anticipation over it, partly because it's a party being thrown by Gabe and he has a reputation for never letting the fun stop, partly because it's a Halloween party on an actual weekend when no one has to worry about work or classes the next morning, and partly because it's a traditional masquerade. Walk in, mask on, and don't reveal yourself. That's not the point of the night.
“Who are you going as?” Ryan asks, and Jon shakes his head.
“Oh no, I'm not telling you now,” he says, going back to wiping down the last table. “That would just give you an unfair advantage.”
Ryan picks at the denim of his jeans and then says, “I can always just ask Brendon.” He pauses meaningfully and then adds, “he's really looking forward to meeting you there.”
Jon goes still and Victoria whistles long and low like she can already tell this isn't a conversation she wants to overhear.
“Right, well, I took care of the trash so you boys get to handle the rest of this on your own. See you at the ball!”
She makes her exit, low heels clicking on the concrete floor as she grabs her purse from behind the bar and leaves. There's no more singing coming from the basement so Ryan thinks the rehearsal is probably close to being over. This isn't exactly a conversation he wants anyone to overhear, especially Brendon, but Ryan doesn't back down.
“Look,” he says, ducking his head, “you know it's complicated.”
“I know that Brendon thinks you hung the moon and this is all he's been able to talk about for days and, need I remind you, you already have a boyfriend.”
Jon winces and looks around wildly, but there's no one there to hear it. Ryan crosses his arms and waits for Jon to say something, but he just sighs heavily and shakes his head.
“I'm not leading Brendon on,” he says, and Ryan bristles.
“Well you sure as fuck better not be leading Spencer on,” he retorts, and Jon rolls his eyes.
“Just trust me on this, okay? Spencer and I are gonna make sure Brendon has a good time and if he leaves that party broken-hearted it won't be our fault.”
The words are ominous, something ringing inside of what Jon's not saying that makes Ryan a little uncomfortable. He raps his knuckles against the bartop and then nods once. He likes Jon, he really, really does, and he gets why Spencer's half-way in love with him and why Brendon's going much the same way Spence did. Jon's a good guy. Ryan's just resolved that if Jon turns out to be not so good of a guy and starts using people and breaking hearts . . . well, nobody will be able to identify the body, that's all.
“Why are you so worried about Brendon anyway?” Jon asks curiously, and Ryan finally turns his back on him and wanders behind the bar.
“He's a friend. I'm protective of my friends,” he lies smoothly.
Jon chuckles and says, “you're protective of Spencer. There's a difference.”
Which is true, and Ryan doesn't deny it. For the most part, Ryan's spent his life with Spencer as his only real friend while other people have cycled in and out of his orbit, never lingering long, never really that important in the first place. This is the first time Ryan's ever had actual friends, between Jon and Pete and Patrick and, yes, Brendon, too. He's not really protective of them usually. They can all fend for themselves.
Brendon's different for reasons Ryan doesn't like to think about because the whole damn situation is just ridiculous. Whatever feelings Ryan has that make Brendon special aren't feelings he's actually comfortable having. He's done a pretty good job of keeping them under wraps, but Spencer figured it out a long time ago and if Spencer knows then chances are good that Jon knows, too.
Ryan spins around and narrows his eyes at Jon, who is tossing the rag up in the air and trying to catch it behind his back.
“Smooth,” Ryan says when Jon nearly falls. “Did Spencer tell you something?”
Jon finds his footing and shrugs. “Spencer tells me a lot of things,” he says, infuriatingly nonchalant.
“Jon,” Ryan says, and Jon just laughs.
“Well, he may have mentioned something about a crush, but-”
Ryan makes a distressed sound and is about two seconds away from diving across the bar to shut Jon up when Pete and the cast and crew of his as-yet-untitled experimental musical of awesome (which are Pete's words exactly) come filing up the stairs and into the main room. Jon snickers when Ryan shakes a non-threatening fist at him, but he shuts right up when Brendon launches himself at Jon's back and latches on like those long-limbed stuffed monkeys with the Velcro paws.
“Patrick yelled at him five times,” Pete says, stepping up next to Ryan and nodding at Brendon.
He's currently singing some song about Halloween and ghouls and ghosties, Jon's hands steady under Brendon's thighs to keep him stable.
“He's excited,” Ryan says with a shrug and Pete laughs.
“So am I, but even I know better than to get in the way of Patrick's creative process.”
Ryan swings his head around to stare at Pete with wide eyes and says, “you're a dirty lying liar! And don't deny it, because I've heard the stories. You like pushing Patrick's buttons.”
Pete just keeps grinning, that same wide smile that pulled Ryan into Decaydance in the first place, and strains up on his toes to ruffle Ryan's hair.
“Anyway! Me and Patrick are getting dressed here before we leave for the party. You're more than welcome to ride with us if you want.”
Pete's attempts at looking innocent fail miserably and Ryan throws his hands up in the air.
“Two hours, Pete. Two hours and you get to see the costume,” he says.
“Yeah, but how will I know it's you?” Pete asks, and Ryan can't help but smile at that.
“If you think about it hard enough, you'll know,” he says, and that's all he's giving anyone.
For a few minutes, the room is full of warm chatter and laughter while the theatre geeks linger, but eventually everyone starts wandering off until it's just Jon, Pete, Patrick, Brendon and Ryan. Pete and Patrick make their way back to the basement, probably to finish tidying up and get dressed. Jon loiters at the back entrance for a few minutes, shooting Ryan unreadable glances while Brendon hugs him goodbye.
“I'll see you tonight?” Brendon says, and Jon nods, smiling softly at him.
“Of course,” he says.
Brendon beams at him and Ryan, who isn't normally a violent kind of guy, really wants to kick Jon's ass. But Jon had asked Ryan to trust him and Ryan, more than anything, wants to believe Brendon isn't being set up for heartache.
“And then there were two,” Brendon says, bouncing over to sit down in a stool at the bar. He leans forward on his elbows and is smiling so hard Ryan can't help but smile back.
There's a bowl of candy corn on the bartop and Brendon snags a handful, popping on into his mouth before asking, “are you still okay with helping me?”
Ryan blinks and nods. “Yeah, of course,” he says, as if he could ever let Brendon down.
The younger man had come to Ryan as soon as he'd gotten the invitation from Jon, distraught over the fact that he was sort of plain looking and an absolute dork.
“He's going to think I'm boring,” he'd declared.
Without thinking, Ryan said, “you're not boring or plain. You're just not taking advantage of what you've got.”
It was a quiet afternoon when Decaydance was filled with the low hum of a few students and their friends playing pool and drinking beers. Brendon was early for rehearsal, sitting right where he is now, looking at Ryan with those impossibly deep eyes.
“What have I got?” he asked and his voice was teasing but he pulled his bottom lip between his teeth like he wanted an honest answer.
By that time, Ryan was pretty aware of how far gone he was. Just hearing the news that Jon had, apparently, left Brendon a note about meeting at the masquerade had been enough to make his stomach hurt. Ryan could have pretended it was just because he had no idea what Jon was playing at and people were bound to get hurt, but it had more to do with Brendon than anything. They weren't alone; Victoria was terrorizing some of the jocks at the far end of the room and Spencer was doing his homework at a booth with some girls from his biology class. There were people all around, some of them strangers, some of them friends, and maybe that was why Ryan felt comfortable enough to lean forward and touch.
“Well,” he said, trying to keep his voice calm and almost clinical. “You've got nice hair.”
He tugged at Brendon's shaggy bangs and felt his heart pound harder when Brendon giggled.
“Okay,” Brendon said, nodding, “what else?”
Ryan felt like a cliché when he reached up and closed his fingers gently over the red frames of Brendon's glasses, but that didn't stop him.
“Pretty eyes, too,” Ryan said, and Brendon's lips quirked up in a small smile.
“Pretty, huh? I thought you were supposed to be a writer, Ross,” he said, and Ryan made a face.
“You don't get poetry on demand,” he retorted, and Brendon laughed, leaning even farther over the bar.
“Fair enough. What else?”
Ryan swallowed hard and set Brendon's glasses aside.
“I like your nose,” Ryan said, pressing his forefinger to the tip. Brendon wrinkled said nose but before he could say anything else, Ryan moved his finger a little lower. “And,” he continued, barely touching the corner of Brendon's mouth, “you've got amazing lips.”
There was a tight moment between them; it felt electric but Ryan convinced himself that was all in his head.
“Sounds kind of like you just love me for my pretty face,” Brendon said, voice a little breathy.
Ryan pulled his hand back and said, “well, you've got a really nice ass, too. You're hot, Brendon. You just have to show it off.”
Brendon blinked and when he opened his mouth, even he looked a little shocked at what came out.
“Help me show it off,” he said, and Ryan raised his eyebrows.
“What?” he asked, and Brendon waved his hands through the air.
“I mean for that night. Make me hot stuff, Ryan. You know what you're talking about. Be my fairy godmother!”
And Ryan, who couldn't even say no to Brendon's demands for energy drinks despite knowing the consequences, couldn't help but to agree. So, he's Brendon's fairy godmother now, the guy Brendon's called with costume ideas and texted pictures of the final product to. He's the one Brendon's counting on and it's not as weird as Ryan might have thought. He's just being a good friend, right? And he knows Brendon's going to look amazing, so no harm done.
Ryan sends Brendon off to put his costume on and hops on the bar to wait, occupying himself with texting Spencer messages threatening to do incredible harm to his boyfriend if the night ends in tears. Spencer answers that Ryan should stop being a drama queen and trust said boyfriend's intentions. Ryan just frowns at his phone.
“Everything okay?” Brendon asks, walking out of the bathroom.
Ryan looks up and his answer dies on his tongue. It's not that Brendon looks suddenly spectacular; this isn't a scene from a '90s teen flick. He does look amazing in his tuxedo, though, a thrift store number that looks like it was worn once before being forgotten about and discarded. It's a little dated and looks soft instead of crisp and sharp like most tuxes, but that doesn't matter because if Ryan didn't know better, he'd think it was tailored to Brendon specifically.
It fits him perfectly, from his shoulders to his hips, and the jacket has tails which are awesome and do nothing at all to hide Brendon's ass. On top of it all, he's done something different to his hair. Ryan hadn't even noticed he'd gotten it trimmed, but it's obvious now with the way it's styled, artfully messy instead of the shaggy mop it usually is.
“Um,” Ryan says, finally realizing he's supposed to answer a question, “yeah. Yeah, everything's fine. Just Spencer being Spencer.”
Brendon nods and walks forward, stopping just short of Ryan. He's constantly in motion, so Ryan isn't surprised to see him rocking back and forth on his heels, fidgeting in place.
“How do you want to do this?” he asks, and Ryan bites at the corner of his lip before beckoning Brendon closer.
Brendon still stops a little too far away, so Ryan grabs his wrist and tugs him forward until he's standing between Ryan's thighs. Brendon's already shorter than Ryan, but from where he's sitting on top of the bar Brendon seems even smaller. He's exuding a crazy amount of body heat and there's a light sheen of sweat at the base of his throat. Ryan swallows and reaches over for his makeup.
He can feel Brendon watching him as he takes out different shades of eyeliner and shadow, debating on blush before setting it aside for the moment. Ryan hasn't worn his makeup too much lately, not since he was still a freshman in college, unsure of himself and almost cripplingly insecure. Not that he's suddenly this outgoing person, but he's a little more comfortable in his own skin. He doesn't feel the need to hide behind it anymore.
It's like riding a bicycle, though, remembering how to apply it.
“Do you have a mask?” Ryan asks, uncapping an eyeliner pencil.
“I have a top hat,” Brendon answers. “And I sort of have a mask, but it's pretty boring. I don't want to be boring.”
Ryan laughs softly and says, “of course not,” and Brendon smiles at him.
“So, make me beautiful Ross,” he declares, and Ryan wants to tell him he is beautiful, but that would just be awkward.
Instead, Ryan sets to work, eyeing Brendon's face for a moment, considering his canvas, and then carefully lifting the pencil. He holds Brendon's head steady with soft fingers against his jaw and takes deep, even breaths to make sure his own hands don't shake. Minutes go by in comfortable silence and it isn't until Ryan's reaching for a different color that he realizes how still Brendon's being.
He's watching Ryan with interested eyes but doesn't so much as twitch as the makeup goes on. Ryan isn't sure why, but having Brendon respond to him like this is making his mouth dry and his heart pound uncomfortably fast. He'd be worried that Brendon could hear it, but when tilts the other man's head up with careful fingers just under his jaw, he feels that his pulse isn't the only one beating at a rabbit's pace.
“It's a little unfair,” Brendon murmurs eventually, when Ryan's almost done working on him.
“Hmm?” Ryan hums, distracted.
“I mean,” Brendon says, “you'll know who I am right away, but I won't know you.”
Ryan sucks in a breath and leans back, squinting at the effect of the makeup on Brendon's face and then meeting his eyes. They look darker than normal, wet and wide, and Ryan swallows hard.
“I'll find you,” he says.
Brendon rests his hands on Ryan's thighs and squeezes, just gently.
“Promise?” he asks, and Ryan nods.
They stare at each other for a long moment and then Ryan finally glances away, clearing his throat and putting all of his makeup back in its bag.
“You can go check in the mirror, make sure you like it,” he says.
Brendon takes a step back and even though Ryan's not looking, he can practically hear him smile.
“It's cool,” he says, “I trust you.”
Ryan tries to ignore the warmth that pools in his belly at the casual sincerity of Brendon's words, but it doesn't really work.
The masquerade-ball-slash-Halloween-party is actually being held at Bill's, even if Gabe's the one throwing it. It makes sense; Bill's house is pretty opulent and looks like just the kind of place a modern day Cinderella would lose a glass slipper at midnight. Brendon's pretty sure it's been transformed even further for the occasion and the whole house feels a little timeless.
They walk in fashionably late, of course, because Pete doesn't want to be early, and the party's already in full swing. People are milling around, masked and wigged and dressed to impress, from period costumes to super heroes. Brendon thinks the Batgirl at the top of the staircase making eyes at Pete-as-Zorro is probably Ashlee, the girl Pete's been emphatically not dating for months even though it's obvious he's ready to move beyond the friend zone with her. He's also pretty sure Victoria is the Catwoman in the corner with a suave looking musketeer leaning so close their masks brush at the corners.
The further into the party they get, though, the harder it is to recognize anyone. It's a blur of faces behind elaborate masks in beautiful costumes and Brendon gets swept up in it, carried away from Patrick and Pete within minutes. He takes in everything as he moves restlessly through the rooms, from the basement which has basically been turned into a drinking-and-smoking parlor to the upstairs living room which has been cleared out for a dance floor, to a few other, smaller rooms where guests are just milling around, either chatting or eyeing each other up.
By the time he spots Jon in a sitting room near the front of the house, Brendon's starting to feel a little awkward and lonely. He's not really used to being stared at, at least not for reasons that go beyond him making a fool out of himself (which he does regularly). He doesn't ever mind attention, really, good or bad, but he feels a little nervous and just wants to find Jon and spend the rest of the night having a good time with him.
He feels a wave of relief when he finally spots Jon, dressed as a masked Robin Hood and recognizable only by his beard and his grin. Brendon smiles to himself and is halfway across the room before he realizes Jon's not alone. He's holding hands with a taller figure in a costume that makes him look every inch the Prince Charming he's supposed to be, and his mask is gorgeous and his hair looks perfect and Brendon's never actually hated anyone, but he's pretty sure he doesn't like Spencer Smith all that much in that moment.
Jon looks up and sees him through his mask, his smile changing to something a little harder to read. Brendon swallows and walks forward, determined not to let this ruin his night. It's fucking Halloween. If nothing else, he can get drunk and maybe convince someone he's worth making out with.
“Hey,” Brendon says when he draws even.
“You look great,” Jon says in greeting, reaching out to pull Brendon in for a hug.
Brendon hugs back with a little less enthusiasm than he usually would and thinks of how Jon and Spencer must have let go of each other's hands when he wasn't paying attention. It hurts in a dull sort of way and Brendon can only think that figures as he lets go of Jon and turns to Prince Spencer.
“I'd know your girlish figure anywhere, Smith,” he says and hugs Spencer even though he isn't sure he should want to.
Spencer sputters and hugs awkwardly back and Jon chuckles a little behind them. When he finally lets go, Spencer's sighing a little resignedly but his lips are quirking up in a small smile that Brendon can't help but answer with one of his own.
“Ryan did a good job,” Spencer says, fingers fluttering near Brendon's cheeks.
Brendon feels himself flush a little and touches a gentle fingertip to the designs he knows are decorating his skin.
“Yeah,” he says, nodding once, “he's pretty good. I really like it.”
It's the best part of the costume aside from the top hat in Brendon's opinion. Beneath the mask, Brendon's eyes are carefully lined in kohl and look wider than usual, brighter. Brendon's the only one who's seen it, though, aside from Brendon. The rest is for the party to see, though. The carefully drawn designs that cascade from the corner of one of Brendon's eyes down to just above the corner of his mouth, a row of tiny hearts and spades, clubs and diamonds had made Brendon smile when he'd finally seen them in a mirror.
He can feel Jon staring at him now, lingering on the delicate sweep of liner across Brendon's other cheek, a barely-there swoop of a design. Brendon bites his lip and rocks back on his heels, feeling suddenly awkward.
“So, um,” he says slowly, “I heard a rumor that Greta's roaming around here as a sexy Southern Belle or something. I think I'll see if I can find out if it's true.”
He tries to smile but is pretty sure it's not coming out right. Jon frowns and Brendon's absolutely sure it's not coming out right. He doesn't wait for a response, though, just says he'll see them soon and turns to thread his way back through the small group of people in the room. He's a few steps down the hallway when Jon catches up to him, wrapping a hand around Brendon's wrist and tugging him to a halt.
“Wait, please,” he says, and Brendon squeezes his eyes shut.
“If you didn't want to come with me, you could have said,” he tells Jon quietly.
Jon curses and says, “that's not it, Bren, I swear. I want to be with you tonight. I'm just. Me and Spencer are-”
“Yeah,” Brendon says, cutting him off, “I saw that.”
And the thing is, he's not even mad, not really. Here he is, all dressed up, and he's got a stupid crush on Jon Walker and he read everything all wrong. He's not mad, he just feels stupid and kind of wants to find a quiet place to sit and pout for a few minutes before locating the spiked punch in an attempt to forget all this happened.
“Look, I'm sorry. But we can still have fun together, right?”
Brendon sort of wants to tell Jon he's delusional and does he treat all of his jilted crushes this way? But Brendon's also really shitty at holding grudges and he'd been so excited about this. He doesn't want the night to go to waste. He sighs and turns on his heel, nodding once and ignoring the way Jon's broad grin makes his stomach hurt.
Jon leads the way back to Spencer and together the three of them find the alcohol. After a few drinks, things aren't so bad. It doesn't even bother Brendon that much when Spencer and Jon keep gravitating closer and closer to each other because they're sort of adorable and, when he thinks about it, perfect for each other. Spencer needs someone to keep him relaxed and Jon needs someone to remind him to be responsible and they both need someone to remind them how to smile like it's an early Christmas. His buzzed mind is pleased with this logic and Brendon eventually drifts from their side to mingle.
He talks to some people he knows, some he doesn't, makes friends and starts to feel a little less like the loser he knows he is. He asks one girl to dance and she agrees, but before they make it into the room he bumps into a body that falls gracelessly backwards. He loses the other girl, but doesn't really care because this is how he finds Greta.
It turns out she's a Can-Can dancer, not a Southern Belle, and she's gone the traditional French way of forgoing underwear completely. Brendon does not need to know this, did not ever need to know this, but he can't stop giggling when she whines about how Bob Morris won't stop trying to grab her bare ass.
“Save me,” she says, pulling Brendon close shimmying a little.
They're at the edges of the dance floor and Brendon's nothing if not a gentleman, so he laughs and takes Greta's hands in his and sways them to the beat. He's really not a great dancer, but he's got a great sense of rhythm and anyway, Greta seems pretty content to dance around him, hips moving in slow circles that are only slightly muffled by ruffles and crinoline. Greta doesn't let him go until Bob wanders over to cut in, barely recognizable as a rather dashing pirate.
Greta sighs and clings a little to Brendon but eventually lets herself get dragged away with a laugh. Brendon leaves them to it, turning with every intention of finding Jon and Spencer again, when a hand to the middle of his back stops him. Brendon turns, eyebrows up in question, and stops short.
There's a body crowding into his space, not in an impolite way or anything, just noticeably closer than is strictly normal between strangers. It takes Brendon a second to process the slender build of a girl who is taller than him and wearing an elaborate, Chinese dress. It hugs her barely-there curves, molding to her hips and legs like a second skin before it cuts off, mid-thigh. The sleeves are long and flare out wide, like wings, and there's a small triangle of skin visible just beneath the base of her throat, revealing creamy skin and the enticing line of her collarbones.
She's got a jade choker around her neck that matches the detailing on the mask covering the top half of her face. Wide, doe-brown eyes blink calmly at Brendon and he drops his gaze to a button nose, lightly rouged cheeks, and glossed lips that are slightly parted. Something stirs in the pit of Brendon's stomach that screams of familiarity, but he can't quite place it or her and he knows he's staring, but it's hard not to.
Brendon finally manages to say, “hi,” and she smiles, slow and soft, and ducks her head just a little.
“Hey,” she says back, and for a minute Brendon's sure he's hearing things.
The music's loud, after all, and everyone's voices sound a little weird in rooms where bass is thumping and you have to shout to be heard. But then she leans in, tilting her head down until her lips graze Brendon's ear. The gloss is a sticky kiss against Brendon's earlobe and hot breath on his skin makes goosebumps erupt all along his arms.
“You're a really shitty dancer,” she, he, says, and Brendon nearly swallows his tongue.
“Ryan?” he asks and he thinks he must have said it loudly, but Ryan just laughs and leans back again, lifting a finger to his mouth and shaking his head.
“It's a secret,” he says, looking positively delighted. “Nobody's recognized me yet and as long as I keep up the silent-and-mysterious act, I don't think they will.”
Brendon blinks and thinks that now that he recognizes him, it's pretty obviously Ryan in the shape of his body, the feathery sweep of his hair, but even staring right at him Brendon feels himself getting a little lost in the character Ryan's embodied.
So he nods and says, “wow. You look amazing,” and smiles a little when Ryan beams at him.
“Thanks,” he says, voice low and smooth and utterly at odds with his feminine look.
It leaves Brendon a little shaken but not in a bad way. Definitely not in a bad way.
“You wanna dance?” Brendon blurts out, and Ryan just looks at him for a long minute before nodding slowly and taking another step into Brendon.
The song has changed over to a slow one, and in the dim lighting of the room everything feels a little lazier, more intimate. Ryan's got a good three inches on Brendon at least, probably more, so it might look a little weird. Brendon doesn't care because Ryan casually loops his arms around Brendon's neck and moves in until their bodies are pressed together, Brendon's hands cupping Ryan's hips, their bodies moving to the music in gentle motions.
Ryan smells really good, like vanilla and something else, darker but no less sweet. He's warm, too, and solid and humming a little under his breath to the music. Brendon smiles to himself and lets Ryan wash over him while they dance. It's something he never really gets to do on a regular day. Ryan's not . . . inaccessible exactly, but he's a little more distant than most people. Brendon's been easing his way into Ryan's good graces and personal space for the better part of two months, but he's never really sure where they stand with each other. Brendon loves Ryan, loves seeing him on rehearsal days and loves dropping in on random days just for fun, just to say hi. He loves Ryan's laugh and his sense of humor and his ridiculous fashion that still somehow works.
He loves a lot of things about him, actually, and Brendon's never really thought about that before.
Ryan presses their foreheads together and Brendon blinks at him, going a little cross-eyed to see him clearly.
“I know I'm not the one you want,” he says and his voice has gone a little thick, his hands tightening their hold on the back of Brendon's neck in nervousness. “I know that, but maybe that's okay? Just for tonight.”
Brendon isn't sure what Ryan's trying to say. His heart is beating ridiculously fast and he's thinking about Jon with Spencer and about how maybe the reason the sting was so easily ignored isn't because Brendon's that resilient. It's because Brendon was never really in love with Jon at all, not like he thought he was.
“Ry,” Brendon says, and Ryan just shakes his head and hesitates a bare second before closing the space between them.
His lips are soft, a weird combination of slick and tacky against Brendon's. The kiss is soft at first, just their lips pressed together, but Brendon squeezes Ryan's hips in response and tilts his head up and Ryan makes a tiny sound that vibrates all the way down to Brendon's toes.
The kiss deepens after that. Ryan pulls Brendon in tighter, fingers tangling in the hair at the back of Brendon's head. He wonders briefly, between one breath and the next, what happened to his top hat. And then Ryan flicks his tongue against Brendon's bottom lip and he forgets to worry about the small shit and focus, instead, on the way Ryan tastes like coffee and chocolate and artificial cherries. His mouth is hot and wet, his body pressed all along Brendon's front feels like one of the only things keeping Brendon from floating away.
He curves his arms further around Ryan's back, biting a little at Ryan's bottom lip and smiling when Ryan moans loud enough to be heard just under the music.
It doesn't occur to Brendon that they're kind of in a public place until someone taps on his shoulder and says, “having a pretty good time, I see.”
Their mouths make a slick sound when they part, and Brendon glares at Jon with mock ferocity.
“I'm busy here Walker,” he says, and Jon shrugs easily, glancing at Ryan.
“I noticed,” he says before doing a double-take and going, “holy shit. Ross?”
Ryan frowns and purses lips that look a little messy and red and says, “it's a secret, Walker, shut up.”
Spencer stares at him from over Jon's shoulder and whistles. “It looks even better than when you tried it on for me.”
Jon and Brendon whirl on Spencer. “You knew?” Jon says, and Brendon says, “you could've warned a guy!”
Spencer shrugs casually and says, “whatever, we're fucking hungry, wanna go grab something to eat?”
Brendon glances over at Ryan who tucks his hair behind one ear and nods. “Yeah, sure.”
Brendon echoes him and the four of them make their way past the people standing around, all of whom give Ryan appraising looks but don't seem to notice the man behind the dress and the mask. Brendon kind of likes it that way. He wouldn't mind having Ryan to himself for a while. If that's what Ryan wants, anyway.
As soon as they get outside and pile into Jon's jeep, Brendon turns to Ryan in the backseat and says, “so, just to clarify, M. Butterfly, right?”
Ryan's smile practically glows in the dark of the jeep's interior. “How'd you guess?” he asks, and Brendon shrugs.
“You can't be a theatre geek as long as I have and not pick up a few things,” he points out.
Ryan doesn't stop smiling and Brendon's ridiculously proud of himself for putting that look on his face. In the front, Jon and Spencer talk quietly about something, their fingers tangled loosely between their seats. Ryan follows Brendon's gaze and shifts a little closer.
“You okay?” he asks, and when Brendon turns to look at him he's close enough that they could be kissing again if one of them moved just a little.
Brendon nods and looks at Ryan closely and sees, not the mask and the makeup, but the boy with the sarcastic smile who works behind the bar and loves weird movies and books and bands. Brendon thinks of Jon and all of the things to love about him, but he realizes even Jon's never made him breathless with a touch or a word.
“I'm fine,” Brendon says, rubbing his nose against Ryan's. “I'm fucking awesome.”
Ryan laughs, soft, and says, “good,” the word pressed to Brendon's smiling mouth.