Tora (torakowalski) wrote,
Tora
torakowalski

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Only One Place They Call You One of Their Own 1/2

Two weeks ago, harriet_vane and foxxcub gave life to harlequin_bands and then… this happened. I have never written a fic this long this quickly before – and I haven’t written a fic this long at all since those pre-LJ days that we don’t talk about – something about these boys is very inspiring!

Title: Only One Place They Call You One of Their Own
Pairing: Spencer/Brendon, Jon/Ryan (Spencer/Tom)
Rating: NC-17
Word count: ~19 000
Summary: In which there is a wedding, a bubble machine and Spencer is certainly not dating Brendon Urie.

My prompt was… “Trainee-actuary Spencer Smith is frustrated when his long-term relationship ends a week before his best friend’s wedding but he’s downright furious when he hears his now ex-boyfriend bet hunky Brendon Urie that he can’t take Spencer home and bed him. While Spencer struggles to deal with his distrust of and attraction to Brendon, his friends and family try their best to interfere and direct the progression of this unlikely romantic connection.” … sort of.

A/N: With huge thanks to miscellanny for letting me send her random snippets while this was coming to life and then offering to beta it for me when it was done <3.
A/N 2: This is for the worrying number of people on my flist who are having a bad week.

Part One:

Spencer has packed thirteen pairs of shoes, six shirts, seven pairs of boxers and one tie. He hasn’t forgotten the tie. “I haven’t forgotten my tie, Ryan,” he tells the phone exasperatedly. “And if I did? They have tie stores in Vegas.” He assumes they do. He’s not sure he ever saw one, but back then he probably wasn’t looking.

Ryan makes a dismissive noise. “Sure, the same ties everyone else will be wearing. My best man needs to look distinctive.”

“And a tie bought from the Chicago branch of Macy’s will do that?” He pauses, pulls the phone away from his ear long enough to glare at it. “I’m not wearing it around my head.”

He doesn’t need to see Ryan to know he’s rolling his eyes. “That was one time, Spencer. And you looked hot.”

“I looked like someone had stolen me from the 60s.” That was Ryan’s nineteenth birthday when he and Jon were first tentatively shuffling around each other and Ryan had wanted to prove how cool he was by having the biggest fucking birthday bash ever.

Spencer only remembers the head-tie and puking in the bushes some time before midnight, but obviously something happened at that party that worked for Jon.

“Your mom said to warn you that your dad’ll be making a speech. Should I be worried?”

Spencer groans. He thinks it’s awesome that his parents are getting so involved in Ryan’s wedding, but God. Spencer’s dad making a speech.

“Spencer?” Ryan asks. “Worried. Me. Should I be?”

“Nah,” Spencer lies, crossing his fingers behind his back. “It’ll be awesome. We burned that picture of us naked in the bath, right?”

From somewhere behind Ryan, Spencer hears a bark of laughter. He’s not sure if it says more about him or more about Ryan that he never has Ryan on speaker where anyone else can hear.

“We were six,” Ryan yells, “There was a jello incident.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Jon’s voice gets closer. “Whatever you say. Hey, Spence.”

Spencer stops trying to stuff socks into the spaces between his shoes long enough to grin at the phone. Jon Walker has that effect on people; Tom calls it the power of his awesome, but only where Jon can’t hear. “Hey, Jon.”

“Can you put Tomrad on the line, dude? We have important bachelor party shit to discuss.”

The next sock gets stuffed rather more harshly than it deserves. “Yeah, Tom’s not home yet,” Spencer says as mildly as he can.

There’s a pause then Ryan says, “Isn’t it like midnight there?”

“Yep.” Spencer finds that he’s twisting his tie – his one and only, exotic, Chicago tie - around his hands, and makes himself stop.

“Where is-”

“He’ll be home later,” Spencer interrupts. “I’ll get him to call you then. Now I gotta pack unless you want me walking you up the aisle naked.”

Spencer hangs up on Jon saying, “No one walks Ryan up the aisle naked except for me.”

***


Two hours later, Spencer’s suitcase is packed and sitting by the front door. He’s in bed but not asleep, lying awake and staring at the ceiling, when he hears keys jangling in the lock followed by explosive swearing and the sound of his suitcase skidding across the floor.

He smiles wryly at the ceiling.

“Are you trying to kill me?” Tom asks, pushing their bedroom door open and not bothering to check if Spencer is sleeping.

“Are you drunk?” Spencer counters.

Tom’s silent for a minute then he drops his keys onto the dresser with a loud clatter. ‘No,” he says. “Would you notice?”

Spencer flicks on his bedside light so he can glare more effectively. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Tom looks washed out and exhausted in the sudden light. At least half of Spencer wants to reach out and touch him, soothe fingers over his face until his frown fades away. The rest of Spencer is tired and cross and kind of numb.

“Nothing,” Tom says, closing his eyes and shaking his head. He starts to unbuckle his belt and his pants slide down to puddle around his ankles. Time was, Spencer knew every inch of Tom’s body. Now there are fading bruises just below his knee that Spencer doesn’t remember ever seeing. “All packed?”

Spencer rolls over so he’s facing lying on his belly, blocking out the light with his pillow. “Yeah. You?” Tom isn’t packed. Spencer knows that. They share a closet.

The bed dips under Tom’s weight and there’s the sigh that means he’s stretching out, all long arms and flexing leg muscles.

“I’ll pack in the morning. Won’t take me a second.”

“Right,” Spencer not-agrees and they lie in silence for a while.

Tom’s hours have been erratic lately and Spencer always works late. It’s been more than a week since they were awake and in bed at the same time. Spencer considers seeing if Tom wants to take advantage of that but dismisses it before the idea even fully forms.

Something like loneliness flickers on the edge of Spencer’s awareness, so he rolls over quickly, hoping to escape it by reaching out to splay his hand over Tom’s belly. Tom’s skin feels warm and familiar and unexpectedly a knot of tension slides out from under Spencer’s sternum.

Tom’s the one who picks Spencer up when he’s defeated or exhausted or upset, even when it’s Tom that’s exhausting him.

Tom puts one arm around Spencer’s shoulders and draws him close. He puts two fingers from the other hand under Spencer’s chin and Spencer obediently tips his head up for a kiss. “Go to sleep,” Tom says against his mouth.

Spencer nods, putting his head down on Tom’s chest and closing his eyes. It feels good to give up on the day.

***


Their flight leaves at eleven the next morning, which wouldn’t be a problem, if Tom had just done his fucking packing at any time except ten minutes before they needed to leave.

Spencer gets it okay, Tom is artistic, Tom is not good with details. Spencer grew up with Ryan Ross, he knows all about flighty artsy people. Ryan, though, will do something if reminded enough. Ryan just honestly forgets; Tom seems to be making a habit of wilfully ignoring Spencer’s calm reminders.

The Don’t forget to pack! xox message that Spencer put on the fridge a week ago is still there, apparently untouched and he occupies himself with tearing it to shreds while he sits at the breakfast bar waiting for Tom to find the other half to the one pair of shoes that he apparently cannot travel without.

Spencer drops his mug into the sink, picks up his shoulder bag and stalks out into the hall. “Tom!” he calls. It’s not that big an apartment, he’s not sure where Tom can be looking now. “I’m leaving in two minutes.” This is Ryan’s wedding, Spencer isn’t going to be late.

“Keep your pants on,” Tom calls back. Spencer still can’t tell from where.

It’s almost like Spencer can feel the disconnect happening. It’s like he’s paused, waiting for someone to say something light and flirty in response, something like “How about if I take them off? That get you moving?” Except that he realises that it’s him that should be saying it and he just… can’t.

One minute!” he shouts instead.

“Okay,” Tom says, strolling out into the hall like they’ve got all the time in the world. He’s got his guitar and his second best camera in one hand and a badly zipped hold-all with some pink fabric poking out the side in the other. But he’s got both shoes on now thank God – well, he’s got two shoes on. Spencer isn’t sure if they’re the ones he was looking for but that’s okay because Spencer doesn’t care.

“Come on,” Spencer says, grabbing his case and reaching for Tom’s hold-all. Tom jerks it back out of his grip. It’s how they always roll – Tom can’t quite get used to the fact that Spencer isn’t the slight kid he was when they started living together – but today it feels more abrupt, like Tom might actually mean the glare he gives Spencer.

They drive to O’Hare right in the middle of rush hour traffic. Spencer factored that into their plans so they’re still okay for time but that doesn’t help Spencer sit still when he’s thrumming from lack of sleep and the excitement of getting to see Ryan.

“Dude,” Tom says at least, putting his hand over Spencer’s where he’s drumming too fast on the steering wheel.

“Sorry,” Spencer says, doing his best to stop. They lapse back into silence.

At the next set of lights, Spencer looks up to catch the tail end of Tom’s glare. “What?” he asks, stilling his fingers again – oh. He presses his nails into his palms and cranks his window wider open. “Sorry.”

They have a rule that passenger controls the radio which isn’t normally a problem. They like the same kinds of music and all the big drives they’ve done together – Chicago to Vegas the first Christmas after Spencer moved north; Route 66 the summer Tom graduated, stopping to take pictures whenever Tom wanted – have mostly been more about comfortable chatting or companionable silence than what’s playing on the radio.

But today, for reasons unknown, Tom is listening to some kind of classic station even though he knows that classical music makes Spencer want to crawl out of his own skin.

Spencer starts tapping his thumbnail on the dashboard deliberately a-rhythmically. He’s aware that he’s doing it this time.

“Fucking stop it,” Tom snaps at last. He doesn’t cover Spencer’s hand with his own like Spencer had maybe been trying to get him to do; instead he smacks it down, hard enough to sting.

Spencer sits up abruptly, adrenaline spiking for a second before he processes Tom and lets it simmer out. They don’t talk for the rest of the journey.

In the end, nothing really tips the balance. They make it through check-in and security without any more sniping at each other or anyone who works there. Their flight leaves on time and they get seats together.

But something isn’t right.

Scratch that: nothing is right.

Tom’s staring straight ahead, watching the tiny TV in the back of the seat in front, even though it only seems to be showing the Weather Channel, even though they didn’t buy headsets. Sunlight is shining powerfully in through the window to Tom’s right, highlighting freckles all down his nose and making his hair glow gold.

Spencer doesn’t want to touch. Spencer doesn’t want anything at all.

Spencer doesn’t know he’s going to say anything until he does. “Tom.” He doesn’t recognise his own voice. He sounds like he’s been drinking glass. “I can’t do this.”

Tom’s face washes white. He licks his bottom lip and shakes his head. It takes him a beat then another to turn around. “Me either.” He doesn’t sound any better than Spencer. “I’m sorry.”

Spencer swallows, nods, doesn’t know what to say. “Okay,” he finally manages.

“Yeah,” Tom says and turns towards the window.

***


Spencer hasn’t seen Ryan and Jon in nearly four months and no amount of breaking up with Tom (oh God, he just broke up with Tom) is going to ruin that.

It’s easy to spot them. They’re standing together in Arrivals, curved around each others’ spaces in that way they have that makes it totally obvious that they’re together without them even needing to touch.

Ryan’s face cracks into a wide grin when he sees Spencer and he touches Jon’s arm before hurrying forwards.

“Hey!” he says, throwing his arms around Spencer’s neck. Spencer drops his bags and hugs Ryan back as tight as he can. Ryan oofs in surprise but doesn’t pull away, just lets Spencer cling.

Spencer only gives himself one minute of holding on, but it still helps to ground him. “Hi,,” he says in a voice that impresses himself with its normality. “What the fuck are you wearing?”

Last time Spencer saw Ryan, he was sporting tiny vests and ridiculously elaborate scarves knotted around his neck even though it was mid-summer. Now he’s wearing boy-cut jeans (this is worthy of comment okay, Spencer hasn’t seen Ryan in boy jeans since they got out of their skaterboy phase. Of course, Spencer hasn’t worn them since then either, but he’s busy mocking Ryan right now), a brown t-shirt with a seriously low v-neck and a whole collection of beads around his neck and wrists.

He looks pretty awesome but Spencer isn’t going to admit that.

“Suck it up,” Ryan says, bumping his knuckles against Spencer’s arm. “You think I look awesome.”

Fucker.

Next to them, Tom and Jon are having a similar reunion. When Jon steps away from Tom and toward Spencer, Spencer has a second of irrational panic where he wonders if he’s allowed to keep Jon now that he’s-. Now he doesn’t have Tom any more.

Then he rolls his eyes at himself and returns Jon’s hug.

“All right,” Jon says. He waits for them to pick up their luggage then leads everyone towards the doors. “Let’s get you kids out of here. You have the wedding of the century to prepare for.”

Ryan rolls his eyes but his smile is warm and happy and Spencer suddenly can’t breathe.

“Ry?” Spencer asks. He drops back a step and catches Ryan’s wrist. “Can we get a cab?” He knows he’s being a coward but if he’s going to be spending the next few days living with Tom amongst Ryan and Jon’s RyanandJon-ness, he needs some space to clear his head first.

Ryan opens his mouth, presumably to argue or ask what the hell, but Tom gets in first. “No, we will,” he says, not meeting Spencer’s eye. He puts his hand on Jon’s arm and Spencer can already see where battle lines are being drawn. “Jonny’s got to show me his new studio anyway, right?”

Jon looks between them and scratches at his shoulder. “Yeah, sure,” he says, not sounding sure at all.

Tom’s smile is weak and it probably matches Spencer’s. “All right. You’ll be okay with the bags, Spence, right?”

“Fine,” Spencer says, wincing when it comes out like a snap.

“Okay then,” Jon says. “We’ll see you at home then?” He raises his eyebrows at Ryan and Ryan makes a befuddled face back. Spencer pretends not to notice.

Ryan lets Spencer stay silent on the walk out to the short-stay parking. Spencer lets his and Tom’s bags bang against his knees and pretends that that’s what’s causing the pain circling around in his stomach.

The inside of Ryan’s car smells like pot and leaking ink pens. It’s enough to make Spencer smile; all the time he’s been away, those smells have made him think of Jon and Ryan.

Ryan puts the key in the ignition but doesn’t try to start it. “So what’s happened?” he asks.

“We, um.” The sun’s in Spencer’s eyes so he pulls the visor down, loses some time fiddling with it. “We broke up?” He doesn’t mean to put the question mark there. They broke up. Period.

“Shit,” Ryan says quietly. “For real? I mean, for good?”

Spencer swallows. “I think so.” His voice comes out so thick and raw that it’s embarrassing.

“Fuck.” Ryan reaches across the handbrake and squeezes Spencer’s hand. “When?”

Spencer laughs. It hurts his throat. “Like an hour ago?”

“Fuck,” Ryan says again. His fingers force their way between Spencer’s and the feel of his long, thin fingers against Spencer’s flight-clammy palm makes something crack inside of Spencer. He turns his face away and blinks hard.

“I didn’t even know you guys were in trouble.” Ryan sounds sad and guilty, so Spencer shakes his head.

“It. I didn’t. If I’d told you, it would have been real.”

Ryan doesn’t say anything, just squeezes his hand again.

Spencer wants to sit here until he feels like he can breathe again, wants to see if Ryan can soak up all his woes for him, but can’t. He forces himself around so he can smile at Ryan instead. “Come on,” he forces out, “Wedding of the year, apparently.”

Ryan looks at him closely and Spencer holds his breath, praying Ryan won’t ask if he’s sure he’s up to it or anything like that. Spencer isn’t sure he’s up to it, but he’s doing it anyway. Ryan and Jon’s wedding is way more important than his own stupid relationship shit.

“Seriously,” Spencer says, “Come on.”

“Okay.” Ryan carefully disentangles their fingers. “Love you,” he says, almost covering it with a turn of the ignition key.

Spencer looks out the window and blinks hard. “Shut up.”

***


Ryan and Jon bought their house with the money Ryan got from selling his dad’s house after he died, so it’s way nicer than two kids just out of college should be able to afford. It’s closer to the Strip than Ryan and Spencer grew up but still far enough back into the suburbs that it’s quiet most of the time.

They have a lawn and go to neighbourhood meetings and get their trash collected every Thursday. Spencer has spent a lot of time making fun of their middle-aged suburban-ness but he’s not going to deny that it’s always soothing to visit them.

Ryan pulls up onto the drive without hitting the bushes on one side or the wall on the other which means he’s been practising. Spencer gets the bags out of the boot and they go inside, where Spencer is greeted by a slobbering, excited Hobo and condescendingly interested cats.

“Guys,” Ryan says, clapping his hands. “Give Uncle Spencer some space.” They ignore him and Spencer rolls his eyes; he’s long since gotten used to being ‘uncle’ to Ryan and Jon’s zoo. They’re either going to adopt a million Cambodian kids or become crazy animal people before they’re thirty, Spencer is sure.

He puts his bags down in the hallway because they only have one spare room and Spencer isn’t going to think about that now. He’s barely slept one night that wasn’t next to Tom in four years… but he isn’t going to think about that, either.

***


Ryan gets him an iced tea and they sit on the sofa and don’t talk about anything except to mock everything that comes on TV. No one can bitch as well as Ryan and Spencer together.

The sound of keys in the door makes Spencer jump although he’s not sure why. He’s been keyed up, expecting Tom and Jon almost since he got here. He hears quiet voices in the hallway and Ryan reaches over to touch his knee.

Spencer shoots him his best I’m fine smile and Ryan gives him back a yeah, right eye roll.

The door swings open but it’s Jon, only Jon.

He stops in the doorway and looks at Spencer. Spencer holds his breath.

“Hey you,” Jon says, softly, “Come here.”

Spencer staggers up from the sofa and accepts Jon’s hug gratefully. He’s more relieved than he wants to admit, because Jon might have been his friend before he even knew Tom Conrad existed but Tom has been Jon’s best friend for years.

It’s dangerous, Spencer thinks, Ryan and Jon being so good to him. He doesn’t know how he’s supposed to hold himself together in the face of that.

***


“Look guys,” Jon starts later, sounding hesitant. It’s a couple of hours before people will start arriving for the bachelor party and they’ve all accidentally found themselves in the kitchen. “Do we need to change anything in the wedding?”

Spencer’s standing up for Ryan and Tom’s standing up for Jon. It’s been arranged forever.

“No,” Spencer and Tom say at the same time. Spencer looks across at him but Tom drops his gaze when their eyes meet. “We’ll be fine. We still love you guys,” Tom says to his toes.

The tacit implication that they don’t love each other any more feels kind of like a knife going into Spencer’s stomach. He makes himself nod anyway because yeah, he agrees.

“Okay,” Ryan says, looking relieved. He looks at Jon for a minute before nodding and saying hesitantly, “And sleeping arrangements?”

“I’ll take the sofa,” Spencer says immediately.

Tom shakes his head. “No, I will.”

“Tom - ”

“Fucking let me, okay.” Tom doesn’t snap but something in his tone still says don’t fight me on this one. “Let me do one nice thing for you.”

Spencer nods once, before turning away to get something from the nearest cupboard. When the open door is shielding him from the rest of the kitchen, he can’t remember what he was looking for.

***


Spencer vividly remembers the night that Ryan and Jon called to tell them they were getting married. They’d been ridiculous and giggly and clearly so fucking happy that when Spencer and Tom had come off the line they’d celebrated like it was them who’d gotten engaged.

Spencer never imagined that he’d feel this shitty at their bachelor party.

Jon promised he could skip if he wanted to but Ryan is so happy and excited that Spencer just can’t do that to him. Spencer takes a glass of champagne from the first tray he finds and does his best to look like an enthusiastic guest.

He recognises a couple of people here. There’s a girl with pink hair standing by the salad bar who he’s pretty certain Ryan dated in high school and their middle school friend Trevor is attempting some kind of dance move out on the grass but Spencer hasn’t lived in Vegas for four years and he doesn’t know most of Ryan’s friends.

Then, of course, there’s also his family.

“Spencer!” his mom calls, appearing behind him with his sisters in tow. Spencer hurriedly puts down his glass. He might be a grown-up now but it’s still weird to have his parents watch him drink.

She kisses his cheek and puts her arms around him. “Ryan told us about you and Tom,” she says softly into his ear. “We’re so sorry, darling.”

Spencer nods and lets go of her as soon as she’ll let him. “Where’s Dad?”

Crystal giggles. “He’s cornered Shane to talk cameras again. I think he thinks he’s going to be the next Spielberg.”

Spencer opens his mouth to ask who Shane is when he notices that Jackie’s watching Tom from across the room. Spencer rolls his eyes at her. “Why don’t you go say hey?”

She folds her arms and glares. “I don’t want to say hey,” she says scornfully. “I’m plotting the best way to kick him in the nuts.”

Spencer’s laugh is so unexpected that he chokes on it. “Jackie!” their mom scolds while Spencer’s still getting his breath back.

She blushes but stands her ground. “What?”

Spencer doesn’t say anything, just musses her hair. She yelps and kicks him and he gets briefly distracted by trying to tickle her.

“Hey Spencer Smith,” Jon says, swinging around to their side of the garden, “There will be no killing of the beautiful Miss Jacqueline in my house.”

Jackie goes pink when Jon looks directly at her which makes Spencer laugh again. He always forgets how much his family even cheer him up until they do.

“Jon,” Spencer’s mom says. “Where’s Ryan? We have something for you.”

“Ginger,” Jon starts, ducking his head, but Spencer’s mom clucks at him and takes his arm. “Is he over here? Good. Come on, girls.”

Spencer watches them go but doesn’t follow. He doesn’t know what his parents are giving Jon and Ryan but he suspects it’ll be something big and he knows that Ryan won’t want anyone to see him get all choked up.

He scans the room, not looking for Tom, but finding him anyway. He’s standing by the tiny stage that’s been set up in the corner for the band they’ve hired. There’s a drink in his hand and he’s chatting to a small guy with a mass of curls and a guitar strapped to his back.

Spencer turns around, looking for his glass. He finds it, drains it and goes looking for a fresh drink.

In hindsight, Spencer should maybe have stopped before his fourth glass. He’s never been able to hold his champagne, which has led to a lot of giggly, drunk sex after the silly, snobby parties that Tom sometimes has to go to in Chicago.

He’s starting to feel kind of sick so he goes to find himself a beer instead.

What he finds is a Ryan. He’s talking to a tall girl in a tiny skirt and kickass boots but he totally abandons her when he sees Spencer, throwing his arms around Spencer’s neck and cuddling up to his side. “Spencer, where have you been, I missed you,” he says totally sincerely.

The ground is lurching nastily under Spencer’s feet. “Ry?” he asks, making sure he doesn’t slur. “Are you high?”

Ryan makes a guilty face and puts a finger over Spencer’s lips. He leans in to whisper, “I’m allowed to be high at my bachelor party, Jon says.”

Spencer nods. “And Jon knows his shit.”

Ryan doesn’t answer, just smiles, the one that Spencer privately thinks of as his Jon smile. It’s the smile that's always brought home to Spencer that he feels love differently from the way Ryan does. Now he’s starting to wonder if he’s just been feeling it wrong.

Spencer switches his grip on Ryan, not totally sure who’s holding who up. “Come find alcohol with me?”

The look Ryan gives him is too shrewd for someone who’s been smoking the kind of shit that Jon can always supply, but luckily he gets distracted by something shiny or something because it doesn’t last. “What?”

Spencer rolls his eyes. “The decent alcohol, where is it?”

Ryan waves his arms around. “Champagne and punch and, and things, everywhere.”

“Beer,” Spencer says clearly. “Please.”

Ryan shakes his head. Then nods. Then shakes it again. “Kitchen,” he says at last.

“Awesome.” Spencer pats his arm. “Go find Jon, yeah?

Ryan smiles. “He’s marrying me.”

“He totally is,” Spencer agrees. “Not tonight though.”

Ryan shakes his head. “Not tonight.” He wraps himself around Spencer for a second. “I’m glad you’re home, Spence,” he says before stumbling away in a Jon-ward direction.

Spencer takes a deep breath. Beer, right. He heads for the kitchen.

***


The kitchen is at the back of the house, separated from the garden by a screen door that gives Spencer nightmares about burglars and serial killers but doesn’t seem to bother Ryan or Jon enough to do anything about it.

Spencer gets within two foot of the screen when a voice carries out from the kitchen and stops him.

Tom.

One of the slats is wonky and Spencer finds himself using it to peek into the kitchen.

Spencer doesn’t mean to spy or anything, he’d just like to know who Tom’s talking to before he risks going in there. Tom’s kind of a flirt when he’s drunk and normally Spencer’s fine with that but right now he doesn’t think he can listen to it.

It doesn’t occur to him to doubt that Tom’s drunk.

Tom’s standing by the sink, leaning back so his elbows rest on the counter. His hair’s in his eyes and his shirt has risen up to reveal a stretch of tanned stomach and the line of hair leading down into his pants.

Spencer licks his lips. Break-up sex, he thinks dumbly, they need to be having break-up sex right now. Except then he tunes into what Tom’s saying and wait, what?

“Yeah, that’s Spencer,” he says and Spencer thinks for a second that he’s been caught but no, they’re. They’re talking about him? “He’s my boyfriend.”

Not any more, Spencer thinks, unconsciously wrapping an arm around his chest, curling one hand around the opposite bicep.

The guy he’s talking to goes red. “Oh fuck,” he says. “Shit man I didn’t mean…”

Tom laughs, shaking his head. “Ex-boyfriend, I meant.” His eyes scan down the guy’s body in a way that makes Spencer’s belly roll over.

The guy is all dark hair and eyes and pale, pale skin. He’s small and slim and squeezed into the tightest pair of jeans and smallest black shirt that Spencer’s seen since his scene days. He looks like Spencer did when Tom first met him.

“He’d probably go for you,” Tom slurs lazily. He laughs again and Spencer wants to yell at him, ask what the fuck he’s doing and tell him to stop. Something flashes in Tom’s eyes. “Tell you what, $100 if you can get him to fuck you.”

Spencer’s going to puke. Or cry. He hopes he doesn’t cry.

“You-” Spencer hears the other guy start to say but just then someone taps Spencer on the shoulder.

“We’re going,” Crystal tells him. She makes a face. “Mom says it’s past Jac’s bedtime.”

“Okay,” Spencer says distractedly. He wants to hear what’s happening in the kitchen now. “See you soon.”

She narrows her eyes at him then giggles. “You’re wasted. I’m so telling mom.”

He sticks his tongue out. Some things are automatic even when your heart is breaking. “Get lost.”

She punches him in the arm and runs away. Spencer rubs his arm absently while he turns back to the kitchen.

Tom and the other guy are laughing.

Spencer feels sick, hot with embarrassment and he doesn’t think before he shoves the door open and marches into the room. “Hey,” he says to the guy beside Tom. “Do you want a drink?”

“Um,” the guy says. His gaze goes to Tom then back to Spencer. “Sure?”

Spencer moves around Tom like he isn’t even there, going to the fridge and pulling out two bottles of Jon’s best microbrew.

By the time he’s turned around, Tom has disappeared. He holds out one of the bottles and makes his best approximation of a smile. “I’m Spencer.”

The guy nods. “Yeah I know. I was just talking to your boyfriend.”

Spencer doesn’t say anything and after a second, the guy bounces on his toes a little and says, “Oh, sorry, I’m Brendon.” He holds out his hand, which is incongruous enough that Spencer automatically takes it.

Tom’s a cunt, Spencer wants to say or and so are you for making bets about me, but he doesn’t. He takes a gulp of his beer and tunes back in to hear the guy… hear Brendon say something about the band that was playing earlier. “Did you hear them?”

“Sure,” Spencer says, shrugging.

Brendon smiles. “My roommate’s cousin Ian is their guitarist. He was awesome, right?”

Spencer isn’t sure he was listening. He flashes back on watching Tom chat up a guy with a guitar strapped to his back though and manages a nod.

Brendon beams at him. “They let me sing with them sometimes.”

“Awesome,” Spencer says. Now he’s got Brendon here, he’s not totally sure what’s supposed to happen next. Mostly, he just wants to rip off Tom’s arm and smack him in the face with it.

Failing that though… A really bad idea occurs to Spencer. A really bad one.

Spencer looks Brendon over. He’s not Spencer’s usual type, but he’s plenty hot. And Tom already thinks Spencer would do him, apparently, so why the fuck not.

He isn’t thinking about how much Tom hates to lose a bet. He isn’t.

Spencer drains the rest of his beer and tries to put the bottle down. It misses the counter the first time and yeah, maybe it wasn’t such a great idea. His vision’s kind of blurry. “You want to get out of here?”

Brendon breaks off in the middle of whatever he was just saying. “Uh. I was just talking to your boyfriend?”

Spencer swallows. “We broke up.” It doesn’t even burn so much this time. Either Spencer’s getting used to it or he’s even drunker than he thought.

Brendon is frowning at him and Spencer realises with a flush of embarrassment that he’s probably doing this all wrong. He’s never tried to pick up a one night stand before.

“I don’t know, man,” Brendon says. He puts his hands on Spencer’s arms. “You want me to just walk you home?”

Spencer shakes his head. This isn’t… He doesn’t know what he wants. He pushes forward a little bit, out of his personal space and into Brendon’s. Brendon makes a sound when Spencer kisses him but his hands tighten on Spencer’s biceps and that is good enough for Spencer.

They stumble a little when Spencer tries to readjust his feet so he can press closer, but Brendon steadies him and then it’s fast, messy kisses traded against Ryan and Jon’s kitchen counter.

Spencer’s getting hard. He can feel his cock swell and fill against the inside of his zipper and he rubs against Brendon’s hip automatically.

Brendon tears his mouth away from Spencer’s and stares at him with hot, dark eyes. “Fuck it,” he says breathlessly. Then, “Do you live near here?”

Spencer laughs. It’s harsh and rough and he doesn’t recognise it. “I live here, dude.”

Brendon frowns then his eyes go wide. “Oh,” he says, “You’re Spencer.” That makes no sense, Spencer thinks blankly. He just told Brendon that. But he nods anyway.

“Totally Spencer,” he agrees. Without his permission, his fingers try to work their way under Brendon’s t-shirt. They fail because Brendon’s t-shirt is apparently particularly evil and tricksy but Brendon laughs, dancing back a step and catching Spencer’s hand.

“Guest room?” he asks.

Spencer nods. He means to lead Brendon there but Brendon seems to know his own way, and then they’re slamming the bedroom door closed behind them, Spencer’s hands on Brendon’s ass while Brendon is fumbling with the bolt, locking them in.

“Naked,” Brendon says, turning around and already stripping off his shirt.

Spencer’s shirt is tricksy too, it turns out, but luckily Brendon has already lost all his clothes and he’s there to help Spencer out of his. Spencer tries to say thank you and just ends up moaning when Brendon slides down onto his knees and licks Spencer’s cock into his mouth.

“Shit,” Spencer says, banging his head back against the wall. No one but Tom has ever done this for him and it’s weird how different it feels. Brendon licks and sucks in a totally off-beat rhythm that drives Spencer mad while driving him mad. He scrapes his teeth over the head until Spencer’s almost sobbing with need and then he pulls away, drops down onto his ass and grins cheekily up at Spencer.

“I want you to fuck me,” he says easily, like it’s no big deal.

Spencer’s orgasm takes him completely by surprise and his knees give way as his orgasm crashes through him. He ends up on his knees, practically on Brendon’s lap.

Brendon’s eyes go wide and Spencer knows he’s blushing even if he can’t really feel it. “Shit,” they both say but in totally different tones.

“Fuck,” Spencer adds. He turns away, reaching for his t-shirt, wanting to clear up and get out of here, feeling suddenly ridiculous and dirty but Brendon stops him with soft, calloused fingers against his wrist.

“Hey,” he says, “That was hella hot.” He climbs up onto Spencer’s thighs and kisses him. “Can you go again?”

Spencer thinks about it but fuck he’s had a lot to drink. He shakes his head.

Brendon just kisses him again. He’s holding onto Spencer’s shoulders and Spencer finds that his hands are running all over Brendon’s body. It’s weird to feel someone else in his arms, someone whose skin he doesn’t know by heart. He can’t stop touching.

“You can fuck me,” he hears himself say. His breath cuts out just as Brendon’s does.

“Seriously?” Brendon asks, pulling himself up so he can look down at Spencer. “Shit. Fuck. Yes, come on, get on the bed.”

Spencer’s head is spinning from the his orgasm – and the alcohol and the fucking day he’s just had – but he manages to follow Brendon up, spread himself out for Brendon’s viewing pleasure.

“Hot,” Brendon whispers and Spencer thinks that he must have lost some time because he blinks and then Brendon is lining himself up and Spencer feels slick between his legs.

He almost says wait or stop but all he can hear is Tom’s laughter when he told Brendon that Spencer would probably sleep with him and he can’t- he’s so fucking angry.

“Hey,” Brendon says, face suddenly inches above Spencer’s. “You okay?”

Spencer’s eyes are stinging. “Fine,” he grits out.

Brendon tries to shift backwards but Spencer grabs him, holds him still. “Am I hurting you?”

Spencer shakes his head. “Please,” he says and it sounds weak and pathetic to his own ears but all Brendon does is kiss him.

“Okay,” Brendon whispers, “Okay.” His hips start to move, slowly and considerately, getting Spencer used to it. “Dude, you’re all kinds of fucked up, huh?”

Spencer arches up into Brendon’s next thrust and doesn’t answer.

***


The next morning, Spencer wakes up alone, stiff and sore and already retching. He stumbles out to the bathroom and stays in there until he hears sounds from the rest of the house.

It’s not until he’s standing at the sink, shakily rinsing out his mouth that he notices the smudged scrawl of numbers running down his arm.

He doesn’t remember Brendon leaving last night and he means to wash the pen away in the shower, but instead he finds himself searching around the room until he finds one of Ryan’s old eyeliner pencils, discarded and forgotten at the back of the medicine cabinet, and using it to copy down the numbers onto a piece of tissue. He folds it up under his discarded t-shirt so it can’t get ruined by the shower’s steam.

When he finally makes it downstairs, his stomach has settled but his head is pounding. He concentrates on that rather than on the hot ball of embarrassment that’s slipsliding up and down his spine.

“Morning,” Jon greets him. Ryan has his face down on the kitchen table and just waves vaguely.

Spencer doesn’t – can’t – meet Tom’s eyes so he just slides into the seat next to Ryan and puts his head down beside his.

Ryan tips his head to the side. “Nrugh,” he whispers.

Spencer closes his eyes. The combination of their hair falling over their own and each others’ faces is enough to make him feel safe and hidden from the world. “Yeah,” he agrees.

Something hot and smooth bumps his arm and he fumbles blindly for the mug, looking up to thank Jon, only to find that it’s Tom standing over him, eyebrows raised in rough amusement.

Regret is the first emotion to flash through Spencer, but last night’s anger comes quickly on its heels. “Thanks,” he gets out. He concentrates on the sweet, life-giving coffee so that he doesn’t have to say anything else.

“Have fun?” Tom asks. There’s something sharp in his voice and when Spencer looks up, he sees that Tom’s eyes are fixed on Spencer’s arm, on the place where faint, black numbers are still just visible.

Spencer tugs his sleeve down and doesn’t look around to see if Ryan or Jon have noticed.

“I guess,” he says airily. “You?”

“Me?” Tom smiles tightly. “Yeah man, I had tons of fun.”

“Okay.” Jon stands up, yawning and stretches his arms over his head. “I’ve gotta get to work.”

Ryan’s head lifts an inch or two from the table. “Today?”

Jon runs his fingers along the exposed line of Ryan’s neck. “Hey, someone’s got to keep you in pretty scarves.”

Ryan flips him off then goes back to moaning weakly at the table.

“You two got any plans?” Jon asks Spencer and Tom. He says ‘you two’ like they’re still a them, still a couple. It doesn’t help Spencer’s headache.

“Yeah, maybe,” Tom says. “I got talking to this kid, Ian, at your party, said I might look him up today.”

“Spence?” Jon asks.

Spencer fingers the numbers under his sleeve and nods slowly. “Maybe,” he says.

***


Spencer isn’t proud of himself but he ends up calling Brendon a couple of hours later. He’s sitting in the living room and he knows Tom can hear him.

“Hello?” Brendon’s voice answers after the forth ring. He sounds bright and chirpy and for a second, Spencer isn’t sure what he’s doing.

“Hey, Brendon?” Spencer knows it’s Brendon so he doesn’t wait for a reply. “It’s Spencer Smith. From last night?”

Watching Tom out of the corner of his eye, Spencer sees his shoulders go tense.

“Hi, Spencer from last night,” Brendon says. There’s a radio blasting the in background and a droning sound that Spencer can’t place. “I thought you’d still be sleeping it off, dude.”

Spencer forces himself to laugh. “Yeah, no,” he says. “I’m fine.” Fine is maybe pushing it. “Listen, did you maybe want to meet up today?”

“Oh man, I can’t,” Brendon says immediately. Spencer was already feeling like an idiot, now he feels like a tool. “I’m working.”

“Right,” Spencer swallows. He maybe didn’t think this through. The point of this exercise was not for Tom to see him crash and burn. The point was to get back at Tom for being an asshole and to show him that Spencer isn’t sitting around pining for him. “Okay that’s-”

“But later?” Brendon says. “My last appointment’s at seven so we could meet at like, eight? If you want?”

Spencer wasn’t really planning on making a date out of this. He thought he’d pop out for a couple of hours, hang with Brendon, and… well, he isn’t sure what the next step was.

Meeting up in the evening is a date.

“Okay,” he hears himself say. “Pick me up?”

***


Brendon smells of chemicals when he arrives to collect Spencer and his fingers are dyed blue.

“Sorry,” he says, fiddling with the edge of his green Stones shirt. He’s wearing tight indigo jeans and flip-flops and Spencer feels overdressed in his button-down but swings his arms like he’s comfortable anyway. “My last appointment ran over. It was keep you waiting or turn up here smelling like dye. I figured if I smelt too bad you could just stand upwind of me.”

Spencer doesn’t mean to smile. “What do you do?” he asks, following Brendon down the path to his car. He feels like there are eyes on his back but that’s probably his imagination.

Brendon stops at his car and opens the door for Spencer. Spencer brushes past him as he gets in, wondering why he suddenly feels so nervous.

“I,” Brendon tells him grandly, slipping into the driver’s seat. “Am a cosmetogist.” Spencer blinks at him and Brendon laughs. “Hairdresser. Only way cooler.”

“Right.” Spencer looks Brendon over out of the corner of his eye. He looks like a hairdresser Spencer thinks and he doesn’t look anything like the type of guy Spencer can ever see himself dating. He’s pretty and he dresses too young for his age and he turns up on dates without cleaning up from work.

Spencer’s brain stutters. Not that he cares how Brendon treats his dates. Because this is not a date.

“So I figured it was kind of late for dinner,” Brendon tells him, pulling onto the highway, “But it’s kind of early to go to a bar and there’s the place I really like that does like, dessert and wines and things, if you’d be into that?”

“Sure,” Spencer says. Date, date, date his traitor brain supplies.

The place Brendon has in mind isn’t far from Ryan and Jon’s, which is good, if worse comes to worst he could probably walk home. He feels immediately guilty for thinking that because Brendon keeps smiling at him and he tries to pull Spencer’s seat out at their table until Spencer gives him a look.

“So do you know anything about wines?” Brendon asks, toying with the edge of the list that their waiter brought.

Irrationally, Spencer feels like he should. But he doesn’t, and bluffing will just lead to embarrassment. “Not really,” he admits, relieved when Brendon laughs.

“Oh thank God. Me either. But I know how Ross is about matching flavours and textures and whatever the fuck else and I thought you might be the same.”

Spencer smiles. “Nope, that is totally all Ryan.” He doesn’t add that when he left Vegas, Ryan had still been refusing to drink.

Brendon opens the menu with a flourish and makes a face. Spencer snorts softly and Brendon looks up with wide, guileless eyes. “What?” he asks, “This is my thinky face.”

Spencer bites his lip. He wishes Brendon weren't so strangely charming. “Is it working?”

“Why yes.” Brendon nods solemnly. “Yes it totally is. I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we want this Pommard one.”

“Okay,” Spencer says slowly. He can’t even find that on the menu. “Why?”

Brendon waggles his eyebrows. “It’s number 69 on the list.”

Spencer’s laugh is startled and loud and he immediately ducks his head when people around them look up. “Oops,” he says but Brendon’s smiling at him, looking almost proud of himself.

They order their desserts – cheesecake for Spencer because there will never be anything better than cheesecake and chocolate profiteroles for Brendon. “Don’t come crying to me, when mine looks better than yours,” Brendon tells him, shaking his head at what is apparently Spencer’s very boring choice.

“So I’ve seen tons of embarrassing pictures of you,” Brendon tells him, after Spencer’s taken his first bite of – delicious and not at all boring – dessert. “And Ross talks about you all the time. He’s all proud of you, it’s really cute. You have some cool job where you do swanky things with numbers, right?”

“Yeah,” Spencer says blankly, thinking of his tiny cubicle in its sea of cubicles and feeling the food in his stomach go heavy. He hadn’t realised how much he missed having space until he came back out here. He’s worried he’s getting used to not being able to touch the sides any more. “How did you meet Ryan?” he asks instead of really answering.

Brendon grins. “My roommate, Shane? He was Jon’s TA at film school. But I knew Ryan before, I mean I met him. Your friend Brent introduced us.”

“Did we meet?” Spencer asks. Brent wasn’t Ryan’s friend, he was their friend, but Spencer hasn’t heard anything from him for months now.

“You and me?” Brendon waves his spoon. “Sure. Like once at a party. Someone said ‘hey, Spence, this is Bden’. You said hi and then we moved on with our lives.”

He laughs and Spencer starts to join in except that his brain chooses that moment to remind him of Brendon’s laugh ringing through the Ryan’s kitchen, while he leaned towards Tom and made bets about Spencer.

Spencer clenches his hands into fists on his knees. It doesn’t matter how nice Brendon seems, he reminds himself, this isn’t the real Brendon. The real Brendon bet on him.

“Spencer?” Brendon asks. He leans over the table and puts his hand over Spencer’s wrist. His fingers are slightly sticky from wine or chocolate or something. “Okay?”

Spencer rakes up his best smile. It’s his yes, sir, I’d love to do this pile of accounts you’ve dumped on me at midnight smile. “Sure,” he says.

Brendon’s looking at him shrewdly which Spencer doesn’t like at all; Spencer forces himself not to fidget under Brendon’s gaze. “It must be hard living so far from home?”

“No, it’s fine,” Spencer says automatically. “We were always going to get out of Vegas.”

Brendon takes his hand back to his side of the table. “You and Ryan?”

Spencer nods. “Yeah, but then out-of-Vegas came to us so Ryan wasn’t all that interested in moving any more.” Spencer doesn’t know why he’s telling Brendon that, except he opens his mouth and that’s what comes out.

“Out-of-Vegas in the shape of Jonny Walker?” Brendon asks.

Spencer smiles. “Yeah,” he says. One minute, Ryan was killing time, waiting for Spencer to graduate so they could go to school in New York or LA or anywhere not-Vegas and the next it was Jon this and Jon that and Spencer had known he’d be going alone.

Brendon nods, smiling indulgently. “They’re insane about each other, huh?”

They are and Spencer loves that. He totally does. It’s just harder to take right now. Tom got him out of Vegas, gave him somewhere to go and a reason to leave and now Spencer’s single and on a date with another guy. Well, not a date. Just dinner.

He takes a slow breath. “So tell me about the excitements of cosmeto-whatsit.”

Brendon rolls his eyes like he knows Spencer is changing the subject but he obliges anyway. He’s good at telling stories and he does all the voices for his different clients and, more than once, Spencer doesn’t catch himself before he laughs.

At the end of the night, they linger by Brendon’s car. Spencer doesn’t feel as desperate to get home as he’d been expecting.

“So,” Brendon says. He shuffles his feet and puts his hands in the front pocket of his hoodie.

“Yeah,” Spencer agrees.

Brendon looks up from under his eyelashes. “Did you have fun?”

Spencer kind of did. “Yeah,” he admits, because why not?

He puts his hand on Brendon’s elbow and Brendon leans into him willingly. Spencer presses their mouths together and something sparks hard in his belly at the way Brendon sighs and curls his fingers into the fabric of Spencer’s shirt, pulling it tight over his shoulders.

Kissing Brendon is so easy it’s scary, Spencer thinks stupidly, running his hands down Brendon’s back until they just skim the curve of his ass.

Brendon makes a pleased sound but steps back and no, Spencer isn’t okay with that. But Brendon gives him one more soft, surprisingly sweet kiss and shakes his head.

“I’m not going to sleep with you tonight,” he says, running his fingers down Spencer’s chest. “I don’t do that on first dates.”

Spencer doesn’t mean to blink at him and he doesn’t mean to look incredulous, he thinks both of those are probably pretty rude, but seriously?

Brendon laughs. He touches the frown lines between Spencer’s eyes. He touches a lot. Spencer isn’t sure he likes that. “Last night wasn’t a date, dude.” He stops, frowns. “You weren’t just taking me out because you wanted more sex, right?”

No,” Spencer says immediately, feeling his belly get heavy with something that feels sort of like shame. He was totally doing that, he realises. He shakes off Brendon’s hands, but tries to do it gently. “Come on, give me the keys. I’ll drive you home.”

***


Spencer wakes up feeling, not good exactly, but better. He feels less empty and he thinks his brain might be winding down, fitting itself into a holiday space because there’s no To Do list forming in his brain, banging against his skull for his attention.

Still half-asleep, he reaches out an arm, wanting a kiss. His arm hits empty mattress, obviously, and he comes awake with a rush.

He picks up his phone to check the time, amazed that it’s nearly eleven. He never sleeps past eight, even at the weekend. There’s a message and a missed call on his phone, his mom’s number, and he flops back down onto the bed before hitting redial.

Whatever she said in the message she’s just going to say again anyway, and he doesn’t want to hear it twice.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” his mom says affectionately.

Spencer rolls over and pulls a pillow up and over his head. “Morning,” he says.

“Your father and I are taking you out for breakfast, get dressed.”

“How do you know I’m not- I might be dressed,” Spencer argues but she just laughs at him.

“Anyone who gets within ten feet of that house looses all desire to hurry,” she tells him knowingly and he can’t help grinning because yeah, that’s true. It’s like there’s pot in the air. Hell, there probably is. “We’ll pick you up in a half hour.”

“Okay,” Spencer says and ends the call.

He drags himself out of bed, trying hard to cling onto the good mood he woke up with. He’s hard in the shower, but he ignores it. He doesn’t want to think about Tom but more than that he’s afraid that he might not.

“What about doves,” Ryan is saying when Spencer steps into the kitchen. “Is that too much?” The table is covered in magazines and computer printouts.

“Always,” Spencer says seriously.

Ryan jumps. “Oh hey,” he says, “How long were you-” He waves his hand vaguely.

“Dude,” Spencer says, going to the fridge and pulling out the jug of orange juice. “If you didn’t know I was there, who were you talking to?

“No one?” Ryan says guiltily just as Clover strolls out from under the table.

Spencer laughs. “Word of advice? The cat is always going to vote yes on birds, even if she doesn’t think they’ll match your theme.”

Ryan flips him off. “There’s toast and things,” he says with another unhelpful wave.

Spencer spins a spare chair around and straddles it. “Nah, parents are taking me out to breakfast. Want to come?”

Ryan look up. “Spence, I have breakfast with your mom once a week. It’s totally your turn to hear about what Mrs Clyde said about Mrs Foster at their last coffee morning.”

Spencer laughs. Four years ago, Ryan would never have spoken about her like that, even teasingly. He pretty much thinks she hung the moon, but he’s gotten easier with people lately. Spencer likes it.

Spencer finishes his orange juice then gets up to hang over the back of Ryan’s chair. “Shouldn’t you be done with all this by now? Wedding’s in four days.”

“Oh my God, shut up,” Ryan moans. “Do you want me to cry?”

Spencer props his head on Ryan’s shoulder. “What’s up?”

“It’s not-” Ryan makes desperate motions with his hands. He looks mostly like he’s milking a cow. “It’s not enough.”

Spencer laughs. “Dude, you’ve got a band. You’ve ordered enough flowers to start your own florist. You’ve got special fucking carpets to stand on. And now apparently you want doves?”

Ryan shrugs. “Maybe no doves,” he agrees. “I just want it to be awesome, you know?”

“Ryan. You’re marrying Jon Walker. How can it not be awesome?”

“S’true,” Ryan agrees reluctantly. “I want him to think it’s awesome though.”

Spencer blows hot air in Ryan’s ear and dances back before Ryan can smack him. “You’re insane,” Spencer tells him from a safe distance. “You could hire Midtown or something and Jon wouldn’t notice. He’s only going to be looking at you.”

Ryan’s cheeks go pink but his eyes shine. “We should totally hire Midtown.” He stops, looking up at Spencer thoughtfully. “And did I tell you that Brendon’s going to be singing?”

Spencer’s brain stutters but he ignores it. Brendon’s nice, Spencer has no problem spending time with him. “No? Singing where?”

“With The Cab at the reception; Singing Alex has tonsillitis.” He tips his head. “You have fun with him last night?”

Spencer shrugs. He hadn’t gotten back late last night but Jon and Ryan had already been in bed. He doesn’t know what they think he’s doing with Brendon. Was doing. He’s not doing anything with Brendon. Brendon’s an asshole, Brendon's supposed to be an asshole; Spencer wishes Brendon had been more of an asshole last night. “It was good,” he hedges.

“Brendon’s awesome,” Ryan says slowly. “Like, totally crazy and annoying as shit but also awesome.”

Right, Spencer thinks except then he feels bad for thinking it and then he feels stupid for feeling bad. Brendon Urie is messing with Spencer's brain. Spencer draws himself up and puts his hands on his hips. “And?”

Ryan just rolls his eyes. “And,” he mimics in a bored approximation of Spencer’s voice.

They’re still staring each other down when Spencer’s phone twinkles at him. “Parents,” he says, checking it quickly. He points a finger at Ryan. “Whatever you’re thinking about me and Brendon, don’t.”

Ryan pulls on his most innocent face. It only works because he still looks about twelve.

***


“So how’s Chicago?” Spencer’s dad asks.

Spencer is impressed they’ve waited until they’re actually sat with food before starting any serious conversation. Spencer loves his parents like crazy, but he’s automatically defensive whenever the topic of Chicago comes up.

Whatever Spencer does, there’s always at least one member of his family around to be supportive - yes, he knows how lucky that makes him. Like his grandfather who built him and Ryan a ramp so they’d have somewhere private to fail spectacularly at skateboarding and his dad who joined PFLAG two days after Spencer came out.

Moving to Chicago is the only thing they’ve ever been adamantly against.

In hindsight, he did it wrong. He was head-over-heels for Tom and enamoured with the idea of getting out and he didn’t prepare them for it, just dropped the bombshell, two months before his eighteenth birthday that he wasn’t going staying in Nevada like they thought, but transferring to Chicago to live with his twenty-two year old boyfriend.

Looking back, he’s not surprised that they reacted badly.

“ Chicago’s good,” Spencer says. “The weather’s better than here.”

Spencer’s mom makes a face. “The weather in hell is better than here. I hope Ryan’s got his summer scarves ready for the big day.”

Spencer laughs.

“So you’re going back?” his dad asks.

Spencer’s fingers clench around his fork. “Sure I am,” he says carefully. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

His dad’s expression shows how much he doesn’t want to say well you broke up with Tom, do you have anything left out there?

“We just worry about you,” his mom says carefully. “You’re so far away.”

“I’m an adult,” Spencer argues. He does his best not to sound petulant.

His mom touches his hand and Spencer is reminded immediately of Brendon. “You’re barely twenty three.”

“Yeah. Old,” Spencer agrees. He’s teasing just to clear the air and make her smile but most days he does feel old. He feels ancient.

Truth is. Truth is, Spencer is pretty reluctant to tell the truth about this but he hates his job. He loves Chicago but he hates his job and he hates being so far away from his parents and his sisters and Ryan. He’s not about to come home though, he fought too hard to get this to give it up the first time it gets hard.

“There’s this guy moved down from New Jersey,” his dad says and for a minute Spencer thinks he’s changing the subject. “Can’t remember his name, something German. He’s starting up a record label.” He lets his voice trail off and then Spencer gets it.

He looks up tiredly. “Dad,”

“I bet he’d hire you, is all I’m saying. You always wanted to work in music.”

Spencer looks back down at his plate and doesn’t answer.

***


Onto part two
Tags: au, bandom, brendon/spencer, fic, nc-17, wsycgh
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