He's still in the dressing room when Brendon and Spencer come crashing in but at least he's moved to the sofa.
"Oh thank God," Spencer says sounded worried and exasperated. "Don't you ever answer your cell, asshole?"
Ryan shrugs. "I don't think I have it." There's no paper in the room so he's been writing on his arms in someone's abandoned eyeliner; if the circumstances were different, he'd be proud of his levels of emo.
Someone huffs and someone sits down next to him but for once they're not the someones he expects. "Don't mope, Ross," Brendon says, slinging his arm around Ryan's shoulder and tugging him in. "It's my month to be the emo, angsty one."
Ryan lifts his head, making an enquiring noise. He wouldn't exactly be surprised if he'd missed something; he never claimed to be all that attentive to the outside world.
Brendon shakes his head. "Just the usual." He urges Ryan's head back down onto his shoulder and presses a messy kiss against Ryan’s forehead just above his temple, using his free hand to rub up and down Ryan's shoulder.
Ryan can't help it; he knows it's needy and pathetic, but he curls into Brendon's arms and lets Brendon take his clumsy turn at curing Ryan's woes. Mostly this involves really tight hugs but Ryan can get on board with that. Especially when Spencer sighs a minute or two later and sits down on Ryan's other side, hooking his chin over Ryan's shoulder and sliding one arm around Ryan's waist.
After the tour ends, things get… not better, but they get over. They all go home, and Ryan loses the tight, scared feeling under his skin all the time from worrying that he’s going to inadvertently turn a corner and bump into Jon at any time of the day or night.
He’d thought being home might be better, not that home is ever good but he thought it might help jolt him out of this, help him to get over Jon, and in a way it does. Missing Jon eventually becomes an ache not a cancer, and when he laughs he starts to feel like he means it. At the same time, the break is when everything starts to really go downhill with Brent and while yeah, the Jon thing had sucked, it had only sucked for him. This Brent thing is hurting all of them.
Being home means going back to nights spent in Spencer's room, staring at the same ceiling they always used to stare at, making plans like they always used to make, only this time their dreams have roots that stretch into reality. That doesn't make them any less scary or Ryan any less desperate to reach them.
Ryan wakes to thuds, shouts and a slamming door. Still half asleep, it takes him three seconds too long to remember where he is and that it’s a good idea to get up.
When he does, he finds Brendon and Spencer sitting together in Spencer's lounge just kind of looking at each other. Apparently there was some kind of band meeting and no one invited Ryan. He makes a note to be pissed about that.
“Brent?” Ryan asks because who else? He feels more tired than when he fell asleep.
“Gone,” Spencer says.
“Okay.” It’s not okay. It’s shitty. "Is he coming back?"
Spencer shakes his head. But it's I don't know not No so Ryan manages not to completely lose his shit.
He sits down between Spencer and Brendon and closes his eyes. After a second, Brendon’s head drops onto his shoulder and Spencer’s hand wraps around his knee.
“What are we going to do?” Spencer asks, and it’s only this close to their ears, only with just the two of them, that Spencer will ever let himself sound that young and scared.
“Wait,” Ryan answers easily, because what else? No one moves for a long time.
They wait. They wait as long as they can but they're scheduled for Weenie Roast in LA and they can't wait forever.
They call Brent from the road, leave a message telling him to stay the fuck home. Then they call Pete and barely manage to stop themselves from saying Help us.
"Shit," Pete says which Ryan thinks works. Spencer's driving and Brendon's got his Sidekick on speaker on his lap. If Ryan could maybe get his mouth working again he would tell Pete that that was an excellent summing up of the situation. "Okay, hang on. Let me think."
There's silence on the other end of the line and Brendon reaches over the space between them and squeezes Ryan's hand hard enough that Ryan worries about broken fingers. He squeezes back just as hard. For luck, he reaches over the stick and curls two fingers in Spencer's belt loop, hooking them all together because Spencer and Brendon are all he has now. There's no way in hell he's letting them go.
"Okay," Pete says. "Look, I can cover bass for you today if you get desperate but dudes, you do not want me up there with you if you can help it. This show's supposed to be all about you guys. If you can think of anyone, we can pay to get them flown in."
"Um," Brendon says, biting his lip. "Siska?" he asks dubiously.
Something jolts in Ryan's chest because he has the answer. It's been banging against the back of his brain all along; he'd just hoped to be able to ignore it for oh, approximately ever. But Brendon's looking scared, Spencer's far too pale, and even Pete sounds worried.
"We could ask Jon," Ryan says to the miles of Nevada road rolling out in front of them.
There's a full minute of silence. It's Pete who breaks it. "That's a fantastic idea, really good. Why the fuck didn't I think of that? I can get Jonny Walker on a plane before you can blink." Then, softer, "If you'll be okay with it, Ryan?"
Ryan closes his eyes. Pete Wentz should not know the embarrassing details of Ryan's love life; it's just too surreal.
"It's fine," Ryan says. He gives serious consideration to whether or not he needs to ask Spencer to pull over. He's possibly going to puke.
"Ryan," Spencer starts but no. Ryan can do this, Ryan will do this, but he's not going to talk about.
"Can you get him on a plane, Pete?" he interrupts. Brendon brushes his thumb over Ryan's knuckles and doesn't say a word. Ryan appreciates it. "Please."
Jon gets to the venue half an hour before they're due to go on and they lose another five minutes while Brendon clings to him and Spencer tries not to cling to him and Ryan attempts to hide himself in plain sight.
"Do you know the songs?" is the first thing Ryan says to him which is a pretty shitty first thing to say to anyone but Ryan can't say Hi or Thanks or God, I missed you so much because he knows his voice would break on any of them.
Jon's eyes cut to his then away before Jon holds his gaze steadily. "I think so," he says. He holds up his iPod. "Good job I had you on here, huh?"
Ryan ducks his head, suddenly unable to breathe right. They'd uploaded Fever to Jon's iPod from Ryan's laptop and Jon had teased the hell out of him for having his own album on his computer. Later, Jon had stolen Ryan's iPod and uploaded some tracks from his and Tom's old band for Ryan to hear and they’d lain awake into the night while Jon confessed some of the things he'd thought he was going to get to be, once upon a time.
"Okay," Spencer says, clapping his hands together and easing the tension. "This is going to be our best show ever guys, seriously, we can totally do this." He stops, frowning. "Brendon, that tambourine is not a tiara. God."
Brendon sticks his tongue out and doesn't take it off. Being ridiculous helps Brendon cope with shit; Spencer isn't actually going to do anything to get in the way of that.
Jon laughs, just a quick, startled sound that he breaks off half way through like he's not sure if it's appropriate.
Ryan risks a direct glance at him - Jon has an awesome laugh - and Jon catches him looking and smiles, sort of.
Ryan smiles back. Sort of.
They've got rooms in a hotel near the venue so they don't have to deal with driving back to Vegas tonight, which is seriously appreciated.
Back there after the show, Spencer says “We’ve got to make it official,” and his eyes look very far away.
"Yeah." Ryan fiddles with his phone, turning it over and over in his hands but not quite able to make himself use it. He's aware of Brendon hovering close to Spencer and even though he can't see or hear him he's still glad to know that Jon's in the connecting room, somewhere close.
"Don't be stupid," Spencer says and he sounds harsh but for once, Ryan manages not to take it personally. "I'll make the call."
Ryan knows he shouldn't agree - this band idea has been his from the start, he should be the one to finish it - but all he can do is nod as relief washes over him. He never claimed not to be a fucking coward when it counts.
Brendon sniffs in a breath but doesn't say anything. Ryan risks a glance up at Brendon who’s been shockingly, sickeningly grownup and calm throughout this, who’s sheet-white and dull-eyed now, with his fingers knotted together in his lap. Ryan wills Spencer to reach over and touch some part of Brendon, just to check he's still in there, but Spencer is statue-still and locked in on himself and doesn't respond to Ryan's mental commands for once.
Ryan suddenly can't stand this. He's sitting with his two best friends basically planning to dump his other best friend and it's too much, he wants to puke or scream or totally lose his shit in ways he's never, ever let himself before.
"I have to - " he starts, standing up suddenly.
Spencer looks up at him with heavy, tired eyes. "Why don't you go check on Jon?" he suggests like this is any other day and he's feeling guilty that they've abandoned their guest. Hell, he probably is feeling that; Spencer juggles more problems than anyone else Ryan has ever met.
Not even the idea of another awkward scene with Jon is as gut-wrenching as this feels and Ryan gratefully makes his escape. He knows he should feel ashamed so he hopes that counts.
Jon looks up when Ryan cards the door open. His eyes are guarded but somehow still concerned.
"How's things?" he asks, not dumped your bassist yet?
"Spence is calling him," Ryan says not can I fall asleep with you and wake up when all this is over. He crosses the room to the mini-fridge and stops in front of it, hands soaking up the cold through the top. It would be easy to open it, pull out a drink or two, just dull this a bit, but he's not going to do that. He's not that.
It feels as if Ryan's battery has run all the way down and he just stops, stands where he is and stares unseeingly at the wall. He doesn't know how long he's stuck like that, suspended animation, frozen in time but he doesn't hear Jon move until he's right behind Ryan, taking hold of his shoulders and turning him around.
"Hey, hey, hey, Ryan Ross," he says softly, tucking his hand behind Ryan's arm and leading him over to the bed.
Ryan sits down obediently and flicks his eyes up to the TV screen when Jon switches it on for him.
"Do you want to talk?" Jon asks and for some reason that makes Ryan irrationally angry because God no, he doesn't want to talk.
"You can't do anything," he says and it comes out snappish but at least the words are restrained. He ignores the part where tone usually means more.
“Okay,” Jon says, holding up his hands semi-seriously before Ryan can say anything else. “I know you’re pissed at me, but Spencer and Brendon are my friends too. So I think I'm going to check on them unless you want me?”
It's a shitty way of phrasing it and Jon obviously realises that by the way his eyes go wide. “Yeah,” Ryan says, staring firmly at the television, feeling like the Technicolor pull from the screen is the only gravity holding him together at the moment.
“Okay, then,” Jon says, “Right.” He stands there for another long few seconds then knocks firmly on the door connecting their rooms. After a second, Ryan hears the snick of Brendon or Spencer opening the door and letting Jon in.
This was the room they dumped all their stuff in when they arrived and Ryan's guitar is sitting propped against the other bed. Ryan leans forward to snatch it up and pulls it into his lap, resting his chin on the smooth wood and tries not to listen to the soft sounds of Jon offering Brendon and Spencer the kind of comfort that Ryan really can’t.
Ryan tries his best to stay awake, brain whirring around and over what the hell they can do now, but his eyes are having none of it, slipping shut again and again until he surrenders, sliding the guitar off his lap and onto the floor, and curling up in the corner of the bed. He feels lonelier than ever in here on his own and he'd really like to go and make Spencer share with him like they always did at home but with Jon back there, he’s not going to.
He doesn’t know how long he sleeps, but when he blinks awake, it’s to see a shadow creeping through the room.
“Jon?” Ryan asks before he can think it through, voice scratchy from sleep.
The shadow stops, turns. “Hey,” Jon says quietly. He’s looking at Ryan from under his eyelashes, shuffling his feet a little but not moving closer.
Ryan’s neck and shoulders feel stiff, but he manages to push himself upright without too much wincing, drawing his knees up in front of himself to give his head somewhere to rest.
“Are they okay?” he asks, nodding in the general direction of Brendon and Spencer.
Jon shrugs. “Yeah. They’re, you know.” Ryan does know: Spencer will be stoic and Brendon will be jittering out of his skin with the effort of not being the only one showing upset; he tries not to think about the fact that Jon knows that too.
Jon’s moved as far as the edge of the bed but now he hesitates. Ryan thinks he should probably want Jon to go; nothing's really changed between them, just got eclipsed by this thing with Brent. But he shifts over instead, making the space beside himself on the bed really obvious.
“What about you?” Jon asks, sitting down, “You doing okay?”
“Yeah.” Ryan shrugs. “I’m, you know.” Unconscious imitation and he tries to smile. It probably doesn’t turn out that convincing judging by the way Jon twists towards him, concern written on his face right down to the dip of his eyebrows.
“I’m angry,” Ryan finds himself saying. “And I’m freaking out.”
Jon shifts closer again. Ryan gets the impression that he’d like to reach out, give Ryan a hug. The really shitty thing is that Ryan would kind of like that too.
“Hey.” Jon reaches across the distance, squeezes Ryan’s shoulder. Ryan holds himself tense so he doesn’t lean into Jon’s solid Jon-ness. “I know it doesn't solve anything long-term but I can help you guys out as long as you need me for."
Ryan's so grateful and so tired that he has to clear his throat before he can answer. "Thanks," he says. "I really. Thank you."
Jon's hand is still on Ryan's shoulder and it rubs softly before sliding down and curling around his arm, just holding on. "I didn't know things were so shitty for you guys," he says quietly. "Did you?"
Ryan shakes his head. He hates admitting that no, he didn't really have any idea. Not that it was as bad as this.
But maybe, he lets himself think, maybe it had been obvious that Brent was drifting away from them, Ryan just hadn’t realised how far. Ryan and Spencer and Brendon have been getting progressively closer ever since the band really became something and Ryan just sort of assumed that the same went for Brent. Brent was less demonstrative than Brendon, than Spencer even, and Ryan thought that was why it didn’t feel the same.
But now Brent is gone and Ryan’s safe little bubble of a world is rocking. The band is Ryan's way out. It's his only way out short of magically making it as a writer really, really quickly and buying himself and Spencer - and Brendon now probably - an apartment in New York or something. The band is Ryan's only realistic way out and he can feel it starting to slip away.
“Hey,” Jon says and Ryan doesn’t understand why his voice is so soft, what’s made him decide to ignore all Ryan's Keep Away signs and scoot right up into Ryan's space, until he goes to push his hair back and realises his face is wet.
“Oh,” he says, kind of stupidly. No one’s seen him cry in coming up on forever (not even Spencer and he’s practically a part of Ryan) and he feels his cheeks heat up. But Jon just keeps tugging and Ryan goes, resting his head in the warm, dark, safe crook of Jon’s shoulder and holding on, letting himself get held up for a while.
After a while it gets… well it doesn’t get awkward, it still feels great, but Ryan knows that it should feel awkward so he moves to shift back a bit and Jon lets him. A bit. When Ryan has his own pocket of air around himself again, he leans back against the wall and closes his eyes for a moment. “Sorry,” he says and he’s not really talking about this brief, painfully childish moment but he’s not sure whether or not he hopes Jon thinks he is.
Jon though, just smiles quietly, half to himself, and stands up. “I should leave you alone,” he says. “You need to get some sleep.”
“Will you -?” Ryan starts to ask, then stops himself, appalled. Apparently Brent was their testosterone supplier and without it Ryan is fast losing his balls.
Jon raises both eyebrows. “Will I?”
Ryan winces. “Nothing.”
“I’ll stay with you if you want,” Jon says quietly. “But you have to actually ask.”
Ryan looks down at his knees. They’re dusty but he has no idea why. “Stay?” he says and it’s not even loud enough to quite be a whisper but thankfully Jon doesn’t ask him to repeat, just gets back onto the bed and lies down.
Ryan sighs, relieved, and uncurls enough to lie down beside him. Their shoulders touch and Ryan rolls his face towards Jon's warmth. When Jon doesn't protest, Ryan drops his head so his face is against Jon's shoulder. “I think I backed the wrong guy,” he says quietly and hopes that makes sense.
Jon bumps him gently with knuckles against his hip. “You backed your band,” he says. “That’s always got to be the right thing.”
“Yes, but I'm. You’re -” Ryan's too tired for words.
“Not band,” Jon says simply. “I don’t compete.”
Ryan wants to tell him that he does, that there’s no level of importance that Jon doesn't figure on anymore, but what his mouth comes out with is, “You could be. Band. You could compete.” He ducks his head because he shouldn't be saying that; he hasn't discussed it with the others yet. "I mean, maybe?"
Jon inhales roughly and presses his mouth behind Ryan’s ear, breath hot. “Don't ask me that when you're all fucked up, okay? Wait until I know you mean it.”
“Okay,” Ryan says, because he can do that. He closes his eyes; his head is so heavy. "What should I do?” Jon isn't Spencer, but he probably still knows the answer to that.
“You should sleep,” Jon tells him. He kisses Ryan’s temple and Ryan turns his head blindly, fitting their mouths together in what would be a way more romantic gesture if he wasn’t fighting down a yawn.
Jon laughs, pulling back. “Sleep, Ry.”
“Yeah.” Ryan’s world is spinning crazily into darkness behind his eyes, but he's safe enough and just about secure with Jon’s arms anchoring him.
Ryan sleeps, but not for long. He wakes while it's still dark and Jon is asleep beside him, head tilted back against the mattress, one arm still around Ryan's shoulders. Ryan uncurls himself stiffly and pads over to the door to the other room. It’s dark in here, the only light a pale white glow from the moon outside the window.
Ryan pushes the door open slowly, worried for one wild moment that he won't be wanted but, when he gets it open, he's sees that Spencer is fast asleep, curled towards the wall and away from Brendon, who’s lying on the edge of Spencer’s bed. Protecting him, Ryan thinks, gratefully.
Brendon looks up from his Sidekick and puts a finger to his lips. “Don’t wake the baby, Ross,” he admonishes, the smallest of smiles on the edge of his lips. Ryan crosses to him and sits, Indian style, on the floor by the bed and leans his head on Brendon’s arm.
They sit there in silence, just breathing, until Spencer makes a sad, sleepy noise and rolls over, tucking himself up against Brendon, who curves an arm around him immediately. Spencer looks washed out in the moonlight, big grey circles under his eyes, his eyelashes spiky and maybe-damp.
“He okay?” Ryan asks, voice pitched just loud enough to make sound.
“Little bit,” Brendon says, putting down his Sidekick and stroking his hands through Spencer’s hair. “You know he made the call so we wouldn’t have to, right?”
“Yeah, I know.” According to the world, Ryan and Brendon are the artistic ones, the ‘sensitive’ ones, and Spencer should call that for the bullshit it is, but he never does - mostly, Ryan thinks, because he likes having an excuse to take care of them.
"Ryan," Brendon says and Ryan tenses because Brendon is Mr Optimism and Ryan isn't sure he can deal with an It'll Be Okay talk right now. All Brendon says though is, "You want up?" indicating all the space on the bed that Brendon and Spencer aren't using.
Ryan shakes his head and moves his head off Brendon's arm, pillowing it on Brendon's thigh instead.
Brendon's free hand traces Ryan's cheekbone then cards Ryan's hair back off his face. Ryan smiles distantly at the sudden mental image that he gets of himself and Spencer as Evil Mastermind Brendon's fluffy white cats.
"Going back to Jon?" Brendon asks and it could be a double edged question; hell Brendon's way sneakier than he appears so it probably is a double edged question.
Ryan answers in the same way. "I think so."
It's the second night of their headlining tour - they have a headlining tour; Ryan is usually pretty cool about shit but he gives himself a minute to freak out about this - and they're in Arizona . It's hot as hell and the venue is sold out and yeah, it's strange to look to the other side of Brendon and see someone Not Brent but Ryan is feeling surprisingly good.
It starts at the beginning of Sins, when Ryan glances across at Jon, just to see, just to check, that they’re as on as he thinks they are, as in sync and connected, that Jon’s feeling it too, flying with them.
Jon’s head’s bent low over his bass, hair sweaty and bangs in his eyes. His hands are moving so fast and sure that Ryan blinks and half expects to see little cartoon stars flying from the strings, go faster stripes following them through the air. Jon’s eyes are closed and he’s biting down hard on his lip; it’s the expression he gets at the start of sex, before he gets close, when he’s just getting into it. It’s intimate, so personal that Ryan wants to pull the curtain down for him, tell the crowd to close their eyes.
He messes up three chords in a row, sees Brendon turn to check he’s okay and, finding he is, to smirk and shake his head in exaggerated disappointment.
When Ryan looks back at Jon, Jon’s looking back at him. His eyes twitch like he’s about to smile and then they flare instead, caught by something Ryan didn’t even know he was projecting. Ryan feels his blush start somewhere in the line of his throat, but he doesn’t look away, raises his eyebrows and smiles slow, touching his lips with the tip of his tongue and not really thinking about how slutty that’s going to look until it’s done and Jon is dark-eyed and distracted.
Behind them, Spencer’s cymbals crash and they both jump, eye-contact breaking and releasing them back to the stage. Ryan feels wrung out and helium-filled, heavy with lust and light with the tenth grade rush of oh god, he still wants me.
He risks a peek behind, catching Spencer’s eye. Spencer’s laughing at him, but Ryan’s too busy freaking out and feeling elated (and and and) to really care.
Ryan’s skin feels like it’s on fire, when they finally get offstage. Brendon’s riding a serious adrenalin-high, bouncing madly around them all, and normally Ryan doesn’t mind, normally he’s feeling it too and more than happy to touch. But today the bus feels overcrowded, cramped and each and every time Brendon touches Ryan, bouncing on then off like a human pinball, Ryan has to bite back something sharp and needy.
Brendon frowns at him the fifth time. “Are you okay?” He presses close, sweaty chin against Ryan’s previously non-sweaty ear. “Do you need a massage?” It’s said with all the fake lasciviousness that Brendon can muster, and that’s a lot.
Ryan twitches and shoves him off. “I need a shower,” he says, with a pointed look designed to tell Brendon he’s not the only one.
Brendon just beams. “Perfect, all that soap’ll help with the friction-” he squawks when Spencer catches him in a headlock, yanking him down and away from Ryan.
“No showering with Ryan,” Spencer tells him sternly. “I’ll get jealous.” It’s deadpan and dripping sarcasm and calculated to get the perfect response from Brendon.
“Oh, Spencer,” he cries, curling around Spencer like he’s his own private blow-up doll. “I thought you’d never ask.”
Spencer laughs and drags Brendon away and Ryan loves Spencer a whole hell of a lot right then.
He loves him a little less, when he realises that they’ve gone and left him all alone with Jon.
“Hi,” Jon says. He’s pressed back against the sink, waterbottle in hand. “I -” He’s not quite meeting Ryan’s eye.
“I really need to -” Ryan makes a vague gesture at his face; they came off stage late, didn’t have time to get cleaned up back at the venue. He can feel his mascara getting soft and gooey with the heat from his body, the heat inside this overgrown tin-can.
“Sure.” Jon steps away from the sink, keeping a careful three feet between them even as Ryan walks closer. God, this is awkward.
Kitchen paper and tap water make a crappy make-up remover but Ryan would rather suffer this than deal with Brendon again before the shower’s had a chance to make him sleepy. He squints at the dull reflection of his eye in the back of a hanging saucepan; this could take all night, but he’s not complaining because the longer he has an excuse not to look at Jon, the better.
“Stop,” Jon says, voice and warmth suddenly a hell of a lot closer than they were. “You’re getting it in your eye. Let me, uh -” When Ryan looks up, blinking back watery make-up that he can already feel turning the white of his eye grey, Jon’s lips are twisted uncertainly but he’s holding out his hand for some dry paper, wetting it before Ryan can get any words out.
“Just,” Jon says, “tip your head back so I can - Yeah.” Damp towel touches the corner of Ryan’s eye, soft and so damn careful. Ryan’s breath catches. “That’s better, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Ryan breathes. Jon’s fingers are sure and careful on Ryan’s cheek, just like they always are on Ryan - no, that’s a stupid thing to be thinking about right now, it’ll lead to thinking about the look in Jon’s eye, the dark, lost lust, the look he got watching Ryan and oh God.
Ryan wants to reach out, touch the soft fabric of Jon’s shirt. He digs his fingernails deep into his palms and tries to breathe regularly.
It’s takes forever and Jon’s warm and he smells so good that Ryan’s dizzy with it all by the time Jon steps back and it’s a physical ache just below his ribs not to lean into Jon’s body.
“Okay?” Jon asks. He rubs his thumb over the corner of Ryan’s eye. When Ryan looks at him, he blushes dully. “Smudge,” he says, but it comes out broken and Ryan doesn’t believe a word.
“Thanks,” he says quietly. They watch each other, breath coming loud above the rattle of the bus. Jon’s licking his lips and Ryan never, ever asks for what he wants, but he’s okay with taking it when it’s offered and he doesn’t think he’s wrong about this. He reaches out, curls his hands around Jon’s biceps and pulls Jon in, touches their mouths together. “Can I?” he asks, far too late, drawing back just enough to talk.
Jon lips move soundlessly against Ryan’s, caught somewhere between a word and a kiss. “I think you just did,” he manages. And it’s stupid; Ryan’s maybe kissed Jon a hundred times by now, he shouldn’t be this scared to do it again.
He takes a breath and presses deeper, making a fist in the collar of Jon's shirt to pull him in, trap him really, and Ryan’s not above admitting it.
“Okay,” Jon says after a minute, sounding hoarse, breathing hard. “Okay, so this is good. Unexpected and you’re maybe choking me a little, but basically, uh, awesome?”
Ryan forces his fingers to loosen their choke hold, smoothes his thumb over the tiny dip between Jon’s collarbones. When he looks up, Jon’s flushed, tongue worrying the edge of his lower lip. “Unexpected?”
Jon’s hands flex where they’ve somehow gotten wrapped around Ryan’s hips and that feels stupidly good: solid and sure and strong and all the things Ryan’s come to appreciate about having Jon close. He slides his arms over Jon’s shoulders, knots his hands loosely behind Jon’s hair.
“I kind of thought we were over,” Jon tells him. He pulls back, not far, but too far and tilts his head. “Were we not over?”
Ryan looks down. He feels kind of like an idiot and he hates feeling like that. “I don’t know,” he confesses. “Do you want to be?”
Jon makes a noise. It’s almost a laugh, would be a laugh if it weren’t so frustrated. “I pretty much never wanted to stop being with you,” he says.
Ryan swallows. “Okay,” he manages. “That’s. That’s good. That’s.”
This time, Jon’s laugh is just a laugh. “You should stop talking,” he says, voice rich with affection. “You suck at it.”
Ryan looks up, nodding helplessly. He does suck at it, so badly.
Jon smiles and Ryan feels something tingle in his belly. “Better,” Jon tells him, leaning in so their mouths press together.
They’re nothing gentle about this kiss - well there is, this is Jon, so he’s careful, always so careful with Ryan, but it’s also Ryan’s mouth opening helplessly against Jon’s tongue, teeth clacking together dully, the feel of Jon’s beard on Ryan’s stubble and Ryan’s fingers digging too hard into Jon’s back through his shirt and Jon’s palms sliding flat and fast up and down Ryan’s spine.
Jon tugs and Ryan stumbles forward, lost in Jon’s… everything and they trip, losing balance and winding up on the floor, landing with a crash hard enough to shake the glasses on the counter.
“Shit,” Jon says, shaking his head like his ears are ringing, and Ryan’s just about to ask if he’s okay, apologise for his suddenly-acquired klutziness, when Jon grins, laughs. “Way to sweep me off my feet, Ryan Ross,” he says and Ryan laughs too, relieved.
Ryan smiles. “Smooth, huh?”
“Totally.” Jon waggles his eyebrows. “And now we’re lying down.”
Ryan thinks that if he smiles any more his mouth will crack and that will be both embarrassing and difficult to explain. “We’re also in the lounge,” he says.
Jon presses his hand to the small of Ryan's back, urging his hips down. "Adds to the excitement."
Ryan can’t think of anyone less likely to have an exhibitionist kink than Jon Walker, but he’s too busy trying not to moan when his half-hard cock pushes against Jon's through their pants to really put that into words.
Jon makes an inarticulate sort of noise, hips shifting restlessly, hands sliding up under Ryan's shirt to touch his back, his chest, the line of sensitive skin where his pants ride low on his hips.
This is fast and hot and semi-public like the last time they did this, only Ryan tries not to think that, because that time was an ending and he knows it's stupid to hope but God does he hope that they're fixing things this time.
Behind Ryan somewhere a door slams and Jon tenses up. Ryan smiles slowly, ducking down to lick up Jon's throat. He doesn't feel exactly secure in what they're doing, but he feels safe enough to tease. "You don't think it'd be hot if Brendon walked in? Or Spencer?"
Jon tips his head back to bare more of his throat to Ryan so Ryan uses his teeth. "Jesus," Jon chokes. "Lock the door?"
Ryan really doesn't want anyone walking in on them, wants it even less than he normally would. Jon's flushed all across his nose and cheeks and his lips are startlingly red and Ryan doesn't want anyone else getting to see this, so he gets up and flicks the courtesy bolt on the door, pushes a chair up in front of it for good measure.
"Better," Jon says and when Ryan turns back to he's pulled his t-shirt off, is working on his pants.
"Yeah," Ryan agrees sincerely around a suddenly dry mouth.
Jon pushes up onto one elbow and holds out a hand. "Come here," he says, adding with a smile, "But naked first."
Ryan arches an eyebrow but it's all for show. His hands shake as he's pulling his shirt off, stepping out of his pants.
Jon rolls up onto his knees and grabs Ryan's hips, pulling him against Jon's face, nuzzling his erection through his boxerbriefs.
Ryan curses and digs his hands into Jon's hair, getting hot all over as Jon just fucking breathes him in, licks and sucks messily at the shape of Ryan's cock.
"Jon," he starts but then it doesn't matter because Jon is reaching into Ryan's underwear, fingers warm and careful as he frees Ryan's cock and holds it still while he licks slowly around the head.
Ryan bites down hard on the heel of his own hand to hold back the moans. He's missed this, missed it separately from missing Jon even; their sex was always kind of amazingly good.
Jon blows him slowly, sliding up and down while Ryan makes dazed, choked little "Oh, oh," sounds and fights really hard not to come.
Jon releases the head with a pop and Ryan's cock swings a little, catches on the stubble that Jon's grown since the last time they did this. Electricity jolts through Ryan and he bites his hand again, hard enough to bleed, folding forward from the waist and only held up by Jon's hands on his hip and thigh.
"That doesn't hurt?" Jon asks curiously. Ryan can't help wondering if he's the first person Jon's been with since he stopped shaving, but he's not going to ask that.
Ryan shakes his head and Jon brushes his cheek back and forth in a gentle, almost see-sawing drag along Ryan's cock.
"Only, only in a good way," Ryan half stutters and feels Jon's mouth curve into a smile before he opens his eyes to see it. "What?"
"Some pain kink I didn't know about?" Jon asks, eyes dark.
Ryan isn't going to say a you kink; he'd die of embarrassment if the shame of using such a horrible cliché didn't get him first, but yeah, that's sort of it. Jon has stubble now so Ryan likes it. Jon could possibly grow a tail and tusks and Ryan would get turned on by it.
He pushes at Jon's shoulders a little, telegraphing his moves so Jon’s ready when Ryan lowers himself to sit over Jon's lap.
"Hi," Jon says and kisses him. Ryan rolls his hips against Jon's denim-covered lap and tries not to crawl out of his skin. "You're different when you're getting laid," Jon tells him thoughtfully and Ryan doesn't, doesn't flinch.
"Bad different?" he asks, not thinking about the fact that these last few weeks have been the only time Jon's known him when he wasn't having sex with him. He tries not to freak out that he might only be interesting when there's orgasms involved.
"More confident." Jon's hand finds Ryan's cock, jacks him slowly while his other hand slides back to Ryan's ass, teasing at his hole with fingers that have somehow gotten spit-damp.
Ryan pushes his face into Jon's shoulder and pants for breath. What Jon calls confident, Ryan's always accepted as slutty, but he's not going to argue now, not when Jon breaches him with the tip of one finger, then two. Not when Jon's hand tightens around Ryan's cock and Ryan comes until his ears ring.
He slumps forward onto Jon's shoulder, scraped open and shaking with aftershocks. Jon kisses his temple, pets his hair, and doesn't so much as nudge him with the erection that's digging bluntly into the soft part of Ryan's lower-belly.
Ryan squirms his hand down between them and strokes his fingertips soothingly over Jon's cock. It's hot under his hand and he really wants to taste it only, as stupid as it feels, he doesn't want to move that far away from Jon. So he jerks Jon off instead, twisting his wrist how he knows Jon likes, listening for the shuddering inhale that he always gives right before he comes and kissing Jon hard when he hears it.
"Oh fuck," Jon says, dragging his mouth away and coming over Ryan's fist. He drops his head against Ryan's shoulder and Ryan smiles kind of goofily because no one can see him.
They sit there for what feels like a long time, growing sticky and a little cold but Jon keeps stroking Ryan's hips and his spine, tiny little touches that Ryan's been missing and he's not going to move until Jon asks him to.
Eventually though he can't hold back his shivers and Jon shifts under him. "We should get dressed," he says and he sounds regretful. Ryan hopes he is.
Ryan pulls his pants and t-shirt back on but doesn't bother with his underwear. He smiles when he sees Jon do the same.
Then, abruptly, they're dressed and looking at each other and it's awkward again. They broke up, they broke up for a reason that isn't erased now simply because Brent left, and they haven't exactly talked, just shifted around each other for a few weeks until finally this.
"You go ahead," Jon says, indicating where the bunks are. "I need to call someone."
Reality brushes the edges of Ryan's sex haze; Jon could have someone else, it's been long enough that Ryan couldn't even be an asshole about it.
But, "Tom," Jon clarifies quickly. "He left me a voicemail during the show. So now I have to call him and gossip about how awesome you are and shit." He grins. "In a totally manly way of course."
"I think you'll find you're the awesome one," Ryan says just so his mouth is busy and he can't say thank God or please don't ever date anyone who isn't me. "Ask Brendon."
Jon just smiles, shaking his head and pulling out his Sidekick.
Back at the bunks, Ryan does the first thing he thinks of and goes to Spencer's bunk. There's a Brendon there, wearing cotton PJs with bunnies on them and curled up asleep with his head on Spencer's stomach. Ryan definitely remembers days when he got to visit Spencer without finding Brendon there.
Spencer looks up at Ryan from over the top of the magazine he's reading and lightly touches Brendon's hair. "He doesn't like people who aren’t him having sex on the bus," Spencer says seriously but Ryan knows where to look for the smirk and finds it.
"Damn right," Brendon says sleepily, cracking one eyes open. "I hope you didn't get anything disgusting on our sofa."
Ryan chokes out a half-scandalised laugh but he knows it isn't convincing. He's sort of stupidly buoyed at the moment. "Like what?" he asks, climbing in on Spencer's other side.
"Like spunk, Ross."
And this time Ryan can't stop himself laughing and blushing simultaneously. "What about Jon?" he asks, pressing against Spencer's side so he can look down at Brendon while they hold their ridiculously conversation.
"Jon Walker is awesome," Brendon tells him firmly. "He would never get his spunk on my sofa cushions."
"Damn right," Jon's voice calls from the lounge and Ryan hides his head in Spencer's hair and laughs helplessly.
It takes them too long to ask Jon to become permanent. They're all cautious and it has nothing to do with Jon really. Jon says he understands but Ryan still feels shitty for it.
Jon is a better bassist than Brent. Much better. But even more importantly he has enthusiasm, he wants to be there, he loves their band, which the crowd seem to pick up on straight away, warming to Jon in a way that they’d all, secretly, been scared wouldn’t happen.
When they finally ask him, it's backstage just before a show. Jon's hand spasms around Ryan's, his grip tight enough to leave Ryan's hand aching all set, but "Yes," he says, "Fuck yes, of course."
They fly through their set, something that’s been wrong settling back down into place. Brendon laughs straight into the microphone then laughs harder at the feedback and Spencer keeps smiling, though he’s clearly trying to fight it.
And Jon… the second they’re off stage, barely out of sight of the crowd, Jon is grabbing Ryan and kissing him, shoving him straight up against the nearest wall and making out with him hungrily like it isn’t two hours since they last did this, like the rest of the band and techs and assorted background crew can’t see.
“Thank you,” Jon’s saying into Ryan’s mouth and Ryan thinks he should probably say that no, Jon’s saved them, but he kind of likes the taste of thanks in Jon's mouth so he lets it go on a little longer.
Spencer's laughing in the background, saying something and Brendon’s whistling at them. Ryan tries to flip them off, but can’t quite get his hands far enough away from Jon’s chest for it to be effective.
Jon tips his head, catches his stubble gently over Ryan’s cheek, whispers low in his ear, “I mentioned that thing where I’m in love with you, right?”
Ryan smiles into the curve of Jon’s jaw, prepared to shrug it off because of course Jon loves him right now; Ryan loves everyone he’s ever met when he’s feeling like this. But there’s something scared in the clutch of Jon’s fingers and, when Ryan opens his eyes, Jon’s looking brave and terrified and Ryan thinks oh.
“Uh,” Ryan says, telling his voice not to shake. “Sure?” Jon’s expression starts to fall and, “No,” Ryan says, almost interrupting himself, “No, God, that’s not what I meant. I meant. I meant me too; I swear I did.”
“Yeah?” Jon asks, the corner of his mouth turning up so high, Ryan thinks he might break something. “That’s good, cos I kind of want to fuck you against this wall and if I do Spencer will kill me, so it’d be really cool to be able to say I died for love.”
Ryan laughs, tries to anyway, except his brain is stuck on love with occasional detours to fuck you against this wall. “That,” he says, tipping his head back so Jon’s kisses can trail down his throat. “Is a fucking awesome idea.”
"Get a room," someone says in the background.