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Sep. 6th, 2010


He gazes at Brendon over the top of a pair of purely decorative black plastic frames. (Brendon's pretty sure this is the guiltiest he's ever felt - barring that one really lonely night he spent with one of Spencer's pilfered school shirts tucked under his head, but he's never telling anyone about that, ever ever ever.) "You should've come to me," Pete says, disappointed.

"Yeah, I know," Brendon mumbles, shuffling his feet around on the worn school carpet.

There's a small pause, and then Pete sighs and sits up, rubbing his face frustratedly. "How many hours are you pulling at the mall? Like, in a week?"

Brendon winces, shrugs a shoulder. "Thirty, thirty-five?"

"Jesus." Pete drops his pen on his notebook, slouches back in his chair on the other side of the desk. He sort of wants to brain the kid, but he'd almost cried looking over Urie's file after Smith showed up looking all determined and worried, so he figures Brendon deserves one free pass. "Okay, well." He exhales, and looks up. "I talked to your teachers, and we can switch you to first block AP Bio and move your free period to after lunch, so you can get early dismissal. That way you're not at work too late. Cool?"

Brendon looks up, his eyes wide. "Um. Wow, yeah. You can really - "

"And you're going to be meeting with me every Friday for the rest of the year," Pete adds, snorting at how fast Brendon's face falls. He rolls his eyes at the little groan the kid gives. "I'll pretend that was a sigh of gratitude at my saving your dumb ass from even more sleep deprivation, thank you," he says primly, picking his pen up again. "And you're going to make sure you have Tuesday afternoons off so you can go to math lab, because you need better than a D on your transcripts to go to college - "

Brendon scoffs, and then quails at the severe look Pete gives him.

" - because you are going to college, Brendon. You are going to sit with me and write eight million essays on why scholarship people should give you money, and then they are going to give you money, and then you are going to go to school." He pauses, and then thinks what the hell and continues. "You deserve better than just this."

The kid actually cracks a smile, and stops looking so hunted. He gives Pete a sidelong look for a second, and then sits up a little, looking less hopeless. "You've been talking to Spencer, haven't you?"

"Don't know what you're talking about," Pete grins, reaching for the stack of LGBT scholarship forms he printed out earlier.

Sep. 5th, 2010


The Smoothie Hut is on the end of the mall he doesn't go to very often - all it has is a Dillard's and a sports store and a completely fucking depressing pet store. If this whole thing goes well, he's a little worried he'll spend whatever breaks he gets over there, asking to play with the animals that don't get out very often, getting attached to things he can't have.

He's good at that.

Brendon chomps on the end of his straw and frowns out at the middle of the mall, concentrating on all of the answers to potential questions he thought of last night - he loves smoothies! He loves Vitamin C! No scurvy for him, no ma'am! He's an A student who never gets into any trouble at school and has no interests outside of making the best smoothies ever for every single customer the Smoothie Hut has!

His cheeks are hollowing as he attempts to suck a bit of strawberry through his straw, and of course that's when the manager comes over, giving him a tentative smile and reaching out her hand. "Brendon?"

Brendon quickly puts his cup down, and pastes a smile all over his face. He holds his hand out. "Yes, ma'am. Nice to meet you."

Sep. 4th, 2010


The twisting, tangled feeling in Spencer's stomach still hasn't gone away. He picked at his dinner, even though it was good, he had to keep telling Ryan it was good. Mac and cheese with hot dogs is one of his favorites, but he just couldn't eat, not when he wasn't at his house with his mom and dad and his sisters and his plate and his Batman cup. It's the first time he's stayed over at Ryan's, and Ryan's house is nice like his, but it's still - it's not his house. He doesn't know where things are.

His hands wring in his lap, and Ryan wriggles closer on the sofa, looking anxious. "You wanna keep watching this?" he asks, gesturing towards the TV.

Spencer nods - he usually really likes TGIF. He gives Ryan the biggest smile he can, but then his stomach twists and he has to shift uncomfortably, leaning into the other boy a little more.

The living room in Ryan's house smells weird - like his dad's cologne and old smoke and a sharp smell Spencer can't place. It doesn't smell like his mom's candles or potpourri or clean laundry like his house does.

"We can go to my room," Ryan offers, his voice an urgent whisper. "Dad got me new crayons. The big box."

Spencer blinks, and nods, and slides off the sofa, following after Ryan quietly. (Ryan's super-quiet in the hallways and in the living room, so Spencer is too.) He closes the bedroom door soft behind him and climbs up onto Ryan's bed beside him, gazing in unguarded admiration at Ryan's 96-color box of crayons. Ninety-six.

He didn't know there were that many colors.

Ryan hands him the box and the stack of coloring books first, and Spencer gives him a solemn 'nk you before he picks red. It's his favorite.

Later on, when the moon is a high sliver of white in the sky, Spencer stares up at it, wide awake and worried. Beside him, Ryan's breathing slow and steady, and Spencer's pretty sure this is the latest he's stayed up ever, but he can't. He's not even tired. It feels like his body is making him stay awake, like he has to keep watch.

There's a thump down the hall, and then a long silence. Spencer shivers, and scoots closer to Ryan, not stopping until he's curled up around Ryan's back, watching the doorway as shadows move past it. He knows that it's dumb and he's too little to do anything, but he doesn't feel safe here. He needs to be where he knows he and Ryan are safe.

Sep. 3rd, 2010


"It's like...like when you and your girlfriend don't want to break up right before the holidays, right? Because damn it, you've held on this long, you want some motherfucking presents," Brendon says, his hands tucked under his head as he stares up at Spencer's ceiling.

Spencer tilts his head and considers this, and straightens his comforter around where Brendon's wrinkling it. At the computer desk, Ryan snorts and shakes his head. "I think," Spencer says calmly, "you'd need to have had a girlfriend once in your life to get to make that comparison."

The noises Ryan's making edge closer towards actual laughter, and Spencer grins crookedly.

"Just because your mom and I don't want to define our relationship yet," Brendon huffs, throwing an arm over his eyes.

"Dude," Ryan speaks up, turning away from the adoring masses on LJ for a second, "don't talk about his mom, you just ate her homemade cookies. That's, like. There are bounds of decency."

"Oh, I ate her cookies," Brendon mutters, unmoving.

Spencer rolls his eyes. "Wow, and I was just about to tell you you could crash on our couch when your parents kick you out."

Brendon tugs his arm down from his eyes then, and gives the both of them a petulant look. "Yeah?"


Brendon thinks about this for a second, and then moves his arm back up. "I think I'm going to get a job. Y'know, get a place on my own." Ryan snorts again, and Spencer can see Brendon start to scowl. "Fuck you, Ross."

There's a small pause, where everyone in the room slowly realizes Brendon wasn't joking.

"...You can still crash on the couch," Spencer feels it necessary to offer.

"Sweet," Brendon yawns, losing the scowl, starting to smile again. "Yeah, that'll be good. For the nights your dad's here. Your mom and I have an understanding."

Sep. 2nd, 2010


His hands drum on the steering wheel the entire four minutes it takes to get to Spencer's, and Ryan can't look over at the passenger seat, where the opened envelope is still lying. He bites his lip, hard, and screeches up behind Spencer's piece of shit car and grabs the envelope before he sprints up to the Smiths' front door.

It takes forever, after he rings the doorbell, but eventually he hears the locks being undone and then Spencer's standing in front of him, looking half-asleep and rumpled and confused. "It's Saturday," he mumbles, blinking blearily. "It's early."

Ryan freezes, grips the envelope harder, and stares for a second. Spencer's wearing pajama pants with spaceships on them. "I got into Columbia."

Spencer stares back. Then he beams, and holds the door and his right arm open a little more, and Ryan breaks into the grin he's been holding back ever since he checked the mail. He darts forward into the hug, and presses his acceptance letter against Spencer's back, and holds on for what feels like forever.

Sep. 1st, 2010


Spencer misses emailing Jon and asking about Chicago, and joking around with Tennessee and Annie. He misses going to the all-night diner just outside of Summerlin, where they one time saw Mr. Way and some sketch dude with a bunch of tattoos making out in one of the booths. He misses going to the record store, and the Starbucks on Magnolia with the comfortable leather sofa, and the Del Taco two blocks down from school during lunch. He misses not having this sharply delineated line of places he can't go in his town, people he can't really talk to anymore.

It wasn't worth it, he thinks now. The one, maybe two seconds where Ryan's mouth was soft and shocked against his, where he felt Ryan's breath warm against his cheek before the cold rushed back in as Ryan shot away. It wasn't worth keeping his head ducked in the hallways for a month now, having to relocate tables in the school cafeteria. Finally telling Ryan, finally, wasn't worth not seeing him for weeks now. He was wrong.

Aug. 31st, 2010


Spencer sighs and shifts minutely, trying to keep Brendon in the same spot. They're sprawled on the hide-a-bed that Brendon's trying to pass off as an acceptable alternative to actual mattresses and shit, and Spencer is mostly unmoved on his stance against it.

However, right now it's pretty comfortable, bolstered as they are by a dozen pillows and most of Brendon's clean laundry on either side. The apartment still smells like the Chef Boyardee Brendon cooked for dinner, and Brendon is a warm, snuffly weight on top of him, and the tv on the other side of the room is running a loop of the Love, Actually DVD main menu page.

After twenty minutes of listening to the same twelve bars of music, Spencer's had enough. "Brendon," he says, his voice cracking on a huge yawn. "Where's the remote?"

"Mmph?" Brendon mumbles, huffing and twitching away as Spencer pokes him lightly.

"The remote. The music's killing me."

"'k you, it's plaintive and longing," Brendon grouses, flopping his hand over the laundry to the side table, producing the remote and pressing it to Spencer's chest.

Spencer rolls his eyes and shuts the power off, then shuffles down a little more, finding one of Brendon's work aprons and draping it across both of their middles like a blanket. It's as ineffective as Spencer figured it would be, but hey, he tried. His eyes are getting heavy.

"Stay," Brendon orders, throwing an arm around his middle. "Chick flicks and slumber parties, we rock," he yawns into Spencer's neck. "The guys will be so jealous."

Spencer closes his eyes for a few seconds and nods, fumbling his cell out of the pocket of his hoodie to text his parents and tell them where he is. "Get the lights and produce an actual blanket and I will."

Brendon groans and complains, but eventually gets up and shoves the laundry off the bed, uncovering the blanket and smoothing it out on top of Spencer and the mattress fussily. He stumbles over to flick off the lights, and when he comes back, he gives Spencer a sheepish little smile. "Hey," he says, and waggles his eyebrows.

Spencer rolls his eyes, but grins too. "Come to bed," he drawls, before he shifts over to give Brendon room to crawl in.

"Bow chicka bow bow," Brendon yawns as he kicks his way under the blanket and settles in. He makes grabby hands for Spencer, not stopping until they're curled up comfortably, a familiar weight and feel. Spencer sighs and spits a piece of Brendon's hair out of his mouth, and blinks sleepily up at the city lights filtering in through the cracks of the blinds. It's weird, he thinks, that the only two places in the world he can actually sleep are home and here, at Brendon's.

Aug. 30th, 2010


The worst part of all, Brendon thinks, is that Spencer is trying so damn hard to keep things normal. It twists him up inside til he can barely stand it, watching Spencer smile and joke and tease and then freeze, go silent when Ryan pats him on the shoulder. Smiles at him. Knocks their knees together.

Brendon sees how desolate Spencer looks when Ryan turns away, and it makes him want to scream, to immediately go home and practice in front of the mirror, make sure that he's not making that face, and it makes him want to shake Ryan and say why, why, you don't know how good you have it, why can't you see what's in front of you?

(If he's honest with himself, it's not just Ryan he wants to shake.)

Aug. 29th, 2010


"But you can't be," his mom tells him, tearfully. Brendon swallows loudly and stares at her, red-eyed. She's wringing her hands, hunched over herself on the armchair. "Brendon, you - this isn't you, this is. Did those boys - that Ryan, did he - "

"No, Mom," he tells her, firmer than his voice was a minute ago. "This is me."

"Bullshit this is you," his father growls. "You know we can't condone this. You can't just - "

"I don't even recognize you," his mom says, her voice small. She makes to reach for his hand, and stops herself. "My baby boy."

Aug. 28th, 2010


"Hey," Brendon wheezes, dropping down onto the bleacher beside Spencer and immediately grabbing his Coke and sucking the straw flat. "It's ten thousand degrees."

Spencer winces and sighs, both for his drink's sad fate and for Brendon's predicament. "You were the one who wanted to do marching band."

"Yeah, but it's ten thousand degrees," Brendon grouses, shooting a filthy look over to the part of the bleachers where the rest of the band are sitting, looking hot and sweaty and miserable in the late evening heat.

"It's not like it's false advertising," Ryan murmurs, watching the cheerleaders' routine, "it has 'marching' in the name. So you had to know what you were getting into." He blinks and claps as one girl does a twirling somersault up in the air. What, it's impressive.

Spencer snorts, and Brendon glares at Ryan for a few seconds, turning his attention over to the cheerleaders before turning it back. "They all have boyfriends and think you're gay," he pronounces, before he swipes Ryan's drink and stomps down the bleachers, over towards the rest of the band.

Spencer keeps snickering even as the game starts back up, and Ryan elbows him a few times before he settles back in to watch the cheerleaders on the sidelines. There's one on the end with a wide, sweet smile and bouncy blonde hair that he really likes a lot.

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