When Brendon Met Spencer AU | R | by [livejournal.com profile] maple_mahogany

Apr. 12th, 2009 11:18 pm
fics_by_maple: (Spencer)
[personal profile] fics_by_maple
Title: When Brendon Met Spencer (When Harry Met Sally AU)
Pairing: Brendon/Spencer, Jon/Ryan
Word Count: 17,100
Rating: R
Warnings: Passing Brendon/Shane, Spencer/Bob
A/N: I've never attempted a 're-telling' like this before and blending two canons is not as easy as it seems! I don't know how this will read to people who don't know the film.

As ever, deepest affection to [livejournal.com profile] mrsquizzical who read this per paragraph as I wrote, and thanks to the gorgeous [livejournal.com profile] queenb23more and [livejournal.com profile] redandglenda for beta help.

When Brendon Met Spencer 1/2

~

May 2005

The first time they meet.


~

He's wearing a red hoodie, tight girl-jeans and has a backpack slung over his shoulder. He's also completely making out with a scraggly looking dude with greasy flat-ironed hair.

"Ahem," Spencer coughs through the driver's side window. This has no effect at all so Spencer blares the horn until the two jump apart and then he gives them his nicest smile.

"Hey! You must be Smith!"

"Yeah. Um, Brendon Urie?"

"That's me!"

Spencer glances in the rear view mirror while Brendon puts a guitar case and a duffle bag nearly as big as himself, in the back. Spencer does his best not to hear the sappy, and he thinks, meaningless, 'I'll miss you' and 'call me soon's' exchanged between the two.

"Ready?" Spencer asks once Brendon is sitting next to him.

"Dude, I sold my car and keyboard yesterday. I am so ready to be outta here. You?"

"Yeah, um. I've been planning this for a year. I'm meeting my best friend Ryan in Chicago."

Brendon smirked. "Your best friend?"

"Yeah. …What?"

"… Your best friend? Are you in third grade?"

Spencer rolled his eyes and decided to change the subject.

"The drive should be about twenty-five hours. I printed the route from Mapquest and I thought we could rotate with eight, three-hour shifts, or –"

"Sure, that's cool. Whatever you want. Just lemme know when we get there." Brendon only gave Spencer's highlighted printout a cursory glance before digging in his backpack and coming up with a bag a cheddar popcorn. "Smartfood?"

"No, thanks." He didn't want to get the steering wheel all gunky, he'd just cleaned the van.

Brendon shrugged, "your loss," and palmed a handful of popcorn into his mouth, at least half of it falling into his lap and between the seats.

"You can handle the drive, right?" Spencer was beginning to send stabbity thoughts at Brent. "You've driven a long distance before?"

"I drove half way to Phoenix once."

Spencer let out a snuffling growl under his breath and put the van into Drive.

"It'll be okay! I won't let you down, Spencer Smith, I swear."

Spencer glanced at Brendon, doing a double take at his smile. It must have been contagious because he mirrored it without thinking.

"Hey," Brendon said, putting his hand on Spencer's forearm and squeezing. "Chicago!"

Brendon's voice was tight and full of excitement and Spencer completely understood. He'd been planning to leave Nevada since he was a kid and it was finally happening. He smiled back. "Yeah."

~

"So tell me the story of your life."

"My life?"

"We've got twenty-five hours to kill and my iPod won't last that long."

Spencer considers his eighteen years with a frown. "My life wouldn't even get us out of Vegas. Nothing's happened to me yet." Brendon looked like he was still waiting for a better answer so he added, "that's why I'm going to Chicago."

"So something will happen to you?"

"Yes."

"Like what?"

"Like … like, I'm going to Columbia to major in Music Business so I can get a cool job and make lots of money so I can do more cool stuff."

"Music business? So you can be one of those dictators who controls the music industry?"

Spencer deflated a little. No one had ever questioned his motives before. "I guess that's one way to look at it."

"But you can't manage music, dude! It's organic – it's alive. It's something that's inside a person and you can't control that! Nobody should get to control that."

"I'm not … that's not what I mean."

"Because labels and managers and fucking record companies are the root of everything shitty that's ever happened to music."

Spencer gaped. "Yeah, that, and every dipshit musician who couldn't remember to eat, how to hang onto his money or when to stop doing drugs before he killed himself."

They glared at each other before looking out the windshield. Spencer was going to kick Brent in the shin the next time he saw him.

~

"He was so!"

"He was not! Oh, my god!" Spencer was shouting, but not because he was losing his temper but only because Brendon was so goddamn loud himself. "Paul McCartney wrote Helter Skelter, Yesterday, and Eleanor-Fucking-Rigby! Just because he had commercial success doesn't negate that he's a good songwriter!"

"As a pop machine! Everything he writes was, and is, completely, classically formulaic. John Lennon was an innovator. Even with pop music! But he wrote music that meant something to him."

"And here we go with the pretentious."

Brendon ignored him. "He was brutally honest with his music and his lyrics are still relevant twenty years after his death." Brendon was shifting and squirming in his seat, the restraint barely keeping him place.

"What good is being an innovator if you have to be high to understand it? Paul told stories that were fun to listen to and that everyone could enjoy. And he innovated plenty, thank you very much."

"John made plenty of pop music, too, but he wasn't afraid to push boundaries with it."

They were both pink-faced and breathing heavy. They glared for a moment, the thrill of debate getting their blood hot but their eyes shined with the fun of it.

"I think most would agree," Spencer tries a peace offering. "They were probably best when they were together."

The tension in Brendon's shoulders snapped and his eyes crinkled. "Yeah. Definitely."

~

Somewhere in Colorado, the elevation seemed to be getting to their heads as Spencer exited the highway.

"He lost his soul for her! You can't get any hotter than that."

"Puh-lease. Riley and Buffy's passion was so hot they summoned demons that possessed a house."

"Yes. See? Evil!"

"No, Angel was evil. He got a soul band-aid but he was always Angelus. Riley really loved her."

"I cannot believe any sane person would think that!" Brendon waved his arms, crossing and uncrossing his legs with a huff.

"Any sane person would rather have a human boyfriend that loved them, than an emo vampire who can't get it up without losing his soul!" Spencer slammed the van into Park in front of the Love's Truck Stop and turned off the ignition.

"Well that explains it, then," Brendon said, releasing his seatbelt and smiling as though something had just been settled.

"What?"

They both got out of the van and approached the door.

"Nothing."

"What? Say it!"

"Obviously," Brendon said, pausing in the doorway, "you haven't had good sex, yet."

Spencer face heated and his stomach got all squidgy.

"I have so!" he hissed, following Brendon inside.

"Have not."

"It just so happens, that I have had plenty of good sex!"

The customers inside went quiet; a burly, tattooed trucker raised his eyebrows at him, while a pair of older ladies gasped.

Spencer ducked his head and walked with humiliated determination towards the booth that Brendon had taken. He was slumped and laughing behind his menu when Spencer sat across from him.

"With who?" Brendon put down the menu, still stifling his giggle.

"What?"

"With who did you have all this great sex?"

"I'm not gonna tell you that!" Spencer grumbled, scandalized at being asked so abruptly.

"Fine, don't tell me," Brendon said, returning to the menu.

Spencer struggled for a second, frustrated, but his honest tendency got the better of him. "Becky Minardi and Andy Gordon." He raised his eyebrow at Brendon. Two is better than one so surely that would shut him up.

"You did not have great sex with Becky Minardi or Andy Gordon."

"I did, too."

"No you didn't."

Spencer scoffed, rolling his head around his shoulders.

Brendon lowered his voice and leaned forward. "You may have thought you had great sex with Becky Minardi, but it was also the only sex you'd ever had and what it really did was confirm that you were never going to be the kind of boy who brings home a nice girl just like mom. And while the sex with Andy Gordon was probably like something out of Revelations for you, it also hurt like hell and made you decide you were going to be a top forever."

He finished with a cocky shrug and returned to the menu, leaving Spencer gaping. As much as Spencer wanted to deny it, Brendon pretty much nailed it exactly, but he was saved from having to respond when waitress showed up.

"I'll have the number three," Brendon said right away.

"I'll have the bacon cheeseburger."

"You got it."

"No, wait. I want the bun toasted and the lettuce and tomato on the side. And I want real cheese, not the processed stuff, unless you don't have it then none at all."

"Not the burger?"

"No, just the burger. But then not toasted."

"Uh-huh."

Brendon was giving him a wide-eyed look after the server walked away.

"What?" Spencer snapped.

"Nothing." Brendon shook himself.

~

Spencer was calculating the 20% tip and split in taxes for their order.

"Okay, you owe $11.78, but if you want to just make it an even twelve..." He looked up and Brendon was looking at him with his chin propped on his fist.

"What? Do I have something on my face?" Spencer wiped his mouth feeling self-conscious.

"You know, you're actually very hot."

"I …" Spencer pushed his hair aside and looked down. "Thank you. Twelve dollars."

Brendon smiled and reached into his front pocket and pulled out a roll of cash.

"God, Brendon, hide that! Do you want us to get mugged?"

Brendon just laughed, pulled out a ten and two ones, and dropped them on the table. "Don't try to deflect. You're hot. Brent never said."

"I don't … I don't think Brent thinks I am." Spencer put a clean spoon on top of Brendon's cash to weigh it down.

"See, I don't think it's a matter of opinion. You're just plain hot, in a pretty lesbian kinda way." Brendon's tone still sounded like he was discussing music theory, but Spencer was convinced he was mocking him with the back-handed compliment.

"Call me flattered," Spencer grumbles as he slides out of the booth.

"What…?" Brendon has to jog to keep up with Spencer as he marches across the parking lot. "What?"

"You don't even know me and you're coming onto me."

"I wasn't coming onto you."

"Yes, you were."

"Oh. Okay, fine. Sorry! I take it back." Brendon holds his hands up.

"You can't take it back, it's already out there."

"Ah, geez, what are we gonna do? It's already out there!" Brendon plays it up while they climb in and click their seat belts. "So. Wanna get a room?"

"Brendon!"

"Kidding!"

Spencer takes a deep breath before continuing. "Brendon, we are just going to be friends."

"Great. Friends. Awesome."

~

"You realize of course that we could never be friends."

Spencer closes his eyes briefly to gather patience knowing he'll regret asking, but morbid curiosity gets the better of him. "And why not?"

"What I'm saying is …" Brendon wriggles a little, like he's preparing a big speech, holding his hands out. "And this is not a come on, in any way – swear! Is that gay guys can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way."

"That is total bullshit. I have gay friends and there is no sex involved."

"No you don't."

"Yes, I do."

"No you don't.

"Yes I – dammit, are you saying that I'm having sex with my friends without my knowledge?"

"No. I’m saying you want to have sex with each other, but you just won't admit it."

"We do not."

"Yes, you do."

"We, we do not …" Spencer wanted to argue this further because everything about Brendon's supposition disagreed with him, but he couldn't forget how he'd felt about Ryan when he was sixteen. "How do you know?"

"Because no guy can be friends with someone he finds attractive. Gay or straight, guys always want to get laid."

Spencer huffed. "So you're saying that a guy can be friends with someone he finds unattractive."

"No, you pretty much want fuck them, too."

Spencer flipped the turn signal and changed lanes just because he wanted to do something. This whole conversation made him wonder if there was something weird about his friendship with Ryan but then he decided that Brendon just talked too much. "Well, then I guess we're not going to be friends," he finally said, after passing a semi. He hoped that would finally shut Brendon up.

Brendon shrugged and sunk into his seat a little. "That's too bad …" He sighed and Spencer looked over, seeing Brendon's reflection in the passenger window. "You were going to be the only person I knew in Chicago."

In spite of all the annoyance, Spencer can't help but feel a little guilty.

~

They pull up in front of old club along Clark Street and Spencer gets out to stretch his legs. He puts Brendon's duffle bag on the sidewalk.

"Well, thanks for the ride," Brendon says. He looks as nervous as he is excited.

"Yeah. It's been interesting."

Brendon looks up at the skyscrapers towering above them. They are both familiar with hustle scene on the Strip and the flashy Casinos at home, but Chicago is much bigger and colder in ways other than temperature. He purses his lips together and angles his guitar case in a little salute to Spencer and starts to turn away.

"Brendon, wait!" Spencer can't help it. As anxious as he is to get away from Brendon, he can't help but worry about just leaving him like that. "Um, don't keep all that money in one place, okay? And buy yourself a real coat before you run out. Chicago has real winters, you know, you're gonna need it."

"Will do."

Spencer nods and opens the driver-side door.

"Hey, Spencer! …Chicago."

"Yeah."

~

Four Years Later

The second time they meet


~

Spencer hears the announcement for his flight as he's staring up into the blue eyes of the guy-he's-been-fucking-for-three-weeks-possibly-boyfriend-now and is just about to bear his heart by saying something sappy when he's interrupted.

"-Bob? Bob Bryar, is that you? I thought so, hi! Brendon Urie."

Spencer recognizes the voice before he even speaks his name and steps back when they shake hands.

"Right. Urie, what's up, man?"

"Just flying home – dude, are still working with the…?"

"Yeah, still with them. How about you, still doing the…?"

"Totally. Well, a lot more now. It's good, it's good."

"Cool."

Spencer's relieved to hear from the shallow exchange of pleasantries that Bob doesn't know Brendon that well. He tries to look disinterested but sees in periphery that Brendon's eyes linger on him for a second, not quite sure where to place him.

"Sorry, uh, this is Spencer Smith, Brendon Urie. Brendon, Spencer." Bob's not overly friendly, Spencer notices, just maintaining the basic dude-bro demeanor he always fronts with colleagues.

"Hey," Spencer mutters, giving Brendon a tight-lipped nod. Brendon smiles bright and open, and Spencer realizes for a moment how attractive Brendon's become in adulthood, no longer the scenester teenager he remembers, when a flicker of tension tightens the corners of Brendon's mouth and he turns back to Bob with a start.

"Well, hey, I got a plane to catch. Good to see ya again, Bob."

"You, too, Urie. Take it easy." They actually fist bump in farewell and Spencer rolls his eyes before Bob can see.

"Thank god he didn't recognize me! I drove from Vegas to Chicago with him after high school and it was the longest day of my life!"

"What happened?" Bob frowns.

"He made a pass at me and when I said no, that we could just be friends he – I remember this now – he said that gay guys can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way."

"So then what happened?" Bob glares past Spencer into the crowd as if he can still see Brendon, and the protective gesture made Spencer get a little weak in the knees.

"Nothing happened." Spencer leans close to Bob's chest. "Never saw him again."

Spencer smiles up at Bob and when he looks at Spencer, his gruff expression soften. "I'll miss you."

"You will? I mean, I'll miss you, too." Spencer's pretty sure he's really, truly, in love this time.

~

Spencer spends the flight lost in daydreams of Bob's deep voice in his ear, Bob's hands on his body, and the pretty blue-eyed babies they'll never actually make together. When they touch down in Vegas, his fantasies are still happily at twenty thousand feet when a familiar voice cuts in.

"So, you're going with the mountain man look now?" Brendon's got this impish expression and Spencer tries to remember what he looked like after high school, all soft and baby-faced at eighteen. He's been hoping that now a little facial hair will make him look more edgy and less Edge. "I didn't recognize you at first."

"It's just … it's an experiment." Spencer's glad his scruff minimizes the appearance of his blush. "I've been busy the last month, graduating and everything."

"Oh, you graduated? Columbia, right? Congratulations!"

"Yeah, I did. Thanks." It was really fucking hard to do in four years and Spencer is proud of himself and he doesn't mind accepting the accolade.

Brendon's still walking next to him, which can't be helped, Spencer realizes, as they're both heading towards the baggage claim.

"So … are you still playing? Guitar?" he asks, trying to ease the awkwardness.

"Totally. Well, I mean, I give lessons. Sometimes I'll play at a student's gig or something though."

"Your students' gig?" Spencer laughs. "Like what, you do a guest spot at the Washington Elementary Christmas concert?"

Brendon laughs, too, but shakes his head. "No, my … my students are, um..." Brendon puts a light hand on Spencer's elbow and stops them in front of a magazine-slash-souvenir cart. He frowns as he looks over the display. "These guys, here." Brendon points, not at the main cover band but one featured in the corner. They aren't a hugely popular band, but Spencer knows them. "I give them piano and guitar lessons. And other people like that."

Spencer kind of gapes at him, wondering if maybe he shouldn't believe Brendon, but then Brendon isn't really saying it like he's trying to brag. More like he's just wants to show Spencer that he isn't the total loser that Spencer clearly predicted him to be.

"Wow, that's … well, cool."

"Yeah. It's fun. You were going to major in business, right?"

"Music business. Yes. I did. I haven't killed the industry yet." Spencer looks at him sideways and gives him an eyebrow that shuts most people down but Brendon just giggles.

"Cool! And you're with Bob, now? How crazy is that? We knew people who knew people, you know. He's a good guy. I like Bob. "

"I like Bob, too."

"So, you staying in Vegas long?"

"A few weeks, until my job starts."

"Okay. Hey, you want to have dinner sometime?"

Spencer glares at him, suspicious.

"Just friends."

Spencer stops where he's walking and faces Brendon. "I thought you said," he glances around and lowers his voice, "that gay guys can't be friends."

"When did I say that?"

"On the drive to Chicago." Spencer rolls his eyes and starts walking again.

"No, I never said that."

Spencer takes a breath and waits.

"Oh, yes. That's right, I did," he concedes. "They can't be friends."

Spencer can't deal with this anymore. He has luggage to find and he really doesn't want to have to introduce Brendon to his mother. She probably would ask him to dinner, so he stops and faces Brendon like a man.

"Brendon, I still won't sleep with you, okay?"

Brendon laughs, his mouth open and eyes closed, really laughing. "No, no! Sorry, I mean, you're still totally…" Brendon raises his eyebrows, looking Spencer up and down. Spencer puts a hand on his hip and frowns. "But I'm involved now. So, no."

"You're involved? As in, a relationship?"

"Yeah."

"You are in a relationship?"

"Yes," Brendon affirms, and he looks amused by Spencer's skepticism even though he has every right to be offended.

"Who is he?" Spencer asks, because honestly, he cannot imagine what kind of person would live with Brendon Urie.

"Shane Valdes. He's a filmmaker. He's hot."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. Going on two years now. We have a place together and everything."

"You -? Wow. I …" Spencer stops talking, observing the way Brendon blushes as he looks down, puts his hands in his pockets, and shrugs his shoulders. "Good for you, Brendon. I'm, I'm really happy for you."

He really is. …It's just that Spencer busted his ass to graduate in four years and he's only got sixty-three dollars in the bank. He's going to have to humiliate himself and ask his parents for money for clothes because he starts his Real Grown Up Job in three weeks and he has to look like a professional, and here Brendon fucking Urie of all people is already living an adult life.

"Thanks." He shrugs. "It's too bad gay guys can't be just friends."

Okay, not so much of an adult after all. Spencer huffs and begins walking again, but Brendon just continues after him.

"Unless! Unless both parties are involved with other people, then they can. This is an amendment to the earlier rule, see? If the two people are in relationships, then the pressure of possible involvement is lifted."

Spencer tries to ignore him by concentrating on a concourse direction sign. It doesn't help.

"But that doesn't work either because the person you're involved with doesn't understand why you have to be friends with the person you're just friends with. Like it means something is missing or some shit like that. Like maybe there's something wrong with the relationship and you had to go somewhere else to get it."

Spencer is walking his quickest pace and Brendon's stupid little legs seem to have no problem keeping up.

"Then when you say no, no, dude, it's not true, nothing is missing from the relationship, the person you're involved with accuses you of secretly wanting to fuck the person you're just friends with. – Which you probably are, right? Who the hell are we kidding? Which brings us back to the earlier rule of: gay guys can't be friends."

"Brendon," Spencer says with a deep breath. "Good bye."

"Yeah, okay." Brendon nods. He's still got a smile but seems kind of resigned to understanding that he does this to people sometimes.

"Hey, Spencer?"

A sense of guilt makes him stop and turn around.

"You … I bought a coat. A winter coat, like you said? Remember?"

Spencer thinks back and he vaguely recalls dropping off Brendon in Chicago. "I think I do."

"You saved my life that winter. So, thanks."

Spencer is a little overwhelmed and feeling guiltier. "It's no … it's, it's fine. I'm glad."

"Yeah."

"Um … you take care of yourself, Brendon."

"You, too, dude. Maybe we'll see each other back in Chi-town, huh?"

"Yeah, maybe."

But Chicago is a big city, with a big music scene and Spencer is about to start his professional life. He never expects to run into Brendon Urie again.

~

Two Years Later

~

"I went through his pockets, right? And you know what I found?"

"God, Ryan, you went through his pockets?"

Spencer's sole goal for the day is to distract himself with a day of vintage clothes shopping and listening to Ryan moan about his faily love life. He holds up a floral shirt to Ryan's chest who makes a face and continues his story.

"They just bought a dining room table. He and his wife just a bought a dining room table for sixteen hundred dollars."

"Where?"

"The point is not where, Spence! The point is that I realized; he's never going to leave her."

"So what else is new? You've known this for a year."

Ryan sighs and nods approval at the next shirt Spencer holds up. "You're right. I know you're right…" As ridiculous as he is, Ryan still looks so sad. "I'm never gonna have what you have with Bob."

"Bob and I broke up." Spencer doesn't mean to blurt that out but he squares his shoulders when Ryan's eyes go wide.

"What? When did this happen?"

"Thursday."

"You waited three days to tell me? The fuck is that about?" It only takes a second for Ryan's brain to catch up with his mouth. "-No. Sorry. Not about me. Um, you must be upset?"

"I'm not. It's not a big deal, okay? We've been growing apart for awhile." He wanders over to another clothing rack and Ryan trails behind, his face full of disappointment.

"But you guys were a couple. You had someone to go to gigs with. You had a date for national holidays."

Spencer laughs. "There's more to a relationship than just not-being-alone. I just realized that we weren't going anywhere and that I deserved better. -We both do," he adds magnanimously.

"God, you're in such great shape."

"Well, I've had a few days to get used to it, and," he takes a fedora from a mannequin and pops it onto Ryan's head with a smile, "I'm doing okay."

"Huh." Ryan gives him a suspicious look and then shrugs. "Well then, it's time." He doesn't remove the fedora and takes out his iPhone.

"No, Ry – what are you doing?"

"I'm getting you back out there. Yeah, here, this guy…" Ryan indicates the entry on the screen. "I don't think he's crazy-hot, but he'd be good for a rebound."

"No, it's too soon. I don't want …" But Spencer can't stifle his curiosity. Giving in, he hooks his chin over Ryan's shoulder to look at the iPhone. "Fine. Who is it?"

"Joe Trohman."

"Oh, my god!" Spencer rolls his eyes and turns to a scarf rack. "You hooked me up with him two years ago. No."

"Jesus. Fine then." He pauses to make a face at the scarf Spencer is fingering and returns to scrolling. "Here's one. He's good, too. Nick-"

"You know what? Just don't."

"But you said you were okay." Ryan blinks up at him.

"I am. But I'm in a mourning period."

"Whatever, emo kid. But you don't want to wait too long. Remember Alex? His boyfriend left him, everyone said 'leave him alone, give him some time' - six months later, he was dead."

"Are you suggesting I should hook up with someone right away in case he's about to die?"

"I'm saying, the right man for you might be out there right now and if you don't grab him, somebody will and then you'll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that someone else is fucking your boyfriend."

Spencer clenches his jaw and counts backwards because he knows this actually makes sense in Ryan's head.

"Look, I'm just… I’m not ready."

Ryan puts his phone in his pocket and leans into Spencer's arm. "Okay. Sure. More shopping?"

"Shoes?"

"Yeah."

~

Brendon and Jon stand up, fling their hands in the air doing the wave and then sit down again with the rest of the crowd. The Bears game is only three minutes into the first quarter and Brendon's face is freezing and sunburning at the same time but he hardly notices.

Jon looks at him with big, sad eyes and asks, "When did this happen?"

"Thursday. Shane comes home and says 'Discovery signed me for a documentary I'm going to Costa Rica for a year.' Just says it. Like we've talked about it before or something. Like leaving your partner for a year is no big deal."

"What did you say?"

"Well, I don't want to be dick about his career, right? I mean I try. So I say, 'um, what the fuck, a year? Were you even gonna tell me, asshole?' He says 'I'm telling you now' and that he thinks this will be good for us, that I don't need him to take care of me anymore, that it would be good for me to be on my own."

"Oh, man."

"I stay totally calm and say 'What the actual fuck do you expect me to do for a year? Do you expect me to just wait for you?' and he says, get this, 'No, you can see other people while I'm gone' – like that's supposed to cushion the blow!"

"No, shit! He actually said that?"

The Bears score a field goal and the crowd around them roars to life. Brendon takes the break to wipe at his cold nose and adjust his glasses before he continues.

"He actually said it. I'm all thinking, see other people? Who says that to the person they love? When I realize shit, maybe he doesn't? So ask him, 'Don't you still love me?'."

"Fuck."

"You know what he says? He says … 'I don't think I can love you enough'."

Apropos of the moment, the stadium jeers at a referee's call.

"What the fuck does that mean, Jon Walker? 'Love me enough'?"

"I don't even know, man. Confirmed bachelor here, remember? But I don't think that sounds, like, good, you know?"

"I haven't told you the best part. He tells me, since he'll be gone for a year, he can rent the apartment to this woman he knows and I can get my own place, when the doorbell rings and it's the woman there to look at the place."

"No! She was there?"

Brendon nods. "So obviously I'm suspicious now. I'm not a total idiot, I ask Shane, 'When did you arrange this?' and he doesn't answer so I ask the chick, 'When did Shane tell you to come over?' And she just asks if there's a fireplace. So I say to Shane, 'Dude, fucking tell me, when did you tell her she could rent our apartment?' and he says 'Two days ago'."

"So Ms. Fireplace knew Shane was leaving two days before you did? That's so messed up."

"She knew! And thing is …" Brendon stares at the players on the field, "he could have taken any job, Jon. What's so wrong with me that this great guy has to take a job in Costa-Fuckin'-Rica just to get away from me?"

The Bears complete a pass and during the deafening cheer, Jon squeezes him around the shoulders and presses his head to Brendon's.

~

The third time they meet.

~

It's only been a few days since he went shopping with Ryan, but without the concern of rushing home to Bob now, he has a lot more time on his hands.

"I just happened to see his email…" Ryan dangles this tidbit as he and Spencer flip through vinyl at Reverb Music.

"How the hell did you just happen to see his email?"

Ryan shrugs. "He was taking a shower after we fucked and his laptop was right there …"

"Jesus, Ryan. What if he'd come out and caught you?" Spencer shakes his head because he honestly doesn't understand how Ryan gets through life.

"You're missing the point. I'm telling you what I found; he just bought tickets to take his wife to the Bahamas …I don't think he's ever going to leave her."

Spencer looks him dead in the eye. "Ryan, no one thinks he's ever going to leave her." It's harsh, but Spencer's got to be honest with him because Ryan doesn't always get it.

"I know. You're right. You're always right."

Spencer hates being so blunt, but god! Attempting to lighten the mood, he holds a KISS album next to his face and sticks out his tongue like Gene Simmons, sending Ryan sputtering into quiet giggles.

"Damn, with a tongue like that you'll have another boyfriend in no time."

Spencer bumps him with his hip and returns to perusing the Ks. He only gets part way through the Ls before Ryan's by his side again.

"Hey, Spence," he mutters, standing near but not too close. "I think somebody saw that tongue thing of yours. Over there in Soundtracks." He points with his eyebrows and indicates with a jerk of his head that isn't the least bit subtle.

Spencer keeps his head down but looks up and sees Brendon glancing in their direction. "Oh, god. I know him. You'd like him, he's in a relationship."

Ryan actually looks interested. "Who is he?"

"Actually, I told you about him. Brendon Urie. He rode out with me from Vegas, remember? He gives music lessons to rock stars now."

"That's him? He's hot."

"You think so?"

"Yeah. How do you know he's in a relationship?"

"Because last time I saw him, he was totally in love with his boyfriend."

"When was that?"

"Two years ago."

"So? He might not be taken anymore."

Spencer huffs. "Also, he's obnoxious."

"Ooh! It's just like one of those heavy metal ballads!" It's Ryan's turn to tease and Spencer glares at him. "You know, the ones about falling in love with a bitch you can't stand."

"Oh, god, shut up. Besides, he never remembers me anyway."

"Spencer Smith?"

Spencer snaps his head up at Brendon's voice. "Brendon. Hi."

"I thought it was you."

"It was –is." He blanks out for a second at Brendon's soft smile and big dark eyes. "Uh... Oh! This is Ryan." He looks over but Ryan is already walking away singing Happiness Is A Warm Gun, off key and with a smirk. "…was Ryan."

"How are you?" Brendon asks. He's got his hands tucked into the front pockets of his jeans – normal guy jeans, too – wearing a tan corduroy jacket.

"Fine."

"How's Bob?"

"Fine." Spencer pushes his hair out of his eyes and takes a breath, summoning a smile and what he hopes is an air of confidence. "I hear he's fine. We just broke up."

"Oh, no. I'm so sorry."

Spencer just waves it off like it doesn't matter, but the truth is, his throat is suddenly too tight to speak on the subject. He'd completely forgotten that Brendon even knew Bob. He clears his throat and deflects. "How are you?"

"You know. Good."

"How's the hot filmmaker guy?"

Brendon makes a big happy smile, which immediately slides away and he shakes his head like he just can't extol the effort. It's a face that Spencer completely relates to.

"He left me."

"Oh. I'm sorry, Brendon. Really, I am."

"You know … what are you gonna do?" He shrugs and Spencer is struck by how he can see his own hurt reflecting back at him through Brendon's eyes. The vivacity that once irritated him so much has been replaced with a more mature humility. Or maybe, he thinks, he's the one who's matured.

"So what happened with you guys?" Brendon asks.

It's such a personal question that Spencer would ordinarily be affronted, yet he finds himself at a Starbucks with a couple of Peppermint Mochas (his a decaf, soy, no foam), pouring his heart out because Brendon understands what he's going through.

"When Bob and I started seeing each other we wanted exactly the same thing; we wanted to live in the city together but have completely separate lives so we could focus on our careers. All the couples we knew who bought cute little houses in the suburbs said that it completely ruined their relationship, that they never had sex again. We would talk to our friend, Ray, and he'd say they were too tired from commuting and had to upkeep the house and they were too far away to do anything fun and it just killed every sexual impulse they had."

Spencer pauses for a moment because he honestly expects Brendon to say something like 'Heh, sexual' but he doesn't. He just sips his mocha, nodding and waiting patiently for Spencer to speak again.

"Bob and I would go home and say thank god we can't have kids and we can do whatever we want. We can have kinky sex on the kitchen floor or fly off to London on a moment's notice." Spencer feels like he's watching himself in a movie and he just can't shut up. "Then one Sunday we were having breakfast at this diner and there was this family with a boy and two little sisters – just like I had – and it hit me, like, I wanted more, you know? So we went home and I said 'The thing is, Bob, we never do fly off to London on a moment's notice'."

"And the kitchen…?" Brendon grins but there nothing lecherous in the intention.

Spencer shakes his head. "Not even once. It's just a very cold, cherry hardwood floor."

"Oh."

Seriously, not even a 'hard wood' crack. Spencer is so impressed.

"Anyway, we talked about it and I said 'This is what I want,' and Bob said 'Well I don't' …and he left." Spencer shrugs. "And what's funny is, I'm fine. I'm over him. We wanted different things in life and so we moved on. That's what people do." He looks up and blushes because he realizes now how long he'd been talking about this and feels like a total queen.

"Wow," Brendon says. "You sound like you really have your shit together."

"Yeah." Though Spencer is less certain.

~

It's the best Peppermint Mocha that Spencer's had in a long time, and once they're done and getting pointed looks from the baristas, they walk slowly along Michigan Avenue. Spencer should have been hailing a taxi but he was having too good of time.

"And so now I guess I have to find an apartment," he explains.

"Yeah, me, too. But you know what I'm gonna do? I'll just find some local band that's going out on tour and move into their place. Because you know they're just gonna get evicted while they're on the road anyway, right?"

Spencer laughs and he knows it's been awhile since he has. He and Brendon look at each other for a moment, both still smiling before they look away.

"You know," Brendon says, "the first time we met, I didn't really like you that much."

"I didn't like you."

"Yeah, you did."

"No, I didn't."

"No, you did. You were just so uptight then. You're cooler now."

"That's…" Spencer swipes his hands through his hair, which is blowing into his face. "Actually not a compliment. It's kind of shitty thing to say."

"Oh. So, you're still uptight?"

Spencer can't help but laugh a little. "I just didn't want to sleep with you and you assumed it must be because I was frigid instead of considering the possibility that it might have something to do with you."

Brendon frowns at his feet, nodding to himself, seeming to accept the harsh criticism much in the same way Ryan always does. "You're right," he finally says. "Um, is there a statute of limitations on apologies?"

Spencer gives him a sidelong glance and grins. "Uh … six years?"

Brendon smiles. "Oh, I can just get it in, then! – Heh, get it in."

And as lame as it is, Spencer chuckles at the joke. He hasn't had this much fun arguing and laughing with someone in a long time. "Hey, would you like to get coffee again sometime?"

Brendon looks up at him, a little wary. "Are we becoming friends now?"

"Well, maybe? Yeah."

"Huh, awesome. A gay friend. You know, you may be the first hot guy I've not wanted to sleep with in my entire life."

"That's great, Brendon."

~

He and Brendon start hanging out after that and any day when they don't see each other, they still talk on the phone. Spencer even assigns Brendon his own ringtone and he smiles when he hears it before he even answers.

"Hell-o," he says, answering his cell as he sits in bed looking over his Day Planner.

"Watcha doin'?" Brendon sounds melancholy tonight but Spencer doesn't mind because he calls Brendon when he's having down days too. They're like break-up buddies now.

"Watching Buffy."

"Channel?"

"Twenty-eight."

He can hear the show through the phone with a split second time delay. Spencer closes his Day Planner and watches, feeling like he's not so alone if they do it together.

"So you're really telling me you'd be happier with Riley than with Angel?"

"When did I ever say that?"

"On the drive to Chicago."

"I never said that," Spencer says.

"Yes, you did."

"I did not."

"Okay, have it your way."

'Hello, lover,' Buffy says to Angelus just before mayhem ensues.

"Whedon wrote the best banter," Spencer says idly.

"Hmm," Brendon agrees and then asks, "Have you been sleeping?" Finally getting to the real point of the call after making small talk about Buffy's boyfriends.

"Why?"

"'Cause I haven't been sleeping. I really miss Shane." Spencer can't think of anything to say to that. "Maybe I'm coming down with something?" Brendon continues. "The other day I was up at three in the morning watching South Park in Spanish. 'Dios, mio! Mataron a Kenny! -Bastardos!' Clearly there is something wrong with me."

Spencer puts a hand over his mouth, laughing silently, not wanting Brendon's silliness to distract from being honest about how he's feeling. "Well," he says, clearing his throat. "I went to bed at seven-thirty last night. I haven't done that since the third grade."

"That's the good thing about depression, you get lots of sleep."

"I'm not depressed!" Spencer denies.

"Okay, whatever. What was spending two hundred dollars on firecrackers, then?"

"That had nothing to do with it!"

Brendon snorts and then is quiet again. "Do you still sleep on the same side of the bed?"

"I did at first." Spencer looks down, glad that he bought sheets in a new pattern from the ones he shared with Bob. "Mostly I sleep in the middle now."

"God, that's good. I feel weird if just my foot wanders over there. It's so cold. I miss him."

"I don't miss Bob."

"You don't?"

On the good days it's completely true. "Nope. You know what I miss? I miss the idea of him. It felt good have him. To say 'this is my boyfriend' – does that make me an asshole?"

"Nah. Maybe I only miss the idea of Shane? … No, no, I miss the whole Shane."

On TV, Angelus and Buffy are sword fighting.

"I think guys are either low maintenance or high maintenance," Brendon says. "Angel was definitely high maintenance."

"Which one am I?" Spencer asks, only partially paying attention, but he knows that it's his job to keep Brendon distracted at the moment.

"You, my friend, are the worst kind. You're totally high maintenance, but you think you're low maintenance."

"Bite me. I don't know what you're talking about."

"Seriously, no? 'Waiter, I'd like the house salad with the dressing on the side. Then I'd like the steak with the onions and mushrooms on the side. On-the-side is very big with you."

"Well, I just want it the way I want it."

"Exactly. High maintenance."

Spencer frowns and thinks about how he feels about this information, and that's when he realizes that he's okay with having Brendon point out a flaw (if it really is a flaw) because he respects Brendon's opinion.

Buffy kisses Angel, tells him that she loves him, and proceeds to run him through with her sword.

Spencer and Brendon sigh simultaneously.

"True love, man …Yeah, okay, I'm definitely coming down with something."

Spencer yawns and rubs his eyes. "Maybe you should see a doctor?"

"No, he'd just tell me there's nothing wrong."

Spencer rolls his eyes and turns out the light.

"I'll just lay here and sing sad country-western songs to myself. You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille…"

Spencer snickers as he listens to Brendon's western twang and aims the remote to shut off the TV. "Goodnight, Brendon."

"I've had some bad times, lived through some sad times, but this time your hurtin' won't heal – night, Spencer."

~

They're moving a table into Brendon's apartment, carefully maneuvering around the turns in the stairwell, when the conversation takes a familiar turn towards the random.

"I had the dream again the other night," Brendon tells him, giving a passing neighbor a polite smile and waiting until she's out of earshot before continuing. "Where I'm fucking a guy and the Elders from my Ward are watching."

Spencer giggles because he loves the way Brendon talks about growing up Mormon with both distain and affection.

"I get a thumbs up from the one who owned the grocery store and a thumbs up from the Boy Scout troup leader, but my father's sitting there and he gives me a thumbs down, like some Roman emperor sending me to the lions. I wonder, was it my technique or what?"

Spencer has to put his end of the table down because he's laughing so hard, his head pressed to the lacquered finish.

"Shut up! It's not funny."

"No, it's not!" But Spencer is still laughing. "You're completely fucked up."

"I know… " Brendon's got this sheepish way of looking pleased that he's made Spencer laugh, even if it's at his own expense. "But what about you? You haven't told me your reoccurring sex dream yet."

"No way!"

They manage to get the table inside and stand back to look at it, but Brendon still pesters him about his dream.

"Fine, fine – but don't laugh! … Um, okay, there's this guy. This like, faceless guy, and he tells me to get undressed and lay on the bed."

"Yeah? Do you?"

"Um, yes?"

"Then what happens?" Brendon's eyes are wide and curious, a faint smile playing in the corners of his mouth.

"God, no, I can't…" Spencer covers his warming face with his hands.

"Come on! What does he do?"

Spencer takes a breath and traces a finger over the surface of the table. "He, he tickles me."

"…That's it? A faceless guy tells you to get naked and tickles you, and that's the reoccurring sex dream you've had since you were fifteen?"

"Well, sometimes I change it up."

"What part?"

"The color of the sheets."

Brendon's shoulders drop and he shakes his head. Spencer can see a thousand teasing comments formulating in his eyes, but he purses his lips and says nothing.

"What?"

"Nothing … and you say I’m fucked up."

~

Brendon and Spencer are walking through a music Hall of Fame exhibit at Columbia. Being back at Spencer's alma mater with the enormous auditorium echoing around them, makes them feel small and hyper, and they lean together and giggle louder than normal.

They pass a display with Beatles memorabilia and it sets Brendon off.

"For the rest of the day, we're going to talk like the Beatles," he announces in a somewhat acceptable, lazy Liverpudlian accent.

"Oh, no," Spencer waves his hand and starts to walk away.

"C'mon, mate! Give it a go. Say, fish and chips."

Spencer looks around to see if anyone is close enough to hear before he tries. "Fish and chips." He's awful at accents but Brendon doesn't laugh.

"I get by with a little help from my friends," Brendon says, giving the words slight inflection of the song's melody.

"God … I get by with a little help from my friends." Spencer blushes because someone across the hall looks at them.

"Well done, mate. Fancy going to the cinema with me?"

Spencer focuses on Brendon's lips, the way he moves his mouth, trying to emulate the accent. "Fancy going to the cinema-"

"No, no." Brendon laughs, and sort of folds over and flails his arms. "No, I mean, would you? Like to go see a movie?"

"Oh. I, I'm sorry, I can't."

"Really? Got a date with a bloke, have you?"

"Well, yeah, actually. I do."

"You do?" Brendon asks with his own voice. "Dude, why didn't you say anything?"

"I don't know. We've been spending so much time together lately. It felt weird."

"You shouldn't though! It's awesome that you have a date!"

"Yeah? Thanks." Spencer flusters a little. They walk in silence for second.

"So, what are you gonna wear?" Brendon asks.

"That is exactly what Ryan asked! Just this, I guess?" He looks down at his jeans and t-shirt, holding his arms out.

Brendon looks at him and tilts his head. "Hm. You should wear black more. That button-up you have? That one works."

"Yeah? Okay. …You know what, Brendon, you should go out, too."

"Nah."

"No, you should. It'd be good for you."

"No, no, I'm no good to anybody right now. I'm a confirmed bachelor like Jon now."

~

In spite of Brendon's refusal, he does go on a date on Thanksgiving weekend.

"It was the worst freakin' time, Spencer. Oh my god, I totally blame you!" he says as they hang Christmas decorations on Spencer's little Christmas tree.

"Don't put the same color bulbs next to each other! And who the fuck cares? The first date was always going to be a disaster anyway. Now you got it out of the way."

"You've only had one date. How do you know it's going to get better and not worse?"

"How can it get any worse than sharing a cab after dinner and I'm already hyperventilating about kissing him when he leans over and licks my face?" Spencer shutters with revulsion at the memory.

"We're talking dream date compared to mine," Brendon says, clumping tinsel on the branches while Spencer follows, thinning it out. "We go to that little hippie place me and you went to, right? And I'm telling jokes and doing the Benny and Joon bit with dinner rolls – you've seen it." Spencer nods, smiling at Brendon through the branches. "Then he asks me if I like seafood. It reminds me of Shane and all of a sudden, I go on this emotional rant and I have to leave the restaurant."

"I don't get it. Did Shane like seafood?"

Brendon shrugs. "No. But there's seafood in Costa Rica."

Spencer gives him a confused look.

"I know!" Brendon wails and slumps back onto the couch.

Spencer sits next him and offers him a tin of Christmas cookies, nudging his leg with a knee. "I think we're just going to have to give this time. It'll be a while before either of us can enjoy seeing someone else. And …who knows how long before we can actually sleep with someone else."

"Oh, I still slept with him." Brendon bites his cookie, still looking at the tree.

"You – you slept with him?"

"Hm, mm."

"Wow."

~

Since Jon is a manager at Guitar Center, he can put the privacy sign on the guitar humidor room so Brendon can play any guitar he wants and customers won't interrupt them.

"I've never known you to have a relationship like you have with this Spencer guy."

"What do you mean?" Brendon asks, taking a Taylor acoustic off the wall and strumming it.

"Do you think he's good looking?" Jon asks, offering Brendon a pick, but he pulls one from his pocket.

"Yeah."

"You like hanging out with him?"

"Totally."

"But you're not sleeping with him?"

"No."

"I just think you're trying to make yourself miserable. You can let yourself be happy again, you know."

"You don’t understand! What Spencer and I have is good. I've never had a relationship with a hot guy that didn't involve sex."

Jon looks away, scratching at his chin through his whiskers. It was a long time ago but there were a couple of very cozy winter nights between them when they were roommates after Brendon first came to Chicago.

"I feel like I'm growing up," Brendon adds.

An angry-faced teenager bangs on the wooden door and peers in the window at that them, shouting, "Hey, unlock the door!"

"Sorry!" Jon says with a smile and points at Brendon. "I'm with a customer."

"We're customers, too!" the teen persists.

"Yeah, but I can actually buy these things," Brendon shouts back with a cocky smirk and turns his back on the kid, blocking him out of view.

"Asshole," they hear outside the door.

"Fuck off!" Brendon yells over his shoulder. "Where was I?"

"You were growing up, I think," Jon says, giggling softly.

"Right. Yeah, it's very liberating. I can talk to him about anything."

"You talk about things you can't say to me?" Jon looks almost hurt.

"No, no, it's not like that. We both know what it's like to come out of a long-term relationship - it's just a whole different perspective with him. And we talk to each other about the guys we see."

"You tell him about other guys?"

"Yeah, like the other night? I was fucking this guy and it was so intense, we were animals. He actually meowed."

"You made a guy meow?" Jon blinks.

"Yeah! And the cool thing is, I don't ever have to lie because I'm not trying to get Spencer into bed. I can just be myself."

"But, you made a guy meow?"

~

Part Two
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