fics_by_maple: (Spencer)
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A Kind of Stalwart Forward Movement – Part Two

Part One
~



Spencer goes into the garage and sits at his kit. He twirls a stick in his right hand and absently taps out a two bar pattern, not too loudly, because he wants to hear when Brendon pulls up. He doesn't really want to be drumming and chance looking like he's trying to remind Brendon of 'who he is' or some douchetastic move like that.

When he hears the van in the driveway, he actually rushes to the front door without any regard to his dignity.

"You know," Brendon says as he enters, a backpack over his shoulder, "I didn't make a single wrong turn the whole way until that left on –"

Spencer cuts him off with a kiss, putting a hand on the back of Brendon's neck. He realizes it might be too forward, too possessive, so he lets his hand slide down to Brendon's arm instead.

"Sorry," he says between kisses. "I didn't want to stand around, kicking the dirt over not knowing if this was okay."

"No," Brendon murmurs against Spencer's mouth. "Was a good call."

While he's had a thrum of anticipatory arousal running through him all day, it's the way Brendon folds into his chest and tips his head up to kiss him that makes him hard.

Spencer puts his arms around him and pulls him close.

"Mmgh!" Brendon grumbles an unhappy little sound. "You know what, I really, really need a shower. You mind?"

"Shower after," Spencer protests, fingers slipping under Brendon's t-shirt to the hot skin of his lower back underneath. He really wants so much more naked to be happening.

Brendon squeezes at his waist and then pushes away slightly.

"For real, though. Shower? Trust me." He makes an impressive argument with his eyebrows.

Spencer reaches for Brendon's face and he tilts his cheek into Spencer's cupped hand. He's got more freckles than Spencer remembers and a day's dark growth along his jaw.

"Totally. Course you can." Spencer sighs as he steps back. "Um, clean towels are on the shelf thing."

"I'll go fast!" Brendon whispers, pressing another kiss to his mouth before re-shouldering his backpack. Spencer's house is small and there's only one bathroom so he doesn't offer directions as he goes.

"Want a drink? Beer?"

"Fuck, yeah, please?"

Spencer chuckles to himself as he goes into the kitchen. He meanders a bit, buying time, and when he returns to the bedroom with two bottles in hand the shower is already off.

"What are you looking at?" Brendon asks, coming up behind him and pressing his mouth to the curve of Spencer's shoulder and neck, just above his t-shirt collar.

Spencer closes his eyes as leans back into Brendon; his hair is wet and cold against his skin and Spencer can feel that he's naked.

"Um, hy-hydrangeas?" Spencer swallows and nods out the window at the neighbor's house lined with the giant lavender blooms.

"Pretty."

Spencer opens his eyes and looks sideways at Brendon, who is looking out the window with a true smile on his face. Spencer watches him for a moment, surprised at how much it thrills him that Brendon will share his appreciation of nature, the simple beauty of it. Too many people he meets through the industry are only interested in the neon lights and bling that the city has to offer.

Brendon turns to face Spencer then, a slight smile playing the corner of his mouth. He tilts his head and moves towards the bed with a faint tug at his t-shirt. Spencer stares openly, Brendon is slight but muscular and honestly breathtaking and he's not shy when he puts one knee up on the bed and lets Spencer look.

"This is so much better than in your van," Spencer tells him, admiring the flex of his thigh and the side of his ass.

Brendon chuckles and scratches at his stomach and then slides his hand down to his dick, squeezing it downward, getting hard in his hand. "Come over here, you."

Spencer's already barefoot and he unbuttons his jeans and then hesitates a little with Brendon watching. He's completely open about being naked himself but Spencer is usually a little more drunk or hidden by darkness by the time he gets to skin. He pulls off his shirt and glances at Brendon quickly before shoving at his jeans and briefs. Brendon doesn't condescend to even look approving; he just grins, holds out his hand and then pulls Spencer down onto the bed with him.

"Goddamn. Seriously. Oh, fuck," Brendon mutters between kisses, not like he's talking to Spencer, just thinking and feeling out loud. While Spencer enjoys every kiss against his mouth and stroke over his cock, he really appreciates that Brendon doesn't forget the rest of his body either, nibbling over his collarbone and squeezing the back of Spencer's thigh as he grinds against him.

He slows down their writhing long enough to really kiss Brendon, moving his tongue gently over Brendon's. He spends so long losing himself in kissing that the next time he opens his eyes, he sees that the sunset has sent the room into a dull pink haze. Spencer rolls them over again and doesn't prohibit himself from tasting the rest of Brendon's skin. He licks a stripe over Brendon's nipple, above his navel, and over his hip and then he mouths Brendon's cock slick and wet before sucking him in. Brendon groans and curls one foot around Spencer's ribcage, wriggling as Spencer goes down on him. He goes slow, adjusting to having a cock in his mouth. He can't deep throat but does put his tongue to its best advantage.

"Jesus… so good, ugh-ughh."

Spencer has to pull off because Brendon's continuous babble sets him off giggling which tries to muffle into Brendon's thigh.

"Sorry." Brendon sounds sheepish, like he knows it's his fault. "You're just really good. Oh, my god, so-so good."

Spencer kisses the inside of his leg, tasting the bitter of pre-come on the back of tongue, and pushes up to lay on top of Brendon again, hoping that he's not way off base when he says, "so, I'm, we haven't said, but…"

Brendon raises his eyebrows, running his fingers through Spencer's hair where it's hanging down over his eyes. "Hm?"

"Can? Um, I want, wanna fuck you. If that's... Is that okay?"

Brendon gets a slight crease between his eyebrows, looking like he kind of expected the question but still isn't sure what his answer is. He doesn't look Spencer in the eyes as he scratches the back of his neck and he half-shrugs a tense shoulder.

"Hey, no, it's okay," Spencer says quickly, annoyed at himself for letting his dick talk for him. "I get it." It's too soon, they're still strangers really, Spencer doesn't blame him. It is a big deal.

"No, it's … I just don't do that much."

"Yeah, it's fine. I shouldn't've-"

"It's okay," Brendon says, clutching at Spencer and looking apologetic. "Don't worry about it," he says through a kiss. "Do you have, like, lotion or something?"

It's been a long time since Spencer kept Jergens next to his bed and he huffs a little laugh as he pulls open the drawer that reveals a variety of lubes.

Brendon gapes and laughs. "Holy shit, Spencer Smith, you're a fucking Boy Scout, aren't you?"

"I … you know. Just." Spencer tries not to blush as he goes for his favorite bottle. He's not great at talking during sex as it is, but the fact that he really likes Brendon almost makes it worse somehow. He doesn't want to say the wrong thing or sound like a prick but he doesn't want to try to pretend he's something he's not. He's done enough of that in his life already.

Spencer wraps his now slick hand around Brendon's cock and he's not shy about sounding his approval. Brendon takes the bottle, spreads some lube between his fingers and thumb, and plants his heels on the bed on either side of Spencer's knees. He watches with an increasing ache in his cock and bites his lip when Brendon slides a finger inside.

"Brendon, seriously…" Spencer's voice is rough and he wishes to fuck he could turn off his conscience. "It's okay if you don't want that."

Brendon opens his eyes and smirks, looking both gorgeous and duplicitously innocent at the same time. "And that is exactly why I want to. You gonna quit thinking so much and fuck me already?"

Nodding, Spencer reaches for a condom and he tries to be so careful and go so slowly when very shortly later he pushes inside. "God, god. Oh, god," he groans over Brendon's hiss and a week's worth of fantasies finally come true. Only his daydreams never included the smell of body heat and latex. Fantasies don't capture the flinch across Brendon's face that he tries to conceal. He never remembers how hot it is inside someone else's body and how much he hopes to make it good for the person giving themselves like this.

Brendon curls his arms around Spencer's shoulders and pulls down. He collapses to his elbows, close enough to kiss Brendon when he reaches up for it, close enough to feel the back of Brendon's thighs along his sides.

"'kay. Truth?" Brendon says, breathless and perspiring.

Spencer tries really hard to stay still, digging his toes into the bed. "Always."

"You? Are so much better than my fantasy."

Spencer chokes out a surprised laugh. "I… Really?" It's not that Spencer doesn't remember having such things shouted at him from the venue to the bus or reading comments on the internet that he really wasn't ever meant to see, but coming from the guy he's been having jerk off fantasies to for over a week is a lot more satisfying.

"Yes, really. Fuck, I never expected to meet you, let alone end up in your bed. Unghh," he whimpers when Spencer finally can't help himself anymore and he grinds down, pressing in deep.

"I'm not that guy, anymore," Spencer says, pressing his nose to Brendon's temple, not sure if the statement is defense or apology.

"No, no, I don't want you to be." Brendon snakes his hands up to Spencer's face, brushing his hair aside and running his fingers behind his ears. "But I do wanna know you better."

It's sincere and sweet and just ridiculous enough, considering their current position, that they both laugh quietly together, sealing the moment with kisses that are half smiling teeth.

~

Spencer wakes up and before he even opens his eyes, he can tell that he doesn't have time to linger in bed. He never shut the curtains the night before so sunlight is streaming in around the blinds. He has a conference call with the New York office at 9am, otherwise he'd roll over and enjoy the fact that he's still got a gorgeous guy in his bed. He cracks open his eyes at the thought and sees Brendon lying next to him, still naked and twisted onto his side. The bed smells like sex and Spencer inhales, wanting more than anything to curve around Brendon's back and bury his nose in his hair.

He thinks of last night, after, coming back into the room with drinks to find Brendon staring up at the ceiling, looking tense, barely giving Spencer a shallow smile.

Spencer set the drinks down and moved close to him on the bed. He got right up to Brendon's side, not quite sure if it was cool to assume an intimacy that wasn't foreplay-related. Ducking his head, Spencer slid his hand over Brendon's stomach and curled his fingers over Brendon's hip. "Okay?" he asked and Brendon gave him a quizzical glance before smirking and nodded his head. Anything Spencer could think of to say sounded lame or too personal. He felt guilty that Brendon might be getting caught up in his head over what they'd just done. Not for the first time, Spencer considered the idea that maybe getting to know Brendon a little better before fucking would have been a good plan.

"Glad you came over. Can you stay? The night?" he asked Brendon's shoulder.

"Yeah? You sure?"

"Definitely." And just like that, the weird vibe ebbed away. Brendon was tired from his drive back to L.A. and fell asleep while Spencer turned on the TV and watched South Park reruns. He kept an arm over Brendon the whole night.

Spencer lies in bed a little longer, enjoying the sight of Brendon's ass and the curve of his shoulder blades and he nearly reaches out to touch Brendon's hand when he stops himself. He slides out of bed with more than a little reluctance and gets coffee started before getting into the shower. He tries to be quiet so that Brendon can sleep and never seriously considers waking him up to kick him out of the house. He's never left casual acquaintances alone in his house before but even if he didn't trust Brendon, which his gut instinct tells him to, he doesn't think Brendon would risk the damage to his professional reputation.

"Hey," Brendon grumbles as Spencer's tying his shoes. He's pushing up onto his hands, arching his back with half-shut eyes like a stretching cat, and, well, there's no way Spencer's not moving towards that.

"Morning," he says, sitting on the edge of the bed, sliding a hand over Brendon's hip and resting it on the upper curve of his ass. "You don't have to get up. Stay. There's coffee and whatever else you can find, but I have to go to work."

Brendon settles after stretching and looks up at Spencer with a sleep-worn look and reaches for him, pulling Spencer down to him and, well, Spencer really can't resist that either. He's glad to find that kissing is still apparently okay to Brendon, because so often that is against the unspoken rules of The Morning After. He twists just enough so that his chest lies over Brendon and it would take so little effort to get naked again and Brendon is making it really easy.

"You know, most of the time I can fuck off whenever I need to because I work with Pete Wentz," Spencer pulls away just enough to talk against Brendon's jaw, "but today, I really can't."

"Nng" is Brendon's approximate response, hands still pawing along Spencer's ribcage until they freeze. "Wait, what time is it?"

"Eight. Um, five after."

"Shit. Okay. I have to go, too."

And just like that, they're on their feet and Brendon heads for the bathroom, pushing the door half shut to piss and brush his teeth while Spencer finishes getting ready.

"Hey, um," Brendon peeks out of the bathroom. "My shirt from yesterday kinda stinks. Could I maybe?" he asks, standing there in yesterday's still unbuttoned jeans and nothing else.

Spencer waves in the direction of his closet while slurping his coffee and Brendon pulls out an old t-shirt that he never wears anymore, asking with a "yeah?" as he holds up it.

It's one Spencer wore on Panic!'s last tour, but he hasn't worn it since. He won't miss it if he never sees it again.

"I have a meeting this morning too," Brendon says, shrugging into the tee. "Or a job interview type thing? Not sure how this works. I'm just hoping to get another tour. Get myself out there, you know?"

"Right. Good plan."

"I just don't know how to talk to those people. Business people. I'm so awkward. I talk too much."

"Fuck that. People in the offices, all of them, they're full of shit. Tell them you can do anything and everything. You can just fake it later if you have to."

"Is that your professional advice? To lie?" Brendon seems amused.

"Hell yeah. You lie and I'll swear by it. That's what … that's what I always say." Actually, that's what he and Ryan always used to say.

Brendon shoulders his backpack and grips the strap with both hands, his smile fading again.

"Hey, so," Spencer starts, hoping he sounds more casual than aloof. "If you don't head out on the road right away, you could call."

"Yeah? Okay. And if I could manage not to leave town or fall asleep immediately after, that would awesome!" Brendon gives him a self-mocking two thumbs up with a grin.

Spencer laughs and sets down his coffee as Brendon draws close enough to run a hand up the back of Spencer's neck, into his hair, and pulls just a little, asking with his eyes. Spencer answers by sliding a hand around Brendon's waist and kisses him. It's open, just dirty enough not to be chaste, and very slow. A goodbye to whatever this has been.

Spencer loves music but he sometimes hates how the business of it keeps people apart.

~

When Spencer returns to the office from a late lunch, Jensen is hanging up the phone, rubbing away a smirk with the back of his hand. "Yeah, so… that was Pete," he says cautiously.

Spencer huffs a laugh and shakes his head. He already knows. "Ugh. God. What?"

"He's bringing the new guy and says he's picking you up and that if you try to duck out, you're fired."

That makes Spencer actually scoff. "Oh, good. I know he's really serious, then."

He really doesn't plan to duck out anyway. There's got to be a statute of limitations on tormenting him for hooking up with a roadie after a show, and besides, he thinks, Pete has no way of knowing that Brendon stayed over last night as well.

More than that, he always has some sympathy for new bands getting signed. He remembers sitting in Del Taco and having a mild crisis of reality and trying to remember all the questions his dad told him to ask but can't think of. Spencer's good at helping new bands with that sort of thing.

What makes Pete's latest find so unique is that he's a solo artist and not a band. It's not Pete's usual style, and Spencer wonders how overwhelming it must be for one person to decide everything without having a band to weigh in. Just as Spencer remembers to ask what the guy's name is, Jensen's phone rings and he forgets.

He knows when Pete arrives because people mob him, even a roomful of friends and co-workers. Spencer sits quietly and finishes updating a band MySpace he's working on. He takes a deep breath and adopts his 'trust me, I know what I'm talking about' professional face and when he looks up, he forgets everything.

Standing next to Pete is Brendon, now with a clean-shaven face and jacket over Spencer's own t-shirt. A hundred recollections of Brendon's body, his mouth, his voice, his smell and taste all cycle through Spencer's brain at light speed, and he can't keep himself from smiling. "Hi! What are you…?" he starts to ask when Pete cuts him off.

"You are a complete nutsack. Avoiding me, asshole?" Pete says, his voice always too loud and he half hugs, half noogies Spencer where he sits. "Nevermind. You can pay me back later. You know Brendon, obviously. We've just been talking to Gary and John and label suits, and I think our Brendon here is ready for drink now. Right? So, you should come with and tell him all the reasons he should sign with us."

"I don't … but wait," Spencer is trying to reconcile this very not sense-making situation. "You sell merch." He points a finger and possibly speaks with more disdain than he really means to and Brendon's eyebrows go up.

"Yeah. My merch. I mean," he tilts his head looking at Pete and then half smiles. "I don't know why people buy it, but it pays for the food I guess. Heh."

"No, that's not. I don't…" Spencer looks at Brendon, at Pete and then back again. "I thought you were a tech. On the tour. You play?"

"Dude, what's your condition?" Pete laughs at him. "We talked about this. I introduced you."

"Yeah and you said he was selling merch…" He turns to Brendon, "you never said…" Brendon's shoulders come up to his ears and he looks down, frowning.

Spencer tries to replay every conversation and text he's had with Brendon. Admittedly, there have been few, but he can't figure out where it went wrong. He has a sickening feeling setting in from the realization that he's been operating under very false pretenses and he feels himself getting angry. He suspects the feeling is betrayal.

"If you'll excuse me. I just have to… I have to." And without looking at anyone, and with every scrap of cool he can muster, he grabs his phone and his keys and walks out of the building.

He's in the middle of having a mild anxiety attack by the break room door when Pete comes out and hops onto the block wall that Spencer is leaning on.

"So, did we have some kind of epic Trading Places-Freaky Friday-Faceoff kind of moment in there?"

Spencer takes his hands from his face where he's rubbing his temples and looks at Pete. "I don't think any of those movies work as metaphor here."

"Okay, my bad, whatever. But I know this is totally my fault, bro. I'm not good at explaining things sometimes. See? This why I have you!" He beams at Spencer, giving him a jab to the arm.

"I honestly thought Brendon was with the crew. I didn't know he was the talent you were telling me about."

Pete makes a noise that literally qualifies as a gigglesnort. "Did you even talk to him at all before you balled him?"

"Bite me. It wasn't like that. We just, well no, we haven't actually talked that much, I guess." Spencer feels like an utter shit.

"Ha! If people knew what a player you were!"

"Shut up, okay? And don't joke like that. Don't you get how serious this is? What if …" Spencer stomach begins to turn as he thinks this through. "What if it looks like I took advantage of him as a favor for a contract? Have you considered what it looks like?"

Pete scrunches his face at him. "No I haven't considered that. Because it's stupid."

Spencer huffs. "Or what if? … Ah, fuck," Spencer sinks a little, feeling like he's gonna throw up. "What if he used me? That whole time. To get himself a deal?"

"Whoa, whoa, crazy talk. If anyone is less likely than you to use somebody, it's him, okay? For real."

Spencer grinds his palms over his eye sockets and groans. He really likes Brendon. A lot. He's thought about him non-stop for nearly two weeks. Okay, it's mostly been about having sex with him in every way he knows it's possible to have, but Brendon makes him laugh, too. And he honestly does want to know him better. As a person. A friend-type person he can have lots of sex with.

But now it's all ruined.

"Man. How did you not figure it out, though? It seriously never came up?"

Spencer sighs and hangs his hands at his sides and stares vacantly ahead of him. "We maybe haven't actually talked very much," Spencer admits to the sound of Pete's too loud laughter. It's kind of humiliating.

"How do you have the guy in your house and not even have a conversation?" Pete asks, shoulder butting Spencer with his own.

"I – what? Did he say - how do you know he was at my house?" Spencer sputters.

"No. Fuck, no, he hasn't said a word. Gentleman's gentleman, that guy. But dude," Pete chuckles, "he's wearing your shirt!"

"Oh, god." Spencer folds a little on himself, face in hand. "I can not believe you remember it."

"I keep all sorts of weird shit up here, man." Pete taps the side of his temple. "I'm not in charge of what sticks."

Spencer woefully joins in Pete's chuckling but he still feels pissed and hurt and sick over the whole thing.

"Stop with the misery, all right?" Pete hops off the wall. "There was no Disclosure incident, okay?"

"Of course you would nail that film metaphor."

~

They have a decidedly uncomfortable drive to Pete's house. They get stuck on the 405, and it's good that Pete's good at telling stories about living in vans and trailer breakdowns – or more specifically, the fights that were spawned because of it.

Pete's security drives and Pete calls shotgun like an asshole, leaving Spencer and Brendon sitting in the back of the Excursion together. Spencer intends to not look at him but his eyes aren't down with the plan, and he catches Brendon giving him a careful look. The thought that Brendon might have been using him all along makes him frown and Brendon looks away quickly. How Pete babbles happily through the tension in the backseat Spencer has no idea. He endeavors to keep the mood light, never realizing that it isn't, until he checks his phone when it vibrates and answers it.

"Babe! Yeah. Okay. Yeah. …Um, so I kinda found a couple of really cute orphans and I'm bringing 'em home, okay?"

He smiles back at them before turning away to talk with Ashlee, and Brendon, still chuckling at Pete, smiles at Spencer before catching himself and looking out the window.

"Sweet!" Pete says as he pockets his phone. "Okay, Babymama and lil' dude are en route to the casa with dinner."

"We're going?" Brendon begins. "I thought we were going out somewhere. We're going to your house?"

"Yeah. I still got beer, though, I promise."

Brendon chuckles, a little high, and takes a deep breath. Spencer watches out of the corner of his eye and feels a little sorry for him. He was only seventeen when he went Pete's house for the first time, but he had his best friends with him while Brendon's got the guy he just let fuck him last night giving him dirty looks. Spencer turns his head to crack his neck as he thinks and tries to figure out how he's supposed to be acting.

Brendon tries not to look too obviously impressed when the security gates part or at the car parked in the driveway that costs more than the house Spencer grew up in.

They don't make it more than five feet into the foyer when Ashlee shrieks from somewhere deep in the house.

"Wentz! God damn it!"

"Ooh." Pete makes a low sound and then sucks air between his teeth.

"That doesn't sound good," Spencer mutters.

"Your dog, Wentz!"

"Ah, shit," Pete mutters and just then Hemmingway comes rolling into the room, looking as sad as ever. "Dude, what did you do to me?" Pete says, kneeling on the floor, lifting the dog's front half and hugging him.

"Look at this!" Ashlee comes around the corner in a violent flurry of red hair and waving bits of colored straps and block of wood. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!"

"Hi, beautiful," Pete says casually.

"Don't you 'beautiful' me!"

"'kay. Hey, where's the baby?"

"He fell asleep on the way home. He's in his room," she replies, momentarily dropping her anger to answer. "Pete" she wails again, shaking the remains of Hemmy's snack, looking like she's gonna cry. "My shoes."

"We're really sorry," Pete says, holding the fat dog onto his hind legs so his front paws hang in front of him, begging forgiveness. "I'm sorry, hon. We'll make it up to you, I promise."

Ashlee squints at them both, whirls around, and storms out of the room. "He also puked in the closet and you get to clean it up," she shouts over her shoulder.

"Don't we have somebody to do that?"

"No! You clean it!"

Pete mushes his forehead to Hemmy's, "I thought you had my back, man. You let me down." Hemmy whines his apology. "Guys, make yourselves at home. Me and Hem are in big ass trouble and have a mess to clean up. Do whatever. I'll be back."

Pete's face looks at least as sad as the dog's. Spencer bites the inside of his lip to keep a straight face. "Yeah," he agrees, with some put upon sympathy. "Good luck with that, guys," he says, including Hemmingway, as they walk down the hall.

He hears a piano in the adjoining room and finds Brendon sitting at the bench, his back straight, though his shoulders are curved slightly forward. He's just going through a few chords pianissimo with his right hand like he doesn't want to make any actual noise.

Spencer takes a deep breath and looks up at the ceiling for a minute. Possibly brooding in silence isn't the best way to handle this situation. He just can't decide if he should act like a cold professional and only help to get him signed or if he's entitled to act like a jilted lover.

Brendon looks up, smiling faintly, but his eyes are anxious and unsure. What Brendon really looks like he needs is a friend.

"So. Hey," he says quietly, moving to lean against the piano.

"Hey."

Spencer watches Brendon play for a minute. It's kind of everywhere, with snatches of Radiohead leading into something that might be from Pirates of Penzance. Even though he's not playing anything through, he's got this classical posture and moves his fingers with confidence over the keys. He doesn't even look like he's trying. Spencer has to reconstruct this box that he's categorized Brendon in; a roadie, crew. Of course, it's his own fault, he shouldn't have assumed anything.

"That night we met…" he starts.

"I get it. It never came up, I guess," Brendon shrugs, talking fast. "I was too busy asking you questions about Panic. My fault."

"And then Pete said that you should, that I'm … fuck." Spencer shifts his weight from one hip to the other and pushes his hair around. He doesn't even want to put words to this. Brendon stops playing but doesn't quite look at him, waiting. "I'm afraid that maybe we, me and Pete, made it seem like you had to, like, be with me. For this deal. A contract."

"I wouldn't do that! You think I would do that?" Brendon snaps, his jaw set, and Spencer refuses to acknowledge how cute he is when he's angry.

"I don't … I don't know?" Spencer answers honestly.

"I wouldn't. I'm not like that."

"Neither am I."

It's a silent standoff for a moment. Brendon wriggles a little before straightening again. He hovers his fingers over the keys before dropping them into a discordant mash of notes that resolves itself into a peaceful melody.

"I'm not a jerk, Spencer Smith. I make music. I sing. I won the spot to open for that tour in a radio contest. And then I met this really cool guy along the way."

Spencer's not entirely sure if humor is appropriate yet but he can't stop his snark. "… I was the cool guy, right?"

Brendon smirks and keeps playing, but he puckers his lips and makes a face until the smile goes away. It just makes Spencer want to kiss him. "Then I wake up this morning, after," his eyes scan towards Spencer and his cheeks flush, "and I really thought maybe… And then! I get offered an actual fucking record deal and for like, an hour, I thought shit had really worked out for me."

Spencer tries to think a way past this awkwardness and absently uses the thumb and pinky of both hands to rattle out a pattered rhythm on the top of the piano.

"You still play?" Brendon asks.

Spencer stills his hands. "Yeah. Not like, in front of people, but I still play."

Brendon smirks again.

"Look, I'm sorry, okay? I got defensive because, well, I don't like being wrong for one. And because I …really do like you."

Brendon stops playing and looks at him. There's vulnerability there but defiance, too, that he doesn't think is a front. "I really was going to call you."

"Yeah?" Spencer moves closer and Brendon slides over on the piano bench and lets Spencer take a seat next to him, his back to the keys.

"And earlier when Pete said we were gonna meet up with you. I was … I was looking forward to it. –I didn't mention anything about us or last night."

"Didn't matter. He knows."

"He does?"

Spencer reaches over and prods at the t-shirt, fingertips brushing Brendon's ribs through the fabric. "He recognized it."

"Oh. Oh, shit." Brendon winces. "Sorry."

"Don't worry about it. Won't keep him from being a jackass, but it's fine."

Brendon looks down and Spencer realizes his fingers are still pawing Brendon's abdomen, and it's not fair because Brendon looks up at him with, well, with his face and Spencer leans over and kisses him. He pulls away when Brendon sounds a muffled noise of surprise.

"Sorry. Sorry. I had no right after being a dick today. I-" Spencer gets interrupted by Brendon this time, who cups his face with both hands and pulls him for another kiss. This time, Brendon is insistent and parts his lips, licking slightly into Spencer's mouth. His heart gets racing immediately and when they hear a murmur of voices in another room, Brendon pulls away, glancing around them.

He starts playing something again, playing casual but the grin on his face is anything but.

"So," Spencer coughs, feeling smug and relieved. "I guess you just met Ashlee Simpson."

"There weren't like, introductions. I don't think she even saw me."

"She's actually really great. And funny, too …when the dogs haven't destroyed her shit. This isn't the first time it's happened. She just keeps wearing nice shoes."

"Spencer Smith, are you saying it's my fault for wearing nice shoes?" Ashlee accuses from the doorway.

Brendon ducks his head purses his lips like he's trying to hide his smile.

"No way! Hem's got great taste, is all," he says, grinning at Ashlee. She's in jeans and Pete's Where the Wild Things Are Clandestine t-shirt and her hair is in a pony tail. Spencer's pretty fond of how normal she is.

"Mmm, good cover, son.." She narrows her eyes on Spencer, so like a mom already, but she slips her arm around his shoulder and gives him a Hollywood peck on the cheek. "Hi, I'm Ashlee," she says, extending her hand to Brendon. "I'm guessing that since you're at the piano and you're a total cutie that you must be Brendon."

Brendon shakes her hand and laughs. He always laughs, Spencer realizes, which is good because Ashlee likes to mess with people about as much as Pete does.

"I totally expect to hear you play that before the night is over, but I'll feed you first, deal?"

Brendon blinks and nods. "Um. Deal!"

"Yay! Okay, let's get go scoop dinner out of aluminum tins and eat out on the patio like civilized people, want to?"

"Totally."

"I love when you cook," Spencer says as they follow her into the kitchen. Pete joins them with a half-sleeping Bronx, who is sucking his thumb, his face pillowed on Pete's shoulder.

"Aww, hi," Spencer says, bending to be on eye level with the baby. "Hey, Bronx, good to see ya again."

Bronx contemplates Spencer for a moment and then smiles around his thumb.

~
After dinner and darkness surrounds them, Pete returns with more drinks and a guitar.

"Sweet!" Brendon takes the acoustic and automatically strums, adjusting the tuning keys and running through arpeggios.

"What's the song of the moment, man? Let's hear it."

"Uh, I don't know." Brendon glances at Spencer. "Fuck. When I'm put on the spot, I usually just go for Sublime."

"Whatever you got, man, go."

Brendon lets out another nervous chuckle, clears his throat and dives right into Boss DJ. Spencer loves it when someone covers a song so well that he forgets the original. He can't help filling in with some hand-clap rhythm. When he's done with that, Brendon sings some Bob Marley, and Pete asks for "the lantern one" and while it's unexpectedly folksy, the lyrics kind of break his heart and he want to know more.

They all clap and whistle after each song and for the first time, he's staring at Brendon with stars in his eyes and he doesn't just want to tear his clothes off. He feels that stupid, giddy excitement that reminds him what it's like to be a fan.

It's later into the evening, once the empties have started a nest on the patio table and he and Brendon get careless about letting their hands lingers when they overlap, when Pete gets down to business.

"So, are you like, Out? Or no? We can play that however you want, I just thought I'd- "

"God, Pete – shut up," Spencer hisses. "Brendon, don't answer that." It's a moot warning, however, as Brendon covers by laughing too hard and not looking anyone in the face.

"What?" Pete goggles. "I was just-"

"You can not ask things like that!" Spencer throws a corn chip at Pete, who looks sincerely bewildered.

"Why? We're all friends here."

Spencer scrubs his hand over his face and sits up, taking a breath. "You're our boss, shithead. You can't ask things like that – it's illegal. And it's fucking inappropriate."

"Come on, I asked you the same thing when you were with the band."

"And it was fucking inappropriate then, too. Jesus."

Pete looks torn between honestly sheepish and just laughing with Brendon, who has started to calm from his fit of nervous giggles.

"Um, I don't. It's not…" Brendon's shoulders raise and he squirms for a second, but he's still smiling. "Mostly it's that I don't want anything to represent me but my music, you know? The rest of it…" his eyes scan towards Spencer for a brief second. "Nothing is as important to me as music."

"Okay, okay, that's fair. So, here's what I'd like to see you do, if you'll hear me out?" Pete asks. Spencer likes this part, when Pete starts spinning ideas that put stars in peoples' eyes but tries to be careful enough not to pressure anyone.

Brendon gulps his beer and fidgets in his seat. "Yeah, man. Shoot."

"Okay, so, I'd like to get you into the studio to make an EP. Then get you on the road this winter. We can do a few gigs at AK Chicago and New York. The label is making a deal with New Line for a feature they want some tunes for."

"Okay. Wow. Um."

"You have a good set put together already. I just think you need a band."

"Yeah." Brendon jumps when his phone rings and laughs at himself, almost dropping it taking it out of his back pocket. Spencer doesn't think he'll ever tire of watching his awkwardness unfold. "I'm gonna take this, okay? Shane'll freak out if I don't. It's not co-dependence or anything. Heh."

"What'd I say, huh?" Pete says after Brendon leaves. "Dude's sick."

"Yeah. He's…" Spencer thinks for a minute to make sure his attraction wasn't conflicting his opinion, but no. "He's really good. He is."

"The kids are gonna love him. Girls -shit, girls and boys, am I right? Even I wanna do him. That mouth, huh?"

Spencer rolls his eyes. "Ugh, shut up. You get no gay cred for wanting a blowjob. Tell me how you want to suck his dick and we can talk."

"I bet it's awesome though. I'm not asking! I'm not. But damn."

"Will you just? God."

Pete chuckles and reads something on his phone. "The other thing is, though," Pete starts talking again, his eyes still down on his phone like he's not really paying attention, "he needs a band …needs a drummer."

Spencer feels a nervous tingle in his palms that runs up the inside of his arms. "I figured that's what you were doing here."

Ashlee's standing in the shadows behind them, rocking Bronx to sleep, but she moves closer now and Spencer feels just a little bit like he's being ambushed.

"You should be in a band, Spence, not in an office. Not this shit you do for me."

"We've talked about this-"

"Yeah. Yeah and I get it. I can't imagine playing without my guys either, but come on. Ryan didn't stop for playing for you, did he?" That hurts a little bit, but he knows Pete doesn't mean it like that. "But this guy. Tell me someone else, except for Patrick, who can play like he can. Sing like he can. And who's just, he's just a sweet little dude, am I right?"

Spencer nods. He can't deny that parts of his brain are sparking at the idea of being in a band again, playing music with someone who feels it the way he does.

"He's … Brendon is. He is."

"I'm gonna go put him down," Ashlee says, extending the baby so Pete can kiss his head. Then she leans down to Spencer, gives a quick cheek-to-cheek kiss and says quietly, "Listen to him, hon. You know this is what he's good at."

"Good night," he replies, rubbing Bronx's sleeping head and nodding his understanding as she goes.

Brendon passes her on his way out as she goes inside, and Spencer watches them, him, as they talk. It's almost hard to believe there's so much talent in one person, that those hands are so deft at making music and the way he sings is captivating.

"Sorry. That was Shane," he says, as he sits back down to the table. "He bought surf boards today! Do you surf?" he asks Pete.

"I'm from Illinois, dude. Gimme a sled or a snowboard but none of that 'hang ten' shit."

Brendon nods and looks at Spencer carefully. "You? Wanna come out with us in the morning?"

Spencer does. He has no idea how to surf but he'll try. Brendon smiles at him and he suddenly hears his mother's shrill "and if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?" His whole life he had said no. Fuck that. He did what he wanted and what he believed was right and to hell with anyone who had a problem with that.

But this face? He pretty much figures he'll follow it anywhere.

"Santa Monica beach, right?" he says. "You'll have to show me."

"Awesome! You can get to know Shane and Ian. And… and we can talk."

The space between them seems to narrow and while he wouldn't quite use the words 'in love', Spencer definitely feels himself falling.

It's possible he hears Pete giggling, but Spencer doesn't care.

~

Epilogue

~

Spencer sits on the couch in the dressing room with his hands resting palms up in his lap. They're still sore and throbbing and he's coming down from his adrenaline-Red Bull-beer buzz.

He'd showered directly after walking off stage, and his damp hair occasionally drips down the back of his neck.

"Okay, dude, I'm out," Ian says, slinging his backpack over his shoulder and extending a fist in Spencer's direction. "Good show, brotha!"

Spencer holds his arm up but his fist is decidedly, well, limp.

"Ooh." Ian winces. "Sorry man. Take care of that shit, we can't do it without you."

"I'm fine, don't worry about me. Catch up with you in a few."

Ian nods and heads off. They all get along great, but he usually goes way to the back of the venue somewhere with a few thousand empty seats around him to feel some solitude before they're all crammed onto the bus together again.

Their bassist for this tour is a good guy, too, but he's living it up for all it's worth and doesn't waste any time in the dressing room.

Spencer lays his head back against the wall and listens to Brendon in the shower. He's been saving his voice because, while Spencer's hands are a mess, Brendon is beginning to strain as well, but that doesn't keep him from scat singing a few melodies to hear the echo off the tile walls.

He comes out of the shower wearing just his boxer briefs, rubbing a towel over his head. "So, I think the transition into New Perspective worked better tonight, but I don't know, Oh, Glory got weird, didn't it?"

Spencer listens but his hands hurt and that reminds him of how much his life has change over the last year. How he went from two practices by himself to playing with Brendon, writing, recording, rehearsing, and then suddenly touring within a few months. He's been on board with all of it but the pace is taking a toll on his body.

Brendon is still talking but he grabs the ice bucket they swiped from a hotel that Zack has already filled and Spencer's backpack, swings a chair in front of Spencer, and sits down.

"And then I thought, well, if we extended the outro, I could fill with something. I have a bit about surfing and not getting any tan lines but then you still get sand in places, you know the kids would eat that shit up, but it would give me enough time to get my guitar …"

Spencer's only half listening now because he's boggling at Brendon's nonchalance about nursing him. He digs out Spencer's first aid supplies and starts by putting the latex glove on Spencer's swollen right hand before plunging it into the bucket of ice. He doesn't want his calluses to soften but needs to reduce the swelling. Then Brendon picks the medical tape off the worst of the torn open blisters and dabs Neosporin onto the wounds.

"Thanks," Spencer says while Brendon is still holding his hand and looking close at the damage. It really is kind cool how there are blood blisters underneath the calluses on his left hand and how the edges begin to bubble up and tear. Spencer's Frankenhands have been winning the nastiest injury award every night this week. "I was gonna do it…"

Brendon smiles a little but doesn’t quite look at him. "Whatever. I don't mind." He sets the ice bucket on the floor, pulls off the latex glove, and starts rubbing the arnica ointment into his hand.

While they've been sleeping together since that first dinner at Pete's house, they get so disconnected during tour. Aside from a few momentary kisses, the normalcy of not touching has taken over.

"No, really," Spencer says, sitting up and leaning forward. "Thanks." Brendon half-heartedly rolls his eyes, but he leans closer, too, leading with his cheek so that's what Spencer nuzzles first, turning his face to kiss his jaw and then his cheekbone until Brendon turns enough to so that he can kiss his mouth. "I don't just mean thanks for my hands," he says against Brendon's lips. Brendon scoots a little closer, negotiating his knees around Spencer's.

"You've got nothing to thank me for."

Spencer's just about to wrap a hand around Brendon's back and pull him into his lap but they hear the door swing forward to the sound of Zack's voice.

"Pack out is underway and so far; nothing destroyed. I was –oh, shit. Ahh…" Despite the fact that Zack is one of their favorite new people in the world, they jump apart at his entry but remain holding hands. Grinning at the floor in their awkwardness, Zack faces the doorframe and picks at the doorlock, avoiding looking at them. "Right, so I was gonna suggest you go say hi to the kids at the gate. But maybe in an hour, after some have left."

"That's good."

"Cool. Yeah. We can do that," Brendon says with a vigorous nod. He starts to pull his hand away but Spencer doesn't let go.

Zack chances a look at them and grins but wipes his face until he stops. "So, I'm gonna go and do, you know, the stuff, and that'll probably keep me busy for about forty-five minutes?"

"Okay. We'll be ready," Spencer answers, rubbing his thumb over Brendon's knuckles until Brendon looks up at him through his eyelashes.

"Yep."

Zack coughs and clears his throat in a spectacularly not subtle 'I know that you know that I know you know' kind of way. "Forty-five. You got it then." He presses the interior lock as he pulls the door shut.

"You know he's cool, right?" Spencer says. "Zack's … he's not gonna talk or be like—"

"Shut up about Zack." Brendon lunges up and straddles onto Spencer's lap, muffling, "Forty-five minutes," into Spencer's mouth.

"Oh, good," Spencer murmurs, "I was, mmm, I was starting to think…"

"You were wrong." Brendon grabs Spencer's hands and positions them onto his ass. "Miss…"

Brendon doesn't say exactly what he misses, but Spencer gets the gist. He shifts to lie down on the couch and Brendon squirms around with him so that he's lying on top of him and Spencer slides his hands into Brendon's underwear, feeling how his own rough hands graze over Brendon ass.

"Why are you never naked fast enough?" Brendon grumbles, pushing himself up and glaring expectantly at Spencer's pants like they should be disappearing. Spencer chuckles as he unzips, and Brendon smiles and licks his lips.

"Mm-" is about the only warning Spencer gets before Brendon slinks downward. He opens his mouth and exhales along Spencer's cock, just brushing his lips over the soft skin before mouthing at the head.

"Jesus, Brendon." Spencer cups the side of Brendon's head, scruffing through his wet hair to wrap his fingers around the back of his skull. Spencer tries to block out the awareness of people walking just past the dressing room door and think about what it will be like when they go home, to their new home.

He looks down and pushes up just a little bit, and Brendon moans and then sucks hard as he slowly pulls off.

"I'm too young to die," Spencer gasps. Brendon huffs a low laugh as he sits up and shoves his boxers down. His cock is flushed and hard and he grunts when Spencer takes him in hand. He shifts down to lie on top of Spencer, rutting against him in short thrusts.

"Yeah." Spencer scrambles to touch everywhere he can.

"So easy for you," Brendon pants, his lips still wet and swollen from going down on him.

"Shh…" Spencer curves one hand on the back of Brendon's thigh at the swell of his ass and holds him firm as he arches up. Brendon adjusts his weight with one hand on the arm of the couch above Spencer's head and continues to hump against him. They hear a laugh in the hallway outside and they both kind of groan into the kiss, desperate to get off together while they have the chance.

"Spence."

"Yeah."

"Spence."

"Ngh."

He feels it when Brendon begins to come, hot and sticky over his cock and stomach. Before Brendon's even finished shuddering, he shifts his weight onto his forearm and jerks Spencer off.

All his senses narrow into a fine point of pleasure when he comes, and his scope of vision slowly widens to include Brendon carefully wiping them clean with his towel. They squirm around to pull their pants and underwear back up and Spencer pulls Brendon on top of him again and just hugs him, pressing his face into his hair.

"I don't get it," Brendon says, still panting a bit.

"Hm?" Spencer hums because he's kissing Brendon while he has the chance.

"I keep waiting for you get tired of me."

Spencer pulls away and crooks his neck to look at him. "Why?"

Brendon shrugs and somehow makes himself a little heavier onto Spencer's chest.

"I'm sorry about your hands."

Spencer grumps with confusion and frowns at the ceiling. "Single train of thought, Bren."

"Well, you thought you were just getting a one time hook up with a tech you'd never see again and instead I kinda fell in love with your face and tricked you into being my boyfriend and my drummer. … and now your hands are all blistered."

Spencer thinks for a minute to right-side up Brendon's backwards logic and laughs.

"Okay, number one, it's not your fault I'm out of shape. Number two, I went to the van with you because I liked you and because you're hot. And number three; don't quote your sappy love song at me." He pokes Brendon in the side.

"Hey," Brendon says, squirming and pushing up to face him. "I wrote that sappy love song for your face."

Zack passes the door outside with a sing-song "Fiiive minutes". They laugh at the same time, and Spencer smoothes his fingers along Brendon's cheek, staring at him for a moment.

"Your face."

~

The End

A/N – I had the intention of writing so much more into this story but sadly, deadlines outpace my writing ability. I would have liked to include surfing and salt water kisses and Spencer finding Brendon's twitter, and Spencer seeing Brendon on stage for the first time and calling to talk to Ryan about wanting to be a new band ("well duh" :| :| :|) and becoming friends with Shane. Sadly, < real life.
Thank you for reading!
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