sunsetmog_fics: (Default)
Title: The Holiday [16/?]
Author: [ profile] sunsetmog
Fandom: Panic! at the Disco
Pairing: Brendon Urie / Spencer Smith
Rating: NC-17 overall.
Word count: 7,174 (this part)
Warnings (for this part): None
Notes: Thank you to [ profile] hermette for the beta. Any remaining errors are my own. For [ profile] ohohstarryeyed.

Further notes can be found in part one. Also posted here at AO3.

Accompanying mix available here.

Inspired by The Holiday. Sort of. Um.

Summary: They wake up in the morning, and the vacation's over.

Previously: [I] [II] [III] [IV] [V] [VI] [VII] [VIII] [IX] [X] [XI] [XII] [XIII] [XIV] [XV]

Part Sixteen

Spencer woke up to Brendon shaking his shoulder and pointing him towards the mug of coffee on the nightstand.

"We have to pack," Brendon said, and Spencer nodded blearily, rubbing at his eyes with his fists and trying not to notice that Brendon was avoiding looking at him.

Their vacation was over. For the briefest of moments, waking up, Spencer had forgotten that.

"Thanks," he said, dropping his gaze. There was a strange sort of tension in the air, silent and still, and Spencer wanted to find something to say, but he couldn't. His breath was caught in his throat, thick and unyielding, and all he could do was push back the comforter and point awkwardly toward the bathroom. "You want to shower first?"

"No," Brendon said, fiddling with the comforter. "I'm already done. You go."

In the shower, Spencer leaned his forehead against the tiles. He told himself to breathe in and out, in and out, in and out. It's over, he thought. We're over.

He tipped his chin up into the spray, and tried not to think.

They packed in silence, Spencer stuffing his belongings into the suitcase in handfuls. The only concession he made towards packing neatly was to put his souvenirs and gifts somewhere in the middle, where his clothes might make a cursory attempt at cushioning them from damage during the flight. He couldn't bring himself to care about the condition his belongings made it back to L.A. in; all he could really concentrate on was the way that he and Brendon weren't talking. It wasn't like either of them was ever particularly talkative first thing in the morning, especially when getting up early precipitated a trip to the airport, but there was an unfamiliar tension in the air they were both doing their best to ignore.

"I'll go check the living room," Spencer said in the end, because his drawers were empty and his suitcase full, and the only other option was pushing Brendon up against the wall and refusing to leave. He wished he could do just that, that he could just turn back time and have the vacation over again.

He went downstairs instead, shaking his head at the memory of pushing Brendon up against the wall and kissing him. Stupid, he told himself, pushing open the door into the living room. He had to blink against the merry twinkle of the Christmas tree lights; Brendon had clearly already been in here—Spencer's camera was on the coffee table in the center of the room, their belongings piled up next to it, ready to take upstairs.

Spencer wondered how long Brendon had been awake that morning before he'd woken Spencer with coffee. He swallowed, picking up his camera so that he could take more pictures of the Christmas tree, of the remains of the fire in the grate, of the heart-shaped blanket on the back of the couch. Cataloguing it all made it feel like it hadn't been a dream. Already their time here was beginning to fade at the edges, curling in on itself like it hadn't ever happened.

He turned off his camera and fumbled behind the tree to switch off the Christmas lights. He stared at the tree for a moment before leaning over to scoop up the pile of their belongings that Brendon had left on the coffee table. His hands were full of iPods and camera cables and magazines and a notebook they'd used to play sexy hangman in earlier in the week. It was still open at the page where they'd left off, Brendon's doodle of a stickman getting a blowjob still half finished. Spencer swallowed and headed out and into the hallway, kicking the door shut behind him as he went.

He dumped all of their stuff in his case when he got back upstairs, not bothering to check which of their things were his and which were Brendon's. It didn't matter, he thought. He'd just untangle them when they were back in L.A..

"You want more coffee?" Brendon asked as Spencer finished dumping their stuff into his case. "I think I'm done up here. I grabbed the rest of the stuff out the bathroom."

"Sure," Spencer said, watching as Brendon zipped up his case. "More coffee would be good."

"Awesome," Brendon said. He grabbed his backpack and shouldered it, heading for the stairs with his stuff. "Will you check up we've got everything up here? We should get going after the coffee."

Spencer swallowed, and looked down at their bed. "Yeah," he said and waited until Brendon had finished bumping his case down the stairs before sinking down onto the edge of the mattress and letting out a shaky breath. "Fuck," he said. "Fuck."

He kicked at his case. They had a long day driving ahead of them, and then a flight half way across the world, and then at the end of it he had to figure out how to make things okay between them. He wasn't sure if he could.

Sighing, he took one last look in the bathroom, grabbing one of Brendon's shirts from where it had fallen down the back of the radiator. He dropped it into his case as he went back into the bedroom to pull the blankets off the bed and check they hadn't left anything else. He resolutely shoved Brendon's shirt under everything else in his suitcase, and then zipped it shut, and gathered up the rest of his stuff to take downstairs.

There was coffee waiting in the coffee press on the kitchen counter, so Spencer dumped his stuff in the hallway and took his empty cup into the kitchen. Brendon was leaning with his back against the sink, picking at the remains of what was in the fridge—some cold cuts, an apple and some cream cheese.

"You want some?" he asked, holding up a chunk of apple dipped in cream cheese.

Spencer made a face. "Really?"

"We're going to have to stop to pick up breakfast because I'm starving," Brendon said. "But this isn't so bad. It's kind of nice. In its own way."

"Okay," Spencer said, and Brendon cut him a slice of apple and held it out for him to take. Spencer took it, and dipped it in the cheese. He took a bite, and wiped his mouth. "This is—this is better than I thought."

"Try it wrapped in a cold cut," Brendon suggested, holding out a slice of ham.

Spencer made a face, but he wrapped the slice of apple in the cold cut and took a bite. "Huh," he said.

"Right?" Brendon said, and licked his lips. "It's kind of okay."

Spencer's gaze flicked to Brendon's mouth. "We're still on vacation," he said after a moment. His mouth felt dry.

Brendon swallowed. "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," he said, sounding kind of shaky. He was staring at Spencer's mouth, and Spencer could feel his heart beating loud in his chest as he stared right on back.

He just—he wanted this so much. More than anything. Definitely more than he wanted to catch the stupid fucking plane.

"Fuck," Spencer said, unable to help himself, and he leaned in to press his mouth to Brendon's.

"Fuck," Brendon echoed, and he dropped the carton of cream cheese down onto the counter, and pushed Spencer back against the fridge. Spencer couldn't help but kiss him again, hands in Brendon's hair, thumb pressed to Brendon's cheek as he kissed him over and over.

Brendon slid his hands under Spencer's shirt, pressing his hips to Spencer's. Spencer could feel how hard Brendon was already, and he tried to gasp back a breath as Brendon rolled his hips up against Spencer's erection.

Spencer couldn't breathe. He'd been so sure that this had been over, that they'd already had the end, and now Brendon was hard, and he was hard, and they had a plane to catch but Spencer couldn't bring himself to care if he missed it. He just wanted this, wanted Brendon, wanted every last second they could catch together while they were still on vacation.

"Have we got time?" Brendon asked, rocking his hips so that his dick was pressed hard against Spencer's. He tilted his hips up so that his erection dragged over Spencer's, and Spencer groaned, hard.

"Don't care if we don't," Spencer managed breathlessly, and Brendon kissed him, urgent and desperate, one hand sliding down to fumble at the button of his jeans.

"Me neither," Brendon said, and he tugged at Spencer's fly, dropping down onto his knees to pull at Spencer's underwear and take Spencer's dick in his mouth.

Spencer tipped his head back and it hit the fridge with a thunk; he tangled his fingers into Brendon's hair and tried to concentrate on breathing. Brendon's mouth was so hot and already everything was messy and slick and wet. He still couldn't get over how hot it was to look down and see Brendon down there, and see the outline of the head of his dick pressed up against the inside of Brendon's cheek. He touched his fingers to Brendon's face, rubbing his thumb over Brendon's cheek, and Brendon whined a little around Spencer's dick. It only made things feel about a hundred times better.

He fucking loved being sucked off, and he loved it best when it was it was Brendon on his knees with his mouth around Spencer's dick. He tried not to think last time, last time, but he couldn't help it. He touched at Brendon's shoulder, urging him up so that he could kiss him, tasting himself on Brendon's kiss. Brendon fisted his hands in Spencer's shirt and kissed him over and over, desperate and furious, and Spencer knew that he was going to ache after this, the fridge pressed up against his back and Brendon's hands grabbing him everywhere.

Spencer only wanted more.

"My turn," he said, pushing Brendon back against the counter so that he could drop to his knees and unzip Brendon's fly. He wanted to mouth at Brendon's dick through the cotton of his underwear, make it last, but they didn't have time. The seconds were ticking away, and there was just this, and them, and Spencer wanted it all. He pulled Brendon's underwear down and over his dick, and then it was easy to close his fist around the base of Brendon's dick and take the head in his mouth.

He licked over the slit, fisting the base of Brendon's dick. He loved the way Brendon felt against his tongue, the way he tasted, the weight of his dick in Spencer's mouth. He just—he was in love with Brendon, and in love with having sex with Brendon, and there just hadn't been enough time to figure out everything that there was to know about him. About them. He didn't want to suck anyone off but Brendon. Not ever. He was done.

"Get up here," Brendon said in a hoarse voice, after a minute. Spencer's legs felt shaky and a little bit like jello, but he let Brendon tug him up and into a kiss. Brendon was holding him up, hands underneath Spencer's shirt, and Spencer couldn't help but kiss him again, even more desperate than before.

"Let me jerk you off," Brendon gasped, sliding his hand down to Spencer's dick. "You can do me back."

"Yeah," Spencer managed, sliding his hand down between them and circling his hand around Brendon's dick. He squeezed, just enough to make Brendon groan. He jacked him off awkwardly, concentrating too much on kissing him, and the knowledge that they only had a few minutes left.

Brendon kissed him again, over and over, and Spencer could feel his orgasm building in his belly, desperate and hard. He jerked Brendon roughly, Brendon's mouth dragging over his. Spencer really loved it when things got kind of messy. He'd never really liked that before.

He caught Brendon's bottom lip in his teeth, and Brendon whined, one hand in Spencer's hair. Spencer was going to come. He was going to come, from this, rushed and desperate and totally fucking last-minute. He kissed him again.

"Going to come," Brendon said breathlessly, shifting so that he could bite at Spencer's lip, his eyes dark, and Spencer could only think yes, yes. He couldn't talk. He kissed Brendon again, jerking him even as Brendon gave a startled cry and started to come, hot and wet and desperate in Spencer's hand.

For a long moment he was boneless in Spencer's arms, and then he shifted, catching Spencer's mouth in a kiss. His grip tightened on Spencer's dick, and then Spencer pulled away to hide his face in Brendon's neck as Brendon jerked him off. His mouth was so fucking dry. Brendon dragged his fingertips through Spencer's hair, stroking at his scalp, and Spencer couldn't help it. Brendon was jerking him off with his own come, and Spencer just—he couldn't. He rocked his hips up, breathless and desperate, and then he started to come with a bitten-off groan.

Afterwards, sticky and hot, Spencer pulled away uneasily, chewing on his lip.

"That was—" he started. He didn't know how to say what he was thinking.

"Awesome," Brendon finished, laughing kind of awkwardly. He wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, and laughed again, nervous and unsure. "Best end to a vacation ever." He fumbled with his underwear, and then the zipper of his pants.

Spencer followed him, doing up his jeans. He felt uncomfortable and awkward; Brendon turned him on so much, and coming had been so easy and so quick, but now they were back to where they'd been before. Except worse, because now Spencer had no idea what the fuck was going on with them.

"Yeah," he said. "Best ending."

Brendon swallowed and looked away, and Spencer reached for the car keys. They were ready to leave.

The drive back across Wales was long and quiet and tense and awkward.

They stopped at a gas station with a store attached after an hour; Spencer filled the tank while Brendon went inside to see if there was anything they could have for breakfast.

He came back five minutes later with two coffees in Styrofoam cups and two paper bags.

"Cheese and onion pasties," he said, passing one of the coffees and one of the paper bags to Spencer over the gear stick. Spencer was doing the first few hours of driving, and Brendon the last. Spencer really, really hadn't wanted to be alone with the inside of his head and nothing to do with his hands when they'd first left the cottage.

"What even is that?" Spencer asked, peering inside the bag. "Is it supposed to be a pastry? But cheese flavored?"

"No idea," Brendon said. "I asked her what was the best thing she had for breakfast, and after she apologized for not having a toaster so she could make me toast, she said these were great." He shot Spencer an awkward half-smile, and Spencer flushed a little pink. "And I think it's a pasty, not a pastry."

"Oh," Spencer said, taking his pasty out. It was really hot—too hot to touch, so he dropped it back into the bag so he could hold it through the paper—and when he poked at it with his finger, the pastry turned out to be kind of flaky, a little like a croissant, but ridged at the edges. "It looks a bit like a hot pocket."

"Yeah," Brendon said. He took a bite, chewing with his mouth open, wiping away the crumbs with the back of his hand. "Fuck, that's good. Try it. Million times better than a hot pocket."

Spencer took a cautious bite, and had to agree. "These are really good," he said, because apparently cheese and onion pastries—pasties—were something that were missing from his life.

Brendon nodded, and turned the radio back on. It was easier to sit in silence when they had the music on loud.

Spencer concentrated on finishing his pasty, and feeling considerably less hungry than he had when they'd pulled in, he turned the key in the ignition, feeling the engine stumble into life.

They pulled out of the gas station, and onto yet another winding road. He never thought he'd miss the grid system, but eventually, the Welsh roads turned into something resembling a highway—or at least a straight-ish road—and they pulled off the road at a comfort stop to switch seats.

Spencer fumbled awkwardly with his phone. "Can't wait to get my phone signal back," he said, thumbing through the list of messages, all over a week old.

Brendon did a full body stretch, hands above his head, and Spencer was pretty sure he could see a slither of skin from where his jeans met his hoodie. He tried not to stare.

"It's freezing," he said, turning around so that he couldn't see anymore. "You want me to run in and get us both coffees?"

"Sure," Brendon said. "I should probably go to the bathroom, too."

It was really amazing how they could go from saying everything, and touching everywhere, to behaving like strangers who barely knew each other.

Spencer's heart ached.

They were half an hour early to check in at the airport, so they bought chocolate bars and bottles of coke to while away the time before their desks opened. Handing back the car had been easy enough—they'd had to pay extra because they hadn't had the time to even give it a cursory clean out, and Spencer felt vaguely ashamed of the piles of junk food cartons and mud and sand they'd managed to get all over it since the start of their vacation—but they'd handed the keys over and dragged their stuff over to the departures entrance.

They piled their cases up by the windows at the entrance to the airport, and Spencer leaned his well-padded metalwork dragon up against his case as he sat down on the little ledge to have his Snickers and his bottle of Coke while they watched the screen with all the check-in desks listed.

Brendon looked the other way, awkward and unsure, and Spencer didn't want to believe that it had come to this. He was, he told himself, going to actually sit down and talk to Brendon when they got back home. He was going to ask if this was something that Brendon maybe wanted to continue now that the vacation was over. If they had a future, or even just a now. He'd take a now. He'd take anything, he knew, because he was in love, and stupid, and seriously in danger of fucking up the one thing in his life he knew he couldn't be without.

Fuck, he was so tired. He rubbed at his eyes with the heel of his hand. Brendon wasn't even looking at him. Brendon was nervous and awkward, tapping his foot and looking at anything that wasn't Spencer.

Spencer sighed, and stared down at his hands until their desk opened and they could gather their things together and go join the line to check their bags.

The flight was long and interminable, and Spencer spent most of it with his earbuds in, watching movies he wasn't interested in on the in-flight entertainment system. Brendon spent most of it asleep, curled up inside his hoodie, still with his glasses on. Spencer wanted to lean over and takes his glasses off for him, but—he couldn't. There were a million invisible lines that he'd never even noticed were there before, and now he couldn't cross any of them.

He was so tired, and everything hurt, and the flight seemed longer than every other flight he'd ever taken. By the time the plane started to descend, Spencer was about five seconds away from cracking up. He felt like he hadn't slept in a month, and constantly being aware that Brendon was next to him didn't make it any easier for him to relax.

"Hey," he said, as the plane touched down. Brendon was still asleep, mouth open, drooling a little. He poked at Brendon's elbow with his fingertip. "Hey, wake up."

"Go away," Brendon mumbled, trying to push him away.

"You've got to wake up," Spencer said. "We've landed."

For a moment, just a moment, Brendon opened his eyes and everything was just the same as it always had been. He grinned at Spencer sleepily, and blinked awake.

Spencer could tell the moment Brendon remembered where they were, and what they'd done, and how they were right now.

He swallowed, and gathered all his crap together from the flight, magazines and earbuds and brownie wrappers. They were home, and their vacation was over, and all they had to do now was figure out where to go from here.

Spencer woke up slowly, reality hitting him inch by inch. He fumbled blindly for his phone, blinking blearily at the screen. 2pm. He couldn't remember what time it had been when they'd got in from the airport. It had still been light, but any more than that and he was stumped. Those last couple of hours had felt like he'd been walking in a fog. He'd been dead on his feet.

He didn't feel much better now. He had no fucking idea what time his body thought it was.

Maybe if he could just get back in the swing of things, this thing with Brendon wouldn't seem so life-changing and so important.

He was kidding himself, he knew that. He wasn't stupid. He knew that he just needed to stand the fuck up and go ask Brendon if there was any chance at all for the two of them, because not knowing was killing him. He couldn't even think. He either needed to be in love, or be heartbroken, because the mixture of the two was driving him insane.

"Get up," he told himself, and for good measure he crawled out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom, splashing himself with cold water to wake himself up. In the mirror he looked bleary-eyed and half-dead. Such a fucking catch, he told himself. He could hear noise from downstairs; Brendon was up.

"Be brave," he said softly, into the mirror, and then he turned around and went downstairs, still wearing his boxer shorts and a t-shirt. If he stopped to get dressed he'd lose his courage entirely.

"Brendon," he said, coming down the stairs. "Have you—" he stopped, because Brendon was standing by the front door, stuffing Christmas gifts into a huge blue bag, the kind that came from Ikea and that they always ended up with a ton of whenever either of them went shopping there. "Oh," he said. Spencer's suitcase and still-packed metalwork dragon were exactly where he'd left it, in the middle of the floor in the hallway, but Brendon's case was gone. Well, not gone, but now standing up against the front door, next to a grocery sack of dog food, a shit-ton of electronics and the half-filled bag of Christmas gifts.

"I didn't want Bogart to be alone on Christmas," Brendon said awkwardly, flushing red. He clambered to his feet, a trail of Christmas gifts around his feet.

"He's going to be with Shane," Spencer said, still unsure of what he was seeing. He and Brendon were flying back to Vegas together, tomorrow, and Shane was going to look after Bogart while Brendon and Spencer spent Christmas with their families. They'd had this planned for months. "He's not going to be alone."

"I didn't want him to not be with me, then," Brendon prevaricated. "He'll think I've forgotten him."

"He doesn't think that when we go on tour, dude," Spencer said. "He fucking loves staying with Shane."

"I want my dog," Brendon said stubbornly. "So I'm going to drive to Vegas, is the point. With Bogart. I'm going to go pick him up now."

"You have a plane ticket," Spencer said, because he did. They did. Together. The fact that Brendon had planned on leaving without Spencer was slowly starting to sink in, and Spencer didn't like the way that felt.

"I'll call them," Brendon said. "See if I can switch the dates or something. Or get a refund, I don't care."

Spencer gripped the bannister. "Okay," he said. His head felt kind of muffled. It wasn't a good feeling. He didn't know what to say. He figured that do you want to date me, for real? wasn't really as good an idea as he wished it was. Or maybe the answer was way too obvious. Either way, he and Brendon were through, and it looked like Spencer was going home for the holidays alone. He turned around, because watching Brendon leave was too hard. "I guess I'll see you after the holidays, then."

"Spence—" Brendon said, when Spencer was half up the stairs.

"What?" He turned around, because he couldn't not. There was still time for things to change, for things not to end like this. Hope curled in his belly.

Brendon watched him for a long moment, eyes unreadable. "Happy holidays, man," he said finally.

"Yeah," Spencer said, and went back upstairs to bed.

"Spencer," his mom said, hitting him on the shoulder with the dish towel. "Is everything okay?"

Spencer checked his phone for the twentieth time. "Yeah," he lied. He tried to get comfortable on the couch. "Just tired."

"Hmm," his mom said. She didn't believe him, Spencer could tell, but he couldn't dredge up the energy to pretend he was okay. He'd been home twenty-four hours, and so far he'd spent the whole time either in bed or on the couch. He'd taken ownership of the remote control, much to his sisters' annoyance, but since this was his worst Christmas ever, they'd just have to deal with him not letting them pick holiday-themed movie after holiday-themed movie. So far he'd made them watch Reservoir Dogs and Spice World, both of which had contributed pretty effectively in making this the worst Christmas in the world.

"He's lying," Jackie said, from the armchair.

"I know," his mom said. "Come help me in the kitchen, Spencer."

"Mom," he complained. "I'm watching this."

"And it isn't my job to wash and clean up after you, and it's Christmas Eve, so come load the dishwasher."

"Mom," he said again. "I'm jetlagged."

"Don't care," she said. "Loading the dishwasher isn't going to wear you out."

Spencer grumbled, but he got up anyway, following his mom into the kitchen. She waited until he'd loaded three plates into the dishwasher before speaking, but Spencer knew it was coming.

"How was your vacation, Spencer?" she asked.

"It was—it was good," he said. He forced himself to concentrate on the dirty plates, and their cereal bowls from breakfast, and not on the memory of being in bed with Brendon, and getting to touch every inch of him, or waking up every morning and secretly, deep down inside, hoping that there might be a future.

"And it was just you and Brendon?"

"Yeah." She was fishing, he knew that, but he legitimately had nothing to give her. He could give her the truth—that he'd fallen in love with someone who didn't want him back anymore—or he could say nothing.

"And you—you didn't fight, or anything?"

"No," he said. "Not really."

"Oh." She passed him a plate, and a mug. "Are the two of you—is the band okay?"

"I think so," he said. "It was. Before the vacation. We haven't really done anything since." He itched to check his phone again, to see if Brendon had messaged him. There hadn't been anything not in two days, nothing but a drive was a killer. Got here safe message in the middle of the night. He'd replied, but Brendon hadn't said anything back.

"Is it a girl, Spence?"

Spencer wanted to laugh. "No," he said. "It's not a girl."

"Give me a clue, will you? I'm clutching at straws."

"Mom," Jackie said, from the doorway. "Leave him alone."

"See, Jackie's on my side," Spencer said, which was kind of weird, considering. It wasn't that he and Jackie didn't get along, apart from how they hadn't really had that much to say to each other in recent months.

"I need to go to the store," Jackie said. "Come with me, Spence. I need one of those big-ass boxes of Coke Zero. There's no way I'm getting through Christmas Day without it, and fricking Crys has drunk my last can. Come help me carry it."

It was kind of weird, Spencer knew, and out of the blue, but he went anyway, shrugging awkwardly at his mom as he left. His mom rolled her eyes and shook her head, leaning over the dishwasher to finish loading it herself. Spencer only felt half-bad, because there was one thing he didn't want to talk about, and that was Brendon. He knew his mom, she'd needle him over and over until he gave in and told her the truth, and Spencer didn't want her to know he'd been stupid, and an idiot, and he'd gotten in way too deep and screwed everything up.

He let out a breath and followed Jackie outside and into the car, checking his pockets for his phone as he went. He'd grabbed his wallet from the side table by the door, because he figured that if he couldn't have Brendon, he could at least get drunk on Christmas Day and fuck the consequences.

As life plans went, buying a shit ton of beer so he could drown out Christmas possibly wasn't his best.

Jackie put the car into reverse and backed out into the street, narrowly missing the mailbox. She only did it to annoy Spencer, since Jackie was the best driver out of the three of them, but every time he was in the car with her she pretended to hit it just to annoy him.

Spencer rolled his eyes. It was the kind of thing that Brendon did, just to get a rise out of him. He looked out of the window, at the passing houses. Some things never changed, no matter how far away from home he went.

She waited until she got to the stop sign at the end of the street before reaching down to grab her purse. She lifted it onto his knee, and tugged at the zip. "Open it," she instructed, looking at the road again.

Puzzled, he unzipped her bag, and sitting on top of her wallet and her random assortment of stuff she carried around with her every day was Spencer's camera. "What—" He looked up, feeling stupid. "What are you doing with this?"

"I was going to take a picture of Crystal asleep so I stole your camera from your room," she said, leaning over the wheel to get a better view past the parked cars. She turned the corner, sliding easily into the traffic. "I pressed the wrong button, and got your pictures instead. I figured—I don't know. I thought you might want to get out of the house for a while."

Spencer swallowed. He turned the camera on; it beeped into life with an electronic beep-beep. He pressed the pictures button, and it loaded the last picture he'd taken. He clicked back a couple of shots, until he found one that took his breath away. It was him and Brendon, wearing their stupid purple coats, kissing each other and holding the camera up, myspace style.

"Oh," he said softly. His chest hurt. He put the camera down in his lap again, but he couldn't stop looking at the picture on the screen.

"I didn't mean to look," Jackie said. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Spencer said. It was, he thought. Jackie knowing wasn't going to make the knot in his chest get any more painful.

"I didn't know—you and Brendon—"

"We weren't. It was just this vacation." Jackie pulled the car into the parking lot by their old elementary school. He remembered climbing on the jungle gym and hurting his wrist falling off it. "It was just—it happened. We happened. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. That kind of a thing. It was just a thing. A vacation thing."

Jackie killed the engine, and just for a moment there was quiet. "Were you—are you in love with him?"

Spencer stroked his thumb over the screen. "Yes," he said finally. It felt like there was something hard and painful splintering in his chest. His eyes watered. "Oh fuck, Jackie. I'm so fucking in love with him." He couldn't breathe. "I've fucked everything up. I've screwed up everything."

"You haven't," she said, leaning over and covering Spencer's wrist with her own. "I bet you haven't."

"I have." He really, really couldn't breathe. He pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes. He was still so tired, and he wasn't sleeping properly, and he wanted to kiss Brendon again so much it hurt. He was such a fucking cliché.

"Come sit on the jungle gym with me," Jackie said after a minute. "Come on." She grabbed Spencer's camera and pushed open the door. "Everything's better with fresh air."

"You sound like Mom," he grumbled, but he followed her outside anyway, and through the gap in the fence and into the playground. He climbed up onto the jungle gym and sat on the top, feet dangling. He rubbed at his eyes and sniffed. "You know what would make this better? Being high. Being fucking high."

Jackie rolled her eyes. "Not a good coping mechanism, Spence."

"S'not a coping mechanism," he lied. He laid back on the bars, staring up at the sky. It had been years since he'd hung out here. The last time had been with Ryan, back before the band had made it big. It was still fucking uncomfortable. The bars dug into his back.

"Can I look at the rest of the pictures?" Jackie asked.

Spencer swallowed, and shrugged. "If you want," he said. "It was just a stupid vacation thing. Not important. I just screwed shit up."

He heard the familiar beep-beep, and he covered his eyes with his arm as Jackie began to scroll through the pictures. It was pretty chilly outside, but he'd rather stay out here, like this, than go back home. Deal with the fact that Brendon had made it pretty clear he didn't want to do any of it anymore. Didn't want him.

"Oh, Spence," she said after a while. "Did you tell him how you felt?"

"No," he said. "I tried, but he was leaving to come here. He canceled his flight reservation with me and drove by himself instead. Pretty much couldn't get away quick enough."

"Yeah, well," she said. "Brendon always was good at running away and pretending like shit wasn't going down."


"It's true," she persisted. "Brendon's always pretending everything's okay and checking out. I love him, but it's true."


"Look at this picture." She shoved the camera in front of his face. Brendon was laughing at the camera, eyes crinkled. He looked so easy, and so comfortable, and so happy. "If he fucking disappeared on you, it's because he feels something for you, too."

"Don't say that," he managed. "Please, Jack. Don't make me think I've got a chance."

"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," she said softly.


"You're in Vegas, Spence," she said.

Spencer swallowed. "What difference does that make?"

"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," she repeated. "Text him and tell him you're in Vegas."

"He knows that."

"I know," she said. "But tell him anyway." Something about her bright-eyed enthusiasm grabbed him, and he fumbled in his pocket for his phone.

"What am I doing?" he asked, unlocking his phone.

"You're too slow," she said, grabbing his phone. "Here, let me." She jumped down off the jungle gym, Spencer's camera slung over her neck. By the time Spencer managed to get down, she was already pressing send.

"Jackie," he managed. "Fuck, what did you say?"

"I'm in Vegas," she said, holding Spencer's phone out behind her.

Spencer rolled his eyes, and made a grab for the phone. "What the fuck? I really need to be high if you're going to screw around with my life." His heart pounded.

"Trust me," she said, and sure enough, Spencer's phone buzzed with a message. Jackie handed it over, the lock screen showing. "Put your pin in."

Spencer fumbled his pin in, and scrolled to the message. Brendon's message just said, yeah?

"Type and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."

Spencer got half way through before he realized what he was typing. "What the fuck?"

"Type," Jackie instructed. "Trust me."

"Your last boyfriend dumped you on Valentine's Day," Spencer grumbled.

"And you're the worst big brother in the world. Hang on, don't type that. Type, and what happens in Vegas dot dot dot."

"Do I need to type out dot dot dot?"

"Shut up."

"Seriously, what the fuck am I doing?" Spencer pressed send without re-reading what he'd typed. His heart was beating like a kick-drum in his chest.

His phone beeped. Brendon's text said...stays in Vegas?

"Tell him no," Jackie told him. "Tell him no."


"Tell him," she said.

He typed no and pressed send. "Fuck."


It doesn't stay in vegas, he typed, without looking at Jackie. Not for me.

Spencer's phone didn't beep after that. They waited by the jungle gym, just in case, but Spencer's phone stayed silent.

After a while, Jackie shook her head. "I was so sure," she said softly. "I'm so sorry, Spence."

"Not your fault," Spencer said dully. He kept looking at his phone. "Nobody's fault. Just mine."

"Let's go to the store and get the Coke," Jackie said. She squeezed Spencer's arm, but Spencer just felt kind of numb all over, and kind of sick. "Then we can go home and watch movies where everyone dies." She waited a moment. "I'm really sorry."

Spencer swallowed down a choked breath. "It's okay," he said. It wasn't, but there wasn't anything else to say. He thumbed open his message window again, and opened a new message. I'm in love with you, he typed. It didn't matter anymore, it was out in the open. There was no point keeping it a secret. I wont let it get in the way of the band. Sorry.

He pressed send, and then he locked his phone, stuffed it in the pocket of his jacket, and followed Jackie back to the car.

His phone beeped just as Jackie started the engine, and Spencer stared down at his phone for a moment, before Jackie killed the engine again and poked him in the arm. "Oh my god, what's he say?"

Spencer swallowed, and unlocked his phone. Brendon's message said, Meet me somewhere?

Where, Spencer typed. He thought about the pub he and Brendon had met Gareth and his friends in, and the way that Gareth had emailed him a couple of times and he'd ignored them both. Right now he'd give anything to be able to be back there, with Brendon.

We're riding the holiday train at boulder city. Where are u

On the jungle gym with Jackie. Going to buy coke at the store.

Jungle gym? Which store? Wait for me in the parking lot. 30 mins max.

Spencer glanced at Jackie, who was unashamedly leaning over his shoulder and reading his texts.

"Tell him, idiot," she said.

Spencer typed in the name of the store, and let out a breath. "What if he's going to tell me he never wants to see me again?"

Jackie rolled her eyes. "I love Brendon, but he's kind of a giant scaredy cat. He'll run in the opposite direction and pretend nothing's happening. He's not going to meet you some place so he can yell at you."

Spencer hummed. "Okay," he said, dropping his phone in his lap. Brendon hadn't replied to his text about the store. He wondered what Brendon was doing right now, if he was driving, what he was thinking. He could feel something like hope blooming in his chest, and he didn't want to hope. He'd been hopeful before, and then Brendon had canceled his flight reservation and driven to Las Vegas instead. He knew Brendon better than anyone else in the world, but even that didn't mean that he knew which Brendon was going to show up in the parking lot - his best friend, or the guy he'd accidentally married for a week. Or someone else entirely.

"So," Jackie said, the engine purring into life. "Is he good in bed?"

"Jackie," Spencer managed, mortified. His cheeks burned.

"This is awesome," Jackie went on. "Now you can talk to me and Crys about boys. Or Crystal can tell you about that girl she totally kissed on spring break. We can all compare stories, it'll be awesome."

"I hate you," Spencer said, hiding his face in his hands. All he could think about was how it had felt to pull Brendon into his arms, them both naked, Brendon laughing him and kissing him over and over. His heart pounded.

Jackie elbowed him. "Go on, tell me. Is he good? He's totally enthusiastic, right?"

"Oh god," Spencer said. He rolled his eyes. "Okay, he's great, okay? He's really fucking good. And that's all you're going to get from me, so stop making that face."

Jackie bit her lip. "I had such a crush on him. Don't ever tell anyone. I had his picture stuffed into my notebook the first day of high school."

Spencer snorted. "You didn't."

"I did," she said. "Crystal found out and wouldn't shut up about it for months."

"That is amazing," Spencer said. "He's going to love that."

"Don't you dare tell him," Jackie said. "Anyway, I'm not the person in the car with the ridiculous hard on for him, anyway."

"I'm going to pretend you didn't say that," Spencer told her, shaking his head. "You don't know words like that."

Jackie made a face. "I'm not sixteen any more, Spence."

"I know." He knew. He stretched out, rolling his shoulders. His muscles were tense. He was tense. He cracked his knuckles and stared out the window. He knew he hadn't been reading too much into it when he and Brendon had been on vacation and Brendon had been really into him. It was just that—he didn't know for certain that this was something that extended beyond their vacation, or even if it was a good idea if it did. Jackie was right when she said that Brendon's standard response to anything was to cut and run; that was what he did. He pretended shit wasn't going down. He did things like cancel a flight so he could drive to Vegas with his dog. He pretended that he and Spencer hadn't just spent a week in Wales learning how they fit together.

Spencer chewed on a hangnail, and watched the road roll by.



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