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Title: The Holiday [17/18]
Author: [livejournal.com profile] sunsetmog
Fandom: Panic! at the Disco
Pairing: Brendon Urie / Spencer Smith
Rating: NC-17 overall.
Word count: 5,454 (this part)
Warnings (for this part): None
Notes: Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] hermette for the beta. Any remaining errors are my own. For [livejournal.com 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: In which they have to talk.


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



Part Seventeen

Brendon was waiting for them in the parking lot when they got to the grocery store. Spencer put the fact that he'd gotten there first down to the fact that Jackie had run out of gas and the line at the gas station had been about a million people long, and because Brendon could drive like a maniac if you caught him on a good day.

"He's over there," Jackie said, pointing over to the corner, where Brendon had parked his Audi across two spaces. "Jeez, did he ever learn how to park?"

"I can see him," Spencer said, because his palms were sweating and his heart was beating a rough but steady pulse loud in his ears. "And the cars around him have parked badly, look. It's not his fault."

Jackie shot him a look. "You have got it bad."

"Shut up," Spencer said, as Jackie crawled into the lot after a car that was clearly looking for a space as close to the entrance to the store as possible. "Fuck, what the fuck am I doing?"

"Don't panic," she said. "Seriously. He's here. That's a great sign. If he didn't want to deal with this he'd have run for the hills by now."

"I don't know why you're so down on him," Spencer said, biting his lip. Brendon was leaning up against the trunk of his car, arms wrapped around himself against the unseasonably cold weather. Spencer didn't think he'd spotted them yet; it wasn't like he knew to look out for Jackie's car.

"I'm not," Jackie told him. "I love him, he's great. But he runs away if he thinks he's going to lose something he loves. It's what he does."

Spencer sighed. "When did you get so perceptive?"

"I'm a psych major," she said. When he raised an eyebrow, she rolled her eyes. "Okay, I'm not. I'm just perceptive. Plus he's not exactly subtle." She pulled the car to a halt behind Brendon's. "The parking lot's full, Spence, and I still need to buy Coke. Tell Brendon to let me have his space."

"Bossy," Spencer said. He took a deep breath, and then another one. Okay.

"Go on," Jackie said. "I'm having Coke Zero withdrawal, get out."

Spencer climbed out of the car and shut the door behind him. Brendon straightened up, eyes bright. Neither of them moved.

"Hi," Spencer said finally.

"Hi," Brendon echoed.

Behind them, Jackie beeped her horn.

"Oh," Spencer said, jumping. "Jackie says can she have your parking space? She needs Coke."

"Right, sure," Brendon says quickly. "Okay. Spence?"

"I'm coming with you," Spencer says, and he pulled open the passenger door and slid inside, letting out a breath. Brendon looked just the same as he had a couple of days ago. Nothing had changed, and Spencer knew that, but he couldn't shake himself away from the way he'd felt in Wales. In Wales it had been okay just to lean in and kiss him, or slide his hand onto the nape of Brendon's neck and let him come to Spencer. Right now, being back in Vegas, he felt kind of adrift, like what had happened in Wales was pulling him one way, and everything else that had come before was pulling him back. There was so much to remember about being back here: being ten years old and eating ice creams with Ryan in the parking lot while Spencer's mom shopped inside; being sixteen and buying snacks to take to his Grandma's garage so that the band could practice; going to Taco Bell with Pete Wentz after he'd come to listen to them; seeing Brendon's apartment for the first time and being torn between being jealous of Brendon not having his parents breathing over his shoulder all the time, and worried that Brendon was all alone. Breaking up with Haley, with Ryan and Jon, fighting with his mom and dad, and being Jackie and Crystal's big brother. His whole life was rooted here, in its own way, and yet this was the first time he wished it wasn't. In Wales, all of that had kind of slipped away, until it was just the two of them.

Next to him, Brendon started the engine and reversed untidily out into the parking lot, just as haphazard as usual. "Where are we going to go?" Brendon asked, throwing Jackie an awkward wave as he drove past. Jackie made a face at Spencer but waved back.

The air in the car was tense and hot; Brendon clearly had had the heat up high. "I don't know," he said, because he didn't have a clue. They couldn't go back to his place, and for the same reason, they probably couldn't go back to Brendon's, either. If they were going to talk about this then they needed somewhere private. But it was the day before Christmas, and everywhere was going to be busy. He pointed out the window at the McDonalds drive thru on the corner. "There?" Spencer was hungry, maybe they could get burgers and sit out in the lot.

"The Travelodge?" Brendon asked, already pulling over. "Okay."

"Wha- oh," Spencer said. He hadn't thought about the Travelodge Motel behind the McDonalds. It made sense; at least they weren't going to be disturbed. It wasn't like they hadn't taken motels in the middle of the day before, either. Sometimes tour exhaustion hit so bad that they'd just hole up in a motel for an afternoon, passed out on the bed or watching endless bad TV. Sometimes they'd needed a shower and a place to sleep for a few hours before a show, and it wasn't like the tour budget ran to that all that often, but occasionally, it had. "Okay."

Spencer went to the McDonalds while Brendon booked them a room. He'd needed something to do, so going to buy food seemed like a good idea at the time. He'd jogged across the parking lot, coming back five minutes later with a handful of burgers and a couple of orders of fries.

Brendon was waiting for him on the hood of his car, the room key in his hand. He put on the woolly hat that they'd bought in Wales, and just for a second, Spencer was breathless with what they'd had, and what he wanted.

Brendon hopped off the hood. "It's number 9," he said. "Come on, it's freezing out here."

"Should have stayed in the car," Spencer pointed out, but he followed Brendon out of the parking lotand up to the door of their room. He was pretty sure he could hear someone either a) having sex or b) watching some enthusiastic porn in the next room, but he always tried not to think about what other people got up to in motels. Instead, he followed Brendon inside, dumping the food on the table by the door and bending down to fiddle with the heater on the wall. "That's better," he said, vaguely aware that he sounded just like his mom. He stood up, unbuttoning his coat and dropping his gloves down onto the bed. At least switching a heater on was easier than laying a fire, so he supposed the motel had something over the cottage in Wales.

When he turned around, Brendon was standing right behind him, and he hadn't so much as pulled off his hat.

Spencer let out a breath. "What?" he said, even though he knew what. He'd sent a text message telling Brendon that he was in love with him, and it didn't matter how much they skirted around the issue or took motel rooms or bought McDonalds so that they didn't have to talk about it, it had still happened. No amount of pretending it hadn't would change it.

"I don't think I was pretending in Wales," Brendon said. "When we were together, I wasn't pretending."

"I know," Spencer said, since he hadn't been pretending either. Not pretending wasn't the same as being in love with someone, though. Not pretending didn't mean the same as reciprocating Spencer's feelings. Not pretending didn't mean that this was going to be okay. "I wasn't either." There was a strange, tight feeling in his chest. He dropped his coat on the bed after his gloves. "It doesn't—it doesn't mean you have to feel the same way about me that I feel about you, okay?" It felt, just for a moment, like someone was punching him in the chest. "You don't have to be in love with me just because I'm in love with you."

There, he'd said it. He'd said it out loud and the world hadn't ended and their friendship hadn't fallen in on itself just because it was out there, in the ether. They'd get through this, he told himself, fixing on a point somewhere over Brendon's shoulder. He'd pretend everything was okay, and he'd eat his burger, and they'd talk, and it would be awkward, and then he could go back home and close the door and stop pretending that his life was going the way he wished it was.

"It's no big deal. I'll cope." Another lie. Spencer could feel them piling up around him.

Brendon poked at the McDonalds bag with one finger. "You know what I really liked?" It was almost like Spencer hadn't spoken. "I liked it when people thought we were a couple. I liked it when people treated us like we were together."

"They thought we were married," Spencer said.

"I know," Brendon said, running his hand over the tabletop. "I liked that."

Spencer swallowed. "Yeah?"

"Yeah," Brendon said.

"They thought we were married," Spencer said again. It shouldn't have been a surprise to Spencer that Brendon had liked that. He'd always wanted to please his family, to be—in some way—the son that his parents had so badly wanted. He'd left religion and family and tradition behind the moment he'd given up going to church and joined the band and moved out of home; all this time Spencer had known just how much Brendon had always wanted to be able to fulfill at least some of what his parents had wanted for him. He felt bad. "I'm sorry—" he started. "I didn't mean to let it get out of control. I thought I could just—" He didn't know how to get the words out. "I thought I'd be able to turn it off when we got home, and just go back to how things were. But I couldn't."

Brendon didn't look at him. He unfolded the top of the paper McDonalds bag and started pulling out the food, dividing it into two. Just like every time, Spencer had got them two cheeseburgers each, and Brendon separated them neatly, fries going on top of the burgers. Spencer hadn't bought drinks, which was kind of a stupid move now that he thought about it. His mouth was so fucking dry right now.

"Do you want coffee?" Brendon asked, pointing to the coffee machine. "I could make us coffee." He fumbled with the little bowl by the coffee machine. "Or peach tea, they have peach tea. Do you like peach? I can't fucking remember."

"Brendon," Spencer said softly. This was killing him. "B, stop it."

"Fuck," Brendon said, his voice cracking. "Fuck, Spence, I can't—" He turned around and grabbed Spencer's sleeve, stumbling forward and pressing his mouth to Spencer's.

Spencer, frozen in the heat of the moment, didn't move, but then Brendon made a sound like a twisted half-sob and Spencer kissed him back, helpless to do otherwise. He found himself cupping Brendon's face in his hands and kissing him again, over and over because it had been days, and it felt like longer. It felt like forever. "I love you," he said, in between kisses, because he had to say it out loud again, because Brendon had to know that if he kissed Spencer again then this was what it meant to him, and that this was what they were getting themselves into.

Brendon pushed him back into the nightstand, the bedside lamp wobbling, and Spencer tugged at Brendon's coat and hat, pulling them off and dropping them on the floor. He didn't know what had come over him, other than a sudden desperate need to be as close to Brendon as humanely possible. Brendon pushed at Spencer's hoodie, stumbling back onto the bed. He kicked off his Converse as Spencer pulled his hoodie over his head and unbuttoned his fly, awkwardly clambering out of the rest of his clothes as Brendon did the same.

Then he was naked, and so was Brendon, and Spencer was crawling over him to press kiss after kiss to his jaw, to his throat, to the curve of his shoulder, and Brendon was so fucking hard. Brendon's hands were in the small of Spencer's back, holding him close, and all Spencer could do was rock his hips so that there was at least some friction between his dick and Brendon's. He closed the distance between them to kiss him again, bracing himself against the pillows as Brendon rolled his hips up. It felt like all of Spencer's nerve endings were on fire; he caught Brendon's lip with his teeth and Brendon whimpered into his mouth, his hips flush against Spencer's.

Spencer kissed him again, over and over, and Brendon kissed back, breathless and stupid. There was a desperate urgency to the way they were with each other, rough and unpolished, and Spencer knew that he wasn't going to last long. He ran his hands over Brendon's skin, up the insides of his arms, pinning his hands to the pillow as he kissed him again. Brendon gasped, rocking up against him, and then Spencer let go of his wrists so that he could kiss down Brendon's chest and take Brendon's dick in his mouth, wrapping his fingers around the base and jerking him off.

Brendon's hands tangled in Spencer's hair, holding him near, and Spencer could feel himself thinking, this wouldn't be happening if Brendon didn't feel the same, but he'd let himself think that in Wales too, and that hadn't been how they'd ended up. He swallowed down any worries he might be having about where this was going, sliding his tongue over the head of Brendon's dick and feeling Brendon's groan reverberate over his skin. For once they were both quiet, saying nothing, and the only sounds were Spencer's mouth on Brendon's dick, and Brendon's heavy breathing.

It should have been oppressive, or something, but it wasn't, it was just them, and Spencer had never missed Brendon more in his life than he had the last few days.

"I'm gonna—" Brendon told him, pushing at Spencer's shoulder, and Spencer pulled away, letting Brendon finish himself off. Spencer wrapped his fist around his own erection and jacked off. The room was suddenly oppressively warm, and Brendon's skin was flushed and hot. Spencer kept his hand on him as he touched himself, and Brendon jerked under his touch, turned on and close. "Gonna come," he told Spencer breathlessly, his hand moving fast and loud. "Fuck, Spence."

"Me too," Spencer managed. He was closer to the edge than he'd thought, hips rocking as he fucked his hand. His dick jerked as Brendon gasped and started to come all over his stomach. He couldn't help but follow soon after, his come striping Brendon's stomach and his fist.

He tipped his head back and tried to catch his breath before giving up and flopping down on the sheets next to Brendon.

Spencer closed his eyes.

"I'm sorry I left like that," Brendon said after a minute. He hadn't cleaned himself up; their come was still on his stomach. Spencer couldn't tell whose was whose. "Before, when we got back. I was freaking the fuck out."

"I know," Spencer said. He shifted so that he was lying on his side, facing Brendon. "Or at least, I figured."

Brendon leaned over and stroked Spencer's hip. It felt curiously intimate to Spencer, whose heart skittered a pulse beat over his skin. "I've never felt like this about anyone before," he said finally. "And it freaks me out that I'm feeling it about you."

Spencer swallowed. "Freaks you out in a way you can deal with, or—" He didn't want to say the alternative.

Brendon picked at the blankets with one hand, and didn't meet Spencer's eyes. "In a way that makes me wish we were married for real," he said finally. "That kind of freaked out."

"Oh," Spencer said. "Okay."

Brendon kept stroking Spencer's hip. "It felt right, right? It wasn't just me. You and me together, it felt right."

"Yeah," Spencer said awkwardly. "It did." Did, past tense. He noticed.

"And you know when we were telling people about how we got married?" Brendon went on, still not looking at Spencer. "I pretended it was real. In my head. I pretended we really had."

Spencer swallowed. "Brendon," he said. "B, look at me."

Brendon shifted on the pillows, twisting a little to meet Spencer's eyes. Spencer reached out to stroke his thumb down Brendon's cheek slow and gentle. "I'm in love with you," he said. "I want to keep doing this. But do you?"

Brendon didn't say anything for a long, terrible moment. "I'm so scared of losing you," he said finally. "If this doesn't work out, I can't lose you."

"You won't," Spencer lied. He couldn't promise that, even though he wanted to. He'd thought he and Ryan were going to be in a band together forever, and that had run its natural course. He brushed Brendon's hair behind his ear with his thumb, relenting a little. "I don't want to lose you either," he said. He let out a breath. I'll do whatever it takes to keep you. However you want me."

"I thought you and Ryan were going to be friends forever," Brendon said. "And you let him go."

"Ryan wanted to go," Spencer said. "He didn't want to stay, and he didn't want to be in the band anymore. Making him stay would have been a seriously fucking bad idea. You know that as well as I do." He and Ryan weren't ever going to be as close as they once were, but they were still friends. They'd had their rocky patches, sure, but right now they were friends. Spencer didn't think they'd ever be able to disentangle their lives from each other's. Spencer's family was Ryan's family, after all. The only reason he wasn't with them for the holidays was that he was staying with his new girlfriend. Spencer sent him text messages whenever Ryan's team fucked up a hockey match. It worked.

Brendon stroked his thumb over Spencer's hip, inching a little closer. "What if you thought I wanted to go? What then?"

Spencer managed half a smile. "I'd fucking follow," he said. He didn't say, I don't know what I'd do without you. Maybe it went without saying. He kind of hoped it did.

Brendon swallowed. "What if you wanted to leave?"

"I'm not leaving you," Spencer said.

Brendon's cheeks were flushed. "But—" he started.

"Not leaving you," Spencer said again. "Brendon, I'm not going anywhere." He couldn't not know any longer. He had to ask. "B, do you—do you have feelings for me?" He felt uncomfortable saying it out loud. He felt like he'd stepped out of a movie he didn't remember signing up for. His heart was beating like a drum. Brendon didn't say anything, and for a moment, Spencer wanted to shrivel up and die, right here in the motel bed. "It's okay if you don't," he said finally, even though it meant he'd just had sex with someone who didn't want him back.

"I'm such a fuck-up," Brendon said softly. "I'm trying to get the words out, but I keep screwing up."

Spencer's heart was closing up, ice starting to form in his chest. This was a no. He couldn't figure out how to say it was okay.

"I—" Brendon went on. He stopped, stumbling over his words. "I feel like I want to marry you for real," he said. "If last week was what being married was like, I want that. With you."

"You can't want to marry me," Spencer said stupidly. "We're not even dating."

"I've never wanted something permanent with anyone." Brendon's hand was tight on Spencer's arm; a part of him recognized it was probably hard enough to bruise. "I don't know what it's like to want to spend the rest of forever with someone. But I think this might be it. I think this might be what this feeling is." He bumped his chest with his fist, and met Spencer's gaze. "That's what this is," he said. "I want you forever."

"It was—we were away for a week, Brendon," Spencer found himself saying, because he was scared, because this was real, because he was so deep in that if Brendon offered himself forever, for real, Spencer was going to take what he was offering and never let him go.

"I know," Brendon said. He'd loosened his grip on Spencer's wrist, his thumb stroking at Spencer's pulse point. Spencer hadn't even noticed. "Don't think I haven't told myself how stupid this is. But it's—it's like, okay. Dating is for when you don't know everything about someone, and I know you already. I know you. We can skip that step."

"But do you love me?" Spencer asked. He couldn't help himself; he had to know. Brendon still hadn't said it.

"Oh, fuck," Brendon managed. His voice caught. "Yes," he said, his fingertips trembling a touch to the inside of Spencer's wrist. "I'm so in love with you."

"Shit," Spencer said, licking his lips. Then Brendon's mouth was on his, and Spencer was being kissed, and he was kissing back, and he had an armful of Brendon and nowhere in the world he'd rather be. He loved him. He loved him. Spencer hadn't been aware of how scared he'd been that this was going to fuck them up until right now. This whole time, all he'd been able to think about was what if we don't get to come back from this. What if I've fucked us up for good? He hadn't ever thought about this moment, the what happens next moment. The it's working out moment.

He ran his fingers over Brendon's skin, touching him over and over, his hands everywhere. This was his, he thought, half in wonder. It felt like he was floating somewhere, and the only thing tethering him to the ground was Brendon. He kissed him again, his hands in Brendon's hair, and Brendon cupped Spencer's face in his hands, kissing him back.

They napped after a while, sprawled across the bed with the heat up high. Spencer's skin was hot and sticky, and Brendon lay half on top of him, arm pinning Spencer to the bed. It was half-uncomfortable, half-perfect, and Spencer couldn't bring himself to move. He dozed again instead, too many days of not enough sleep finally catching up with him.

They were woken by Spencer's phone ringing. A part of him wanted to ignore it, wanted to stay in bed with Brendon, but it was the day before Christmas, and the two of them had vanished without a trace.

He unpeeled himself from Brendon and stumbled naked across the room, trying to find his phone in the pocket of his jeans. It was Jackie.

"Hi," he said, rubbing his eyes to wake himself up.

"Please don't tell me if you're naked," Jackie said, without even saying hello. In the background, Spencer could hear Crys saying ewwww. He grinned, unable to help himself. He glanced back at the bed, to where Brendon was lying on his back in the center of the bed, half-hard and heavy-lidded, watching him.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Spencer said, a smile curving across his face as he met Brendon's wide, sleepy-eyed grin with his own.

"Oh god, you probably are," Jackie said. "Way to go, bro. Are you two, like, dating now?"

"Something like that," Spencer said, too happy to focus on the fact his sister thought he was naked. Brendon was just laughing, sitting up on his elbows and watching Spencer on the phone, and Spencer just wanted to laugh back.

"Well, it's totally awesome that you're scarring both me and Crys forever with the fact that you're probably having sex with Brendon right now, but are you coming back for dinner? Dad's asking. He's making swans out of the napkins again."

Spencer snorted. "Oh fuck, is he?" Their dad had had a part time job at a restaurant when he'd been at college. The hand-folded napkin swans made an outing at every family dinner.

"Of course," Jack said. "Are you coming back, or what? Where are you?"

"At a motel," Spencer said, feeling himself going red at Jackie's snort. Brendon was grinning at him, chin tilted up, and Spencer thought, I'm in love with you.

"I was kidding about the naked thing, but you really are, aren't you? We really are scarred."

"Fully clothed and totally PG rated," Spencer lied. He crossed over to the bed, and wrapped his hand around Brendon's ankle. Brendon pressed his toes into Spencer's thigh, and Spencer bit his lip to keep him from smiling too hard.

"I'm probably not going to tell Mom and Dad you're renting a motel by the hour to have sex with your boyfriend, but am I going to tell them you're coming back for dinner?"

"Is there enough for Brendon?" Spencer asked. Brendon grinned at him, and waggled his eyebrows. All of this suddenly felt very real, and Spencer wanted to ground that in something tangible. Like dinner with his parents.

"Probably," Jackie said. "Hang on, talk to Crys, I'll go ask Mom."

"Spencer," Crystal said, taking the phone. "Have you been holding out on me? What's this about you and Brendon?"

"We're kind of dating," Spencer admitted, pink-cheeked. It was the first time he'd gotten to say it out loud and have it not be based in some kind of a lie.

Brendon held his hand out for the phone, and Spencer rolled his eyes. "Hang on, Brendon wants to—" Brendon grabbed the phone.

"I want to marry him," Brendon said, without stopping to say hi. "That's okay, right?"

Spencer could hear Crystal's high-pitched squeak even without holding the phone. He wasn't sure how much of what Brendon was saying about getting married was hyperbole, and how much was real, but it didn't matter. Wales had still felt like a honeymoon. He dropped a kiss to Brendon's bare shoulder and reached for the phone again.

"How long until dinner?" he asked.

"Jackie says thirty minutes. And bring Brendon."

"We'll be there," Spencer said, hanging up at the same time as pushing Brendon back onto the sheets so that he could kiss him again. Part of him wanted to check that he'd actually hung up on his sisters properly, but Brendon was keeping too tight a hold of him for him to try and pull away. He didn't care that much anyway, because Brendon was kissing him again, and Spencer was kissing him back.



"Are you okay with this?" Spencer asked as they pulled up outside Spencer's house in Brendon's car.

Brendon turned the engine off, and slid his hand over Spencer's. "You know what's weird?" he said. "I don't remember feeling this happy. Like, ever. It feels like everything's slotted into place."

"We've been together five minutes, and we're already telling my parents." Spencer felt like that should feel weird, at least. It didn't. It felt strangely like they'd been together a whole lot longer than they had been.

Brendon shrugged. "Do you get the feeling we're doing this whole thing backwards? We had the honeymoon before we'd even had sex."

Spencer snorted. "We're like an instruction manual for how not to get together, I think."

"I don't know," Brendon said. "We ended up together." He checked his phone. "Mom says, do we want to come over this evening and hang out?" He looked at Spencer for an answer, yes or no.

"Are we telling them?"

Brendon made a face. "In a couple of days, maybe. After tomorrow. I think they'll be okay with it." He shrugged. "If they're not, they'll get used to the idea."

Spencer nodded. "Okay." He undid his seatbelt and cracked open the door. "Before, when you were talking about us getting married..."

Brendon smiled softly. "I was serious," he said. "I want to marry you. If you'll have me."

Spencer wanted to say yes more than anything, but even he couldn't get past the fact they'd only been together a couple of weeks, and formally even less. "Let's date for a while, first," he said. "Then you can figure out if you still want me in three months."

"I already know all your crappy habits," Brendon persisted. "I know you inside and out."

"I know," Spencer said. "And I know you right back. Just—I'm saying yes, okay. I'm saying yes. Ask me again in three months, and I'll say yes."

Brendon leaned over and kissed the corner of Spencer's mouth. "Ask me anytime," he said. "I'll say yes."

"Come on," Spencer said. "Let's go in and tell Mom and Dad."



"Oh," Spencer's mom said, when she saw Brendon and Spencer in the doorway to the dining room, holding hands. Spencer held on to Brendon's hand a little tighter. She glanced at Spencer's face, and then back down at their hands. "Are you—is this?"

Spencer nodded. "Yes," he said, feeling himself flush. "Me and Brendon."

"Oh," Spencer's mom said again. She put the dish of lasagna down on the table carefully, and then folded up the oven mitts into two and put them down next to the food. Spencer's heart was beating like a kickdrum, and Brendon's hand was sweaty and hot in his. "Well." A smile curved across her face, and she clapped her hands. "This is excellent news," she said. "Jeff! Jeff. Come see, Spencer's brought a boy home for dinner."

"Mom," Spencer hissed, red faced. He turned to face Brendon to apologize. "Oh god. Sorry."

Brendon was biting his lip. Spencer thought it might be to keep from laughing. There was a strange sensation in his chest, like something inside of him had split open and was just pulsing happiness through him, like a drug. He'd had drugs that made him feel like this, but the reality was something different. Most legal fucking high he'd ever had.

"Are you a couple now?" she asked. "How long's this been going on? Are you in love? This is amazing." She smacked Spencer in the arm. "You should have told us earlier, we would have gotten Brendon a better Christmas present."

"Oh god," Spencer said again. "Mom, that hurt."

"What's this?" Spencer's dad said, coming into the dining room with a dishcloth in his hand. Jackie and Crystal were giggling behind him. This was the very worst thing that had ever happened to Spencer. Only the fact that it meant that he and Brendon were together made it bearable. Jeff looked at Brendon and Spencer's joined hands, and then at Spencer. "Well, well," he said. "Is this new?"

"Um," Spencer said. "Kind of? Since, uh. Wales. But with a break."

"Hmmm," Jeff said. "Is it, um. You're not worried about the band?"

Brendon shook his head, shooting a glance at Spencer. He seemed strangely shy all of a sudden. "No," he said. "I think we'll be okay."

"But the two of you are happy?"

"Look at them, Dad," Jackie said, giving Spencer a wink. "Do they look like they're unhappy?"

"Okay, okay. I was just asking. It's their livelihoods, that's all—"

"Jeff," Spencer's mom scolded. "Stop talking and sit down. When was the last time Spencer brought someone home and looked this happy? Shut up. You too, girls. Brendon, Spencer, sit down."

Spencer, without thinking, pulled out a chair so that Brendon could sit down. He only noticed what he'd done when Crystal and Jackie burst out laughing, and his mom and dad joined in.

"Oh god," he said, burying his face in his hands as he sat down in his own chair. "Kill me now."

Brendon reached over and patted his knee. "There, there," he said. "I thought it was very romantic."

Spencer burned an even brighter red. "This is going to be the worst thing I've ever done, isn't it."

"Yep," Brendon said, and he leaned over and kissed Spencer on the cheek, ignoring everyone else's laughter. "The very worst."

"Good," Spencer said and squeezed Brendon's hand.

[onward]

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