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Happy Birthday! - Saving the Vorwuls since 3289
...in a cage!
turps33
turps33
Happy Birthday!
I haven't really known themoononastick that long, but in that time she's lent me DVDs and written comment porn with me and just, I think she's fab. So I decided to write a little something for her birthday.

It's my first actual Panic story, one that I deliberately planned. So huge thanks go to crowgirl13 who gave me ideas and was awesome in her reassurances, and ephemera_pop who cleaned up my words.

Panic at the Disco gen
2,600 words



Spencer’s house isn’t Ryan’s home – however fucked up things get at times, he has his own home – but he does have a place there. He keeps spare clothes in Spencer’s room, and he knows there’ll always be a spot for him at the dinner table, or curled up in Spencer’s bed.

It’s just how it is.

Carefully drying a tumbler, Ryan places it in the cupboard and then reaches for the next, his fingertips resting against slippery glass.

“Go on, I’ll finish this.”

Water splashes as Spencer’s mom takes her hands out of the sud-filled sink, her fingers covered in bubbles, glistening as she takes the cloth from Ryan. She’s smiling, and he’s glad he offered to help. It’s the right thing to do, even if she does say he doesn’t have to every time.

“You go and have fun.”

She pats Ryan on the shoulder, leaving a damp patch that soaks through his t-shirt, the warm water rapidly cooling against his skin.

“Yeah, come on already,” Spencer says, appearing at the open kitchen door. He’s changed into ratty pyjama pants and a faded Backstreet t-shirt, and despite his impatient tone, Ryan easily sees the curve of Spencer’s not-smile, the way his expression softens as his mom shakes her head in mock disapproval.

“Ryan’s got manners, unlike some people I could name.” She smiles at Spencer, then Ryan, as always making sure he feels included, then gently pushes him toward the door. “Go on. Claim your space before the others get here.”

It’s good advice. Ryan may be small, but Brendon can fill a room with the force of his personality alone, never mind his flailing arms and kicking legs. Not that Ryan minds, he’d just rather claim the outside of a bed. It’s easier to escape that way.

Spencer’s room is never big enough for what they need it to be, but somehow they always fit. Even if that means a pull out mattress on the floor and people curled together. Ryan always sleeps with Spencer, and he kicks off his shoes and bounces down onto the bed, sprawling out as Spencer pushes bags of chips toward the wall and checks the DVDs.

They always have a list of movies they’re going to watch, and they do get switched on. It’s just, mostly they’re nothing but background noise, meaningful words ignored for the sharing of hopes and dreams.

It’s what Ryan loves best. Light flickering in the darkness, a body pressed at his side, at his feet, the taste of sugar in his mouth and the comforting repetition that they will get away. That one day they’ll find the fame for which Ryan strives.

“Soda,” Spencer says suddenly, frowning as he makes for the door. Ryan settles back against the pillows and watches him go. Spencer has his own system for these nights, needing everything to be right, even if that just means providing snacks, drinks, and clean sheets for the mattress on the floor.

When Spencer comes back he’s followed by Brendon and Brent. They’re both carrying bags which they let drop to the floor, and Ryan braces himself when Brendon smiles, wide and happy, like seeing Ryan has made his day. Ryan smiles back, it’s impossible not to, and he awkwardly holds on when he finds himself with an armful of Brendon.

“Hi,” Brendon says, and his nose is pressed against Ryan’s neck, so close that Ryan can feel his grin. “I’ve been reading your new song.”

Brendon lets go, and Ryan shifts, pulls up his legs and clasps his hands around his bent knees. Putting his songs out there is easy, in the way it isn’t at all, and he waits as Brendon rummages in his bag, finally straightening when he finds his sleep clothes, looks up with another smile and says, “It was good.”

It’s not a surprise. Brendon tends toward liking everything, and if he doesn’t, his dislike is always careful. It’s why Ryan studies him, looking past the smile and positive words.

“Thanks,” he says, reassured that Brendon’s smile isn’t hiding a lie. Then exchanges a fond look with Spencer when Brendon just beams before clambering off the bed so he can wiggle out of his jeans and peeling off his t-shirt until he’s standing in just his heart-covered boxers.

“Classy,” Brent remarks, and immediately Brendon wiggles his ass, twirling once and extending the move into an inelegant hop as he pulls on his pyjama pants. They immediately droop forward, seemingly kept up by magic alone, but Brendon doesn’t care, just pulls on a crumpled t-shirt and then drops to the floor. He crosses his legs, leans against the bed and tips back his head so he can rub his forehead against Ryan’s knee.

Ryan rolls his eyes, because Brendon is like some giant puppy, desperate for love and approval. Still, Ryan can’t help tangling his fingers in Brendon’s hair, finger combing the strands as Brent changes in the bathroom and Spencer puts on the first DVD.

Not that Ryan’s watching. He’s too busy poking his toes against Brendon’s side. Then later, when it’s dark outside and the house is hushed like this room is an oasis in the night, he has to steal toffee coated popcorn from the bag Spencer has balanced on his lap, which inevitably ends up in a popcorn throwing contest that ends with kernels in the bed and on the floor and firmly stuck in Spencer’s hair. Something that isn’t Ryan’s fault at all, however often Spencer scowls and threatens through eyebrow intimidation alone.

“Hold still,” Brent says. He’s kneeling next to Spencer, carefully pulling at the sticky popcorn, and while he isn’t laughing out loud, Ryan can see it in the way he holds his body, his eyes alight as he tugs and untangles. Ryan looks at him over Spencer’s head, watches as Brent’s mouth twitches and Spencer’s eyebrow climbs even higher and Brendon lies back on the mattress, arms spread and humming something that sounds suspiciously like the theme tune to Beauty and the Beast.

Ryan hugs his knees harder then, struck with a feeling of belonging, that his place is right here. Because he’s going to make it. All four of them are.

~*~*~*~


Ryan never lets things sweep him away. He’s too careful for that.

Practice allows him to keep his cool as things spin out of control. It’s why he can carefully apply make-up now, slowly painting around his eye as Brendon paces the room and Spencer twirls his drumsticks in his hands and Jon chats to someone on his cell.

Jon seems relaxed, like he doesn’t feel that the atmosphere is strained, and Ryan can see that if he hides behind controlled words and actions, Jon does the same with his smile. It makes Ryan sad, sadder, because things have been off for a long time now. He misses Brent, the Brent from before, not the one who messed them around and finally left in a hail of hurtful words.

He knows Brendon and Spencer miss him too, not that they ever say. The times when they’d spend hours discussing hopes and dreams are long gone now. They’re living those hopes, are achieving those dreams, but somehow it doesn’t feel as good as Ryan expected.

It’s good, sure, but not as good, because there’s something missing. They’re fragmented just now. Three corners and Jon - who plays his sets and says his words and pretends that everything is fine.

It’s not, and Ryan paints his face, gets ready to pull on the outlandish costume that screams ‘look at me’, while helping conceal everything that’s true.

“It’s going to be a great show,” Brendon says, still pacing. He’s surrounded by nervous energy and it flickers against Ryan’s skin making him itch, and he wants to grab Brendon and just say, stop.

“Brendon.” Jon has shoved his cell back in his bag, and is patting the space next to him on the ratty sofa. “Come here.”

A brief hesitation, and then Brendon goes, folding down into the space and when Jon curls his arm around Brendon’s shoulder and then tugs, Brendon settles easily against Jon’s side.

Ryan carefully outlines his other eye, and his hand never wavers at all, even with the bitterness that coats his tongue.

Spencer stands, his drumsticks held in one hand, and he moves so he’s behind Ryan, looks at him in the mirror and says, soft. “He’s allowed.”

“I know,” Ryan says, and he elongates the line under his eye, swoops it up in a flamboyant swirl. “I know.” And he does. He knows that Brendon curling into Jon was as inevitable as a flower facing the sun. He knows that things will get better and they’ll become four not three. He knows that Brent leaving was everything about the situation and nothing to do with leaving Ryan behind.

Ryan knows that. He knows.

He clenches his hand, yelps and curses when the pencil slips and jabs into the corner of his eye.

“Ouch.”

Ryan squints and turns to glare at Jon who seems amused with the whole situation, as if Ryan poking out an eye is worthy of a smile.

Except Ryan’s an expert at talking without words, and maybe he’s starting to listen without them too. He blinks again, leans so he can bump Spencer with his hip, looks at the way Jon has his hand resting casually against Brendon’s back, an earth for his excessive energy.

Slightly, delicately, something shifts.

Ryan holds up his eyeliner and points it at Jon. “If you want I could do your eyes. They’d look good.”

For a moment Jon’s smile falters, breaks down as he looks at Ryan, as if searching for the intent hidden in his words. Then he smiles again. Something new, and Ryan knows he’ll never be fooled by Jon’s smiles again. Because this, this is nothing like those before.

“I don’t know,” Jon says, seriously. “You don’t look very steady with that thing.”

“Spencer knocked my arm,” Ryan says, lying easily. He ignores Spencer’s snort and Brendon’s all too obvious relief and just kneels next to Jon and says, “Look up.”

Jon does.

~*~*~*~*~

Sometimes Ryan misses the embellishments, the make-up and the clothes and the dancers that surrounded them on stage. They were a distraction, and now it’s just them, just Ryan, and at times it feels like he’s laying out everything for people to see.

Except, only a few people really see Ryan, and none of them are fans.

Quickly looking through his bag, he pulls out a t-shirt and pulls it on. It’s a travel day and that means comfort, at least comfort with a Ryan twist. Soft pants and a fitted t-shirt, a string of beads around his wrist, maybe a scarf if he needs that extra layer before going outside.

It takes moments to fully dress, minutes more to finger brush his hair and wash his face, scrub at his teeth and spit toothpaste into the sink. Then he’s zipping shut his bag and slipping his feet into flip flops, his bag on his back as he makes his way outside.

There’s no one waiting in the corridor and Ryan looks at his watch. He’d been told they were leaving at seven sharp, and he’s about to go banging on doors, because seriously, if he has to get up the others should too, when Zack appears from out of the next room. He’s followed by Brendon who looks like death warmed over, and that’s if Ryan’s being kind.

Pallid skin, stubble and blood-shot eyes isn’t a good look for Brendon at all, and there’s not a hint of a smile as he slumps against the wall, his eyes closed and lashes dark against his pale skin.

Ryan would be sympathetic, except Brendon made his choices, and that means dealing with the consequences too. It’s why Ryan has no guilt when he takes a spot against the opposite wall and says, “I think I’ll have sausage for breakfast, sausage and fried egg with a runny yolk. With ketchup on top.”

It’s impressive how fast Brendon goes green before bolting back into his room. Zack waits a moment, long enough to give Ryan a combination reproachful/amused look before following Brendon inside. Ryan would go too, but really, how many people need to watch someone puke up a lung?

Briefly he thinks about finding Spencer or Jon, but instead he makes for the sofa that’s arranged at the end of the corridor. It’s one obviously made for display not comfort, and Ryan feels like he’s all legs when he sits down, his knees almost to his chest. It’s not a comfortable seat at all, but Ryan’s had worse and he settles himself the best he can, digging his Sidekick out of his bag.

He’s texting Spencer when the elevator pings. Immediately Ryan’s on guard, because even if it is horrifically early, fans are wily things. One hand on his bag, Ryan watches as the doors open and then relaxes when Jon steps into view. He’s carrying two cups of coffee and has his hoodie pulled low over his face, like that would be any disguise at all. Still, it doesn’t look like he’s missing any body parts and there’s no suspicious rips in his clothes so Ryan lets it go with a stern raised eyebrows look he learned from Spencer years before.

A look that Jon easily brushes off as he sits next to Ryan, stretching out his legs so they can touch bare toes.

”I brought you coffee,” Jon says, and waves the cup under Ryan’s nose.

“Thank you,” Ryan says, because he’s always polite to those he cares about, even if they’re morons who think they’re going incognito in a lilac hoodie and flip flops that show off their beautifully manicured toes.

Jon hands over the cup, and takes a drink from his own, his eyes closing as he swallows with a satisfied sigh.

“That’s obscene,” Ryan says, and bites back his laughter when Jon does it again, unashamedly milking the moment as he draws out his sigh of pleasure.

“If it’s that good I want a drink.”

Ryan looks up and sees that somehow in the last few minutes Spencer has managed to leave his room, collect Brendon and get to the couch without being seen at all. He’s carrying his bag and has tight hold of Brendon’s arm. Ryan holds out his cup without a word.

“Thanks,” Spencer says, but waits until Brendon is settled between Ryan and Jon before taking the cup and swallowing a couple of gulps before passing the cup on to Brendon. Brendon takes a long drink and then lets his head drop back so he can thank Spencer with a smile.

“It was my coffee,” Ryan points out.

“I bought it,” Jon immediately says.

“In that case, I love you all.” Brendon presses a clumsy kiss to Ryan’s neck, against Jon’s chest and blows a kiss toward Spencer, and it’s all so ridiculous that Ryan doesn’t even ask if Brendon’s brushed his teeth.

In fact, he’s feeling all kinds of content as he tries to prise his coffee out of Brendon’s hand. Content and happy.

So when Brendon curls against his side, and Jon shares the last of his coffee and Spencer rolls his eyes in combination with a blinding smile. Well, it’s then Ryan knows he’s made it, just in a different way than he expected those few years before.

Tags:

48 mutant blasts or blast me
Comments
lazydwarf From: lazydwarf Date: April 25th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC) (Link)
The end of this just gives me the warm fuzzies.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 25th, 2008 11:36 am (UTC) (Link)
They're a warm fuzzy kind of band *g*

Also, thank you for reading and commenting. I always stress until that first one, worrying about characterisation and other disastrous stuff.
crazybutsound From: crazybutsound Date: April 25th, 2008 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
That was lovely. I really enjoyed the pace of this, and the ending made me smile, if a little sadly. Very nice.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 25th, 2008 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!

Smiles are good, even slightly sad ones.
harriet_vane From: harriet_vane Date: April 25th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
This awesome, I love the way it's Ryan thinking about his band in three different periods, and I love the way you used the sleepover, which is one of my favorite things about them, good god, they had SLEEPOVERS. And the way the transition to Jon isn't easy, because Ryan Ross has never struck me as a person who is warm and cuddly with new people. And the mix of mean (making Brendon throw up) and nice (sharing his coffee). Just. I like it when they're boys who relate to each other like boys. (I also like it when they are ridiculous and in love with each other, but you know what I mean.)

There are a couple of places near the end where Brendon is spelled "Brendan," in the paragraph that starts "Thanks," said Spencer.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 25th, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
The fact that the had sleepovers delights me too. It seems such an ordinary thing to do, which of course it would have been back then. Just boys all piling in to spend the night together. Which sounds like a summary for a GSF, yet it's real.

I was thinking about Ryan a lot while I was planning this, and I agree, I can't see him warming to people easily. No matter how tight they are with Jon now, it can't have been an easy switch over. Especially as they'd just lost someone who'd been their friend for a long time.

I do know what you mean. Thank you so much for the lovely comment.

I swear, I'm the worst editor ever. Thanks again
thepouncer From: thepouncer Date: April 25th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is lovely -- warm but spiced with just enough pain to keep it real.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 25th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you.

I enjoyed writing this, so am glad you enjoyed reading it in turn.
duoshinigami From: duoshinigami Date: April 25th, 2008 04:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm super unbelievably sick, but that didn't stop me from reading this and loving it. And love it I did! There is so much I want to say, but I've gotten to the point where it hurts to even type.

Just know, it's fantastic. And I hope you write PATD!GSF someday :]
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 25th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh honey. I'm sorry you're sick. Want me to write something for you? I doubt I could go to gsf, I'm still finding my way in the fandom, but something for sure.

Just name it.
duoshinigami From: duoshinigami Date: April 26th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)
im so squeeing on the inside just at the thought of you writing anything for me...seriously? Really? If it still didnt hurt to type I'd talk more about how in awe I am...

but if you want to...anything young Ryan/Spencer...that would make me feel so happy :D

I love you <3333
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
You've got it :)
strongplacebo From: strongplacebo Date: April 25th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is gorgeous. I adore gen fic and I love being reminded why. I love the pacing and the way, throughout, they can read each other without needing words.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much!
sleeperxhit From: sleeperxhit Date: April 25th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is utterly incredible. The second scene, where Jon and Ryan work out their tension with eyeliner, ohgosh. Their dynamic! Seriously, beautiful.

Love.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
The second scene was my favourite too, so I'm thrilled people are liking it.

Thank you so much for your comment :)
nokomis305 From: nokomis305 Date: April 25th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this was lovely. I love the overall tone of it, and the way that the three time periods contrast, with the hopefulness and uncertainty and contentment. And I love that this is gen, and explores the band dynamic so well. And also the sleepover was ADORABLE. ♥
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:40 am (UTC) (Link)
The fact that they did have sleepovers gives me glee.

Thank you so much for the lovely comment. I'm so glad the story worked for you.
(Deleted comment)
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I suspect Ryan takes a while to warm up to anyone. He just strikes me that way.

Thank you!
totally_loca From: totally_loca Date: April 25th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
aww :) this made me smile so big.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)
YAY! That makes me happy :)
unphoenix From: unphoenix Date: April 25th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely. This had a gorgeous rhythm to it, and your characterization worked out really well.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much :)
themoononastick From: themoononastick Date: April 25th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh man, this is just gorgeous. The atmosphere, the flow and the characterisations are wonderful, I love the way they all interact and react to each other, it seems very real.

The sense of hope and comfort in the first section is lovely and it's especially nice to see a positive portrayal of Brent in fic. The tension in the second section and the way that Ryan recognises Jon is just as good at hiding things as he is, and how they work things out between them is brilliantly drawn. And the third section with its mix of jokingly-mean and caring gave me the warm fuzzies and I like the way in comes full circle in it's own way at the end.

Just... so much love. I kind of wish it was my birthday every day if this is what I get for it. Thank you SO much.

Also? I think you're fab too. ♥
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you liked!

I was going to try for some Ryan/Jon for you but the gen just came so much easier. So I'm thrilled it still worked for you.

I've been surprised how much Brent hate there is out there. It seems a little excessive at times, especially when he was very much a part of the sleep over world back then.

Thank you so much for the lovely comment.

&hearts
myorangecrush From: myorangecrush Date: April 25th, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love that you succumbed to the lovely boys of bandom!
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:30 am (UTC) (Link)
So do I!
ignipes From: ignipes Date: April 25th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is so lovely. I love the feel of it, how all the complications and edges of their friendships are there in Ryan's POV but it still feels so slow and easy. Really, really beautiful.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:29 am (UTC) (Link)
What a fantastic comment. Thank you :)
nightlark From: nightlark Date: April 26th, 2008 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
it was extremely super cool to see a Brent characterization that didn't show him as evil and one-dimensional. yeah. AWESOME.

I really like this kind of gen-fic, just like little snapshots of the band that reveal the way they just kinda...click with each other. lovely writing. :]
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I honestly don't get the Brent is evil thing. Yeah, things went bad but they'd been friends for a long time before that. I doubt they would have done so if he was some evil villain.

Thank you so much for the lovely comment.
novalinedy From: novalinedy Date: April 26th, 2008 07:40 am (UTC) (Link)
This was the perfect way to start my weekend!!! I really love this!!!
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much!
shihadchick From: shihadchick Date: April 26th, 2008 07:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I really, really liked this - the movement through the three periods of time you've got here just works so well, and I really like your Ryan POV, it just works. The not-easy move of them with Jon at first read very believable, and that the gesture Ryan makes was with the eyeliner was just kind of perfect. And then the last part was pretty much as adorable 'oh BOYS' in general as the first one was, in slightly different ways, I just really like what you do with their dynamic. Thank you for sharing this!
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much for the lovely comment.

When I was thinking about this story I started to wonder what it was like when Jon first joined, and decided it couldn't have been easy. Sure, they liked him, but Brent had been a good friend for a long time, so losing him must have been hard.

Yeah, I often get the 'oh BOYS' reaction too :)
(Deleted comment)
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 26th, 2008 11:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I think people forget that Brent was a good friend of Ryan and Brendon for a long time. Sure, things did go bad, but that doesn't cancel out the good times, and there had to be have been a lot of those.

I'm glad I'm writing them too. I'm having a lot of fun :)

Thank you!
rock_my_town From: rock_my_town Date: April 27th, 2008 04:38 am (UTC) (Link)
very awesome♥ I love how easily your characterizations read, great work
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 27th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always worry about getting characterization right, so thank you!
frausorge From: frausorge Date: April 27th, 2008 09:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, so lovely! I love the arc from that first camaraderie to loss to a new state of friendship, and the exploration of how Brent's departure really was a loss, however necessary. And I also really like the bit about Ryan seeking out Brendon's honest opinion on his song, that they're real with each other on that level. so much yay!
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 27th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm so thrilled that you liked it. I was pretty nervous about writing them, but I do like how the story turned out.

I think Brent leaving really would have been a loss, even if it was a thing that needed to happen. I don't think anyone could cut off a friendship without feeling some pain about the situation.

Thank you.
babygotbass From: babygotbass Date: April 27th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ryan braces himself when Brendon smiles, wide and happy, like seeing Ryan has made his day.

Ryan hugs his knees harder then, struck with a feeling of belonging, that his place is right here.


This story isn't all happy and fluffy, but there are so many amazing happy moments full of real joy that it fills my heart with happiness.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 27th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love when they have moments of real happiness. So I'm thrilled that you enjoyed those moments too.

Thank you so much for telling me.
sullen_hearts From: sullen_hearts Date: April 29th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is adorable - I think you have Ryan just perfect, and I love the ending :)
turps33 From: turps33 Date: April 29th, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much! That's a very satisfying thing to hear :)
mrsquizzical From: mrsquizzical Date: May 4th, 2008 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
that was lovely. i really enjoyed the pace of it. the atmosphere.
turps33 From: turps33 Date: May 5th, 2008 10:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much :)
48 mutant blasts or blast me