Title: Absolute Sin
Disclaimer: I do not own Panic! at the Disco or the Young Veins.
Summary: Selling hearts, stealing souls, playing Devil's Advocate
literally: all of this and more led to the demise of Panic! at the Disco.
'The Frown of Mona Lisa'
[ RYAN ]
I should move forward.
I should not be here.
I should not lock myself up in the studio. I should not kill my cells with another cancer stick. I should not refuse to swallow my pride. I should not replay His voice mail over and over and over again. I should not reject His invitation. I should not be hesitant, anxious, afraid-
My eyes flicker when I see a figure outside. I peer past the crevices between the blinds. A sneer tugs at the corner of my lips even once I recognize the man. I see His hands holding onto something, a square, a case, an album, His album.
"What a fucking sentamentalist," I mutter under my breath in disgust.
I draw in one last drag, then stamp out the stub in the ashtray. I grind the stub with a harsh vigor. In my mind, I am not crushing nicotine and paper, but Him. Then, I draw out another cigarette. I reach for my pocket to pull out the lighter. Metal clicks against metal until a flame kindles. As I light the cigarette between my lips, I glance outside.
Oh, for fuck's sake-
He is still here.
He is a goddamned sentamentalist. A wannabe hero. A faux savior. He has this foolish notion that He can save me, rescue me, and fix me. But do I want to be saved? Fuck no. I love the life of a villain, a miscreant, a bad guy. I am proud to be an Advocate. I've been working for the Snake, since I was thirteen, and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. It's the only way to get attention these days.
What? You think that I'm an attention whore? A media harlot?
Well, darling, you think correct. At least, you're not in denial like that hopeless man outside my studio. He still thinks that I have a fucking halo above my head, and feathers around my feet. He needs to realize that I play for the other team - the team where its headquarters are hot as Hell, per se.
An exasperated sigh escapes me as I pull out my phone. I hit "2" for speed dial to His number. Now, don't you go, and call me a bloody sentamentalist too. Longing for a lost romance is hardly the reason to keep His number. It all comes down to that lovely Godfather quote.
"Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."
And fuck, that's all He is now.
Perhaps that's all He's ever been:
Enemy, rival, nemesis.
"Took you damned long enough to answer," I answer flippantly.
There is a pause. I roll my eyes. He's probably about to piss himself for hearing my voice. Just wait. He's going to write another song about me. Ever heard 'New Perspective'? Yeah, way to go, Captain Obvious.
"Hello?" I call. My patience is waning incredibly fast. "You there?"
"Yeah!" He answers like a goddamned puppy. "Yeah. I'm here. Can I come in for a moment?"
I almost snap my cigarette in half from such an absurd request. My right eye involuntarily twitches in agitation. Through gritted teeth, I reply, "Only a minute. I don't have time to waste on you. The door's open."
I hang up before He can respond. As I wait for Him, I wonder why the fuck I told Him to come in-...oh. Oh. I almost forgot.
I need to see Him to
Because you see, I can't steal a soul
Unless the carrier is vulnerable, weak,
broken beyond repair.
But don't worry. I won't break Him.
I won't shatter Him to let him pick Himself up.
Oh, bloody Hell.
I'm not that nice.
I'm going erase Him
Until there is absolutely nothing left
but His soul that will be all mine for the taking.
In the distance, I hear the door swing open, then quietly shut. Footsteps grow louder, nearer-...then stop. He is here.
Waiting. Watching. Hoping.
Meanwhile, I sit here
Plotting. Scheming. Strategizing.
Although, I do not look directly at Him, I can still clearly see his reflection on the window. He is dressed sharply, but casually like always. He looks no different than the day I left Him. But a closer looks shows thinner limbs, darker circles, and duller eyes. He looks so...tired. So on the verge of defeat.
And I can only
rejoice at this.
I can almost see the white flag of surrender
waving above His head, but not yet. Not yet.
That's the problem with Him-
He's too damned strong.
Steadfast. Determined. Virtuous.
If He didn't have a cheating streak
Then, God would probably hire Him off the spot.
He doesn't need to tell me twice to remind me about what He's determined to do. He told me every night we embraced. kissed. loved. fought. struck. hated.
"I will save you."
Go somewhere else, Romeo.
I won't ever be your Juliet
because I'm only a Machiavelli.
I continue to watch His reflection. His body tenses. His jaw clenches. I force myself to inhale more smoke to stop myself from laughing out loud. Oh, goodness, Urie. He's so fucking easy to rile. I need a challenge, and not child's play.
"How are you?" He asks casually.
I almost choke on the smoke. “Oh, great. Again with the bullshit small talk.” I gesture for Urie to take the opposite seat. “If you’re going to ask me about the weather, you might as well sit. Don’t fucking hover over me.”
Urie hesitates before sitting down. He fidgets for god knows how long. Finally, he magically sprouts the spine to hand me the album.
"Here," he says. "It's-"
"Your new album," I interject in sickening nonchalance. My bored eyes skim over the album. I try not to think of how badly I want to..."properly dispose" Smith. Now, it's always Smith and Urie, Urie and Smith. I can't stand it. "Fantastic," I add by putting my sarcasm to work. "I'll be expecting a dozen more from everyone else in Fueled by Ramen."
“But this one is from me," He whines. Whines. He fucking whines like a crippled dog. “It’s…different. Unique. There’s no other copy of it.”
I raise my gaze to Him.
Our eyes meet
But I won't give you that lovely dovey bullshit
or that abyss of angst phony talk
because in reality
I see nothing in His eyes.
Urie may not realize it, but He rarely shows emotions through his eyes. He only reflects other people. Right now, all I see are my sins, vices, and crimes portrayed in those dark hues. I see what could, should, and would have been if I had not split the band.
I see only a monster.
I tear my eyes away from Him by focusing on the album. We start talking about the album. I shoot Urie down the moment He asks if I like it. I hate that. I fucking hate it when people indirectly ask for other people's approval. Why follow other people's rules when you can make your own? Fuck tradition. Fuck acceptance. Break every rule, and create as big of a sensation you can during it. I would much rather live in immortal infamy than die as an insignificant moral human.
I silently ponder over the album title. I can already tell that this album will more or less scream me. I ask Him if I'm vice or virtue. As usual, Urie goes off into his whole sentimental bullshit with a Palahniuk twist shebang. That's when I cut in to basically get the fucking end all of this- Him and I, we, us.
"You think that we’re fucking star crossed lovers," I say in exasperation, "or some shit after fucking a few times on tour-”
“No!” His fist harshly meets the window sill. "It wasn't just fucking. It was more. It was real-"
Urie stops speaking when He sees my smile. I smile, because Urie just lowered his defenses. Low enough for me to attack-
Esteban, you slick sonuvabitch-
I hope that you're watching
because you'll be the only to witness
how I, George Ryan Ross III,
will fucking dismantle Brendon Boyd Urie.
"Darling." I clearly see how it hurts Urie to hear me say His pet name under these circumstances. "May I remind you that you were the one to cheat? Twice? Thrice? Oh, goodness!"
My head falls back as I laugh. I cover my eyes with a hand for a second. My mind betrays me by allowing memories to resurface. Memories I would gladly sell for free. But no. Esteban refuses to buy my memories. The Snake knows that I am tormented day and night by the many ghosts of Brendon Urie. Days spent sharing light touches and secret kisses. Nights shared together in bed. Little moments of whispered sweet nothings. I was happy. Urie was happy. We were happy. We were even going to go public - - -
Until Urie fucked everything up.
Until Urie fucked everything up.
I softly sigh as I lower my hand. "I honestly can't remember, and non. Non. Non." I raise my hand to shut Urie up before He can lie again. "I am not in the mood to hear one of your twisted justifications. I didn't give a damn back then, so I certainly won't give a fuck now."
My eyes lock up the target. I stare through Urie. I can see Him clearly-
But I know that He cannot see me
It's not like there's anything left
to fight for
"You never gave justification, but just excuses." I unleash my second attack. "You're a fucking coward, Urie."
Three, two, one-
And He breaks.
I wait to see Him shatter.
He reaches for me.
He touches me.
Damnit. Just one lousy touch
and He already has me undone.
"I am a coward. I am a liar. I am a cheat. I am a Sinner."
My chest tightens at the last statement. Yes, Urie, I know that you are a Sinner, and I hate it. I hate how you have no salvation. I hate how Esteban has a grip on you forever. You're going to Hell-
and so am I.
But we won't be together.
Esteban gave me a glimpse of Hell years ago
The day after our first kiss.
Urie, you have no idea
How Esteban is going torture us.
I flinch when Urie holds my hand tighter.
"But more than anything, I am a lover. I'm not looking for redemption or salvation. I just want to save you, Ryan." His eyes glimmer with near tears. From the base of those dark hues, I see light emit. A light called hope. "And I know I can if you will only let me-"
It's not until I feel the after sting on the back of my hand that I realize I just hit Brendon. Each labored gasp burns its way through my throat. An apology is on the tip of my tongue, but the Advocate in me refuses to release it. I can hold back an apology, but it's almost impossible for me to keep from saying those three words.
I love you. I hate you.")
Urie breathes in deeply. "Just...listen to the album, Ryan. To the end. All of it." He tries to strain a smile, but it never makes it through. "Please. Even...even past the pause. There is no copy of the disc I gave you, because it's just for you-"
"Urie," I snap with no pretense. A finger points to the door. I can't stand it, Him, anymore. "Go. Out. Now."
"Ryan, I love y-"
"Get the fuck out!"
Then, he smiles.
The crazy, sentimental, fucker
Luckily, Urie turns away in time
before He sees the tears in my eyes.
I keep my eyes on the window. I don't watch Urie leave. I never watch Urie leave, but I've always gone after him.
I will let Him walk away.
Urie Brendon always comes back.
"I will free Ryan, Esteban," I hear Him vainly swear. "I swear my life, my soul upon it."
Then, I hear the Snake laugh.
No. No. No.
I have to cover my mouth with my hand to muffle the sob. However, I cannot stop my body from shaking. I hear the door shut. As soon as Brendon is gone, I let out a strangled noise. Yet, I don't cry for long. There's no time to cry during this dangerous game. I dry my eyes with the back of my hand.
My eyes fall onto the album. I bite my lower lip, then sigh. I pop the disc into the stereo. The opening of the first song, 'The Ballad of Mona Lisa', immediately reminds me of the chimes in Fever's 'Build God, then We'll Talk'. I almost shut off the album right then and there, but Brendon's voice stops me. I can't tell if I freeze due to awe or repulsion. As Brendon's siren voice continues to sing, I realize that it is neither. The epiphany hits me when the chorus starts.
I freeze, because of fear.
The cigarette falls limp between my fingers. It lands with a dull thud onto the ash tray. I clutch at the album booklet until my nails dig into the covers.
When the fuck did Brendon get so good? So talented?
The fear changes into sheer terror
when I hear the lyrics. The words. The truth.
'He senses something, call it desperation
Another dollar, another day
And if she had the proper words to say, she would tell him
But she’d have nothing left to sell him-'
I practically tear the album booklet out of the case. I madly skim through the lyrics. I feel something knot in my stomach. This book is like seeing each sin and every mistake I've ever committed printed on paper. Is Brendon trying to make me feel guilty?
Or is He
trying to tell me that
I'm still worth saving?
'He starts to notice empty bottles of gin
And takes a moment to assess the sins she’s paid for-'
"Fuck you, Urie!" I scream as I slam my hands on the table. "I hope you burn in Hell!"
I rush over to the stereo to pull the plug. I nearly tear the wire apart as I pull the cord out of the wall.
The music continues to play
Brendon continues to sing
"Esteban..." I growl angrily. "Esteban!"
He's using Devil Voodoo magic or whatever to keep the stereo on just to torture me.
'There’s nothing wrong with just a taste of what you’ve paid for...'
The lights flicker on and off. The flame at the end of my newly lit cigarette goes out. There is a harsh gale of wind despite how the windows are shut. The temperature drops within a fraction of a second. Crackling ice covers the glass windows in frost. Each breath I exhale materializes into a faint cloud of white, then disappears.
Then, the lights go out
and the music stops playing.
I roll my eyes.
"Your entrances are fucking overkill, Esteban."
An amused chuckle rings echoes all around. It is impossible to tell where the Snake is. His voice reverberates from all corners of the room. I keep my eyes on the window. My composure is calm, but suddenly, I have the urge to scream
"Douse the lights!" the Snake hisses in a whisper. "We sure are in for a show tonight!"
I close my eyes, then wait. I wait until
his body is near mine.
his cold breath travels across my skin.
his fingers run down my chest.
his lips graze my jawline.
"You are beautiful as ever," Esteban murmurs against my throat, "my darling Advocate."
"Don't flatter," I say dryly. "I can't stand that crow feeding nonsense."
Esteban shifts to look at me. "Would you rather have me tell the truth?" he muses. "Shall I tell you that you are an absolutely atrocious person? A monster who has no soul?"
"I have a soul."
The Snake laughs. "The clock is ticking, Little Boy," Esteban chimes in a sing-song voice. His eyes light up brightly with an idea. "Unless, of course, you would rather pay with your own soul now? I'll even give you a discount. You can have an ASAP, one-way ticket to Hell!"
"No, thanks," I reply in an unfazed manner. "I want to finish Urie. I want to end him."
Esteban shakes his head and laughs as he pulls up a chair. He turns it around, so that the chair's back is facing me. Then, he sits down with his legs on either side, and his arms folded across the chair's top.
"I'll give you pointers, kid," says Esteban. "You can only go so far with hurting someone through hate. You'll only end up breaking the person." The man tilts his head as he smirks. "You need to use a different, a better tactic."
I say nothing, but look at him. I offer him my cigarette to persuade him to continue. The Snake gladly takes a deep drag, exhales, then returns the stick to me.
"You have to learn how to learn how to love him again, Ross. You can't ever fully understand a person until you love them. And then, in the very moment when he loves you back-" Esteban leans in to whisper "-you destroy him. Grind and grind him until he does not exist."
I stare steadily at Esteban as he draws back. My face reveals nothing, but my head is already spinning with new plans, strategies, tactics. Esteban sees this
he sees how
I have become.
And that smile on his face
tells me that he is beyond pleased.
"The ends justify the means," Esteban sings. "Remember, Ross, you're not doing this for yourself. Tell me again, who are you doing it for?"
I finally avert my eyes elsewhere.
"Bingo!" Esteban claps his hands. "Now, surely, you don't want your dearest mother to spend eternity with me, right?"
I clench my fists tightly. The skin stretches across the knuckles. The nails dig into the palms. Every fiber of my being wants to strike the monster, but I won't. I can't.
He holds the Trump Card:
My mother's life.
It's during times like these
when I am being played by the Devil
to steal the soul of the man I love
that I wonder
where the fuck God is.
I know the answer:
"I'll help you," offers Esteban.
I shoot a deadpan at the man. 'Help' is a double-edged sword when the Snake says it.
"We both know Urie's weakness." Esteban pats my shoulder, then squeezes it. Hard. Too hard. "You."
My eyes grow wide as Esteban raises his other hand to the side of my face.
"The mark will last for a few hours," Esteban says without even explaining what he's going to do. "It should give you enough time to put your acting skills to work."
"Esteban," I breathe uneasily. "W...what are you-"
"Hush," the Devil whispers. "You need to save your voice for screaming."
And oh, god-
Did I scream.