Rating: PG-13 (language, mature themes)
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters and this is purely fiction.
Summary: Ryan and Brendon have long broken up, but Brendon invites Ryan on vacation anyway.
Ryan hadn’t been truly happy since the day he was married. He smiled and pretended and he showered the child that took Brendon away from him with gifts, but he wasn’t happy. Sometimes, when he and Sarah sat outside on their balcony with Benjamin (she had picked the name) who crawled around their feet, he let himself believe that this was all he would ever need. But when he and Sarah went to bed (without fucking), and Ryan lay staring up at the ceiling, he knew he wasn’t happy; he was bored and waiting for something better, something he had already had, to come along.
He wasn’t much of a husband, he knew that and he was quite sure Sarah knew that as well. In fact, when the band toured, he would sometimes take off his wedding ring and leave it on the bus as he followed the other boys to whatever bar they were going to.
As much as Ryan liked talking to girls, it wasn’t the girls that he wanted. He wanted Brendon. And it didn’t take a detective’s eye to see that Brendon wanted him back as well. Brendon had been his happiest when he and Ryan were together for that year when they were eighteen. They didn’t last long because of a stupid mistake Ryan had made, but it didn’t take long for Brendon to realize that he wouldn’t find anyone that knew how to make him laugh, think, scream and hurt the way Ryan did.
Brendon had thought, for a long time, that he wouldn’t go to Ryan’s wedding, but at the last moment, for a reason he still couldn’t quite explain, he RSVPed ‘yes’. It was hard to watch Ryan profess his love to someone else, but he always knew that there would come a time when he could no longer stand not being able to kiss and run his hands through Ryan’s hair and he had a hard time believing that Ryan would ever object.
And so he decided that he would ask Ryan to go on a vacation. A friend of Brendon’s had rented a villa in Barcelona earlier that month and he had said that Brendon could probably find one for himself quite easily. Brendon asked Ryan when they were high; perhaps a better response would come at that moment.
“I’ll take care of it,” Brendon assured. Ryan simply nodded. A part of him thought that it would never materialize and a larger part hoped that it wouldn’t.
So when Brendon came to him the following week and told him that the villa was booked for the end of the month, he felt a sort of uneasiness rise within him, but he tried to hide it, asking himself over and over: ‘why the hell not?” So far, he could think of one good reason, one really good reason.
On the plane, his stomach churned for a reason he couldn’t blame on his weak nerves when it came to flying. Brendon was bouncing in his seat, the way Ryan had seen him do countless times before when they were on tour. When the plane started to climb to the stars, Brendon squeezed Ryan’s knee the way he had done just as many times as they flew. Ryan thought that that reassuring touch had become inappropriate when they had broken up. But he knew that Brendon had never had a strong grasp on what was appropriate and what wasn’t. Ryan smiled weakly and turned to look out the window. How he wished he could be a part of the stars, glued to sky, unmoving, beautiful and unfeeling.
Brendon wouldn’t sleep, Ryan knew that. He was too excited. He would watch the film they were playing and tell Ryan all about it in the morning. But Ryan let himself fall asleep nonetheless, among the stars. He dreamed, but he couldn’t remember it, all he could remember was that Brendon had been with him, like he always was. When awoke the next morning, Brendon was laughing with the stewardess who was handing out coffee.
“Will your friend want anything?” she asked.
“Better get a coffee. Two creams please.”
Ryan listened, his eyes still closed, as she moved on to the people behind them. Slowly, he let his eyes flutter open and turned to look at Brendon. He was wearing his glasses, like he had when they were younger. He smiled brighter than the Sun piercing through the small airplane windows.
“Morning,” he said. Ryan smiled back. “I got you a coffee,” he continued.
Ryan reached out to take it. “Thanks,” he mumbled.
He didn’t have the heart to tell Brendon that he had started taking sugar in his coffee.
The Sun was still out as Brendon and Ryan sat outside their villa, sipping wine, even though it was already quite late. It was very quiet, most of the people had gone inside and only if you listened very closely could you hear the water splashing up against mossy stones in a stream or a river somewhere nearby. The wind had picked up and chilled slightly, pushing the clouds across the sky, painting soft-coloured streaks as they went.
Ryan inhaled deeply. The air tasted sweeter in Spain. He shut his eyes and let the breeze toy
with his hair before sighing heavily. Brendon turned to look at him. Ryan could feel his eyes tracing desperate lines down his jawline, down his arms to his hands which rested on his thighs. Slowly, Ryan turned to Brendon, their eyes truly meeting for the first time in years.
He smiled and Brendon smiled back. Ryan couldn’t tell if his smile was real or fake anymore.
Brendon was first to break eye contact. He looked out at the hills and colors and left Ryan watching him now, remembering how it had felt all those years ago when he ran his hands through his hair.
Brendon looked older, he still had the energy of a child, but there was something, or something missing, rather, deep in his eyes that shone like the blackest night, shining and shouting that he had been forced to grow old entirely too fast. Ryan wondered how big of a part he had played in that.
“It’s beautiful here,” Ryan finally said. “It’s nice just to relax somewhere.”
Brendon nodded in agreement, not taking his eyes off of the landscape before him. “I’m glad you decided to come.” A short laugh escaped his lips. “It’s our first romantic vacation and we’re not even together anymore.”
Ryan couldn’t bring himself to laugh. Instead, he looked down at his hands and rubbed them together awkwardly. He should have known Brendon would use this vacation as a way of confrontation. Ryan wondered just how much Brendon had to say, they hadn’t really spoken about the way they had ended, except for the night they ended. He could feel his throat tightening, he was suffocating, he could feel it, there was no escaping this. His eyes began to fill with tears and he inwardly pleaded for them to disappear. He didn’t have a right to cry, Brendon should be the one that cried.
“I had to marry her, you know?” His voice was like a leaf falling from a tree.
Brendon shrugged, his face was bitter like coffee. He took a long drink of wine. “I know.”
“I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t let her do it alone.”
“You could have used a condom,” Brendon spat back. He finally looked at Ryan and his eyes were red hot.
Ryan could feel his cheeks turn red with shame and embarrassment. Beside him, Brendon stood suddenly and headed back towards the villa.
“Where are you going?” Ryan called after him. He reminded himself of a child.
When Brendon didn’t answer, Ryan got up to follow him. He was in the kitchen, standing in front of the sink, the faucet running but he wasn’t washing the crystal wine glass in his hands. Ryan stood in the doorway, unable to speak but desperately wanting to.
“I’ll be right out,” Brendon murmured.
For a moment, Ryan thought about turning back to leave, but quickly decided otherwise, instead, he walked towards Brendon and gently put his hand on the small of his back. He felt Brendon melt against his touch and his breathing changed, it was heavier, deeper. Brendon closed his eyes meekly and let his shoulders drop before he turned off the tap. Slowly, his eyes brimmed with tears, he turned to look at Ryan. Ryan wished he wouldn’t, it made him shake, seeing Brendon this way.
“I’ll be right out,” he repeated, his voice breaking as he spoke.
Brendon looked down at his hands. Ryan could feel him shaking beneath his hands and wanted to pull him right against him. One sob escaped Brendon’s lips and Ryan could feel the embarrassment flowing off of him with the breeze.
“Bren, I—it’s okay…”
Brendon shook his head. “Don’t… Don’t tell me it’s okay, Ry, because you know it’s not.”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Ryan interjected.
“It might be okay for you, you got to break up with me and just keep loving somebody else. I didn’t get that—I still don’t have that!”
“I don’t love her the way I love you,” Ryan pleaded.
“That’s not the point!” Brendon stepped away from Ryan. His jaw was set and his fists were clenched tightly at his sides.
“Then what is the point, Bren? That you get to say your bit and my feelings don’t matter? It was hard for me too—I didn’t want this!” Ryan shouted, lifting his left hand, letting his wedding ring glimmer in the overhead light.
“Hard for you?” Brendon scoffed. He tried to hide his sadness with anger. “You got everything handed to you! You fucked up and somehow, you’re happy. I didn’t do anything wrong,” he cried, desperately gesturing to himself as though that would let people realise that he was still here and he was still drowning. “And I got screwed. I should be allowed to move on and be happy… This shouldn’t be me…”
The tears now streamed freely down his cheeks and his body shook uncontrollably. He brought his hands to his face, covering his vulnerability as best as he could. He wanted to break, he wanted it all to simply stop mattering, he wanted to stop feeling altogether and just let himself be wracked with sobs until he grew too faint and empty or simply fell asleep.
Ryan was crying also, but not for himself, he couldn’t bring himself to do so anymore. Words escaped him as he watched Brendon, nearly doubled over with the pain of it all and vainly wished that his touch would be enough to put him back together the way it had when they were in love.
“Bren,” Ryan choked. He stepped towards him, his arm outstretched.
Brendon shook his head, unable to speak and stepped away.
“Brendon, please,” Ryan said, wrapping his slender fingers around Brendon’s shaking arm.
Brendon continued to shake his head and wiped at his eyes furiously, pulling away from Ryan’s grasp. Brendon didn’t know if he was just too tired or if Ryan was too determined, but he let himself be dragged into Ryan’s arms and he soon laid his head on his chest.
Unable to fight any longer, he let himself cry openly into Ryan’s thin t-shirt. He clenched the material with his hands and burrowed his cheek as deep into Ryan’s chest as he could. He could feel himself getting a headache and it felt as though soon, he would have nothing left.
Seamlessly, his cries turned into hiccoughs and his hiccoughs then turned to long, staggered breaths.
He let his eyes fall shut and felt Ryan guide him deeper into the villa. He took him to the bathroom and sat him down on the toilet. Without a word, he ran the bathtub and as he let it fill, he picked off Brendon’s clothes with the gentleness of an angel.
“Come on,” he coaxed when they were both naked and helped him step into the basin.
They sat opposite each other. Ryan watched him for a long time. “Can I wash your hair?”
Brendon nodded without really thinking. He only wanted to feel Ryan tugging at his hair once more. When he was done, Ryan pulled Brendon down so he was lying on his chest. He rested his chin on the top of his head and let his fingers trace aimlessly on Brendon’s soft skin.
They had each made so many mistakes in their short lifetimes, but Brendon concluded that inviting Ryan to Barcelona was not one of them.