Fandom: Panic! at the Disco
Pairing: Mostly gen, with minor Brendon/Pete
Word Count: 2074
Summary: Everything changes, except for the things that don't.
Disclaimer: I do not know these people, this never happened, I am making no money off of anything.
A/N: Girlfriends are mentioned for the sake of reality, but not dwelled upon. Betaed by pressdbtwnpages.
Tour, tour, tour. It seems like all they ever do these days is tour, and Ryan can’t wait to get off the fucking road and get some new songs written. He is itching to write again, but it’s never quiet enough on the bus (sometimes he wants to kill Brendon, with all his fucking energy all the time).
But the thought of going home... well, where is ‘home,’ anyway? Someone’s already bought his dad’s house (not like he needs the money, but his grandparents could really use it) and wherever his mom is hasn’t been ‘home’ for a long time. Maybe he can stay at Spencer’s for a while. Spencer’s parents are practically family, anyway.
After the tour wraps up (the ultimate irony: they’re finally able to put on the show they always wanted to at the point when they’re almost too tired to appreciate it), they’ll be spending New Year’s Eve in New York, performing in Times Square. Though he's never been before, Ryan imagines that Times Square will feel a lot like home, with its billboards and lights. Ryan is looking forward to it. Yeah, they’ll be playing “I Write Sins” and “Lying Is The Most Fun” again, but he’s never seen the ball drop except on TV, and afterwards, they’ll get to have dinner with their girlfriends (or at least he, Spencer and Jon will – Brendon doesn’t have a girlfriend but insists on saying he does in interviews, which Ryan kind of understands – fans can be really fucking crazy).
And then they’ll go home, and their lives will be private again for a little while – more private, at least. Ryan isn’t sure how he feels about that. It should be a relief, but it’ll definitely be strange, to say the least. He’s kind of gotten used to the attention.
Jon says the first thing he wants to do when he gets home (after eating, showering, sleeping and calling his girlfriend) is get his ‘2006’ tattoo.
“I thought you were kidding about that,” Brendon says.
“I was, but then I kind of liked the idea.”
“What are you looking forward to?” Ryan asks Spencer.
“Seeing my parents and giving my arms a rest,” Spencer says. “You?”
“Writing,” Ryan says.
Brendon snorts. “You are such a freak.”
Ryan decides not to point out that Brendon hasn't exactly won any 'normal' awards lately. Instead, he lightly shoves Brendon and says, “Shut up. You know you love me.” Brendon just rolls his eyes.
Spencer’s house isn’t much quieter than the van, especially with Brendon coming over constantly. Ryan manages to get a little writing done between visits and family events and things, but it isn’t easy and it’s only because he’s really determined that he gets anything done at all.
On Christmas Eve, Brendon's parents go to church, but he's no longer welcome there. The rock star lifestyle isn't one they're interested in promoting (not that he wants to go, anyway), so it is decided that he’ll spend the churchgoing part of the holiday with Ryan and Spencer, who are also staying home, despite Spencer’s parents’ wishes.
It is about 10 PM when Jon calls. They put him on speakerphone.
“It’s so fucking quiet here,” Jon says. “I miss you guys.”
“We miss you too,” Spencer says.
Ryan adds, “I can’t wait until we’re all together, working on the new album.”
“It’s going to be fucking awesome,” Brendon says.
“What are you doing for the holidays?” asks Spencer.
“Not a lot. A bunch of idiots invaded my apartment – Bill, what are you doing? – a few hours ago. We’re just hanging around.”
“I thought you said it was quiet,” Ryan says, slightly amused at Jon’s definition of quiet.
“Well, it has been. It was, before they got here.”
“Tell Bill they’re not stealing you back,” Ryan orders. “You’re ours now.”
Jon laughs. “I’m not going anywhere.” There’s a noise in the background. “Yeah, I’m talking to the guys,” he says to someone. “No, you cannot – hey!”
“We’re keeping Jon.”
“No, you’re not.”
“We’ll fight you for him.”
“How about, no.”
“But he’s the best guitar tech we’ve ever haaad,” William whines.
“He’s the best bassist we’ve ever had,” Brendon adds, and Spencer makes an affirmative noise.
There is a strange sound on the other end and they can vaguely hear William say, “Fuck, I am so drunk right now!” before Jon says, “Sorry about that. He needs to sober up a little.”
“God, it’s not even midnight yet,” Spencer says. Brendon says, “Yeah, and it’s fucking Christmas Eve. Who the fuck gets drunk on Christmas Eve?”
Spencer glances at Ryan out of the corner of his eye. Ryan doesn’t say anything; Spencer already knows what he’s thinking, anyway. That’s why they’re best friends.
“Guys?” Jon asks.
Brendon looks at them, one after the other, and realizes what he’s said. “Oh, fuck. I’m sorry, Ryan.”
“It’s fine,” Ryan mumbles without looking at him.
“Listen,” Jon says awkwardly, “I should go attempt to control this situation, seeing as I’m the only sober person here, but Merry Christmas, guys.”
“Merry Christmas,” Ryan says quietly, hanging up the phone.
There is a long pause. Finally, Brendon says brightly, “He’s the only sober person there. You guys must have had a good influence on him or something.”
Sometimes, Brendon doesn’t know when to shut up.
A few days pass and before Ryan knows it, they are in New York, getting ready for their set (if two songs can be called a ‘set’).
Performing is nothing special anymore, not like it used to be. Even on New Year’s Eve in Times Square, with the ball dropping and the crowds bigger than any they’ve ever played to, it’s just a show. The special part comes later, after the songs and the crowds and the interview (with Carson fucking Daly, and that’s still surreal. Ryan remembers watching him on MTV for years when he was younger).
They meet up with Haley, Keltie and Cassie at a restaurant after the show. It’s just the seven of them, squished in a booth, and Ryan keeps glancing over at Brendon, making sure he’s okay by himself. But he seems fine, talking and laughing with everyone, as usual.
That’s before Pete shows up.
Pete leans on top of the booth, his face between Ryan and Brendon, and Brendon lights up. Ryan watches him out of the corner of his eye while he talks to Keltie a little distractedly. Brendon is animatedly telling Pete some story about one of their last concerts. Pete laughs loudly and Ryan turns to them.
“What’s so funny?” He doesn’t remember there being anything that funny on the tail-end of the tour.
“Nothing,” Pete says. “Brendon was just –” He catches Brendon’s eye and the two of them start laughing again.
“Okay,” Ryan mutters and returns to his conversation.
That night, Brendon gets back to the hotel at some ridiculous hour of the morning. Ryan doesn’t know when, exactly, but the sound of the key in the lock wakes him up briefly. They’re all sharing one room with two queen-sized beds (the girls went to stay at Cassie's friend's house, figuring it would be more comfortable than the hotel). When Brendon crawls into bed next to him, he smells vaguely of rain and sex.
“Brendon?” Ryan mumbles.
“Go back to sleep, Ryan,” Brendon whispers, so he does.
When he wakes up, Brendon is passed out beside him. Jon is in the shower, and Spencer is already dressed. “Hey,” he whispers.
“Hey,” Spencer whispers back. “Brendon got in late last night, huh?”
“Yeah,” Ryan replies. “I wonder who the girl was.”
Spencer pauses. “Uh... actually, I don’t think there was a girl.”
“What? He came in reeking of sex.”
“Yeah... Ryan, you saw how he was looking at Pete last night, right?”
“What?” Ryan has to work hard to keep his voice down. Brendon isn’t... Pete isn’t... Then he thinks about the night before, about the two of them in their own little world. “Oh.”
“Well, that explains why Brendon doesn’t have a girlfriend.”
Spencer laughs quietly.
Ryan thinks about an interview he did, thinks about none of us are gay, and then thinks, well, the press really doesn’t need to know. Neither do any of the fans, for that matter.
Ryan already has tons of lyrics for the new songs written, so it’s easy to get started once they’re settled in. But then he starts thinking about expectations, which is a terrible idea. He freaks out and calls Pete, whose only advice is to have had a crappy first album, so no one expects too much, and then surprise them all.
“Thanks for telling me that to begin with.” Ryan scowls before realizing Pete can’t see him through the phone.
Pete laughs and says, “Just relax, dude, you can’t write if you’re thinking about how people will react to it.”
“I know.” Ryan sighs.
“And any time you need moral support –”
“I know. Thanks.”
There is a pause, during which Ryan opens his mouth to say ‘I know you slept with Brendon,’ and then shuts it several times. Finally, he just says, “Okay, well, bye,” and hangs up the phone. He thinks, This never used to be so complicated.
They tour that summer after the album is finished, and it’s good to be back on the road. It’s one of those things you never think you’ll miss until you do. Crammed onto a bus with his best friends, Ryan is more at home than he’s been since the end of the last tour.
It feels good, too, to play songs that they all wrote together. Jon was never any less a part of the band than any of the rest of them, but the other songs weren’t his the way that these are.
They have new costumes, a new set, new banter, but at the end of the day, they’re just a group of friends making music for people who like it. And as strange and sometimes wonderful as it is to have the fame and press and money, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. They’re still the same people: Brendon’s still the same hyperactive jerk with no concept of personal space, Spencer’s still the bossy, too-old-for-his-years kid who can read Ryan’s mind, Jon’s still the laidback amateur photographer they replaced their slacker ex-friend with, and Ryan’s still, well, Ryan. He still thinks too much and talks too little, still wears swirls of makeup around his eyes like a mask. He still doesn't drink, and sometimes he still wishes the bus was less noisy so he could write. But he's also changed in ways he can’t really explain or define, and he knows the others have, too.
Ryan stares up into the darkness one night after a show, when the everyone else seems to be asleep. He listens to them breathe and thinks about this life and everything that comes with it.
"Ryan?” Spencer whispers, startling him.
"Did you ever imagine this? I mean, when we first started playing together, I never would've..." He trails off.
Ryan says, "Yeah, me neither. I just thought it would be fun to play guitar, you know?"
There is a long pause. Ryan thinks about all that's happened over the past few years, what's changed and what hasn't, and says, "You know, Spence? Some days I wish we were still just goofing off at your grandmother's house, but most of the time it feels pretty great being us these days."
"I could never have done it if you weren't with me," Spencer quietly admits.
"Me neither," Ryan says softly into the dark.
"Aw, you guys are so cute," Brendon says.
"Have you been awake this whole time?" Ryan asks.
"Well, I was trying to sleep, but these annoying guys kept talking."
"Guys?" Jon grumbles. "This isn't a sleepover. We have a show tomorrow, you know."
Brendon chucks a pillow at his head. "We were having a moment."
"Actually, Ryan and I were having a moment," Spencer says, "but since you two rudely interrupted, I'm going to sleep."
"'Night," Jon mumbles.
Brendon whines, "I want my pillow back."
Ryan thinks, Sure, what could be better than touring with your best friends? But the thing is, even through the sarcasm, he means it.