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part 1

Ryan goes to Hawaii with Keltie after she gets done with her tour, and it turns out Brendon was right. Spencer runs out of things to do very fast. He ends up invited to this Expo at the perfect time, and it gives him a good excuse to get out of the house away from Vegas for at least a few days.

He calls Brendon to make sure that it's still okay for him to stay there and packs a few changes of clothes and all essential items. He gets Milo and Boba ready and piles everything into the car. He only has enough for a week because Ryan will be back soon, and Brendon has done enough for him in the last couple of months. Spencer doesn't want to impose more than nessecary.

The guest room is big but unfurnished except for the air mattress that Brendon has set up in the corner. It's actually pretty comfortable looking and a lot bigger than Spencer had expected.

"Oh, by the way, Pete and Ashlee invited us out with them tomorrow night, if you're up for it," Brendon says. "It could be fun." Other than Brendon and Shane's New Year's party, Spencer hasn't been out much since he and Haley broke up. It's not that he hasn't wanted to, it's just that there haven't been many opportunities.

"Okay," Spencer says. "Sounds good."

"Cool," Brendon says. "I'll let Pete know you're coming along." Brendon steps out of the room, leaving Spencer alone.

+

Spencer isn't quite sure he wants to go through with this. It's a little weird to be going to dinner with Pete and Ashlee, just him and Brendon. It feels a little like some sort of weird double date, except that he and Brendon aren't dating.

Brendon is in his bedroom getting ready, and it's taking him forever. Spencer just threw on the first thing he found. They're probably going to go somewhere that's sort of nice, knowing Pete and Ashlee, but trying to look good just made him feel even more weird about the whole thing, so he gave up on it.

Brendon comes out of the bedroom and grabs his keys right away. "We're going to be late if we don't hurry," he says.

Spencer rolls his eyes and says, "Well, maybe if someone didn't spend half an hour picking out a pair of jeans." Seriously though, Brendon is ridiculous sometimes, and it drives Spencer insane. It's just Pete and Ashlee, and there's no reason to make a big deal about it.

"Hey, some people aren't as naturally pretty as you are," Brendon says. Spencer elbows him in the side as Brendon locks the front door.

They take Brendon's car to Pete and Ashlee's. Ashlee answers the door, baby in hand. Spencer's never seen Bronx in person, but he's seen a ton of pictures. Pete emails them nearly every day. Multiple times on some days. It's kind of ridiculous, but Spencer can see why. Bronx is a cute kid.

"The babysitter is going to be here in just a minute, and then we'll be good to go," Ashlee says. "You know, as soon as Pete gets his bangs perfect or whatever the hell he's doing up there."

"Tell me about it," Spencer says. "Brendon took 3 hours just picking out clothes. You would think he had a date with Jessica Alba or something."

"Shut up, I have to work hard to look this good," Brendon says. "Pete would probably agree with me."

"About what?" Pete comes down the stairs, and he doesn't look any different than any other day. Although, Spencer imagines that he often spends hours getting ready for everything.

"You have to spend hours to look as good as you do, right?" Brendon asks. Spencer's sure he doesn't mean it the way it sounds, but he still lets out a laugh. "What?" Brendon says.

"It's true," Pete says.

"See," Brendon says. "Told you. Spencer thinks this comes naturally."

"We can't all be that naturally gorgeous," Pete says.

"Are you guys done?" Ashlee doesn't have the baby anymore, which Spencer takes to mean that at some point when they were distracted, the babysitter arrived. "Let's go. Our reservations are in, like, twenty minutes."

+

"So, Ryan is back from Hawaii," Ashlee says. "Does this mean you guys are getting back to the studio soon?"

"I don't know," Spencer says. "That was the plan. We've got this show in Florida in a couple of weeks, and we'll take it from there, I guess." They've only loosely talked about going back in. There are some lyrics, and stuff written, and they've worked on the music for a couple of songs, but they just haven't discussed the actual recording yet.

"Ryan's supposed to call Jon in a couple of days and find out. I think it should be soon," Brendon says. "Oh, hey, we should get dessert."

"Not for me," Pete says. "I'm stuffed. Plus, I still have baby weight."

"Oh, come on, you big baby," Ashlee says. "We'll share." The waiter comes by and asks them if they would like anything, and before Pete can tell him no Ashlee says, "We'll have a piece of chocolate cake."

"We'll have the same," Brendon says.

"We?" Spencer says. This is all really weird. He's not sure if it seems weird because he's been drinking or if it's just weird, but either way. He can't remember having ever shared dessert with Brendon before.

"Well, it just seems practical," Brendon says. "Anyway, I can't eat a whole piece."

"Since when?" Spencer asks. Brendon is skinny, but he can eat a lot.

Brendon just shrugs instead of answering.

"Anyway!" Ashlee says. "How long are you in town, Spencer? Brendon didn't say." Spencer is thankful for the distraction.

"I don't know. I guess for as long as he'll have me. The guest room is better right now than sitting around my place by myself." Spencer could really get used to having someone around again, and the fact that it's Brendon makes it that much more tolerable.

"Are you guys planning to record here in LA? I thought Pete said you were thinking about the Palms again."

"We haven't really decided anything," Brendon says. "I guess it would probably be easy to record in LA, since Ryan is planning to get a place here too."

"Well," Pete says. "Let me know, and I'll book you guys in the best recording studio. All of the other bands will be jealous."

The waiter brings out their two pieces of chocolate cake, with two forks in each one. Brendon scoots the plate closer to Spencer and moves closer himself. They're barely separated by a thin line of space now. "This looks great," Brendon says. "Maybe splitting was a bad idea after all."

"Told you," Spencer says.

"I was kidding. Here," Brendon says, handing Spencer the other fork. "Eat."

Spencer rolls his eyes and takes the fork from Brendon. Ashlee is looking at them from behind her bangs, Spencer can tell, but she's not saying anything. Spencer takes this to mean that she is as weirded out by the situation as he is. The check comes, split into two, and Pete takes one, handing Brendon the other.

"Are you sure about this, man?" Pete says. "I can get all of us."

"Nah," Brendon says. "You don't have to. Besides, I'm treating Spencer tonight. He has to put up with me while he's here, it's the least I can do."

"You're buying my dinner?" Spencer says. He wasn't aware that was the deal, and now everything feels even weirder.

"Yeah," Brendon says, shrugging. "It's not like I can't afford it," he says with a laugh.
Spencer just shrugs and takes another bite of the cake.

+

They get back to Pete and Ashlee's and say goodnight in the driveway. Ashlee walks around to the passenger side of Brendon's car with Spencer while Brendon and Pete whisper about something.

"So, this was great," Ashlee says, throwing an arm around Spencer for a loose hug. "You guys should come out with us again sometime."

"Yeah. It was fun," Spencer says, not entirely convincingly. It's not that he didn't have fun. He loves both Pete and Ashlee, but Spencer's not sure he wants a repeat of tonight. He doesn't like being confused by this situation with Brendon.

The drive back to Brendon's is a quiet one, with only the soft sounds of the radio as background noise. Brendon is singing softly, and Spencer is content just to listen.

They pull into the driveway and go inside, Brendon letting Spencer go first.

"So, tonight was fun," Brendon says. "I totally think we should take them up on that offer, only next time we can let Pete pay for the whole thing."

"Yeah," Spencer says. "I guess."

"Well, I guess we don't have to make Pete pay," Brendon says. "I wouldn't think you would have a problem with that, though."

"No," Spencer says. "Pete can pay."

"Dude," Brendon says. "What's up? You look..."

"What?" Spencer says.

"I don't know," Brendon says, shrugging. "You just look weird. Are you getting depressed again? Because I thought we were past that."

"No," Spencer says. "I think I'm going to go to bed, though."

"Oh," Brendon says. He sounds kind of disappointed. "Okay, maybe we can do something tomorrow."

"I'm just tired." Spencer doesn't know why he feels the need to explain himself, but the look on Brendon's face makes him feel like crap, so he does.

"I'm going to stay up and watch some TV or something. Let me know if it bothers you." Brendon goes over to sit on the sofa.

"Oh," Spencer says. That doesn't seem like a bad idea. "Well, maybe I can stay up a little while longer." He walks over and falls back on the sofa next to Brendon. There's not as much space between them as there could be, but Spencer isn't compelled to move further way now that they're almost touching.

"There's never anything on late at night," Brendon says, settling on some old, black and white movie. "This is going to have to do."

They sit for a while, and Brendon ends up with his head on Spencer's shoulder, saying random lines of the movie along with it. "I have trouble sleeping a lot of the time," Brendon says as an explanation. "They show this one at least once a week."

Spencer just nods. "I've never seen it." Spencer can't stop thinking about dinner. He wants to talk about it, and he wants to ask Brendon if he's as confused as Spencer, but Brendon starts talking first.

"It's good," Brendon says. He turns to look at Spencer. "You can go to bed, you know."

"I know," Spencer says. "I don't really want to."

"Okay." Brendon settles back down on Spencer's shoulder.

Spencer looks over at Brendon, who is mouthing along to the TV. Tonight has been strange in every way possible, but it has also been nice. If there is anyone that Spencer wants to spend a night having dinner and watching a movie with these days, it's Brendon. In fact, he finds himself wanting to spend a lot of time with Brendon lately.

"Hey," Spencer says.

"Hm?" Brendon says, looking up at Spencer.

Spencer isn't thinking clearly and he knows it, but it had been a weird night with a lot of unusual circumstances. And there had been wine. He's not thinking clearly, and he thinks maybe that's okay just this once. Brendon is sleepy next to him. Brendon took him to dinner with their married friends and ate off his plate almost the entire time. He decided they should share dessert, and then he paid. Spencer supposes that he could be reading the signs wrong, but he could also be reading all of the signs right.

Spencer moves in closer, closing the gap between them. It's not really a kiss in the strictest sense of the word, just a light, mostly dry press of lips, but Brendon doesn't pull away or push Spencer away, so Spencer considers it a win. The second kiss is all Brendon. He grabs Spencer by the shirt and kisses him harder and faster, with a neediness that Spencer can feel against his lips.

Brendon lays back on the sofa, pulling Spencer down on top of him, lacing his fingers in Spencer's hair and running the other hand down Spencer's shirt. It feels good, so good, and Spencer can't think of one good reason why they haven't done this before, many times before this. It feels like they should have, could have even, been doing this all along.

"Spencer," Brendon says, pulling just far enough away that their lips are no longer touching. "Hey, Spence."

"Hm," Spencer says. He closes the gap again, but Brendon pulls back away, putting a hand on Spencer's chest, saying, "Spence, hey, no. This isn't--we shouldn't." And he pushes harder, forces Spencer to sit back up. "Sorry, but this is a bad idea."

"But I thought," Spencer says. "I mean, you--"

"I know," Brendon says. "I know, but I shouldn't have. We should get to bed."

"Yeah," Spencer says. "I guess, maybe." He gets up from the sofa first. He doesn't look back as he walks out of the room. He's a little freaked out that he just kissed one of his best friends and kind of wants to do it again.

+

Spencer thinks it's probably best if he goes back to Vegas after the Florida show. Of course, he actually hasn't talked to Brendon about this yet, and all that's waiting for him at home is an empty house. Plus, his dogs really like it here, where they can be around three other dogs, and there are a lot of people to bother. Spencer just isn't sure if he can be around Brendon right now. He's planning to talk to Brendon about it as soon as they've both had at least one cup of coffee and Shane has left for the morning. Regan is always gone long before any one else is up.

"Hey," Brendon says. He's sitting at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes, drinking his coffee, probably with more cream than necessary and way too much sugar. "Sleep okay?"

"Yeah, okay," Spencer says. If Brendon wants small talk, Spencer supposes he's okay with that. He'd rather not have to make awkward conversation with one of his best friends, but he doesn't know what else to do at this point other than say, hey, sorry about accidentally making out with you last night, but there was that part where you didn't tell me to stop and even encouraged me a little bit, I'll do better next time. Spencer doesn't really want to have that conversation. He pours himself a cup of coffee, black, and grabs a bagel, sitting down at the table across from Brendon.

Neither one of them says anything for a while, and Spencer's not sure whether or not that's for the best.

Finally, Brendon says, "I talked to Ryan this morning."

Spencer can handle talking about Ryan. It's easy, not at all awkward.

"Oh?" Spencer says.

"He's getting into town in a couple of days. I told him he could stay here until his place is ready, so you'll have to share the guest room. I hope you don't mind," Brendon says.

"No," Spencer says. "No, it's fine. Ryan and I have shared a bed before, so I don't think sharing a reasonably sized guest room is going to be a problem."

"Right," Brendon says. "Hey, so I was going to go do some grocery shopping. Did you want anything?" Brendon asks. "Usually Shane does that, but he's got some work to do today, so I said I'd do it."

"I can go with you," Spencer says.

"No," Brendon says. "No, I think I should probably just. You know, I'll get done faster if it's just me. I'm less likely to get distracted."

"Oh yeah," Spencer says. "Yeah, of course. That makes sense." He wishes he could do something about how awkward everything feels right now, but there's really not anything to be done. Maybe Brendon will go shopping, and when he comes back, the awkwardness will have passed. It's not incredibly likely, but Spencer figures there's at least a small chance it will happen.

Brendon pours out the remaining half of his coffee, and nods a goodbye to Spencer as he walks out of the kitchen, but he doesn't say another word. He mentally kicks himself for not mentioning to Brendon that he thinks he should go home, but now Ryan is going to be there at least, so that may help a little. Besides, he really doesn't want to go back to Vegas right now. There's not a lot for him there.

He busies himself checking his messages and emails, and that kills a good twenty minutes. His mom has called him twice and sent a few emails.

She wants to know how he's doing and when he's coming home. He doesn't know how to answer either one of those questions, so he leaves the email unanswered. He lies back on the bed, with no intention of going to sleep. But he closes his eyes, and when he opens them it's to the sound of the front door opening and closing. He forces himself out of bed and out of the room and meets Brendon in the kitchen.

"You wouldn't believe what it was like at that store," Brendon says. "I thought I was going to have to fight a woman over this box of Frosted Flakes."

"Why didn't you just get a different kind of cereal?" Spencer asks. It seems like the most obvious conclusion to him, but sometimes Brendon doesn't really think logically.

"Because, dude," is the answer Brendon gives, holding up the box. "Frosted Flakes."

"Right," Spencer says. Nothing feels right, and it's all uncomfortable where it shouldn't be. They're talking about cereal, for Christ's sake. There shouldn't be anything about this that's weird. But rather than mention it, Spencer is just content to let it go. He doesn't want to make it worse, and he has a feeling that's what he would do.

"So, Shane and Regan are apparently not going to be back until late," Brendon says. "Something with people she works with or something. I don't know."

"Cool," Spencer says. "You have any plans?"

"Nope, you wanna hang out and order Chinese?" Brendon says, busying himself with putting away the groceries. "Or Thai. I haven't had Thai in a while." He continues running down a list of ideas, mostly to himself instead of Spencer.

"Sure," Spencer says because he doesn't really want to say no. The idea of hanging out with Brendon and watching tv over take out sounds too appealing. Maybe if he's lucky, Spencer can even get Brendon to actually say something about last night.

"Cool," Brendon says. "Hey, I'm going to go call my mom." Spencer doesn't think Brendon is actually going to call his mom, but he doesn't say it.

+

Brendon ends up ordering pizza, instead of Chinese or Thai, and they set the box open on the coffee table, as they flip through the channels to find something on television. Brendon has been talking about every stupid, pointless thing that comes to mind. Part of Spencer wants to thank him for it. The other part, however, wants to stop this madness and ask Brendon what the fuck happened last night and why he is acting like it didn't. He settles for munching on his pizza, watching Brendon flip past channel after channel without pausing for long enough to even see what's on.

"So, like," Brendon says. "Okay, here's the thing." He leaves the television on some Law and Order or another. "Last night didn't happen."

"It didn't?" Spencer says. "I'm pretty sure that it did." And he's pretty sure ignoring it isn't going to make it go away.

"No," Brendon says. "Because you're still vulnerable, and I'm your friend." Vulnerable. Spencer kind of wants to hit Brendon in the face for that. "So," Brendon says, waving his hand in the air, and then dusting both hands together. "Poof, didn't happen. Sorry."

Spencer isn't sure if Brendon is apologizing for the fact that they made out or the fact that it's never going to happen again, and honestly, at this point Spencer's not sure which one he would prefer. "Okay," Spencer says. "But I'm not vulnerable. I never was vulnerable, and if I ever had been, I've been over Haley for a while."

"You broke up with Haley a couple of months ago, and that's nothing compared to the three years that you were together," Brendon says. "And you probably miss having someone to make out with, and I was there. It's totally fine. You know how much I love making out with pretty much anyone, but you don't need someone who's supposed to be your friend taking advantage of that."

Spencer's sure that some of that makes a lot of sense, but mostly he just thinks that Brendon's being a total idiot. It's not that Spencer was planning on making out with Brendon. Though, if he's being honest, it's not the first time he's ever thought about it. But now that he has, he kind of wants to do it again. And again. And maybe a few more times after that.

"So," Brendon says. "This awkwardness is over, right?"

"Yeah," Spencer says. "Of course." It's not.

+

Ryan shows up a few days later with more than enough luggage for a week or so. He goes into the guest room and drops everything onto Spencer's air mattress and says, "So, this is where I get to sleep?"

"No," Spencer says. "This is where I sleep." He tosses Ryan's bags in the floor. "Brendon's bringing the other air mattress in from the garage." Brendon and Spencer had gone yesterday to get a new one. It's smaller to save space, but Ryan is skinnier anyway, and Spencer has seniority. It only seems fair that he gets the bigger bed.

Brendon comes in the room and says, "Here, ya go. Bed sweet bed." He grins as he tosses it on the floor. "We just need to air it up." Ryan looks dubious.

"That looks a lot smaller than Spencer's. Why is it smaller?" Ryan studies the air mattress.

"Because there's not room for two huge ones and all of our shit, and I've been here longer," Spencer says. "So. Sucks to be you."

"I cannot live under these conditions!" Ryan says dramatically. "I demand we switch."

"You can always go stay with Pete," Brendon says.

"Oh, right," Ryan says. "And listen to a baby cry for two weeks. Sure."

"Well, then stop complaining," Spencer says. He lies back on his air mattress, crossing his legs and putting his hands behind his head. "And you might want to start pumping some air into that, because I'm not going to."

+

Shane, Brendon and Spencer are playing a very exciting game of MarioKart on Wii while Regan and Ryan sit on the sofa. It gets more violent as Spencer throws a bomb that takes Brendon out of the lead and then Shane runs Spencer off the road. Regan laughs at them and says, "You guys always end up taking this too seriously, and then you don't talk to each other for three days. Calm the fuck down."

"Are you kidding me?" Ryan says. "Brendon and Spencer are even worse when they play Guitar Hero. We've gone five days on a bus with Brendon telling Jon to tell Spencer to pass the pepper," Ryan says.

"Fuck both of you," Spencer says, and uses one of his mushrooms to zoom past Brendon and then the other two to zoom past Shane.

"So," Ryan says, and then Spencer doesn't hear anything else. Just some vague whispers. He turns his head to see if he can make out what Ryan and Regan are talking about, but it just ends with him running his car into a wall and Brendon doing a victory dance.

"You both owe me," Brendon says. "I don't know what you owe me yet, but you totally owe me."

"Yeah, whatever," Spencer says. "I want a rematch."

"Sorry, Spence. I won fair and square," Brendon says. "Hey, Ryan, Regan, what are you two talking about over there?"

"You," Regan says. "And the fact that you're all three tools."

"Oh, and Ryan's not a tool," Brendon says, rolling his eyes. "Hey, Spence, since we're both tools and all, you wanna go out with me tonight?"

"What?" Spencer says, blinking.

"Out, to a club or something. I don't know. I'm antsy. And since we're both single and ready to mingle, I was thinking we could go out."

"What about me?" Shane says.

"Sorry, you're not a single dude," Brendon says. "I don't think Regan would approve of the kind of behavior we're bound to get up to."

"And me?" Ryan says. Spencer starts to remind Ryan that he's not single either and in fact just got back from Hawaii with his girlfriend, but Brendon beats him to the punch, adding, "Anyway, you're not as much of a tool as us. You can stay here with them."

+

Brendon takes Spencer to a bar. It's crowded, and there aren't as many attractive people there as Spencer would have expected in an LA night spot. Plus, he really doesn't feel like having Brendon suggest girl after girl for him to try and pick up.

"How about her?" Brendon points out a brunette in the corner. She's tiny, with a big chest and a really short skirt, and she looks a little bit like Haley in the face. Spencer isn't interested.

"Not my type."

"Are you kidding me?" Brendon says. "She's exactly your type." Brendon scans the bar and points out another girl, this one is a little taller, a little thinner and blonde. She looks nothing like Haley. "What about her? Is she more your type?"

"I'm not interested in anyone here," Spencer says. That's mostly a lie. Ever since they made out, he's been mostly interested in Brendon, but Brendon isn't having it, so Spencer is trying to squash those feelings.

"Hm," Brendon says. "Okay, so we'll go somewhere else then. I know this little place-"

"No," Spencer says. "I think I just want to go sleep."

"Dude, it's like 9:30. You can't go home yet." Brendon steps in front of Spencer, putting his hands up in front of him. "One more. If she's not your type, you're free to go."

"She won't be," Spencer says. "Bye, Brendon." Spencer steps around him.

"Hey, wait!" Brendon follows after him. "How are you going to get home?" Brendon looks proud of himself for coming up with such a great argument.

"A cab?" Spencer says.

"Oh," Brendon says, face falling into a frown. "Well, whatever, then. If you're going, I'll come with you."

They drive home without another word.

+

Spencer gets into the guest room and barely has a chance to slip his shoes off before Ryan says, "Okay, spill it."

"Spill what?" Spencer says. He pulls his shirt off and exchanges it for a faded, old t-shirt and takes off his pants before plopping onto his air mattress, much harder than he probably should.

"What's going on with you and Brendon? Are you two fighting about something stupid, because you need to get over it before we start working again."

Spencer thinks that's ridiculous. "Brendon and I haven't been acting like we're fighting. Besides, we're not getting back to work anytime soon. Jon's still in Chicago, and we haven't even discussed what's going to happen after Florida."

"Okay, well, you two have been really awkward, and it's stupid. So stop," Ryan says, like it's that easy. And how does he even know? Ryan isn't the most perceptive of people.

"We're not being awkward," Spencer says. He knows it's a total lie, but short of never speaking to Brendon again, which he isn't actually willing to do, there aren't many other options to make the awkwardness stop.

"Hm," Ryan says. "Is this about Haley?"

"Jesus Christ," Spencer says. "Why does everyone think everything is about Haley. It's not fucking about Haley. It hasn't been about her for a while." Not since he got to LA. It's about Brendon, and the fact that Brendon is being an idiot.

"Right," Ryan says. "Well, whatever it is, and I don't care what you say, it's something, fix it. Talk to him, or hit him, or whatever you need to do, but I am not going to be in the middle of your circle of awkward, and I'm sure Jon and Eric will feel the same way."

As much as Spencer hates to admit it, Ryan is right. He probably needs to actually talk to Brendon and get it over with. He just isn't sure he wants to do that.

+

Brendon and Spencer pack early the night before they leave for Florida. Spencer's duffle bag is already sitting by his door and ready to go. Ryan is packing a giant suitcase at midnight, and both Brendon and Spencer roll their eyes.

"It's for three fucking days," Spencer says. "Why do you need so much?"

Ryan just shrugs and says, "You have to be prepared for anything," and attempts to zip it up. A scarf gets caught in the zipper, and Spencer resists the urge to ask him if he thinks there's going to be a snowstorm in the middle of southern Florida, but he bites his tongue. He can hear Brendon trying not to laugh next to him.

They go to bed, and when Spencer's alarm goes off the next morning, he can already hear someone moving around in the house. It's too early for Shane or Regan to be awake, so it must be Brendon. Ryan groans, says, "Five more minutes," and starts snoring again. Spencer rolls his eyes and slips on a pair of jeans over his boxers and goes into the kitchen.

"Oh hey," Brendon says. "I already made coffee if you want some." Brendon offers Spencer a mug and he takes it, gladly. They sit at the table, neither saying anything as they drink their coffee.

Brendon's wide awake, and Spencer thinks he's probably be up for a while. "What time did you wake up?" he asks.

Brendon blinks and shrugs, saying, "I don't know. A couple of hours ago. I couldn't really sleep last night." Spencer wants to ask him why, but he doesn't know if he's allowed to. He doesn't know a lot of things where Brendon is concerned right now. He doesn't ask.

A few minutes later, Ryan stumbles in, dress shirt unbuttoned, hair still rumpled and rubbing at his eyes with a yawn. He says something through the yawn that Spencer is barely able to translate as, "Is there any more coffee?" Spencer points to the pot and looks at Brendon, rolling his eyes.

Ryan says, "I saw that," as he sits down at the table.

They finish their coffee and drive to the airport. The flight is full, and they all spend most of it trying to sleep, despite the crying baby in the back and a couple of kids who are talking loudly. They land in Florida, Zack now following behind them, and meet Jon at baggage claim.

"Hey guys," he says, and it's almost like the four of them haven't spent the last few months apart.

They go to the hotel first and split into two rooms. Ryan calls Jon, and whispers something to him as they go. Brendon and Spencer split off across the hall and go to their own room. Spencer wonders if it's paranoid to think that whatever Ryan said had to do with him and Brendon and decides that, yes, it really is.

Spencer throws his stuff down next to one of the beds and lies down. Brendon heads straight for the bathroom. The show isn't actually until tomorrow, so conceivably they have some time to hang out in Florida. Brendon comes out of the bathroom and says, "Hey, let's go."

"Where are we going?" Spencer says.

"I don't know. Let's go see if Jon and Ryan want to go out tonight? We could, I don't know, find a bar or something," Brendon says. There's a college nearby, so there probably isn't a shortage of bars.

Spencer shrugs and says, "Sure." It can't hurt to go out with the guys. With Ryan and Jon around maybe it won't even be so awkward with Brendon.

+

They end up just going to the hotel bar. They're sitting in the booth in the back, sharing some appetizers and drinking a lot. Jon is telling story after story about hanging out in Chicago and his girlfriend and his cats. Ryan talks about Hawaii. Then Jon says, "What about you guys? You have to be getting into all kinds of trouble in LA."

Spencer thinks that Jon has no idea, and he just shrugs. Brendon laughs and says, "Oh yeah, lots of trouble. We knocked off a liquor store last week," and he finishes his fourth, maybe fifth, beer. Jon laughs, full and loud.

"You think it's funny, but how do you think I can afford to keep Spencer here in coffee and bagels?" Brendon says, wiggling his eyebrows. It looks ridiculous, and Spencer wants to lean over and kiss him because of it.

"Yeah, meanwhile, I am being cruelly mistreated," Ryan says. "My air mattress sucks." Jon laughs and pats him awkwardly on the head.

"I could have made you sleep on the floor," Brendon says, grinning, and they all know he wouldn't have done that. "Count your blessings, Ross."

Ryan grumbles what sounds like a disagreement, but everyone ignores it. Jon says, "Don't suppose you have room for me in that reasonably sized house, do you?"

"You're coming back to LA with us?" Spencer asks.

"Might as well," Jon says. "Ryan and I talked about getting back to work on some songs, and I can be there next week."

"My place should be ready by then," Ryan says. "You can stay there. Trust me, you don't want to be around the Brendon and Spencer House of Feuding right now." Ryan shoots Spencer a look. Brendon nearly spits out his beer.

"We're not feuding," Brendon argues. "We're fine."

"Right," Ryan says. "Man, Jon, you have no idea. If they're even talking to each other, it's been really weird."

"That is a lie," Brendon says. "We're not acting weird."

"Yeah," Spencer says, "you're the weird one." It's pretty much the lamest come back ever, and Spencer knows that.

Jon looks from Brendon and Spencer to Ryan and says, "Right. You know, maybe I'll just stay in Chicago for a while after all." His tone is light, and Spencer's pretty sure that he's only kidding.

"I think I need to go to bed," Brendon says. Ryan gives Jon a look as Brendon gets up.

"I'll come with you," Spencer says. Brendon looks like he's going to argue but he shrugs and just keeps going. Spencer's sure he hears Ryan say, "See, weird," as they walk out of the bar.

+

"Ryan is dumb," Brendon says. He can't quite get the keycard working right. Spencer grabs it and turns it around and it works fine. They stumble into the room and Brendon goes on, "I mean, we're not acting weird. We're totally normal."

"Brendon-" Spencer says, but Brendon interrupts him.

"I mean, so what if we made out, right? It was a thing. And it hasn't happened since, and we're fine, and Ryan is just dumb."

"Do you really think we're fine?" Spencer says. Spencer is pretty sure they're really far from fine. "Because-"

But he doesn't get an answer because Brendon grabs him by the shirt and kisses him. It's different from the first time. Brendon tastes more heavily of alcohol, and he's sloppier, gripping at Spencer's shirt. Spencer's brain is screaming at him to stop this because it's going to make everything worse. He could do it. He could stop Brendon and tell him to go to bed and it would be easy, but it's so much nicer to let Brendon kiss him sloppy and wet, pulling Spencer as he walks backwards to the bed.

Brendon tugs Spencer down with him as he lies back on the bed. Their feet are tangled around each other, dangling off the edge. Spencer can feel his heart pounding, can feel Brendon's finger tips brushing at the hem of his t-shirt. "Spence," Brendon mutters, and Spencer can feel Brendon's breath warm on his cheek.

Spencer shakes his head and starts kissing along Brendon's jaw, down his throat, stopping at his collar bone. He thinks he could leave a mark, so that when Brendon wakes up in the morning it's there, a reminder that this happened, in case he wants to freak out again, but Spencer decides against it. He moves back up to kiss Brendon on the mouth again, tugging on Brendon's bottom lip, lightly.

Brendon thrusts up and says, "Spencer," again, barely a whisper. "Can you. I mean," and then stops.

Spencer can't guess what he was going to say and thinks he probably doesn't want to, anyway. He can feel Brendon's cock, hard, pressing into his thigh. Spencer is sure Brendon knows that he's hard too. He rubs against Brendon's thigh, creating a rhythm that Brendon follows. Spencer says, "Brendon, Brendon, Brendon," breathy and broken. Brendon's breathing is short and heavy, his eyes are closed. Spencer thinks it's pretty much the hottest thing he's ever seen, and he wants to remember it. He presses soft kisses on Brendon's face around his eyes, on his cheek, at the corner of his mouth and down to his jawline, creating snap shots with his mouth, so that he can remember this moment later. He grinds against Brendon harder, speeding their rhythm. Brendon lets out something like a moan that sounds like Spencer's name as he comes, and Spencer doesn't last much longer.

Spencer lies on top of Brendon as they catch their breath. He touches Brendon's jawline lightly with his fingertips. He leaves his fingers on Brendon's face as he rolls over to lie next to Brendon.

Brendon says, "I should get cleaned up," And just like that Spencer feels like the moment is gone and over.

He pushes up off of the bed and lets Brendon walk into the bathroom. By the time Brendon comes back, Spencer has gotten out of his clothes, stripped down to his boxers. He's wiped himself off with his t-shirt, and he's curled into his own blankets on his own bed. Brendon doesn't say a thing as he does the same.

+

Brendon is already gone when Spencer wakes up. He sends a quick text to Ryan, who tells him that Brendon's in his room. Spencer showers and gets dressed and meets them there. Brendon won't meet his eyes, and Jon keeps looking at them. Ryan says, "Next time fucking text him." Spencer feels a little ashamed but not enough to really care.

The whole rest of the morning and on the ride to the venue, Spencer keeps trying to get Brendon to look at him. He just fucking won't, and it's really frustrating. Spencer hates Brendon right now, or he would, if he didn't want to just make out with him and maybe hold his hand or something. It's stupid, and Spencer's starting to feel pathetic. It's obvious that Brendon's not interested, but he just can't let it go.

Brendon is fucking on that night, and it drives Spencer crazy. He's glad that he's behind his kit, because the way Brendon works the crowd and moves around stage and does pretty much everything is a huge fucking turn on.

Backstage after the show Spencer says, "Room switch. I get Jon tonight," because he obviously can't trust himself to be around Brendon without acting like a horny teenager, and he's not in the mood to deal with Ryan at all.

Ryan looks like he's going to argue, but Brendon says, "Okay," and that stops him. Jon just shrugs and throws an arm around Spencer, saying something about how it feels like old times.

+

"So," Spencer says, gripping the bottle of beer. "I think I'm fucking in love with him or something."

"In love with who?" Jon says. He keeps looking at his phone, and it's kind of annoying because Spencer is just trying to have a fucking conversation with someone who is completely unbiased. "Sorry, Cass sent me a picture of Clover and Marley. Fucking adorable." Spencer really doesn't care about Jon's pets right now.

"Brendon," Spencer says.

"You think you're in love with Brendon?" Jon makes it sound like a ridiculous claim, and maybe to an outsider it is, but Spencer feels something and if it's not love then it's something on the verge of that.

"I don't know. I want to make out with him, basically all the time and maybe hold his hand." It sounds a lot more lame when he says it out loud, but he's had three beers and he had to say it to someone, since Brendon isn't willing to listen, the little asshole.

"That's random," Jon says, and maybe it is.

"He thinks I'm vulnerable," Spencer says. He hates that word. "He says he doesn't want to take advantage of me after Haley, or whatever."

"That sounds like a good thing to me," Jon says, raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah, except he's wrong. I am so so over Haley." Spencer is over her. Why doesn't anyone believe him?

"I think you've had enough," Jon says, which is ridiculous because Jon has no right to ever tell anyone they've had enough to drink, but when Jon takes Spencer's beer away he lets him. "You should sleep."

"Don't tell Brendon I told you," Spencer says. He hasn't even really told Jon much of anything, but knowing someone else knows is freaking him out a little. "Or Ryan, especially not Ryan."

"Sure thing, Spence," Jon says. "Anyway, it's probably best if Ryan thinks you're just fighting over the last of the Fritos or leaving your wet towels on the floor. He'll start ranting about how this could fuck up the band dynamic or something," Jon says, laughing. And somehow hearing Jon laugh about it makes it a little better.

+

Ryan, Spencer and Brendon say goodbye to Jon at the airport. He promises to call in a few days to work out when they're going to get to work. Ryan makes Brendon and Spencer sit next to each other on the plane so they can work out their issues or whatever Ryan is calling it, but mostly Spencer just feels Brendon's arm brush his every time he goes to skip a song on his iPod.

Brendon doesn't say anything to him, which makes Spencer feel uncomfortable and anxious. He doesn't like it. He tries to start up conversations a few times but they keep getting interrupted by flight attendants and Ryan and people turning to ask them if they know what time it is. Spencer kind of wants to stand up and tell everyone to shut the fuck up and let them talk. He doesn't think that would help though.

When they get back to LA, Ryan says he has somewhere to be and disappears, leaving Brendon and Spencer alone in the house for the afternoon. Brendon sits on the sofa and flips through the channels half-heartedly while Spencer makes coffee. He doesn't really want any, but he's restless and needs to do something with his hands.

The coffee is done, but he can't convince himself to drink any. He could go to his room and check his emails, maybe call his mom, but he goes into the living room and sits next to Brendon instead. Neither says anything for a while, they just look at the screen. Family Guy is on, and all of the jokes are funny but no one is laughing.

"This is dumb," Brendon finally says. "We're friends." Spencer doesn't respond because he doesn't think Brendon wants to hear what he has to say. "Look, Spencer, I know you, whatever, but you don't, okay?"

"I don't?" Spencer's mouth betrays him and the words are out before his brain can tell them not to speak.

"You think you do, and that's cool, but I don't want," Brendon says. "Not like this." Spencer wants to ask what he means by like this, but Brendon's out the front door before he can question it. It's only 7pm, but Spencer goes to bed anyway.

+

Ryan is still gone when Spencer wakes up, or maybe gone again. Shane tells him that Ryan left early and didn't say where he was going or when he would be back. Spencer assumes that it's probably for the best. He probably doesn't want to know. Brendon is gone too, but Spencer pretends not to care and doesn't ask Shane where he's gone.

Spencer spends most of the afternoon watching television, since he has the place to himself after Shane leaves for work. There's not a whole lot of watchable TV in the afternoon, but there's a lot of unwatchable TV that is really easy to get stuck on. Spencer's watching some court show where two roommates are bickering over the security deposit when the front door opens and closes.

"Anyone here?" Brendon says. Spencer hears his keys fall onto the table next to the door, and he comes into the living room. "Oh, hey." Brendon flops back onto the couch and says, "Oh, I've seen this one. The judge gives the money to the plaintiff, and then the other girl spends five minutes at the end of the show talking about how she was wronged. It's pretty awesome."

Spencer thinks it's unfair of Brendon to come in here and act like nothing happened, but he can't be bothered to fight anymore, so he just goes along with it.

"Thanks, jackass," Spencer says, clicking the TV off. "Now I don't even want to watch it." Not that it was terribly interesting, but it's the principle of the matter. "Where did you go?"

Brendon just shrugs. "What have you been up to? Where's Ross?"

"Don't know," Spencer says. "He was gone when I got up."

The sit like that for a while, Brendon on one end of the couch, Spencer on the other, not saying a word to each other. Yet another awkward silence to add to a million that have occurred in the last little while. Eventually Brendon sighs, breaking it, and says, "I was just out. I went to, like, every record store within twenty miles. I didn't find anything, though." Spencer is pretty sure that Brendon didn't spend 20 hours in record stores, but he doesn't question Brendon about it any further.

"Okay," Spencer says. "Were you looking for anything specific?" He doesn't know what Brendon wants from him.

"No," Brendon says, a little frustration coming out in his voice. "It wasn't about ---nevermind."

"Okay." Brendon is confusing the fuck out of Spencer right now.

"Look, this is stupid," Brendon says. "It was a mistake." Brendon is obviously making an effort not to look at Spencer. His knees are not that interesting. "Both times, they were mistakes."

"Of course, yeah." Spencer doesn't think it was a mistake, but Brendon doesn't want to hear it, and Spencer is tired of arguing.

"Are you sure? Because you're being awkward as fuck, and it sucks, so just. Stop, okay?" Brendon sounds a little desperate, and it's hard for Spencer to deny him what he wants.

"Yeah, okay," Spencer says. It's not that easy and he knows it, but he can probably pretend.

"Good, because, seriously, dude. You're my best friend or whatever, and this is all really fucked up. I just want to get back to normal," Brendon says.

Spencer nods and says, "Yeah, okay," because it's hard not to do what Brendon asks when he puts it that way, and it can't possibly be that hard to pretend that nothing happened between them.

+

Ryan spends a lot of his time his time in LA "out," without any specifics. Spencer is really curious as to where he's spending all of his time, but he finds it's better if he doesn't ask what Ryan is up to. Things get less awkward between Spencer and Brendon, but that probably has something to do with the way Spencer spends all of his time trying to avoid Brendon. It's really hard, given that he's staying in Brendon's house, but he's putting up a good effort. He spends most of his time in his room or pretending to be on the phone. Sometimes he even goes out to lunch or dinner by himself.

Spencer misses spending time with Brendon, but he's trying to do what Brendon wants, trying to make everything normal in the only way he thinks he can. Avoidance makes everything so much better. Shane has the day off, and Brendon's still in his room when Spencer comes out to get coffee and maybe a bagel.

"So," Shane says, "You're avoiding Brendon."

"What?" Spencer questions. "No, I'm not. Everything's fine with Brendon."

"Uh-huh," Shane says, quirking an eyebrow. "Well, I don't know. There are some pretty good signs that you're avoiding him."

"Like what?" Spencer asks. Maybe if he knows what's obvious, he can make it stop.

"Well, you looked around the corner before you came through the hallway and into the kitchen," Shane says. "And also, Brendon came up to me yesterday and said, 'I think Spencer is avoiding me.' He was pretty tragic about it, too."

"Oh," Spencer says. "Sorry." He's a little ashamed.

"Don't apologize to me, dude. Apologize to him," Shane says. "Or, you know, just stop. Because he gets this really stupid, sad face when you leave the room as soon as he walks in, and Regan hates it. She said it makes her want to bake him cookies, and she's likely to burn down the kitchen if she tries that."

"Oh," Spencer lets out a quiet laugh. "Yeah, okay. I'll stop."

"You'd better," Shane says. "Or you're going to eat those cookies, and pretend to like them."

+

Spencer spends the rest of the day trying to decide whether or not he can actually stop avoiding Brendon and still not be uncomfortable around him. Which involves avoiding Brendon more, and then he feels shitty. He eventually decides that he just needs to do it now, or he'll keep avoiding Brendon until he goes back to Vegas. It's late when he taps on Brendon's door. Almost midnight. He's sure Brendon's not asleep, though.

"Come in," Brendon says. Spencer opens the door and pops his head in, and Brendon says, "Oh, hey."

"Hi," Spencer says, oddly nervous. He walks over to Brendon and sits down on the edge of the bed. It's just Brendon. There isn't going to be a repeat of Florida, especially not with Shane and Regan right down the hall.

"Decided to stop avoiding me?" Brendon says, a little coldly.

"I wasn't -" Spencer says. "Okay, I was. I'm sorry."

"Yeah, well," Brendon says. "I guess it's my fault too."

They sit like that for a while, until Spencer says, "I don't get it."

"Don't get what?" Brendon says.

"You," Spencer says. "You were into it when it was happening, and now you just want to ignore it, and don't tell me it's because it didn't mean anything. That's bullshit."

"It was a mistake," Brendon says. Spencer doesn't actually think that explains much of anything.

"Why was it a mistake?" Spencer asks. "It didn't seem like a mistake to me."

"Because," Brendon says. "Look, it's not that I- You barely got over Haley, okay, and the last thing you need is me making it more confusing."

"I've been over Haley for a while," Spencer says. Less than a month, but it feels like a lot longer to Spencer. "And it's not like you were just there."

"But I was," Brendon says. "I've been there ever since she left, and that's fine. I wanted to be because, like I said, you're my best friend, and it kind of sucked to watch you moping around acting like you'd never be happy again, so I helped. And then that happened, and that's cool, whatever, but it was a mistake." Brendon doesn't sound extremely convinced, but he sounds more convinced than Spencer.

"Twice," Spencer says.

"What?" Brendon looks at him with sad, pathetic eyes, and it's hard to keep talking.

"Twice, Brendon, it happened twice, and that's not a mistake," Spencer says. "That's a fucking pattern of behavior."

"Spencer, just stop," Brendon says. "I can't. Not with you." His voice sounds broken and raw, and Spencer can't argue anymore.

"Yeah," Spencer says. "Okay."

"Good, so we agree" Brendon says. "Now will you stop being a fucking douche about this?"

"Yeah," Spencer says.

"Good." Brendon sighs. "Look, I know that you don't realize it, but you're barely over her, and the last thing you need is a friend taking advantage of that."

Spencer supposes that Brendon is right about that. It doesn't actually make him agree completely, but he's willing to back off and maybe try not to be so weird.

"So, hey, since you're not avoiding me, and it looks like you're not going to sleep any time soon either, wanna watch a movie?" Brendon asks.

"Okay," Spencer says. Brendon puts in a movie that they've both seen half a million times, and they both fall asleep halfway through.

part 3
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