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[personal profile] ohnoitsshirley
Suppose We Never Ever 1/3
Brendon/Spencer (Spencer/Haley, other background pairings)
23,167 words, rated R


One morning in early December, Spencer wakes up to find Haley sitting in the living room with everything she owns sitting at her feet. It looks like she's been crying, but she's calm now. She says, "I'm leaving," in a way that makes Spencer feel like there's nothing he can do to stop her. Her mind is made up. She doesn't give an explanation, and he doesn't ask.

She hugs him and says goodbye and maybe someday things will be different, maybe they can be friends, but right now she needs to go. She says it's complicated and they need to spend time apart and she needs space and other excuses that fall dead on Spencer's ears, things that don't make sense to him. Spencer watches her walk out of his life, and he pretends it doesn't nearly kill him to see the cab drive off.

+

It's been a few days since Spencer has had any interaction with the outside world. His phone died sometime yesterday, and he didn't really feel like charging it. There had been no reason. He had given up hope that Haley was going to call sometime around 2AM the night that she had left, and he doesn't want to talk to anyone else. Mostly, he just wants to sit around and wallow in self pity.

He thinks over and over again about how he could have at least tried to stop her, begged her to not to go, anything to make her stay. He doesn't think it would have done any good, but he could have tried. Or maybe it goes further. He wishes he could have thought of anything that would have changed this outcome, but he just keeps coming up blank. He has no idea what he did wrong. Maybe he didn't do anything wrong. Somehow knowing that makes it worse. At least if it was something he had done, he could have fixed it. Maybe he could even fix it now. But it had just ended.

He takes a few minutes to let the dogs out into the backyard, to feed and water them, because he would feel even worse if he neglected them on top of everything else that's going on. He thinks they're feeling the same way he is. They both keep looking at the door, like they're waiting for someone to come through, like they're waiting for Haley to come home. Spencer would be lying if he tried to say he didn't sneak the same looks every now and then. Which is pretty much every time he hears a car pass the house.

He's in the kitchen looking in the fridge for something edible (something that doesn't appear to exist) when he hears the front door open. It's naive to think that it might be Haley, but he still slams the fridge door so hard that it pops back open before he runs into the other room.

"Oh," Spencer says. It's not Haley. It's nowhere close to being Haley.

"Hey," Brendon says. "Did you know your door was unlocked? That's not really safe, man. Anyone could come walking in."

"Yeah, I can see that," Spencer says. "What are you doing here?"

"You didn't answer your phone." Brendon pushes past Spencer and plops down on the couch. "So, I know you've been busy with Haley or whatever, but seriously. You should answer your phone." He stops talking to look around the room and says, "Where is Haley?" And, "Dude, Spence, you reek. Have you showered in the last week?"

"Haley isn't here," he says. "I'm going to bed."

Spencer gets halfway to the bedroom before Brendon comes running after him. "Wait, what?" He jumps in front of Spencer before Spencer can slam the bedroom door in his face. "Haley's not here, like, went to the store not here? Also, it's like 6 P.M. You can't go to bed."

"She's just gone. I'm going to bed," Spencer says. "Please leave."

"So, when you say gone..." Brendon says, taking in a deep breath, like he's just figured it out.

"I mean she left. She went back home," Spencer says. He walks over to the bed and flops down on it. "And no, before you ask, I don't want to talk about it."

"Why did she go home?" Spencer had hoped that saying he didn't want to talk about it would make Brendon turn around and leave. He should have known better. Brendon sits down on the other side of the bed. That's where Haley sleeps. Spencer pushes the thought away as quickly as it comes.

"What part of I don't want to talk about it don't you understand?" He knows Brendon well enough that he should have known that would only make him curious. He's going to be here all night. Possibly longer.

"Spence," Brendon says. Brendon fixes him with a look that Spencer assumes is supposed to make him change his mind about talking things over. "Okay, then, you leave me no choice. Now I just have to guess." Spencer can only assume that this is Brendon's version of helping. "Did she rob a bank? Did she have an affair with Pete? Steal a diamond? Shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die?" This is not actually helping Spencer as much as Brendon's smile would indicate he thinks it is.

"Jesus, Brendon." Spencer wants to leave the room, possibly the house if Brendon doesn't get the hint, but he doesn't have the energy. Besides, it's his house. Brendon should have to leave. "No. Now, can you please leave?"

"I told Ryan you weren't having hot, crazy sex," Brendon says solemnly.

"What the fuck, Brendon?" Spencer is getting a headache. He thinks it's more a culmination of the events of the last few days, but it's so much easier to blame Brendon for it.

"Ryan said that's why you weren't answering the phone," Brendon says. "You were probably busy with Haley, but I knew something was wrong, so I came to check on you. And I was right. You smell like ass. Have I said that yet?"

Spencer decides to just ignore Brendon. It might work better than engaging in conversation with him anyway. They sit in silence for a while before Spencer realizes that Brendon is actually not going to go anywhere.

"She said she needed to be by herself for a while," Spencer says. "And then she went to be by herself. And that's it. Now, will you please go?"

Brendon crosses his arms in front of his chest and says, "It's not that easy to get rid of me, and you know it."

Spencer doesn't have the energy for this, so he ignores Brendon. Again. He turns to face the other direction and hopes that after a while Brendon will just think that he's fallen asleep. Although, Spencer's afraid he might take that as an invitation to stay as long as he'd like. He figures it's a risk he's willing to take though. Maybe it will at least get Brendon out of the room.

"Fine," Brendon says. "If you're going to be that way, then I don't know what else to say." He stops talking, and Spencer assumes that he's gone, until he says, "But if you think I'm not coming back tomorrow, you're wrong. And if you haven't showered, I'm going to have to do something drastic."

"What are you going to do?" Spencer speaks before he even realizes what he's doing. Seriously, though. That's the strangest threat Spencer's ever heard.

"Don't force me to get you all wet, Spencer." His voice is somewhere between a snicker and an attempt at forceful. On a normal day, Spencer would roll his eyes at Brendon's stupid joke while laughing at him on the inside, but he's not in the mood and doesn't want to deal with Brendon anymore.

"Go away," Spencer says.

"Yeah, going." After a couple of minutes Spencer hears the front door slam. He doesn't leave his bed, but he doesn't sleep either.

+

By the time he hears the door open and close and Brendon asking if he's home, Spencer has managed to at least shower. He hasn't done much else, and he didn't really think Brendon would make good on his threat, but he wasn't willing to risk it.

"Jesus, Spence, if you haven't moved since last night I'm going to-" Brendon walks into the room and looks a little surprised. "Oh, good, you at least changed clothes." Brendon walks a little bit closer, and is he sniffing Spencer? He's definitely sniffing Spencer. "Oh, hey, you're clean. Good, I actually wasn't looking forward to wrestling you into the bathtub fully clothed."

"Okay," Spencer says. "You've checked on me. I did what you asked. Now, will you go away and leave me alone?"

"Nope," Brendon says. "Come on. You're getting out of the bedroom. I brought movies." Brendon grins, which, honestly, frightens Spencer. Brendon obviously has Plans, and Spencer is not in the mood. He's not done wallowing.

"Brendon," Spencer says. "Seriously, I just want to be by myself."

"Sucks to be you," Brendon says. "Now get up." He leaves the room but doesn't close the door behind him. Spencer thinks it would be easy to just ignore him and stay in bed. But he also knows Brendon and thinks he probably won't give up that easily, so he forces himself to follow.

Spencer doesn't know what movie Brendon puts in. He doesn't have a problem with that because he's not really interested. He just keeps thinking about all of the times he and Haley curled up on the couch and watched movies together. He's really going to have to get out of the habit of letting everything remind him of her. It would probably make this easier.

Brendon laughs at a joke that Spencer misses, and he pulls himself back into the now. He still doesn't know what they're watching, and more over, he still doesn't care.

"Okay," Brendon says, pausing the movie. "Seriously."

"What?" Spencer says.

"You, talk." Brendon says. "I'm not starting this movie back up until you say something that isn't, 'Go away, Brendon,' or, 'Shut up, Brendon.'"

"I don't have anything to talk about," Spencer says. "I'm fine."

"Or that," Brendon says. "The words I'm fine are banned in this house until further notice. If I hear them, drastic measures will have to be taken."

"You're not going to threaten to bathe me again, are you?" Spencer is going to have to draw the line at that threat, or anything that involves Brendon seeing him wet or naked.

"No," Brendon says. He jumps up off the couch and says, "But you know what you need? You need to eat."

"I thought we were watching the movie," Spencer says.

"Do you even know what we were watching?" Spencer doesn't. "That's what I thought. I'll bet you haven't eaten in days. Well, lucky for you, I went shopping."

"I've eaten," Spencer says. He hasn't eaten much of substance, but he's eaten. A little bit. Enough that that's not a total lie, anyway.

"Shut the fuck up," Brendon says. It's not as light as Brendon's been for most of the day. "I'm going to make you something to eat whether you like it or not."

Spencer starts to argue, but Brendon is in the kitchen before he can get another word out. It's useless anyway, and he knows it. Brendon's not going anywhere now. Spencer feels like maybe he should be thankful that Brendon's here, trying to make him feel better or whatever the fuck he's doing, but mostly Spencer just wants to be alone.

If he'd wanted someone checking up on him every five minutes, he would have called Ryan as soon as Haley had walked out the door.

"So," Brendon says, from the kitchen. "This chicken soup is the best recipe ever. I got it from my mom." He walks back into the room, pointing a giant spoon at Spencer. "I promise you will feel better. My mom always used to give it to me when I was sad."

"How old were you at the time?" Spencer says, raising an eyebrow.

"Uhm, that's not important," Brendon says. "The important thing is that it worked." He smiles big and bright before walking back into the kitchen.

Spencer can't believe this is his life right now. Dumped by his girlfriend, being fed by Brendon in an attempt to cheer him up and with nothing to distract him from any of it.

+

Spencer manages to get rid of Brendon by promising to shower and eat if only Brendon will leave him alone for the next few days. "But only three," Brendon had said. After that he was slamming through the door and Spencer was, "Going to talk about this whether he wants to or not."

Spencer is doing okay, actually. Brendon's soup had no real healing powers, and he's not magically thrilled with the idea of Haley not being here. But he's not staying in bed all day anymore, and he's showering and eating. He's even thinking about walking the dogs before the day is over with.

This must be progress.

The door opens and closes and Spencer says, "I thought we had a deal, three days, bef--" But it's Ryan standing in front him him with his arms crossed this time and not Brendon. He doesn't know whether or not he should be relieved.

"Is there a reason why I had to hear about Haley leaving from Brendon?" Ryan says. To the casual observer it might seem like Ryan doesn't really care what the answer is, but Spencer's known Ryan long enough to know that he does.

"Yes," Spencer says, not offering more of an explanation.

"Well." Ryan doesn't move.

"He came barging into my house two days ago and wouldn't leave. When Haley didn't show up, I eventually had to tell him what was going on," Spencer says. "Trust me, I wasn't a willing participant in any of this. I just wanted to be left alone." Spencer still just wants to be left alone, but Ryan's going to be even harder to get rid of than Brendon.

"Well, I'm not going anywhere," Ryan says, sitting down next to Spencer on the couch.

"Yeah, I didn't think you would," Spencer says. "I'm not going to talk about it." He hopes that Ryan understands.

"Okay," Ryan says. "You know I'm going to make you eventually though, right?"

"Yeah," Spencer says. "I know. Just not right now."

Spencer isn't sure how long they sit there, but eventually it's long enough. Eventually, he says, "I don't know what happened. I woke up, and she had packed her things. There was a cab on the way, and she was ready to leave. She said she's never been on her own, and she needs to be." Spencer remembers every detail, and now that he's started talking about it, he can't stop. "I didn't even try to stop her. I should have done something."

"What would you have done?" Ryan asks him, and the truth is, he has no idea.

"I don't know," Spencer says.

"Then there was nothing you could have done," Ryan says.

"I guess," Spencer says. They sit in silence for the rest of the night.

+

Talking to Ryan doesn't make Spencer feel as good as he thought it would. He thought if he spilled it all out to someone, it would lift this weight or something stupid and cliche like that. All it really did was make it more real.

Haley is gone.

She's probably not coming back.

Spencer is better about getting out of bed and bathing, even cooking for himself, but he's still not really ready to go out and leave the house.

Ryan comes by a few more times, even spends the night once, curled in close to Spencer in Spencer and Haley's --just Spencer's now-- bed.

Brendon comes by almost every day, sometimes with some new movie that he thinks Spencer must see, sometimes convincing Spencer to play a few rounds of Guitar Hero or Mario Kart. It always feels like Brendon's trying to force some sense of normalcy into Spencer's life where even Brendon doesn't think it belongs just yet, but Spencer goes with it. It isn't so bad now, when Brendon's around.

Sometimes he even forgets to think about all of the times Haley kicked his ass at Mario Kart.

It's been two weeks exactly since Haley left, and Brendon lets himself in (because Brendon never knocks anymore, and Spencer never bothers to lock the door) and steps in front of Spencer, where he's sitting on the couch. He says, "Get up, and let's go."

"Where are we going?" Spencer says. The one thing he hasn't done since Haley left, is leave the house. It's not really from a deep depression so much as there's been no reason, at least that's what he's been telling himself. Ryan and Brendon have been supplying him with everything he wants and needs, and he just doesn't want to deal with other people.

"We're going shopping," Brendon says. "And we're not arguing about it, either. Let's go."

"But you bought me groceries a few days ago," Spencer says. "Move, I can't see the tv." Spencer doesn't even know what's on.

"I bought you groceries like two weeks ago," Brendon says. "Now hurry up and put some pants on. You need to eat something that I didn't get from a drive-thru on the way here."

Spencer realizes, thinking back, that's it's been a few days since he's had anything of substance. He still hates grocery shopping, and it's just going to be one more thing that reminds him of Haley. They always went shopping together when he was in town.

"Fine," he says. "But I'm doing this under extreme protest." He goes to the bedroom to change clothes and when he comes back out, Brendon's already outside.

The ride to the store isn't exactly uncomfortable, but it's silent. Brendon's singing along quietly to the radio, and Spencer doesn't really think there's anything to say, other than, no, I don't want to do this, I just want to go back home, but he thinks that would be useless anyway. Unless he wants to jump out of Brendon's moving car, which, actually, doesn't sound like a terrible idea.

"You're not going to run," Brendon says. Spencer hadn't even realized he had stopped singing.

"I wasn't thinking about running," Spencer says. It's not technically a lie.

"Whatever you're thinking, stop. This is a good thing," Brendon says. "You need to get out of the house."

"I'm fine," Spencer says.

"I haven't lifted the ban on that phrase yet," Brendon says. He's turning into the parking lot of the supermarket. It's mid-afternoon on a weekday, so there are only a few cars. Spencer's glad that it's not crowded. Just being here is bad enough. He's not in the mood for crowds.

"We aren't in the house. I believe that you said I couldn't say that phrase in the house," Spencer says.

"Okay, addendum to the rule, those words are not allowed in my presence at all until further notice," Brendon says. "Don't be a smartass. That's my job."

Brendon goes in and Spencer follows behind. They come out of the store forty-five minutes later, after more than a few arguments, with eighty-five dollars worth of groceries. Spencer actually does feel a little bit better after getting out of the house, and he didn't think of Haley much at all with Brendon there to argue with over what kind of cereal is better, Frosted Flakes or Cheerios.

+

That night, Spencer cooks dinner. It's been a while since he's been in the kitchen. He hasn't done more than microwave since Haley left. He sits with Brendon in front of the TV, eating their food in silence. It's comfortable and normal, and Spencer feels relaxed for the first time in a while.

+

Brendon keeps coming by nearly every day, watching Spencer's TV and eating Spencer's food, all the while making sure that Spencer is taking care of himself and not ignoring personal hygiene. Spencer tries to explain that he's doing much better, but Brendon still insists on checking up on him.

A couple of times, Ryan comes along too. The three of them call Jon on speaker and they talk about recording and timelines and the new record. No one mentions Haley, even if Spencer can tell that Jon is dying to ask, and that Ryan wants to say something and keeps shooting him little sympathetic looks. Even Brendon, who sees him nearly every day, seems to be tiptoeing around him.

Maybe Spencer doesn't have as much input as usual, maybe he's a little quieter, but he's doing much better. Really.

+

"So, I'm lifting the ban," Brendon says. It's a few days later, and Brendon and Spencer are sitting at Spencer's kitchen table eating stir fry.

"What ban?" Spencer asks.

"The 'I'm fine,' ban," Brendon says. "I figure it's been a few weeks. It's okay to answer that way now."

"Oh," Spencer says. "Well, thanks for that." Spencer lets out a little laugh. "So your next question would be ..."

"I don't have a question." Brendon flips some of his food around, looking at his plate, not at Spencer. "Okay, fine. How's it going? Really," he asks

"I'm good." Spencer doesn't say fine. "Really," he says. "I mean, I'm still not happy that she's gone, you know, but I guess I realize that I'm going to be okay. I'm ...good." Spencer's surprised his own answer, but it's not lie. He really is feeling okay.

"Good," Brendon says. "So, I guess I can stop bothering you. Maybe I even won't come over tomorrow."

"But what will I do without you here yelling at me to take a shower?" Spencer says, laughing. "I mean, I might forget, you know?" He doesn't know when he stopped being annoyed by Brendon's visits, but at some point Spencer actually started to look forward to seeing him every day. It's nice having someone else around. It turns out that it's especially nice having Brendon around.

"Well, that's your problem now. As long as I don't have to smell you, I don't really care," Brendon says. "Anyway, you don't really seem to need --" He pauses, like he's rethinking his words. "The help. Anymore."

"Yeah," Spencer says. "Thanks, though. You really helped."

"Yeah," Brendon says. He gets up, his chair scraping across the floor as he pushes it back. "I'm going to go." It's a sudden move, and Spencer doesn't really understand it. Brendon hasn't even finished his dinner.

"Are you alright?" The words feel strange coming out of Spencer's mouth. It's been a while since he was the one asking that question.

"Oh, yeah," Brendon says. "I'm fine, I'm good. I just, you know, have to go. I have to feed Dylan."

Spencer can't help but think that Brendon doesn't really seem fine. He should know.

+

A few days later, Spencer is eating a meal that he cooked, watching TV by himself. It's nice, really. He kind of misses having Brendon bothering him all of the time, but it doesn't suck as much as he thought it would to be by himself.

It's around 7:30 when his phone rings. He doesn't look at the display before answering, sure that it's going to be Brendon, possibly Ryan. "Are you checking up on me?" he asks, and then, "Because I thought we were clear that I'm totally fine now."

"Oh," she says. She. Definitely not Brendon. "Oh, sorry, were you expecting a call?" It's Haley.

"Oh," Spencer says, and just like that he feels like he did the day that she left. Lost and alone and so so unsure of everything that is going on around him. "Haley, hi. Are you at your mom and dad's?"

"Uh, yeah. I just thought I'd call and see how you were," she says.

"I'm fine," Spencer says. His voice shakes, despite his resolve to sound perfectly fine.

"Yeah," Haley says. "That's good, you know. Me too."

The only sound for a good minute, at least, is their breathing into the phones. Spencer doesn't understand why she had to call now, when everything is just starting to get easier, and he's not losing his mind for the first time since she left. He wants to ask but instead he just says, "Why?" And they both know what he means.

"I told you. I had to -" Haley says. Her voice catches, and he can hear her swallow back whatever she was going to say. "I'm sorry, Spencer."

"Yeah," Spencer says. "Yeah, me too." He doesn't even know what he's sorry for, but whatever he did, he's sorry for it.

"It wasn't about you," Haley says. "Anyway, I really just wanted to see how you were doing, and by the way you answered the phone, you seem okay," she says.

"I'm fine," Spencer says again, and he's really not, not now. He thought he was, but just hearing her voice, he's really not fine anymore. He'd even had himself fooled that time.

"Yeah, you said." Haley clears her throat, and Spencer hears someone in the background. She says, "I have to go, Spencer. I miss you." She hangs up.

"Yeah," Spencer says, hanging up his own phone.

+

The phone rings an hour later and he tries to smother it with a pillow without even looking at the display. He doesn't want to talk to anyone.

+

He makes it a whole day avoiding everyone before Brendon comes in. Spencer's sitting on the couch in just his pyjama pants, flipping through the channels when Brendon steps in front of him, arms crossed.

"You're blocking my view," Spencer says.

"You're not answering my phone calls," Brendon counters, moving as Spencer tries to crane his neck to see around him. "What's up with that?"

"Didn't feel like talking," Spencer says. "Didn't we both agree that I'm fine and can be left alone? I think that means deciding who I talk to on the phone, too." It's harsh, and Spencer knows it, but he's not in the mood for Brendon.

"Well," Brendon says. "Yeah, I guess. Anyway, you don't actually seem fine. Did you become a better liar and trick me into thinking you were fine?"

"Move," Spencer says, as a response.

Brendon takes the remote control and forces Spencer to move his legs so that he can sit down. "Okay, what happened? Tell me."

"Nothing." Spencer moves to sit up on the couch and puts the remote down, settling for whatever old move is on TMC. Brendon fixes him with a look. "Haley called last night," Spencer says.

"I thought you were okay," Brendon says, scooting closer on the couch.

"So did I, but then she called and I wasn't fine anymore. It's like hearing her voice again made me forget that I was doing a pretty good job of moving on."

"Oh," Brendon says. "Did she say if she was coming back or not?" If Spencer thinks Brendon seems a little too eager to hear the answer to that question, he ignores it.

"No," Spencer says. "Anyway, I don't think she will."

Brendon nods. "So, I came here to tell you something, but now it seems like it'd be an extra punch to the face, so maybe I'll just not say anything."

"What?" Spencer says. "You're not about to tell me that you're the reason Haley left, are you? Because, dude."

"No," Brendon says. "I'm moving. To LA, after the new year."

"Oh," Spencer says, and then, "Well, awesome. I mean, it's not like I'm never going to see you. We've still got the band, and it's, what? A five hour drive. Anyway, it's not like I need you checking up on me anymore, right?"

"Yeah," Brendon says. "Totally, yeah."

"Cool, you wanna eat here tonight? I was thinking of ordering Chinese."

+

Spencer manages to completely forget that it's December until his mom calls on the Sunday before to make sure that he's coming over for Christmas. He's been so wrapped up in everything else that he hasn't even really talked to his mom in a few weeks, despite living in the same city. He'd called her for long enough to tell her that Haley had left, and then he just didn't feel like talking anymore. Brendon was doing enough mothering for everyone in his life.

"Oh, right," Spencer says. "Yeah, I'll be there. Do you want me to bring anything?" He's going to have to go buy gifts for everyone. Shopping the week of Christmas is really the last thing he wants to do.

"No, it's fine. Oh, and be sure to invite Ryan," she says. They don't really have to invite Ryan anymore. He usually just shows up with Spencer, but his mom always says that just to make sure. "And Brendon, if he doesn't have any plans." Brendon's been spending Christmas with his own parents for the last couple of years, but Spencer's mom still invites him.

"Sure thing, Mom," Spencer says. "I have to go." He has shopping to do.

+

"Mom said you can come over for Christmas," Spencer says. Brendon and Ryan are both over at his place. Brendon and Spencer are playing Guitar Hero while Ryan sends text messages from the sofa. It's the day before Christmas Eve.

"You know I'm spending it with my family," Brendon says.

"I know, but Mom makes me ask. You know her," Spencer says. "She still invites Ryan, even though she knows he'd show up whether she did or not."

"Hey," Ryan says, and then, "Okay, true."

"Are you going to be okay?" Brendon asks. "I mean first Christmas without..."

"Yes, Brendon, thanks for that. Exactly what I wanted to think about," Spencer says. "Anyway, yes. I'm going to be fine. As long as my mom doesn't ask me about it every ten minutes, we'll be perfectly okay."

"Good," Brendon says. "Oh, hey, by the way. My place, New Year's Eve. Massive party. We're not going to be there much longer, and we want to give the old place the send off it deserves."

"We? You're moving with Shane?" Spencer had just assumed that Brendon was going alone.

"And Regan's gonna be there too, yeah," Brendon says. "Shane and I are actually going next week to look at the place. Regan's seen it. She says it's pretty sweet."

"I should move to California," Ryan says.

"Oh right," Spencer says. "Leave me in Vegas with no one to talk to but Crystal and Jackie." Spencer loves his sisters, but he doesn't want to hang out with them all the time.

"That's why they invented the telephone and computer, asshole," Ryan says. He's still texting.

"There are also these great inventions, airplanes and cars. Maybe you've heard of them. Oh, hey, you could stay in our guest room," Brendon says. "We'll get you a nice air mattress. It'll be awesome."

"Great," Spencer says, unenthusiastically. "I'm really looking forward to it."

"I just kicked your ass," Brendon says, dropping his guitar on the ground.

"I can see that," Spencer says. "Rematch?"

"You always want a rematch," Brendon says. "And then you lose the rematch and want another rematch. It's a vicious cycle. You should just quit now."

"That's it. I'm going to stay in your guest room just so that I can watch Regan kick your ass at Guitar Hero," Spencer says.

"Regan can't kick my ass at Guitar Hero." Everyone knows that's a lie, especially Brendon.

+

Sometime at around midnight on Christmas Eve, Spencer's had a lot of eggnog, and Ryan is talking to Keltie on the phone somewhere. His sisters are sitting on the sofa, giggling about something, and his parents have gone to bed. Spencer gets out his phone, and scrolls through the numbers.

He thinks about calling Brendon first because it seems like the best idea, but Brendon is probably in the Urie house, sleeping in his old room with nephews on the floor next to his bed. He gets to Haley's name next and stops, finger hovering over the send button.

He wonders if she's asleep yet. It's later where she is, so it's possible. He doesn't want to wake her. Maybe she's even out, out with friends exchanging gifts, out with some new guy that one of her friends introduced her to to help her get over Spencer. He hopes she's not out with some guy.

"Who are you calling?" Jackie asks, eyebrow raised.

"You'd better not be calling Haley," Crystal says. "That's not allowed. Give me your phone."

"I'm not calling Haley, and even if I were, you couldn't stop me," Spencer says. He wants to call Haley. It's Christmas Eve, Christmas actually, now that it's after 12. "I should call her."

"No," Jackie says. "No, you shouldn't. She dumped you, Spence. You do not want to call her. Now give me your phone."

"Nope," Spencer says. "I'm calling her."

Crystal takes out her phone and sends a text message, while Jackie goes over to Spencer, trying to take the phone out of his hand. Just as he manages to get away from her it rings. "I'll bet that's her now," Spencer says. "Oh." It's not her. "Brendon. What do you want?"

"Crystal texted me with the code word," Brendon says. He sounds half asleep.

"There's a code word? What's the code word?" Spencer doesn't like the idea of Brendon and his sisters talking about him behind his back.

"Spencer's an idiot," Brendon says. "Don't call Haley. Go to bed. Have a Merry Christmas." Brendon hangs up the phone.

"That was low, Crystal," he says.

"Drastic times, big bro." She grins. "Now, give me your phone and go to bed."

He does.

+

Spencer wakes up on Christmas morning, no, afternoon, with a hangover. It's not fair because he doesn't really remember drinking enough eggnog to get a hangover, but there it is. He searches his bedside table for his phone, before remembering that his sister took it from him the night before, though he can't remember why.

By the time he stumbles downstairs, everyone else is already awake, and even Ryan seems to be more alert than Spencer. Crystal and Jackie glance at him, sharing a look with each other as they start laughing.

"Do you want some breakfast?" Spencer's mom asks. He shakes his head and falls onto the sofa next to Ryan.

"Jackie tells me there was some drama last night," Ryan says. Jackie and Crystal are sitting on the floor in front of the sofa, whispering to Ryan while Spencer's parents talk about something that no one else is interested in. This can't be good for Spencer, and he knows it.

"I guess. I can't really remember. Just... hey, you have my phone," Spencer says to Jackie.

"No," Jackie says. "She has your phone." She points to Crystal, who is holding up Spencer's phone with a smirk.

"Yep, and I'll only give it back on one condition," she says.

"What's that?" If Spencer's head weren't throbbing, he would just run past her and grab it, but he can't do that right now without dying.

"Promise me that you are not going to call Haley today," she says.

"I didn't... last night? Did I?" He honestly doesn't remember.

"No," Jackie says, "but not for lack of trying."

"I promise not to call Haley. Now give me my phone back. I need it," he says. "Also, if you don't, I'm not giving you your gift. You can just keep my phone instead."

"Fine," Crystal says. "Take it." She tosses it at him. "You should be thanking me, though. You probably would have embarrassed yourself if I'd let you keep it."

Spencer actually doesn't deny the truth in that, but he doesn't acknowledge it either. "Whatever," he says.

"Okay," Spencer's mom says, breaking up the conversation. "Who wants to open presents?" Spencer welcomes the distraction.

+

A week later everyone Brendon and Shane know is packed into the house in Vegas.

They're calling it a New Year's Eve-Slash-Going Away party. Spencer briefly considers skipping it, but Brendon won't even let him entertain the idea.

Sometime around 11:30, Spencer wanders outside to the backyard. He's a little high and more than a little drunk, and there are too many people inside. Everyone's drinking and making out and talking about their plans for the new year and what their resolutions are, but Spencer hasn't thought much about that.

Getting over Haley for good, he supposes, to start. Record another album with the guys, tour. Other than that, he doesn't know what his plans for 2009 are.

He wonders what he would be doing right now if Haley were still around. It's stupid, and usually he can get by without even thinking about her unless she calls or he's really drunk. Right now it's the latter. If he had his phone there would be a repeat of Christmas, but Brendon had taken it at the beginning of the night. He wasn't letting Spencer call Haley on his watch, apparently.

Spencer sits on one of the chairs set up on the patio and looks out into the yard. There are a few couples scattered around, but it's mostly empty, quiet, compared to the party going on inside.

"You're going to miss the ball drop." Spencer hadn't heard the back door open, but when he turns his head, Brendon is standing next to the chair. "It's almost midnight."

"Oh," Spencer says. "Yeah. I just had to get out of there. Fresh air is highly underrated."

"Hmm," Brendon says in response. He pulls another chair close to Spencer's and sits for moment before he speaks. "Is this about Haley?"

"Not really," Spencer says.

"Then what?" Brendon passes Spencer another beer. He probably doesn't need it, but he's not going to turn it down.

"Nothing," Spencer says. "Me, I guess. Mostly."

"Are you going to get all depressing on me? Because, dude, this is a party in case you forgot." Brendon laughs quietly.

"No," Spencer says. "I'm just thinking." He drinks from his beer, looking straight ahead, not at Brendon. "I think I need to move."

"Move where?" Brendon says. "Because that air mattress is waiting for you."

Spencer laughs and says, "No, not LA. Vegas, just. Somewhere different. Maybe somewhere smaller."

"So this is about Haley," Brendon says. "You know, no one's going to blame you if you're not 100% over her yet. Especially not me."

"I know," Spencer says. Inside there's a chorus of people counting down to the new year. "It's almost midnight."

"Yeah," Brendon says. "I should go back inside. You, too. You're too serious out here. You need more weed."

"Yeah," Spencer says, standing. "I could go for that."

Brendon follows suit, and everyone cheers for the new year. Brendon touches Spencer's arm gently and they go back inside together.

+

A couple of days after the party, Spencer helps Brendon pack. He's not really sure how he got roped into it. Ryan didn't have to help Brendon pack up his shit.

"Stop whining and get to work," Brendon says, after Spencer asks how Ryan got out of it for the twelfth time.

"This isn't how I wanted to spend my day," Spencer says. "I could be doing so many other things right now."

"Like what?" Brendon makes a face as he pulls a shirt from the back of his closet. "Where did I even get this?" He shrugs and tosses it into a box. There is no method whatsoever to where things are going. He's just filling boxes until they're full. "If you weren't here, you'd be sitting at home watching whateverthefuck is on at 4PM in the middle of the week, ordering take-out and wishing you had something better to do."

"This isn't better," Spencer says. "Helping you pack is not my idea of a good time."

"Whatever," Brendon says. "Okay, let's take a break."

"We've been packing for less than an hour," Spencer says. "If we take a break every hour, we'll never finish."

"You have noticed that I don't actually care about order here, right? Just throw it in a box. I'll go through it later," Brendon says. "Want a beer?"

Spencer just nods and goes back to packing up Brendon's things. He's more careful than Brendon is, despite Brendon's insistence that it's not necessary. Brendon comes back a few minutes later and hands Spencer his beer.

"You know my offer still stands, right?" Brendon says. "You just have to say the words."

"What offer?" Spencer says.

"Air mattress, guest room. I know Ryan's going on vacation soon, and you won't have a lot to do," Brendon says. "Besides, Shane and Regan are mostly going to be busy, and I'm going to need something to do."

"I don't know," Spencer says. "Maybe."

"Well, just let me know if you decide to take me up on the offer," Brendon says. "We bought this really sweet air mattress. I wouldn't want it to go to waste." He laughs, and Spencer throws a pair of jeans at his head.

part 2
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