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Baby We Did This (Don't Miss It)
aka; the fanboy au
Jon is a rockstar, and Brendon is a fan. Wackiness ensues.
by [livejournal.com profile] playfullips
Jon/Brendon, AU, NC-17, 31,392 Words
I don't own them. This is fake. Seriously

Thanks: I have to a moment to thank anyone who has listened to me go on and on about this fic for as long as I have and not told me to shut the fuck up already. Anyone who saw snippets and listened to plot points and encouraged me to go through with this fic. A big big big thanks to [livejournal.com profile] cheapcrowd and [livejournal.com profile] beingothrwrldly for betaing this monster of a fic and making my most awkward moments of writing okay, to [livejournal.com profile] fiddleyoumust for her porn-fu and to [livejournal.com profile] ashlein and [livejournal.com profile] vic_ramsey for being my test audience along the way, reading snippets and early versions and everything in between. Love you guys.

A/N: This fic has been a long time coming. It started with a picture and me and a lot of whining that I wanted fic where Brendon was a fan and Jon was a rockstar and then they made out a lot and maybe fell in love. This was over a year ago. Eventually I decided to write myself, and this is the result. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

For reference:
this is brendon.
this is jon.


Brendon loves Chicago. When he first decided to go to school here, it was mostly because it was far away from Vegas and he was offered a good scholarship. Now that he's been here for a few months, he's sure that it was the right decision. The music program is amazing, and he's learning so much. He's even sort of starting to work on lyrics, which isn't something he's ever done before. He also has Ryan and Spencer now, and he doesn't think he'd trade them for anything.

"So, party at our place Saturday night?" Spencer says. "You in?" Spencer is a freshman too, but instead of living in the dorms, he's sharing a place with Ryan.

"Can't," Brendon says. "I told you what was I doing on Saturday."

"You did?" Spencer says, like he's trying really hard to remember. "Oh, that concert or whatever. That's this Saturday?"

"Yes," Brendon says. "I wish you and Ryan would come with me. It's going to be really awesome."

"I'm sure there'll be other chances to see 504," Spencer says. "They're from here, right?"

"Yeah," Brendon says. He's seen 504 three times this year already. The first time he was still living at home and his parents had grounded him after they found out, but it was totally worth it. The second had been over the summer, just before he moved, and the third right after he moved to Chicago. Spencer and Ryan, despite Brendon's insistence that he's not into dudes, keep telling him that he really just thinks that the lead singer is hot.

That's not true. Brendon loves music, and the first time he heard 504 he thought they were great. Maybe not the greatest technically, but the guitar is solid and the bass is almost flawless. The drummer has some issues, but the songs are good enough that Brendon's able to look past it. They're also pretty normal dudes from what he's seen, and while they've all been around the Chicago scene for a while, they've worked hard for their success.

Spencer and Ryan roll their eyes every time Brendon explains this to them. They just don't get it, which is ridiculous because Brendon knows they've had bands before. Plus, Spencer loves to give Ryan a hard time over his former massive hard on for Pete Wentz. Ryan denies it, but Spencer has the livejournal screencaps to prove it.

"Anyway, you should stop by the party afterward," Spencer says. "Ryan's totally going to get caught with his pants down. It's going to be awesome." Ryan and his girlfriend, whoever he's dating at the moment, are on an off again period. Basically meaning that she's dating him and he's dating three other people.

"You get an unnatural joy out of watching Ryan get dumped," Brendon says.

Spencer shrugs and says, "It wouldn't be so awesome if he didn't always having it coming so spectacularly. Maybe one of these days he'll actually learn his lesson." He pauses and then shakes his head. "Not that that's likely."

"Maybe Ryan's just waiting for the right girl to come along," Brendon says, and then, "Doubtful, though."

"Yeah," Spencer says. "Anyway, I have to get to class. Later, Bren."

This isn't the first time Spencer has rushed off in the middle of a conversation about Ryan. Sometimes Brendon thinks maybe he should think before he says something insulting about Spencer's best friend to Spencer. It's just that usually Spencer starts it.

Brendon shrugs it off and walks back towards his dorm. He's got to work on a paper that's due on Monday if he's going to to a concert and then a party on Saturday night.

+

Brendon doesn't have enough clothes, that's his simple conclusion. He calls Spencer to whine about this, and Spencer tells him to stop, seriously. He's just going to get sweaty and gross and it won't matter what he's wearing. Brendon supposes that's true, but still. He sighs and pulls out a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a hoodie. He could probably do better, but it's getting late.

He gets to the venue just in time for the tail end of the first opening act. From what Brendon hears they're okay, but they're not anything very special. The second act is even more generic, but they at least have pretty cool lyrics.

By the time 504 comes on, Brendon's already feeling sweaty and gross from the pit. He's made his way to the second row though, and he's right in front of Jon Walker. The band is at their very best tonight, and the crowd is awesome. Sometimes Brendon thinks about what it would be like if he could be up on stage doing this every night. He thinks it would be pretty damned amazing.

The entire show goes by way too fast. The band plays a couple of songs that they're working on for the next album, and they're even more awesome than anything they've done before. Jon announces that the band will be hanging out for a little while at the back by the bar. Brendon thinks about Ryan and Spencer's party. He should probably at least drop by, but he's on a post-show high and it's Jon Walker, and it's meeting Jon Walker and telling him how awesome his band is.

Brendon's decision is basically made for him.

He makes his way to the back, and there's already a large mob forming. Mostly girls who don't look old enough to be out past curfew. Brendon sighs and leans on the bar. He figures he's probably going to be standing around for a while. So far only the drummer, Nick Scimeca, and the guitarist, Tom Conrad, have come out. Jon's still nowhere to be seen, and Brendon's pretty content to wait in the back of the crowd until he does.

The crowd starts thinning out a little. Tom looks like he's getting ready to call it a night, and Brendon's not far behind him. The less sane, rational part, really wants to wait it out and see if Jon shows. It's been a good fifteen minutes and there's been no sign of Jon. Brendon's phone has been buzzing all night, and he kind of does want to know if Ryan's girl of the week caught him with next week's girl of the week. He pushes himself away from the bar and turns away from the crowd.

"Leaving so soon?" someone says, and it takes Brendon a few seconds to realize that it's Jon Walker. Talking to him.

"Uhm," Brendon says, and then, "I've got this thing, and...are you talking to me?"

Jon laughs around his beer bottle and then says, "Yes, I am. Looks like you've been waiting a while. It's kind of silly to leave without meeting the band."

"Oh, well, my friends are having this party or whatever, and I said I'd swing by," Brendon says. "Shouldn't you be on the other side of the crowd?"

"I like to sneak in," Jon says. "Do you want me to sign something? I mean, since you waited and all."

"What?" Brendon says, and then, "Oh, right." He pulls out his ticket and hands it over. Jon is laughing, but Brendon doesn't really feel like it's at him, exactly. "This isn't the first time you've seen us play."

"What?" Brendon says. He hopes Jon doesn't just think he looks like he would be a creepy stalker or something. That would mean he really did pick the wrong hoodie.

"Oh, I have this thing. I can recognize faces really well," Jon says. "I mean, I couldn't tell you what other shows I've seen you at, but I know I've seen you before."

"Oh," Brendon says. "Cool."

Jon laughs again and hands him his ticket back. "Well, hey, thanks for coming out to the show. Hopefully you don't think I'm crazy or anything and will come to another one."

"Oh," Brendon says. "Oh yeah, totally. You guys are awesome. My favorite band." Brendon really, really feels like a tool right now. "I mean, your music, it's--it's really great." Oh God, he can't make himself shut up.

"Well, thanks," Jon says. Some girl yells something about people taking too much time, and Brendon realizes that the crowd has shifted and everyone is seeing Brendon's supreme toolness. He smiles a little lopsided and says, "Yeah, thanks. I mean, you're welcome. I mean--bye." And he shuffles away.

At least now he has something to tell Ryan and Spencer.

+

Brendon ends up skipping the party. His stomach is all tied up in knots and the last thing he feels like doing is drinking or watching everyone else get drunk and make fools of themselves. He leaves his dorm early Sunday morning and stops at Starbucks, grabbing something for Ryan and Spencer as well as himself, and goes to their place.

Spencer answers the door surprisingly cheerfully, while Ryan is on the couch damning whoever has dared make such a loud noise as knocking on the door. "Oh shut up, you big baby," Spencer says. "Anyway, if you're not nice to Brendon, he won't give you the coffee he brought you."

Ryan's head snaps up and he says, "Coffee? Don't hold out on me."

Brendon laughs. He hands Ryan the cup and says, "Wow, so that must have been some party."

"You have no idea," Spencer says. "But you would, if you hadn't stood us up for a band. I'm almost tempted to not tell you about Ryan nearly getting his ass kicked by two women at the same time."

"Well, fine. You hold out on me," Brendon says. "But see if I tell you about my awesome run in with Jon Walker."

"Stalking his bus and catching him as he gets on is not a run in," Spencer says.

"Shut the fuck up." Brendon pushes at Ryan's legs so he can sit on the end of the sofa. "We had a conversation. At the bar. It was amazing." It wasn't that amazing, and Brendon was a tool, but this is the way he chooses to retell the story. "He even talked to me first."

"Did he say, 'Hey, how's it going? Enjoy the show?' Because I'd hate to tell you this Brendon, but that's pretty standard," Spencer says.

"No, jackass," Brendon says. He tells the whole story, starting with how he was going to leave first, but he leaves out most of the things that make him sound like a big loser.

"Yeah," Spencer says. "Anyway, so Ryan was in his room, making out with whatserface, and whatsername comes in and she's like, Where's Ryan, tell me right now! So I pointed her to Ryan's room--"

"Yeah, thanks for that, douchebag," Ryan says. Brendon thinks about pointing out that Ryan is the one juggling multiple women but thinks better of it. "And they have names, you know."

"Yeah, but I'll just have to learn new ones in a week, so what's the point?" Spencer says, shrugging. "Anyway, I just hear this series of high pitched squeals, and it's apparently Ryan trying to apologize to both of these girls. It was hilarious."

"You guys don't care about my run in with Jon Walker?" Brendon says. He's sort of disappointed.

"You had a fan experience, Brendon," Ryan says. "I almost got my eyes clawed out. Which is more exciting?" Brendon thinks that his story is way more exciting than Ryan's but he just shrugs and drinks his coffee.

+

Brendon doesn't actually have Thanksgiving plans. He can't really afford a plane ticket back to Vegas, and his parents probably don't want to see him anyway, so he's just planning to hang around Chicago. Ryan and Spencer are both going to spend the holiday with Spencer's family, and Brendon's roommate is going back to wherever home is, so Brendon's planning to mostly spend the three days quietly studying and writing papers in his room. It's actually nice to have some time to himself.

The only problem is that he is literally by himself. There are probably ten people left in his dorm total, and he doesn't actually know any of them. He mostly only knows Ryan and Spencer. He's been alone for exactly two hours and twenty-five minutes on Wednesday when he can't take the quiet anymore. He slams his book closed and grabs a hoodie.

He doesn't really know where he's going to go, but he has to go somewhere. He walks around for a little while and then ends up in Starbucks. It's packed to capacity, and there's not much room to move around. It's kind of cold outside, and Brendon's got this thin hoodie on because he didn't think to grab anything else. It's warm inside the coffee shop, and it takes Brendon ten minutes to even make it to the order counter.

By the time he gets his drink there aren't many places left to sit, but people are rotating in and out pretty fast, He only has to stand, leaning on the wall, for a couple of minutes before there's a small corner table free. He grabs it before someone else can and sits drinking his coffee and eating his espresso brownie. He's in no rush, even though people are looking at him like he's a jackass for not hurrying it up.

"You mind?" someone says. This time Brendon recognizes the voice. He looks up and Jon Walker is smiling down at him as he pulls out a chair. "I'm going to take that silence to mean, 'No, of course not, have a seat.'"

"Uhm, yeah," Brendon says. "I mean, no. I don't mind." Brendon expects Jon to carry the chair off to another table, but he sits down across from Brendon instead. Brendon tries not to stare, but Jon is right there. It's hard not to look.

"So, I don't know if you remember me," Jon says, and really, Brendon can't do anything besides laugh. "Did I say something funny?" but Jon is smiling at him, and it's kind of awesome.

"Yeah," Brendon says. "Obviously I remember you, since you're the lead singer of my favorite band." Brendon's going to have to try to sound like less of a tool in front of Jon. Not that he expects to run into Jon a lot.

"Favorite band, huh?" Jon says, and then, "What are you doing alone at Starbucks on the day before Thanksgiving?"

"Oh," Brendon says. He tries not to look as alone and pathetic as he is and shrugs. "Didn't have anything better to do, I guess. Anyway, I could say the same thing for you."

"Oh, I just stopped in to say hey. I used to work here," Jon says.

"Oh? Cool." Brendon nods and sips from his coffee, looking everywhere but at Jon because he feels sort of lame now that Jon seems to be making small talk with him. Obviously only because he looked so alone and pathetic.

"Well, I'm Jon," Jon says, and Brendon chokes out another laugh. "Yeah, I figured you might already know that." Jon smiles at him again, and Brendon really wishes he were going to have a chance to get used to it. Not for any other reason than it's pretty cool that someone he admires so much is talking to him, and he'll say that to Ryan and Spencer when they tease him about it, too. "Well, just to be fair, you should probably tell me your name too."

"Oh," Brendon says. "Brendon. It's Brendon. That's my name." Jesus Christ, he needs to get a grip.

"Well, Brendon, that grandma is giving you the evil eye. I think she wants your table," Jon says.

"Technically, it's our table," Brendon says. And Jon says, "Touche."

Brendon pushes back from the table. "I guess I should get home anyway. I mean, I've got a lot to do." He doesn't have much of anything to do. Just an essay that's due in a week and a half and studying for finals that don't happen for three weeks.

"Where's home?" Jon says, and he gets up out of his chair.

"Campus," Brendon says. "I'm a freshman at the university."

"Cool," Jon says. "That's not far from here. Did you walk?"

"Yeah," Brendon says. "I just needed to get out of the dorms for a while. Sometimes walking clears my head."

"Well, I could walk with you back," Jon says. "I don't have anywhere to be for a while."

"Oh," Brendon says. "Uhm, that's okay. I sort of just want--" Brendon doesn't know what he wants, but he doesn't want to make a fool of himself in front of Jon Walker anymore. God, Jon is probably going to go back and tell Tom and Nick about the jackass he saw at Starbucks. Brendon hates his life.

"Oh, sure," Jon says. "Well, it was cool running into you again, anyway." Jon nods at him and leaves Brendon standing with a grandma glaring at him until he walks out, far enough behind Jon that Jon can't see him leave.

+

"You what?" Spencer says. Brendon had waited a couple of hours to call him and Ryan, just in case they were still settling in Vegas. "Ryan, Brendon got hit on by Jon Walker and turned him down." He hears Ryan say some muffled words in the background and then Spencer says, "I know, right?"

"Oh, shut up. He wasn't hitting on me," Brendon says. "He was bored.”

"Yes, because touring musicians have nothing better to do when they're home than to hit up random fans in crowded Starbucks the day before Thanksgiving," Spencer says. "He wanted to walk you home."

"He was being nice," Brendon says. "And I was being a freak, which is why I turned him down. Whatever."

"Oh man," Spencer says. "Dude, you almost had me though, seriously. I thought Jon Walker had actually hit on you, and then you just let it go. No one with as big of a crush as you have would actually do that. You ruined it, Brendon."

"I don't have a crush on Jon," Brendon says, a little pathetically. He doesn't think he has a crush on Jon, anyway. He thinks Jon is awesome and is a great bass player and writes good songs and has a lazy smile that Brendon could probably stare at for hours. Brendon is kind of being a fourteen year old girl about Jon, and it's stupid.

"Yeah, uh huh," Spencer says. "My mom is calling us down for dinner. Do me a favor and go out and have some fun that doesn't involve making up stories about famous musicians." The line goes dead and Brendon sighs.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and he's going to be alone. He could have hung out with Jon Walker today, and instead he acted like a freak. Brendon hates his life a lot.

+

The second semester is harder than the first on Brendon. He doesn't even get to see Spencer and Ryan much because his work load is heavier, and Spencer has gotten a part time job at the student center. Plus, Brendon hangs out in his dorm studying more than he ever did before.

Spring break is in a couple of weeks, and Brendon's got midterms and papers sprinkled all along the way until then. He spends a lot more time in the library than he's ever wanted to.

When he's not in his dorm or in the library, he's in class. He's taking sixteen hours this semester, and he's starting to wish that he'd dropped his Intro to Psych class when he had the chance. He's not actually that into it, but Ryan had swore to him that it was an easy class. Ryan Ross needs to go jump off a cliff or something because he is a liar, and that class is going to give Brendon a migraine.

There's a message on his phone from Spencer. It says tlkd to ur bf lately? Brendon rolls his eyes and tosses the phone down to the other end of the bed. [504] is playing a show tomorrow night in town, and he really wants to go. The only problem is that he's got his Psych midterm Friday, and he hasn't even made a dent in studying.

His phone buzzes, and he ignores it for about five minutes before slamming his book closed and throwing it onto the floor. It's Spencer again: lunch. meet me@sbux. Brendon shoots him a reply and grabs his wallet and keys before heading out the door.

He knows that he probably doesn't need to waste time having coffee with Spencer, but Nature versus Nurture is really starting to make his brain hurt, and he just can't think about it anymore.

They meet at Starbucks, and Spencer has already ordered Brendon's drink when he gets there. The coffee shop isn't very crowded right now, and they sit at a table in the corner where they're basically alone. "So, are you going to the show tomorrow night?" Spencer has been giving Brendon a hard time even since Thanksgiving. He'd calmed down a little bit, but only until [504] had announced that even though they're breaking to write some music, they're going to do a show in Chicago, just for the hell of it.

"Nope," Brendon says. "Midterm Friday. I'm going to kill Ryan. It's his fault I'm even taking this stupid class."

"Well, look at it this way. At least you can't make a fool out of yourself." Brendon tries not to send Spencer death glares as he laughs at his own lame joke. "Anyway, after a few shows, he probably starts to think a person is kind of creepy."

"I am not creepy," Brendon says. "I'm dedicated. There's a huge difference between the two."

"You can explain it to me while you walk with me back to work," Spencer says. "I only have ten minutes left."

"You got me to walk all the way here for three sips of coffee? All so that you could mock me in person? That's low," Brendon says.

"It's your sparkling personality," Spencer says. "Also, Ryan was in class."

"Glad I could be your consolation prize," Brendon says.

Spencer grins, and Brendon can't help but return it with a laugh as they walk out of the Starbucks together.

"Brendon?" They're just a few feet from the door when when Brendon hears his name and turns back around. "Hey, it is you," Jon says. "I wasn't sure."

Spencer looks at Brendon, raising an eyebrow but not saying anything. Brendon appreciates him for it. "Oh, hi."

"Hey, so it's been a while," Jon says.

"You remember my name?" Because really, Brendon can't believe that. It's been nearly four months, and Jon must meet tons of fans.

"Uh, yeah," Jon says. He plays with his overgrown bangs a little and then scratches at his beard. "So, are you going to be at the show tomorrow?"

"Oh," Brendon says. "Uh, well--"

"Yes," Spencer says. Brendon shoots him a look to ask what the fuck he thinks he's doing, but Spencer just ignores him and keeps talking. "He's going to be there. He wouldn't miss it."

"Great," Jon says. "I'll even put you on the guest list." Jon looks at Spencer and says, "You too. Any friend of Brendon's and all that."

"Oh, no," Spencer says. He shakes his head and laughs. "No, I have to work. Brendon here will be going to the show alone."

"Cool," Jon says. "Do you have a phone?" Brendon doesn't register that Jon is talking to him until Spencer kicks at his feet. He blinks and then pulls his phone from his pocket and hands it to Jon. Jon laughs, pushing some buttons on the phone and then hands it back to Brendon, saying, "Just in case you have any problems."

"Yeah," Brendon says.

"Oh, and I'll need your last name to put you on the guest list."

"Uh." Brendon doesn't think it's normal to forget your own last name, but somehow he's managed. He is such a tool, and he hates himself.

"It's Urie," Spencer says. "His last name is Urie." He looks like he's on the verge of doubling over with laughter, and Brendon honestly wouldn't be able to complain because he deserves all of the mocking he's going to get from this.

"Great," Jon says. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow night."

"Yeah. Tomorrow night, yeah," Brendon says. He half waves, and then Jon disappears into Starbucks. Spencer laughs as soon as they start walking down the street.

+

"You guys have to come with me," Brendon says. Ryan and Spencer have spent the last two hours mocking him. He probably should want them to stay as far away from the venue tomorrow night as possible, but he's mostly just freaking out about being on the fucking guest list for his favorite band.

"Can't," Ryan says. "I've got an essay to work on. And a date."

"With who?" Spencer says. Ryan shrugs in return. Spencer looks away from Ryan and starts talking to Brendon again. "Anyway, you can't go on your first date with a rockstar and have your best friends tag along." Brendon would punch Spencer in the face if he didn't think Spencer would hit him back.

"Shut up," Brendon says. "He's only being nice. Anyway, I'm pretty sure he has a girlfriend."

"Does his girlfriend know that he spent the day before Thanksgiving hitting on a random fan? Who's a dude?" Spencer says.

"You said I just made that up," Brendon says.

"Well, I thought you did, but then today happened. Jon knew your name, and there was clearly a history there, so now I believe you."

'Thanks for that," Brendon says.

"Anyway, Spencer's right," Ryan says. "Rockstars don't guest list random fans without a reason, and it's sounds to me like Jon's got the hots for you." Ryan is a douchebag, and Brendon hates him. Mostly because he's taking Spencer's side on this.

"How do you know? You're not a rockstar, and besides that, you weren't even there." Brendon is probably on the verge of whining, but he doesn't care right now.

"No, but Spencer was, and I trust his judgement," Ryan says. "If he says Jon was hitting on you, then Jon was probably hitting on you."

"Spencer didn't say Jon was hitting on me today," Brendon says. Spencer said nearly that but not exactly, and that's the important thing.

"It was implied," Spencer says. "Anyway, don't you have a test to study for tonight if you're going to a concert tomorrow?" He grins at Brendon, and Brendon hates him a little more than he did a minute ago.

"Fine," Brendon says. "You know, I don't have to take this kind of abuse. I could just stop coming over here, and then what you do?"

"You mean what would you do," Ryan says. He has a point, but Brendon won't admit that.

"Whatever, Ross. I'm going to study for the stupid class that you convinced me to sign up for."

+

Brendon thinks very seriously about standing Jon up. Well, not standing Jon up because that would imply that this is some kind of date, and it's definitely not. But he thinks about not going to the show. He didn't get get as much studying done as he'd wanted to, and he can't afford to fail this test.

On the other hand, Jon had personally invited him. If he doesn't go now, he'll look like an even bigger tool. Not that it's likely Jon is sitting backstage waiting for him or anything, but.

Brendon sighs and slams his book closed. If he leaves now, he can make it before the first act goes on. He wonders if he'll get to go back and talk to Jon before the show. That would be kind of awesome.

They're playing a smaller club tonight, even though they usually play bigger venues. Brendon gives the guy at the door his name, but instead of letting him in the bouncer waves someone else over. Brendon recognizes him as 504's security guy, Zack. Brendon assumes that him being called over can't mean anything good.

Maybe Jon was just trying to see if he would show up so that Zack could tell him that he was never allowed back to a show. Brendon thinks that would probably really suck. Zack comes over and looks Brendon up and down. He says, "So, you're Brendon. Alright, come with me." He gestures for Brendon to follow him out of the venue.

Brendon hesitates but Zack hasn't yelled at him yet, and he's not telling him to leave, so he keeps following. Zack takes Brendon to a door around the side of the building and says, "Here, wear this." He hands Brendon a sticker that says he's a 'VIP.' It's pretty cool. Brendon's never been a VIP before.

They go inside and Zack stops in front of a door that's at the other end of a really short, dingy hallway. He knocks on the door and says, "The kid's here." It's a few minutes before he hears Jon tell Zack to let him in.

Zack gestures him in the door and says, "You have about twenty minutes until meet and greet, but I can't guarantee that Tom and Nick will give you that much time before they come bother you. Just a warning." Zack nods at both of them and shuts the door behind him.

"He's probably standing right outside the door," Jon says. Brendon hovers in the doorway because he doesn't really know what else to do. He's never been backstage before. "Are you going to stand there all night?" Jon laughs, and it relaxes Brendon just enough that he can walk further into the room.

He sits down on the ratty old sofa that's probably been back here since the club opened, long before Brendon or Jon were born. Jon's sitting on the opposite end. There's a notebook next to him and he's got a pen in his hand, twirling it with his fingers. "Hi," Brendon says.

"Hi." Jon smiles at him. Brendon kind of wants that smile all the time, but he reminds himself that Jon's sort of famous, and he's just a fan, and this is not some kind of date. "I'm glad you came."


"Well, I said I would," Brendon says. Although, technically. "Well, I guess Spencer said I would, but you know. Same thing, basically." Brendon might be imagining it, but he thinks he sees Jon's face fall for just a second.

"So, Spencer," Jon says. "He seemed like a cool dude."

"Yeah. Spencer's great," Brendon says.

"Yeah." Jon nods. "So, how long have you two been together?" Brendon wonders if his face shows just how shocked he really is. He laughs and then he laughs some more. "What? Did I say something funny?" Jon says, but he doesn't look amused at all.

"Spencer's not--I mean, I'm not." Brendon breathes in and stops himself from laughing. "Spencer's my friend. Not, like--no. That's just wrong."

"Oh," Jon says. "Oh. Wow, I feel kind of like a douche." Brendon frowns because he didn't mean to make Jon feel like a douche. He doesn't know why Jon would feel like a douche.

"Why did you think Spencer was my boyfriend?" Brendon says. He feels like he needs to keep the conversation going.

"Don't know." Jon shrugs. "I guess you guys just seemed pretty, I don't know, close. And then I figured, well, of course you're seeing someone."

Why would Jon even be thinking about whether or not Brendon is seeing someone? "I'm not," Brendon says. He's not sure why it matters, though.

Zack knocks on the door. "Ten minutes," he says.

"I wish I didn't have this meet and greet. I was kind of hoping we could hang out," Jon says.

"Really?" Brendon can't imagine that Jon Walker would actually want to hang out with him. "I mean, yeah. That sucks," he says. He doesn't want to look quite that lame.

"So, we're flying out to LA next week for some meetings or whatever." Jon doesn't seem really thrilled about it. "I guess you can't hang around after the show?"

"I have a midterm tomorrow," Brendon says. It's probably the lamest excuse ever, but he really can't sleep through or fail this test. It would fuck his GPA, and he can't let that happen. "Thanks for inviting me to the show, though. It's great. I mean, wow. I've never been a VIP before."

Jon laughs. "Well, you're welcome." Zack knocks on the door again and tells Jon he has five minutes. "Are you busy Saturday?" Jon says. Time seems to be moving faster than normal, and Brendon hates it.

"Uhm, no. I don't think so. I mean, I'd have to check with Spencer and Ryan and everything, but I think--"

"We should hang out. I mean, if you want to." Jon seems reluctant to ask, and once the question is out there, he won't look at Brendon. It's kind of endearing.

"Okay," Brendon says. "I mean, yeah. Yes, that'd be cool." He's going to hang out with Jon Walker. Presumably alone. It's hard to process. "Just tell me where to be."

Zack knocks on the door again, and tells Jon it's time to go. Brendon sort of hates Zack. Jon frowns and sighs. "I guess that's my cue," he says. "I'll call you tomorrow?"

Brendon nods and then Jon is gone. Brendon isn't quite sure what just happened, but he thinks he might have a date with Jon Walker.

"Oh, hey, wait," Jon says. "Here, put your number in, so that I'll actually be able to call you." He hands Brendon his phone, and Brendon punches in his number. At least he thinks it's his number. Jon takes the phone back and looks at it. He says, "Bden?" and laughs quietly. Brendon just shrugs. Jon smiles at him and tells him he'll talk to him tomorrow.

+

Throughout the show Brendon catches Jon sneaking glances toward the bar. It's possible that Jon's just wondering when he can go have a drink, but he likes to think that Jon's looking at him. Especially since he keeps flashing this awesome smile. The band wraps up and Brendon heads out quickly. If he waits for Jon to come and talk to fans he probably won't ever leave, so he should go now.

He makes it home just before one and manages to get four hours of sleep before he has to be up for his midterm. He's not sure how well he does, but he thinks he manages to at least get a passing grade of some kind.

After it's over he texts Spencer to find out if he's free this afternoon, and they meet for lunch in the cafeteria. Brendon gets there first and grabs something to eat before finding a table. He doesn't eat much, just pushes his pasta salad around on his plate and waits for Spencer.

"What's up?" Spencer asks, sitting across from him.

Brendon mumbles something that sounds a lot like "ithikhavdtwifjon," rather than actual words, and Spencer says, "Say that again?"

"I think I have a date with Jon," Brendon says. He still doesn't actually look at Spencer, but at least he actually said the words.

"You had a date with Jon last night," Spencer says.

"No, I had fifteen minutes in Jon's dressing room before a show last night. That doesn't count. He asked me to hang out with him tomorrow. Alone, I think."

"Oh. Wow. Where are you going?" Spencer asks. He's abandoned his turkey sandwich and is instead staring at Brendon.

"I don't know. He's going to call me tonight," Brendon says. "What the fuck am I doing?"

"Going out with a famous guy that you probably know way too much about?" Spencer laughs and then notices that Brendon isn't laughing with him. Brendon is freaking out a little bit now that his midterm is over and he's actually letting himself think about it. "Okay, seriously, don't freak out. He's going to call and tell you where to be and all you have to do is be there. He's obviously into you."

"He doesn't even know me," Brendon says. "I mean, I guess he sort of knows me from the collective twenty minutes that we've spent in each other's presence, but. Maybe I'm reading the signals wrong. Maybe it's like, adopt a fan week or something."

"What happened?" Spencer asks. "I mean, how did he ask you?"

"I don't know." Brendon pauses and laughs. "He thought you were my boyfriend, which was really hilarious, and I don't know. He just asked me if I wanted to hang out on Saturday because he didn't get to last night."

"Okay, so here's what you're going to do. You're going to stop freaking out, and you're going to come over later and Ryan and I are going to mock you endlessly about this," Spencer says. "Then you're going to go out with Jon tomorrow, and come over again and tell Ryan and me all about it. And then we're going to mock you some more." Spencer grins at him.

"Thanks. You're a great friend," Brendon says, dryly. "I'm glad I can count on you to mock me when I need it most."

"No problem. Ryan and I are happy to do that for you." Spencer grins at him. "Now, hurry up and eat. I have to get back to work, and you're going to walk with me."

They don't talk about Jon Walker for the rest of lunch.

+

It's not that Brendon is waiting for the phone to ring or anything. It's just that he keeps looking at it. To make sure it's on or whatever. It's late in the afternoon, bordering on early evening. Jon probably would have called by now. Brendon shakes his head at himself for being so ridiculous. It's not like he really thought Jon was going to call him anyway. Jon's probably got a lot going on, with getting ready to go out to LA next week and everything.

Brendon is going crazy sitting in his dorm room waiting, so he decides to go hang out in the music rooms. The practice area on campus is pretty cool, and he doesn't spend nearly as much time there as he wants. He thinks about leaving his phone, but he grabs it just in case as he walks out of the room.

He's glad the piano is free right now because he's itching to play. He's been working on a couple of songs for his Music Composition class, but they're nowhere near where he wants them. He sits down and plays out a few bars of nonsense just to warm up his hands and then starts writing out music in his head.

When Brendon's playing it's almost like there's nothing else in the world. It's just him and the music, and he can't get enough. He hums along with himself, nonsense lyrics in his head to go with the music he's played dozens of times. Lyrics are his weak point, but he's working on it. His Composition professor keeps telling him that what he's lacking is confidence, but sometimes he's not so sure.

He isn't paying much attention to the time, and when he finally stops he realizes that it's been an hour. He wants to stay longer, but he's supposed to meet Spencer and Ryan soon.

He takes out his phone to shoot a text to Spencer as he heads to the apartment and notices that his phone is blinking. There are two missed calls. The first one is Spencer telling him to "pick up the phone, asshole." The second is from Jon. Of course Jon called when Brendon wasn't paying attention. It would happen that way.

The message is short. Jon just says, "Hey, it's me. I guess you're busy or whatever. Yeah, so..." and the line goes dead. Brendon mentally kicks himself for not answering when Jon called. He sends a text to Spencer telling him he's on his way and then scrolls to Jon's number. He hovers over the button for a second before pushing 'call'.

It rings three times before Jon picks up. "Hey," Brendon says.

"Oh, hi. I thought maybe--never mind," Jon says.

"What? Sorry, I was in the practice room working on something," Brendon says. "I kind of just assumed you'd decided not to call me."

"What? No way, dude. I was just waiting because I didn't know when you had class or whatever."

"Oh. Right," Brendon says.

"So, tomorrow," Jon says. "What do you want to do?"

“Oh, I don't know. You probably know what's around here better than me. I've mostly spent all of my time on campus and at Ryan and Spencer's."

"Well then, I'll just have to surprise you," Jon says. Brendon can hear the grin in his voice. Brendon wonders what Jon could possibly have in mind. He doesn't realize he hasn't said anything in a while until he hears Jon say, "Brendon? Are you still there? Fucking cell phones."

"I'm here," Brendon says. "Did you ask something? Sorry, sometimes the reception in here is terrible." He hopes it's not totally obvious that he's lying about that.

"Oh, that's cool. I just wanted to know where to pick you up? And when."

"I'll be in my room pretty much all day. I have a paper to work on," Brendon says.

"Oh, if it's a bad day, I get it."

"Oh, no. No, it's not that. It's not due until Wednesday. We're good, so just--whenever. I guess you could throw me a text when you're on your way?" Brendon says. It's his attempt at making this as comfortable and relaxed as possible. If the fact that his heart is beating ten times faster than usual and his stomach is turning upside down is any indication, it's not working very well.

"Yeah, cool," Jon says. "Probably late afternoon or early evening? Around four?"

"Okay, cool," Brendon says. 'Cool' is starting to feel so overused. Brendon sighs into the phone. It's completely unintentional, and he pulls the phone way from his ear, cursing himself, for just a moment.

"Brendon?"

"Yeah, sorry. You're breaking up again. We'll talk tomorrow?" Brendon says.

"Yeah," Jon says. "Tomorrow."

"Great, bye!" Brendon hears Jon mumble out a goodbye just before he hangs up the phone and puts it back in his bag.

+

"I'm an idiot. Seriously. Why did I think that I could go out with Jon Walker?" Brendon says. He's lying stretched out on Ryan and Spencer's sofa. Ryan is on the floor, leaning back against the edge of the sofa and Spencer is sitting across the room in the cheap, old recliner that they got on Craigslist. It doesn't actually recline anymore, and there are some pretty gross looking stains that were there when they got it, but it was free, and Spencer seems to really like it.

"Because he asked you," Spencer says. "Obviously he saw some reason to do so."

"He's going to spend half an hour with me and discover that I'm me," Brendon says.

"Yes, and then he's going to like you even more." If Brendon didn't know Ryan as well as he does, he would think that's sarcasm, but he can tell Ryan means it. "Seriously Bren, calm the fuck down."

Brendon takes a breath, counts to five, breathes again. He's calm. He can totally be calm. "Okay."

"Have you ever been on a date with a guy before?" Ryan asks. He looks amused, and Brendon wants to kick him. Hard.

"No," Brendon mumbles. "I've only been on, like, three dates with anyone." In school Brendon was always a little too lame to get people to go out with him. He tried too hard, and apparently girls don't actually like that.

"If only we could be there," Ryan says, solemnly. "This is probably going to be hilarious."

"I hate you." Brendon tries to glare, but it's really more of a pout.

"Whatever, you love me," Ryan says.

Brendon usually does but right now, not so much. Spencer is cackling from his spot on the chair. Brendon hates him, too.

+

Brendon's not nervous. He thinks maybe if he tells himself that enough, it'll be true. He's picked out something to wear that is neither paisley nor cleverly mismatched, because no matter what Ryan thinks, he will never be one to give fashion advice.

Brendon's got nothing to do now but wait for Jon to show. He's refreshed facebook more times than he can count. His roommate is thankfully uninterested in why Brendon is pacing around the room. He's really only interested in online gaming, and right now Brendon's pretty thankful for that.

His phone beeps, telling him he has a text. It's Jon saying that he's waiting out front and can't get into the building. In a brief moment of nervousness, Brendon had forgotten about that whole can't get in without a student ID thing. He waves a quick goodbye to his roommate, who doesn't even look up from his computer, and tries not to look too eager as he heads outside.

Jon is leaning against the building, hands in his pockets, staring off in the distance. It looks like he's studying the horizon.

"Uhm, hey." Brendon says. Jon's shoulders jump and he looks over, smiles, and says, "Oh, hey. That was fast."

"Oh, yeah. I'm only on the second floor, so." Brendon looks off to where Jon appeared to be looking before. "What were you looking at?"

"Nothing," Jon says. He pushes away from the wall. "C'mon. Let's go."

"Where are we going?" Brendon says.

"Thought you wanted to be surprised," Jon says, grinning. Brendon starts to say something, but Jon interrupts him before he can. "I'm just going to take you to a couple of my favorite places in Chicago. You've probably been to all of them, but act like you're in awe anyway. It'll make me feel way more cool than I am."

Brendon laughs. "Okay, I think I can do that."

They don't talk a lot as Jon drives. Brendon doesn't really know what to say and Jon is humming along to the radio. They pull into the parking lot of some diner, and Jon says, "This is my favorite place in the city. We used to come here every day when I was in school, all the way up until everything was crazy and we weren't home much."

"Cool," Brendon says. He's not really uncomfortable around Jon, but he doesn't know what to say either.

They go inside and find a booth in the corner. "So, the breakfast food is great. I know it's pretty much dinner time, but pancakes are awesome any time of day." He doesn't even look at the menu. "Their coffee tastes like shit, though."

Brendon's just about to respond when their waitress walks up to the table. "Haven't seen you here in a while. Getting too big for us, I see," she says.

"That's a lie, Rita," Jon says. "I've just been busy."

"Uh-huh. Well, Mr. Big Shot, what can I get you?" She doesn't bother pulling the pen from behind her ear and says, bored, "Let me guess, pancakes with maple syrup, four pieces of bacon, and a coffee."

"You never forget, Rita," Jon says.

"Well, you did come here every day for four years. I don't know how I'd forget." She turns to Brendon and says, "And you? What can I get for you?"

"Uhm, I don't know. I haven't really--"

"You should try the pancakes," Jon says.

"Uhm okay, pancakes, I guess. And a Coke," Brendon says.

Rita nods, not bothering to write it down and Jon says, "Trust me, you can't go wrong with the pancakes here."

"I thought you said the coffee was shitty," Brendon says.

"Well, even shitty coffee is still coffee." Jon taps his thumb in a steady rhythm on the table. He says, "So, you're not from Chicago, are you?"

"No," Brendon says. "I really haven't done a lot here, either. I'm on scholarship, so other than a couple of shows and going out with Ryan and Spence every once in a while, it's mostly all school."

"Well, that's cool," Jon says. "Means there's more that I can show you." Jon grins and then clears his throat. "Where are you from?"

"Vegas," Brendon says. He doesn't elaborate. The last thing he wants to do is dump a lot of personal family shit on Jon ten minutes into their first date. That would probably ensure that there's never a second.

"Wow, really? Why the fuck would you move to Chicago?" Jon says. "This place is cool and all, but Vegas."

"It's alright," Brendon says. "Not as cool as everyone thinks it is, I guess." Brendon doesn't have the most fond memories of Vegas, at least not recent fond memories.

"I guess everyone thinks the place they live sucks in comparison," Jon says, shrugging.

Their food comes out in what seems like record time, and Rita smiles at them and says something to Jon about bringing that one really great tipper next time. She walks away laughing and Jon says, "Nick. Tom is a shitty tipper."

Brendon thanks whatever being might be out there that he doesn't have to talk because he doesn't know what to say. He's happy to let Jon lead the conversation. He likes Jon, and he wants to be here, but he can't stop thinking about the fact that Jon's this sort of famous dude that Brendon kind of wants to be.

"Brendon?" Jon waves his hand in Brendon's face before Brendon realizes that he's been talking. "I asked you what your major was."

"Oh," Brendon says. "Oh, right, yeah. Uhm, music."

"Really?" Jon says. "Are you any good?"

"I don't know. I guess," Brendon says. "I play a lot of things alright. I pretty much suck at writing actual lyrics, though."

"What do you play?" Jon asks. He actually seems interested, which surprises Brendon.

"Piano is probably what I'm best at. I also know guitar, bass, drums...I don't know. A couple of other things," Brendon says. It's not a big deal for him. He had a hard time focusing when he was a kid, so he'd get bored with one instrument and start another. It's why there are only a couple of things he's really good at. It's not that impressive.

"Wow," Jon says. "Have you been playing your whole life?"

"I started when I was really young," Brendon says. "I don't know. Music was a pretty big deal in my house. I've always been into it."

"That's awesome," Jon says. "My parents weren't really thrilled when I was fifteen and told them that I was going to skip college and do this whole music thing. I think they wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, but that was never going to happen."

Brendon knows every band that Jon's been in. It's not really that he went looking, but it's out there anyway. 504 had started as 504 Plan, and Jon wasn't an original member. He joined when Tom suggested him because he was between bands, and they needed a new bass player. The original lead singer clashed with the rest of the band creatively right before Pete signed them, and he quit. They went a different direction, cut the Plan from the name and made it big. Brendon knows these things already, and it feels weird that he doesn't need to ask.

"What do your parents think?" Jon says.

"Oh," Brendon says. He doesn't want to talk about his parents. He just shrugs. "These pancakes are awesome."

Jon gives him a look, but he seems to be willing to let it drop. He smiles and says, "Told you. Didn't I tell you?"

"You did tell me," Brendon says.

Rita comes by the table and brings them their check. "You want it separate, you can do it yourself." She winks at Jon as she walks off, calling back over her shoulder, "And don't tip like your blond friend."

Jon laughs. "Yeah, this is what happens when you come to a place so often they know you by name. I mean, Chicago's a big city, right? You don't really get that a lot here. I guess that's part of the reason I love this place."

"How did you find it?"

"Oh, we went to school right around the corner. It was within walking distance before Tom and I could drive, so we started coming here. When I joined Plan, Nick started coming along."

They finish up their pancakes and then head for the door. Jon stops to pay, but Brendon keeps going. He's contemplating whether or not he should bolt but decides not to. Despite a couple of awkward moments, this has actually been pretty nice.

"So, I was thinking we could go to a show tonight. The best thing about Chicago, I feel, is that there's always a band that a friend of a friend of a friend is in to go see. I mean, seriously. Every single night."

"Cool," Brendon says. "I'm into that idea." Brendon doesn't get out to a lot of shows, even though he knows the Chicago scene is supposed to be great. Maybe he can start getting to more now.

"Tom's friend Sean is playing tonight at this little club in the area. It only holds about two hundred people, but I can get us in," Jon says. "I told Tom to be expecting us."

"Tom's going to be there?" Brendon asks. It's not that he doesn't want to be around Jon's friends, but that's just going to make everything weirder.

"Is that okay?" Jon says. "I mean, we can do something else, if you want."

"Oh, no," Brendon says. "That's cool." He grins. "Totally cool. I'm excited even."

"Awesome," Jon says. It really is close to the diner, and they don't have to drive very far before Jon's pulling into a parking lot. "It's right down the block."

Jon takes Brendon around back, where some guys are unloading a van. "Oh, hey, Walker, cool. You can help us," one of the guys says.

"Not tonight, Van Vleet. I'm on a date." He knocks shoulders with Brendon and grins. "Make Tom help."

"What the fuck do you think I'm doing?" Tom says. "Oh, hey, Brendon, right?" Tom nods in Brendon's direction. "Anyway, I don't think a date should exempt you from helping."

"Well, lucky for me, I do," Jon says. He throws an arm around Brendon's shoulder, and Brendon feels something in the pit of his stomach. It's not a terrible feeling. "Come on, Bren. I'll buy you a drink or something."

"Fucker!" someone calls out as they disappear into the back door of the club. Jon laughs, pulling Brendon along with him.

"So, this band is awesome. I think you'll probably decide you've been listening to the wrong band," Jon says. "I don't have a fucking clue why they're not signed."

Jon gets Brendon a beer, and they hang out in a corner. "It's better if I stay out of the way, you know. I came to a show once and got fucking swarmed. I don't mind signing for people or whatever, but I don't know. I come to these things to watch my friends play, you know? I'd rather just be out of the way so that I can enjoy the show, and so that people are actually paying attention to the guys on stage."

"Oh yeah, totally," Brendon says. There's a little seating area in the corner, with a sofa and a couple of chairs. Brendon thinks it's supposed to be a VIP area, but it's really just a dark corner. Jon takes an end of the sofa and Brendon sits down next to him, not too close. After a while, Tom joins them, pulling a girl by the hand. A couple of other people show up too. Brendon doesn't recognize anyone, but they all seem to know each other.

"Jon Walker," a girl says. She's pretty, with blonde hair and a big smile. She looks familiar in a way that Brendon can't place.

"Hey, Cass," Jon says.

"That's all? Hey, Cass? Fucker," she says.

Jon clears his throat, shooting a glance at Brendon. "Cassie, this is Brendon."

"Ohhh," Cassie says. She smiles and sits down on the other side of Brendon. "I see."

"Hi?" Brendon says. A couple of other people are looking in his direction, and he feels a little bit like the center of attention. He's not into it.

"I'm Cassie. I'm sure Jon has told you absolutely nothing about me," she says. "Because he's a douchebag."

"Hey!" Jon says. "I am not a--”

"Oh, shut up, you big baby. I'm talking to Brendon," she says. "So, I've heard a lot about you."

"Really?" Brendon asks. He tries not to seem as shocked as he is, but he can't believe that Jon's talked about him to other people.

"Jesus, seriously. The last three days it's been all Brendon, Brendon, Brendon." Jon glares at her, but she keeps going anyway. "Between you and me, I think he's a little obsessed." Brendon can tell that she's making fun of Jon, not him, so he laughs. Jon crosses his arms and starts talking to Tom and Tom's date. "You're going to ignore your date?"

"I'm ignoring you," Jon says.

Between the beer and Cassie, Brendon feels a lot more relaxed than he did fifteen minutes ago. "He's a little testy sometimes," Cassie says. "Just ignore him." She grins.

"I'll remember that," Brendon says.

"So, Brendon, Jon tells me you're a fan?" The question seems like it's some kind of a test, and Brendon really doesn't want to give her the wrong answer. The truth seems like the wrong answer.

"Yeah," Brendon says, shifting in his seat. "I mean, you know--yeah."

"Cool," Cassie says, and then, "Well, you don't seem like a stalker or anything, and Jon seems to think you're cool. Anyway, he said you turned him down a few times, so you get points for keeping him on his toes."

"I didn't--" Brendon starts to argue, but the lights go down and the band comes out on stage. The whole group in the small VIP section stops what they're doing and watches the band. They're as awesome as Jon said they'd be.

+

After the show, everyone goes backstage to talk to the band. Tom spends a few minutes trying to get Jon to help with the equipment, but Jon, as it turns out, is a lazy fucker. Brendon doesn't mind though, so he helps with Tom while Jon talks to Cassie.

"So, Jon really has a thing for you," Tom says. They're carrying a heavy amp, and it's just the two of them.

"Oh," Brendon says. "I guess."

"Not asking," Tom says. "Okay, you're going to have to turn that way." Tom gestures with his shoulder and they turn before pushing the amp into the van. "Here's the thing. I don't know you, and maybe you're a great guy, but you wouldn't be the first person to use Jon. If that's what this is about, back the fuck off now because I don't want to have to punch you or anything."

"I don't--" Brendon blinks a few times, just staring at Tom. "Okay."

"Look, you don't seem like the type, but I don't know you, and we may not be tabloid material, but we have some pretty fucking crazy fans. Jon won't listen to me about it, so I thought I'd appeal to your potential sense of kindness. If you're using him for some sick, twisted reason, back off."


"I'm not," Brendon says. "I'm really not."

"Good, so we're clear," Tom says. "I think he's waiting."

Brendon turns around, and Jon is standing with Cassie still, but he's looking over at Brendon. Brendon nods at Tom before heading toward Jon and Cassie. "You ready to go?" Jon asks.

"Yeah," Brendon says. "It was nice to meet you, Cassie.”

"You too, Brendon. You boys have fun," Cassie says. She winks at Jon and goes to join the rest of the band and their friends.

"So, your friends," Brendon says.

"Yeah, sorry about that."

"This was totally a test, wasn't it?" Brendon laughs. "I didn't figure it out until I was talking to Tom."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Jon says.

"Fine, play it that way," Brendon says. He feels a lot better now, and he's itching to spend some more time with Jon. "We should go somewhere else."

"I think I have an idea," Jon says. He takes Brendon's hand as they walk to his car, and Brendon doesn't feel weird about it. It feels pretty amazing, actually.

+

They end up at an all night coffee shop. It's dim and quiet, and Brendon likes it right away. He'll have to remember to tell Ryan and Spencer about it later. Jon buys them lattes and they sit in the corner.

"So, Cassie," Brendon says. He's wanted to ask about her all night. It had clicked in the car how he recognized her. She was supposedly Jon's on and off girlfriend, going back a long while.

"I've known Cassie since I was sixteen," Jon says. "I guess she was my high school sweetheart, or whatever. We dated for a couple years, and then when I graduated and the guys and I started recording and touring and getting bigger, it just stopped working."

"Oh," Brendon says.

"Well, and you know, I told her I was into dudes," Jon says, shrugging.

"Oh." Brendon figures it's obvious what he thought, so he doesn't say it. "Well, she's awesome."

"Yeah," Jon says. "She thought you were awesome too." Jon grins. "Gave her seal of approval and everything."

"Tom threatened to punch me in the face," Brendon says. Jon looks up at him, shocked, and Brendon says, "No, I mean--I guess he thought maybe I was being some crazy stalker or something. Which, fair enough. But I'm not."

"No," Jon says. "I know that."

"Anyway, my point was that they're awesome friends."

"I suppose," Jon says. "This latte is gross."

"You're a coffee snob, aren't you?" Brendon says.

"Might be," Jon says. "But like I said earlier, even shitty coffee is still coffee."

"Ryan is going to love you," Brendon says, laughing. "I didn't think anyone loved coffee as much as him."

"When do I get to meet Ryan?" Jon says. "And does meeting Ryan mean we get to do this again?"

"I assumed--I mean, I don't know. Do you want to?" Brendon asks.

"Yeah," Jon says. "I want to." He stands up and gestures toward door. "Come on, let's get out of here."

"Where are we going?"

"We're walking."

It's cool outside. It's barely March, and it's not quite spring yet. Jon's wearing flip flops, and Brendon wonders if his toes are cold. "I love Chicago," Jon says. "I bitch a lot, but this city is amazing."

"Yeah," Brendon says. He wasn't sure at first. He came here because he had a scholarship and because it wasn't Vegas, but he likes it. He likes it more right this moment than he ever has before.

"Spring break is a couple weeks away, isn't it?"

"Yeah, week after next," Brendon says. He can't wait. He'll probably spend half of it studying, but he could use a few days where he doesn't have to think about school.

"You going anywhere?"

"Nah, Ryan and Spencer are staying too, and I think we're just going to do a lot of hanging out in front of the TV." Brendon pauses briefly. He wants to ask if maybe he can hang out with Jon over spring break, but he's kind of new to wanting someone who wants him back, and he's not sure how to ask without sounding completely ridiculous. "When do you get back from LA?"

"I'm there for a week," Jon says. "Then we come back here to get cracking."

"I thought you'd been working for a while," Brendon says. Some day he's going to not say things that make him seem like he's some kind of internet creep.

Jon shrugs. "Yeah, sort of. I don't know." They walk in not-quite-awkward silence for a while before Jon stops and says, "It's like nothing's working, you know? We're not really fighting, but none of us are coming up with anything that sounds good to the other two. We're under all of this pressure to make this amazing second album because the first one did so well, and--I don't know. It fucking sucks."

Brendon frowns. He doesn't know how the whole professional music thing works, so it's not like anything he says is really an informed opinion, but "You'll be fine. I'm sure of it."

Jon laughs, quietly, not sarcastic or mocking, just quietly. He smiles at Brendon and starts walking again. Brendon falls into step next to him, and they walk like that for a while, until Jon takes Brendon's hand. Brendon tries not to look too shocked and then smiles over at Jon. The feeling in the pit of his stomach is spreading all over his body and he feels sort of lightheaded but in an amazing way, like he's had just a little too much to drink.

"I don't want to take you home, you know," Jon says. "It probably sounds lame, but I kind of just want to keep walking around."

Brendon laughs and says, "Won't you need your car at some point?"

"I guess." Jon shrugs.

Brendon feels like maybe he's done something wrong from the shift in Jon's mood. He frowns a little. "Hey, come on." He tugs on Jon's hand, pulling him around a corner. "Let's walk. We'll come back to the car later."

Jon squeezes Brendon's hand and smiles. They keep walking.

+

Brendon doesn't know what time it is or how long they've been walking. They've talked about everything from books to movies to their most inspirational bands. They have more in common than Brendon ever would have realized, and he's learned a surprising amount about Jon, considering he already knows more than he really should.

Like, Jon loves Aladdin. He can sing it backwards and forwards, but he likes Beauty and the Beast more. He loves The Sandlot, and he always has season tickets to see the Cubs, even though nowadays he's not really around to go.

"We should head back to the car," Jon says. He laughs quietly, running a hand through his hair. "If I can remember where the car is. We kind of got turned around, didn't we?"

"A little bit. I think...this way?" Brendon says, motioning for Jon to follow him. "I am totally awesome at retracing my steps."

"Good thing one of us is," Jon says.

It doesn't take them very long to find their way back to the car. They're halfway back to campus when Jon says, "So, we're going to do this again, right? I mean, you aren't thinking about how I'm fucking lame for a rockstar and maybe this was a bad idea, are you?"

"What?" Brendon asks. "No way. Seriously. We are totally going to do this again, and often, I hope." He grins over at Jon and sees that Jon is grinning back.

"So, I'll call you when I get back from LA? We'll go out."

"Yeah, definitely," Brendon says.

Jon parks at the curb outside of Brendon's dorm. It's late enough that it could be considered early, and there's sunlight vaguely peeking out from the horizon. Jon walks Brendon to the door. He says, "Yeah, so..." and looks down at his feet. It's really really cute, and Brendon thinks yes, this is the best thing that has ever happened.

"Yeah," Brendon says.

Jon looks at him. He looks nervous as he steps in and closes the gap between them, but his lips are soft on Brendon's, and it's amazing all the same. Kissing Jon is awesome. Brendon wraps his arms around Jon's shoulders as Jon's hands lightly grip Brendon's hips. The kiss is soft, quiet. There's a question in it; Brendon can practically feel the is this okay pouring from Jon's mouth into his, and it is. It's so okay.

It seems like forever before they separate. Brendon breathes a couple of times. Jon ducks his head and says, "Yeah, so...I'll call you. I will."

"I know," Brendon says, and he does.

part two
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