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[personal profile] ohnoitsshirley
part two

Brendon's birthday is on a Thursday. He wakes up and goes to class just like always, and then he goes to practice his song. It's due in a couple of weeks, and it's not where he wants it to be yet. He's not sure it ever will be, but he's going to try and get as close as possible. He spends an hour there, goes to his afternoon class and then heads to the dorm.

He's meeting Jon in a couple of hours and he's supposed to dress nice, even though they're just going to dinner. Jon's having a party tomorrow night, but he said that he wanted to take Brendon out somewhere nice for his birthday. Somewhere that's just them.

Brendon's throwing things out of his closet and onto the floor, trying to find something that's not jeans or too casual, and his roommate keeps sending him curious glances over his laptop screen. Brendon's pretty sure his roommate decided long ago that he's a crazy person. He's halfway through his closet when his phone starts ringing. It's his generic ringtone, so he has no clue who it could be. It's also somewhere on the bottom of a pile of t-shirts on his bed. He manages to dig it out and answer it before it goes to voice mail, miraculously.

"Yello, Brendon here," he says. "And if this is Jon calling from--"

"Who's Jon?" It's a voice Brendon hasn't heard in a while, almost a year. He blinks, looking over at his roommate and then walking out of the room. "Brendon? Are you there?”

"Yeah," he says. "Yeah, Mom. I'm here."

"I know it's been a while since we've spoken," she says. After no phone calls on Christmas or to find out when he was coming home for a visit, he wants to say yes and why, and why now? But he just waits for her to keep going. "I wanted to say happy birthday."

"Oh," Brendon says. "Oh yeah, thanks, Mom."

"Look, Brendon, I know this is--I know your father and I reacted harshly, and I know that we should have called you sooner, but I just assumed you didn't want to hear from us either."

"You're my parents," Brendon says. "And you said I made my choice."

"I know," she says. "I'm sorry. We miss you."

"Yeah," Brendon says. She's his mom, and he loves her. He wants nothing more than to tell her it's okay, all is forgiven. Instead he says, "Look, Mom, I have have plans. You know, birthday and all. Can I call you later?"

"Of course you can," she says. "You will, won't you?"

"Of course, yeah," Brendon says. "Bye, Mom." He manages to hear her goodbye before he hangs up the phone.

He forgets about dinner and the pile of clothes on his floor and his bed. He forgets everything except for how he really wants to talk to Jon right now. He heads straight for Jon's apartment, getting there before Jon's back from working with Tom and Nick. He sits out on the steps of the building and waits.

He's not crying. He hasn't cried over his parents since right after he got to Chicago, since he met Ryan and Spencer, since long before he started dating Jon, and he's not going to start now. He presses the palms of his hands to his eyes and then hears Jon say his name.

"Hey, I thought we were meeting at--what's wrong?" Jon asks.

Brendon pushes himself up from the steps and smiles. "Nothing. Just, can we go inside?"

"Yeah, sure," Jon says. He doesn't say anything else as they walk, Brendon following a half a step behind him. They get inside and Jon turns to Brendon. "Seriously, Bren. What's up?"

"I don't wanna talk about it," Brendon says. He looks down at the ground and mumbles. "My mom called me."


"Yeah, I don't know. She wanted to say happy birthday." He tries to handwave it, but it's not nothing. It's huge, and he doesn't really know how to process it. "I haven't talked to her since I left Vegas."

Jon grabs Brendon's wrist and drags him over to the sofa, pulling him down. "Tell me what happened with them, Brendon." Brendon's never even told Ryan and Spencer exactly what happened with his parents.

Brendon closes his eyes and sighs. "Yeah, okay." He pauses. "Well, I guess it started when I told them that I wanted to come here for school, on my music scholarship. They had other plans, you know? I was supposed to do something practical, or I could take some time off and go on a mission. I didn't want to do either of those things."

"A mission?"

"My family is Mormon. That's kind of part of the problem." Brendon looks over at Jon, who isn't saying anything. "I told them this was what I wanted. They're the ones that always encouraged me to learn instruments and wanted me to love music, you know? I guess I thought eventually they would come around."

"They didn't?”

"Well, they might have," Brendon says. "I got really angry one night, and I told them I didn't believe. I didn't believe in their religion or their God. That was the last straw, I guess. They told me if I wanted to make that decision, I could leave, but I wasn't coming back. And then I left."


"Don't, okay?" Brendon says. "Just don't. I know."

"She called you though, right? That's a good sign," Jon says. Brendon's grateful that he didn't ask any more questions. There's not much more to tell anyway, but Brendon's tired just thinking about it all again.

"I guess," Brendon says. "I don't know how much she'll miss me when I tell her about you." It comes out more biting than Brendon means it to, but Jon's face has already fallen, and Brendon can't take it back.

"Oh," Jon says. "Yeah, right. I'm sorry."

"Don't, Jon. I'm the one who should be sorry." Brendon stands up. "Fuck. I just, I thought--" He takes a deep breath. "I kept wanting them to call, on Thanksgiving and then Christmas and every other day. I just gave up and moved on, and now she calls me."

Jon stands up, walking over to Brendon and wrapping his arms around him. "Brendon, it'll be okay.”

"Yeah, maybe." Brendon wants to think that's true, but he's not sure. He wants to call his mom back now. "I'm sorry. Our night is totally fucked."

"Nope," Jon says. "Not gonna let that happen. We don't have to go out, though. We'll order pizza and watch Spinal Tap. Your present is here, anyway."

"Present?" Brendon says. Jon laughs quietly.

"Pizza first, then present."

Brendon sighs. "I guess that's okay."


Brendon falls asleep halfway through the movie. He jolts awake when he feels Jon shake him, and almost forgets where he is. They're stretched out on their stomachs on Jon's bed. The lights are off and there's an empty pizza box and a few beer bottles thrown on the floor. Everything considered, it's not a bad birthday for Brendon. At least he gets to spend it with Jon.

"Hey, so, I thought I'd wake you up while it's still your birthday, so I can give you your present."

"I'm awake!" Brendon says. "Give me this present you speak of." Jon laughs and rolls off the bed, holding his hand out for Brendon to take. "You didn't say I had to move," Brendon says.

"Oh, come on. It'll take ten minutes and then you can come crawl back into bed," Jon says. "As long as I can come with you."

"Obviously," Brendon says.

Jon leads Brendon to the music room. It's really supposed to be a guest room, but Jon never needed one and eventually it just became the place where he kept all of his instruments. Brendon has his guitar in there now, too. "Okay, close your eyes first," Jon says. Brendon laughs quietly but does it anyway. Jon opens the door and drags Brendon in. "Okay open them."

Brendon opens his eyes and looks around the room. There are a couple of new things: a small keyboard and an acoustic guitar are propped up together by the wall, next to Brendon's guitar. "What--"

"So, I know you don't have room for this shit, but you keep your guitar here anyway, and I figured you always complain about how sometimes the practice rooms are full, you know? So..."

"Jon," Brendon says. He walks over to the small keyboard and plays a little on the keys, and then he picks up the acoustic and strums a little. It's a nice guitar, the first brand new one he's ever had, and it must have cost a fortune. "You didn't have to--"

"I know," Jon says. "Anyway, there's more. Because, you know, I'm gone a lot, and once this album is written it's going to be even worse. You have to be able to get to this shit when I'm not around, so like, here."

He hands Brendon a small box. It's poorly wrapped, with old Christmas paper that has kittens on it. Brendon laughs before taking the box and ripping the paper off, letting it fall to the floor. He does the same with the top of the box. Inside is a key to Jon's apartment.


"It's nothing," Jon says, shrugging. "It's just, you know."

"No, it's--"

"It's nothing," Jon says again. "Really. Don't think--It's nothing."

"You said that," Brendon says. It's not nothing and Brendon knows it, but if Jon wants to say that, he's okay with it. Jon shrugs. Brendon wraps his arms tight around Jon's neck and says, "Thank you. Seriously."

"You're welcome," Jon whispers. He wraps his arms around Brendon's waist and moves so that he can kiss Brendon. "You really want to try them out, don't you?"

"Can I?" Brendon grins.

"They're yours," Jon says, laughing.

Brendon grins, walking over to the guitar and the keyboard. Jon only stays and watches for the first fifteen minutes. After that, he leaves Brendon alone.


Jon's gone when Brendon wakes up. Brendon assumes he's gone out with Nick and Tom for the day, so he stays in bed for a while before getting up and going to eat some cereal. He sits his cell down on the table in front of him and stares at it for a while. He knows he should probably call his mom back.

He sighs and picks up his phone, scrolling through the numbers. He finds his old home number on the list and hovers over the button for a moment before pressing, then puts the phone to his ear.

"Hello?" His mom's voice is far away and kind of rushed.

"Hey, Mom, it's me." He pauses. "Brendon."

"Brendon, hi." There's something like relief in her voice. "I didn't know if I'd actually hear from you."

"Yeah," Brendon says. Then, quieter, "Me either." He sighs quietly. "I'm sorry about yesterday."

"No, I should have known that you'd have plans. I'm sure you're busy up there," she says. "Do you have friends?"

"Yeah, I do," he says. "You'd like them." He knows his mom would like Spencer, possibly Ryan.

"Maybe I'll get to meet them some day," she says. There's a brief pause before she continues. "We want you to come home for summer vacation."

"You didn't even want me to come home for Christmas," Brendon says.

"It's not that we didn't want--" she cuts herself off and then starts over. "I didn't know how to talk to you, and I thought you'd call us. I know, Brendon, I know your father and I messed up, but we love you. Just think about it, okay?"

"Okay," Brendon says. "I'll think about it."

The front door opens and Brendon hears Jon call out, "Hey, so I was just--" Jon walks into the kitchen, arms full of grocery bags. "Oh, shit, sorry." He walks over to the counter and sets the bags down before walking back out of the room. Brendon's mom says something, but he misses it.

"Sorry, what was that, Mom? My roommate just came in." Brendon cringes just saying it. It's not that he hates lying to her, not really. It's not like it's the first time he's ever lied to his mom, but he's lying about Jon. Jon pops his head around the door frame and raises an eyebrow.

"Oh, that's okay. I understand if you need to go," she says.

"No, it's fine," Brendon says. He walks into the other room and sees Jon sitting on the sofa. "I can talk." He falls onto the sofa, lying back with his head in Jon's lap. Jon smiles sadly down at him. He just shrugs.

"Oh, I was just saying that your brothers and sisters are asking about you. You should call Kyla, at least."

"I will," Brendon says. He doesn't know why he stopped talking to his brothers and sisters after his parents kicked him out. He just assumed that if his parents didn't want to talk to him, they wouldn't either. They'd never tried to call him, so it wasn't like he had any reason to think otherwise.

Jon starts threading his fingers through Brendon's hair. It's relaxing. "Mom, I have to go. I'll talk to you later?"

"Of course, Brendon. You can call me anytime," she says.

"I know."

"I love you." She hesitates before she says it. Brendon wonders if she's afraid of how he's going to respond.

"Me too," he says. He waits for a second, just to see if she'll hang up first. She does. "Sorry," he says, dropping his phone on the floor. "I don't know why she's doing this now."

"She misses you," Jon says. "Is it really surprising?"

"I know, I know. I'm fucking awesome, right?" He laughs quietly. "I don't know what to do, Jon. I miss them, but I was wrecked when they told me to leave. How can I just get over that?"

"They're family. You'll find a way." Jon bites his lip. "You want to, right? Make up with them?"

"Yeah," Brendon says. "So much, and my brothers and sisters. God, I miss my brothers and sisters."

"Then you should talk to them," Jon says. "But not right now. We have a party to get ready for."

"Did you buy me anything at the store?" Brendon grins.

"You'll have to get your ass in the kitchen and find out."


Ryan and Spencer are the first people there. They seem to not be speaking, which kind of sucks. Brendon really wants to ask what's up with them, but he doesn't want them to ruin the party with their drama. A bunch of Jon's friends show up next; some that he's met and some that he hasn't. Sean and the rest of his band show up too, which is kind of awesome because Brendon's been wanting to talk to them more about their stuff.

"Seriously? You don't want to be signed?" Brendon asks.

"I don't know, it's like, with Tom, you know? Those guys are great, and they love what they do, but it's a job now. I kind of like the idea that I'm doing this for me. I don't really care about the money."

"Hey," Nick says, coming over and throwing an arm around Sean. "Are you implying we're in this for the money? Because I'm in it for the girls," he says, grinning.

"De'mar know that?" Sean asks, smirking.

"He's my roommate," Nick says. Sean barks out a loud laugh. Nick punches him in the arm, but there's no force behind it. Sean just rolls his eyes. "Fuck you. I'm going to find Tom."

Ryan is talking to Cassie, gesturing about something. Brendon sort of wishes that he could read lips. Ryan keeps sneaking glances at Spencer, who's talking to Al, the bassist for Sean's band. Ryan glares, and Brendon almost laughs about it, until Ryan looks back at Cassie. He does that thing he does sometimes where he smiles shyly from behind his bangs and looks totally innocent.

Brendon should step in, but he can't be bothered to get involved.

"I'm going to look for Jon," Brendon says. Sean smiles at him and then turns to talk to Danielle.

Jon's not in the kitchen, and Tom doesn't appear to be anywhere in sight either. Brendon figures they stepped out for a cigarette or something. He still wants to be away from the party for a minute, just in case Ryan and Spencer start arguing. He starts toward the bedroom and gets the door cracked open before he hears voices.

"I just don't want to hear it anymore, Tom," Jon says. Brendon can't see him, and he thinks maybe he shouldn't be hearing him either, but that doesn't make him step away from the door.

"Of course you don't," Tom says. "Jon, I know you think I'm being, whatever. But this guy, I don't know. He's kind of--."

"You don't know him," Jon says. "Anyway--I know, alright, and you're right. But, hey, I didn't tell fans where I live. I just dated one of them." It's snippy. Brendon's never heard Jon get snippy with Tom.

"You gave him a key." Oh. Oh. They're fighting about Brendon. Brendon wonders how long they've been fighting about him.

"We've been dating for two months. It's not like I just met him yesterday." There's a long pause. "Seriously, Tom. I kind of love him, so you might have to get over it."

Brendon might close the door a little too hard. The voices stop and Jon pokes his head out of the door and frowns. "Brendon."

"Sorry, I was--Ryan and Spencer, and Sean. And then I went to find you, but I couldn't, so I was just going to hang out for a few minutes. But you were in there, so I'll just--" Brendon stops to breathe. Jon loves him.

"Brendon." Jon says again. "Just--hang on a second, okay?"

Brendon nods and Jon disappears back into the bedroom. He hears muffled talking and then the door opens and Tom shuffles out. He mumbles an apology and then walks out into the living room where everyone else is. Jon doesn't come out, and Brendon waits just a moment before he pushes the door open and goes inside.

Jon is lying back on the bed, staring up at the ceiling with his hands behind his head. Brendon walks over and lies down with him. He's on his back at first, but then he turns onto his side to face Jon. They're not touching at all, and it feels kind of wrong.

"So, I guess you heard that," Jon whispers.

Brendon could pretend that he didn't. It would be really easy to lie. "Yeah," he says.

"He's just being a best friend, you know?" Jon asks. "It's not that he doesn't like you. He doesn't know you. He just sees you as a fan."

"I know," Brendon says. "Jon, anything he's thinking, I was probably thinking it first. It's not every day you meet your favorite musician and he asks you out." Brendon realizes how that sounds. He doesn't mean it that way, but he's definitely thought about it. That maybe deep down that was part of it, in the beginning.

"Are you saying that he's right? That's why you're here?" Jon still isn't looking at Brendon. It's not right.

Brendon scoots closer, wrapping an arm around Jon's chest and curling into him. "No," Brendon says. "No, no. It's really not. I just--sometimes I wonder if I wouldn't be here if it weren't for that." Jon tenses, and Brendon closes his eyes and sighs. He's not saying anything right. "Jon, no. That is not why I'm here. God, I don't know. You were in my favorite band, and then you kept noticing me. I'm not really used to being noticed. You kept noticing, and I was so shocked and thrilled."

"Brendon," Jon says, but he doesn't complete the thought.

"Jon, I'm not dating you because you're fucking Jon Walker of 504. I would have gotten bored of that so so fast. Tom is wrong, and I'm going to kick you in the balls if you actually think that I'm using you that way. I don't give a shit if you're in a band."

Jon laughs and then turns his head and kisses Brendon quickly. "I guess you heard the rest of it, too?"

"The part where you said you kind of love me?" Brendon grins. "Yep. I heard that too. It was my favorite part, to be honest."

"I do, you know."

"Yeah," Brendon says, more serious now. "Me too, for the record."

Jon smiles and kisses Brendon, longer this time. He rolls over onto his side and wraps an arm around Brendon, pulling him in as close as he can. Somewhere in the other room Ryan starts yelling and Spencer follows close behind. Brendon ignores it.


Things seem better between Jon and Tom after Brendon's party. Things between Ryan and Spencer are worse and then better and then worse again, constantly. Spencer says something to Brendon once about finding balance, and going from friends to more and not being sure if it's going to work. He seems to be looking for advice, but Brendon just asks him to pass the Cheetos. He's resolved in not getting involved in Ryan and Spencer's drama.

It's the week before finals, and most of Brendon's classes are wrapped except for his exams. He's trying not to stress out about everything and he's spending most of his time with Jon. Jon is still off working, but most days he comes home early talking about how they think they've gotten this song where they want it, or they think they just need to polish this chord progression before it's perfect.

Brendon and Jon have started doing a lot of household stuff together. It's weird in a nice kind of way and at least it keeps Brendon out of his dorm room. His roommate stressed out is apparently a lot more annoying than his roommate not stressed out. Brendon had dared to tell him last week that maybe he would know what pages he was supposed to be studying if he hadn't scribbled elf wartime strategy all over his notes, and he got a notebook to the head.

They're walking through the grocery store; Jon pushing the cart and Brendon following alongside throwing stuff in.

"So, I think we're going to be done next week," Jon says. "I mean, with the writing part and all that."

"Cool," Brendon says. "I still need to decide what I'm doing over the summer. My parents really want me to go home." He's been talking to his mom and dad more, and he doesn't feel so conflicted about seeing them again. It feels like it would be worth it to at least try, anyway.

"That's too bad," Jon says. He grabs a box of Frosted Flakes, throwing them in the cart. Jon really prefers Cheerios, but Brendon pouts when there are no Frosted Flakes in the apartment. He's always been good at getting his way.

"Why?" Brendon asks. "I thought you said I should--"

"Well, I just mean, it looks like I can do that whole vacation thing. I was going to take you away to somewhere really awesome." Brendon had forgotten all about that, and even at the time he had thought Jon was half-joking.

"Wait, seriously? You want to go on vacation together?"

"Well, I don't know. I think it could be fun, you know?" Jon shrugs, but Brendon can tell it's more important than that.

"Do you want to come with me?" Brendon asks. He doesn't really mean to, but it rushes out before he can stop himself. It seems like a terrible idea, inviting his boyfriend to meet his parents, when they don't even know he has a boyfriend. When he doesn't even know how they're going to take it.

"Come with you?"

"I mean, it's just going to be weird, you know?" Brendon shrugs. "I haven't seen them in a while, and I kind of don't want to do it alone."

"Are you sure you want me there?" Jon flips over a box of Pop-Tarts, but Brendon knows he's only pretending to look at the nutrition facts. "I mean, they think I'm you're roommate or whatever."

"You're my friend," Brendon says. "I mean, obviously you're not just that, but..." He takes the Pop-Tarts out of Jon's hand and moves so Jon has to look at him. "Yes, I want you there."

"Okay," Jon says, smiling.

"Okay," Brendon says. Jon grabs the cart and pushes it to the next aisle.


The night they finish up the writing portion of the album, they have a small party at Tom's apartment. Brendon's also celebrating being done for the semester. Ryan and Spencer are celebrating a week with no major fights or break ups, and they celebrate by making out on Tom's bed. It's probably a good thing Tom hasn't noticed yet.

The party's been going on for a while when Jon splits off from Brendon to go talk to Cassie. Brendon's sure Jon is having a minor (or major) freak out about meeting his parents. He can tell Jon's nervous, even though he's not really acting like it.

"Hey," Tom says, leaning on the wall next to Brendon. "So, I think I owe you an apology. I was kind of an asshole about you."

"Oh," Brendon says. "Whatever, it's fine."

"No," Tom says. "Jon's into you, and I spent kind of a lot of time telling him that it was a bad idea, so--sorry." He shrugs.

"Whatever," Brendon says. "It's fine." They're never going to be best friends.

"Yeah," Tom says. "Well." He nods again, takes a drink from his cup and then walks away. It's a little awkward, but they've never spent a lot of time together so Brendon doesn't think anything of it.

A few minutes later Cassie comes back in the room, Jon following behind her. He smiles at Brendon and walks over, wrapping his arms around Brendon's waist and pulling him close. "Hey," he says.

"You okay?" Brendon asks.

"Better," Jon says. "I'm a little nervous. I don't know if you've noticed." Jon laughs quietly, pulling away from Brendon.

"I've noticed." Brendon frowns slightly. "You can skip it if you want, you know. I'll understand."

"Nope," Jon says. "I'm going to meet your parents. You can't stop me now. Besides, we already bought the tickets."

Brendon laughs. Somewhere Tom starts yelling. Ryan and Spencer come out of the hallway half-dressed and red lipped, carrying their clothes. Spencer is apologizing and Ryan is laughing. Brendon rolls his eyes and says. "Well, I think that's the end of the party."

"Lies," Jon says. "This just means it's really getting started." Brendon laughs as Tom throws a pillow at Ryan.


All of Brendon's stuff is scattered around Jon's apartment. They're getting ready to leave for a couple of weeks in Vegas. After that they're coming back to Chicago for a few days before Jon has to head to LA to start recording.

"Are you sure this is okay?" Brendon asks. Jon's room is full of boxes, and there are more out in the living room. Brendon's luggage for Vegas is packed and sitting next to the door ready to go. "It's so much shit."

"Well, since I'm going with you, I'd say it's fine," Jon says, laughing. "We'll figure something else out when we get back ." Jon zips up his bag and sets it on the floor.

"Are you sure you're okay with this? I mean, you don't get that much time off--"

"Brendon," Jon says, putting his hands on Brendon's arms and looking him in the eyes. "I'm fine. It'll be fun. I'll be your awesome roommate and sleep down the hall, and when we're home alone we'll make out in your room and listen for the door. It'll be just like we're in high school." He grins.

Brendon laughs quietly. "Okay, yeah. It'll be awesome."

They get to the airport just in time for their flight to start boarding. Brendon is nervous the entire time, and Jon keeps putting a hand on his thigh to keep him from getting too jittery. It only helps a little bit. The plane ride seems a lot longer than it really is.

When they get to baggage claim, Brendon looks around for his parents while Jon waits for their bags. He sees his mom and dad over by the door, but it takes him a second to compose himself before he walks over. He doesn't know what to say after so long without seeing them, so he goes with a simple, "Mom, Dad, hi."

"Brendon!" Brendon's mom wraps him into a hug and his dad slaps him on the back. "We missed you," she says. "Where's your roommate?"

"He's over there waiting for our bags," Brendon says. "Come on, I'll introduce you."

Brendon walks over to Jon with his parents following behind him. "Jon, hey," Brendon says.

"Yeah, they're not down yet," Jon says.

"Jon, this is my mom and dad." Brendon's dad shakes Jon's hand. Jon smiles and says, "It's nice to meet you. Brendon's told me a lot about you." It's stilted, like Jon's trying not to imply that what Brendon's told him isn't exactly good, but he's failing.

"He's told us a lot about you, too," Brendon's mom says. "It's nice to put a face to the name."

"Yeah, you too," Jon says. Their bags finally come down and they mostly just watch the luggage go around until theirs is out. Jon grabs both, carrying Brendon's for him. "Go on, talk to them. I'll follow," he whispers into Brendon's ear. Brendon nods and goes up to talk to his parents.

On the way back to the house, Brendon's parents ask him a lot of questions about school. He tells them about his classes and about living in Chicago. He feels like a lot of their interest is fake, but he appreciates that they're trying at least. Jon is quiet next to Brendon in the backseat, and they're not touching. It's weird.

The drive from the airport to the house is shorter than he remembers. He hasn't been back since a few days before he left for Chicago. Everything looks almost the same way as it did when he left.

"Brendon, why don't you show Jon to the guest room?" His mom says.

Brendon nods and motions for Jon to follow him up the stairs. He can hear his parents whispering as he and Jon go up the stairs, and is sure it's about him. He wishes he knew what they were saying.

He stops at his room first and closes the door behind them. "I'm sorry this is so weird," Brendon says. "I hate pretending you're just--"

"Don't worry about it, Bren. I get it," Jon says. "Seriously. You don't want to spring too much on them at once."

"Yeah, I know," Brendon says. "I know."

"Hey, we probably shouldn't spend too much time up here. They might get suspicious." Jon turns to leave, but Brendon stops him, kissing him hard, until they're both breathless.

"Yeah, okay." Brendon nods. "Let's go." Jon leaves first, Brendon following behind. "So, you're here, across the hall."

Jon smiles slightly, going in. "You should go back downstairs. I'm gonna call Cass." Brendon nods. It kind of sucks, but he understands why. He goes downstairs alone.


It's been a few days, and things are still kind of weird. He hasn't been alone with Jon for more than a few minutes at a time, and he doesn't know how to talk to his parents anymore. They don't seem to know how to talk to him either, so mostly it's just awkward.

On Thursday, Kyla stops by. She gives him a hug and then punches him in the arm for not visiting sooner. After that she punches him in the other arm for not calling her just because of what happened with their parents. His mom had left a few minutes before to go shopping for groceries, so he's a little annoyed that Kyla's interrupting the brief amount of time he was going to get alone with Jon. Not annoyed enough that he isn't really happy to see her.

Brendon shrugs his shoulders as he walks back into the living room and sits back down next to Jon. There's some daytime talk show playing on the TV that Jon is laughing at.

"You must be the roommate," Kyla says, as she comes in behind Brendon. "My mom said you were coming with Brendon."

"Yeah," Jon says. "That's me. I'm the roommate." Jon says, a little too cheerfully. This whole situation sucks, for both of them. Brendon had sort of known this was a bad idea, and now he's wishing he'd never suggested it.

"You look a little old to be a freshman," Kyla says, raising an eyebrow. "You also look kind of familiar."

"He's got a familiar face," Brendon says. "Seriously. I spent the first month we lived together trying to figure out where I'd seen him before."

Jon nods, and Kyla makes a hmm sound. She obviously doesn't buy it. It could have something to with the fact that Brendon's leg is bouncing up and down and he's talking kind of fast, both things he does when he's really nervous.

"Sure," she says. "So, I was hoping we could hang out, have lunch or something, since you haven't spoken to me in almost a year. I want to catch up."

"Okay," Brendon says. "Can Jon come? He doesn't really know anyone here, and it's really not fair to make him hang out with Mom all day."

Kyla gives Jon a skeptical look and then shrugs her shoulders and says, "Okay, why not?"

The radio in Kyla's car is tuned to a top 40 station that plays a good song every four days or so, a radio station that Brendon had always given her a lot of shit for listening to. The DJ is talking about celebrity gossip, and Brendon tunes it out. Kyla is talking about her new job, but he's only half paying attention.

After the gossip ends, one of Jon's songs comes on. It's the one everyone knows the words to, and Jon's told Brendon he fought against even putting on the album. Jon taps the rhythm out on his thigh instinctively and Brendon smiles a little, singing along under his breath.

He catches Kyla looking in the rearview mirror at Jon and then she glances towards him. "I like this song," she says.

"Yeah." Brendon nods. "It's great." He looks straight ahead as Jon kicks at the back of his seat. He can imagine Jon rolling his eyes, trying not to crack a smile.

They get to a restaurant that Brendon remembers going to with Kyla a lot back when he and his parents had first started fighting. Looking back on it, he doesn't know why he never called her. She's the one that he always went to for advice, and they always got along the best. He doesn't know why he thought she wouldn't want to talk to him.

They get a table outside because it's not too hot today. The weather is sunny and comfortable, not sweltering, and Brendon knows it won't be like this for long.

"So, Jon, what are you majoring in?" Kyla asks. She's looking at her menu, not either one of them, and it makes Brendon nervous.

"Uhm," Jon's face twists up in concentration. "I haven't decided," he finally settles on. "Just getting the basics out of the way first, I guess."

"Hm," Kyla says, putting down her menu. Brendon might be sitting closer to Jon than necessary, but whatever happens, he doesn't think Kyla will call him on it.

"My Music Comp professor loved the song I wrote for my final project," Brendon says. Changing the subject seems like a great course of action.

"That's great!" Kyla says. She looks at Jon and adds, "My little brother is pretty much a genius, but he won't believe anyone who says it. He really knows his stuff."

"I know," Jon says. He smiles over at Brendon, and Brendon grins back. It's a little too relaxed and unguarded, but he can't help himself. It's been days since they've so much as held hands, and it is really fucking ridiculous. He's tired of acting like Jon is just some dude.

"Shut up. I'm not," Brendon says. "I just love music." He loves making a song from nothing, piecing it all together and making it sound like something that could mean something. He can see Jon smiling at him out of the corner of his eye. It's really hard not to lean over and kiss him.

Their waiter interrupts by coming over to take their orders. Brendon never thought he'd be so glad to see a food service worker. He takes his time ordering, and when the waiter is gone, Kyla is staring at him. "What?" he asks.

"Nothing," she says.

"I'll be right back," Jon says, standing. Brendon looks at him curiously. "Bathroom," he says. Jon's hand brushes Brendon's back lightly as he walks past him. Brendon doesn't think Kyla notices.

She's staring at him, and it's a little unsettling. "What?" Brendon asks again.

"Jon," she says. "He's not your roommate."

"What?" Brendon says. He tries for incredulous, but it really just comes out as a little bit surprised. "Why would I lie about that, Kyla? Don't be ridiculous."

"First of all, he's at least twenty-two. Second, it took him way too long to tell me that he hadn't declared a major, and third, the way you two keep looking at each other. It's really obvious. You're not doing that around Mom and Dad, are you?"

"No," Brendon mumbles. "We're barely ever in the same room."

"So, he's not your roommate."

"No," Brendon mumbles. "Please don't say anything. I don't want to fuck this up. I just didn't want to come alone."

"You're not alone, jackass," she says, and smiles slightly. "He seems nice."

"Yeah, he is," Brendon says. "He's in a band. A sort of popular one.”

"Yeah? I thought he looked kind of familiar." Brendon gives her a look and she says, "What? I watch MTV, and I do have the internet, you know."

"I'm sick of lying about him," he says. "I feel like after everything, I should be able to tell them that I have a boyfriend. They're the ones who wanted me to come here, who said they were sorry."

Jon's been gone for a while. Brendon thinks he's probably just giving them time.

"Do you want me to tell you that you should?" Kyla asks. "I'd be lying if I told you I thought it wouldn't matter."

"Does it matter to you?" he asks. He doesn't know what he'll do if she says yes. At least he'll know that he should just go back to Chicago now and pretend this trip never happened.

There's a long pause on Kyla's end before she says, "No. I love you, Brendon, and if you're happy, that's great. He seems like a good guy."

"Yeah," Brendon says. "Mom and Dad like him, but they like him as my roommate. I don't think they would like him as much as some dude that I'm fucking."

"Brendon," Kyla says, frowning.

"Sorry," he mumbles.

"No," she says, nodding behind him. Jon is walking up. He hovers a second before sitting back down next to Brendon. "Hey," Kyla says. "So we probably need to be properly introduced. I'm Kyla, and you're dating my little brother. I have to interrogate you now."

Jon looks over at Brendon, raising an eyebrow. Brendon nods. "I told her," he says. "It's okay."

Jon laughs quietly and then looks at Kyla. "Okay, do your best."

Kyla spends the next half hour asking Jon way too many personal questions, but it's nice to know that at least someone in his family is okay with Jon as his boyfriend.


It gets better after that. A little, anyway. He's a little more relaxed, but it still sucks to have to act differently around Jon. They've been tiptoeing around each other less, and Jon had snuck into Brendon's room the previous night for a quick make out session before bed. Jon ended up falling asleep in Brendon's bed, but Brendon didn't really mind.

It's late in the morning if the sunlight pouring in through the curtains is any indication. Brendon forgets where they are for a second because Jon is wrapped around him. The bed is smaller than Brendon remembers it being, and he blinks a few times and then remembers they're in Vegas. He doesn't jump up, though. He settles in and pretends that it's not time to wake up yet. Jon is still pretty much sound asleep.

Jon makes a little half awake noise in the back of his throat and Brendon smiles. "Morning," he says. "Well, probably closer to good afternoon, but morning will do."

"Did I fall asleep?" Jon mumbles.

"Yeah," he says. "We both did."


"It's fine," Brendon says. "Mom and Dad were already in bed, and I'm kind of past the point of caring anyway."

"You don't mean that," Jon says. It's true. He doesn't mean it, not exactly. He can't help but care what his parents think, at least a little bit, but he's sick of lying.

"Kind of," Brendon says. "I think I want to tell them you're not my roommate."

"You know you don't have to, right? I understand why you're doing this," Jon says.

"I know." Brendon nods, cuddling into Jon even closer. "I want to. It's like...they asked me to come home, you know? You're kind of a part of my life now, and I hate lying about that."

Jon shifts so he can roll over onto his back. "You should do what you think is best. I'm here, no matter what that is."

"Yeah," Brendon says. He doesn't even have to think about it very hard before he decides.


They're leaving in two days. Brendon keeps trying to start a conversation about Jon, but never gets very far. It's so easy to psych himself out, to tell himself that this will fuck any progress that he's made with his mom and dad.

Jon's off on the phone with Pete, ironing out the details for the band's studio time, and Brendon's sitting in the living room while his mom and dad talk about their days. Brendon is bouncing his leg up and down, biting his lip. He starts thinking about going back to Chicago, living in Jon's apartment while Jon is working. He thinks about school in the fall and when he'll be home again, and how often he'll talk to his parents this time around.

"Jon's not my roommate," Brendon says. He blurts it out right in the middle of his mom telling his dad about her phone call with Kara earlier. Their heads snap around at him. His mom's eyes are wide and curious, and his dad looks confused.

"Then what..." His mom's eyes go even wider.

"He's, well, I guess like my boyfriend? I don't know, I just thought you should know." Brendon says it all so fast, he's not even really sure what he said.

"Brendon," his dad says. It sounds like a warning.

"I know, alright. I already know everything you're going to say. You don't have to say it. Just listen." Brendon suddenly wishes that he'd thought about what to say instead of just deciding to wing it. "You guys kicked me out, and I moved to Chicago, and I met Jon. He was nice, and he was good to me, and I fell for him, and I care what you think. I do." Brendon wishes he could say that he doesn't, especially with the looks on their faces. "But I care about him, and he comes with me now. So if you want me to say that it's okay, that everything in the past is in the past, you have to take him too."

His mom looks like she's going to cry, and Brendon can't take it. He stands up and shrugs at them. "I'm sorry if that's not okay with you." He starts up the stairs, stopping to knock on Jon's door before he gets to his own room. Jon tells him to come in, even though Brendon can hear him talking to someone on the phone. He goes into the room, and Jon smiles as he talks on the phone. "Yeah, Mom," he says. "No, it's great. He says hi. Yes, I'll bring him over some day. Yes, I promise. Look, I need to go." He pauses and then says, "Yeah, I love you too." He hangs up and waves Brendon in. "Are you okay?"

"I sort of told my mom and dad," he says, pausing. "In the way that I told them everything."

"Oh," Jon says. "Shit. Are you okay?" He lies down on the bed, making room for Brendon.

"I'm oddly okay, I think. I just wanted to see you. And, you know, not be in there. My mom looked like she was going to cry, Jon. Just knowing about you. She looked like I'd told her I was dying or something."

Jon rolls over, wrapping Brendon in a full body hug. "It's okay. At least they didn't yell."

"I think that might have been better," Brendon says, laughing a bit sadly. "At least I'd know."

There's a knock on the door and then his mom's voice comes through saying, "Brendon? Can I come in?"

Brendon unwraps himself from Jon and walks over the door, opening it for her and motioning her in. He sits back down on the bed, and Jon sits up, moving closer to him and resting a comforting hand on Brendon's back.

"Hello, Jon," his mom says.

"Hey." Jon looks over at Brendon and then at Brendon's mom. He doesn't look away.

"Brendon, I'm sorry you had to do that," his mom says. Brendon's eyes go wide and he stares. He hadn't expected that. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I understand, but I love you, and we've spent too long not speaking to go back to where we were six months ago."

"Mom," he says. She's not giving him her blessing. She's not even saying she's okay with Jon. But she's willing to let it go, and that's something. That's more than he expected.

"Jon, you seem nice enough," she says. "Brendon, you're my son. I don't want to spend another year without knowing if you're even alive. If you're happy, I feel like I should let you be happy, even if I may have some problems with it."

"What about Dad?" Brendon asks.

"I'll talk to him," she says. "I don't know. You know your father."

"Yeah," Brendon says. "I know." This isn't exactly what Brendon wanted, but it's more than he had expected, and at least they aren't telling him to get out of their house. It's enough that he can relax a little bit.


His parents haven't yelled. They haven't said anything about him and Jon at all, not really, but his mom is obviously uncomfortable, and his dad isn't saying much of anything. Brendon doesn't want to make anything worse than it already is. All he can hope for is that eventually they really will come around.

They're ready to go early on Sunday morning, and Kyla's coming by to take them to the airport. She wants to see Brendon one last time before he leaves. Brendon's mom had argued, but Kyla insisted.

He hugs his parents goodbye while Jon waits awkwardly on the porch with Kyla. They're talking about something, Brendon can't hear what it is. His mom kisses his cheek and tells him to call as soon as he gets to Chicago, not a minute later. He nods at her and tells his dad goodbye before walking to meet Jon and Kyla.

They drive off, and Brendon wants to be sad about it. He's going to miss his parents, but it's not like the last time. He'll talk to them every week and see them as much as possible, and that's really all that he can ask for.


They're only back in Chicago for a week before Jon has to leave for LA. He doesn't know how long he'll be gone. They've got the studio for as long as they need it, and they've rented a house out there for the three of them. Some of the songs aren't even where they want them yet, so Jon doesn't give Brendon a ballpark less vague than 'at least most of the summer'. It kind of sucks.

But not as much as it would if it didn't mean that Brendon got to spend the summer in Chicago, living in Jon's awesome apartment. Sometimes Spencer and Ryan come over and they play video games on Jon's obscenely large flat screen, but only until Ryan and Spencer either almost kill each other, or start making out and then start making up excuses for why they have to leave.

Sometimes Brendon goes to shows. He hangs out with Cassie and sees Sean's band, and eventually he starts to become someone that just gets invited along, even without Jon in town. He talks to Jon every other day--sometimes every day, if it's really stressful or Jon wants to tell Brendon something really awesome that happened in the studio. He also keeps telling Brendon he can't wait to introduce him to Pete. Sometimes Brendon thinks Pete sounds kind of insane, but Jon seems to love him.

Jon calls Brendon one day late in July and tells him that it looks like he'll be home in a couple of weeks. Brendon is thrilled because he'll have a few weeks with Jon before he has to head back to the dorms. He's gotten so used to living in Jon's apartment.

When Jon finally comes home, he insists on getting a cab home from the airport. Brendon has been using Jon's car, but Jon says it's easier to just take a cab. Brendon really wants to meet him there, but he does what Jon asks. He figures Jon must have a reason for it. He makes sure that everything in the apartment is just as Jon left it. Not that Jon left it incredibly clean.

"Honey, I'm home!" Jon says in the most high-pitched and chipper voice Brendon's ever heard him use. Brendon runs over and throws his arms around Jon in a tight hug. Jon laughs quietly into Brendon's neck. "Hey, I missed you, too."

"How was your flight?" Brendon asks, pulling away. "Any crying babies?"

"No, thankfully. Tom wouldn't shut the fuck up, though. Danielle this, Danielle that. Jesus, I could barely get a word in about how excited I was to get home to you."

Brendon grins. "Okay, so I was thinking we could--"

"Your shit's still in boxes," Jon says, cutting Brendon off. "And stacked against the wall in the living room. Why is your shit in boxes in the living room?"

"Well, it was in the way in the bedroom, and I just thought it was kind of stupid to unpack everything for a couple of months, when I'd just have to pack it again when you were ready to take your apartment back and I was ready to go back to the dorms."

"Oh," Jon says. "Right, yeah, of course. Hey, do you want to go out to dinner?"

"Well, I was thinking we could order Thai and stay in. It's been a fucking long time, Jon. I kind of want you to myself tonight."

"Yeah," Jon says. "Cool. Hey, though, I'm going to take a shower first." Jon walks into the bathroom before Brendon can respond. Brendon thinks about following him, but that was such an abrupt transition that Brendon doesn't think it seems like a good idea.


The next morning Brendon and Jon are curled up in bed together, sleepily kissing and enjoying their first late morning in bed in a really long time. After the brief moment of awkwardness when Jon disappeared into the bathroom, everything had been fine and exactly as Brendon had planned.

"I missed you," Jon mutters into Brendon's mouth. Brendon hums softly in response. Jon pulls Brendon closer against him. Brendon didn't realize it was possible to get closer, but apparently he can always be closer. Jon whispers nonsense between pressing kisses on Brendon's mouth and cheek, down to his neck and collarbone. It takes a moment for Brendon to catch up and realize it's not actually nonsense. That what Jon's actually saying is, "Stay, want you here with me," over and over again.

"What?" Brendon says, forcing Jon to look at him.

"Stay here." Jon looks him in the eyes, running a hand through Brendon's hair. "I want you to live here with me. Fuck moving into the dorms. You know you're going to hate the shit out of it, your roommate's going to suck, and you're going to end up here most of the time anyway. So just don't go. It's stupid, and I don't want you to."

"Jon." They haven't been dating for that long, not really, and Jon's not even home a lot of the time. Besides, the dorms are already included in Brendon's scholarship, and it's paid for the semester. It's stupid to waste it, especially since he sure can't afford half the rent on this place.

"Don't fucking think that hard, Brendon," Jon says. "I know what you're thinking--or well, I know that you're worrying about something--and stop. I want you here. Is it really that hard to believe?"

"No," Brendon says. "No, I know that you want me here, I just don't know if you're going to keep wanting me here." Jon opens his mouth to argue, but Brendon stops him. "Hear me out. It's been less than a year, Jon, and you're--"

"Nope, not listening. I don't care. You're staying," Jon says, grinning.

"I am?"

"Well, you didn't go out with me at first because you thought I was some douchebag rockstar who just wanted to get laid, or whatever." That's nothing near what Brendon thought, but he doesn't argue the point with Jon. "I wore you down, so you might as well just give up now. I'm going to win."

"Yeah," Brendon says. When he really thinks about it, he doesn't want to be anywhere else. "Yeah, okay."

"Okay," Jon says. "Well, I guess we're going to have to unpack your shit soon."

"It can wait," Brendon says. "Right now, we have to celebrate the fact that we live together."

Jon grins and then leans in and kisses him again, relaxed and soft. Brendon can't believe how awesome his life is.
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my sweetest downfall

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