Thanks go to sparklewitch for listening to me whine and helping me brainstorm and all that stuff.
Panic! at the Disco
PG-13 (for language)
Brendon/Ryan, Spencer/Jon, perhaps a touch of Jon/Brendon
Like A Magic 8 Ball, But You Can Only Ask One Question
It's not magic, per se, or at least Jon doesn't call it that. If it is, it's a crappy magical power to have.
That doesn't keep Brendon from dragging him around the venue like a magic 8 ball and asking, "Him?" as he points to some random tech guy, then, without waiting for an answer, chirping, "Or, oooh, him!"
"No and no, and can we please stop doing this?" Jon asks, looking longingly for Spencer or Ryan or anyone he recognizes who isn't Brendon, really. Brendon's like a somewhat normal person half the time, and a complete bitch another quarter of the time, but then he'll get a new toy and start acting like an over-excited 5-year-old. Jon thinks this would be adorably endearing if HE weren't the new toy.
Brendon ignores his request, head tilted like a puzzled puppy as he looks at the first guy he pointed out to Jon. "Are you sure? With the jeans and the hair and everything?"
Jon stops searching for a savior and levels a look at Brendon, who has on his skeptical face. It looks a lot like he's constipated. "Dude. I can't believe you said that," Jon says.
Brendon sticks his tongue out at Jon and tugs at his wrist, trying to drag him off again. Jon stands his ground. It's kind of hard to do in flip flops.
"Oh, come on," Brendon whines. "Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason."
"So if you just saw Ryan you'd assume the same."
Brendon actually snorts. "Well, YEAH."
It's mean, and Jon knows before he says it, but really. Brendon kind of deserves it, and it'll make him leave Jon alone for a while. Hopefully.
"He's not," Jon says simply.
The way Brendon gapes back at him is probably entirely too satisfactory. Jon suppresses a smirk, but it's a close thing. He gets gone while the getting's good.
Brendon peeks around the doorframe to find Ryan in front of the mirror in the dressing room, tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth while he draws on his eyeliner. Brendon watches Ryan for a minute, taking in the cocked hip and the roses and delicate bone structure and everything he'd taken for granted and just. There's no way. Brendon had been SURE he and Ryan were just doing the long leadup flirtation/sexual tension thing, like on X-Files, only it would be WAY better when they hooked up. But. Maybe not?
And see, Brendon could do something simple to find out the truth. All he has to do is walk right up to Ryan, put his hands on Ryan's shoulders and say, "You're not straight, are you?" And Ryan will say no, and Brendon will know Jon's gaydar power is broken, and he and Ryan can FINALLY make out, and it'll all be okay.
Only, Brendon gets as far as walking up to Ryan and putting his hands on his shoulders, gently turning him around and saying, "Ryan," and then he stops, because he doesn't really want to ask, because what if Ryan says YES? Brendon's dick will shrivel up and die. Maybe they could just skip to the making out part, because OBVIOUSLY, right? That'd be easier.
Ryan's lips are already sort of pursed, and Brendon leans forward a little, and Ryan leans back, looking vaguely weirded out. Or maybe that's his eye makeup. It's only on one eye right now, and it sort of makes it look like his right eyebrow is perpetually raised. Ryan's hands press against Brendon's chest, push him back a bit, and Ryan says, "Are you trying to fuck up my makeup?"
Brendon frowns. In a world where Ryan can say that completely seriously, there is no justice if he's not at least bi. "I hope Jon's broken," Brendon says mournfully.
"What?" Ryan asks, and he looks weirded out still, not confused, so yeah, it's probably the eye makeup. It's white and red tonight.
Brendon gathers Ryan up to his chest, ignoring Ryan's muffled, "Hey, makeup!" He rocks Ryan back and forth and says, "Don't worry, I'm confused, too," into Ryan's soft, soft hair. He might sniff it a little, too. And if he did, it might smell like coconut.
When Brendon finally lets go -- or Ryan struggles his way out, whatever -- Ryan doesn't look weirded out anymore. Brendon chooses to believe it's not because his makeup got all smudged but because Brendon helped put Ryan at ease. He decides to ignore the part where Ryan looks sort of like a demented clown now.
The thing about Jon's "ability" is that it's always kind of been a pain in the ass. Like, who seriously wants to KNOW their freaky ninth-grade math teacher prefers the fellas? And when he meets the most gorgeous girl, it's just fucked up to immediately know the chick will never go for him because she has her eye on that brunette chick in the corner. Then there was when he met Spencer. And, well, it wasn't very helpful then, either, because Jon could've felt THAT current without any help at all, thanks.
So it's pretty much useless, and he hardly ever tells anyone about it because, first off, who the fuck cares, and secondly, the ones who've known either get completely weirded out or like to use it like a party trick. And, honestly, saying whether someone's gay or straight or somewhere in between doesn't go over well with people who aren't interested in having everyone know that they do or don't like to suck cock. He wouldn't have told Brendon except that he was really tired and they were talking late at night on the bus, and it just sort of...slipped. Jon's feet were in Brendon's lap, and Brendon was massaging them, doing these amazing things with his hands, and then Brendon said, "Tell me something interesting," and Jon HAD.
(And Jesus, that conversation had been weird.
"What about me?" Brendon had asked.
"What about you?" Jon had said.
"What am I?"
"A fucking spaz."
"You know what I mean."
"Oh, cool, it DOES work."
"Anyone could have guessed that."
"No, they-- You think so?"
"Maybe more people would guess gay."
"No, fuck y-- Hey, what about you?"
"What about me?"
"What are you?"
And Brendon, bless his easily distracted heart, said, "Oh, you know what would be awesome? You could set up a booth or something, and confused kids could line up and you could just be like, 'You're gay, you're gay, you're straight, you're bi.' Sexual crisis averted! You'd be their savior, Jon Walker.")
Only, now Jon has... used his power for evil? That doesn't sound quite right. But he's used it for ill, because on the stage tonight, Brendon is OFF, like he usually isn't unless he's sick or something, and he'll start to crowd into Ryan's space but then kind of recoil like Ryan might suddenly not be okay with that. There's no attempted kiss, no teasing hand on Ryan's cheek, and Jon feels like the kid who knocked over someone's little aquarium of sea monkeys or told all the other kids Santa doesn't exist. It's a shitty feeling.
It gets worse when Brendon sidles up to Jon and locks his hand around the back of Jon's neck, singing to him like he deserves it or something. Jon sees it when Brendon's about to go down, and he can't stand it, so he drops to his knees in front of Brendon instead and plays for him, to him, and Brendon's hand in his hair is comforting. The hand sliding down to grip his chin and raise his face until it's turned up to Brendon is...something else. The crowd loves it, though, and Brendon's actually smiling. Jon decides he'll tell Brendon the truth tomorrow.
Ryan was mean to Brendon last night after the show. Brendon doesn't know if it was about the makeup, because Ryan seemed okay about it BEFORE the show, but Ryan's moods are weird like that. And it can't be about the THEM thing, because Brendon totally left Ryan alone last night. He didn't invade his space or touch him like usual, because he doesn't want to force himself on Ryan or anything. Brendon doesn't get why Ryan would be mad. He sighs, thinking mournfully that he could be having a Capri Sun right now if Ryan hadn't drank the last one right in front of him last night. Talk about twisting the knife.
"Oh, my fucking God, Brendon, if you sigh one more motherfucking time, I'm going to kill you," Spencer growls into his cereal. "Slowly and painfully."
Normally that alone would be challenge enough, and Brendon would sigh again just to see. But he's PINING after a possibly straight boy, see, and he's not in the right frame of mind to piss Spencer off on purpose (and it seems like he's pretty effective at that even when he's NOT trying). So instead, he watches the trees blur past the bus and says, "Sorry, Spence," and sighs without even thinking about it.
Brendon jerks away from the window fearfully at the enraged sound Spencer makes (It goes a little something like "NRGRAAAAH!"). He scrambles out of his seat as Spencer shoves away from the table and makes grabby hands for Brendon's throat. Which, really, talk about melodramatic. But also frightening.
Brendon flees for the back of the bus, shoving Jon, who's groggily pushing out of his bunk, out of his way without so much as a "sorry" before he slams the door to the back lounge shut.
Only, when he's leaning against the door, eyes shut as he pants and dreads the moment Spencer breaks it down solely with the power of his rage and snaps Brendon's legs in half, Ryan says, "Um," and Brendon's heart leaps further up his throat and he falls on the floor.
The door digs into his back when it opens, and Brendon squinches his eyes shut tighter and holds his breath. Maybe if he already LOOKS dead Spencer will leave him alone.
A foot nudges his back. "Bren?" Jon asks.
Brendon stays quiet. Spencer's evil enough that he might try to send Jon to do his dirty work.
"I think he's playing dead," Ryan says. He sounds uninterested, like Brendon runs around slamming doors and falling on the floor all the time.
Well. It might not be THAT unusual. But STILL.
"Jon," Spencer says from outside, and he sounds maybe a tiny bit out of breath but mostly normal. Except for the part where he sounds sort of sweet. That's always a warning sign. "Can I get into the lounge, please?" Oooh, the please is warning sign number two. Brendon is very, very afraid.
"What for?" Jon asks suspiciously. Clearly he knows the real Spencer, too.
"Just wanna ... talk to Brendon."
"Yeah, if your version of 'talking' includes attempted murder!" Brendon yelps when he hears the door hinges creak. He scrambles up onto his hands and knees, ready to put up some kind of fight for his life, but the sound had just been Jon pushing the door a little more closed, not opening it. Brendon hugs Jon's knee in gratitude.
"It's not murder if he deserves it. Come on, Jon" Spencer says, peering around the door, and Brendon's SO glad Spencer kind of sucks at wheedling. He doesn't do it very often. Brendon, on the other hand, is a master.
"Don't let him in, Jon," Brendon pleads. "You'd miss me if I were dead. And Ryan would cry all the time, and the fans would be really sad."
Jon pats Brendon's head absently and goes tense all of a sudden. Brendon looks up and Jon's knuckles are all white. Spencer is PUSHING at the door, trying to shove it open, and bless Jon, he's pushing back to keep him out. Brendon loves Jon an awful lot.
"Jesus, Spencer," Jon says, shifting to brace his back against the door and shove back with his legs. "What the fuck did Brendon DO?"
"He pissed me off," Spencer says through gritted teeth.
"Obviously," Ryan sighs, finally putting down his book.
"Don't you fucking start, too," Spencer snarls. "Jesus!"
Then Jon stumbles back, door slamming shut as Spencer apparently gives up and goes away.
Ryan's forehead wrinkles in confusion. "What did I do?" he asks.
"You sighed," Brendon says, and collapses back onto the floor, sighing. Because he's ALLOWED, damn it.
"Spencer's ready to kill you because you SIGHED?" Jon demands, sliding down the door to sit heavily on the crappy thin carpet. This bus kind of blows, Brendon muses.
"I might have done it a few times," Brendon says, petting Jon's foot. It's all he can reach without getting up from his sprawl, and Jon's so nice, saving his life and all.
Maybe the sighing is catching, because Jon sighs before pushing up off the floor. "Look," he says, and crouches by Brendon. "I'm going to go talk Spencer out of wanting to kill you, and then you and me are going to talk." He pokes the tip of Brendon's nose. "Okay?"
"Okay," Brendon says. He tips his head back and watches upside-down as Jon leaves.
Then he is alone with a possibly straight Ryan Ross. "Do you want to have life-affirming sex?" Brendon asks hopefully.
Ryan arches an eyebrow. "Not really," he says, and goes back to his book.
Brendon sighs again as Ryan turns a page. Well, there he has it. Ryan has to be straight if he can turn down Brendon. Brendon's just going to have to move on.
Spencer's laughing hard -- which is kind of awesome not only because he no longer seems to want to do something violent to Brendon, but also because he doesn't laugh like this very often, and his cheeks are all flushed and his eyes crinkle at the corners and it's sort of breathtaking -- but Jon can't even properly appreciate it because he really feels shitty now.
"Seriously, Spencer," Jon says sternly, trying to make himself heard over Spencer's trailing giggles. "I think I killed Brendon's spirit! I'm a terrible person!"
Spencer hiccups, giggles again, then asks, "So what is it? You see a rainbow aura? Pink triangles?" Another hiccup/giggle.
"I'm not telling you. You'll make fun of me," Jon says. Spencer tries to look innocent and starts to shake his head, but Jon crosses his arms over his chest and stares, and Spencer's face crumples into more giggles.
"Yeah, okay, fine. I totally would."
Jon knows. He knows Spencer well enough.
Spencer seems to realize that right then, and the giggles are gone. "So, like. You know about everyone you meet?" he asks too casually.
"Yeah," Jon murmurs, toeing at that stain in the carpet from when Brendon spilled Kool-Aid last week.
"Oh," Spencer says.
"Yeah," Jon repeats. "I don't TRY or anything. It's like... it's kind of like when you look at someone and recognize that they're tall or short. I just look and KNOW." And there's no chance in hell he's telling Spencer, but his nipples get hard if the person's even the slightest bit attracted to him. They felt chafed for the entire first week after he met these guys. It stopped being flattering fast.
"So, um. Percentage of people in this band who are straight?" Spencer asks, and up goes his right hand, fingers tugging at his hair nervously like he does in interviews sometimes.
"Entirely straight?" Jon asks.
"100 percent straight," Spencer affirms.
"Zero," Jon says.
"Huh," says Spencer. His smile is like a secret.
The first thing Brendon notices when he wakes up, cheek mashed into the carpet, is that the bus isn't moving anymore. The second thing is that Ryan isn't in the lounge. The third thing, and perhaps the most important, is the box of unopened Capri Suns next to the door.
"Oooh," Brendon croons sleepily, and crawls over to pry them open. There's a note attached: "Sorry I tried to kill you. Stop being so fucking annoying and maybe it won't happen again. --S"
That Spencer. What a sweet boy, Brendon thinks, clutching the box to his chest and jabbing a straw into the first pouch.
Jon pokes his head in when Brendon's on his second pouch. "Hey," Jon says with a smile. "We're gassed up and we're gonna find somewhere to eat. What do you want?"
Brendon licks his lips. "Something greasy diner-ish. Hash browns, maybe."
"We're in the right place, then. I just so happened to see one seedy-looking Cactus Cafe at the end of the block," Jon says. He holds a hand down for Brendon. "Come on."
Brendon lets Jon help him up, then drapes his arms around Jon's neck when Jon turns to lead the way. "Gimme a piggy-back ride," he says into Jon's ear and licks his neck a little. Jon always smells so good. And he's so nice to him. If not for Jon, Brendon might have spent forever unrequitedly in love with Ryan. Brendon REALLY loves Jon.
Jon cranes his neck around enough to catch Brendon's pout, and he gives a little "Hmph," but he hikes Brendon's legs up, anyway, and carries him out of the bus and down the stairs. Brendon hangs on tight.
"Zack," Jon calls when Zack comes out of the truck stop. Brendon can just make out Spencer still inside, tapping his toe impatiently while Ryan tries on hats. "Brendon wants to go there." He points, and Brendon nudges Jon's side with one leg.
"Giddy up," he says impatiently. Hash browns are beckoning. And possibly pancakes.
"I'll drop your ass," Jon warns. He doesn't, though, and he even carries Brendon all the way to the tacky red booth when they get to the diner. The place is practically deserted except for a couple of old guys drinking coffee at the counter, and Brendon can see why, but it smells GREAT. Brendon drapes his legs across Jon's lap so that Ryan, Spencer and Zack have to share the other side of the booth.
The thing is, God forbid if Brendon ever actually TRIES to make Jon feel guilty and horrible. Because right now he's treating Jon like he's the best thing to ever happen to Brendon, plastered all over him and trying to feed him pie, and Jon doesn't think it's possible to feel like a bigger jerk.
"Jon Walker, when's the next time we're going to be in Massachusetts?" Brendon asks.
"Um. I don't know?"
"We're not," Ryan says flatly. He does not look amused. Neither does Spencer. Zack looks like he's trying to pretend the levels of gay he's exposed to on a daily basis are not so far off the charts they defy measurement.
"We should go there next tour," Brendon says around a mouthful of pancakes. "June maybe. June would be a good time to get married."
"Um," Jon says, and his eyes FEEL wide and desperate when they land on Spencer. He's been told he sort of begs with them sometimes, and he's really hoping this is one of those times.
"Jesus Christ," Spencer says, tossing his napkin down. "That's it. I'm going to talk, and you people are going to listen." He pauses, pointing to Zack. "Except for you. You don't want to hear this."
Zack grabs his plate and practically flees to the counter.
Jon watches with wide eyes as Spencer continues. Authoritative Spencer is remarkably hot. "Here are the facts. Ryan is not straight. Brendon has been acting like a bigger freak than usual because Jon said Ryan was and Brendon's world view was shattered or some shit. Jon has this weirdass magical gaydar power that he needs to learn not to use for evil."
"Ryan's not straight?" Brendon asks faintly, hopefully.
"Magical gaydar power?" Ryan starts to ask, but Spencer interrupts.
"Shut up. I'm not done. Also, Ryan's jealous of the way Brendon's been paying attention to Jon instead of him. Ryan and Brendon both like each other and should just stop being girls about it, and Jon needs to hop on the fucking clue bus and stop acting like we don't both know I want him." Spencer's blushing by the end, but he still meets Jon's eye defiantly.
Brendon says, "You like me?" to Ryan and starts scrambling over Jon to get out of the booth, but Jon hardly notices until Brendon crawls halfway on top of Ryan and jostles Spencer out of the booth in the process. Spencer yelps when he hits the floor.
"This is the gayest band in history," Jon says distractedly as he reaches down to help Spencer up. He doesn't let go of Spencer's hand once he's standing.
"Really?" Spencer asks, brushing off his ass with his free hand. He doesn't seem very mad about getting pushed out of the booth so that, oh, so that Brendon can feed Ryan pie. Jon guesses that's a symbol of Brendon's love. "What about --"
"No, really," Jon confirms. "Joey Fatone's 90 percent straight, and the non-Lance Bass ones are anywhere from 50 to 76 percent straight. They've got nothing on us."
Spencer smiles that secret smile again, and Jon blurts out, "You're kind of awesome."
Spencer's smile breaks wide open. "And you're kind of a dumbass."
"You like me anyway," Jon says, feeling bold and hopeful and like his heart is too big for his chest.
"Yeah, what the fuck's up with that?" Spencer asks, but his fingers tighten around Jon's, and it strikes Jon then that they're holding hands in the middle of some greasy spoon while Brendon sits in Ryan's lap and feeds him, and that it might be a good idea to not do this here.
"Bus?" he asks.
"Bus," Spencer agrees.
Later, Jon will lick the edges of Spencer's smile and kiss him like he's drowning. Spencer will say, "Wow, your nipples are really hard," and Jon will NOT tell him why he's laughing.
About that same time, Brendon will proposition Ryan in the back lounge, and this time Ryan won't say no.
Dude. I love this fandom.