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The Sitting Inside
729 words

Brendon is sitting, folded up on the floor near his couch, watching Spinal Tap again (he doesn't know how long he's been phrasing it as 'again', it's been roughly seven years since he stopped counting) when Ryan shows up in his doorway. Ryan has a bag under his arm, a warm smile on his face, and the first thing that Brendon can clearly see are his laugh lines, crinkled skin around his eyes, dimples permanent at the cusp of his lip. Brendon isn't sure how long it's been, but the kid is still kind of beautiful.

It's strange, Brendon thinks, that if he were alone, curled up in front of the television set with his old, patchwork quilt, drinking coffee out of some cracked mug, tossing the lines of his favorite movies back like an echo, he might have laughed. He might have drawn himself a card, might have even tried baking himself a single cupcake with a single candle, like his mother used to do, but he isn’t. He isn’t alone, and it isn’t like he doesn’t see the guys anymore, but it’s in between tours and lately they’ve been retreating, alone at home in the warm sun. Spencer shows up sometimes, helps him rearrange his living room when he gets the urge, and he usually talks to Jon on the phone a few times a week, but, honestly, it’s been a while since he’s seen Ryan.

Sometimes, that feels a bit weird.

But Ryan’s here now, here in Brendon’s living room, easy and long and just how Brendon remembers him, except not. Ryan’s here, and he reaches up to adjust his braided headband, rub the calloused tips of his fingers against the wave of his bangs. Brendon smiles; he kind of missed Ryan’s hair.

“Do you feel any older?” Ryan asks, conversationally, like maybe he was just here yesterday, the day before.

“No.” Brendon answers, because it’s the truth, really, but thinks god, I’m thrity-five, thirty-five. The number feels so much more alien in his head, real and tangible, like the carpet under his bare feet, the quilt in his hands, the yellowed sway of his own head, back and forth. thirty-five

Ryan sets his bag down, neatly folded against the arch frame like he used to, the spot still slightly less dusty than the rest, from the numerous things set there, meticulous and careful with Ryan’s nimble fingers. He walks over and sits down next to Brendon, back against the hard frame of the couch, and grips one corner of the quilt in his own fist, tugging it through the catch of Brendon’s fingers with practiced ease, a silent understanding. Ryan is somewhat of a mystery, per say, even after twenty odd years, and Brendon still isn’t sure when he’s talking or listening. Ryan talks with notebooks, with handshakes and moonlight and teapots and actions. Even after all this time Brendon still understands, even if he has to grasp it all by the spine and pull sometimes.

“You haven’t—” Ryan starts, just as Brendon says ‘I feel—’ and they stop to laugh at the overlap. It feels easy, open, the melodious climb of notes on a staff, and even their smiles are still in synch, the result of innumerable years spent breathing in each other’s lungs, bus windows open, Brendon shouting obscenities at the sun, Ryan curling up in a curve at his ankles. It’s always the little things.

“Ryan Ross,” Brendon says, tucking the blanket around their feet, their thighs meeting somewhere in the middle. “Even though I am old now, I still miss it when you don’t pick up your phone.” He pauses to push his cool fingers against Ryan’s knuckles. “You were never not my favorite.” Ryan feels the chill against his skin, a papery, smooth graze of his own worn palms, and he intertwines their fingers against the joint of his knees, squeezing lightly.

Ryan smiles softly against the yellow-gold of the sun-spotting. “Sometimes it’s a burden to always know the right words.” he says, cool and quiet, almost as if he’s been speaking only to himself for the past twelve months; Brendon throws his head back.

It’s been near a year, but Brendon still laughs the same, faithless and uninhibited, diving head first into uncharted territory, body poised and ready, but never feeling like it has hit the ground.

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December 2010

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