magdalyna: (bird)
[personal profile] magdalyna
Title: Nag et Nagaina
Rating: PG 13
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] i_amthecosmos
Pairing: Ryan/Spencer
Word Count: 6,704
Warnings/Notes: Rampant abuse of snake mythology and self reflection now with bonus sketchy race dynamics filed off. Also brief non-con biting.



He sloughs off his skin like dry paper, a gangly young snake in the midst of growth.

The tight pants, the polo shirts, the newsboy cap. In they go to black bags, like murder victims he’s slaughtered, to go to the Salvation Army anonymously. He donates his Palahniuk collection to the libraries in the small towns they stop in on tour. Maybe they’ll be a map, guidepost for some other changeling trying to sort themselves out with razor edged words. He stores the rose vest carefully, with mothballs in a plastic box, in Spencer’s old bedroom closet. Home.

He deletes the desperate pictures from his memory card. He doesn’t need them anymore. The slices of his hips, the jut of his rear seem too coarse now.

He fingers the striped feather resting in his new hat idly.

Brendon gets a bag of marshmallows from the store, about an hour away from the cabin. He and Jon tell ghost stories around the fire pit that Spencer made and Ryan laughs, lips curved around sharp teeth, at the funny bits, feeling lighter and lighter because of Jon’s weed.

Spencer watches him, they all do. But Spencer watches the most. Ryan wonders if Spencer can’t recognize him anymore. Nothing and everything about them has changed.

Ryan reads more widely, slithering through the library the town surrounding the cabin has. Romance novels, dry technical books. Proust. All of Hemmingway. Everything he should have read in college, that he didn’t read in high school. This is what happens because of dropping out.

Jon helps in his own way, though maybe it’s unintentional. Dylan. Nelson. Ray Vaughn. The Beatles. He sunbathes in the sounds the albums make, how they make him think.

He hisses when his guitar strings break the fifth time in a row. Nothing sounds right with his wolves, his sins. Brendon says the words wrong, even though there’s feeling, proper diction in everything he’s been asked to say.

Ryan isn’t sure what’s happening to him. He can see the bleak outline of what can go wrong, if they don’t meld properly, beat and word and backbone.

He’s eating a peach; the meat is ripe, juicy. He rips into it with his teeth just as Spencer walks into the kitchen, in time to watch him attack his healthful snack viscously. It makes him feel embarrassed. Odd. Dangerous. Like an animal caught with its mouth in nutritious gore by another predator.

It’s a peach though, and the slickness around his mouth is just sweet juice. Harmless. Spencer moves on, makes himself a Reuben sandwich. They joke together about something Jon had said when they were all high the other day, but Ryan carries the unease the moment held with him.

Brendon carries on as he always does, doesn’t show any signs of wear and tear. He doesn’t chide Ryan about how things are falling apart. He makes silly faces at Jon in the mornings and wants to watch eclectic Disney films and action flicks when they have movie night. He makes Ryan’s few s’mores the perfect way: marshmallow oozing out, crispy in some places.

And he hums.

It’s the humming that makes Ryan want to set his guitar on fire. Spencer only quirks his eyebrow up. Brendon leads the way outside, Jon gives him his lighter, and Spencer is standing ready with the lighter fluid.

The flames lick and hiss at them and the sky, voicing his rage, his bewilderment.

Spencer gets them some buckets and Jon fills them with water and sand. Brendon stands next to him silently. The mud it makes looks like the way Ryan imagines the way his mind would look like if telepathy were possible: ugly, uneven, and gray with flecks of grass and burnt lacquer and wire.

It’s the humming that curls up under and in the nooks of Ryan’s mind at night when he should be sleeping, ready to strike at intruders.

He writes, and this time he doesn’t hate it after reading it over. The bags under his eyes and the light on in his room serve as a warning rattle to them. It means progress, at any rate. They should be grateful. He knows he is.

A wrinkle is eking out territory on Spencer face, right next to his right eyebrow. Ryan can’t care just now.

They talk about music more. They smoke up. They talk about arrangements and tempo and the way they want to change things up. They smoke up. Jon plays them more Dylan.

Eventually they have vaguely solid ideas. Ryan’s skin gets too tight in his sweatpants and old shirts of Mr. Smith’s. He knows he needs to get new clothes some time soon. They need to start recording and soon, though.

Spencer finds them a place, in a casino.

It’s a very disorienting experience. It’s the best (3rd best) thing to ever happen to Ryan. (1st best is meeting Spencer. 2nd best is getting signed.) Holed up in a cave of sorts gives them what they need. Ryan gives Brendon their words. Brendon gives him some of his own, which makes his hands go clammy, his skin dry and tight. Itchy. Ryan goes shopping, staying away from where he used to go, when they had money. Old is bad now.

Old is a father who knows Jack, Jim, and Jonny better than his own son. Old is posting pictures of himself, trying to get fans, and fending off middle aged perverts through emails. Old is full of nothing but bare want.

He picks out blazers and scarves and slacks, dark wash jeans that aren’t as tight as he would have picked out even a year ago. Hipster, but more upscale. Hats, necklaces, beaded bracelets, new layers that he doesn’t want to shed. He’s so close to being comfortable in this (newer) skin, he can taste the peach all over again. Thick and fleshly, giving under his teeth. Fangs.

He tries out facial hair, but doesn’t like it as much. Jon and Spencer run wild with it though. Brendon tries growing some, but doesn’t quite make it.

The album build up is a neat concept. He likes puzzles. The actual release of the album is even better. The statements-as-questions about how they tried to ape The Beatles are thick on the ground and annoying as gnats.

He has odder sleeping habits now. Like Pete, almost. He stays awake only long enough for the requirements of touring. He doubts Pete feels this … volatile, even at his worst. Ryan just is coiled under a rock, waiting. Skin rough-smooth, flakes of muted color. He doubts Pete craves to tear into his food with a new mouth, a new delight.

He eats more peaches. He tries apples, pears, bananas, oranges. Plums, pomegranates, grapes, figs, berries. They have nice flavors, but the texture is lacking somehow. So he just sticks to peaches. He likes the meat of the fruit best.

Actual meat is trickier. He’s not much of a cook. That’s all Spencer. He is picky about things if he has a chance to prepare them himself. Most meat he does eat tastes like rubber these days, with tangy or creamy sauce over it. He figures at least he’s getting his vitamins with the peaches. He has to get slacks and pants a size smaller after a while.

He dreams in words and flashes, feel of grass and dirt, sand under him. He dreams of hunting. Not anything big, but rabbits and lizards and small birds. Frogs, mice. He dreams of hunting with his entire body, lunging forward, mouth ready to snap shut.

They notice, they can’t help noticing on a cramped bus with humanity spilling out everywhere in it. Spencer takes him on walks around the venues, waiting. Ryan appreciates it. Jon takes more pictures of him than usual, and Ryan wonders what he sees, what they all see. Brendon doesn’t comment, just shares his Red Bull like always and hugs him with the same steadiness.

Spencer also is changing: a beard, vests and beaded headbands and jeans from the Men’s department, larger shirts. He looks like a roadie now instead of a bitchy teenage girl. It’s odd, how they’re all growing up. Brendon’s even in capris of all things. Only Jon’s stayed the same.

They’re easing into their new selves and all Ryan has is the joy in biting down on a peach -- in prey, and words about how life is painful yet wonderful.

He doesn’t notice his teeth getting sharper. He notices how rough his skin is getting, but he hasn’t been moisturizing as much, too keyed up on the post show high or positively drained from it to attend to a skin care regime. It’s most obvious around his knees, his elbows. But this is why he has jackets, wears pants instead of capris like some people he knows. But his teeth. That’s something else.

He’s just running his tongue over his teeth, idly debating if he can go another day without brushing them when pain flares in his mouth, pinprick specific. When he dabs a tissue on his tongue, it comes away a smudged curved line.

He brushes his teeth that day. The only thing the bus has to drink is tap water, which he doesn’t trust right then, the last three cans of Red Bull, and an unopened carton of milk that’s still good for a while.

He pours a tall glass of milk and drains it, surprisingly. He had never been a fan of it before.

Ryan puts milk on his rider when he gets a chance to talk to Zack about it.

In the Philippines, they get to try some local food. The thing he orders has frog meat in it. He loves it, the tenderness, the way it gives in to his teeth, the flavor. The texture. Like a peach and yet so different.

Ryan wishes there had been more of the frog, once he learns what the dish was. Brendon jokes about it and Jon spasm his inbox with pictures of frogs. Spencer doesn’t comment on it too much.

One day, a rare one, they’re all free since it’s a driving day. Spencer has a fan of photos out on the floor in the back lounge, waiting for him. They’re ones that Jon has taken over the last year. All of him, in varying stages of his change.

He hadn’t noticed just how dry his skin has become, how he went from pale to average light pink to a vague red clay hue. How thin he was getting. He smiled more in the earlier pictures. Lounged about in sweatpants and not much else. He can see how he slowly transformed into a person who wears tweed and five different patterns.

He hadn’t noticed Brendon and Jon came in when he next looks up from his musings.

“Can you see why we’re a little worried?” Spencer asks, tactful. Brendon moves slightly, up and down on the balls of his feet. Like he always does. Like a rabbit. Or a frog. Ryan is hungry now. Jon just watches them all, camera lens eyes taking everything in.

Ryan gets up off the floor smoothly. “I can see why you all would be, but I’m fine,” he states, and wonders why he doesn’t believe it. Nothing is wrong. But now he knows they’re watching him. It’s unsettling, more so than sharper teeth and different skin or the hunting dreams, the peaches and the frogs. They’re judging him.

He’s careful about himself, after that. But then one day his entire mouth starts to tingle.

Its not that the sensation is unpleasant; but it’s entirely unexpected. He’s been brushing his teeth, making sure to keep his tongue away from the sharp tops of his teeth. He goes into the bus bathroom, shuts the door. Locks it. He opens his mouth, and he lifts his tongue, sticking it slowly, carefully, out of his mouth. The edges of his tongue curl out. It’s forked, slightly, but he can still see it clearly in the bathroom mirror.

He just as carefully eases the tip of his tongue back in place, mindful of the razor line that his lower teeth now make. The edges of his new tongue meet and curl against each other, like vines twisting in greeting. His tongues, he supposes they should now be called. He slowly unlocks the door and goes to his bunk to answer the text Pete has probably sent him about all the things he’s recently bought in preparation for the coming baby.

He practices talking with his new tongues when he can get time to himself. It’s tricky, being crowded on the bus, but when they take a break for writing the new album, he gets a lot of time to himself before they have to get together. Still, he talks less in interviews and the others speak up more now.

Time slips past him. Spencer notices. He has ideas for the third album, they all do. It’s refreshing, like the last time. He stops wearing short sleeved shirts. Paisley looks good on him. His skin gets tighter, rough and smooth. It’s strangely comforting. He stops buying moisturizer completely.

He takes a day trip to a zoo while he’s in LA. It’s a beautiful day and he wanders around aimlessly, admiring the foxes and tropical birds, snacking on a peach sno-cone. He even gets to touch a non venomous snake in the petting zoo area, with a knot of children along with a handler hawk watching them. The skin of the garden snake feels familiar. It feels almost like his own skin.

It can’t last though.

He’s eating fruit loops for breakfast, looking forward to slurping down the milk. The sugar in it isn’t even the best part anymore. Spencer walks out of the hallway and sits down with him. Jon’s still in Chicago, and Brendon went for a jog on the beach with Hobo and Bubba. Ryan’s been reading the morning paper, eating his breakfast. He should have known this would be a perfect opportunity for Spencer to try and talk to him about … everything over the past year and a half. He hadn’t realized it’d been that long.

“Hey. Anything interesting in there?” Spencer nods to the folded paper. Ryan shakes his head. Chewing is an exercise in critical thinking and problem solving skills now. Spencer scratches at the side of his throat, and Ryan watches the muscles in Spencer’s wrist, the lines it makes on Spencer’s neck. Spencer sighs.

“Can you talk to me? Sometimes it’s like you aren’t even with us anymore,” Spencer tells him.

Ryan gets control of his tongues. “About what exactly?” he asks, and he hopes its just mundane things, maybe about a song or something else.

“You’ve changed. And we’re worried for you,” Spencer says, blunt and assured. Ryan feels … not sad exactly. He has changed, but he’s not bothered by it. He’s regretful that the people closest to him worry about it. He likes some of it, the things he doesn’t have to adjust his mouth around. The hunting dreams don’t disturb him anymore.

Spencer reaches out and cups his face in his own drum calloused hands, about to say something. His eyes go wide in surprise and his mouth gapes ever so slightly, at the new texture, maybe. The coldness, perhaps. Ryan’s been having trouble staying warm lately. He’s taken to being outside, when he can, around ten in the morning to a little after three in the afternoon. The hottest, sunniest parts of the day.

Spencer can’t hide his emotions right now; they wash over his face like a wave. “What the fuck?” he says, hands still on Ryan’s face and neck, fingers moving in a slow path over Ryan’s only exposed skin from his long sleeved shirt.

Ryan can help but sigh. It’s been a very long time since someone touched him so deliberately like this, skin to skin. He stopped having sex a little before the tour stop in the Philippines, when his skin was still getting pink. It was just not that appealing anymore. His skin itched too much, it was rough. He didn’t want talk getting out about it. And then the tongues made it an impossible idea. His tongues peak out, up and away from his teeth (another problem for intimacy), enough for Spencer to see.

Spencer doesn’t stop touching his face, thankfully. “Something’s happening to you, isn’t it?” he asks, and he doesn’t have to. The answer is under the pads of his fingers, in Ryan’s mouth and mind. His entire body. Ryan nods. Something is happening to him. Many some things. Maturing as an artist. Growing a forked tongue. Being celibate. Becoming cold-blooded. Getting a complete wardrobe together that isn’t from Forever 21. Some are just more unusual than others.

“How could you ever tell?” he asks innocently, then smiles, letting all his front teeth show in their fang pointed glory.

“Lots of context clues. When did it start, Ry?” Spencer doesn’t look afraid but he doesn’t stop looking at Ryan’s teeth. Ryan has to think, over and above the touching. “Around the cabin,” he says fondly, reminiscing.

Spencer takes deep breaths, eyes still open. He does that whenever he wants to speak calmly and he isn’t feeling calm at all. Ryan watches him carefully, the even dance of oxygen and carbon dioxide moving around Spencer’s lungs. He wonders what Brendon and Jon will think of him now. What they’ll think of his change. He hopes they can still make the third album after they find out. Because there’s no hiding any of it now, now that Spencer knows for certainty.

Spencer calms down visibly. That’s a good sign so far.

“Does this have anything to do with the milk and peaches? The frog meat thing?” Spencer asks, and there’s a spark of interest in his eye. He’s not disgusted, then, Ryan decides. He thinks on how to answer that.

“Yes,” Ryan goes for simplicity.

“What’s happening to you, Ryan?” Spencer gets to the heart of the matter. It doesn’t help that Ryan’s almost as in the dark as he is.

“I don’t know, Spence,” he says. The truth is easier. He doesn’t know, but he likes the changes. They’re small things, really. Tastes in foods, rougher skin, a colder body, a sharper, more dangerous mouth, dreams. These don’t change his creativity, his feelings.

“Is it hard for you? Does it hurt?” Spencer looks concerned now, mother hen instincts twitching awake. Ryan doesn’t know how to have this conversation. It is hard, hiding. It was hard, adjusting to having different preferences in nutrition, in behavior. His skin itches, mostly. But it doesn’t hurt if he’s mindful of his tongues against his spiky teeth.

“It’s not as hard as you might think. And no, it doesn’t hurt. More like … how skin gets tight after a sunburn. Itchy,” he feels out.

Spencer bites his own lip in thought. He’s stopped touching Ryan, which Ryan misses; but it’d be very odd and slightly uncomfortable to have this conversation with that particularly nice feeling overlaid over awkward and measured words. But Spencer still doesn’t look disgusted. It’s an excellent sign.

“What about you?” Ryan thinks to ask, suddenly. The touching had distracted him. He’s worried, now. He can’t lose the three of them.

Spencer looks surprised, features wrinkled up slightly. “It’s … its weird. Really weird. But you’re still Ryan. Why should anything be different, even if you are, sort of?” he asks, voice smaller. But that could just be Ryan’s imagination. Spencer looks younger, in this one moment. It reminds Ryan of when they first met, the wide blue eyes that this boy child had. The pale skin and larger frame. The short legs and arms. He feels a stab of regret, then. He doesn’t like to make Spencer worry.

Spencer’s been worried enough about him for a lifetime.

“But I’m very different, now. You have to realize that, Spence,” Ryan says, flat and clipped. He isn’t going to spill all his secrets. The dreams will stay his completely. But he is different than he once was. He looks to Spencer, hoping he understands.

Spencer doesn’t answer that. Ryan isn’t sure how he could. Ryan isn’t sure if that’s a statement he could even respond to, and it’s happening to him.

“When are you going to tell Brendon and Jon?” Ryan asks him. It’s already a foregone conclusion. He just wants proper warning, some modicum of control over how they find out. This isn’t about him anymore. This could end their collective careers. Spencer could make him a national freak show with a single, unintentional misstep. And that’s if he doesn’t become revolted at how Ryan is now different.

“Do you want me to tell them?” Spencer asks, curious.

Ryan hadn’t thought of that option.

“They should know. This could affect them, possibly,” Ryan says it with some hesitancy. He’s been careful so far. Nothing’s been on the message boards about his change, no more than would be expected by a new wardrobe. A small blessing. But he’s not sure how much longer his luck will run, with this almost two year streak.

Spencer nods. “Alright. Do you want me to tell them?” he asks politely. Ryan ponders this for a little bit.

“You can be there, but I want to tell them, alright?” he says, laying his hand on Spencer’s for the feel of human skin against his, on the wooded surface of the table. Its one of those things you miss when you haven’t had it around in a while.

Jon comes a week later, ready to soak up the beach and the sun, ready to make music with them. His laughter rings through the house, and Brendon’s mirth answers him. Ryan feels refreshed by it. Happier. Spencer seems calmed by the added presence Jon makes.

Ryan decides to tell them three days after Jon’s been there with them. He does it after they’ve watched a movie. They’re calm, all together in the same space. By themselves. The dogs are napping, not distractions. If he’s going to tell them, it’s going to be now.

“So I’m changing pretty dramatically. Different food cravings, different skin. You may have noticed,” he says and lets the bomb drop where it may.

Jon puts down the open bag of chips, and Brendon stops his attempt to take a sip from his Red Bull. Spencer watches everything warily. Ryan waits. He doesn’t wait long.

“Yeah, we have,” Jon says carefully. “Can you explain more than ‘food cravings’ and ‘different skin’, maybe?” Brendon asks, hyped up now. It makes Ryan a little tired, and a lot hungry. He’d thought of all the ways this could have gone. He wasn’t looking forward to any of them, really.

“Frogs, peaches, milk. Rougher, tighter, itchy skin,” Ryan recites for them.

He watches as they let that sink in. He hasn’t even gotten to his mouth or new blood yet.

It’s Brendon who finally makes the connection. Ryan really hadn’t seen that coming.

“A snake? You’re turning into a snake?” Brendon asks. Ryan smiles in full, his tongues kissing the air for a point of reference. His teeth show, glinting in the light of day.

They blink at him. Jon is keeping his face carefully blank. Spencer is watching Brendon with full interest. Brendon is staring at him, as if trying to see the venom in his teeth. He doesn’t have that, actually. For now.

“And cold-bloodedness, too,” Ryan tells them. All but the last thing. He’s keeping that one locked up tight, though. They’ll never be ready to hear that. Not even Spencer.

“Huh,” Jon says, the first thing he’s uttered since Ryan started this conversation. “Are you still coming up with lyrics?” Jon asks. It’s a valid question.

“I have,” he tells them and Brendon looks relieved. Jon sighs softly, obviously relieved.

“Then there’s nothing more to it. You’re still the same Ryan,” Jon says, smiling brightly. It’s odd how they all assume that. Even Spencer did, when he was told. But … he’s not.

The subject falls in favor of what to have for dinner, what video game to play. Who will help who walk the dogs, or if they’ll all do it.

A month later, he itches all over. More than ever. He tries taking a shower every day, even moisturizes. He shaves off all his hair, all of it. He doesn’t know why, but it just feels like a good idea.

A few days after he shaved, he starts shedding his skin. It comes off in drags, small flakes, every size in between. Ryan can’t act surprised at this new development. The most he can do is be as neat and tidy as possible. Excessive hair would have gotten in the way.

He stays in his room and Spencer brings him all kinds of dishes that have peaches in them. Spencer brings him big black trash bags for the dead skin. Brendon heats the milk that Ryan drinks; making sure it’s nice and warm. Jon brings new weed for him to try.

It lasts a week. He tries to get some writing done, but it all comes out as his hunting dreams. Nothing he could ever share with anyone else, ever. His skin comes back in patches. Shedding is itchy, the good kind, apparently. He likes it, almost.

He takes a shower after it seems to lag off, and it’s soothing against his silk and rough skin. Its glints almost, if he stands too close under the light in the bathroom. He catches a flash of something in the mirror, on his back. Using a hand mirror of Brendon’s, he plays with it until he can see his back with it, reflected in the mirrors.

It’s a vaguely white ‘u’ shape, with darker circles in the wide ends. Come to think of it, there are two similar darker spots on his collarbones. His cheeks and jaw seems a little puffy, as well. Ryan admires the new patterns for a while until Brendon bangs on the door. He dresses quickly in sweats and a long sleeved shirt, puts the hand mirror down and gets out for Brendon. He goes out into the hallway, touching his jaw line.

He’s vaguely hungry, so he goes in search of a peach to snack on.

This time, it’s Jon who catches him tearing into it with viscous pleasure. The moment is more charged with awkwardness than the one with Spencer could ever hope to be. Something, something new is in his mouth, along with the peach’s juice and his salvia. It’s bitter, a liquid. It’s venom. He has venom.

Jon looks surprised. A little startled. Frightened. He hasn’t seen what else is in Ryan’s mouth. A cold weight sinks down into his stomach. He swallows his venom and the bits of carefully chewed up peach. He throws the rest out and goes to his room.

Spencer comes in awhile later, a few hours judging by the changed light from the door when Spencer opens it, carrying a plate with a peach parfait looking thing and a grilled cheese sandwich. Ryan had loved those when they were children. Ryan closes his notebook, of new words. The hunting dream notebook is packed safely away.

Spencer puts the plate on the end table. He crawls in with Ryan, just like they did growing up, just like the first few years on tour. They hug awkwardly, but that’s because he’s never stopped being gangly, and Spencer’s never stopped being solid. It feels like home, which is better than food right now.

They stay like that for awhile before Ryan gathers the desire to speak, and break the precious calm.

“I’m still the Ryan who you bandaged up whenever I’d fall down, ok? But I’m not the same. I’m forever different. And you all have to acknowledge that,” he says, in starts and stops in Spencer’s soothing embrace. This is really the first time he’s ever wanted to have his old body, old self back.

But there’s no going back. The venom sleeping in the fleshy parts of his mouth attests to that very thing. He’s been hiding from himself.

He eats the delicious meal with Spencer watching on the bed next to him. Spencer’s been experimenting with organic ingredients. Ryan gives it two thumbs up. They sleep curled up together, like they’re eight and nine again, for a sleepover.

Spencer is gone by the morning, but there is a huge, warm chocolate muffin and freshly made peach yogurt where the plate was. Ryan smiles slightly and dives into it.

Ryan has a different kind of itch after that. His skin has been feeling luscious since the shedding, so that is not really the problem. But he starts to tingle around the edges of his teeth whenever Spencer is in the same room as he is.

He’s not sure what’s with this new step in his transformation. He wonders when he’ll be completely done, when it will all have come to a plateau. He just wants to be his adult, done self now. He wants to be settled in his bones, free of itching and tightness.

He circles it for a week, and it lurks under the rock of them all working hard on the new album. He and Brendon have come to a place where they can write around each other, so that their work, their words blends together seamlessly. Jon gives them a song of his own, then another. Spencer even comes up with a guitar arrangement or three, besides his drum parts. It’s all good. All perfect. Exactly what he’s always wanted to do with his life, making music with the people he cares about the most. Creativity and friendship fused together irrevocably.

And then Spencer falls down the stairs, tripping on his own pajama pants. Brendon asks him all sorts of things, while Jon goes to get a glass of water and some Tylenol. Ryan just watches the hubbub with the dogs. He can move his toes and neck, knows that Obama won, all the important things. Knows them and their music. He’s completely fine. But it sets something off in Ryan.

He starts hovering, taking as much care with Spencer as Spencer used to with him. It’s giving back. Like community service, only much closer to his sense of home. Spencer doesn’t seem to mind the clinginess, humors him without snapping barbs like he usually would if people were fussing over him.

The air around them is charged with the ache in Ryan’s less and less foreign molars, his always cold skin. He wonders now what was going on between the two of them before he started craving milk and frogs. If it was simple or just as complex and fraught, but with mundane worries and desires. He doesn’t know how to tell anymore, lost that filter.

He doesn’t classify this new thing as sexual. He hasn’t ever thought of Spencer like that. But it is intense interest. It confuses him.

A few days after Spencer feel down the stairs, he’s cooking them dinner, an easy thing he saw on the food channel. But then he gets too close to the pan, gets too close to the hot oil. Ryan watches from the hallway, as his head tingles and watching Spencer helps it, as Spencer fluidly moves to the sink, putting his hand under the cascade of cool tap water. Ryan minds the meal for him, and it works out in the end. Dinner turns out great. Jon helps Spencer with the band aids and the first aide kit while Brendon walks the dogs with Ryan, joking lightly, talking about the guest vocals that he’s been asked to do by their friends, both old and new. It helps, it does.

It’s just odd that someone who knows their way around a kitchen would have a run-in like that.

But then Brendon and Jon are out visiting friends, scouting for record studios. By mid-afternoon, Ryan can’t stand the tingling in his head, his teeth, anymore. He finds Spencer in his own bedroom, reading about market trends.

Once Spencer catches sight of his eyes, Ryan can’t stop. He starts with kissing, because that’s exactly how it’s supposed to start, except … with more fangs. Another set is supposed to be in the mix, not just him. He’s not sure what it is he’s starting here besides the obvious. But the obvious isn’t why he’s doing this. Spencer’s relaxed, calm. Happy. He kisses back, even takes off his shirt for Ryan. That’s helpful. Ryan slowly stops kissing him. Ryan surveys Spencer’s chest. He can feel his fangs tingle in anticipation. They’ve been waiting for this. Ryan takes a deep breath.

Then he bites down on the curl of skin just below the collar bone. He lets his fangs sink in, and lets them drain into Spencer. He hopes this isn’t an awful idea. Spencer goes limp. Ryan’s fangs seem oddly hollow. It’s a strange feeling, on top of everything else. He kisses around the wound, thin lines already turning a bright blue green ocean color going away from it, kisses up to Spencer’s temple. He can only wait.

He locks the bedroom door, barricading them in the room with things they’ll both want to eat. He’s brought his notebook, but all that comes out of his head is disjointed free verse. And he isn’t Pete Wentz, not by a long stretch.

He watches the window, watches the clock, and watches Spencer. His fangs ache with the loss of venom. It’s lonely, but something was so right about … about biting into Spencer and letting his venom seep into Spencer’s bloodstream. No need to sugarcoat things, when this might not even work and he could get charged with murder and then get locked up in some painful government laboratory somewhere. He’s not even sure what he meant to do in the first place.

It takes six hours for Spencer to wake up. It’s the longest six hours Ryan has ever lived through.

“The fucking hell, my head, what the fuck?” Spencer mutters, vowels drawn out like baking dough.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d wake up,” Ryan says softly, from his nest on the floor, against the bedroom door. There are dark circles under his eyes, he’s sure. He’s cold on one side and warm on another. It’s something he’s still getting used to. Spencer’s face flickers through several expressions, as if trying to decide on which one it likes best. “Why would you not be sure I’d wake up?” he asks perfectly calm. He’s nothing but, Ryan is sure.

“Look,” Ryan says, nodding to the mirror Spencer has next to the closet. Spencer shuffles out of the bed, goes to examine himself. They stare at Spencer’s collar bone. There are bold aqua streaks spiraling outward from the closing wound. Ryan’s entranced: it’s beautiful. Valuable.

“You bit me,” Spencer states the obvious. There’s really no denying it. “You lived,” Ryan points out, happy. Spencer’s going to be safe from now on. Spencer turns around.

“I’ll rephrase that. You bit me without my permission, something that could have killed me, you bit me while I was under the influence of some sort of snake human hybrid ghb. Tell me how you thought that was a good idea,” Spencer says; no room for arguments about his demand.

Really, Ryan has no defense for any of that.

“I had to do something. You were getting hurt,” Ryan tries, and there’s easy no way to explain about his dreams or the way his body feels like a live wire sometimes when he’s around Spencer, but more and more now.

Nothing about him is right just now.

“I don’t think my venom will work on you anymore, though. If that helps,” Ryan says. Hopefully. This is getting bad, just when the physical aggravations let up.

Spencer looks surprised. He edges a bit closer from in front of the mirror. Giving Ryan permission to say his piece.

“I haven’t been myself around you lately. Or at all,” Ryan says, because Spencer always fixes things when they go sour. He waits.

Spencer’s features soften just a fraction. It is then that Ryan strikes. “I just thought that, this way, I know I couldn’t hurt you. And you’ve been getting hurt a lot lately. I wanted to help stop that,” he explains. He doesn’t want to mention the dreams, how Brendon is acting perfectly like himself, hasn’t changed a bit. How he acts like warm prey to Ryan. That’s still too personal. Still too raw and all of his insides forced out to share.

He’s not sure he’ll ever tell anyone about them.

Spencer sighs, defeat in the line of his shoulders. “I haven’t forgiven you for biting me. That was wrong. You should have asked. Just tell me if you need to do anything weird next time, ok?” and he puts a clean shirt on, even though he hasn’t showered. It hides the mark itself, lurid and pink, and the spiral of bluish streaks rather nicely. It’s a blue shirt.

Ryan can only nod, doesn’t want to spoil this victory by smiling. The next time he might not be so lucky with his bandmates’ reactions. And there will be a next time; he can feel it already in his tongues. It shivers around and in his mouth, all over the fleshy bits, over the protruding bones of his fangs and molars.

Spencer leaves the room first and Ryan gets his things together and takes them back to his room. He puts them away carefully, and then the food items.

He does it when they’re all asleep, his planning at the house. He researches snakes and snake myths, how they go, where most such myths come from. Refining his ideas and goals. He takes opportunities to get out of the house when he can, so he can see his banker. See his travel agent. A nice bit of green seals their sworn secrecy. He visits the local Apple store, other places, looking for palm pilots, things that he can use to stay in touch without having to deal with seeing the people he cares about most. The people he could hurt the most.

It takes him a month.

He packs sneakily, in chunks of fifteen minutes, around their music filled days. The album is moving along, but nowhere near finished. It’s the perfect time to, really.

He leaves at night, when even Brendon has gone to bed. He takes his notebooks, all of them. He can’t risk those words ever getting made public. He takes one suitcase and one messenger bag. His passport and single plane ticket is tucked inside his coat. He doesn’t have a return ticket yet.

He calls for a taxi while waiting in a Starbucks. He sips his Pumpkin Spice Latte and nibbles at his Fruit Stella while watches the customers filter in and out. He signs a girl’s microbiology text book. The taxi arrives, and he goes to it, directs it to L.A.X as quick as can be. He tips heavily when the driver delivers on that request.

He checks in with the airport, goes through security. He waits the hour he planned for, reading magazines, paging through the books available to pass the time but not buying any. He does buy some gum to chew. He checks his new phone’s inbox for the last time. His band has the number. No messages just yet. They won’t be up yet. Not to call him or read the notes he left them in their shared practice space, on the kitchen table.

His flight is called for soon enough. He waits for his seat section to be announced and boards with apprehension and excitement swirling inside of him. His teeth tingle.

They file into the plane and take their seats, and the flight attendants go through the safety precautions and general flight rules. The plane starts to rumble, hiss and buckle. The plane takes off into the cold California night air.
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magdalyna: (Default)
And that has made all the difference.

February 2013

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