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Blood, Sex, and Dominated Love Slash

confusion is the strongest emotion [2/9]

Blood, Sex, and Dominated Love Slash

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confusion is the strongest emotion [2/9]

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ryan tyv
Title: Confusion is the Strongest Emotion.
Author: wearewonderland
Fandom: Panic! at the Disco.
Pairing: Ryden, Ryan/OMC, Brendon/OMC.
Rating: Mainly PG-13, but one sex scene, so R.

This is my NaNoWriMo fic, so it's just over 50,000 words total.

Summary: Set from January 2004 to April 2005. The story of Ryan and Brendon and coming to terms with what has to be. Chronicles Brendon from joining the band to getting kicked out of his parents house to his first experience with a boy.

A/N: I tried to stick as close to canon as possible.

Previous parts:
Part One: Can You Shine Through That Shadow You're In?

Part Two: I Want to Hold Your Hand Where No One Can See

“Look, can we just focus?” Ryan snarled, eyes flashing. the room went silent except for the chord Brendon had just played on his guitar continuing to echo. “’Cause I’d really like to actually finish this fucking demo and put it up, okay? Then you guys can go fuck around and jack off and whatever else is so fucking important.”

Fuck three times in two sentences combined with that look was enough to make Brendon turn around and face the microphone properly, mumbling an apology. He couldn’t really blame Ryan for being pissed. They’d been “practicing” for two hours--in reality, mainly just playing the wrong notes and wrong beats while drinking energy drinks--and they’d all promised Ryan earlier that week they’d try to get the demo up by the end of next week. (Saturday mornings were never the best practice times.)

“Yeah, sorry.” Spencer added. Brent didn’t say anything.

“I really only need, like, two good run-throughs.” Ryan pointed out. “’Cause it’s gonna be all electronic or whatever right now so I can play with that new program so, just, please?” He sounded desperate and slightly out of breath and the combination made Brendon close his eyes and think of baseball for a split second.

They finished a little over an hour later and Spencer and Brent both said they’d catch the bus, hightailed it the hell out of there. But Brendon just stood there and shook his head when they gestured at him to follow, instead turning and watching Ryan slowly put his guitar back in the case. “I’m sorry.” he mumbled in apology.

The older boy sighed and nodded, his back to Brendon, before sinking into one of the lawn chairs they had against the wall and putting his face in his hands. The younger thought he was going to cry for a minute. “I just want this to work.” Ryan whispered, finally. “I just want to get out.” He shook his head and stood up, making a strange face that Brendon recognized as fighting back tears. “Get your guitar together and I’ll take you home.”

“Do you want to do something?” Brendon asked. “Like, hang out or go to a movie?”

Ryan shook his head. “Can’t. My mom’s supposed to be coming through town today.” He shrugged. “She probably won’t, but just in case.”

Brendon’s stomach twisted. Ryan didn’t deserve any of the shit he had to deal with. “Oh. Well. Fingers crossed?” he offered.

Ryan spared him a small smile. “Thanks.”


School ended a few weeks later and Ryan was still tweaking the demo. He kept calling Brendon and asking him to go over to the practice space to record background vocals, but the teenager had been pulling back to back shifts at his Smoothie Hut job so he could go on vacation with his family the next week. Every time he said he couldn’t, he could feel Ryan’s resentment emanating through the phone like hot coals. But, finally, he got off early one Thursday because it was slow and he called Ryan from the office.

“If you pick me up from work, I can do the background stuff.”

“Yeah, sure. You’re going to have to give me about half an hour though. I’m on campus. And bring me a smoothie.” There was some noise in the background, slightly muffled, and Brendon could have sworn he heard another voice. Male, and lower pitched that Ryan’s. “See ya.”

Half an hour? Brendon stared at the phone in disgust before putting it back into the cradle. What was he supposed to do for a half hour? Oh, right. Smoke.

So when Ryan showed up half an hour later, Brendon smelled like an ashtray and had two smoothies in his hands. And Ryan smelled like salt and sweat and his hair was just a little messed up in the back. “Didn’t mean to interrupt.” the younger said pointedly.

Ryan flushed pink, but just grabbed the smoothie and took too quick of a swallow, cause an instant brain freeze. “It wasn’t anything.” he muttered, heading toward the practice space.

“Was he cute?” Brendon pried, grinning so hard his cheeks hurt. It was fun to tease Ryan because he acted like such a prude. And even though Brendon was a virgin and Ryan wasn’t, the older still didn’t like to talk about sexual things. Or, at least, not with the other boy.

“Yes, okay?” Ryan fought his smile. “I just met him in the library and he dropped his books, so I helped him pick them up.” His voice was quick and flustered and blustery like a wind that’s making paper dance on the sidewalk. “And then, I don’t know, we just . . . the dorm rooms are pretty nice on campus.”

“You fucked?” Brendon cried, eyes going about as wide as teacups.

Ryan laughed then and the weight that seemed to have been sitting on his shoulders evaporated. “No, Bren. God, no.” He laughed again. “We just made out’s all.”

“Oh.” Brendon took a drink from his cup, trying not to feel about three feet tall.

Ryan seemed to notice. “I wasn’t laughing at you.” he said gently. “I just needed to laugh. And your eyes about popped out of your head.”

“Yeah, well, I was little shocked thinking you were so loose.”

“Loose?” Ryan laughed again. “That sounds like something your mom would say. Like, legit.”

Brendon squirmed in his seat, unwilling to admit that’s where he’d heard the expression. Ryan probably already knew anyway.


That summer was like a dance Brendon fell into naturally despite never having heard the song. He worked days at his job and as soon as his shift was off, Ryan would be there to pick him up. Spencer would be in the car about half the time and they’d go find a swimming pool or a park. Sometimes they just drove and sang along to the radio. (Brent was visiting relatives in New York.)

When curfew came, they would usually split the difference between Spencer’s or Brendon’s. If Ryan’s dad was working an overnight shift, they’d stay there. A couple times Grace let them set up a tent in the backyard. Ginger kicked them into the garage more than once, with a couple fans and sleeping bags. They’d watch movies on Ryan’s laptop and Brendon would sneak outside to smoke.

One night it was just Ryan and Brendon’s at the former’s house. Spencer was visiting some relative out of state with his family. Brendon was wandering around eat potato chips straight out of the bag while Ryan showered. He was just wearing his jeans because it was still sort of hot out, even with the sun down. Ryan’s dad only ran the air conditioning during the day and then it was fans at night.

Brendon was digging in the freezer to see if the other boy had any ice cream stashed away when he heard the noise. At first he thought it was a one of those shocked half screams/half gasps you give when you see a bug, then he thought maybe Ryan was jerking off and had accidentally been a little too loud. Then it came again and he heard it for it was--a sob.

It was one of those situations where you know what you should do, but you don’t know what you’re supposed to do. Brendon knew he should go knock on the door and ask Ryan if he was okay, but he didn’t know if that was okay. Because Ryan might freak out or get upset or it would get awkward, because not everyone wants to be interrupted when they’re in the middle of crying. Brendon did, but he wasn’t a normal teenage boy and he knew that.

He waited until he heard another sob and then a sound like a thump before he walked over and knocked on the white door. “Ryan? You okay?” He was hoping to hear something along the lines of ‘I’m fine’ in a forced voice so he wouldn’t have to figure out what to do next, but no such luck.

The door opened and Ryan stood there, looking completely miserable, eyes red from crying. But Brendon only had a moment to take in his face because then Ryan was hugging him, tightly, desperately. His skin was barely damp from the shower, but his hair was still wet and not very well brushed. The older boy only had his boxers on, so the upper halves of their bodies were skin-to-skin with Ryan’s arms looped around Brendon’s neck, fingertips splayed out between his shoulder blades.

And Brendon knew then that there was nothing he wanted to do more in the world than kiss Ryan on the mouth so hard neither of them could remember how to breathe, but he didn’t know how to kiss anyone like that, didn’t know how to kiss period. So he just wrapped his arms around the other boy’s waist and brought a hand up to lightly touch his hair. “What’s wrong?” he whispered thickly.

“I don’t know.” Ryan choked out, his voice sounding so much different than normal, higher-pitched and broken. “I just feel like everything’s falling apart.” He buried his face in Brendon’s neck, breath warm against the younger boy’s skin. “Like, I’m with you guys and it’s awesome and we’re having fun and then I remember that I’m going to college.” His tears tickled. “I slept with that guy.” he added in an undertone.

Brendon gripped Ryan tighter, almost protectively, though he didn’t quite understand why. “The guy from the library?”

Ryan nodded, letting one of his hands tangle in Brendon’s hair. It felt safe there, wrapped up in the younger boy. He felt like a caterpillar in a cocoon. “I let people touch me so I can pretend they love me.” He choked on the laugh he gave to fight the tears. “Pretty fucking stupid, huh?” He stood up straight, pulled away, let the safety net he’d been allowing to build shatter silently. He wiped at his eyes with the backs of his wrists and refused to meet Brendon’s eyes.

“It’s not stupid.” the younger boy murmured, confused and uncertain. He reached out and let his fingers gently push the hair out of Ryan’s face. “I used to go to parties so I could pretend I had friends.”

The older boy gave a small, thankful smile. “Okay, well, I’m gonna get dressed. Then we can end this emo fest and go get some DQ or something, ‘kay?”

Brendon nodded as the bathroom door shut gently. His heart was pounding in his chest and there was sweat on the bridge of his nose under his glasses. He went back to Ryan’s room to put on a shirt and try to remember how to breathe. (He’d forgotten, even without the kiss he didn’t know how to give.)


Ryan let Brendon smoke in his car for this first time in recorded history. They’d already passed two different ice cream places, but neither of them seemed to care. The lights were so bright against the darkness that was the night and the music was playing so loud from the stereo that people on the street were turning to glare at them. Ryan laughed so hard he nearly choked when a woman gave them the finger and Brendon didn’t think he’d ever heard the other boy so happy before.

They parked next to a golf course and Brendon followed Ryan silently, grinning when the older boy hopped the fence. “What are we doing?”

“You’ll see.” Ryan wasn’t sure exactly what was going on his head that he had brought Brendon here. This was where he and Trevor had used to come, to be alone, to make out in a way that Ryan could convince himself was romantic. He knew he was weird then, that boys didn’t think about things the way he did, but Trevor would go along with it to make him happy because he knew what he’d get out of it. Ryan liked to think there was more to it, but there probably wasn’t. They were just teenagers after all.

It had been awhile since he’d been over the fence and he took Brendon’s hand so they wouldn’t get separated in the darkness. “If you see lights or something, let me know. ‘Cause they have security.”

“My mom will skin me alive if we get caught, you know that?”

“So let’s not get caught.” They walked for fifteen or twenty minutes and then Brendon saw something shining under the lights from the buildings surrounding them. It was just a little minnow pond or something, but with the way Ryan grinned you’d have thought it was Lake Michigan. “We’re here.” he announced in a murmur, dropping his hoodie onto the ground so he could sit on it in case the grass was wet.

Brendon followed suit. “You and Spencer find this or something?”

Ryan shook his head, staring out over the minor expanse of water. “Me and Trevor. We used to come here. He didn’t like going home either.” The last part was whispered, but Brendon hadn‘t really heard anything after ‘Trevor’ anyway.

The younger boy crossed his fingers discreetly and hoped that Ryan was going to lean over and kiss him before they left. He should have been a little more shocked about that wish because until the kitchen just an hour or so ago, he hadn’t even really been aware he’d liked Ryan. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe it was just the thrill of sneaking out and driving around and the feel of their skin together. But there was nothing wrong with wishing for a kiss, right? He scooted a little closer just so the older boy would know he was receptive to the idea.

“It’s nice to be alone sometimes.” Ryan pulled his legs up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, resting his chin on his knees. “You know?” He turned his head to the side to look at Brendon.

“But you’re not alone.” the younger boy pointed out. “You’re with me.”

“Didn’t your mom ever read you the Frog and Toad books?” Ryan asked, rolling his eyes with a soft laugh. “You can be alone with someone else. And you know that because you told me about going to those parties. But this is a better way.” he added.

Brendon leaned over until his lips tickled Ryan’s ear. “You’re kind of weird.” He kissed the older boy’s cheek softly. “But I like it.”

After that, they only stayed a few more minutes before Ryan said it was time to go. Brendon was confused and a little hurt, but the cheek kiss was actually a lot more satisfying than he had thought it would be so he decided to just be thankful and not push his luck. The entire drive home, Ryan tried to force the knot that had suddenly appeared in his stomach to untie.

The pair of them sleeping in Ryan’s twin bed together that night didn’t seem to help either. They stayed up until three watching movies and then Brendon fell asleep, mouth open, snoring slightly. Ryan didn’t like where this was going. After he dropped Brendon off the next morning, he didn’t talk to anyone for the next three days.

But, after those three days, Ryan snapped out of it and convinced himself it was just a trick of the night and too many emotions getting confused in his head. It probably didn’t hurt that the guy from the library called and Trevor sent an email for the first time in forever.

They spent the rest of June in the same way they’d begun it. When July rolled around, the three of them spent the fourth at the Urie family barbecue during the day and the evening watching fireworks from the roof of Spencer’s house. “I have to go to camp for the last week of July.” Brendon informed them as he sucked on a cigarette.

“Ew, why?” Spencer made a face.

Brendon echoed it on his own features. “Couldn’t get out of it. Mom’s crazy.”

“And you need to let work know that you’ll need eight days off starting on the twenty-fourth.” Grace Urie informed her son at dinner. “I figure we’ll leave around noon on Saturday.”

Brendon tried not to groan because he knew that would just make her all the quicker to shoot down what was about to come out of his mouth. “Can . . . can I skip camp this summer?” he asked, staring very hard at the broccoli on his plate.

It was his father that spoke, almost immediately but without accusation in his voice. “No, you can’t. We already sent the check.”

“Why would you want to skip camp?” Grace had the accusation in her voice, the worry, the oh no, is my son straying off the Divine path high-pitched tone. “You love camp.”

“Never mind.” the teenager muttered, stabbing the chicken breast his mother had put on his plate and returning it to the serving dish. (It wasn’t that Grace Urie was trying to force meat onto her vegetarian son, she was just a little absent-minded.) “It’s fine. I’ll tell Chris tomorrow.” he added, naming his boss.

“I don’t think it’s going to hurt you to have one week away from those boys to go to camp.”

“I know, Mom.” Brendon said quietly, silently thinking that it might after he imbibed all the liquor and weed he was going to smuggle in. Another week of wood-carving and pretending he cared about listening to sermons and having ‘good Mormon kids’ push him around and call him a faggot. His parents had no idea what they we were wasting their money on.

“Good. So it’s settled. Will you load the dishwasher before you go to bed, sweetheart?”

“Sure.” Brendon took his plate out to the sink and then snuck out the back door to duck behind the garage and have a cigarette. He tried to convince himself it could be worse. His sister Kyla’s camp had lasted six weeks. Then again, she loved camp. All his siblings did. Not for the first time, the boy wondered if he had been secretly adopted.

“So you’re taking fifteen joints and three water bottles of vodka?” Ryan asked incredulously, holding up the Ziploc baggie Brendon had decided to hide inside a sock. “Don’t you think that’s a little bit extreme?”

Brendon snorted. “You try spending a week with Mormon kids that call you a faggot and offer to exorcise you. LDS doesn’t even believe in exorcism! I bet you’d break your straight-edge vows. Now give it back. That’s, like, fifty dollars.” He held his hand out and shoved the baggie back in his pocket.

“They offered to exorcise you?” Ryan was trying not to laugh.

“Jesus freaks are the worst, trust me.” The other boy rolled his eyes. “’Cause they’re all doing it in His name or whatever. Fuckin’ assholes.”

“You act like I didn’t go to Catholic school for four years.” the older boy said with a forced grin. “Well, I guess let’s do our last practice before you go. Come on.” He loped his arm around Brendon’s shoulders and they meandered outside to Ryan’s car, avoiding George Ross dozing on the couch.


Two days later, Brendon was sitting in the back of his parents’ car with his earphones in, playing Brick Blaster on his iPod and trying to ignore everything around him. It was a six hour drive to camp. His parents usually got a hotel on the way back, both times. On the return trip Brendon was with them, of course, and they wouldn’t let him watch anything good on TV or sneak out (to have a cigarette) and his mother insisted on hearing all the new ways he planned to renew his relationship with God. It made the teenager want to vomit.

He had snuck the Ziploc, his cigarettes, and his water bottles into the suitcase after his mom double-checked it, claiming she wanted to make sure he’d packed enough clean underwear and his toothbrush, but Brendon couldn’t help but notice that the copy of ‘Invisible Monsters’ Ryan had lent him was missing when she was done. She said she’d give it to him when he got back.

“I need to pee again.” Brendon announced, hitting the pause button on his music. “And I’m hungry.”

“We’ll stop in a few.” his father said, sharing a look with Grace. “And you just ate.”

“Yeah, well, I’m hungry again.” He hit the play button and drowned out the reply that he was sure was about as monotonous as Ryan’s voice.

Camp Horizon was the same as it had been when Brendon left it the year before. Six cabins and about a hundred kids. The teenager carried his duffel bag (with all his contraband nestled safely inside) while his father carried his suitcase. Twenty minutes later, he was alone--completely alone and definitely enjoying it--in his cabin and unpacking, wondering if he could sneak out and have a cigarette without getting caught if he didn’t go into the woods.

That was when the door opened and he realized he wasn’t quite alone. It wasn’t the front door to the cabin, but the side door that connected the counselor’s room to the main cabin. And Brendon tried really hard not to stare. “Hi, I’m Dylan.”

Dylan looked like a cleaner-cut version of Ryan, with soft brown hair and no plugs in his ears. He was a little taller than Ryan and not as skinny. When he smiled Brendon noticed one of his front teeth was just barely longer than the others. The teenager took the hand that was held out to him. “Brendon.”

“What grade you going into?” Dylan asked. He had a voice that was soft but without sounding like a girl. Brendon was pretty certain that he was going to hell for this (if there was a hell).

“Senior year. I’m seventeen.”

The counselor grinned. “Cool. I guess there’s going to only be a few of you this year. Bunch of juniors in here though.”

Brendon didn’t know whether to be relieved that he’d be one of the oldest or disappointed that he was one of the few people that hadn’t managed to convince his parents not to send him back. “That’s kind of weird.” he said instead because he was fairly certain that telling the truth would not endear him to Dylan. “I was going to go for a walk.” he added as his fingers closed around a pack of cigarettes in his duffel. “That’s cool, right?”

“Yeah, sure. We have dinner in an hour. Don’t get lost or anything ‘cause my navigation skills are nonexistent.” The older boy flashed his teeth again and Brendon felt the familiar (and unwelcome) swooping feeling in his stomach that almost always lead to beginnings of an erection. Dylan turned his back and the teenager shoved the cigarette box into his pocket quickly.

“See ya.” he called, disappearing outside and letting the door slam behind him. He tried to remember how to count to a hundred in Spanish as he stumbled into the woods. (Not too deep though because his navigational skills were also shit.) When he found a tree stump, he sat down and lit the cigarette, closing his eyes as he inhaled. “So it’s definitely a sin to jerk off to your camp counselor, isn’t it?” he muttered, not quite sure who he was talking to. He didn’t really believe God was listening anymore. But maybe there was a squirrel around that understood English.

A few minutes later, Brendon heard a twig snap behind him and as he rushed to hide the cigarette in the folds of his jacket, he heard a louder laugh. “Little late for that, don’t you think?”

Besides all the kids that had tortured him the summer before and his mother, it was the voice he least wanted to hear. He turned his head, wincing. “So, uh, I guess I’m expelled?”

Dylan just shook his head and held his hand out. “Can I bum one?”

Brendon felt like he could fly.

They sat there, well, stood rather, and talked for a half hour until they heard the dinner bell being rung. It turned out Dylan wasn’t much of a Mormon anymore, just your average run of the mill Protestant, but he was raised Mormon and they paid pretty well at Camp Horizon, apparently. He went to college in California and was from Utah, just a few hours away from Vegas. “Just don’t narc me out.” he teased as they stubbed out their cigarettes.

“I won’t.” Brendon murmured, his heart jumping into his throat when Dylan stepped closer to him, closer than normal.

“I don’t smell like smoke, do I?”

The teenager laughed. “I wouldn’t really be the best judge. I got this really good spray though.” He couldn’t wait to tell Ryan and Spencer about this. “So do you, uh, smoke . . . other stuff?”

Dylan laughed loud enough to make Brendon jump. “Dude, you brought weed to church camp?” He gave the younger boy a soft, playful punch in the arm. “I like your style.”

So, even if Dylan wasn’t gay, Brendon decided, this was definitely going to be the best week at church camp ever.


They were each working on a joint. Brendon hadn’t mentioned the vodka yet, but he always liked smoking better than drinking anyway. There were only three other boys that had come early for check in and they were sophomores. Most of them would check in the next evening (after church). So Dylan had made a big scene of asking Brendon to walk with him on his checks because of the importance of the “buddy system” or some shit. The younger boy had teased him and Dylan had actually blushed.

“So do you believe in God?” Dylan asked.

Brendon coughed on his inhale. “Fucking deep, man.” Then he giggled, then he took another hit. “I don’t know.” He bit his bottom lip. “I don’t like what people say God thinks. They make Him sound like a prick.”

“Like what?” The counselor seemed interested, but not in a ‘let me lead you back to the path you’ve strayed from’ way. Brendon normally didn’t need encouragement to talk, but on this subject he did. And Dylan’s voice and eyes were enough.

“Like, I don’t know, about gay people and stuff.” Brendon’s stomach squirmed because this was scary territory. “My best friend’s gay.” he added softly.

“So am I.” The counselor stood up and walked away quickly and Brendon all but jumped up to follow him.

“Hey, you okay?” he called. “Dylan?”

“Sorry.” The older boy turned around and it looked like he may have been trying not to cry. “I’ve only told, like, three people that.” And only because I slept with them, he didn’t add, trying to push the thought out of his mind.

“I’m bi.” Brendon offered gently. “And I’ve only told one other person that. If it makes you feel better.”

Dylan nodded. “A little. Fuck.” He turned his head and held a finger to his lips. “You hear that?”

Voices, sort of soft ones in the distance. Brendon paled. His parents had made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that if he got caught with weed again he was going to get shipped off to either military school or his crazy Aunt Irene’s.

“Come on.” Dylan whispered, taking Brendon’s hand with his so they wouldn’t get separated in the dark.

Just like Ryan did, the teenager thought, hoping this week would bear more fruitful results than a peck on the cheek. They only got lost for a few minutes on the way back and they still each had half a joint left. Brendon whispered for Dylan to just hang onto his. They were both still high and Brendon was sort of flying because he hadn’t smoked in about a week, saving it up for camp. That was probably why he kissed the older boy--so fast it almost didn’t happen--on the mouth before he disappeared into the cabin.

But as he changed into his pajamas and crawled into the top bunk he’d claimed, he was pretty sure Dylan had started to kiss back.
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