Sequel: If Only Until Morning

Pictures on Silence

Chapter 51

"Oh god." I still stood in the same place on the bus after Ryan had disappeared. Shakily, I touched my lips: still tingling. "Oh... sh-shi-Shintos. F-fu-fudgerabbits." Figures I wouldn't be able to swear at the most opportune time.

People always talk about there being fireworks or butterflies or something when the person you like first kisses you. That's a lot of BS. What you get is a lot of extra endorphins and adrenaline in your bloodstream, making you light-headed. Not tiny people on LSD raving in my stomach. Chemicals. That's all it is. That's what I kept telling myself. Blame the endorphins.

I walked slowly back into the venue, staring wide-eyed through the ground in front of me. Even though I could feel my brain working into overdrive, no words came to mind. The silence in my head kind of freaked me out, actually, since there's always music or people talking or something. But nope. Nada.

Realising I'd returned backstage, I stopped and pulled out my phone. Five minutes remained until the doors opened; I could already hear the fans outside. So I called Bianca-- yeah, from about fifteen feet away-- and told her to come out.

"So, uh, why couldn't you just come in and get me?" she asked sceptically when I turned around mechanically and started walking. I kept walking. My head felt like it had a couple of Germans during Oktoberfest living in it. Bianca waved a hand in front of my face. "Halloo? Earth to Angie!"

I swivelled my head around to stare at her. She gazed back, making faces. When I didn't change expression and stopped in front of the barrier without a word, she pouted. "What'd I do?" she whimpered.

"Ryan kissed me," I stated, breaking out of my head-coma. Bianca's jaw dropped, and I smirked lightly. "Yeah, that's pretty much what I said." The door at the back opened and people came streaming through.

"Holy shit, he did?!" she screeched. I nodded slowly, a smile tugging at my lips. Yeah... he did... Bianca's face became serious. "Well, you know what this means, don't you?" I shook my head curiously. She stared at me for a minute before shouting, "Ryan and Angie, sittin in a tree! F-U-C--"

"Bianca Grace Miles, watch your bloody expletives!" I cried, smacking her arm. I gestured around when she shot me an incredulous look. "There are children present." The guys behind us, who looked around twenty, gave us both weird looks and snickered to each other. I smiled amiably and turned back to my best friend. "Plus, how do you have sex in a tree?"

"You would know, Ryan-lover," she teased. I pushed her and leaned on the barrier.

Bianca didn't shut up about Ryan and me past the lights going out and through all of Jack's Mannequin's set. It's okay, though, because they were all drunk. Really drunk. Finally when I got sick of her knowing smiles and not being able to lose her, I yelled over the music, "Hell's bells, go find an emo kid to blow!"

Someone behind me tapped my shoulder during the set-up for Panic! and I looked back; it was one of the guy who'd laughed at us earlier. "Hey," he said, "Aren't you that chick from that band?" I smiled amusedly at him while his friends groaned and laughed.

"Dude!" the one with snakebites said loudly, hitting his arm. "She's Penelope fucking Dreadful!" All their eyes widened when I smiled and scratched the back of my head, nodding. "I love your album!"

"You are so fucking amazing," another of their group said, grinning at me. I murmured a thanks and he shoved a Sharpie at me. "Will you sign my shirt?" I glanced at Bianca, who rolled her eyes, and smiled modestly.

So I spent the next five or ten minutes signing things, taking pictures, and making conversation. I loved meeting fans, though I hadn't expected any of them here.

The crowd screamed when the lights went out for the third time, and you better believe I added my voice to it. The lights came up on the hugely decorated stage, with a tall pedestal on which the drum set sat. I cheered when the guys came out and, after a humourous little introduction from Brendon in his I'm-a-big-ring-leader-man voice, began playing.

After a few songs and a shitload of pictures, I realised Bianca wasn't beside me. Oh well, I thought with a shrug and returned to singing along.

Relaxing against the metal barrier, I watched the doctors chasing around the woman with a straight jacket, but that soon grew dull, so I turned my attention to Jon. But he wasn't doing anything interesting, so I looked up at Spencer. But he was too far away to converse anything, so I smiled at Brendon as he pranced around and sang. He winked at me, and the girls who surrounded me screamed and snapped pictures.

You might notice something strange about my behaviour. Mainly, that I tried to look at anything but Ryan. The truth was, I couldn't think about anything but him, which made my eyes drift to him automatically. They followed him around the stage for two and a half songs before I could stop.

And then Bren went into his description of a dream about a lover, where my mind sort of wandered off into impure places. Girls screamed, cameras flashed, and my face lighted with a wily, slightly embarrassed smile when Brendon molested and kissed Ryan for a good long moment. I swallowed and, light-headedly, let out a yawp.

"But that's not this fucking dream," Brendon declared, and then the band started to play "Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off". I smiled widely whenever Ryan's voice came over the speakers, and my heart raced when he looked my way for a moment. But he looked away quickly and turned his attention to the song at hand.

After the show, I found Bianca again and we went to stand by the door to backstage with the other fans. She was talking about some gorgeous guy Mike who saved her from a misplaced mosh pit; apparently he was on par in the looks department with Ryan or Brendon.

"Oh my god, that kiss!" she glorified as security began to turn people away. Bianca grinned slyly at me. "Bet you wish you were Brendon, huh?" I rolled my eyes but silenced my sarcastic retort. I plead the fifth.

"Sorry, ladies," the security guard said, waving us away, "No autographs."

"We have passes." I pulled the cord out from beneath my tank top and showed him; Bianca did similarly.

The guy looked at our laminated cards, glanced up at us, and did a double take at me. "Say... you're that singer." I smiled, vaguely pleased about the attention. "Penny Dreadful, right?"

I shook his hand. "That's the band. I'm Angie. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"Nice to meet you," the security guard said. "My girlfriend's way into you guys." I nodded, hoping he'd just let us in already. He started to say something when Mike, the band's keyboard player, stuck his head out the door and asked why the hell we were taking so long, the guys were getting antsy.

Bianca hugged all four them in rapid succession before I even got through the door. I smirked when she and one of the guitar techs started throwing flirtatious remarks back and forth. Someone made a new friend. "What, no hug?"

Grinning, I spun around. "Well, I'm sweaty... but so are you, so alright." I gave Jon a tight hug. "Hiya, Jonno!" I greeted. "Great bass-ing there tonight."

He grinned. "I try for you adoring fans."

"Angiiiiiieee," Brendon whined, pulling on my arm.

"Brendoooooooonn," I mocked, grinning.

He leaned in close and whispered slyly, "So what did you two do in the bus before the show?" Smile dropping in shock, I sputtered for a moment before telling him to go get changed. Bren nodded knowingly. "Uh huh, uh huh."

"Brendon Boyd Urie, you have a disgusting mind," I declared as he walked off.

"You know you love it!"

I rolled my eyes, but when I realised I was standing alone in the middle of the dressing room, I started to panic. Go ahead and make that a pun, what do I care.

Oh god, I thought, covering my mouth, I just realised what it means! I frantically searched around the room and cried in an unnaturally high pitch, "Spen-cer!" He looked up from the couch and saw my harried expression. I ran and dropped down beside him. "Problem!"

"Relax, Ange," he said, holding my shoulders. "You're starting to hyperventilate." Not to mention I was shaking all over. "Take a deep breath and calm down. What's wrong?"

Words slipped out of my mouth like blood from a wound, water from a drowning victim, vomit from a drunken frat boy. I told Spencer in loud whispers about the things my friends said, and the scene in my room, and the kiss in the bus, and everything Bianca said, and anything else that ran through my head at the time.

Once I'd finished, I took a deep breath and shut my eyes. That felt soooo much better. When I opened my eyes, Spence was smiling at me. "So what's the problem?" he asked. "You like him, he likes you, you're set."

"It's not that simple!" I cried, throwing myself back onto the couch. "It's never that simple!" I glowered at my shoes, which seemed an awfully long way away for some reason. After another deep breath, I continued in a mutter, "I don't know what to do, Spence. I mean, I like him a lot, but..." I sighed, passing a hand over my eyes. "It never works out for me. This in itself is incredibly abnormal; I never like a guy who likes me back. It's all terribly infantile. And then there's the whole fame thing and touring and--"

"Penelope!" Spencer laughed, shaking me by the shoulders. "You guys aren't even going out yet. Why are you so worried?" I opened my mouth, but he pressed on. "You guys are crazy about each other, so just take it as it goes."

I smiled at him. "That's how I always look at it. Why are you so smart?"

He shrugged cutely. "I can't help it. Some people have athletics, others have academics, I have drums, smarts, and being amazingly good-looking." I laughed and gave him a hug. He rocked us a few times, making that little happy noise people make. You know? ...Never mind. "Now go claim your man before he has a mental breakdown."

We went to go sit around with everyone else where there was more space. I looked straight at Ryan, who was staring emotionlessly at the floor, and opened my mouth when--

"Rhiannon Angela Callaghan, you owe me a kiss."

Everyone's head snapped to Brendon, who stood smirking in the middle of the hangout space. I blinked rapidly and stuttered out something that might have been words at some point. He strolled over to me. "From when we were on tour, and now that I sent Mike to get you past security, I think you should pay the piper."

Bianca whooped and I glared at her viciously. Jon shrugged, laughing. "You do owe him, Ange."

I glanced at Ryan, who was staring at me withgorgeous amazing sexy wide brown eyes, and whispered, "Bren, I don't think now--"

Only I never got to say what now was because he twirled me around and dipped me back, and of course, alarmed, I clung to his shoulders for the sake of my easily-bruised tailbone. Brendon's lips met mine firmly and after a moment, I heard a chorus of catcalls and howls from basically everyone in the room.

He lifted me back to my feet and when I opened my eyes, Ryan was gone. I looked from his empty seat, to the door, to the guys and Bianca. "Is the best time," I finished with a sigh.

I looked up and down the dark hallway and spotted Ryan two hundred feet away propped up against a wall. With my stomach churning, I walked up slowly and sat down beside him. He didn't move at all, or even acknowledge my presence.

I bit my lip and stared at my knees, one bent higher than the other, thinking of some way to start. So we sat there in a silence for a long-ass time. Once in a while, I'd glance up at him and away.

Not able to stand it anymore, I took a deep breath and stated, "So."

I never said it was a good start.

"So," Ryan repeated flatly.

I rubbed the side of my face and worlds came tumbling out from my lips. "That didn't mean anything. Just now. It was just a kiss."

Ryan looked at me so sharply that I felt it and looked up at him. "It wasn't just a kiss, Rhiannon," he spat, eyes flashing in the dim light. I winced involuntarily. "Of course it meant something. It can't not mean something."

"Yes, it can," I argued softly.

"No, it can't. It's you... and Brendon." He looked down at his still-gloved hands. I stared down at my own hands, hearing the regret seep in with the sorrow in his voice. I swallowed hard. This is what I get for--

"It hurts, you know?" I glanced up at him. "You show a girl you have feelings for her and in a few hours, she's kissing another guy. My best friend, no less. Do you have any idea how that feels?"

"About as much as knowing the person whom you love more than anything is dating another girl who probably only wants him for his fame and good looks?" I whispered resentfully. Ryan shot me a glance laced with surprise. I licked my lips and forced a small laugh. "Sorry, that was uncalled for."

"Whom you love more than anything?" he repeated. I bit my lip nervously and nodded. Ryan looked straight across at the wall opposite the one on which we leaned. For another long stretch we sat without saying a word.

I took a deep breath and shut my eyes. "Wanna know a secret?" I asked. He nodded. After a moment of reviewing the words in my head, I smiled. "During the show, when Bren kissed you..." And so forth. "I would have given anything to be him right then."

Swallowing down the blush I felt rising, I opened my eyes. Ryan grinned down at me and started laughing. "Don't laugh," I ordered, myself laughing.

"I'm sorry," he said, shaking his head. "I just got the mental image of you and Brendon wearing each others clothes." That got us both laughing again.

After a few minutes, Ryan smiled sadly at me and stood up. Confused, I scrambled up and grabbed his arm to stop him from continuing down the hall. He looked at me expectantly. Eek, pressure! Lifting my gaze from my shoes, I leaned my mouth up to catch his. Only he moved in too, so we met kind of hard.

Ryan has oddly smooth teeth.

We pulled away in surprise and stared at each other. A smile quirked one side of his mouth. "Sorry."

"Don't be." Wait, had I just said that? I frowned inquisitively at the wall beside us and looked up at Ryan. He smiled and tilted my face up. Somehow I could feel every strand of his hair through my fingers and the pressure of his hold on my lower back. His tongue broke past my lips and I pulled his head closer. Chemicals, I reminded myself. Endorphins... adrenaline... saliva... hands on me... Ryan's a much better kisser than Brendon.

We broke apart, breathing heavily. "Wow," Ryan breathed, leaning his forehead against mine.

I opened my eyes and stared into his. "Wow yourself," I whispered headily. He laughed breathily. With a smile, I kissed him gently, taking him with me as I pulled away.

"Angie. I think... I lo--"

My hand shot up, fingers over his mouth, suddenly scared at the words that almost came out. He narrowed his eyes in confusion. I looked down when he frowned.

After a moment, he removed his hand from supporting him against the wall and needlessly straightened his clothes. I couldn't help but smile sheepishly at his dishevelled hair. "So... can we agree that Brendon doesn't count for either of us?"

Ryan laughed and agreed. He nodded down the hall and we began walking. Halfway to the door of the dressing room, his hand brushed over mine and laced our fingers together.

I smiled at the floor slightly. Music was playing in my head again. I felt like I could float off the ground. I finally had within my grasp something I really wanted and only for me: Ryan. My life at that moment was a cheesy teen romantic comedy.

I blame the endorphins. And hormones, those little bitches.