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Breathtaking (part 1)

Author: southernkaren
Pairing: Rydon (Ryan/Brendon)
Rating: PG-13
POV: 3rd
Nobody knows for sure why or how the disease evolved. Nobody knows why you get it, how you get it, or how it does what it does... They think its something in your blood. Something that thins it, degrades the skin.  Anyone and everyone is susceptible to it. 
Disclaimer: None of this is real
Author's Note: This is the first long Rydon fan fiction that I have written... Its an AU and I hope everyone enjoys it! :)

Ryan doesn't know what to do when he sees. He doesn't really know what he's feeling either. He's not necessarily sad. He isn’t mad. It doesn’t feel like the world is ending or anything. Except it is. Slowly but surely, the world is ending. But he doesn’t feel that it is. Not right now. Its perhaps the worst thing he's ever seen. Ever since the disease started a few years ago, Ryan has seen a lot of bad stuff. Everyone has. It can happen anywhere, anytime to anyone. Ryan remembers every one of the people hes seen. But this is the worst. Its not because its his father. Or maybe part of it is. He doesn't think its because its in his living room either. He's never been too fond of the place. Too many bad memories. Its not because its his birthday. No, those stopped being special a long time ago. Its not any of that, or anything else that he can pinpoint. It is the worst though. Somehow. Ryan steps back, almost tripping over the empty whiskey bottle at his feet. So his father was drunk when it happened. Figures. He turns around and makes his way out of the mess quickly. He cant stay here. No, he has to leave. The air outside is colder now than is was a few minutes ago, and it hits Ryan's face sharply. He could go back to Spencer's. Except he cant. His mom would want to know why he was back. And if he lied to Spencer's mom, he'd have to lie to Spencer. He cant do that. He and Spencer have been best friends since they were three. They don’t lie to each other. He walks swiftly down the street, figuring that he will eventually find a place to stay.

* * *

After he-dosent-know-how-long, Ryan decides that he needs to get a hotel room. A cheap one, preferably. He has some money, but not much. The backpack he brought his stuff to Spencer's in last night is still slung over his left shoulder. He didn’t notice its weight until now, and for some odd reason it now feels 10x heavier. He grunts slightly, as he shifts it to his right shoulder.  He keeps his head down when he walks, letting his hair fall in front of his face.
He finds a little place on the corner of 4th and Fremont. It doesn't look too dirty, but he finds a slightly different story when he steps inside.

“I'm sorry, sir. We don’t have any more clean rooms available.” the attendant tells him routinely, snapping her gum a bit as she stares at him.

“None?” Ryan asks, “are you sure?”

“I’m sure sir.” she says, sounding annoyed. She cant be much older than Ryan himself. Ryan figures he must look really desperate or something, because as he starts to turn away, the attendant says “There is one other option though.”

Ryan turns back and tries to put on his best reassuring smile, while inside, he is crying. “A dirty room? No thanks. I'd rather not.”

“Oh, no!” she says, astounded. “I didn’t mean that.” Ryan raises his tired eyebrows.

“You could share. A room? There's another guy... He looks about your age. What are you? 19? Yeah, well he might be willing to share.” She snaps her gum again.

“Umm...” Ryan starts. He's only 17, actually. Well, 18 today. Still in high school. He really needs a place to stay. “He's willing to share?” Ryan is a bit confused.

“Well, I don’t know for certain.” she says, “But some people are. Room 217. You'll have to go ask. He has the only key, so you can just go up.”

“Oh.” Ryan says, feeling more and more blank by the second. “Yeah, thanks.” he turns away from her again. The stairs are on the other side of the lobby. As he goes up the first set, he mutters “Room 217,” quietly to himself.

* * *

Ryan really doesn’t know what to expect when the door to room 217 opens. The boy who opens the door is shorter than him. Not by much, but he still is. He has dark brown hair, and chocolate brown eyes. He's just a normal guy. Kind of breathtaking, really.

“Um, hi.” he says, obviously questioning why Ryan is there. He's wearing a pair of jeans and flip flops. Nothing else.

“Um,” Ryan says, standing up a bit straighter when he realizes that he was staring. “They sent me up. Said you might be willing to share a room? I don’t know, if you don’t then that’s - “

“No, no, that’s fine.” the boy says, and opens the door the rest of the way. He walks back in a few steps before asking Ryan if hes going to stay in the hall forever. Ryan replies with an embarrassed “No, of course not.” and follows him in.

“I'm Brendon, by the way,” the boy – Brendon – says as he pulls a red t-shirt over his head.

“Ryan,” Ryan says, and they shake hands. An awkward silence follows, and desperate for something to say, this is what Ryan comes up with. “They, uh, the hotel, the lady said they didn’t have any empty clean rooms, so...” Brendon swallows (not nervously, he just swallows), and says “Yeah, its no problem, really. I don’t mind.” and after a moment passes, he adds “Its kind of ridiculous how many people die in hotel rooms, huh?” The expression on Brendon's face isn’t one Ryan can describe. It seems slightly amused though. Ryan feels suddenly offended.

“Its kind of ridiculous how many people are dying in general.”

Brendon nods theatrically, as if he agrees immensely, and Ryan just gets more and more annoyed with the kid.

“Its scary.” Brendon finally says, and Ryan can tell that he means it. He's scared. Everyone is. Ryan is still determined to be pissed at him.

“Look, man. I’m really tired, so if you could just tell me where I could crash, that'd be great.” Ryan says this in an indignant tone that doesn't go unnoticed by Brendon. Still, Brendon starts looking around the small room for a place for Ryan. There is only one bed, and Brendon isn’t willing to give that up, so he begins to clear his dirty clothes off the poor excuse for a couch that’s by the window. He takes a pillow and one of the blankets off the bed. He hands them to Ryan who accepts them with a nod. Ryan lays down on the couch, his feet hanging off the end. He buries his face in the pillow, which smells good. Ryan decides that its probably what Brendon smells like, and falls into a dark encroaching sleep.

* * *

Nobody knows for sure why or how the disease evolved. Nobody knows why you get it, how you get it, or how it does what it does. Scientists have been working on it for as long as its been around. Years. 6 years. The only thing that they’ve been able to figure out is that it isn’t contagious. And recently they’ve said that it probably isn’t genetic. Probably. As to how it does what it does, they think its something in your blood. Something that thins it, degrades the skin. They think that its something that is transferred from blood to blood; maybe it developed from blood transplants in hospitals. Whatever it is, it makes your skin start to split. It looks like small cuts, and you keep getting more and more until you bleed to death. For some people it happens quickly; you are ripped to shreds and bled out before you can even comprehend whats happening. For others, it happens over a matter of hours, days, weeks, and very rarely even months. There is no way to cure it either. Once you get your first split, cut, you're done for. None of the cuts can heal. That’s why you just keep bleeding. To tell the truth, there is a lot more for research to learn about it. 6 years really isn’t that long. But meanwhile, the outside world is falling apart. People are dropping like flys. Any and all ages collapsing into pools of blood on the streets, in homes, at work, at school. Very few people die from natural causes anymore. Research doesn’t have that much more of an opportunity to figure it out.

* * *

Ryan only wakes up because there is some kind of noise. Its not very loud, but it is there. And its annoying. It infects his dreamless sleep slowly, poisoning it until it finally bugs him enough to wake him up. Ryan doesn’t really know where he is when he first wakes up. But then he sees Brendon sitting on the end of the bed with some kind of radio, and it all comes flooding back. His father shredded and soaked on the living room floor, the hotel attendant telling him there were no more rooms, and finally, Brendon agreeing to let him stay with him. What a mess. Ryan sits up and rubs his eyes. The noise is still there. What IS that?

“Oh, you're up! Good. I was starting to worry.” Brendon's voice reaches Ryan's ears from across the room.

Uh, what? “What?” Ryan voices his thoughts.

“Yeah, you’ve been out for over a day now. Kinda freaked me out, you know? I was afraid you were never gonna wake up.” Brendon lets out a nervous chuckle, now standing up and running a hand through his hair.

“Yeah, um. Sorry bout that.” Ryan replies. Brendon nods. “Yeah, well. Whatever that noise is, woke me up, so. You can thank that.”

Ryan watches as Brendon's eyebrows shoot up and he says “Noise? Dude, Arcade Fire is not noise.” Brendon picks up the radio that Ryan noticed earlier. “They're, like, geniuses,” Brendon continues ecstatically. “Haven’t you ever listened to them?”

“No, sorry.” Ryan says, shaking his head. Ryan really doesn’t listen to any music. He has an old guitar that he can kind of play, and a few Beatles CD's that he found in their basement. Other than that, he doesn’t have any knowledge of music. He's never even heard of Arcade Fire.

“Huh. Well, don’t you like it?” Brendon asks, “Isn’t it fantastic? I mean, wow, right?”

Ryan doesn’t like it. Its still just a bunch of noise to him. “Uh, I guess its alright. Yeah, sure.” Ryan stands up now, trying to smooth some of the wrinkles out of his shirt. “Seriously?” Brendon asks. “That's nuts. You're nuts. This is the best band out there if you ask me.”

“I don’t really listen to much music.” Ryan says, and Brendon smiles.

“Yeah, it doesn’t seem like it.”

Ryan nods, and quickly asks “So what else have you got? Anything you think I'd enjoy?” Anything to keep that shit-eating-know-it-all grin off of Brendon's face.

Brendon looks like he's trying to decide something, before saying “Yeah. Well, maybe. I don’t really know what you've heard, but I've got some old Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy and stuff.” Ryan hasn’t heard of either of those bands, but he agrees to listen to some. They’re not half bad. He actually really likes this Blink-182 stuff.

“You hungry?” Brendon takes Ryan by surprise by asking.

“No, not really. Thanks,” Ryan is sitting on the end of the bed now, writing in his notebook as he listens. He isn’t a great writer; most of the poems he writes don’t even make sense, but its an old habit and Ryan enjoys it. It relaxes him, keeps him grounded.

“You sure? Its been at least a day and a half since you’ve last eaten. And to tell the truth, you didn’t look so great when you got here either.”

Ryan is a bit taken a back at this. “No, I'm sure.”

Brendon then mutters something under his breath that Ryan cant quite comprehend.

“What?” Ryan asks, curious.

“I said, 'no wonder you're so skinny.'” Brendon explains, and doesn’t seem to care if he offends Ryan with this comment.

Its true, Ryan is skinny. Really skinny. Spencer always makes fun of him for it. Ryan sighs, shuts his notebook, and stands up. He walks over to Brendon, who is standing by the only table, obviously fixing something for himself. “What do you have?” Ryan leans over Brendon to see.

“Bagels. Muffins. There's a bakery down the street that has pretty good stuff. I went and got some this morning.”

“Hmm.” is all Ryan says, as he reaches and pulls what appears to be a blueberry muffin out of the bag. Brendon has just finished putting cream cheese on his bagel, and is surprised at how close Ryan is to him. Now is definitely not the time to think about how pretty Ryan's auburn eyes are.

“So,” Brendon says as Ryan quietly munches on his muffin, now sitting on the couch. “What happened? I mean, there has to be a reason you're here, rather than at home.”

Ryan looks up, surprised, and accidentally looks directly into Brendon's eyes. He quickly looks away, glad that the food in his mouth is momentarily preventing him from answering. He really doesn’t want to talk about that. A lot of people are homeless these days. Their loved ones have died, and nobody wants to live in a house where that happened. It isn’t considered cleanly. Its not allowed. Why cant Brendon just assume that that’s his situation? It really is, after all. Not that his dad was a loved one. More of a despised one. Still. “Umm.” Ryan isn’t sure where he is going with this. He understands why Brendon is curious. Most kids his age and younger are sent to live with relatives, or in orphanages. He's different. But so is Brendon. He's about the same age as Ryan, if not younger. What happened to him? “My dad.” Ryan says, “He was an alcoholic. I couldn’t stay there anymore. Couldn’t deal with that.” Its not a lie. But its not necessarily giving the whole truth either. Brendon keeps looking at him, and its making Ryan uncomfortable. Seriously, hes barely just met the kid. This thought kind of throws this whole situation into perspective for Ryan. Brendon is a complete stranger, yet he is willing to trust him with everything he's got. Its ridiculous.

“I’m sorry.” Brendon finally says. “That sounds awful.” Brendon means it.

Ryan clears his throat, and then asks “What about you? How'd you get here?” Brendon, all of a sudden, looks away. He shrugs and takes another bite of his bagel. Clearly avoiding Ryan's question. Why bring it up if you don’t want to talk about it yourself? “I shared.” Ryan says, and he knows its petty. He shouldn’t try to guilt Brendon into talking about that.

Brendon looks a little smaller as he says “Same kind of thing as you, I guess. Family problems.”

“Everyone has family problems.” Ryan says, and immediately regrets it. Why keep pushing? Why does he have to be such a jerk sometimes? Jesus CHRIST.

“Yeah,” Brendon says, voice ragged. Then, after a pause, “They’re dead.” Ryan feels a sting. God, why did he have to push? “Most of them anyways. Two of my siblings. They’re, um, fine. Staying with my aunt in Colorado now. Its better, I guess. They’ve had less cases.” He shrugs.

“Geez. I'm sorry. I didn’t mean to... I'm sorry.” Brendon just shrugs again.

“It shouldn’t be such a big deal, I guess. With everyone dying, I really shouldn’t freak out. I know how to handle myself. I understand how it works.” Brendon sighs, and looks out towards the window.

“Its never a small thing when someone dies.” Ryan says quietly, and immediately thinks of his own father. He just left him there to rot. How could he do that? What else could he have done? Nothing. Nothing else. Ryan would’ve done the same thing even if he had loved his dad. He's too weak, too afraid, too much of a coward. Ryan isn’t strong. “I'm sorry.” he says once again, and this time, hes not sure who he's saying sorry to.

“Yeah, well.” Brendon says, finally turning back to look at Ryan. “Not much I can do now is there?” a small, sad smile playing on his face. Ryan shakes his head. “So,” Brendon's voice is louder “What do you think? Blink? FOB?”


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