Title: God Only Knows
Pairings: Jon/Spencer, Brendon/Ryan
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~9000
Summary: Spencer has been Catholic his entire life. In the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, he ponders his recent breakup and consequently decides to give up guys for Lent. A few days later, he meets Jon Walker.
Disclaimer: I admit it! I made it up! Also: Don't google yourself. (& if you're Catholic, I apologize.)
Notes: For any of you that have heard me complain about "Catholic Spencer AU" over the past 10 months, thank you. For the people that made sure I got this done before Easter, thank you. Special thanks to my beta reader, allyndra, and my favorite cheerleader, sunktheglow. ♥

When Spencer gets back to the dorm for the night, pulling off his scarf and coat, he feels refreshed and determined. He's only got a few more days until Ash Wednesday, and he finally decided what to give up for Lent this year.

"I'm giving up guys," he tells Ryan.

Ryan gives him a dubious look, barely even looking up from his computer.

"No, seriously, it's perfect. I'm over Carter and that trainwreck of a relationship, and I think I could use a voluntary break from, y'know..."

"Mating?" Ryan asks with a smirk.

"Dating," Spencer responds, glaring.

Ryan shrugs. "Makes sense, I guess."

Spencer nods, mostly to himself. It'll be good to quit thinking about a relationship for a while.


"Actually, make that a grande," Ryan corrects.

"Anything else?" the petite blonde girl asks, pushing the appropriate buttons on the register. She smiles at Spencer as he reads her name tag: Hi my name is GRETA! ♥

"Hey Spence, you want anything to eat?"

Spencer peers around Ryan into the brightly lit display case. "Do they have any M&M cookies?"

"We actually just put some in the oven," a voice carries from behind the counter. And oh God, the most gorgeous guy he's ever seen is smiling back at him. "I can bring one out to you in a few minutes?" he suggests, and Spencer just nods, trying to suppress a smile in return and failing spectacularly.

To his credit, Ryan manages not to tease Spencer at all while they sit in the coffee shop. They sit and talk about Ryan's awful sociology professor and how nice it is to finally have a Starbucks close to campus, and other than the permanent blush that Spencer sports throughout the 7-minute cookie delivery, it's pretty much a normal trip to the coffee shop. As soon as they are back in the car, however...

"Fuck. Are you kidding me? It's been three fucking days..." Spencer complains, and maybe he's pouting just a little.

"Isn't this whole thing supposed to bring you closer to God? I mean, I'm no expert, but wasn't that the point? Maybe you should've given up cursing instead," Ryan suggests.

Spencer only manages a small sound that is not a whimper, thank you very much, in response.

"What does giving up 'guys' entail, anyway? You could just make it 'no fucking,' I think you can hold out for that." Ryan pauses, then pulls a face. "Well, maybe."

Spencer remembers the guy's smile and how his hair had fallen in his eyes when he said, "Hey, I'm Jon." The moment was tempered by the fact that Ryan had stood on Spencer's foot right after, though.

"I can't change it to 'no fucking,'" he says, disappointed with himself. "I gave up guys. That means no fucking, no kissing, no dating,..."

"Obviously 'no flirting' didn't fall under the umbrella," Ryan quips. "'Cause if so, you're going to have a lot of explaining to do."

Spencer does not appreciate Ryan pointing upward like God is chilling out on the roof of the car, but he may have a higher level of irritation than usual right now. He flips Ryan off and decides to otherwise ignore the interruption. "Maybe I can give something else up. Something everybody else does, like desserts."

"I think that M&M cookie you just devoured means you're pretty much fucked either way."

Spencer sighs, biting back his hey, it was fresh out of the oven! excuse. Ryan's right. He's totally fucked.


Spencer goes back to Starbucks on Thursday. He's mostly hoping that he'll see the guy again and feel nothing - that last Friday was a fluke. But when he gets to the register, smiles and tells Greta his order, his hopes are dashed. The guy - Jon - is smiling at him and asking how his week is going, and Spencer has to focus hard to keep his mostly-bored attitude intact.

"Whipped cream on that?" Greta asks calmly, as if Jon isn't holding up the line at all. Spencer gives her a sympathetic look, and is promptly cut off from his "no" by Jon saying, "Nope! No whipped cream for Spencer Smith!" as he writes on the cup.

Spencer narrows his eyes. "You really can't assume from my one order last week that I never get whipped cream on my coffee."

Jon shrugs. "As a Starbucks employee and a good citizen, it's my job to look for trends in the workplace and then act accordingly. And if that means making extra M&M cookies on the off-chance that customers that really like them stop by, then ultimately, it's just good business."

"That doesn't even make sense," he points out, but he adds an M&M cookie to his order anyway. Jon smiles and talks to him through the full four minutes it takes to make his drink, but Spencer holds to his resolve and leaves once the cup is in his hands.

It isn't until he is out the door and halfway back to his dorm that he notices Jon's phone number scrawled along the bottom rim of his coffee cup.


For the record, it's not Spencer's idea to go back to the coffee shop on Tuesday. All he did was ask Ryan to pick him up something caffeinated, and Ryan had said, "You really can't handle going to Starbucks. With your best friend," and Spencer had rolled his eyes and grabbed his coat.

So honestly? It's all Ryan's fault that they're both currently forced to be the objects of Jon's photography.

"Why are you doing this again?" Spencer mumbles, not used to this much attention.

Jon smiles from behind his camera, snapping a picture of Spencer looking right into the lens. "I have a project due for Photography on Thursday, and you were lucky enough to come in during my break," he says excitedly. He turns the camera toward Ryan, who frowns down at his coffee and pretends to ignore him. Spencer sees right through him - he's totally posing.

Ryan takes a sip of his coffee, slowly licking his lips as he lowers the cup, then leaves his mouth parted slightly. Spencer kicks him. "Seriously," he says to Ryan, "you are such a drama queen."

Ryan looks up through his lashes, and Jon keeps clicking through the pictures. "What are you talking about?" Ryan asks.

"Oh come on. Don't act like you don't always get all pouty and weird when there are cameras around. Remember that time at the pool?"

Ryan's expression clouds, and Spencer can't help it, he bursts out laughing.

"What happened at the pool?" Jon asks, curious.

Spencer tries to stop laughing, really he does, especially when Ryan's glare takes on a laser-like quality. "Should I just say 'eyeliner' and leave it at that?" Spencer manages between giggles.

"It was supposed to be waterproof," Ryan reminds him.

Spencer finally clears his mind of the mental image and when he composes himself, Jon is smiling at him, camera forgotten. "Sounds like a fun memory," he says softly. Spencer hides his smile behind his coffee cup. "Well, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I'm going to go bother my friends in the corner now."

"No, have mercy!" some guy shouts from the big, fluffy chair in the corner. Everyone around him laughs, and Spencer realizes those must be Jon's friends from school, or wherever he goes in his free time. He doesn't really know anything about Jon other than that he's charming and good looking, though that's probably for the best, given the situation.

Jon's friends start talking all at once when Jon gets to their corner. Spencer doesn't hear what they say, but Jon turns to look at him along with everyone else, and then two of the guys wave in his direction. Spencer forces a smile and lifts his hand to wave back quickly before turning away.

"I think you're gathering a fan club," Ryan says with a smirk.

"Just finish your coffee so we can go," Spencer murmurs. It sucks, but he's really got to stop coming over here. The coffee should still be here after Easter; he just hopes Jon will be, too.


"Remind me why we're seeing this movie again?" Spencer asks. He's not really complaining - seeing a movie means not staring at Jon's phone number and wondering - but he can't pass up an opportunity to give Ryan a hard time.

"I heard good things," Ryan says, waving his hand in dismissal.

"And this wouldn't have anything to do with your epic crush on Concession Stand Guy."

Ryan makes an oh-please noise and rolls his eyes. "Just because I ran into him at Starbucks yesterday and talked to him --"

"-- for two hours --"

"--doesn't mean I have a crush."

"Give me a break. I'm not your best friend for nothing. You've had a thing for this guy for almost a year now."

"His name is Brendon," Ryan says in a huff as he pushes open the door to the theater lobby. Spencer takes that as an admission.

They get in Brendon's line, even though it's longer than the others, and wait. "We just ate, you know."

"I want popcorn," Ryan says petulantly.

Spencer laughs and pulls out his phone.

By the time they reach the front of the line, Brendon has already spotted them and is looking at Ryan with a huge smile on his face.

"Fancy seeing you here," Ryan says with a smile. Spencer snickers, and Ryan steps on his foot. Knowing that he owes Ryan for the Jon thing, he concentrates on playing Tetris on his phone while Ryan attempts to flirt.

After a few minutes, though, the lady behind them looks ready to commit murder, so Spencer cuts in politely. "We have a line behind us," he points out. Ryan cuts his eyes at Spencer in a way that makes Spencer think if looks could kill, but Brendon looks at the line with wide eyes as if he only just noticed it, then quickly gives Ryan his change.

"What did you do that for?" Ryan asks moodily as they walk away with a bag of popcorn neither of them intends to eat.

"Because Brendon could easily lose his job ignoring customers like that." Ryan looks repentant at that, and Spencer's not surprised. Sometimes Ryan forgets that the universe doesn't revolve around him. It's not that he means anything by it, it's just that he's bitched and whined enough to get his way for most of their lives.

As soon as they enter their theater, Ryan pauses. "D'you think I should get a drink?" he asks.


"Yeah, okay. Let's just sit down."

They have 30 minutes before their movie starts, and Spencer gets bored with the cheesy theater slides after 5. Ryan, of course, has brought a book. Spencer starts looking around the theater to see if he knows anyone, though he sincerely doubts anyone he knows would get here before the previews started. But then he sees the lackey rolling in the concession cart and does a double take. The lackey in the awful cardboard crown is Brendon, and he's looking around the theater expectantly.

"Maybe you should go get, like, Sno Caps or something," Spencer says, and thinks, We're even.

"What? I thought you said--" Spencer points down to the cart, where Brendon is still squinting up into the rows in front of them. "Oh."

Ryan slinks down the stairs as if he's in no hurry and completely unaware of Brendon's presence, which is so typical Ryan that Spencer doesn't even roll his eyes. He pulls out his phone and texts Brent, a friend from high school. ryan flirting w/ some dude @ movies. am bored

A few minutes later, he gets a response: u should have stayed in vegas

He texts back, im not THAT bored and counts his blessings.


He decides to call Jon on Sunday for two reasons. The first is that the Starbucks cup has been sitting on his desk for over a week now, and he still can't convince himself to throw it out. The second is that he's spent the better part of the week trying not to think of the cute barista with the smile every time Ryan mentions some new thing about Brendon. If he's allowed to break his fast on Sundays, he may as well take advantage of it.

It's a bad idea, he knows, because Jon isn't some object he can put down on Sunday night until the next Sunday comes around when he can pick it back up. He has his own will and once he has Spencer's number, anything could feasibly happen. Spencer decides he'll just have to choose his words carefully, and then he calls anyway.

On the first ring, he's completely calm and composed. But by the second ring, he's beginning to doubt. What if Jon put some random number on there as a joke? Before the third ring and more hypothetical situations can happen, a voice cuts in.

"Jon Walker's phone, Brendon Urie speaking," the voice says brightly. Brendon randomly meeting Ryan at Starbucks starts to make a little bit more sense.

Still, Spencer isn't sure what to say to Brendon. He's saved from responding, though, because Jon's voice cuts in.

"Please excuse my roommate. He's a little overzealous about answering the phone. This is Jon, by the way," and the smile in his voice is just as irresistible as it is in person.

"Hi, uh, it's Spencer?" He doesn't mean to make it a question, because it is Spencer, but the hesitance shows itself anyway. What if Jon was just fooling around and doesn't remember him?

"Spencer Smith! You know, I was just talking about you? I was beginning to think you'd lost my number."

Or that. "Well, I don't exactly look to Starbucks cups as a phone book," he says defensively.

Jon just laughs good-naturedly. "My next attempt was going to be to ask Ryan for your number, but I wasn't sure he would give it to me."

Spencer blushes and is very glad no one can see him. He decides to change the subject. "Yeah, I had no idea Brendon was your roommate, man."

"Ha, yup, Bden and Jwalk, two peas in a pod. I think I know more about Ryan than I do about you, and that's just a shame."

He really doesn't know how to respond to all this attention. "What d'you wanna know?" he asks, feeling awkward.

"Hmm," Jon begins. "You're from Vegas, right?" When Spencer makes an affirmative noise, he continues, "What made you come to Chicago?"

Spencer considers the question for a moment. "Las Vegas was - stifling. I mean, you think of it as this place that's always alive, right, but if you don't like casinos or whatever, it can be just as boring as anywhere else."

"Do you miss it?"

"Sometimes, I guess. I miss my family. But my mom has set down strict orders for me to come home for any and all extended breaks, so I really haven't had a chance to miss it too much."

"So you like it here," Jon states, but there's a question in it.

"Yeah, Chicago's great. I really feel like I belong here."

"That's great," Jon says, and Spencer can hear his smile again. "I've lived around here my whole life. This city owns my soul. I wouldn't give it up for... any amount of money."

"Money?" Spencer repeats, interested. "Sounds like there's a story there."

Jon half-laughs, half-sighs. "You are really perceptive, aren't you? Yeah. I was offered a pretty cushy job with a friend in Jersey, and I took it. I barely lasted two weeks, man. It was awful. We both agreed that I was better off coming back home, in the long run."

"That's cool, though," Spencer says, laying down on his bed and staring up at the lattice under Ryan's bed. "I mean, that you're so passionate about something."

Jon makes a surprised, happy noise, which for some reason makes Spencer blush harder. This is seriously a problem. "You'd feel that way too, if you'd seen this city in the ways I have."

"Maybe," Spencer says, grumbling at himself as he tries to stop blushing. He pushes out of bed and starts pacing across the floor.

"Everything okay?" Jon asks, concerned.

Spencer stops, surprised that Jon picked up on that. Feeling guilty, he comes up with something. "Sorry, yeah. Just--having trouble with my computer." He's going to have so much to talk about at confession, fuck.

"Oh, are you, like, a computer science major?"

A laugh escapes Spencer before he even realizes what he's reacting to. Computers? He can barely send an email without the thing freaking out. "No way, dude. I break computers, not fix them. I'm majoring in religion." He bites his lip, hoping Jon doesn't pry too much into the details of why.

"Religion, whoa. You're secretly a genius, aren't you? Doomed to make me look bad whenever we hang out together."

"I think if I was a genius, I'd have a little more luck with the computer stuff. I mean, I'm not an idiot, but I'm not exactly rushing to be on Jeopardy."

Jon's laugh is contagious, and Spencer finds himself relaxing again before he knows it. They debate over the credibility of game shows, complain about the addictiveness of reality TV, and Jon confesses his undying love for The OC. Spencer doesn't know why that's so endearing, and he should probably take that as a warning sign, but he doesn't exactly say no when Jon promises to let him borrow the DVDs. They move on to desert island movies, which somehow turns into talking about music and how they've both played instruments for a while. Jon mentions the beauty of a guitar player's fingers on the strings, and just like that they're immersed in conversation about art and Jon's photography. Suddenly, the sun is setting outside and Spencer's battery is beeping at him to charge his phone.

"I don't think that's true," Spencer says, smiling. "If your professor was that impressed with your work, then you're obviously improving. You should give yourself more credit."

"Stop flattering me, Spencer Smith. You haven't even seen my work."

"I don't have to!" Spencer insists. "I don't know a lot about art, but I know that spending a lot of time and caring about it this much are two huge elements of good art. Anyway, my phone is dying, and I'm tired of trying to convince you that you're awesome."

There's a pause long enough for Spencer to feel self-conscious, and then Jon says, "Fair enough." Spencer can hear that huge fucking smile that does things to his inhibitions, and he struggles to remember what he meant to say.

"Yeah, and I really need to get some work done, like, you have no idea how horrible this week is going to be. I don't even want to think about next week and all the midterms," which unfortunately is true.

"Maybe you'll need some coffee to keep you awake," Jon suggests.

"Maybe," Spencer replies, noncommittally. "I'll call you next weekend, if -- if I have time, okay?"

"I'll keep my phone charged," Jon says.


Four days later, and Brendon is practically a constant presence in Spencer's life. If he's not actually physically there, he's on the phone with Ryan, and in the times in between, Ryan won't stop talking about him. Luckily, four days is enough time for Spencer to filter out most of Ryan's babbling as white noise, and it turns out that Brendon is a pretty cool dude. The only thing Spencer doesn't understand is why Ryan hasn't made a move yet. He's been completely content with hooking up with much lesser guys over the past several months. The only answer that makes any sense is that Ryan really likes this guy, which is hard for Spencer to wrap his brain around. Ryan doesn't have the best romantic history.

He's thinking about all of this as Brendon makes his way out the door to head home, and then Ryan calls him on it. "Why are you staring at me with your thinking face?"

"I'm just wondering if I'm going to need some tranquilizers to keep your face from having all those muscle spasms."

"Fuck you," Ryan says, balling up a piece of paper and throwing it at him. "I smile. Sometimes."

"Sure, yeah. I mean, I can't really think of any examples, but..."

"At least I'm letting myself be happy," Ryan challenges. "Don't pretend you haven't been tearing yourself up about Jon all week."

Spencer glares, because even though that's true, Ryan knows it's not for some stupid reason.

"I'm just saying, man. I'm sure you can just call the guy."

"There are no loopholes in this. You know that."

"Spence, be reasonable. Don't you think God would want you to be happy?"

Spencer sighs. This isn't the first time they've had this conversation. "Remind me to make you read Job again sometime."

Ryan's got his best bitchface on. "Well then what about Jon? It's okay to lead him on? No need to fill him in on why you're acting so weird?"

Spencer continues glaring, but he knows he's been hit. "Jon shouldn't have to--"

"No, Spence. I know what you think you're doing, but just because Carter was an asshole--"

"Don't-- bring Carter into this," Spencer says, clenching his jaw.

"Whatever," Ryan says. He reaches into his bag and pulls out a box. "He wanted me to give these to you."

Spencer stares at the box as he takes it. The OC, Season 1. Fuck.

"He also asked how you were, invited us to see a band his friend plays for, and asked about our spring break plans in the span of about 3 minutes." Spencer looks up at him, feeling remorseful but unwilling to show it. "You're being a jackass," Ryan says.

"Can you go back to fawning over Brendon now? At least then I could tune you out and didn't have to hear the fucking riot act."

Ryan's face goes blank; he's already checked out of the argument. "I've gotta go to work," he says simply, and doesn't even bother to slam the door on his way out.

Spencer drops his head onto his desk, making a frustrated noise. He grabs his coat to go for a walk and gather his thoughts. This whole thing wouldn't be so annoying if Ryan wasn't right.


After that, Sunday can't come fast enough. Spencer and Ryan reach some weird stalemate where they're speaking to each other again, but only about things like the weather and what they did that day. Spencer's ready to move on from it, but Ryan's not, and that pretty much says it all.

Despite his misgivings, Spencer pulls out his phone to call Jon as soon as Ryan goes to the library to get some work done. Maybe Ryan had a point - probably he did - but the only person he's had a real conversation with over the past few days was his mom, and he's starting to feel like he'll explode at any minute.

His heart sinks a little bit when Jon doesn't answer. He debates leaving a voicemail, but he's not going to say, "Call me back! unless you're getting this tomorrow, in which case you should just wait." Sighing, he pulls out his economics textbook and tries to focus on the words. He maybe cleared his schedule for that phone call.

His phone vibrates a mere five minutes later, though, when Jon calls back. "Hello?" Spencer answers.

"Spencer Smith, answer me this. Shouldn't a man be allowed to wear flip-flops in the workplace? The liability is entirely my own, right? I should be able to sign something that says I'm not going to sue them if I spill scalding coffee on my feet! Is there no justice in this world?"

"Um," Spencer says. "Isn't it kind of cold for flip-flops?"

Jon gasps. "Spencer Smith! Don't tell me you really feel that way! A man's flip-flops are sacred. You don't want to fight this battle with me. You will not win."

Spencer laughs lightly. "Fair enough. I... I've fought enough battles this week, I think."

Jon makes a sympathetic noise. "Tough week, huh? Mine too."

"Ryan and I had a falling out. It'll be fine, it's just... he's all I've got, you know?" he explains, feeling pathetic.

"Yeah, that really sucks, man. What'd you fight about, if you don't mind me asking?"

Spencer feels a rush of guilt and surprise as he tries to think of the best way to respond to that. He sighs, saying, "I was giving him a hard time about Brendon, just goofing around. But then I guess he took it personal. Which... I know you don't know Ryan very well, but he doesn't normally have much of a reaction to that sort of thing." He pauses, laughing. "Actually, he doesn't normally have much of a reaction to anything."

"Yeah?" Jon asks. "Brendon's been acting strange, too. Well, stranger than normal. I think... he really likes your friend."

"Yeah. Ryan really... likes him, too." Spencer swallows, suddenly aware that maybe they're not talking about Ryan and Brendon anymore. He glances around the room, desperate for a change of topic, and his eyes fall on The OC, Season 1. "Oh! Thanks for the DVDs, by the way. I haven't had time to watch any of them yet, but it was cool of you to send them along."

"No problem!" Jon says, sounding happier. "I would like to watch them with you, but-- I mean, I know you're busy."

Spencer feels so guilty that his stomach hurts, and it's worse because he's getting used to the heavy feeling. He sighs like he's thinking about all his work and says, "Yeah, you know how it is. I'll be so glad when spring break is here."

"Ryan mentioned that you guys were both going to your house."

Spencer's beginning to think that Ryan spends all his time either at Starbucks or with Brendon, and possibly both at the same time. "Yeah, Ryan was adopted into our family a long time ago. My mom says I'm still her favorite, but I'm not convinced," he says jokingly.

Jon is surprisingly easy to talk to about this sort of thing. Spencer has trouble opening up to people, but for some reason it's extremely easy to delve into real issues with him. Jon even offers up some advice based on his experiences with his best friend Tom.

They're having a really great, serious talk, and then Spencer hears another voice in the background. "Hey, Brendon," Jon says softly.

"Oh, do you have to go?" Spencer asks, and finds that he's actually okay with that.

"No!" Jon says quickly. "I mean, can you just hang on a second?"

"Sure," Spencer answers, turning in his chair to face his textbook again. It's no use, though; he can still hear Jon's voice and it's far too distracting.

"It's not a big deal, okay?" Spencer hears Jon murmur. He can't hear the next sentence, but he thinks he hears Greta's name. It's probably none of his business, anyway.

"Sorry about that," Jon says into the speaker a few minutes later.

"No problem. Everything okay?"

"Yeah, it's fine. It's just -- been a long week, with work and classes and everything."

Brendon's voice is indiscernible in the background, but Spencer can hear him. "Anything you wanna talk about?"

Jon sighs, and it's the heaviest sound Spencer's heard him make. "It's this damned financial process. I'm trying to get my loans worked out for next semester, and I'm this close to losing it."

Oh. Spencer's parents take care of his tuition, and he's never even had to think about it.

"They're trying to get me to start paying my loans now," Jon elaborates, "but I'm still a student. I don't know which idiot down at the bank checked the wrong box, but it shouldn't be my problem, you know? I just need more money for next year so that I can keep studying photography."

"Sounds like a big mess."

"Exactly!" Jon exclaims, laughing dimly. "God, it feels so good to rant about this. Brendon's having more trouble than I am, and I don't want to make him feel worse, you know?"

"Yeah, I understand. You don't want to bring up the bad things, because then it'll bring you both down," he says, thinking of Ryan.

Jon continues with his rant for a little while, and Spencer is content to listen and comment occasionally. He walks to his window and is startled to discover the downpour. He knows Ryan didn't take an umbrella when he left.

"Anyway, we're hoping they'll give me more hours at Starbucks soon, since we've been getting more business since the opening. They transferred me and Greta from a different location when this one opened, did I tell you that?"

"No, I didn't know. So what, are you a Starbucks veteran or something?"

Jon laughs at that. "Oh, the stories I could tell. Yeah, you might say something like that."

"I've got some time," Spencer says, and then relaxes as Jon recounts some of his craziest experiences, including the one where his friend Gabe managed to break the cappuccino machine and be issued a restraining order all within his first hour of employment.

Spencer stops laughing long enough to say, "You really have seen it all."

"Just wait 'til you meet Gabe! It'll all make sense, trust me."

Spencer is completely honest when he says, "I would like that."

Jon chuckles and says, "I really like you, Spencer Smith."

Something jumps in Spencer's chest, and his throat goes dry. He clears his throat - it doesn't help - and tells Jon, "Hey, listen, I've gotta go. It's gonna be a busy few weeks, but uh. I'll call you. After."

"Okay," Jon says. It's hard to tell over the phone, but he sounds disappointed. Spencer is a horrible person, and he's going to ask Ryan to punch him in the face the next chance he gets. "You do what you gotta do, Spencer Smith." And that attitude right there makes Spencer wonder, makes him want to share that part of his life with Jon. But the possible consequences, the apprehensions that have kept him up at night for the past several weeks, and his own cowardice make him hold his tongue.

"Have a good week, Jon."

"You too. Good luck on your midterms."

"Thanks. I'll see you." He hopes he's not lying.

"Bye, Spencer Smith."

"Bye." He closes his phone and stares at the display screen. Then he grabs both his umbrella and Ryan's and heads for the library. He needs to check out a book anyway.


Midterm week is hell. Spencer studies for his economics test until "supply" doesn't look like a word anymore, and afterward, he's so ready to go home that he could scream.

That is, until he actually gets home.

He goes to school so far away that he usually forgets how overprotective his mom is, or how judgmental his father is. Having Ryan there helps somewhat, but Ryan has pretty much been there for the last five years, so his parents don't generally tone things down in his presence anymore. Now he gets to enjoy a week of fielding questions about his study habits and personal life and trying not to yell when his dad criticizes him.

On Thursday night, Spencer lays in his bed waiting for Ryan to fall asleep. Their fight ended as suddenly as it began, and now they're back to their usual selves. Every night, Spencer and Ryan talk for a little while, and then after Ryan goes to sleep, Spencer goes downstairs to the living room to gather his thoughts. He writes them down; it's not the most conventional form of prayer, but it works for him.

But tonight, just as he's beginning to think Ryan's gone to sleep, Ryan says, "Hey Spence?"


"Why do I fuck up every relationship I ever have a chance at?"

Spencer turns on his side to face Ryan, even though they can't really see each other in the dark. "I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that this is about Brendon."

Ryan is quiet for a few seconds, and then he says, "Last week, I was trying to write that goddamn paper for Robinson, and Brendon came over."

He's quiet again for long enough that he's clearly waiting for Spencer to respond. "Brendon comes over all the time now, why is this a problem?" No answer. "Hey, stop thinking so much and tell me what happened."

Ryan murmurs an apology and continues, "I told him I had work to do, but he told me he would stay out of my way."


"I thought maybe it'd be alright with him," Ryan insists.

"Ryan, it's not even alright with me."

"Yeah, well. I was an idiot. Anyway, I snapped at him to get the fuck out my room when he tried to borrow my cell phone, and... that was the last I've heard from him. This was 9 days ago."

Leave it to Ryan to keep a count of the days. "For borrowing your cell phone? Maybe he needed to make a call."

"He kept asking me what time it was. I ignored him and hoped he would take a hint, but then he reached across me for my phone. It was only a natural response to annoyance."

Yeah, a natural response for Ryan. "I don't know if he knows you well enough to understand that."

"I get that, Spence. I fucked it all up. Now he won't even answer my calls."

"Really?" Spencer hasn't known Brendon for very long, but he doesn't seem the type to hold a grudge for that long over something so trivial. "How long have you been trying?"

"Uh, one day? I guess technically it was only one call."

Spencer rolls his eyes. "You are such a drama queen. Call him again tomorrow, and leave a voicemail this time. Tell him you're a douchebag, and once he understands that, your relationship will go a lot smoother."

"I would throw something at you if I could see you."

Spencer's surprised Ryan didn't try it anyway. "I know the truth hurts," he says, smiling.

"If he doesn't answer my calls, you know I'm going to get your not-boyfriend involved."

"We'll see," Spencer says. He stares at the ceiling long enough that he falls asleep and forgets about the journaling.


The next day, Ryan spends nearly three hours on the phone with Brendon, who apparently hadn't checked his phone when he got home from the late shift the night before. Spencer lets Ryan have some privacy in his room, then spends most of the afternoon catching up with his mom. She doesn't quite understand some of the choices he's made, but she's still there for him when he needs advice.

"Well then I just have one question for you, sweetie. Is your sacrifice really helping your relationship with God, or is it hindering it?"

Spencer blinks at her. She's got a point.

"I'll give you some time to think," she says, then gives him a hug before heading upstairs.

Spencer opens up his journal and spends about an hour working out his thoughts. He made this decision, and he's determined to stick with it, but he knows it has to be for the right reasons.

When he gets back on campus on Saturday, he no longer thinks of the next week as a countdown.


Wednesday arrives - four days until Easter - and Spencer gets a call from an unknown number. He hesitates, because it's definitely a local number, but even if it's Jon, there's no reason he needs to ignore it. He's decided to be more reasonable about everything, even if it means losing his chance because of his religious choices.

"Hello?" Spencer answers levelly.

"Spencer? Hey, this is Brendon."

"Oh! Brendon, hi. Were you looking for Ryan? He's at work right now--"

"No, I know he is. I, uh, actually was calling for you."

"Okay," Spencer replies. He listens to Brendon ramble for an inordinate amount of time, but the gist of it is simple: Brendon's freaking out.

Spencer carefully explains Ryan's behavior to Brendon, making sure he understands what's important and assuming that if Brendon's really right for Ryan, the rest will fill in on its own. He knows that Brendon is just nervous because he finally made a move and Ryan accepted, so he tells him what he wants to hear: "Ryan already likes you, Brendon. You don't have to try so hard."

"You really think so?" Brendon asks, sounding excited.

"Come on, man. I'm not telling you anything you don't already know."

Brendon giggles. Spencer still isn't quite sure what to make of this guy. "Hey, so. I have a question for you now, Spencer Smith."

Uh oh. "Okay..." Spencer says, hesitant.

"Jon Walker is quite possibly the most awesome person on this planet. You seem like a reasonable dude. So can you explain to me why you're making him mope around here waiting for you to call?"

Spencer swallows. "I'm sorry, man. It's kinda complicated. He hasn't really been like that, has he?"

"Well, whatever, I may have exaggerated a bit. He's actually convinced that you have no interest in him, though, but unless you're secretly an idiot, I'm not buying it."

"I'm not an idiot," Spencer says softly.

"You do like him!" Brendon exclaims, and Spencer can imagine the fist-pump. "I knew it! This is going to be great."

"Hey, come on. It's not that easy."

"He likes you. You like him. What's not easy? You know, he skipped off work an hour early to talk to you a couple weeks ago? When he was having money trouble! He said if he didn't call you back right away, you'd probably avoid his call."

"There's just more to it then you realize," Spencer says, feeling helpless.

"Fine, then explain it," Brendon says, but he doesn't sound angry. "I mean, explain it to him. It's none of my business, as long as you don't break Jwalk's heart."

"Just tell him to wait, okay? It's not going to-- Tell him I'll come see him. Next week."

"Sweet," Brendon says, and Spencer's met him enough that he can imagine the huge fucking smile on his face. "And Spencer?"


"Thanks for the advice. You're an awesome guy."

"No problem, man. You're pretty cool, too."


"So, Brendon invited me to a party at his apartment tonight," Ryan tells him the following afternoon. "I know it's a waste of time to ask, but I want you to come with me."

Spencer raises his eyebrows and pretends he didn't already know about this. "We don't drink," he points out.

"Yeah, but I think it'll be a good party anyway. Besides, that's why I need you there, to help me watch out for anyone spiking my drink."

"Don't leave your cup lying around, you'll be fine." He faces his computer and then asks passively, "Does this mean you're finally going to hook up with Brendon?"

Ryan rolls his eyes. "Not if he's drinking," he mutters, biting his lip.

He won't be. That was one of Spencer's first points of advice. "I'm sure you'll have fun."

"Spence," Ryan begins, and Spencer can hear the lecture building up, "you really need to talk to Jon. He doesn't understand why you're doing this."

Spencer sighs. "I know. But it's just a few more days, right? It'll work out fine."

The side of Ryan's mouth twists in a way that means he wants to argue with Spencer, but he's keeping his mouth shut. "Okay."


He's scribbling furiously in his journal -- I think I'm finally starting to get my life together. I've actually been getting up and going to the gym every morning, going to mass on Saturdays, and finishing my homework more than an hour before class. -- when there is a knock on his door. Everyone on his hall is out partying, since they have the next day off, so he doesn't know who it could be. His foot gets caught on his chair as he stands, and it falls to the group with a loud crash. Frustrated, he leaves it there and goes to see who his visitor could be.

It's Jon Walker.

Shit, he thinks, and just barely stops himself from saying it out loud. There's no use pretending to be asleep after all that noise.

"Hi Jon," he says through the door, watching Jon's reaction carefully through the peephole. "Um, I don't suppose I could ask you to come back on Monday?"

Jon looks confused, and a little bit angry. "Spencer Smith, I am not going to leave until you open this door and tell me why you're avoiding me," he threatens, kicking the door, but not with much force.

Spencer cracks the door open. "Hi Jon," he repeats, feeling ashamed of himself. He takes in Jon's T-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops (right, the flip-flops), realizing that he's never seen him without the Starbucks apron.

"Hey," Jon replies, his anger obviously fading. "Come on, just give it to me straight. Is it a bad break-up? Did I make really bad M&M cookies? Are you secretly in love with Ryan Ross, your long-time best friend and roommate who, tragically, is in love with my roommate?"

"Yeah, it's totally that last one," Spencer deadpans. He's feeling more like a dick with every passing second, so he sighs and moves out of the doorway. "You should probably come in."

Jon sits in Spencer's desk chair after picking it up from the floor, and Spencer worries slightly about his journal, lying closed but still easily accessible on top of his desk. He tries not to think about it. He pulls Ryan's desk chair in front of Jon before sitting down. "Um, so. I don't really know where to start."

"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,..." Jon suggests. Spencer really needs Jon to stop being so endearing for a few seconds.

"Well, here's the thing. The thing is... I'm Catholic." He feels like such an idiot.

Jon raises his eyebrows. "Okay." He leans forward, attentive, and asks in a whisper, "What does that have to do with anything?"

Spencer tries not to blush. "How much do you know about Lent?"

He's staring at his shoes, so he doesn't see Jon's reaction, but he still hears Jon's gasp of recognition. "I know that you give something up, and that it ends on Easter. ...Wait, you gave me up for Lent? Why would you do something like that?"

"Not you, idiot," Spencer says, laughing nervously and kicking Jon's ankle. "I was just getting over a break-up, and I needed to think of something that I was too reliant on. I gave up guys."

Jon sits up straighter in his chair. "...Wow. The last few weeks are starting to make a lot more sense, now." Spencer looks up in surprise, but then Jon's expression dims. "Why didn't you tell me this three weeks ago, asshole?" Jon accuses, though without much venom.

Spencer bites his lip and forces himself to hold Jon's gaze. "The guy that broke up with me, the one that started all this? He never said it straight out, but I think he broke up with me because of my religion. He teased me about it sometimes, but I thought it was okay ... until I asked him to start coming to Mass. He could've just said no, but... he stopped calling, pretty much avoided me until I called him on it, and then he finally broke it off." And okay, maybe he's staring at his shoes again, but at least Jon knows the truth.

"Oh. Well. Now I feel like an asshole."

"Don't. I should've told you." He finally makes eye contact with Jon again, and a smile breaks out on Jon's face. Damn that contagious smile.

Jon stands and heads for the door. "Alright well, I guess I'll get back to my party. But... I'll see you on Monday?"

Spencer hesitates. Technically, he can be done on Sunday morning at midnight, but he also has a paper due Monday morning. "Yeah, Monday," he promises.

Jon smiles and closes the door as he leaves. Spencer stares longingly at the door for thirty seconds before grabbing his journal and writing down everything he can remember.


It's Saturday night and both Spencer and Ryan are writing papers like the social outcasts that they are. Spencer is trying to make sense of his reading for religion when Ryan's cell phone alarm goes off.

He looks up at Ryan with mild curiosity. "Laundry," Ryan explains, slipping into the hallway to retrieve it.

Spencer goes back to reading and forgets about it. Several minutes later, he wonders vaguely what is taking Ryan so long when there is a tentative knock on his door. The door was already cracked open, so Jon takes the opportunity to push it open. "Hi."

Spencer looks at Jon, stunned, for a second, then glances at the clock. 12:03. "Hi," he replies, not even trying to hide his smile.

"So, um, a little bird may have told me that I could stop by a little earlier than originally planned..."

Ryan Ross is a nosy little bastard, and Spencer loves him to death. Spencer closes his book -- whatever, it can wait -- and stands up to greet his visitor.

He throws his arms around Jon, who returns the hug warmly. "God, Jon, you have no idea..."

Jon laughs into Spencer's neck, his breath sliding over Spencer's skin and leaving goosebumps. "I think I have some idea."

Jon is the first to pull away, reaching into his pocket. "I have something for you," he says, pulling out an envelope full of pictures. He pulls one out and hands it to Spencer.

It's of him, in black and white, of course from that day at Starbucks, but Spencer is surprised by how good it looks. He's laughing in the picture, presumably at Ryan's eyeliner mishap. "Jon Walker, are you trying to woo me by making me look good in pictures?" he asks, laughing.

"It's not hard to do," Jon promises. "Is it working?"

Spencer's laugh dies out, but his smile remains. "Maybe a little."

Jon smiles and leans in, tilting his head to brush his lips against Spencer's. Spencer takes the envelope from Jon, and places it and the picture on his desk. He then slides one hand around Jon's neck, the other around his waist and pulls him close enough to kiss him properly. Jon makes a satisfied noise and parts his lips slightly. Spencer tentatively sweeps his tongue across Jon's lower lip, then along his teeth, until Jon presses forward even further and takes control of the kiss. His hands slide across Spencer's back under his shirt as his tongue explores Spencer's mouth, and Spencer can't help the soft moan that escapes.

Jon pulls back just enough to let Spencer see his smile. "You're in the bottom bunk, right?"

Spencer's brain isn't quite up to speed, but his hesitation is noticeable.

Jon laughs. "Don't worry, I'm not going to taint your precious virtue," he says with a wink. "I just think it would be comfortable."

Spencer blushes and drags Jon with him onto the bunk bed. They spend the next several minutes making out and telling each other about their lives. Jon tells him how he got into photography, and Spencer talks about his overbearing family and how he came here to escape.

Spencer is just about to find out if Jon always makes the same noise when Spencer licks just there behind his ear when his experiment is interrupted.

"Spencer Smith! Don't you know you're supposed to leave a sock on the door when you're having sex with your boyfriend?"

His hallmates are going to kill him. Spencer burrows his face into Jon's shoulder and mutters, "Make them go away."

"Come in, asshole!" Jon yells, but doesn't bother to move. "Imagine living with him," he whispers to Spencer, making him laugh.

Brendon bounds into the room, Ryan following, obviously trying to hide a smile.

"Aww, they're so cute, can we keep them?" Brendon asks Ryan, standing behind him and wrapping his arms around.

"You'd have to feed them twice a day on a movie theater slave's salary," Ryan points out.

Brendon wrinkles his nose before pressing his face into Ryan's hair. "Nevermind, too much trouble. We'll put them up for adoption."

Spencer hasn't seen Ryan smile this much in months. Brendon really is good for him.

"Please," Jon cuts in. "If anyone was going up for adoption, it would be you, Brendon Urie. We already have to put the caffeine on the high shelf so you don't get into it."

"You see how mean to me he is?" Brendon whines, snuggling closer to Ryan.

"Mean? I just let you make out in my car for 45 minutes."

"I just let you make out in my room for 45 minutes," Ryan retorts.

"Hey! It's my room, too!" Spencer reminds him.

"He's got a point," Brendon mumbles.

"Whose side are you on?" Ryan argues, reaching around to poke him in the side. This leads to a small tickling/poking match that gives Spencer a chance to steal Jon's attention for a few more quick kisses.

Eventually, Jon untangles himself from Spencer and goes to pick up his envelope of pictures. "Ryan, this one's for you. It's the picture that made Brendon come stalk you at Starbucks!"

"Hey!" Brendon protests. "We'd met before, you know. I just recognized you," he said to Ryan, "and I thought it'd be cool to meet you, you know, for real." Brendon sounds unsure of himself, appearing small as he gazes at the floor.

Ryan tucks a finger under his chin to get him to look up. "Hey, it's okay," he reassures Brendon with a smile. "Jon stalked Spencer so much worse than you stalked me."

"It's true," Jon admits to Spencer, but he watches as Ryan leans in to give Brendon a soft, chaste kiss.

"Aww," Spencer says softly. "They're so cute. Can we keep them?"

Jon pretends to be exasperated. "I guess. But if they go on the carpet, you're cleaning it up."

Ryan and Brendon both flip them off. Spencer just laughs.


A week later, the four of them are watching The Princess Bride - one of Jon's desert island movies - when Jon says the words that go straight to Spencer's heart. Jon and Spencer are crammed into Spencer's bunk, and Brendon and Ryan are above, in Ryan's.

"You know," Jon whispers to him halfway through the movie, waiting for Spencer to face him. "I think it's really great that you're so passionate about your religion, and that you take it so seriously." Spencer stares back at him, feeling a bit shell-shocked. He's never seen Jon look so serious. "I mean it, it's really impressive."

Spencer smiles at him and opens his mouth to respond when he is interrupted by Ryan shouting, "No talking during the movie!"

At first, Spencer thinks that Ryan is talking to Jon, and he's about to tell him off when Brendon protests. "But Ryan! You've seen this like a thousand times, you told me, and so you know that you have to quote this part, it's classic!"

"I don't care. No talking means no talking."

They fall back into silence. Spencer leans toward Jon and whispers, "Where were we?"

Jon smirks back at him. "I just said something charming and deep and true, by the way, and you were about to tell me how awesome I am."

"Right," Spencer confirms, pressing his lips to Jon's. "You're awesome," he informs Jon, sliding his fingers through Jon's hair and kissing him slowly and thoroughly.

"POPCORN BREAK!" Brendon suddenly shouts, jumping onto the floor before anyone can blink. Spencer pulls away from Jon abruptly, staring at the TV and not looking at Brendon.

"You are not bringing popcorn into this bed, Brendon Urie," Ryan protests.

Brendon ignores him and opens the closet, somehow knowing exactly where the popcorn is. "Come on, I know how much you love popcorn, you buy some every time you see a movie."

"If I told you I was just buying it so that I could talk to you, would you come back up here and not get artificial butter all over my comforter?"

"You say the sweetest things. But no." The popcorn pops slowly, finally finishes, and Brendon clambers back up onto Ryan's bunk. As Ryan unpauses the movie, Brendon tells him in a stage whisper, "They were totally making out, by the way."

Spencer drops his head onto Jon's shoulder as Jon laughs silently. "You know, you can be a real jerk sometimes, Brendon," Ryan responds.

"Mmm," Brendon agrees, leading Spencer to believe he is snuggling up to Ryan and not listening to what Ryan is actually saying.

Jon wraps his arms around Spencer and pulls him closer. Spencer looks up and captures Jon's lips in his.

Before the movie ends, they fall asleep tangled up together. Later, Ryan shows him pictures that Brendon asked him to take for "blackmail purposes." Spencer can't bring himself to mind. He prints his favorite version and tapes it up next to Jon's stalker shot of him. He has a good feeling that the wall will be filled with all kinds of photos before the semester ends.

After that, who knows?


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