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Brendon stumbled as soon as they were off the stage. It took Ryan a little by surprise, even though it shouldn't have. Brendon had fucking puked on stage. But then he'd come back, and sung as hard as before, danced around as much as ever. So yeah, him tripping over his own feet caught Ryan off-guard. Luckily, not so much that he couldn't catch Brendon.

Jon said, "Yeah, okay," and pulled Brendon away, literally picking him up in a child's hold.

Brendon mumbled, "My hero."

Spencer said, "Sure. He splatters puke on my kit and he gets treated like a princess," but Ryan saw how Spencer was glancing over at Brendon, who was all but panting. Zack was manfully not laughing at Jon's obvious efforts to keep Brendon up and safe. He tried to take over, but Jon was having none of it.

Zack picked Spencer up instead. "Jesus. I thought you guys came from Vegas."

And well, okay, fair enough, but Vegas had never been hot like this, not with the suffocating humidity factored in, and there was a reason why Vegas shows were overwhelmingly played indoors.

Once they were in the car, Ryan grabbed as many bottles of water as he could hold and passed them out, opening Brendon's up for him. Brendon smiled tiredly. "Thanks."

Ryan just tipped his own bottle in Brendon's direction and started drinking. It was freaking him out, how the first thing Brendon had done when they'd gotten in the car was to get as far away from all of them as he could. Logically he understood that body heat was just too much for Brendon to take at the moment, but it was scary and wrong, all the same. He closed his eyes and pretended to sleep for the duration of the ride. Spencer's hand settled in his hair and Ryan said, "Hey."

Spencer said, "I'll wake you when we get there."


Brendon insisted on walking into the hotel but let the three of them crowd him a little, just in case. He sat down in the elevator, and didn't protest when Spencer pulled him up and draped one of Brendon's arms over his shoulder. Brendon said, "Sorry 'bout--"

Spence said, "Bren."

They all went into the room Brendon and Jon had been slated to share. Brendon said, "Cold shower," and started to head in that direction.

Jon said, "Uh uh. What, did none of you guys go to summer camp?"

Ryan imagined he looked as confused as Spencer. Jon just shook his head. "You have to start with lukewarm. Anything colder could send you into shock."

Brendon pouted. "But I'm hot, Jon Walker."

"Sez you," Jon said, and pulled him by the arm into the bathroom. Ryan looked over at Spencer and the two of them followed. Jon was already running the water, testing its temperature. Ryan went over and plucked the buttons on Brendon's shirt open. Spencer was prepping a toothbrush, which he then gave to Brendon. Brendon looked at him with an awe and worship that would have unsettled Ryan if he hadn't known exactly how Brendon felt.

Ryan got Brendon out of his shoes and pants while he was brushing the worst of the taste from his mouth and Jon declared the water, "Ready."

Brendon made another face at Jon, but rinsed his mouth and climbed in. No sooner had the water hit than he was screaming, "Fuck! Fuck! I thought you said this was lukewarm, Walker!"

"Well, not compared to your body temperature," Jon said, mildly, reasonably. Spencer looked down, not really hiding his smile at all.

"I hate all you fuckers," Brendon said, but continued to stand under the spray, breath coming quickly. When it started to even out, Jon turned down the temperature. This time, Brendon just nodded at him a little.

"Hey, Bren, it okay if I--" Jon started.

"Yeah, I think-- I'm cool enough now."

Ryan figured that was permission enough for all of them, so he stripped alongside Jon, and as soon as Spencer saw that, he hopped on the bandwagon as well. It was a tight fit, the shower not really made for four grown men--relatively tiny though they might be--but they knew how to fit in spaces that they shouldn't have been able to. Spencer cleaned Brendon up, keeping his hands light on Brendon's skin, trusting Jon and Ryan to keep him balanced.

When they had managed to scrub the worst of the show off themselves, they got out, Brendon's skin finally slightly cool to the touch. Ryan took a towel and dried Brendon's hair with it, while Jon and Spencer dried him off. They took care of themselves then, before heading into the other room. There was a room service cart with a pitcher of water, pain killers, and chilled fruits sitting there, a note from Zack sitting on the cart: "Eat. Or else." Brendon laid into the water and pills without delay.

Ryan picked up a peice of honey dew melon, because it was one of Brendon's favorites and said, "Open."

Brendon opened nicely but caught Ryan's fingers in his mouth when Ryan tried to extract them. Ryan rolled his eyes, but he was relieved that Brendon was feeling playful again, if only just a little. It wasn't like Ryan hadn't seen Brendon play through adversity, through heartbreak and being knocked out cold, but there had been something in the pure energy Brendon had expended for a crowd of people who had never seen them, probably wouldn't see them again for a long time, despite his body telling him it was time to give up.

Ryan tugged his fingers free and leaned in to kiss Brendon lightly. Spencer squeezed his way in between them, pushing Ryan aside with one hip and offering up a strawberry. Jon tried his best to be patient, but in the end had to pull Spencer back so that he could get in with his pineapple slice. Ryan chewed on a star fruit and watched. Then he picked out a raspberry and took his turn.


They only let Brendon head toward the bed once he'd finished a full two glasses of water. He made noises about their tyranny. They ignored him.

Eventually, though, when he had done as they told him, they pulled back the covers and let Brendon slip into the sheets, cooled by the air conditioning that they'd turned down almost from the moment they'd entered the room. Spencer made to tuck Brendon in and Brendon said, "No cuddles? I fucking deserve cuddles. Even if I did puke on Spencer's kit."

"We thought--" Ryan started.

"Cold enough, now, Ross. Get in this bed."

In some ways, it was an even tighter fit than the shower. Brendon pressed himself into Ryan, made space for Jon, pulled Spencer all but on top of them, until he was able to settle almost over Ryan, his hand tucked against Brendon's hip. Jon said, "Happy now?" but Brendon was already asleep.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile