Title: Coping Mechanisms
Summary: When Ryan and Spencer freak out, they rely on each other to make the world make sense again.
Disclaimer: I do not actually know whether Jon Walker dresses to the left, much less make any other claims as to this fic being a representation of fact.
A/N: For liketheroad, a little late for her birthday (sorry about that!): may you, too, always have the people who ground you; I know you're one of mine. The fluffy bunny for this came eons ago, but I wrote it out properly just because I know Ryan/Spencer makes you smile as much as it does me. Many thanks to ignipes for coping with my mdash splices; the kittens are for her.
"—and I couldn't stop myself, I seriously could not stop, I had to do it, I did it, I just—I don't know what I'm gonna do." Ryan heaves out a breath and waits for the breathe, Ry that always comes after pouring his heart out to Spencer, the it's not that big a deal.
"OH. MY. GOD," Brendon says delightedly. "Oh my god, this, this is huge. This is the best thing since that time we put two bags of marshmallows into the microwave and even more explosive."
Ryan groans and tilts his head over the back of the sofa, not feeling even a little bit less overwhelmed. He reminds himself that he didn't go to Spencer for a reason, and he tries to recreate Spencer in his head, breathe, Ry, and it's almost working until--
"Nothing in the whole wide world will be the same ever again!" Brendon beams idiotically. "This is the most monumental news in the history of ever."
"Oh, god," Ryan whimpers, and slumps forward to put his head between his knees. He distantly remembers Ginger telling him to do that in case of hyperventilation, that one time she'd seen how much Red Bull Brendon could put away in half an hour.
Brendon leans over and pats him on the back. "Cheer up, Ryan. This is the kind of thing they're going to ask us about on Behind the Music."
Ryan whimpers again and tries to hear the breathe, Ry in his head, since it's becoming clear nobody's going to say it out loud.
When Jon walks in, the second thing he notices is the ironing board.
The first thing he notices is that Spencer is holding Jon's lucky boxers with the kittens up in the light, frowning critically at the fly.
"Um," he says, intelligently.
Spencer looks over at him, still frowning. "You dress to the left, right?"
Spencer raises an eyebrow at him—like Jon is being weird, the hypocrite—and shrugs. "Okay, then." He puts the boxers down on the ironing board and picks up the iron, which is puffing out a small, cranky cloud of steam.
Spencer doesn't look up from the hemlines he's ironing perfectly straight. "Hm?"
"Where did you get an ironing board?"
"Housekeeping," he says, nonchalantly poking at the pleats with the nose of the iron. "Like room service, but for ironing boards."
"Oh." Jon can't think of anything to say to that, really. He casts about helplessly for a topic of conversation and spots his duffle bag lying flat and deflated on the floor of the closet, below the rows of clean, neatly pressed slacks and shirts.
Oh. Oh. Of course. Spencer's freaking out.
They've all seen it—on one memorable occasion, they came back to the bus to find everything they ate off or out of stacked on the couch cushions while Spencer laid shelf paper. The standard Spencer response to any kind of setback is to set out to improve something. Little things, breaking his last drumstick or losing a shoe, mean he'll try to style Brendon's hair or show Zack he's appreciated by buying him an extra soda at a rest stop. Spencer fixes other people's problems when he can't fix his own.
The bigger the problem, the bigger the task Spencer'll set himself; when Jackie crashed the car, Ryan caught him just before he tried to clean out between the lounge cushions, not normally a place human beings dare to put their hands.
Usually Ryan does catch him before he starts on the bigger stuff. Ryan's good like that: he'll distract Spencer by giving him busy work, something smaller scale, but time-consuming, brain-consuming, that Spencer can focus on while he processes. (This is how rose vests are born.) It's Ryan's job to stop laundry sprees before they start.
Jon watches Spencer iron underwear and wonders despairingly where, exactly, Ryan is now.
Ryan's trying to escape from Brendon ("I need coffee." "I'll come with you. This deserves an extremely large caffeinated beverage!" "I'm going to walk." "I need the exercise!") by walking very fast, with his very long legs, down a sidewalk in very bad condition.
He's trying to escape public recognition by wearing very, very dark sunglasses.
The two things don't combine well, the emergency room tech tells him sympathetically. Ryan just knows Brendon's suppressing an inappropriate snigger.
Spencer bursts into the hospital like a force of nature, Jon trailing behind. In ninety seconds he has one nurse scurrying for water and painkillers, and another for the appropriate paperwork. He's just beginning to demand a doctor in his very best Rock Star hissy voice when Ryan, sitting up on his elbows, says, low, "Spence."
Spencer whirls around and goes to stand by Ryan's head. "What, Ryan, what can I do?"
"I think I might have a fever," Ryan says, his voice tight with pain. "I'm hot. Fever's one of the broken bone things, right?"
"Breathe, Ry," Spencer says, laying a hand on Ryan's forehead consideringly. "I don't think you have a fever."
"Help me out of my jacket?"
"Of course." Spencer tugs at the sleeve until it pops off a bony elbow, then eases his arm underneath Ryan's back to help support him as he wriggles out of the stiff, checkered wool. Ryan flings the coat to the chair beside the bed with a sigh of relief and leans back into Spencer's arm, abruptly aware—again--of how close Spencer's face is, how blue his eyes are, how--
Spencer kisses him first this time, though.