Chapter 15 - Man in the Box (Alice In Chains ; 1992)

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"Are you sure he's even in his room," Brendon asked as we entered the Art building. "It's after six o'clock, shouldn't he be home already?"

I gripped his hand in mine softly and smiled sideways at him. "H-He likes to stay late t-to grades some drawings and s-such," I said softly, earning a soft 'oh' from him. We walked down the empty hallway in a comfortable silence, our hands linked together as we made our way to Mr. Way's classroom, and I couldn't help but smile absentmindedly. If we can get this cleared, Brendon will be coming with me to Chicago and I can hold his hand, touch him, kiss him and just see him everyday.

I won't have to miss him.

We made it to Mr. Way's door, noticing the light shining from underneath, and I brought my hand up and softly knocked against the door. I brought my hand back down, shooting a sideways glace towards Brendon as we nervously awaited someone to open the door. Who opened it, however, we were not expecting to see.

"Ryan," Frank said in a slightly confused tone, "what are you doing here so late?"

I glanced over at Brendon, who seemed to be just as confused as I was, before turning back to Mr. Iero. "W-We came to talk to M-Mr. Way about something," I started softly, :B-but seeing as you're here as w-well, that's even better."

Frank was about to speak, before a voice cut him off from behind. "Frank, love, who's at the door?"

My eyes widened and a small smile was threatening to reach my lips as I turned toward Brendon. "No shit," Brendon said with a slightly breathless laugh.

Frank flushed slightly before responding to Mr. Way. "It's Ryan," he said softly, "and who I can only assume is Brendon."

"Oh," Mr. Way said, in a tone that wasn't quite describable. "Well, let them in."

Frank stepped back inside the room, allowing Brendon and I to enter and my eyes immediately went to the two of them. "H-Hi, Mr. Way."

He waved his hand dismissively and smiled politely at me. "Ryan, please," he said softly, "outside of class, please call me Gerard. Or Gee, whichever you so choose."

I nodded gently and tugged Brendon along with me to grab two stools and sit them in front of Gerard's desk. My eyes flickered back and forth between Frank and Gerard and I couldn't help the smile that broke out onto my face. "A-Are we g-going to discuss the elephant in the r-room?"

The two older men looked at each other, both of their cheeks flushing slightly but sweet smiles adorning their faces. Gerard was the first to speak, facing me with a knowing look. "Remember when I said that Frank was the best man at my wedding?"

I nodded softly, my eyebrows furrowing slightly at the memory from just earlier this week.

Gerard reached over and took Frank's hand in his before turning back to Brendon and I. "Well," he said fondly, "that's because he was standing next to me at the altar. What man could be better than that?"

I found myself smiling fondly between the two of them, glancing over to Brendon, who was also smiling at the two older men. I glanced back at them, my smile still on my face. "T-That's really amazing."

Frank nodded softly before turning to face Brendon and I. "But," he said with a a soft laugh, "enough about us. You said you came here to talk to us something?"

I nodded gently, turning back to Brendon just briefly before turning back to Frank. "W-Well," I started, clearing my throat, feeling my nerves catch up to me, "t-the thing is, w-well, I was thinking earlier, y-you wanted my entire d-display to be portraits of B-Brendon, b-but it won't exactly be e-easy for me to c-create new p-pieces of him without him b-being there."

Frank nodded, and I could see Gerard smiling out of my peripheral, so I continued. "S-So, I was wondering-- w-well, Brendon and I were wondering, i-if it would be possible to have him come w-with us to Chicago?"

I ended my question with slight apprehension, feeling my nerves reaching full velocity and I felt a panic attack coming on. It immediately went away, however, when I felt Brendon's hand slip into mine. I turned to face him, seeing that he was giving me a small smile, and I felt my entire body relax as I returned it before turning back to Frank and Gerard.

Frank smiled softly as he clapped his hands together. "You pretty much read my mind, Ryan," he said with a soft laugh. "Gee and I were just talking about that today, and we thought it would be absolutely pointless for you to have to create that display without your muse present."

I flushed as he said the word "muse," just like I had told him earlier this week. I could feel Brendon's eyes on me, and I flushed even brighter but smiled nonetheless.

"So," Gerard spoke up, "it's settled. We'll get in contact with the dean on Monday, and we'll have him sign a travel waiver for Brendon as well as for you. Remember," he began adding on, "we'll be gone for a month, so pack things that you'll have to have with you. Frank and I will provide you both with tailored suits when we attend the Galleria at the end of October, so that's something that you don't need to worry about."

Brendon and I nodded, the both of us smiling like lunatics as I hopped off of my stool and over to Frank, throwing my arms around him. "T-Thank you," I whispered, my voice think with emotion. "Thank you s-so much."

Frank hugged me back, laughing gently before pulling back. "You're going to do great in Chicago," he said sincerely. "You both are."

I looked back at Brendon, seeing a small blush on his cheeks as I walked back over to him, taking his hand in mine as Gerard spoke up again.

"Now that that's settled," he said softly, "I'd like to spend time with my husband so, you two, shoo. I'll see you both in class on Monday."

Brendon and I laughed gently as we nodded and headed toward the door, bidding our goodbyes as we exited the room, closing the door behind us. We stood in the empty hallway for a few moments, completely frozen before Brendon turned to me and practically jumped into my arms, wrapping his around my neck as he pressed his lips against mine. After a few moments of passionately kissing one another, he pulled back and looked into my eyes. "You don't have to leave me," he whispered gently.

I smiled softly, placing him on his feet before pecking his lips again. "I'd never d-dream of leaving you," I whispered softly.

He giggled softly and let his hand slide down my arm to link with mine as we started walking out of the building.

"By the way," he spoke with a soft chuckle, "'muse,' huh?

I blushed slightly and nudged his shoulder. "Shut up."

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