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Victoria had a lot of things to be grateful for on Thanksgiving. She had her band, her health, and newly found money. Anyone who didn’t know her personally would have loved to have her life, though, on this Thanksgiving, Victoria would do anything to trade lives with someone else. Up until last week, Victoria would have understood the other people’s reactions. She was one girl, in a band with four guys. Four guys who were funny, sweet, and good-looking. There was a lot to be said for the girls who were jealous of her, but today? Today not a single one of them would want to switch with her.

Getting home for Thanksgiving Day is a stressful situation, so Victoria wasn’t surprised when that box of tampons she had bought went untouched. She had dealt with a lot of stressful situations, from speaking to people about getting on that last flight, to possibly upgrading to first class because she didn’t want an aisle seat. There was nothing worse than being on a long airplane ride home, and getting your elbows crashed into by a cart. Nothing worse until now. If someone had told Victoria that she was going to wake up on Thanksgiving morning to go first to see her family, and then to see the guys, with something like this on her mind, she would have laughed. There was no way this would happen to her. Only, it was.

That ungodly box ahead of her read first response, and that was what she was hoping for. Because in a few hours she was pretty sure that she was going to have to break the news not only to her parents, but to her band mates that in as little as nine months, they might have their youngest roadie yet. The worst part? The father of the baby wasn’t the nicest guy. Victoria didn’t need him; it wasn’t like the baby was really going to have to worry about having a male influence in its life, but she didn’t want to tell her parents that the one night she had a little too much to drink, her morals were pushed aside and she had sex with a pig. She put the box in her basket, and rushed to the cash register. She quickly paid and walked to her parents’ house. Victoria quickly excused herself to the bathroom once inside, but as soon as she pulled the little test out of the box, she felt her stomach sink.

Five minutes isn’t a long time by anyone’s standards. But for the five minutes it took for that test to do what it had to, Victoria was scared. And when the timer rang to signify she could look, she felt a paralyzing shock course through her body. She picked up the stick and carefully read the two words. Not Pregnant. She instantly felt relief. Victoria could afford to raise a baby; she was old enough to raise a baby. But she wasn’t ready. She wanted to have a baby with someone who meant something to her; someone who would raise the child with her. For the first time in a long time on Thanksgiving Day, Victoria had something to be truly thankful for. A second chance.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pete’s used to putting up with Patrick when he gets in one of his moods. When he gets worked up the way he does, there's no talking to him. You just have to grit your teeth and hope you can make it through the day. But lately, the moods are coming on more and more, and they're harder to shake. Usually he's a little offensive, but now he's saying things he doesn't belong saying. Revealing things he doesn't belong revealing. Like how Ashlee and Pete have been fighting lately. That the reason they were fighting was because Ashlee wanted another baby, and Pete? He just didn't think he was up to the challenge right now. Pete lets it go until it gets so bad the four guys can't even be in a room together anymore. When it's at the point where they're all angry and arguing, where Joe and Andy have to go home to cool off, Pete knows it's done. Patrick's mood is going to change, and Pete's going to be the one to change it.

Pete finally snaps the day they're bringing Andy and Joe to the airport. Patrick raised hell all morning, yelling everything he could at the two guys, until both the others told Pete they were just going to get a taxi. At Pete's insistence they headed down to the coffee shop, and Pete said he would meet up with them later. He had a bit of business to tend to first. And as soon as the door slammed he turned toward Patrick. Looked the other man right in the eye, and shook his head no. He could see the fear in Patrick's eyes. Leave it to him to figure out it was too far after he had already crossed the line.

"Patrick, you're in a lot of trouble." Pete stated plainly. There was nothing in his voice. No anger, no sadness. Just that firm tone that told Patrick if he tried to run he was going to be sorry. Sighing Pete walks over to Patrick, and tells him he thinks it’s wise that he stand in the corner. Pete’s too angry to deal with him right now. And Patrick knows well enough that it’s best not to test Pete when he’s already like this. He whimpers, defeated but moves into the corner. It seems like an eternity before Pete is telling him he can turn around. But the instant Patrick turns around his heart drops. He didn’t want it to be like this. He didn’t want this to happen, he just wanted everyone to leave him alone.

“Pete, I’m sorry.” He offers, backing up until he hits the wall. Pete has to fight back a smile. It's cute when Patty regresses like this. In a few moments time, he goes from being a hurricane of hurtful words to a little boy, scared and confused.

"Patrick, there's no way out of this. You know what happens when you get like this." Pete answers, shaking his head. He sees Patrick go to open his mouth to argue, and he smiles when Patrick closes it again.

"Come on Patty, let's get this over with." Pete says, breaking the silence. He motions his friend over to him. He knows this is the hardest part for both of them. Patrick hates when Pete slowly unbuckles his belt, undoes his pants and pulls them down. Pete hates the ragged breathing over his knee. Hates knowing that in a minute, that man who has become so much more than a band member to him will be crying. But Pete knows it has to be done. Somewhere deep down, Patrick knows it too.

It's why he never struggles. Why when that first smack lands, aside from the involuntary yelp, he doesn't move. Why he lets the smacks reign down on his poor bottom, and all he does is flinch. This part is harder for Pete. Pete hates watching the color turn from that cream color to that red. That angry shade of red. He hates hearing Patrick's breath get hitched. And he feels awful when his hand moves for the brush. That brush he keeps hidden away. It's only for Patrick. He'd never dream on using it on anyone else. It has a wicked sound, and apparently a wicked sting to go along with it. And at the first hit, Pete sees a leg kick, and he knows it won't be long now. In a few seconds Patrick will be crying, and Pete will know it's true. He really is sorry. Pete hits him again, and at the sound he winces. This part is the worst. He reigns down the next five, and he hears the first signs of tears in Patrick's voice.

"Pete, please?" The voice is so little, and Pete tips his knee up just slightly. Hits Patrick's thighs twice with the brush, and cringes when Patrick begins to cry. Pete lifts him back up and places him where his sore ass won't touch anything. He holds him close, and sighs.

"Patrick, I'm going to be honest, if anything like this happens again, you're going to be in more trouble than you know what to do with. You want to act like a kid? Fine, you've got my attention. I'll treat you like a kid from now on." Pete stops and rubs Patrick's back softly, before continuing. "I'm going to bring Andy and Joe to the airport. When I get back i expect to find you in that bed, sleeping. Or you'll be one sorry boy. Got it?" He asks, standing Patrick up.

Patrick slowly pulls up his boxers and pants, sniffles and nods, before slowly walking off to his bedroom.

When Pete returned a few hours later, he walked into Patrick’s bedroom to see his best friend sitting there. He may have won the battle this time, but the war was far from over.

 
 
 
 
 
 

CDs, DVDs, Pictures, all neatly divided into two separate piles. Sure, it was hard. Neither of them would deny the other that. Still, it was something that they both felt was necessary. Not only for themselves, but for the band as a whole. They weren’t happy anymore, and that showed. Rather than disappoint the fans, they simply went their separate ways. The logic was there, but it didn’t make it any easier. They had both cried at first, but the time for tears was over now. They were still Ryden, in every way except one. The couple many of the fans had imagined (and was eventually confirmed true) was over. There was no way they could stay together. They were too different. Ryan was still his best friend. The same kid he knew all those years ago, but the feelings were not there. The feelings he had convinced himself didn’t exist, were really gone altogether now.

Brendon began piling his things into a suitcase. It took all his willpower not to run to Ryan and beg him to stay. He knew that Ryan needed this, and he would be selfish to keep him where he wasn’t happy.

Brendon knew this was going to be the hardest part. He stared down at the jacket he and Ryan often shared. This was it. For Brendon, this jacket was really a symbol of the end of their relationship. One of them had to get it, but who? Brendon wanted it. He had always thought he had looked hot in it, but Ryan had too. And it was as much Ryan’s as it was his. What gave Brendon the right to keep it? Biting his lip, Brendon took a walk down memory lane. A melancholy smile crossed his features as he remembered Ryan when he had first worn that jacket during an interview. Brendon had sat there, glad that he was behind a desk, because someone wasn’t being so cooperative. He looked at Ryan and tried to concentrate on the interview, but again and again all he had seen was that jacket hitting the floor. He was the passionate love that followed. And when he was called back to attention he saw the blush rise against Ryan’s features. They both knew who the fantasies were about.

Although he was alone in the room, Brendon felt an overwhelming urge to speak. Not to anyone in particular, but to say everything that hadn’t been said. Conversation was slim around the house lately. Neither wanted to hurt the other, so they said nothing. The damage was already done. There was nothing more they could do. Sighing softly, Brendon zipped his bag. He was finally finished packing. He knew from now on things were going to be different. He wouldn’t wake up to a certain someone hogging the covers. He wouldn’t have to share the bathroom mirror. Brendon picked up his bag, placed his key on the kitchen table and walked out of the room.

Ryan entered the house later that night and found the jacket lying on the bed that once was theirs. It brought tears to his eyes. He had fully expected Brendon to take the jacket. A smile came to his face as he read the note attached.

"Ryan, this was always yours. I love you and Good Luck.

Brendon."