When the storm hits it comes seemingly from out of nowhere, but that could be--Ryan reflects--because he's from Nevada, and Nevada doesn't have storms like this. Nevada's storms are things of energy and light and sound, things that comfort Ryan in the slow onset of summer even as he knows not to go too close, not to touch.
The prettiest things are often the most dangerous.
This storm isn't pretty, but it's plenty dangerous. It hits somewhere between Little Rock and Tulsa. The first part isn't so bad, there's wind and rain and it's a little bit scary because the bus sways with it.
Brendon's pretty excited by it, running from one side of the bus to the other to watch the way the world seems to erupt around them, all jagged, splintered whites and blues in the midst of pitch black.
Things go still in the wake of the tearing, driving violence of the rain and for a second Ryan thinks it's over and they're all fine. Then something swirls in his chest, the same warning system he's had for as long as he's needed a warning system--pretty much his whole life.
The bus driver pulls over and says, "We have to get off."
"What?" Spencer asks, and Ryan totally, totally agrees.
"We have to get off and lie in the ditch next to the shoulder."
"Are you insane?" Ryan asks.
"No," Jon says, "he's from the Midwest."
By the time he finishes the word "Midwest", Jon's already hauling Brendon and Ryan to the front of the bus, one hand in each of their shirts. Spencer follows, because Spencer's an action-oriented kind of guy, and they all trust Jon not to deliberately get them killed.
Jon deposits Ryan and Brendon right next to each other, pushing them to the ground and saying, "Lie flat, keep your arms above your head, and for fuck's sake, Brendon, don't get curious."
Ryan follows directions, staying as still as he can through the sheer and utter terror until he hears Brendon's plaintive, "Ryan?"
Then he moves because, oncoming tornado or no, he's not leaving Brendon alone, not sounding like that. He lays down atop Brendon, bringing his hands up like Jon told him. His lips are pressed to Brendon's knuckles and he bites lightly, says, "Hey."
"There are days when I think being a local band wouldn't have been so bad."
Ryan smiles even through the rushing in his head that sounds like wind and destruction. "You'd have gotten restless sooner or later."
He doesn't think Brendon hears him, the sound of the tornado too near, and there's a pull to it, though not nearly enough to suck him in, just enough to remind him of the danger of the entity, its power. Somewhere in his mind he realizes how far from it they must be, that it can't take them, and he thinks, stay away, you can't have this, and hunches himself as tightly over Brendon as he can.
Afterward there is a silence. It is not the same silence of before the storm, it is merely the absence of so much noise.
Ryan wonders how long it was; he knows it couldn't have been as long as it felt.
Brendon asks, "So, we're still alive?"
Ryan laughs against the backs of Brendon's hands. Shakily, he takes his hands from his head and moves them to where he is holding Brendon, keeping him near.
"Think you could maybe get off of me now? You're heavier than you look."
And Ryan will, but he's got Brendon where he wants him and for a second, just a second, he's not going anywhere.