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Shutyourface, slashxmistress, Bob/Spencer, Easter

The first year they'd been together, Bob had called Spencer on Easter and said, "Happy Easter?" because he wasn't really clear on exactly what Spencer's brand of Christianity was. It didn't seem to involve as much bitterness as Ryan's, nor as much angst as Brendon's, but it wasn't exactly as lackadaisical as Jon's, either, from what Bob could tell. He knew if Ryan had been in the room his eyes would have gone wide and he would have shaken his head in a way that he thought was surreptitious, but was actually really obvious and Spencer--who knew Ryan better than anyone--always noticed.

Instead, Spencer just said, "Fucking stupid-special holiday," and hung up. Bob listened to the silence of the other line for a few moments, and then let it be. Sometimes, Spencer needed to be left to his own devices.

He called Ryan later and asked, "Spence okay?"

"Homesick. You mentioned Easter, didn't you?"

"I need warnings about this shit before, Ross, not after."

"Then you should have dated me. Spencer's the kind of friend who does that shit, not the other way around."

This time, it was Bob who hung up. He called Brendon and asked, "What kinda things did Spencer do at home that makes him homesick?"

"Easter egg hunts," Brendon said. Then, "What did you do on Easter?"

"Nothing," Bob told him succinctly.

"Oh." Brendon was quiet for a second. "You're gonna need help, then, huh?"

Bob thought that was pretty fucking obvious.

*


Mikey went with him to pick out the eggs. They were all on sale at the nearest CVS because Easter was over and who the fuck needed twelve Easter eggs two days after the holiday? Bob really hoped this wasn't the moment the paparazzi caught up with him. Mikey said, "Oh, this one has sparkles." Bob held out the basket, and let Mikey do his worst.

*


Two years of dating Spencer James Smith V and another four of having a bandmember who had an on-again off-again thing with the owner of Spencer's label and it still consistently took time and effort and a lot of convincing for Bob to get Panic's touring schedule with the proper hotels if he wasn't involving Spencer. There was a trick, there clearly was, but Bob hadn't figured it out yet and nobody wanted to help him with it. Assholes.

He managed, though, and Spencer called him when he got to the first hotel with an egg waiting for him. Inside was the note: "Sorry you're homesick. I'm you-sick."

Spencer said, "You're a tool."

"Happy belated Easter," Bob told him.

"How many of these are there?"

"One million," Bob told him, not even trying for a Dr. Evil impression. Spencer would know.

"Getting cheap on me. Gotta consider inflation."

Bob rolled his eyes. Spencer said, "Uh. Me too. The you-sick thing."

"Yeah," Bob said, because he already knew.

pen_rhovan_nin, Bob/Brian/Frank, Halloween

"Brian," Bob said, somewhat amazed at himself for actually doing this, again.

"There are actually other bands I manage, you realize this, right?"

"None of the others allow you to sodomize their members."

"Sodomize, really Bryar?"

"Oh fuck off. You don't have to tour with Geeway all the time."

"You signed on for that shit knowing what you were getting yourself into," Brian said, without sympathy. Brian was a dickwad.

Bob said, "Brian. Be here. Or I'm dumping you," and hung up. He'd never follow through, but if he wasn't careful, Brian would get him to admit that. Bob hated dating smart people.

*


"Um. Gee?" Frank asked, the quiet bleariness of not being entirely awake blurring the curiosity in the question.

Gerard heard it. "Happy birthday."

"Asshole," Bob muttered. "That was my line."

"Sorry," Gerard said, sounding entirely unrepentant. "Can I say it now?"

Frank said, "No. Tell me why you've got a pen to my face."

"Stop moving," Gerard said instead, and, "That's his line, too."

"I wanted to give you a costume," Bob said, before Frank could turn his head and fuck Gerard's work up. "But I suck at art."

Frank held Gerard's hand away from his face for a couple of seconds. "Huh. That was sweet of you."

"Thanks," Bob said, and they both let Gerard get back to work.

*


Gerard did a beautiful job. Frank looked like an ethereal crow. He wouldn't let Bob kiss him, for fear of fucking it up, which sucked, but he was so happy with the art that Bob couldn't be that bothered. There was always that night. Frank was shit at holding out on him--he was too much for cuddles. Bob was pretty sure that was all it was going to be if Brian didn't get it together and make it in for the festivities.

Cuddles were the perfect appetizer to homicide.

*


It wasn't that Brian was a bad boyfriend; he wasn't. He just got stupid. He got to forgetting that no matter how long they were on the road without him, they were still always waiting for him, and when he forgot that he did retarded things, like staying away even longer in a gambit to guard himself from being hurt. It was a pain in Bob's ass.

Once they got him to come around, Frank could subdue his fears with a combination of physical attacks and promises that generally sounded like, "Next year, I will totally bury your ass at darts." (These sorts of threats were categorically untrue--Frank blew at darts, he didn't have the concentration for that type of game.)

Bob called Brian four times from the hours of eleven to two, only to find Brian's phone turned off. He would have made Ray call, but he didn't really like tattling on Brian. So mostly he was just left to say, "Fucking Christ, Schechter," and hope like hell that the radio silence meant he was on a plane.

*


When they got to the hotel that night, the front desk handed out the keys. Frank and Bob somehow ended up with the penthouse suite. Frank said, "Mikeyway!"

Mikey said, "Wasn't me. Would've been if I'd thought of it, but I didn't." Mikey seemed bothered by this lack, despite the fact that someone had done it anyway.

Frank looked in puzzlement at Bob, but Bob shook his head. Gerard asked, "Maybe someone from the label?"

Ray fake coughed, "Gift horse."

"He has a point," Frank said. Then, "Party in my room!"

*


There was a knock at the door just as Frank was really getting his freak on, mixing soda suicides for Mikey and Gerard, who were both being very patient about the whole thing, even saying, "trick or treat" in order to receive their--somewhat terrifying looking--drinks.

Bob got up, wondering if they were in for a room service surprise from their mysterious benefactor. Instead, it was Brian. Bob said, "Jesus, nothing like waiting until the last minute, is there, Schechter?"

Brian asked, "He like the room?"

Bob pulled him inside, rolling his eyes. Frank bounded over and demanded, "Say 'trick or treat,' Schechter."

Obediently, Brian said, "Trick or treat."

Frank grinned. "Treat," he said, and kissed Brian carefully, neatly, so as not to smear the ink on his face. Bob thought, later, Iero, later, and smiled at Brian as well.

untiemybinds, seanarenay, Bob/Tom, Fourth of July

Mikey said, "Pete totally vouched for them," and Bob liked Pete and all, but his own taste in music didn't necessarily align with Wentz's. Still, he knew Gerard was off with Ray, writing, and Frank had come down with a cold--in the middle of fucking summer--that he was trying to sleep off. Bob wasn't going to consign Mikey to watching Empires alone, good or not.

Bob said, "You're buying me a beer."

Mikey said, "Yay," unironically.

*


It wasn't his thing, Empires, not really, but that was all right, because evidently Bob had taken to staring at young boys with hips and a way with guitars. Really, it would have been more convenient if he could have practiced this new bent on, say, Frank, who wasn't as young as Tom Conrad, but had hips and knew how to play his instrument. Sadly, this wasn't to be. (Or, Bob supposed, not all that sadly, when he considered how that probably would have broken Mikey's heart first, and the band second.)

Mikey said, "See? See. Pete said they were good."

And they were good, even if Bob might not have bought the album, so Bob said, "Yeah, okay," and went off to talk with the guys. Mikey hugged them all like they were long lost friends, when Bob was fairly sure he'd only met two of them, and he'd only talked to Sean maybe once, maybe. But that was Mikey. Bob wouldn't really have him any other way.

Sean stole Mikey and Bob found himself with Tom, Ryan and Max having gone off to watch someone else's set. For all its attractions, Bob really didn't miss Warped. Tom said, "So."

Bob said, "Like deep dish?"

Tom raised an eyebrow. "You telling me you can actually get the good shit out here?"

"C'mon," Bob said, keying up his phone to leave a message for Mikey.

*


It was the third of July and everything was closing early, but Carma's was a rock of twenty-four hour stability, so Bob wasn't surprised to see it being the only establishment on the block with lights on. It was almost dinnertime, Empires had played an afternoon slot, and the place was beginning to get crowded, but Bob had discovered Carma's back when he first started hanging out with My Chem, before they were even back in Jersey much, and there wasn't a person in the place--busboy to owner--who didn't know and like him. He was seated within five minutes.

June, Carma's daughter and co-owner of the restaurant, served them both waters and said, "Your regular?"

Bob asked Tom, "What do you eat?"

"Anything but anchovies."

Bob nodded at June. "And a pitcher of whatever's on tap."

She kissed the top of his head and walked off. Tom said, "You get that from the women a lot?"

"Only the ones who've seen me eat."

*


Tom ate pizza messily, which shouldn't have been attractive, but sort of was in its very abandon. He asked, mid-chew, but without spewing, "You like my band?"

"You play like you know what you're doing," Bob said honestly.

Tom's smile was twisted when he said, "There's more than a few people who would disagree with you."

Bob took a sip of beer to wash out the taste that comment had left in his throat. "There's more than a few people who are morons."

*


Tom ended up coming back to the condo Bob kept in Jersey. Bob said, "It's better coffee than the hotel," and Tom said, "Well, there's an argument," and then stood awkwardly by Bob's door until Bob said softly, "Hey," and pulled him further inside.

Tom went easily. He said, "Yeah, this is probably weak at this point, but uh--"

"You usually do this with girls, when you do it?"

Tom nodded. Bob said, "Yeah, me too," and then he sat down on the couch and pulled Tom onto his lap. "You're hotter."

Tom said, "Bet you say that to all the girls," and kissed Bob.

*


Bob woke up to the smell of coffee and stumbled into the kitchen. Tom said, "Sorry, man, but I have to play today."

Bob just poured himself some coffee and said, "Morning."

Tom said, "There's uh. There's fireworks tonight. If you're into that."

Bob asked, "Are you? Into that?"

Tom said, "Yeah, a little."

Bob said, "I'll bring the popcorn."

adorkable37, Bob/Greta, Valentine's Day

Bob didn't so much like cooking, but he had a long history of needing to do it to survive, back before going out every night had been a viable financial possibility. Granted, most of his experience involved a microwave, but there were a few things he could make without it, important, central things like chocolate walnut fudge. Chocolate walnut fudge took seven ingredients, and roughly thirty minutes--not including cooling time. The hardest part of making it was hiding it from Frank until he could get it packaged up and shipped out to Greta. He enlisted Mikey's help on that one, well, Mikey and Gerard, since Gerard had been sitting there and refused to be left out of the plan. Ray had been sitting there, too, but he had been all too happy to avoid getting mixed up in the plan. All told, between the three of them, Bob only lost one block of fudge to the voracious Frank monster. And he suspected collusion. Gerard and Mikey looked way too innocent and upset when he asked about it to actually be either one.

He felt vaguely avenged when Frank's lactose intolerance kicked in and he spent most of the night slightly nauseated.

*


Greta called and said, "Holy shit, boyfriend mine, where did you get this?"

Bob said, "Happy Valentine's Day."

"Stop trying to distract me, Robert, I know all your tricks."

Bob was pretty sure all of his tricks went out the window the moment he so much as looked at Greta, but he said, "I made it."

There was a long pause. "Really?"

"My mom dated one of the chefs at this restaurant she worked at for a while when I was a kid. He taught me how and it stuck."

"Hm," she said, and he could hear her chewing softly. "There's a lot I don't know about you."

That was probably true. Most of the time Bob just let her talk. He liked hearing her voice more than he liked hearing his, and she had things to say that he'd never heard before, unlike his own stories. "Something you wanna know?"

She thought for a second. "What made you think I'd like fudge?"

"You like homemade things." Greta was a museum tribute to the things her friends made for her, from keychains to knitted scarves to picture frames to toothbrush holders.

"Yeah," she sounded happy. She was an easy read on happy, it was everything else that got harder.

Which was what made him ask, "Why wouldn't you like fudge? The only people I know who don't are either allergic to something in it, or vegan."

"Oh, no, I just thought maybe--"

Bob had a feeling he knew what was at the end of that sentence. He'd struggled with enough of his own shit on that front. It was that and only that that made him push, "You thought?"

"Nothing." She laughed, as if to show him it really was nothing, and Bob would have believed her except for the part where she really was easy to read when she was actually happy.

"Greta," he said softly.

She said, "Just, you know. Fat girls like fudge."

Bob closed his eyes, reigned in the part of him that wanted to punch something. Then he said, "You. Are. Not. Fat."

"No, I know, I know. But when I was a kid--"

"Yeah." Bob knew all about that. "But they were wrong."

"No, I really was pretty--"

"They were wrong," he said again. He's seen a couple of pictures of her as a kid. She was chubby, and pink, and every bit as sweet looking as the woman she grew into.

"I just didn't want you thinking it," she said. "But you don't, so--"

"You're gorgeous."

She giggled a little, a happy giggle. "You're not gonna be saying that when I eat all this fudge right up by myself."

Bob let her have her delusions. He would show her the error of her ways the next time they met up.

bluelittlepig, whoyouinvent, Bob/Gerard, Earth Day

There had been this one time, when Gerard was high as a kite and sort of giddy with saving-the-worldness, that he'd tried to organize a recycling colony on the bus. Ray had very nearly been killed by tripping over one of the multiple labeled boxes--if Bob remembered correctly, the plastics one--and had put an end to that right quick. He had explained to Gerard, very patiently, "Saving the environment will not balance out unintentional homicide."

Bob wasn't entirely sure he was correct about that, but the likelihood of their recyclables changing the course of the planet seemed small, and besides, Ray had figured out an easy way to store all the waste until they could get to places that had actual recycling centers. He spoiled Gerard like that. They all did.

*


Gerard's tendency toward small steps in the pursuit of Saving Planet Earth didn't go away once he cleaned up, they just became slightly less life-threatening--slightly. Earth Day was one of Gerard's favorite holidays--next to the enforced favorite of Halloween--because it was one day a year when more people than him thought about saving the world. He once told Bob--while not drunk--"Makes me feel less crazy, you know?"

Bob was pretty sure he'd meant lonely. Gerard sometimes used the two interchangeably.

*


He woke Gerard up by placing a thermos of coffee on his stomach. Gerard said, "Mmm," which Bob interpreted as "Warm," and possibly, "Oo, coffee." He said, "C'mon, we have an Earth Day field trip to get to."

Gerard opened one eye. "We do?"

Bob said, "We do."

Gerard took the coffee from him and went to figure out where he'd last seen his pants.

*


Bob drove them out to the nearest park that had been holding a Tree Planting Event--so advertised on the flier, caps and all. He had reserved Gerard a spot so that he would for sure get to plant a tree. There were several staffers at the event who were helping kids and their parents dig up the proper amount of soil and get the tree firmly rooted. Gerard and he waited patiently until a college-age looking girl came over and showed them how to do it, competent and satisfyingly dirty. Gerard managed to get dirt everywhere, but he was grinning like a maniac, so when the girl asked, "Look, I'm probably not supposed to do this, but could I have your autograph?" while looking at Gerard, Bob totally threw his in for free.

When she was gone Gerard said, "I'm naming it Jamie."

Bob wasn't surprised. Gerard named a lot of his most special things variants on Mikey's name. Bob said, "Definitely looks like a Jamie."

Gerard grinned and said, "This is the most awesome Earth Day ever," quite seriously, before hugging Bob and transferring at least half the dirt onto him. That was fine. They'd just have to shower together when they got back. Water was a precious resource. It wouldn't do to waste it.

sixwhitelies, Bob/Ryan, Labor Day

Ryan thinks too much. Bob's pretty sure it's not his fault, he was totally born that way, but it's the truth all the same. Ryan thinks more than anyone Bob knows, and Bob knows Gerard Way. That's some pretty fierce competition, right there. So it's not a big surprise that when Bob calls to say, "We've got a couple of weeks down time around Labor Day. Want me to come out and grill you up some meat?" Ryan's response is, "Labor Day confuses me," instead of, "Sure, Bob, enough red meat to feed a platoon sounds awesome."

Bob wouldn't be interested in coming and making him the meat if Ryan weren't so very much himself, though, so he says, "Oh?"

"It's just a stupid name. I mean, why would you name a holiday specifically about giving people time off work Labor Day?"

"Maybe they were being ironic."

"It's kinda just stupid."

"Okay, well, regardless, you look like you could stand to eat something."

"I don't like hamburgers. They look wrong and they're bumpy. It's gross."

"I know. Chicken and steak, I promise."

Ryan barters, "With honey barbecue sauce."

Bob rolls his eyes. He really doesn't know how he finds these people.

*


Ryan always takes a while to warm up to Bob again after they've been apart, as though he forgets that Bob is out there thinking about him, too. Bob worries that he might. Ryan isn't all that good at remembering that people care about him even when they don't have to watch over him day in and day out. The time between when Bob shows up and takes his shoes off and when Ryan unwinds and starts making stupid jokes about Bob's socks has become shorter and shorter of late. One of these days, it's going to disappear completely, Bob has an instinct for these things.

He looks even skinnier than the last time Bob saw him, no more than two months ago and Bob asks, "Spencer been over much?"

"He's been out of town, why?"

"Just wondering if I was going to get to see him," Bob lies. Ryan isn't the best at remembering to eat when the other guys aren't around. It's not that he doesn't get hungry, he's just busy doing other things and by the time he gets around to finding food for himself, he's not really that interested anymore.

"Thought you came to see me," Ryan says, watching Bob from shuttered eyelids. All the same, Bob thinks it's actually a joke.

"Why would I do something like that?" Bob asks, and kisses Ryan until he forgets the question.

*


Ryan asks, "Can I help?" when Bob sets out the meat. Ryan isn't really the best cook. It isn't so much a lack of ability as a lack of interest in paying attention.

Bob says, "Wanna pour the barbecue sauce?" and holds out the bottle. Ryan excels at opening up and dumping out. Bob lets it sit for a while, mixing brownies from a box and sticking potatoes in water to boil. Ryan watches, because for all that he can't pay attention to a piece of chicken or the timer on an oven, Ryan is damn good at keeping his eyes on Bob. It was one of the first things Bob noticed, back before Ryan even wanted him to.

Bob waits until early evening to get the grill going because September or no, Nevada is still baking, and the desert breeze won't come until the sun starts its downward tumble. Ryan asks, "Wanna root beer? Or I've got purple-flavored soda, I think." He checks the fridge. "Yep."

"Root beer's fine," Bob says. He's not sure he wants to know what the hell constitutes "purple flavored." He senses--when Ryan pours one for himself--that he's going to find out anyway. Ryan pours carefully, never allowing the foam to outpace him. He hands the glass to Bob and they head out onto the deck, Bob setting his drink aside to get dinner started.

*


Ryan eats ravenously, looking down at the food in surprise. Bob wants to say, "You're human, Ryan," but he leaves off until later, when Ryan will be sweaty and more pliant toward humor. Ryan tells him, "I love barbecue sauce," and means, "Thank you for making this, it's good."

Bob says, "You know shit about barbecue, Ross," and means, "I'm glad you like it."

rynia, Bob/Greta/Vicky T, St. Patrick's Day

The email had an e-ticket to Ireland and the message, "Be here. Or fucking else."

Bob wrote back, "Love you too, Victoria."

He was probably lucky not to get a virus the next time he opened up his inbox.

*


Vicky'd had Greta break the news to Bob, because it was fucking impossible to get upset with Greta. Well, not impossible, but really fucking hard and Bob wasn't quite man enough to do it. So Greta had flown in for a weekend and buttered him up with her singing and her being gorgeous and then she'd said, "Look, Bob, the Cobras and the Cab and we're all going to do an overseas tour for about four months."

Bob had bit back the, "Both of you at the same time," for a quiet breath in and a, "Send me pictures."

*


They were in the studio, but when Bob presented the dilemma to the other guys, Ray said, "Wait. Let me see if I can put this into words. Two super hot chicks wanna get you plastered and have their wicked way with you on St. Patrick's Day in fucking Ireland and you're sitting here asking four other guys if you can get a few days off?"

Frank shook his head sadly. "And people think Gerard and I have questionable sexual leanings."

Bob said, "You do," and managed to keep a straight face. It was his specialty. Mikey snorted.

"I think we can hold down the fort," Gerard said, equally straight-faced.

"If there were a fort," Ray said, "it would have burnt down long, long ago."

*


Gabe came to pick him up with an exuberant, "Bryar!" and an even more exuberant hug.

Bob asked, with no small amount of fear, "Saporta, do you know how to drive on the left side of the road?"

Gabe grinned. "I made it here, didn't I?"

"Vicky will totally kick your ass if I die before seeing her."

"Trust me, I have been duly warned." Gabe didn't seem chastened. Bob sighed, and buckled his seatbelt.

*


Vicky didn't bother with hello, she just pulled Bob to her by the buckle loops on his pants and dove into a makeout session. Bob wasn't the type to resist when other people had good ideas. He didn't struggle or try to pull away until he felt the touch of fingers that weren't Vicky's at his wrist. Then he wrenched away to say, "Hey," to Greta, who went up on her toes to get in on the action. Vicky just maneuvered so that Greta was in between them and got back to dragging her tongue over the line of Bob's jaw.

Greta mumbled into the kiss, "Vicky says I have to try green beer."

"Good for you," Bob told her. "Makes your chest hair grow."

She punched him softly in the stomach and went back to kissing him.

*


They had a show the night of St. Patrick's. Gabe wore some of the most appalling shades of green Bob had ever run into. Vicky was content to torment him with her shiny green mini-skirt, acquired fuck only knows where, and Greta with her corset-style top of softer green. Bob didn't even like the color green that much, but he had slowly gotten used to realizing that nothing clashed with the two of them, no matter how much it should.

Afterward, the three bands went out. Bob drank, but not enough to be drunk, not when he was here with them. He didn't do it that often anymore, and tonight certainly wasn't going to be the night he picked that back up. Greta said, "Green beer tastes a lot like beer," and giggled.

Bob smiled. "Imagine that."

*


Vicky had bought glow in the dark green condoms, which kind of freaked Bob out, but she was insistent, and Bob knew how to pick his battles. They took turns riding him in the dark, Greta snuggling close to his chest and rocking, Vicky rising up above him, her hair flowing out behind her, her neck arched. She brought herself off, locking her eyes with Bob and saying, "Don't even fucking think about it."

Greta climbed back on and Vicky slipped her fingers down, down to where Bob could nearly feel her through the heat of Greta. Greta moaned, said, "Oh, oh, please," and Vicky kept her eyes on him for that, too, all the way until Greta was slumping back into her, spent. Vicky said, "Now would be good," and Bob came out of his skin.

belladonnalin, Bob/Brian, Boxing Day

Brian had a weird fixation with Boxing Day. He said, "When the fuck else do I get to give presents to my minio-- Er, employees?"

Gerard said, "You realize, historically, the presents were given to poor people, right? And also, we can totally fire you, which makes you our employee," because Gerard always knew weird shit like that. He was a bastion of useless knowledge.

"There was a time when you were very poor, and your ass does what I tell it to do, which makes me your boss." Brian shot back. "Just open your fucking gift, Way."

Then Gerard did, because rich or not, Gerard loved getting shit.

*


Bob only loved getting shit when it was shit he actually liked, which, with most people was a pretty hit and miss proposition, but Brian was good with that kind of thing. He got Bob warm "24" sweatshirts that were fuzzy on the inside and awesome when they were touring in the winter and the bus was one big, traveling icicle. Or the first season of "The Office," which had once nearly made Bob pee himself--nearly.

He opened the fairly tiny present Brian had given him in this instance to reveal a sweet little Zippo. Bob said, "You know the guys usually give me gifts that encourage me to stay away from fire, right?"

Brian rolled his eyes. "You're always using those crap lighters from the store. Bad for the environment."

"Who are you; Gerard?"

"It adds up, Bryar." Then, with a smirk, "Besides, Zippos have better safety features."

"Dickface," Bob said succinctly, and flipped his new toy open.

*


Mikey was jealous in the way that Mikey was always jealous when somebody who wasn't him got something sparkly. Bob let him play with it for a while until Gerard distracted him with his new action figures. When Bob picked it back up, the metal was warm from Mikey's fingers. Bob clicked the top open just for the smoothness of the sensation and then snapped it back in place. There was a rhythm to the action that he liked, nothing like the rough jerk and press of the plastic gas station ones.

Bob said, to nobody in particular, "I'm going out for a smoke." Frank was trying to quit again, and Bob was trying to be a little more supportive this time.

Brian said, "Yeah, following," and Bob noticed that his gaze was focused on Bob's hands for just a second before he stood up to follow Bob out the door.

Bob lit Brian's cigarette for him and then his own, and the two of them smoked in silence for a bit before Bob said, "No, really, what is it with you and Boxing Day?"

Brian shrugged. "Easy way to give my artists presents without religion getting all up in it. Also, it makes people laugh."

"I didn't realize it was all your artists," Bob said, and there was something like disappointment in his chest, but he wasn't going to acknowledge it.

"I send the others cookie baskets."

He didn't acknowledge his relief, either. "What the fuck is a cookie basket, Schechter?"

"What the fuck does it sound like, Bryar?"

"I like cookies," Bob pointed out.

"Should I put you on the list next year?"

"Only if you're gonna hand deliver it," Bob said.

Brian glanced over at him for a long moment. He smiled and said, "I'd eat all the cookies before I got there."

Bob stubbed his cigarette out against the brick of the wall and tossed it into the smoking receptacle outside the door. "Guess I'd have to find another way of tasting them, then."

idyll, Bob/Brian, Memorial Day

Bob wasn't out of the loop. He knew perfectly well that to the American public, Memorial Day was a holiday of cookouts and three-day sales. Only Bob had grown up sitting shotgun as his mom drove up to Bohemian National every year to put flowers on her grandfather's grave. She had never met him, given that he'd died at Normandy eleven years before she was born. But her father had brought her out here every year and she was determined to honor the tradition.

Bob still went with her when he was in town. And if he wasn't, he sent flowers. It was hard to forget that Memorial Day was a day of remembrance when there was someone to remember. The guys all knew how he felt about it, and rarely if ever did they bug him to go to the big tech store near wherever they were or have some kind of a party with them. Mostly, they just left him alone. Brian was a different story.

*


Bob hadn't known Brian was catching up with them Memorial Day weekend, but it wasn't a big surprise or anything. Brian caught up with them randomly more often than not. At times, as the guy Brian slept with, Bob would have appreciated a heads up, but he knew that half the time Brian didn't really know, that it was all based on where Brian figured he needed to be at the time, and a lot of that figuring was last minute.

So Brian showed up and Bob said, "Hey," and let Brian do his manager thing while he was doing his drummer thing until after the show, when Bob came back to Brian having let himself in the room. Bob said, "I'm showering first."

Brian said, "Fine by me," without even looking up from his computer.

When Bob emerged, Brian was done with whatever he'd been doing and he said, "You know we're gonna be Virginia on Monday, yeah?"

"No, but I believe you." Bob never had any idea where the hell they were or would be. He had other people who kept track of that shit, like Brian.

"You ever been to the ceremony at Arlington?"

Bob stilled. He looked at Brian and asked, "Have you?"

Brian said, "My mom took me once. When I was a little kid. Her father was a doctor in World War II, part of the liberation. He took her once--she said it was one of the only times she ever really understood him. So she took me one year, back when he was still alive, the three of us."

Bob sat down on the bed. Brian came and sat next to him. "It's-- I don't know if I'd call it neat, but it's something to see."

Bob said, "I didn't know him, you know? My great-grandfather?"

"My dad's parents escaped Austria less than a month before Hitler invaded. What the fuck does it matter whether you knew him or not? He believed in what he was doing enough to die for it and I have to say that I, for one, really fucking appreciate the sacrifice."

Bob would tell anybody who asked that words weren't really his thing, and that if you really wanted to know how he was feeling, then you needed to sit down and listen to him drum. The thing about Brian was that he didn't even need that, that he could say the things Bob would have said if he'd known how to say them without even asking questions first. "Arlington would be cool."

Brian looked over and said, "Yeah," and kissed him so hard Bob all but forgot what they'd been talking about.

weird_one, secrethappiness, Bob/Pete, Labor Day

Labor Day was one of those days that Bob and Pete never actually scheduled having off together, they just both generally did because it was at the end of summer and often fell right after their respective tours had finished, assuming they were out on the road. Pete wasn't this year, he was holed up in the studio, but Bob had been for months and months and would be again in another few weeks. So it meant something that he could drag himself to California, where Hemmy would be waiting for him at the door and Pete would eventually--and by eventually, Bob meant after the first thirty seconds of attempting to be patient--squeeze in, wiggling determinedly until he got in on the action.

Bob was prepared for him this time and grabbed him by the waist, hoisting Pete over his shoulder in a fireman's grip. Pete said, "I would protest, but the view down here is pretty nice."

Bob laughed.

*


Pete washed his sheets--or rather, had his house-cleaner wash his sheets--in hippy-detergent that Andy had introduced him to at some point. It smelled lightly of citrus and Bob couldn't pass orange trees or lemonade stands without getting hard any longer. It was about the most inconvenient thing in the world, but Bob didn't give a shit when he was under those sheets, Pete rediscovering Bob in the eager way he had of going about exploration.

Eventually Pete would settle down enough for Bob to do a little reclaiming of his own, lay Pete out flat against all 650 threads of his sheets and fuck him until he was beyond begging, because begging required words and the ability to use them. When they were done, the sheets somehow still managed to smell like something Bob would drink right up.

*


Pete liked to sleep on top of Bob. Not with his head on Bob's chest, or his arms draped over Bob, or his legs wrapped into Bob's, but lying fully atop him, the crown of his head tucked securely under Bob's chin. Pete was heavy, but Bob would let him stay until he was truly out before gently repositioning him on his side, fitting them together and chasing some rest for himself.

*


Before he even opened his eyes, Pete said, "Andy's doing a thing at his place for Labor Day."

Andy was always doing a "thing" for those kinds of events because it was easier than having to show up to other people's things and try and figure out what to eat. "We'll eat before we go."

"Yeah. Except he's making that flaky stuff for dessert. I like that stuff."

"Baklava?" Bob asked.

"Yeah." Pete's breath was warm, ticklish against Bob's throat.

"We should bring him some of that organic chocolate stuff he likes."

"Knew you were going to say that, picked some up last time Patrick and I field-tripped to Whole Foods."

Bob had been along on one of those field trips. The memory alone was enough to keep him amused for hours. "Always one step ahead of me."

"Or behind," Pete said softly. "Never together."

Not "never," but Bob could agree that the incidences weren't nearly enough. "Except on Labor Day."

Pete laughed. "Thank fuck for meaningless holidays."

"Screw that, thank fuck for Gerard occasionally remembering that--as a member of the human race--he needs to sleep, like it or not."

"You have to remind him again this time?" Pete asked, knowingly.

"Whatever, Patrick has putting-you-to-bed duty all the time," Bob said, with only a fraction as much defensiveness as he would have had with anyone else.

"Yeah," Pete said forlornly. "It's just not the same as when you have it."

"I should fucking hope not," Bob said, but he was amused.

Pete leveraged himself up a bit so that he could look at Bob. "Roughly fifty two hours before Andy's thing. Wanna see if you can keep me in bed the whole time?"

Bob knew a challenge when he heard one. Usually they were harder for him to imagine overcoming. "You're on, Wentz."

neery, secrethappiness, Bob/Pete, Christmas

Pete was a hard fucker to buy for. He didn't seem like the kind of guy who would be, and okay, he wasn't, not exactly. He was just a hard guy to buy for if a person wanted the present to be special. And Bob, like the secret-except-to-everyone-who-mattered sap he was, always wanted it to be special. As such, he had learned to start months before Christmas, which made him feel like one of those assholes who hung their lights up after Halloween, but it couldn't be helped. Bob had decided somewhere along the way, after the repeated one night stands and before Mikey had thought to defend Pete's honor, that Pete was worth the trouble of feeling like an asshole.

Mikey was usually the best ally to enlist in the Search for the Perfect Pete Wentz Offering. For one thing, Mikey knew him the best. For another, Frank and Ray were both likely to give him shit about his tendency toward bothering. Gerard was good when Bob could get him to focus, but that was only about four percent of the time and Bob needed at least a fifty-fifty split.

So Mikey would troll the internet with him and sneak into thrift stores and hunt for specialty shops that Bob never would have found, never in a million years. Three out of four times, Mikey was the one who lead Bob to the final gift. But there was always that fourth time.

*


The Perfect Offering in this case--as it turned out--was a complete accident of fate. It happened like this: Bob went to the back of a venue for a smoke, since it was non-smoking arena and Bob wasn't the kind of asshole who smoked places he wasn't supposed to, even when he knew he could get away with it. Something made a noise by the dumpster and Bob called out, "Hello?" and then there was more noise, like whatever or whoever was back there had crashed into something.

Bob walked carefully toward the dumpster area, because they all remembered that time with Gerard and the raccoon and whoa had that ever not been fun. Gerard wouldn't go outside by himself for weeks after that. Bob called, "Hello?" again, but this time there was no responding noise. He came a little closer and that was when he heard the whimpering. Peeking in between the two dumpsters, he saw where it was originating.

There was a dog with its paw caught underneath one of the dumpsters. Bob couldn't imagine how it had gotten under there. It was possible it had been foraging when the truck had come and the dumpster had actually been set down atop it before it could get out from underneath. Otherwise, Bob had no idea. Whatever had happened, it was filthy and starving and terrified and clearly in pain. Bob said, "Shit," and dug his phone out of his pocket. He hit the first number his finger landed on.

Ray said, "You get lost, man?"

"I need you guys out by the dumpster, now. And tell Mikey if he's got any of Piglet's food with him, he needs to bring it."

"Uh--"

"Ray, seriously," Bob said, and hung up the phone.

*


They organized it so that that Frank and Bob were on one side of the dumpster, Ray and Mikey the other. Gerard stayed with the dog, and as soon as they managed to get the thing far enough that it could be pulled out, he did so. Then they let it drop. Bob came back to assess the damage and Gerard said, "I dunno, that looks pretty bad."

It did. Bob doubted the dog was ever going to be able to walk on the foot again. He said, "How long before the show?"

Low and determined, Mikey said, "Long enough." Bob could tell he was already looking in his Sidekick for a vet. The dog looked up at Bob and whimpered again before passing out. He petted at its matted hair gently and waited for Mikey to find a solution to their problems.

*


Mikey found a twenty-four hour vet hospital where they got her right in. The vet took one look at the leg and asked, "What happened?" looking fairly pissed off until Bob was about halfway through the story. She said, "Well, no wonder you both smell like trash," and let them use the sink to wash up.

She said, "We're going to need to operate and keep her overnight, assuming you're not surrendering her to the shelter."

The funny thing was, from the first moment Bob had seen her, he knew damn well that wasn't what was going to be happening. He said, "No, I'm keeping her," which wasn't exactly true, but true enough.

"Okay, then when you come back in the morning I'll tell you what you're going to need to do for the recovery period. You realize she's probably never going to use this leg again, right?"

Bob's mind unwillingly flashed to what she'd looked like, caught under that dumpster. He said, "I know."

The vet grinned at him and then shooed them out. As they were leaving, Mikey asked, "You know we leave after the show, right?"

Bob said, "Evidently me and the dog are gonna be catching a flight out to catch up with you guys."

"Or we're talking to management about other possible solutions."

Bob shrugged. Sometimes he was okay with letting the guys do his fighting for him.

*


They ended up staying in a hotel and setting off in the morning after they'd picked the dog up. The vet had cut out the worst of the matting and cleaned her up and as it turned out, she was actually quite pretty, if wildly underfed. The guys all gave up as much space as they could on the bus to give her a bed and spent the whole trip spoiling her rotten. Mikey said, "What're you naming her?" and Bob said, "I'll tell you when Pete decides." Mikey gave him a high five.

*


Pete came to Chicago for Christmas most of the time because he had a better chance of it being a white Christmas and also, his parents could get a little insistent. It made things much easier for Bob, who refused not to spend Christmas with his mom when he could. Bob kept a condo in the city, unlike Pete, who sometimes had an apartment, sometimes didn't, so when they were there, home base was generally Bob's place. Bob was glad because it made it easy to wrap the dog in a big blue satin bow and let her limp to the door all by herself. It was only a few weeks since she'd had the surgery, but she was getting pretty good about moving around on three functional feet. She liked to follow Bob when she could.

Pete looked down and said, "Hey, when'd you get a dog?"

Hemmy just sniffed curiously, wagging his body in that way that dogs without tails did when excited. She made soft sounds of welcome and cautiously backed up to let the friendly stranger inside.

"I didn't," Bob said. It kind of hurt to say. He would miss her, but her and Hemmy were already getting to know each other. She had settled back on the floor and Hemmy was circling around her, checking out the spot, nudging her to try and make her more comfortable. Hemmy had gotten too used to taking care of Pete, clearly. "Merry Christmas."

Pete blinked. "Um. Wait. Really?"

"You're always saying Hemmy needs someone when you're off at shows and parties and all your other crazy things. I know she's-- I mean, if you don't want her, I can keep her," Bob said, feeling surprisingly defensive about the dog he still called "girl".

Pete looked at Bob. "I want her. I want her. Just-- You got me a dog. Nobody's ever gotten me a dog before."

"Good," Bob said, not even bothering to hide the smugness in the sentiment.

"What-- Why is she hurt?"

Bob pulled him over to the dogs, and sat down on the floor, pulling Pete into the v of his legs. He said, "Yeah, there's a story behind that."

ficsoreal, Bob/Spencer, Father's Day

"I need to get my dad something for Father's Day," Spencer said, sounding mildly stressed. Bob imagined it was about other things. Spencer very rarely let his family stress him out when he was on the road. "And I gotta tell you, Ryan and Brendon are shit help with this sort of thing, and Jon always gets his dad the same fucking thing these days. I really should have gotten myself more useful bandmates."

"That would have been smart," Bob agreed mildly.

"Oh, blow me, you're no help either and I'm not talking about getting a better boyfriend."

"True," Bob said, going for the safest path, which was agreement.

"You don't, by any chance, have some ideas?" Spencer asked, not even acknowledging the hilarity of the question after his previous statements.
"Spence," Bob said carefully, because he was clearly pretty desperate to be asking, "I don't have a dad." Father's Day was really, really not Bob's area of expertise, probably even less so than Ross and Urie.

Spencer said, "Well it was worth a try."

Not sure if it was the best moment to point it out, but feeling the need to mention it anyway, Bob said, "And I haven't, you know, met your dad. Or even spoken to him."

Spencer said, "Well, shit. Evidently you are more help than my guys."

*


It didn't happen on Father's Day or even on a Sunday, which was probably what threw Bob off. It happened on a Tuesday show in Atlanta when Bob was trying--mostly failing--to sleep a little in the quiet room before they went on, and Worm poked his head in to say, "Hey, why didn't you tell me Spence was coming? Would have made it a fuck of a lot easier on everyone, don't you think?"

Bob asked, "Spence is here?"

Worm said. "Oh. Um. Surprise?"

Bob said, "Where?"

"He's showing his dad around the back of the arena."

Bob opened his mouth and then shut it. "Maybe I should just stay here."

Worm rolled his eyes. "You do that, Bryar. Pussy." Then he left Bob alone to freak the fuck out.

*


Spencer wasn't long in making his way to the quiet room. He grinned wide and easy, the way he did when he first saw Bob in all but the most dire of situations. Bob couldn't help kissing him when he walked up to Bob and went in for one, not even with a father standing behind him, waiting patiently for an introduction. Spencer said, "Hey."

Bob whispered, "We are so discussing this later, dickface."

"Ah ah ah, first impressions."

Bob looked up and smiled. "Hello, Mr. Smith."

*


Bob took them out for peach cobbler after the show, because it was Georgia and there was really no point in coming to Georgia in June if a person wasn't going to eat the peach cobbler. Spencer kept stealing bites off of Bob's. Normally Bob would have squashed that behavior quite quickly and pointedly, but he really didn't want Mr. Smith thinking Bob was abusing his son, so instead Bob simply retaliated by taking bites of Spencer's for himself. He wasn't sure, but he was fairly certain Spencer's dad was amused.

*


When Spencer went to the bathroom, Mr. Smith said, "He says you gave him the idea for this as a Father's Day gift."

"I didn't realize I was doing it," Bob admitted, because if this man was going to dislike him, then he was at least going to do so because of who Bob was, not who he pretended to be.

Mr. Smith laughed. "Yeah, he's a lot like his mom in that way."

"I'd like to meet her," Bob said, surprised to find that was also the truth.

"She feels the same."

"Yeah, well, trust me, Spence and I would like to see a lot more of each other, too, but--"

Mr. Smith nodded. "We worried, at first, because of that."

"And now?"

"Would you prefer something more convenient over him?"

Bob scowled at the suggestion.

"Yeah, well, he feels the same way."

*


When Mr. Smith went to the bathroom--Bob suspected it was more a ploy to give them some time alone than anything else--Spencer said, "Sorry I sprang that on you," and seemed validly, if not deeply, contrite.

Bob said, "No worries."

Spencer raised an eyebrow. Bob said, "My revenge, when it comes, will be fucking sweet."

Spencer rolled his eyes and sipped from his straw. "Whatever, Bryar."

In retaliation, Bob pulled a Spencer and settled the heel of his foot right over Spencer's cock for the rest of their dining experience.

pandorathene, Bob/Mikey, Succot

Gabe had texted Mikey, "how d'u feel about harvest holidays?" but Bob had seen the text first, since Mikey was sleeping (like most people who didn't have severe wrist pain at ass o'clock in the morning). He'd read the question four times and said, "Oh yeah. This is gonna be good." He could feel it.

*


Mikey said, "Think a harvest holiday includes food?"

Bob said, "Gabe's throwing a party. It involves food." Gabe claimed it was a compulsive tendency of having been raised half-Jewish, half-Uruguayan, but Bob was pretty sure it was just a tendency of being Gabe.

"We should go," Mikey said. "I like food. And weird holidays."

"How did you grow up in New Jersey and never know people who celebrated Succot?"

"It wasn't really that part of Jersey," Mikey pointed out.

"And my part of Chicago wasn't really that part of Chicago, but it still wasn't exactly something you could miss."

"Gerard and I were sort of shut-ins."

Bob smirked. He, like the rest of the world, knew. "Gabe's going to see to it that all that comes to an end."

Mikey nodded with mock-solemnity. "He always does."

*


Mikey decided that he wanted shampoo that smelled like the fucked-up lemon fruit thing and spent a lot of time sniffing at it until Gabe dragged him away with dire warnings of dangerous tree-fruit addictions. Mikey looked a little concerned. Bob took a quick hit off the inbred lemon and decided he wouldn't mind burying his face in Mikey's hair smelling like that. Not that he minded, you know, now. Or ever, really.

He followed where Gabe was pulling Mikey out into his backyard. It looked pretty different from the last time Bob had seen it, what with the makeshift structure that had bamboo for a ceiling. Vicky T was holding Gizmo up to one of the dried pieces of corn hung from the bamboo and letting him go at it. Alex and Nate were both watching with rapt fascination. Ryland was at the table Gabe was leading Mikey toward. He held out a pretty wrinkled thing to Mikey and said, "Try it, it's good."

Bob had seen the YouTube where Ryland ate dog treats, plural, so he sort of wanted to warn Mikey, but that seemed rude. Mikey was smart enough to at least look warily--and warningly--at Gabe, who said, "Super sweet, like a Mikeyway."

Mikey rolled his eyes. "You're not Pete."

"Crush my dreams, bitch."

Mikey tried the wrinkly thing and said, "Huh," before handing it to Bob to move toward the table's other offerings, most of which looked pretty fucking weird to Bob. There was clearly cake at one end, though, possibly apple cake, and Bob could get down with that. He sniffed at the thing Mikey had left him with and then cautiously took a bite. As it turned out, it was sweet, maybe a little too sweet, but Bob was man enough to handle it.

Mikey came back to him shortly with another fruit thing that had scoopy insides and said, "This is better."

Bob tried it, mostly because Mikey was looking at him expectantly, and it was nice, light after the sweetness of the first fruit. He stayed by Mikey, who was daring enough to try almost anything on the table, even the stuff that looked like black beef jerky. Bob couldn't really let Mikey make him look weak, so it was necessary to take everything from him and bite in like he had no fears. Most of it turned out pretty all right, if sometimes a little too chewy or bitter or grainy or something else that Bob just wasn't on with. There were lots of kinds of nuts, though, and Bob liked nuts.

When he got to the cake, Mikey asked, "Is it made with worms?"

"Apples, Mikeyway," Gabe said, looking wounded. "Apples and cinnamon and honey."

"I'm almost too full," Mikey admitted.

Bob cut them a piece. "We can share."

doll_revolution, Bob/Ryan, Beltane

Ryan told him about it one August, over the phone, in a soft, tired drawl. He said, "When I was fifteen I read this book about Celtic practices. I really just liked the designs and stuff, but it freaked my dad out, me getting all into 'that pagan shit'."

Bob didn't like that one of Ryan's foremost ways of grieving was to punish himself for the things he had done to upset his father, not when the overwhelming majority of them had been stupid things that every teenager did, not when Ryan had deserved it more than most. But grief was grief, and Bob had watched Gerard and Mikey mourn Elena over the years. He knew the pointlessness in trying to stop it in its tracks.

"It was interesting stuff, but there was this one thing-- It was about Beltane, in May, you know?"

Bob actually hadn't a clue when Beltane was, but, "Yeah."

"There was a Druid tradition of jumping through fire to ensure protection, like it cloaked them."

Bob had been close enough to fire to know that protection wasn't generally its foremost quality, but he didn't say anything. Ryan said, "I used to think about that. What it would feel like to come out on the other side, unscathed, shielded."

Bob said, "Probably warm."

*


Bob looked into it, despite himself, which was how he found out that the Druids had generally performed the right naked. Try as he might, he couldn't get the image of Ryan--bare and long and white under the night sky--flying through the red-orange snap of flames out of his mind. It was a fucking stupid idea, it really, really was, but then, Bob had had stupider ones when it came to conflagration.

*


He stole Ryan away from his band on April 30th and drove him deep into the desert, far out where the two of them were more likely to be found by the coyotes than reporters. It was a flaw in the plan, the coyote thing, but there were a lot of flaws in the plan, so Bob wasn't going to worry too much about that one. Ryan said, "You waited through three years of my whining to take me out to the desert and leave me there, really?"

Bob kissed him hard up against the side of the car and said, "There's firewood in the trunk. Get to hauling, Ross."

Ryan blinked. "That's sweet of you, to leave me survival gear like that."

Bob snickered and smacked his ass when he turned to head toward the trunk.

*


When the fire was really going, Bob said, "Strip."

"Seriously? You're gonna leave me a fire, but no clothes?"

Bob just rolled his eyes. "Naked, Ross, now."

Ryan looked at him like he'd lost it, but stripped down anyway, heartbreakingly trusting in his utter lack of trust of almost anyone. When he was done, Bob looked at him, caught his breath, and asked, "What day is it, Ryan?"

"Monday, why?"

"No, Ryan, what day is it?"

Ryan tilted his head. "April 30th? I don't--" He was silent for a second then. "Beltane. It's Beltane."

Bob went and stood on the other side of the fire, Ryan's face was blurred and somehow far through the flames. Bob said, "I'll catch you."

Ryan stepped back, wavering for a second, then ran and flew.

firedragon9, Bob/Matt, Thanksgiving

Matt said, "I bought you the ticket, Bryar. If my mom goes one more Thanksgiving without meeting you she's going to write a tell-all book about how I'm dating a robot programmed to play drums and nobody wants that."

"I want that," Gerard said sincerely.

Matt said, "Nobody who matters."

*


It wasn't that Bob was scared to meet Matt's family, he just thought maybe it gave the wrong impression. Or well, not the wrong impression, exactly. They'd been together since Bob was still teching for The Used, on and off, and then more on when Bob loaned his tech skills to My Chem and even more on when Bob joined on, so it wasn't as if they weren't a couple. But meeting each others parents seemed like making it something that wasn't two guys who were always on the road together and had learned to live in each other's space so well they couldn't really define the lines any longer. It made it seem formal, and it wasn't.

Still, Bob hadn't been raised in a barn and he wasn't going to have people thinking that his mom had somehow neglected to teach him manners, so he went out and bought a bottle of Malbec from the Mendoza region for Matt's father, a chess set for his mother--who evidently drew blood when she played--and a signed copy of Fall Out Boy's latest for his sister.

Matt said, "Brown noser."

"Oh wait, you wanted your family not to like me?"

"My family already likes you, they just don't believe you have DNA, rather than circuits."

"Well, the wine should distract them from the whirring and beeping. We can tell them they're drunk."

"Clever, very clever."

"You have good taste in men," Bob told him drily.

"Or machines."

"Or that."

*


Mrs. Cortez kissed him on both cheeks and said, "Welcome, welcome." The house looked like it had just been cleaned and smelled of cinnamon and chiles. Matt picked his mom up in a hug and said, "Hi mom." She smacked him on the arm. "Put me down, Matthew."

"Matt," someone screamed and then Bob got out of the way as a flying projectile made of girl made its way to her brother. He made it out of her path just in time and surreptitiously thanked his experience at dodging rabid fangirls. Matt was hugging his sister, Marcena, and laughing. They were speaking at each other rapidly in Spanish, but Matt seemed to be saying, "No," a lot and Bob didn't speak the language, but he'd learned enough words around Matt and had a good sense of inflection. He got enough to know that she was trying to convince Matt to set her up with Frank. She was pretty and all--actually, she looked quite a bit like a softer version of Matt--but Frank liked them tall, quiet and awkward, preferably with excellent bass skills. Bob tried to laugh discreetly and found himself face to face with someone who looked very much like an older version of Matt. Bob held out his hand. "Mr. Cortez."

"Bob. He finally managed to drag you down here, I see."

"I wasn't avoiding it, sir."

Matt's father raised his eyebrow and didn't say anything. Bob knew all about protesting too much. Luckily, in that moment, Marcena decided to distract them all by climbing onto Bob's back as a way of greeting him. Yeah. She and Frank should never be allowed in the same room.

*


When they had a moment to themselves, unpacking in Matt's old room, Bob said, "Why have they never come to see us? I mean you were playing for--"

"They did."

"What?"

"They did. They have. Come to see us."

"You've never--"

Matt stood up and looked at Bob. "You weren't the only one who wasn't ready."

Bob said, "Oh."

"I'm a tech, Bob. You were a tech who wanted to be part of a band, but I'm a tech who's occasionally part of a band when they need it; a tech at heart. I keep things in good repair and I fix them when they break. I accept that things will go wrong, but I like it when I can keep them going right. I wanted-- I wanted this to be on my terms, or at least, terms that we could both handle. Thanksgiving is a good time to bring someone home. Parents expect it."

Bob said, "I would never have made you look bad."

"I know. But I wanted to make us look good."

"I didn't think we needed any help."

Matt shrugged and said, "Parents," as if the whole concept were lost on him.

*


Bop got up early with Matt and watched him get thoroughly pounded at chess by his mother in between kitchen projects. He hung around the periphery of the kitchen as Marcena prepared and stuffed the turkey, her mother calmly working in circles around her, whipping sweet potatoes, candying cranberries, mixing green beans into a casserole. Matt slung an arm over his shoulder and leaned his hip gently into Bob's. "Oh right. There was also the part about us both eating until we're dead."

"Yeah, that was good logic," Bob agreed. Marcena laughed at both of them.

luciamad, Bob/Pete/Matt, Cinco de Mayo

"I am meeting up with you guys for Cinco de Mayo and we are shaking things up," Pete said decisively. "But don't tell Matt. It's a secret. A secret Matt party."

It happened pretty rarely that Pete became particularly assertive in the confines of their relationship. He had a deep belief in the concept of out-of-sight-out-of-mind that seemed to apply to both Bob and Matt, but somehow not Pete, who always remembered them. So when he called it was mostly to check that they still remembered they had a boyfriend in another band. Most of the time Bob and Matt made an effort to make sure he wouldn't have time to call between their own calls and texts, since that was the easiest way to keep Pete calm, and a calm Pete was a less self-destructive one. So it kind of sucked that Pete had come up with what was really a pretty good plan and Bob had to say, "He doesn't celebrate."

"Um. What?"

"Cinco de Mayo. It's a regional holiday in Mexico and the region his family is from doesn't celebrate it."

"But Mexican-Americans--"

"Yeah, but it upsets him, how much the culture is y'know, just used, marketed. And he hates that it's an excuse for stupid people to get drunk."

Pete was silent for a long moment. Then he said. "Right. In that case, change of plans."

*


Once Pete had told Bob the plan, Bob discussed it with Gerard who looked downright jealous but said, "Yeah, I think we can make it work," because when it came down to it, they all owed Matt, and probably always would. Gerard seemed to feel that burden in particular, even if Matt would never, ever have so much as suggested there was any debt to be paid. Matt didn't think of it like that, Bob knew, even if he preferred to be behind the wings of the stage, waiting for the moment when he could come and carry their exhausted equipment to a safe resting place for the night.

With Gerard's help, Bob was able to abduct Matt on the evening of the fourth and force him on a plane for the hour flight down to Puebla. When they got off and outside, into the heat and the dust, Matt took a deep breath. He said, "Pete's idea?"

Bob grinned. Matt said, "He knows I'm not from here, right?"

"He said it was a little like a Catholic going to a Protestant church."

"That makes no fucking sense," Matt told him.

"It was Pete. I didn't argue. He wanted you to be able to celebrate your culture, Matt. In a way that makes you happy, that's all."

"He's here, right?" Matt sounded a little worried, and Bob sympathized. It was something Pete would do, planning all this for them and then not showing. Bob handed over his Sidekick. The message said, "at the hotel where the fck r u"

Matt laughed.

*


Pete attacked as soon as they were in the door, his lips on Matt's before Bob really even saw him. When he came up for air he said, "Feliz cuatro de Mayo."

"Mm," Matt said, clearly uninterested in the date, or Pete's badly accented Spanish. He ground their cocks together and said, "Feliz, feliz."

*


Matt made Pete try chili candy as part of the celebration. Pete whimpered at the heat, but Matt made it up to him by whispering about all the dirty things he was going to let Pete do with that tongue, later. Bob muttered, "Better let it cool off, first," and Matt handed him a stick of the stuff, too. Bob liked shit that seared his taste buds right away. It had been one of the first things he'd bonded with Matt about. Matt made them cool their mouths off with a shared packet of plantain chips before delving into the hardcore stuff, namely corn roasted in a chiles-and-lime marinade. He made it up to Pete with mole and flan.

They stood for a while and watched the dancers, the women in skirts that folded and flowed and billowed in ways that made Bob forget they had legs, that they were flesh and not an optical illusion, a cultural dream. Matt said, "My mother used to to take me the ballet folklorico every year. She said, she said she wanted me to know where my rhythm came from."

"Were you totally in love with the dancers?" Pete asked, looking a little in love himself. As a boy, Bob was sure he would have been, that anyone would have been, regardless of sexual orientation.

"I was in love with the sound," Matt said, and Bob thought that this was what Pete brought to them, this honesty. That Bob maybe was the one who created the safety for it to happen, but Pete drew it out, brought it into being. Matt said, "We should be able to hear the celebration from our window," deep and suggestive.

Pete grinned. "Learn me your culture, Cortez."

Bob just started walking in the proper direction.

narceus, Bob/Spencer, April Fool's Day

The first year they'd been dating, Spencer had called Bob on the first of April and said, "I'm buying a house."

Bob had said, "Yeah, happy April Fool's," because Bob lived with Frank Iero and Ray Toro. He knew what day it was.

Spencer was silent for a long moment before saying. "Oh, huh, so it is."

Bob said, "Wait, you were serious?"

Spencer asked, "Is there some reason I wouldn't have been?"

Bob was eight years older than Spencer and he hadn't yet begun to think about anything that permanent. Granted, his mother had always rented, since they just didn't have enough for a down payment. The idea of actually owning a place of habitation was foreign to him, whereas Spencer had grown up in a three bedroom, two bath ranch. He said, "Uh. Because it's April 1st?"

"When I play a prank," Spencer told him, "it won't be lame."

*


The second year they were dating, Spencer had Ryan call and break up with Bob for him on March 31st, which was just fucking cruel and unusual. And there was really, really no arguing with an Utterly Serious Ryan Ross, saying, "He just feels-- Bob, you guys never see each other."

Bob spent almost twenty-four hours quietly moping before Spencer called and owned up. He said, "That's for not thinking I was old enough to buy a house."

Bob said, "You're not," and went to go tell the guys and keep Frank from killing Spencer, since, last he'd checked, that had been the plan.

*


The third year they were together, Bob had room service deliver flaming bags of poo to Spencer's hotel room. Bob didn't consider himself terribly clever or subtle. Nine times out of ten, blazingly obvious would do the trick. When Spencer called and said, "I swear to fuck, Bryar, if Brendon burns the hotel down I'm making you pay the damages."

Bob said, "That's for breaking my heart."

Spencer was silent for a second. "Oh, well. Okay." He sounded kind of happy, given that he was probably still smelling burnt feces.

*


The fourth year, Spencer called and said, "I know it's the first, and I probably should have just waited until tomorrow to call, but it's a Saturday and I'm at Petco getting something for the dogs and I was thinking, we should get one."

"Get one?" Bob asked, still not entirely sure this wasn't a joke.

"Something you could keep with you, since I already have mine. Maybe a shitsu mix? They're pretty good lap dogs."

"Let me get this straight: you want me to adopt a dog so that when you come visit my band, you can have one to play with."

"Also, as a tribute to our undying love," Spencer said drily.

"Yeah, Spence, I gotta tell you, I'm not even sure I would have believed that tomorrow."

Spencer sighed. "You are such a fucking pain in the ass."

*


When they next met up, Spencer was carrying a ball of fluffy black and white fur. So far as Bob could tell, the ball was sleeping. Spencer dumped it into Bob's arms and said, "Happy April Fool's."

Bob said, "It's June."

Spencer said, "See what you get for not believing me?"

Bob said, "Wait, I-- What?"

"Her name is Lanie, for Lois Lane, I thought you'd like that. It fits her, too."

"Um." She was a ball. Of fur.

"Lanie Smith-Bryar."

Bob blinked. Spencer said, "No fooling." The ball yawned.

Bob asked, "Are you sure I'm old enough to have a dog?"

Spencer laughed.

amandazillah, whoyouinvent, Bob/Gerard, Christmas

Bob woke up to a soft. "Ooooo."

He rolled over, but the bed was colder than it by all rights should have been. Gerard was standing at the window, looking out. Bob asked, "Something impressive?"

"White Christmas," Gerard told him. Then, speculatively, "I wonder if I still have a sled."

Bob got up to make them coffee while Gerard wandered into the bowls of his pack-rat existence to uncover the answer to this question of questions.

*


It took Gerard a while to find the sled, mostly because it was exactly where it was supposed to be--hanging up in the room Bob had finally designated for "storage"--which was pretty much the last place he even thought to look. Valiantly, Bob did not make fun of him, but that was only because he was busy laughing at him silently. Gerard reacted better when he didn't know he was being mocked mercilessly.

Bob handed him a cup of coffee and went to dig out his long underwear. He wasn't sure why it had never occurred to him that snow pants might be an essential part of living with Gerard, but he'd remedy that later. In the meantime, he was hardy and resistant to extreme temperatures; it would be fine. Gerard, on the other hand, he was going to need to do something about.

*


They got in the car and drove about ten miles to an actual park with an actual hill. It was early enough and Christmas Day enough that they were one of the only groups out there. There were some kids who looked to have escaped from a house nearby, and one lone teenager who was evidently training for the X-Games, but that was about it. Gerard ran up the hill, yelling back at Bob all the way. Bob took his time. There was a bite in the air and the trees smelled clean and it wasn't often the latter happened in Jersey.

When he caught up, Gerard had already gotten himself situated. The sled was huge, one of those old fashioned looking ones made from wood and varnished. Bob couldn't imagine where Gerard had gotten it. He sometimes wondered if it had been Elena's, but he didn't ask, because Gerard shared the things he wanted to share about his grandmother, and Bob didn't like to force that kind of thing. He fitted himself behind Gerard and asked, "Lemme guess? I'm pushing us off?"

Gerard said, "Well, I didn't choose you to be my man for nothing, you manly--"

Whatever else Gerard had to say got lost as Bob shoved them from their perch sending them plummeting down the slope of the hill. Gerard screamed, high and excited, like when he got just a little too wired during a show. Bob laughed into his neck, which made Gerard shudder, even with all the other sensations hitting him. They were down the hill all too quickly, slowing to an easy, if zig-zaggy stop and Gerard said, "Oh yeah, we're going again."

*


Mikey and Frank were dozing on Gerard's couch when they got back, and Ray popped his head out from the kitchen to say, "I stole the rest of the coffee. Serves you assholes right for telling us to be here at nine and then not even being home."

"There was a snow emergency, Raymond," Gerard said, quite seriously. Mikey snorted, his eyes lazily half open. Then they focused on the sled and shot all the way open.

"You went sledding and you didn't take me?" He got up and punched Gerard in the arm. It was a dedicated punch, but Gerard was well-protected by the eighty million layers Bob had made him wear.

Gerard said, "I thought we'd go again later. All of us. After presents and before hot cocoa."

"Everyone'll be there by then," Mikey said.

"Not if we go--"

Mikey's eyes widened. "--to the school! Nobody ever thinks to go to the school on Christmas."

Gerard held up his recently de-gloved hand and Mikey responded with the secret shake that they'd all watched a million times and still couldn't quite replicate. Gerard said, "Presents first, though."

Bob got busy unwrapping Gerard.

untappedbeauty, comotive, Bob/Frank, New Year's Eve/Day

"Does it ever piss you off, your birthday being overshadowed by the year ending?"

Bob looked at Frank. "Does it ever piss you off that your birthday is overshadowed by kids wearing sheets with holes cut out for eyes?"

"How many kids do you know who go as ghosts these days, seriously?" Frank asked. Bob just looked at him. Frank said, "Not the same. Halloween... I mean, we're adults, Halloween is a time for parties that can be focused on a person. New Year's Eve, not so much, you know?"

"When have I ever needed attention focused on me?" Bob asked.

Frank's eyes narrowed. "Never."

*


"Happy birthday."

Bob woke up to the happy-sounding whisper. He tried to roll over, only to notice that his arms weren't helping him. They were, in fact, tied behind him. "Um. Frank?"

"See, I thought about it, about that question you asked about needing attention focused on you."

"And you decided that I needed to be tied up?"

"I decided that you never need attention focused on you even when we have sex. That you're always busy paying attention to me."

"Well, yeah." Bob felt like that was the obvious thing to be paying attention to when he was in bed with Frank.

"But it's your birthday today. And everyone's out there getting ready to celebrate New Year's Eve. Which is just fucking wrong. Somebody should be paying attention to you. Someone like me."

Bob said, "And my arms need to be tied for you do this?"

Frank bit at the back of Bob's neck. "I need you at my mercy."

*


If he thought about it, Bob had never really considered what it might be like, being the unfiltered focus of Frank's attention. He'd noticed the way Frank played sometimes, like his guitar was the only thing holding the world together, or the way he listened to Gerard in interviews, like maybe his words really could save the world. But Bob had never once really wondered what that would be like. It was enough that Frank kissed him like his mouth was a well in the middle of the fucking desert. It was enough that Bob was always the first person Frank wanted to annoy the shit out of. Bob knew what he had; he didn't need anything else.

*


That fact evidently wasn't going to keep Frank from giving him something else. Frank wasn't a patient person, not even with his writing, it was always furious in creation, Frank certain he could fix the mistakes later. Except that now he was being patient, slow. His fingers crawled and pricked and caressed over Bob's back with a precision that reminded Bob just how good Frank was at playing the guitar. His tongue was warm and provided just enough pressure to make Bob feel helpless under its unbroken slide along the lines of his shoulder blades, down his spine, over his hips.

Frank said, "Bought you something for your birthday," and before Bob could parse the words, could come up with any kind of appropriate--coherent--response, Frank was working something slick and curved into him. Bob's eyes rolled into the back of his head. He hadn't been sure when he'd mentioned his thing for toys, for size, that it was the right thing to do. It seemed like it might be insulting. He'd never had a partner that he'd been willing to risk it with, but Frank had just said, "Yeah?" and looked mischievous and not brought it up again. Hell of a way to reintroduce the topic.

Bob made sounds that were meant to be, "yes," meant to be, "fuck," meant to be, "Frank," meant to be, "I love you." They were just noises, though. Words were hard at the best of times.

Frank said, "Fuck, how the fuck did I ever get you to notice me?" which Bob thought was kind of hilarious, because how did anyone not notice Frank Iero? He made up for his size with his...everything. It came to Bob, though, that Frank never tormented the others quite as much as he did Bob, never climbed in their bunks or destroyed their instruments. He said, "Oh."

Frank laughed, like he'd said something that made contextual sense. Frank laughed, and pulled the toy all the way out. Bob moaned. No fair. Frank slipped a finger in easily after all the stretching. "Shh, relax. Gonna give you what you want, everything you want."

Bob was about to protest in worry but then Frank was pushing inside, pulling Bob into him so that he could get his arm around his waist, his hand on Bob's cock. His fist played with Bob in all the ways Bob most wanted, the ways he played with himself when it was just him and himself and Bob said, "Frank--"

"Don't ask," Frank said, sounding happy, sounding amused.

"Sick fuck," Bob said.

"You love me," Frank told him.

"Yeah," Bob said, "Yeah, I fucking do," and that was enough, just knowing that, that was enough to give into Frank's devilish plans and come.

thebiggest_lie, comotive, Bob/Frank, Independence Day

Frank liked to set off firecrackers. It was unshocking, really, given Frank's natural penchance for destruction. Bob actually wasn't adverse to fire, not even having had the experiences he'd had with it, but he wasn't enamored of it, either. Fire just was, it was elemental. A lot like Frank, actually.

*


Frank asked, "Seriously, what the fuck?" when they crossed the border from Ohio into Kentucky. Bob just kept driving until they came to the largest firecracker store in the state. Then he let Frank out of the car. Frank said, "Marry me, Bob Bryar."

Bob said, "We're not in Massachusetts until the fall," and shooed Frank in the store. Frank spent an hour and a few hundred bucks of Bob's money, but he smiled and said, "Don't think I'm gonna fucking forget we're engaged now, asshole," and that was enough payback for Bob.

*


They had to play that night, but after the show and the big, bright, professional fireworks which had Mikey excited and poetical and Gerard just happy, Bob took Frank out to the most remote spot on earth and gave him his lighter. Frank said, "I have one, you know?"

Bob said, "Nah, Mikey stole it before the show."

"Fucker has got to stop doing that."

"Maybe if you stopped smoking, he would."

"Thanks, kettle. Also, why the hell would I carry a lighter if I didn't smoke?"

"For random instances of firecracking lighting?" Bob asked.

"Huh," Frank said and with that, traipsed off to blow shit up.

*


Bob watched from a fairly safe distance, watched Frank run and jump and dance out of the fire's way. He watched him become nothing but the absence of light in front of an effusion of blinding white, fire-hot blue, summer-bright red. Frank yelled with enthusiasm every time one of the rockets screamed up into the sky, jumped up right along with it, reached his fingers out like he might touch, touch without being burnt.

Frank was the kind of thing, the kind of entity that Bob could believe would come away unscathed. Later, later, Bob would touch Frank and he would be hot under Bob's fingers, the summer and the energy pouring off of him. Bob wouldn't be harmed.

absitively, Bob/Vicky T., Mardi Gras

Vicky said, "Mardi Gras," her tongue curling around the word. "Always sounded fucking magical to me."

"You've never gone?" Bob asked.

She shrugged. "Never got around to it. Magic was lower on the list of my priorities."

Bob smiled a little. "Sensible."

"Girl's gotta be," she said, and then kissed him hard enough that all his sense went right out the window.

*


Bob draped her in beads--purple and green and red--and said, "It won't be the same as before Katrina, but the city's still there, the celebration."

Vicky fingered the beads. "Wouldn't have anything to compare it to, anyway."

"Doesn't mean I want to give you anything less," he said, "ever."

*


Bob met Vicky there on Monday evening, both of them coming from different places. They would leave for places apart, too, on Wednesday. But first there were late night beignets, because Vicky claimed to have had them, but Bob knew better. He said, "That's kind of like having had Guiness outside of Ireland." Bob wasn't snotty, not about anything except maybe music, maybe, but he knew that sometimes things were just better in their original state.

She bit into one, sugar sticking to her lips, and she said, "You might be onto something, Bryar. But I'm still gonna eat this shit wherever the fuck I can find it."

Bob could respect that in a woman.

*


If one more guy gave Vicky beads, Bob was probably going to end up knocking some guy in a fucking bird mask to kingdom come. No good could come of that. Not even Gerard was going to be able to spin that one, he knew. He said, "Remember who gave you those first three."

She said, "Why? I can remember who makes me come like the earth might stop turning from the force of it. You really need me to be certain about which boy's given me the most costume jewelry?"

And okay, when she put it like that, "Nope."

She laughed. It sounded like part of the parade.

*


Vicky was a little bit drunk, just a little. She tasted of bourbon and the salt from the air and Vicky. Bob licked it up. He was a little drunk, too. No, not drunk--tipsy. In that place where things were just a little bit softer, fuzzier, where colors blurred together and sounds slurred into each other. Vicky, though, Vicky was solid underneath his tongue, the lines of her skin sharp, the tips of her nipples pointed. He sucked until she made sounds, until she said, "Bob," which was something she only said when she didn't have the presence of mind for the two syllables of his last name.

He pulled off and said, "How was your first Mardi Gras?"

She writhed slightly so that the beads--the only thing she was still wearing--brushed against his chin. He said, "Yeah," and went back to what he'd been doing.

stepps, Bob/Matt/Gerard, ANZAC, April 25

Bob went and got the coffee for them in the morning. They'd gotten in to New Zealand the night before but wouldn't play until the next night. Normally, with places where the jet lag was going to be as intense as it was in NZ, they tried to get there about twenty-four hours in advance. Forty-eight hours was a little bit unusual, though. Brian had said, "Things just worked out that way. April 25th was hard to schedule a venue for."

So April 25th was a completely free day, a rare creature indeed. The hotel was giving out free coffee, which was completely awesome. Bob grabbed up three, and brought them upstairs. Gerard took the coffee from him with his eyes still closed. Bob just set Matt's by the bed. He'd drink when he was ready. Bob took a sip off his and said, "Holy shit. Gee, don't drink."

Gerard didn't even question, he just pulled the coffee away. "Something wrong?"

"Uh. Matt?" Bob asked.

Matt reached out and sipped his. Matt coughed a little in surprise. Then he reached over and took Gerard's from him. "Let's keep you clean and sober, huh?"

Gerard's eyes widened. "Oh."

Bob went to go try again. He preferred rum in his coffee a little bit later in the day himself.

*


Bob had more success on his second try. He chatted with the guy handing out the coffees and found out the rum additive was a tradition, the "gunfire breakfast" of ANZAC day. Bob felt like maybe it was better not to ask what that stood for, so he Googled it upon getting back to the room, once Gerard had his coffee and Matt was in the shower. He said, "It's Memorial Day for them."

"Really?" Gerard asked, and set his chin on Bob's shoulder, reading over it. "Huh. Interesting."

Bob smiled and stood up, giving Gerard his seat. Then he went to go join Matt. It wasn't long before Gerard figured out he'd been left behind and climbed right in.

*


They went for a walk in the afternoon. Mikey and Frank were out parasailing, Ray had taken Krista for a day on their own, so it was just the three of them and Matt had asked them, "You guys wanna do something, do something?"

Bob hadn't wanted to say he was fucking tired, wanted their down day to stay down, not if Gerard wanted to get out and be a tourist. But Gerard had said, "Wanna just, y'know, relax?" Then, "That okay with you guys?"

It was just a walk, then, on the beach, because the hotel was near it and Gerard still liked to get as dirty as possible with as little energy expenditure as possible. There were a lot of people there, families and teenagers, people taking the holiday just as a holiday. After Gerard and Bob were recognized for a fourth time they went off the beach, washing off in the room before continuing to try and find somewhere to eat.

They passed a corner shop on the way there and Bob stopped inside to grab some poppies. He handed them off to Gerard who grinned and said, "Hey, did you know these are symbols of remembrance?"

When Bob didn't say anything, Gerard laughed. "Yeah, okay, you don't usually buy me flowers. Right."

Matt tucked one of the poppies in Gerard's hair.

*


They went back to the hotel early that evening because they couldn't all fit in the bunks together, so it was always a matter of who got to spend the night with whom, but in hotels they could curl up around each other, and even if it was a tight fit, it was still a fit. And forget sex on the bus, because while Mikey and Frank could maybe get away with it, three guys just wasn't going to happen, especially not with them all being relatively human-sized compared to Frank. So hotels were a treat and even more so when they got to be in them by early evening.

They stopped by the bar and got themselves more coffee and went up to the room, Bob checking the coffee out for hidden beverages before handing it over to Gerard. When they got to the room, Matt "clinked" his paper cup up against Bob's and said, "Happy ANZAC, man."

Bob drank to that.

go_gently, Bob/Mikey, New Year's Day

Mikey tickled him awake. This was largely unsuccessful on Mikey's part because Bob wasn't actually ticklish, but Bob rolled over onto him and laughed just to make him happy. "Happy New Year, Mikeyway."

Mikey shook his head. "Not yet."

Bob looked at the windows. It was bright daylight. "No, I'm pretty sure we made it."

Mikey whispered, "We're pretending not yet."

Bob thought about that. "Why are we pretending?"

"Because if it's New Year's Day, it's the day after your birthday."

Mikey sounded so sad about this, that Bob said, "Hey, what's so bad about that?"

"I just-- Everything's always so fucking busy yesterday. I never get time to make you feel special."

Bob frowned. "Mikey. I get to have you as my boyfriend. What the fuck's gonna make me feel more special than that?"

Mikey said, "You're weird."

Bob didn't even bother making any similar accusations. He thought it could go unsaid.

*


It occurred to Bob later in the day that the day that followed Mikey's birthday was September 11th. Of course, he'd known that, but he'd never really thought about it in those terms. He'd never considered that Mikey had twenty-four hours to himself before a nation grieved and Gerard--maybe the whole band--felt mild guilt over the fact that that grief had been their deliverance in a way.

"Oh," he said aloud.

*


He found Mikey and grabbed him up from the back, twirled him around a little bit. Mikey laughed. "Um, okay."

"Wanna order calzones tonight?" Bob had a deep and abiding love of calzones instilled in him long before he could actually remember loving anything.

Mikey said, "We love calzones," quite seriously.

Bob said, "Then you can spoil me."

Mikey looked suspicious. "Really?"

Bob said, "Even in to tomorrow, if you want."

Mikey grinned. "Best way to start the New Year."

*


The thing was, Mikey knew Bob. He got that Bob mostly just wanted to be able to spend time with him away from the cameras, away, even from the other guys at times, just the two of them, just breathing, just touching. Mikey curled into Bob on the couch, told bad jokes, and laughed at Bob's equally bad ones. They watched movies they'd seen enough times that neither of them needed to pay attention, and at some point got around to having slow, lazy sex in the kitchen, in between cleaning up and finding the ice cream they knew they had in the freezer.

Mikey said, "Happy Bob day."

Bob kissed him. "Happy Mikey day."

screaming_mimie, Bob/Mikey, Fourth of July, skeeball

"Oh, it is on, Bryar," Frank said, upon seeing the length of boardwalk before them, with all the games laid out.

Bob asked, "Wouldn't it be better for you if you picked on someone your own size?"

Frank scoffed. "You won't be saying that when I've beaten you down to that size."

Bob shrugged and followed Frank, off to his presumptive beating.

*


Frank was not the most focused person in the entire universe. Which was to say, he couldn't really pay attention to a game long enough to win it. Most of the time, Bob was fine with letting him win anyway, but when the prize was a stuffed animal, no way. Frank was always whining about how Bob was ruining his sex life, but Bob knew for a fact that Jamia didn't really like stuffed animals, that that was totally Frank's thing.

Mikey, on the other hand, did like stuffed animals. It got to the point where if the prize was something stuffed--particularly something horse or unicorn shaped--Frank just gave up and headed the other way. Bob patted him consolingly on the head.

*


When Frank was done with him, Bob wandered off and found Mikey playing an intense game of one-on-one skeeball with the ten year-old kid in the lane next to him. The kid was winning. Mikey could concentrate just fine, but his aim was for crap. The game ended and Mikey handed over his tickets to the kid, who blinked and said, "No, that's all right, I've got--"

Mikey just pointed to the mother-lode of stuffed animals Bob was carrying around. "That's for me."

"Oh," the kid said, and took what he was being offered. Bob smiled and handed Mikey a stuffed dog and a bear.

Mikey asked, "Frank taking it hard?"

"He'll recover."

Mikey laughed. Bob asked, "Have any idea where your brother and Ray disappeared to?"

"Ray said he and Krista were gonna get ice cream. Gee's probably in the video game arcade."

Bob nodded. "Wanna get some dinner and grab a spot for fireworks?"

"Jamia took care of it while you were distracting Frank."

"Oh." One of these days, Jamie was going to get tired of being the fierce-and-unseen member of My Chem. It was going to be a sad, sad day.

Mikey held up a token. "Wanna play?"

"Skeeball?" Bob had a tendency to throw the ball too hard.

Mikey held out the dog. "You've already proven your mettle. Have a little fun."

Bob took the token from him and didn't tell him that the fun part was having Mikey watch.

*


Jamia was eating potato chips and watching Frank play with the stuffed animals Bob had given him out of pity and fondness when they found her. Ray and Krista were sharing a licorice rope. Gerard was still missing.

Frank looked up and said, "See, I told you he stole all the stuffed animals."

"Mm," Jamia said, and took a sip of her drink. She patted the spot next to her and Mikey settled into it easily.

Bob asked, "Should I go look for Gerard?"

"Nah, he'll come when he hears explosions," Ray said.

"Yeah, okay," Bob agreed, and took the spot next to Mikey.

Mikey offered Jamia one of his stuffed horses, but she said, "That's okay, sweetie, you keep it."

Mikey grinned. Frank sighed. Jamia ruffled Frank's hair. Mikey leaned into Bob, resting his head on Bob's shoulder, watching the night sky lazily, waiting for it to tell tales.

amy13, Bob/Spencer, Flag Day

Spencer said, "So, now that I have you nice and convinced of my supreme and clear coolness, to the point where all that work surely can't be undone, I'm going to ask you if you've ever been to a Flag Day parade."

Spencer was actually fairly cool, at least compared to the people Bob hung out with on a daily basis, and he was much more willing to have sex when he thought Bob was finding him all kinds of awesome, so Bob just meekly admitted, "I don't even know what the hell Flag Day is, Smith."

"Yeah, I didn't either until about a month ago when my sister told me her marching band was performing in a Flag Day parade and I'd best get my ass out to see it."

"Okay, um, I'm still unclear on exactly--"

"I think we adopted our flag that day. Or something. It has to do with a flag."

"Really?" Bob asked.

"Blow me. I checked your schedule, you could get to Framingham on June 14th."

"Framingham?"

"She goes to Amherst."

"It's the summer."

"They perform over the summer. Don't ask me. I didn't go to college anymore than you did. She just told me to be there or die, and honestly, it wasn't like I could schedule a tour after the fact and have it look natural."

Bob wasn't fooled. Spencer was actually the world's proudest older brother. His sisters walked into a room and he was all, "See what she did there? The way she put one foot in front of the other?" Bob said, "That's gonna make the June 15th show a little tight for me."

"Yeah," Spencer said, and he didn't say, "It's my sister," or, "We haven't seen each other in three months," and that was pretty much what made Bob go and book the tickets.

*


"It's kind of like a flag threw up," Spencer said, watching the parade go by and eating popcorn in a methodic way that Bob really, really didn't doubt was meant to drive him absolutely fucking insane.

Bob took some of the popcorn in retribution. "Your sister plays tuba, right?"

"Yeah, and it's bigger than her, so if you see a tuba walking down the street by itself, that's our girl."

Bob snickered and kept a sharp eye.

*


Bob went out to dinner with Spencer and his sisters. Their parents were out of the country, had planned the trip before they knew about the parade, which explained why Spencer had wanted to be there so much. Spencer's younger sister out ate all of them with the voraciousness that only people who aren't fully grown can manage. Bob watched in admiration and no small amount of envy.

When they were done, Spencer gave the girls some money and said, "Go to a movie, or something."

They rolled their eyes and the older one pinned Bob with a look and said, "One of these days you're going to have to make an honest man of my brother, you realize?"

Bob said, "Yes, ma'am."

Spencer said, "Better men than him have tried," but Bob was pretty sure that was totally a lie.

*


At around one in the morning, when they were taking a break, sharing M&Ms from the vending machine in the hall, Spencer said, "You didn't have to come. I mean. If that wasn't clear. Ryan says sometimes I--"

"Your sister's a good kid. And she fucking rocks it out with that tuba."

"Yeah," Spencer said with a smile. "She does. Still."

Bob let an M&M melt until it was just a thin layer of chocolate over his tongue. Then he kissed Spencer. "I know."

Spencer said, "'Kay. Well. Happy Flag Day."

Bob said, "Mm, let's celebrate."

turloughishere, whoyouinvent, Bob/Gerard, midsummer

Bob had been around the world roughly six times at this point, and he hadn't particularly seen much of it. A down day was a down day, and more often that not, that meant a blessed chance to sleep, and--if you were Frank--take a shower that lasted more than ten minutes. Bob was not Frank, but if it was the middle of winter, he sometimes indulged.

As such, Bob wasn't exactly expecting it when Gerard kidnapped him after their show in Moscow and said, "C'mon."

Bob asked, "Uh. Where to?"

Gerard grinned. "The hinterlands. Duh."

*


"The hinterlands" was about two hours out. Gerard had found a Russian tour guide to take them out to a village where they were celebrating midsummer. The village was on a lake and in the glow of the bonfires set around the lake, Bob could see countless wreaths floating on the water. Gerard saw where he was staring and said, "He told me about this," the "he" in question being their guide. "It's a fertility thing. The girls put them out there earlier today."

In the center of the celebration there was a pole, and people were dancing around it, girls. Bob could guess at the significance of that. Bob said, "Are you hoping to get pregnant? Because we should maybe talk about that first."

Gerard elbowed him in the stomach and walked toward the celebration.

*


The girls were definitely flirting with Gerard. Neither Bob nor Gerard could understand a thing they were saying, but the body language of flirting was entirely international. A few of them might have approached Bob, but he was having too much fun watching Gerard try to fend for himself to really notice. If push came to shove, Bob would rescue him, but for the moment, he was more than content to watch Gerard try and dig himself out of the hole he'd stepped right into.

Also, Gerard kept laughing at their inability to communicate with each other, kept taking food offerings and popping them into his mouth without even so much as checking to see what they were, kept looking over at Bob with such excitement that Bob was more than willing to let him muck around in that hole for as long as he liked.

Eventually the celebrants dispersed and Bob ushered Gerard back to their car. Gerard curled up against Bob in the backseat and fell asleep on the ride back. Bob slipped his hand beneath the hem of Gerard's shirt and stroked at the skin just above the waist of his pants. He was hesitant to wake him when they got back, but made himself. He pulled Gerard into the hotel with him and up to their room.

They were both disgusting from the show and the heat of the fires, and Bob really wanted to just put Gerard to bed, but in the morning they would be back on the bus and bus showers just weren't the same. He pulled Gerard into the shower with him, keeping the water just above warm and Gerard shrieked a little when he got in, then admitted, "Oh, nice."

Bob laughed, and cleaned him up. Gerard mumbled, "You take good care of me."

"Who else would I get to take me into the hinterlands of Russia?"

"Mikey and Frank," Gerard said factually.

"Well," Bob said, "it just wouldn't be the same."

*


When they were in bed, Gerard said, "Wanna do a fertility dance?"

Bob laughed until he was out of breath.

sidara, Bob/Spencer, Labor Day, TGAN-verse

When Bob opens the door, the house has already been aired out. He calls, "Spence?"

"In the studio. Naked."

Bob follows the sound of Spencer's voice to the kitchen, where he's sorting through all the crap mail they get while they're away. Bob leans in for a kiss and, unshockingly, it turns into a full makeout session, Bob hoisting Spencer on the table. When he pulls away, Bob says, "New definition of naked?"

Spencer smirks. "I like to make you work for it."

*


"How's the recording going?" Spencer asks, like they didn't talk yesterday and tell each other everything that was going on, or the day before.

Bob says, "The studio's closed for Labor Day weekend."

"Yeah." Spencer smiles. Gerard threw a fit when he realized the place closed down for the whole weekend, but then JC cajoled him into getting out of town for a few days, and Bob had already been on the phone with Spencer, trying to figure out if they could coordinate some time at the house.

Bob pulls Spencer's shirt over his head. "I think that's enough small talk. You?"

"You're totally asking me how my flight was when we finish." Spencer does the best version of petulant Bob has ever seen.

"Deal," Bob tells him. Spencer lifts up his hips to help Bob remove his pants.

*


It's after Bob has sucked Spencer off and then fucked him over the side of the tub as it's filling that he pulls Spencer into the water, the two of them spooned into each other, supported by the sides of the tub, and asks, "So. How was your flight?"

Spencer laughs. "Smooth."

If Bob were Spencer, he would take up the invite for a double-entendre. Bob is Bob, though, so instead he asks, "Ryan and Brendon go home this weekend?"

Spencer looks at him strangely. Bob says, "What?"

"They were gonna spend some time with Mikey and Frank and Jon and Pete in LA over the weekend. Do you ever talk to your band?"

"Oh. Right. No, they said, I just forgot."

Spencer raises an eyebrow. Bob says, "I've been kind of single-minded about this weekend."

Spencer laughs but admits, "Me too."

*


Bob discovers that Spencer brought Queen home with him this time when he goes to get their sweats out of the dryer--Spencer likes to warm them up--and finds her sitting in the pile of dirty sheets in front of the washing machine. He says, "Hi," and she climbs him like a cat tree.

*


Bob tosses the sweats at Spencer who laughs at the way Queen is hanging onto Bob for dear life. Bob asks, "Ryan and Brendon were gonna be too busy this weekend?"

"They took Dog. I wanted Queen. They were gonna have Hemmy, and Mikey and Frank's brood, it was only fair. Besides, she misses you." Spencer gestures at the clear evidence of this. Bob brings a hand up to run along her back and she purrs, rumbling into his chest, and kneading at his sweatshirt. She would fall, but he's got her now.

Bob says, "Missed her, too." It's been over four months since they've seen each other, and there isn't a part of Spencer he hasn't missed, even the ones that come detached. He's going to end up calling Ryan and Brendon and Jon soon, listening to them tell him how they are.

Spencer says, "Not that I'd give it up, but sometimes this just blows."

Bob isn't sure if he's talking about their relationship and the fact that they never see each other or his job and the way it means he'll be overseas for most of the next two months. Either way, "Yeah."

Bob goes to the couch, where Spencer and Queen will both have enough room to curl up on him.

*


Bob's mom comes out in the evening on Labor Day. She worked the breakfast and lunch shift, but she's off by three, so she drives out to them. Bob is grilling steaks and mixing margaritas, light on the tequila for Spencer. She makes cake from a box and frosts it, while Spencer keeps Queen occupied, sets the table, or just makes witty comments about the fact that both of them are slaving away for him. She gives Spencer messages for all the boys and, before she leaves says, "One of these days, why don't your bands get it the fuck together and tour Mogadeshu as one?"

Spencer answers honestly, "We're just not that organized."

*


Bob tells him, "We could be, I think, if we tried," when they're lying on the floor of the bedroom. They didn't quite make it to the bed, which was their goal.

"Could be?"

"That organized."

It takes Spencer a second but finally he says, "Oh. Maybe."

At this point, maybe is good enough for Bob.

sauciloo, Bob/Spencer, midsummer/solstice, TGAN-verse

"So," Spencer said in that way that Bob knew, the way that meant "I have an awesome idea. It will probably kill you." "Midsummer's coming up."

Bob doesn't see the death yet. But that is a trick, he knows it. Spencer eyes him. "Longest day of the year."

Bob has a bad feeling about this. "We're not trying to have sex from sun up to sun down."

"Bob--"

"I thought you liked me the way I was. With a still beating heart."

Spencer makes a dismissive gesture. "That's just one part of you. I can do without it."

Bob sighs.

*


Bob wakes to sunrise and the smell of waffles. He lets himself come to for a little bit before walking downstairs, to where Spencer's going to town with the Bisquick. There's coffee in the pot and Bob pours himself the largest mug's worth he can find. Spencer doesn't say good morning, he just hands Bob a plate with two of the largest waffles he's ever seen.

Bob asks, "Since when do we have a waffle iron?" He doesn't even mention the fact that it's in the shape of Hello Kitty. The fuck?

"Since JC gave it to me for my birthday last year. I don't even know, I swear. I think I was complaining about a lack of breakfast food on the bus or something. He's JC." Spencer shrugs.

And, well, yeah, that's very true. Bob pours the maple syrup Spencer has set out evenly over the surface of his waffles and cuts in. They're light and fluffy. He says, "You have earned yourself some morning sex."

"Don't push my buttons, Bryar," Spencer tells him. Bob, wisely, shuts the hell up.

*


Spencer screws him slowly over the edge of the sink, because, as he told Bob, "Been fucking waiting to do this since we bought the fucking house and you--" He makes his point by driving into Bob and oh man, Bob is glad they only do this every once in a while. If it was a regular thing his body would literally overload on it. Spencer goes to town but he doesn't touch Bob, doesn't bring him with Spencer and Bob goes to do it for himself only to have Spencer growl, "No."

Oh. Suddenly, Bob gets how this game is going to be played. He says, "Jesus, Spence," and plays right along.

*


Spencer has Bob suck him off in the hallway at one point, just folds Bob down onto his knees and fists his hands in Bob's hair and says, "Please, please," and Bob fucking loves it when Spencer begs.

*


At lunch time, Bob orders them pizza and makes Spencer get dressed and go to the door. When Spencer whines, Bob says, "No fuel, no sex."

Spencer puts on his pants, but they come off again just as soon as the pizza is in the door, and Bob ends up taking him against the door. The pizza's cold by the time they get to it, but that's what they have an oven for.

*


They discuss doing it in the backyard, but that's a little bold for Bob--Spencer has no fear, and Bob's entirely sure it's going to be the death of him one day. Instead Bob folds Spencer in half on the cushy chair in the living room and eats him out until he's hard again. Then he pulls away. Spencer says, "Oh no no no no."

Bob laughs. "Payback, Smith. Total bitch."

Spencer scowls. Bob lays on the floor and tells him, "One of these days you will be old like me, and then you will know the true meaning of suffering."

"Never," Spencer tells him, and sounds completely sure of this fact. That's okay, Bob has time on his side. Then Spencer drapes himself right over Bob and rubs them both until they're sore and sated. Bob holds onto him afterward and says, "Relax. The day's not going anywhere."

Spencer says, "It will," but Bob already knows.

*


Spencer pulls Bob to the windows in the back as the sun goes down and Bob fingers Spencer, nice and easy, until Spencer says, "Bob," like he would say "please." The sun has already set by then, and Bob hasn't got anything for Spencer, not anything, but Spencer seems okay with what he's being given. Bob says, "Whiskers on kittens, Smith."

Spencer says, "Yesterday."

greenet, Bob/Mikey, St. Lucia Day

Mikey whispered, "They told me it's the longest night of the year, you know."

Bob watched the procession of women--girls, really--in white, bearing candles. They were singing, low and haunting and for all that Bob loved My Chem's music, loved what they played, this was something that redefined music in a way, made him think about it in different terms. Softly he said, "Not exactly night."

Mikey looked at him. Bob shrugged. "Night is quiet. Dark."

Mikey turned his head back to the procession. "I guess St. Lucia saw a way to fix that."

*


The first time Bob had kissed Mikey had been three months after Mikey had come back to them. They'd been sitting around, waiting for something. Bob could never remember what later, but probably an interview or possibly even to perform. Mikey had been all dolled up, in any case, but he'd been fucking up his hair by laying on his side, letting his head rest on Bob's thigh. Bob was stroking at his back, trying to reassure him that they were there. Bob wasn't entirely sure where Mikey's fears came from, but he wanted to have them covered, whatever they were.

Mikey had straightened up and blinked at Bob, clearly about to say something, his lips just slightly open and before Bob even knew what the fuck was happening, he was nibbling slightly on the lower one. He tried to pull back in complete horror, but Mikey caught him with both hands and wouldn't let him go anywhere. It had been kind of like that ever since.

*


"It's like, um. It's like someone shuts off all the music in my head," Mikey had said once, trying to explain. Bob hadn't asked him, but Mikey'd been going through a rough patch, even on the meds and he was justifying himself. "Like there's no notes."

On his worst days, Bob woke up and couldn't feel the beat of his heart. As much as he could, he understood what Mikey was trying to tell him. He pulled Mikey to his chest and said, "Quiet's not so bad, Mikeyway."

Mikey shuddered and said, "That's probably because you know how to make your own music."

"It's yours too, Mikey. Your music, too." It was unfair, in Bob's estimation, that Mikey didn't just know that. He'd helped write the damn music, helped create it. And even if he hadn't, what was Bob's was his. That, admittedly, was a little less tangibly evident.

Mikey twisted so that his ear rested directly above Bob's heart. He said, "Babump, babump," his fingers playing a bass note against the skin of Bob's neck.

*


There were nightmares, sometimes, too, and Bob would turn on every light in the place, no matter even if they were on the bus. None of them complained, not ever. Bob said, "Tell me, Mikeyway, tell me and I'll scare whatever's in there away."

But there was nothing to scare, because all Mikey could ever remember was the dark, the unending dark. Bob said, "Well, it's light now," and laid with Mikey nearest to the light until they both fell asleep under its glare.

*


In the morning after the longest night of the year, when the night had long extinguished St. Lucia's candles and hushed the voices of her disciples, Bob laid two fingers on Mikey's chest, over his heart and tapped. "Babump, babump."

Mikey smiled.

sparkfrost, Bob/Ryan, Father's Day

Spencer called Bob and said, "Look, you haven't been dating that long, but he validly likes you and you seem to not be a dick, so fair warning: don't call Ryan on Father's Day. It will only end badly."

Bob asked, "Why?"

"Because sometimes? Ryan is a dick."

*


The number one rule of dating Ryan Ross was generally that Spencer Smith was always, always right, so Bob didn't call Ryan on Father's Day, but he did send him a three pound box of Godiva chocolates. Ryan liked decadence. Bob was mostly a Hershey's with almonds kind of guy, but watching Ryan allow a truffle to melt slowly over his tongue, Bob could be persuaded to think differently about these things.

Ryan called him and said, "Media reports aside, I'm not anorexic."

"Hey," Bob said, and didn't mention it being Father's Day. So far, things were going not well per se, but pretty much the way things always went with Ryan. "I like you you-sized."

"Three pounds of chocolate says otherwise."

Bob said, "You wanna send it to me? We have about four techs that would probably build a shrine to you."

"That's not the fucking point."

Bob rubbed at his neck. "Ryan, you're being an asshole for no apparent reason."

"Fuck you," was evidently Ryan's new way of saying "bye."

*


When the phone rang at two in the morning, Bob reached for it and didn't even check the number. He had kept his phone turned off at night until he'd begun dating Ryan. Ryan was the only person who called him at this time. He said, "Ry."

Ryan was sniffling softly on the other end. Bob said, "Hey, c'mon."

"You uh, you know that you should really get yourself a boyfriend who doesn't yell at you for sending him chocolate, right?" Ryan's voice never trembled when he was crying. It was impressive and terrifying all at once.

"I like a challenge," Bob told him. "Wanna talk about it?"

Ryan laughed, sardonic and somehow open. "Isn't it all horribly cliche and obvious?"

"What? That you're emo sometimes?"

"The son of a dead alcoholic who hates Father's Day."

"You can be cliche. I won't tell anyone." Bob sort of thought that even cliches weren't all that cliche when they were being lived out by a real, live person, but he didn't know how to explain that to Ryan, it seemed like something he probably already knew and wasn't ready to admit.

"It's just. It's fucking stupid, because no matter what he would have always told me what I was doing wrong. I mean, I always want him back to see, see me now, but he still would have--"

Bob waited, but Ryan didn't finish. Bob said, "I like you you-sized, Ry."

Ryan actually let a sob break from him, but he didn't say anything. Bob said, "I'm sorry it's a rough day for you."

"Sorry, I-- Sorry. Sorry."

"Should I have gotten you a scarf instead?"

Ryan's responding laugh was startled but real.

*


Bob sent him two scarves for good measure. Ryan wrote him an actual thank you note.

Dear Bob,

Thank you for my scarves, they are my new favorite accessories. I am pretty sure it was my turn to send you a gift. Also, Spencer says I shouldn't be rewarded for bad behavior, even if he totally rewards Brendon for being obnoxious all the time. (With his cock.)

I will be certain to wear them and keep warm in the chilly month of July. Thank you again.

Ryan Ross


His signature had about eight curlicues on it and was the most ridiculous thing Bob had ever seen, but he had a feeling it was still genuine. Rockstar or no, Ryan was more in need of spoiling than anyone Bob had ever met. Bob called him and said, "You're welcome."

*


It was August before they saw each other again, Ryan catching a red-eye to meet up with My Chem's tour in DC while Panic headed down to Atlanta. He'd catch up with them in a day. He looked worn and whittled down, the way tour made everyone. The Gucci scarf lay wrinkled and wrapped over his throat, it's color perfect against his skin. He was holding his bag with both hands in front of him and he said, "Hi."

Bob took his bag and stood back to let him in the room. He asked, "You give the chocolates to the techs?"

"I shared," Ryan said primly. Bob set the bag down and pulled Ryan to him. Ryan melted against him, skin hot from being outside. Bob went to unwrap the scarf, but Ryan put his hand to it.

Bob murmured, "It's August, Ry."

"You bought me girl scarves."

"You like them," Bob said. "You look hot in them. Win win."

Ryan said, "You like me me-sized," but it sounded like a question. Bob unwrapped the scarf, unhindered by Ryan this time. He kissed at the spots that were already cooling in the air conditioned paradise of the room.

"I love you you-sized," Bob said casually. He didn't think Ryan's gasp had anything to do with the bite he followed the declaration with. Ryan's hands came to his shoulders and held on, tight and still.

vampyreranger, Bob/Mikey, Columbus Day

Gerard said, "We're going to the Anchorage Museum."

"Awesome," Ray said. "Why?"

"Because it's fucking Columbus Day," Gerard said.

Mikey, quietly, translated. "We need to do something to balance the karmic power of the bullshit of the day."

"Off we go," Frank said. Bob joined in, dry, but not necessarily insincere. "To save the world."

*


Mikey spread the museum map out, examined it thoroughly, said, "Eskimo kisses," and headed off in his chosen direction. Bob followed. He wasn't much of a museum guy for the most part, but Mikey made the world around him interesting, so Bob was more than willing to follow him around, see what happened.

They ended up in an exhibit on Eskimo history and culture. Mikey gravitated toward the crockery and clothing and weapons--aspects of the culture that had to be crafted. He stood in front of the signs filled with information and read quietly, his lips moving with the words. Occasionally, Bob would ask, "Learning anything, Mikeyway?" or, "Something interesting?" and Mikey told him, "I think I'm glad we don't wear coats out of sea mammal gut anymore. Sea mammals are cute."

Bob was pretty sure the Yupiks--that seemed to be the section of the exhibit they were in--had managed to preserve sea mammal life better than they were managing today, but he said, "Yeah, down's better."

Mikey nodded thoughtfully. He walked along a row of black and white pictures, reading descriptions of early trade between Eskimos and settlers. He shivered a little bit and Bob asked, "Mikey?"

"Just. It must have been so cold. I can't even be in a heated bus without a blanket. I'd have died."

"Nah, Ray and I would've foraged for you while you stayed in the cave with the fire."

Mikey laughed. "But then Frank would've gone along on hunts with you and died."

Mikey had a point. Bob said, "Yeah, okay. Good thing we're not Yupiks, huh?"

Mikey looked closely at a ceremonial mask. After a long moment he said, "You'd forage for me," and wandered away again. Bob, predictably, followed.

*


They found Gerard in the shop, looking at the scarves. The second Mikey stood next to him Gerard pointed at one and said, "The northern lights, Mikey!" Sometimes, Bob really did worry that they were two halves of the same person and would, at some point, revert to being whole. That was going to make things between him and Ray really awkward when it came time to have sex with their respective boyfriends.

He went to find Ray, who was already having a scarf boxed up for Gerard, unbeknownst to him, and said, "Do we know where Frank is?" It wasn't always a good idea to let Frank roam freely in institutions with priceless breakables.

"I told him we would leave him to the wolves if he left the cafe."

"Good thinking."

"He said they would raise him up all right, and that was fine, so I think we'd better get back soon."

"Yeah," Bob said, and went to go collect him. When he found him, though, Matt was actually there with him, keeping tabs on things, so Bob gave him a thumbs up sign and then went back to where Mikey was telling Gerard that his new scarf was really awesome. Mikey didn't sound jealous. Mikey never sounded jealous of Gerard, which was odd and inhuman and it would have worried Bob except that sometimes Mkey got so possessive Bob knew that he was fine in there.

Bob said, "They have ice cream sodas in the cafe."

Mikey just turned and headed in that direction. He could be a little single-minded.

*


Bob got himself a root beer float. Mikey got a Cherry Coke float, "Extra cherries, if you don't mind."

Bob said, "She's thirteen," of the girl behind the counter, who was probably closer to nineteen, but those were unnecessary details.

Mikey laughed. "I just want extra cherries."

"Uh huh," Bob said.

"I'll share," Mikey promised.

"Oh, well in that case." When the time came, though, Bob only stole one.

*


"Did we triumph over the evils of white people and capitalism?" Frank asked, looking at Gerard hopefully. Gerard shoved him into the nearest topiaries.

Mikey said, "I discovered that Frank and I would have died if we weren't white people and capitalistic."

"Good enough for me," Ray said.

Frank said, "Would not!"

Gerard laughed. "Would too."

"Oh, like you have a leg to stand on." Frank tugged at Gerard's pretty, pretty scarf.

"I learned all about Athabascans," Gerard announced. "They kicked ass."

"You just like saying that word," Frank accused.

"That word kicks ass," Gerard said.

"It does," Mikey agreed. "I learned about Eskimos."

"You win," Gerard said.

"I know." Mikey took this as his due. Bob laughed, and leaned over to give Mikey an Eskimo kiss.

magdalyna, Bob/Matt/Brian, St. Patrick's Day

"I think we should come up with an alternative to St. Patrick's Day," Matt said. It was more of a thrown off comment while he was working on one of Frank's guitars than anything serious. Matt systematically fixed things as a way of living.

"Is Brian going to be here?" Bob asked.

"Yeah, I said I thought it was a good week for him to come," Matt looked up and smiled.

"That's kind of every week," Bob said. Matt held out a fist. Bob bumped his against it.

*


"I figure McDonald's is onto something with this whole Shamrock-shake thing," Matt said as he loaded four gallons of mint chocolate chip--the green kind--into the tech-bus freezer.

Bob said, "Is that really gonna last the week in here?"

"I told them all Brian would fire them if they ate it."

"And they believed you?"

"Oh, I also told them I'd lie and tell Brian I was gang-raped and couldn't be sure of who was to blame."

"Hardcore, Cortez." Bob could admire that in a man.

"You know it."

*


When Matt handed over the kelly green silk sheets, Bob laughed until he fell over. Then he laughed some more, right where he was, bruised and all.

*


Matt gave them all "Kiss Me, I'm Irish," shirts to wear for the concert on St. Patrick's Day, and effectively threatened to leave Ray's guitar to the other techs if he didn't wear it. Frank and Gerard were on board from the get-go, and Mikey just sort of shrugged and asked Frank, "Will it get me kissed?" Frank showed him how much it would.

Bob slipped his on, because hey, he knew which side of the bread his butter was on. Matt kissed him right into the fucking floor.

*


Brian came into the changing room the night of the concert, took one look and asked, "Are any of you actually of Irish descent? At all?"

Mikey managed to keep a completely straight face while saying, "If Gerard wants us to align ourselves with underrepresented facets of the American population, then that's what we're going to do." Mikey was the only person in the world Bob knew who could say shit like that without cracking up. Well, Gerard, but Gerard would actually mean it.

Gerard said, "So there," but he was halfway to laughing, and Frank was already well, well past that point.

*


When he saw the sheets--Matt had actually switched out hotel sheets for them--Brian asked, "Okay, not to belittle your intelligence, or anything, but you do realize I'm German by ancestry, right?"

Bob had figured it was something like that. He said, "You like St. Patrick's Day."

Brian crossed his arms over his chest for a moment before breaking and saying, "I liked that it was a day where I could get smashed without anyone questioning."

Matt nodded. "I know." Which, okay, maybe something Matt should have mentioned. The problem with spending most of his life around people who were predisposed to substance abuse was that Bob had gotten to a place where he thought of it as a a sickness like any other--something someone came down with. He forgot that there were all kinds of motivations attached to it, that sometimes Brian didn't like to talk about it with them because neither of them had snared themselves in its lure. Matt said, "I know," again, "but there can be other reasons for you to enjoy shit. There can be. For instance, I am smoking hot in green."

Matt had a pretty good straight-faced delivery, too. It wasn't Mikey's, but then, nobody was quite Mikey Way except Mikey Way. Brian raised his eyebrow and Bob was fairly sure he was going to make a smart-ass comment, but after a long moment all he said was, "That you are."

Enough was enough. Bob pointed to his shirt. "Is someone gonna fucking kiss me, here?"

Brian and Matt were both up to that challenge.

proscription, whoyouinvent, Bob/Gerard, New Year's Eve

"Willing to go to a party on New Year's Eve?" Bob asked.

"What kind of party?" Gerard asked. He looked confused, which was fair enough, since Gerard generally went to parties, he was good at enjoying himself without getting into trouble at this point.

Bob looked at his knuckles. "Couple of the guys from my tech days wanted to throw me a birthday party, back in Chicago. But I didn't wanna say yes unless you were good for it. Going out there and all."

Gerard laid down so that his head was right next to Bob's knuckles, directly in Bob's line of sight. "You held off on your birthday party to check on my plans?"

Bob just looked at him. Gerard rolled his eyes. "Book us some tickets to Chicago."

*


The party was at a small club in downtown Chicago, something one of Bob's friends had a part-time business interest in. It was usually sort of a scene place, but his friends hired a jazz band for the evening. They were the kind of band Bob could listen to for hours with his eyes shut, just the music and him. They were also the kind of band Bob could have a conversation to, the kind of band he could dance with Gerard to, their hips brushing, Gerard laughing at how bad Bob was at this sort of thing. Gerard wasn't much better.

Mikey and Frank showed pretty early on, Ray and Krista a little later. Jepha came bearing gifts from Bert and Quinn. Bob would call them later, thank them. Pete came, too, and danced with Mikey for a little bit, while Frank rolled his eyes and made fun of Bob's taste in music. Brian showed and stayed for a few hours before apologizing but saying, "I've got to be in LA by tomorrow morning." Bob understood. Matt came late and smiled at Bob in that way that told him he wasn't staying long, he had someone to meet up with. Bob was down with that as well.

There was chocolate sour cream cake, which was Bob's absolute favorite, and not all that much alcohol, which made it easier for Gerard. Bob's friends were good people. It was chill, and not terribly exciting, and midnight passed without so much as a whisper of a countdown, but Gerard kissed him wet and dirty and sweet in the darkness of a booth anyway. All things told, it was probably the best birthday Bob had ever had.

*


The band's contract was up at around two, but Mikey took over as DJ, and things just got a little bit crazier from there on out. Pete kept trying to be allowed to take over, which kept Jepha busy at Frank's request. Luckily, Pete was fairly easy to distract. Also lucky, Jepha knew exactly how to distract a guy. By three, Jepha was smiling oh-so-sweetly at Bob and saying, "Happy birthday, motherfucker," and dragging Pete willingly from the club.

Gerard laughed and said, "People'd probably notice if I did that to you, huh?" He only sounded mildly disgruntled.

Bob kissed him. "How many virgin coladas have you had?"

"Enough to reinstate my virginity," Gerard told him happily. Considering some of the stuff they'd done together, that was an impressive number. Bob laughed.

*


By four most of the party attendees had filtered out, leaving the hosts of the party, My Chem and Krista. They were hanging out in one of the rounded booths, music playing softly over the speakers. Mikey was mostly asleep, his head on Frank's shoulder. Krista and Ray were sharing a decaf coffee before going out into the cold of the Chicago morning. Gerard said, "We should do this shit more often. Better way to start a New Year than focusing so fucking much attention on what could be. Look at what is. Look at this shit, you know?"

Bob ruffled Gerard's hair. He knew.

ngaio, Bob/Ryan, Bonfire Night

Ryan wasn't the kind of guy who asked for things. He either said he needed something, or he left it unsaid, but he was bad at asking. Bob knew that occasionally he could manage with Spencer, but that was about it. Brendon and Jon had just learned to speak his language. Bob was still learning, but he'd only had a year. The others had all had lots of them.

They went out to England to record their third album, because the Abbey Road sessions had helped finalize their second album so much that they couldn't imagine doing a third any other way. They went out to England and on the second day there, Ryan had emailed Bob, "It would be nice having you here at the end of the day, a voice outside of us, outside of my head."

It wasn't a request, it wasn't even, exactly, an invitation, just a statement of fact. Bob talked with the guys and within two weeks, he was on a plane heading over the Atlantic.

*


Ryan blinked when Bob showed up at the studio. Spencer grinned though and said, "Flight was on time, I see."

Ryan canted his head at Spencer for a second before smiling and telling Bob, "We're seriously busy."

Bob went to go sit with the sound guys. "You won't even know I'm here."

Through the glass, Ryan told him, "I will."

*


Ryan was exhausted by the time they left the studio, so the two of them just ordered up room service and spent most of dinner staring at each other, Bob's jet-lag catching up surely enough. Ryan said, "I didn't mean you had to come all the way out here."

Bob shrugged. "I like recording sessions." It was the truth. "I missed you," was also true, and probably something Ryan needed to hear. Bob would never have predicted that he would one day be in a relationship with a lyricist who needed him to be the vocal one, but something about it worked, and Bob wasn't so much for types as he was for gut feelings. Ryan burned through him like vodka in the dead of a Chicago winter--jagged and tangible and the only thing in the world that could warm a guy up quite that much.

Ryan smiled. "Not like that's anything new. The missing. Not for me."

"Wanna sleep like the dead?" Bob asked, really, really hoping that Ryan was up for that, because he was about to fall over.

"Only if I get you for all of tomorrow night."

"Deal," Bob said, and tried to stay awake long enough not to crawl in bed with his shoes still on.

*


"I get you tonight," Ryan reminded him when they broke for lunch the next day. Bob had to wonder where the hell Ryan thought he planned on going, given that he'd sat on a plane for six hours just to be with him.

"Something special about tonight?" Bob asked. Sometimes Ryan forgot details, or just assumed that they were obvious.

This was clearly the case, since Ryan looked a little surprised. "It's November 5th."

Bob flipped through the book of dates he kept on file in his head. When nothing came up he said, "Am I forgetting someone's birthday? An anniversary? What?"

Ryan smiled a little. "November 5th, Bob. In England. Guy Fawkes Day."

"Oh, obviously." Bob just looked at Ryan.

Ryan actually laughed. "Bonfire night?"

Bob's expression didn't change. Ryan said, "Okay, well, consider it a mystery date, then." Bob didn't tell him this, but with Ryan, it generally was.

*


Ryan took him to a park, not Hyde park, not anywhere even in London proper, just a park with kids and people on bikes and normal park things. They'd picked up curry on the way there, and the two of them sat on a bench and talked about the things that worried Ryan on the new album. There were a lot of things, but Ryan was a worrier, so Bob couldn't find it in himself to be too concerned.

As the sun started going down, Ryan looked around and said, "There, I think, they should be over there."

"What?" Bob asked.

"The fireworks. For the celebration. I thought about taking you to a park with bonfires, but I was a little worried about you wandering too close to the flames."

"Don't fire-and-me jokes ever get old?" Bob asked.

"No," Ryan told him with a completely straight face. He looked expectantly, and sure enough, the first flare of bright green rocketed into the sky, splitting into multiple branches. Ryan sat a little further onto the front of the bench and Bob watched his face light up in the shadow of the explosion. Another followed on it, and another, Ryan's face softening in the glow, his fingers creeping out to the end of his knees, further toward the light.

"Ryan," Bob said softly.

Ryan didn't look away as he said, "Sorry, I just-- Do you not like them?"

Bob liked fireworks. They were bright and fun and loud, and there wasn't really much not to like. But with Ryan it was clearly something more than that, something more primal. "I like them," Bob assured him and waited, waited through the finale of colors and sharp snaps to say, "They make you happy."

"Someone took a little flame and said, 'oh, hey, I know what I can do with this.' It's like-- It's like that flame was a note, and someone said, 'wait, this could be two notes, then three.' It's like watching music."

Bob knew what he meant; Bob watched Ryan all the time. He smiled and said, "Go Guy Fawkes."

Ryan said, "You don't even know who the fuck Guy Fawkes was, do you?"

"Oh," Bob said, "Guy Fawkes was a guy?"

Ryan laughed again, low and undiluted and like notes coming together.

druidspell, Bob/Spencer, Day of the Ninja, TGAN-verse

On December 5th, Bob signs for a FedEx package and opens it up to find a headband with Japanese designs on it and a note from Spencer: "Happy Day of the Ninja. Brendon swears up and down that you are one in disguise. Sometimes it's easier just to go along."

Bob does, in fact, know Brendon Urie, so while the insistence on his ninja-hood is new, Bob can't say that he didn't foresee the day when something like this would happen. Bob texts Spencer: "I am sworn to protect you against all your enemies until death."

Frank grabs his Sidekick and adds, ever so helpfully, "Be they above the age of twelve or no."

Spencer texts back, "fck off, Iero. glad u like it."

Frank spends the rest of the day extolling the psychic virtues of Bob's boyfriend. Spencer is clearly the true ninja in their relationship.

*


Bob wears the thing for the next few shows, because, what the hell, it keeps the hair out of his eyes and Brendon's an easy guy to please. Spencer's not so easy, but making his bandmates happy is one of the quicker ways to manage. Ray snickers and shows him fan response which consists largely of exclamations of ninja!Bob! Bob forwards Spencer and Brendon the links and considers his job done.

*


Spencer calls and says, "I am surprisingly turned on by your ninja incarnation."

Spencer is turned on by whitewashed walls and pebbles in the street, so Bob isn't sure where the surprise factor comes from, but he also knows better than to question these things. Instead he says, "I'll have to send Brendon a thank you card."

"Oh, I'm sure video will be enough of a thanks."

Bob wouldn't swear to it, but he thinks he might be more comfortable with the denizens of the world wide web watching him have sex than one Brendon Urie. "Well, we'll see what we can work out."

Spencer snickers. Bob pointedly changes the subject.

*


It's another month before Bob gets back to the States with any regularity and Spencer can actually make it to him, so Bob imagines that Spencer has mostly forgotten about Bob's enforced ninja phase, and figures it will probably be a surprise when he ties the headband as a blindfold over Spencer's eyes and says, "Can I do this?"

A shudder runs straight down the length of Spencer's spine. "Fuck, yes."

Bob laughs a little, more breath than sound, letting it float over Spencer's ear, through his hair. Spencer makes a sound in his throat, like he can't remember how to swallow. Bob pets at his hip, asks, "Different?"

Spencer's breath catches on his, "It's...more."

Bob grins and takes unrepentant advantage, sucking hard at the spots that he knows bruise easily, biting at the sweetest junctures of skin, licking at places where Spencer is long and unwound. When he rolls Spencer onto his back, takes him into his mouth, Spencer shouts and squirms so hard that Bob actually has to pin him a little, get him to still just a bit so that Bob can actually do this. He manages without either one of them accidentally being killed, but that's more a result of the fact that Spencer can't hold out for long at all, rather than him actually calming down.

When he can move, Spencer tears the blindfold from his face so that he can find Bob, can be all over him, kissing him, saying, "Jesus. Fucking ninja."

t_usual_suspect, Bob, Appreciate a Dragon Day

Bob found out about Appreciate a Dragon Day from the Scholastic Magazine in his doctor's office. He was pretty sure his doctor didn't see pediatric cases, but there were a lot of kid magazines and very few adult ones, so maybe. Or maybe he just wanted to keep his patient's kids entertained. Bob would look at anything if he got bored enough, which he often did while waiting. At first he flipped right past it because, um, dragons. Then he flipped back, because really, dragons just weren't that different from unicorns to his mind. Bob keyed the word: "Dragon" into January 16 on his Google calendar and went back to being bored.

*


He talked to Gerard about maybe drawing some stuff for the day, and Gerard said, "You just found a holiday for dragons?" Bob shrugged. Gerard looked at him like he was made of magic and puppies. Bob would never have admitted it, not even under torture, but he didn't think he would ever get tired of that expression being focused on him.

*


Frank said, "We should get food that has to be made with fire!"

Bob looked at Ray, hoping that he was managing "mildly concerned" rather than "freaked the hell out." Ray said, "I'm on top of it," and put down the insurrection when Frank jumped on him to try and disprove his words.

*


On the morning of January 16th, Mikey walked past the art that Gerard and Bob had put up together after Mikey had fallen asleep the night before and into the main area of the bus. He sat down atop Ray, who was the closest to him and asked, "Did you all decide on a new decorating scheme and not let me in on it?" He sounded rather disgruntled at the thought.

"You wound us, Mikeyway," Frank said. Gerard nodded and pointed at his heart.

Mikey mostly ignored them. "So it isn't a new bus theme?"

Gerard shook his head. "Bob found the perfect holiday for you."

Mikey looked over at Bob who would have glared at Gerard except that Mikey was looking and Bob preferred to do his glaring unnoticed. Mikey said, "You found me a holiday?"

Bob slid a print-out from Scholastic's webpage across the table to him. Mikey scanned it for a second before glancing back up at Bob. "There's really an Appreciate a Dragon Day? For real?"

"According to Scholastic Books," Frank said.

"Which is where I do all my fact-checking," Ray added.

Mikey laughed. "This is fucking awesome."

"We're celebrating with bananas flambe, Mikeyway. Whoa, that totally rhymes," Frank said, clearly pleased with himself.

Ray lifted Mikey off himself. "That's my cue to make sure he doesn't burn the bus down."

"Aren't bananas flambe made with alcohol?" Mikey asked.

"Yours are going to have to be more baked than flambed," Ray admitted and set Mikey down. Mikey just moved around to where Bob's lap was still free and resettled himself. Bob held him and made sure that he was adequately balanced.

Mikey smiled at him and whispered, "Thanks for finding me my very own holiday."

Bob said, "There should be lots of them," and didn't look at Mikey until Mikey put his hand on Bob's chin and forced the issue.

Mikey said, "Or maybe just an Appreciate a Bob Day."

Bob rolled his eyes. It was that, or do something embarrassing, like hug Mikey.

lise1973, Bob/Matt, Matt's birthday

"What do you want for your birthday?" Bob asked.

Matt thought about it for several seconds and said, "Something I wouldn't think up."

Bob said, "Really?" because Matt was the kind of guy who generally had lists of shit that he wouldn't buy for himself but would be more than happy to take if it came his way.

There was a challenge to the curve of Matt's smile. "You know me pretty well, Bryar. Show me what you can do."

Bob said, "It'll be your own fucking fault if you get something you don't like," but took him up on it anyway. He did know Matt.

*


On Matt's birthday, Bob gave him a card with appropriately obscene birthday wishes. Inside Bob had scrawled, "My gift involves time and place. Wait for it. Happy birthday."

Matt said, "You really suck at this," but he sounded curious.

"Uh huh," Bob agreed.

*


It wasn't that Matt would only get his art done in one place, but he had a favorite studio, a laid-back, Bohemian little place on the outskirts of San Diego. Bob booked an appointment for the first day they were going to be in Southern California months in advance so that he could have two artists at once. As soon as Bob got Matt in the car and headed in the direction, Matt asked, "Are you taking me to Doņa Ana's?"

"Enjoy the ride," Bob told him, and Matt obligingly sat back and watched the other cars. Matt wasn't much of a fighter, not unless he had to be. When they got there, he smirked, but didn't say anything. Bob just rolled his eyes and walked on in.

Ana was behind the reception desk when they got there. She still ran most of the business side of the business, even if she didn't do much art anymore, not for anyone but her favorite customers. Matt clearly ranked, because she told Bob, "We're all ready for you. Jess and I are going to take care of it."

Jess was Ana's on-again off-again husband. Bob was pretty sure they'd been married and divorced three times at this point. Their children had begun betting pools over when then next divorce would be. It was almost good karma to have them working together. Ana ushered them into a room and asked Bob, "Ankle, right?"

Bob nodded. "The left one."

Jess said, "And he doesn't get to see?"

Bob told Matt, "No peeking, asshole."

Matt made no promises.

*


"I'm really hoping your mom wasn't just trying to make a dick out of me here, because removal surgery's gonna cost an arm and a leg," Bob said when the final product was revealed. Matt was staring at it with a quiet intensity that he usually reserved for instruments that were being persnickety right at show time.

Matt counted the gold disks painted into the skin of his ankle. "Mexican wedding coins, huh?"

Bob looked down at his own six and a half coins. "Presumptuous?"

Matt canted his gaze toward Bob. "Does it feel that way?"

Bob said, softly, "I'm not you, or Frank, or Brian. This was my first tattoo, Matt. You fucking tell me."

Matt let his fingers hover over the newly colored skin. He said, "Good."

*


"You know what this means?" Matt asked later, his ankle propped on the headboard where he could admire the unfamiliar ink.

"You're totally the wife?" Bob said. He was lying on his back next to Matt, also just looking.

Matt smacked him lazily. "I'm gonna make you surprise me every birthday."

"Okay, well, we'll see how that goes for you."

Matt laughed.

averillovessev, Bob/Spencer, Husband Appreciation Day

"Did you know," Spencer said conversationally,"that today is Husband Appreciation Day?"

Bob took a second but then decided to go ahead and ask, "What the fuck does that even mean?"

"I'm fairly certain it was started by 1-800-FLOWERS, but it's working, because Ryan's gotten like four bouquets delivered to him today."

"How're Jon's allergies?"

"Yeah, Brendon always feels sorry for the stupid shit after the fact."

Bob laughed quietly. "Ryan get him anything?"

"I'm not sure Ryan knew they were married. He still seems a little surprised. Which I think is fair, actually."

"Urie should tell people these things in advance," Bob agreed.

"Are we, do you think?"

Bob blinked. "Um. Are we what?" he asked, which was a dumb move, because they both knew what they were talking about. Spencer, reasonably, did not deign to answer. Bob finally said, "Fuck if I know. What exactly makes Ryan and Brendon married?"

"I think it's that Brendon says they are."

"Really?" Because Bob was pretty sure that wasn't what Spencer thought at all. The more flippant Spencer got, generally the more he was hiding.

Spencer was quiet for a bit. "In the sense that Brendon's pretty sure he wants Ryan forever, yeah. Ryan wants him forever, too, but Ryan's shit about showing that. Like, he'll buy Brendon M&Ms tomorrow to make up for the fact that he missed a holiday he didn't even know about and wouldn't have known he was responsible for even if he had known and it'll mean as much to Brendon as if he'd been the one getting all the fucking flowers."

"Spence?" Bob asked.

"Nothing," Spencer said. "It's nothing."

Bob considered his options for getting Spencer to lower some of his defenses. Finally, he took the simplest one and asked, "Do you even like flowers?"

"What?"

"I mean, if I'd sent them to you, for being an awesome husband and shit--"

"They make Jon sneeze and they die and get all over the place."

"So, no flowers, got it."

"I take chocolate. And porn."

"I'll keep that in mind. If I ever feel like showing some appreciation."

"So... We are, then?"

"All I'm saying is that if I send you gifts, you're allowed to read that any way you care to."

*


Bob sent him chocolate from every country in Europe with the note, "Made from Appreciation."

He could hear Spencer's snort from across the Atlantic.

*


Bob caught up with Panic in the few days he had off after returning to the States. Spencer kissed him hello and asked, "What, no porn?"

Bob rifled through his bag and smacked Spencer in the arm with the DVD. "Not without me watching too."

"Aw." Spencer tilted his head. "Are you feeling underappreciated?"

"Gonna make it up to me?" Bob asked.

"Careful the things you ask for," Spencer warned. Bob knew that if he were smart, he'd regret his rash baiting of the Spencer-bear. Bob never claimed intelligence to be one of his foremost qualities.

temporaryfaerie, Bob/Tom, Valentine's Day

The text read: "bryar"

Very, very cautiously, Bob responded, "wentz"

"u in chitown"

Bob tried to decide if that was a question or a statement. Either way, the only thing to say was, "y"

"need a favor"

Bob called him. Sometimes when Pete had to actually talk to a person he was less likely to ask for patently ridiculous crap. "You need a favor, or you're asking if I need a favor?"

"Well, neither, really. Hi."

"Hi."

"It's a friend. I have a friend who needs one."

"Do I know your friend?" Bob knew a fair number of Pete's friends.

"Huh, good question. Have you met Tom Conrad?"

Conrad wasn't among them. "No. What does he need?"

"His band-- He has a new band, they're playing the fourteenth of this month in town and their sound tech told them they had to find someone else for that day because his wife was totally gonna leave him if he ditched her for Valentines."

"He should maybe get a new job."

"Yeah, I said something, but in the meantime, do you think you could--"

"Not like I'm doing anything that day. Is this a pro-bono thing?"

Pete was quiet. "I mean--"

"Nah, it's fine. It's been a while since I've been behind a board anyway."

"I owe you."

One of these days, Bob really was going to collect.

*


"We so, so owe you," Tom said, handing Bob a 2 Liter of Mountain Dew. Bob took the offering quietly. He didn't really need it, but he appreciated the spirit in which it was given.

"One of these days I'm sure my band will be missing it's guitarist and randomly be in the same place you are," Bob said reassuringly. He in fact knew no such thing, nor even if Tom was good enough that they would let him fill in, but it seemed like the thing to say.

Tom laughed. "I dunno, Toro seems pretty steady."

"Telling me you couldn't handle the rhythmic part?"

"Not the way Iero does." There wasn't anything self-pitying about the statement, just honest.

Bob screwed the top off the Mountain Dew and offered Tom the first sip.

*


Bob determined two things during the soundcheck: 1) he actually did sort of miss this part of things. Not as much as missed drumming, but he'd forgotten the feeling of being behind the controls, and 2) Tom was good enough, he just didn't have the years on him that Frank had, not yet.

It was nice that it wasn't a drag to have to sit through the show, like he had been worried it might be. Bob was, self-admittedly, getting a little picky about how long he'd sit with loud music blaring at him if he didn't like the music. He never used to be.

Afterward, Tom found him and said, "Hey, it's not much, but we agreed that if there was any take we'd--" and held out what must have been a portion of their cut from the club.

Bob didn't even look at it. "Don't be ridiculous."

"I'm not, you totally made it so that we could play tonight."

"And I'm totally in a multi-platinum band. Seriously, on the house. Just, whenever you go on tour, if I ever want tickets, they're mine."

Tom rolled his eyes. "Look, um. At least let me take you out to dinner."

Bob was silent for a second and then he laughed; he couldn't help it. Tom flushed, for a second, and Bob said, "No, no, sorry, just. Tell me you're usually smoother than that."

"I've actually never propositioned my sound tech before, but it's usually not Valentine's Day, so let's assume I'm off my game, okay? Geez." But he was smiling.

"We can go dutch," Bob said, and when Tom opened his mouth to argue, just continued, "And you can come back to my place afterward. Because Sean seems like a nice guy, but I'm not really into--"

Tom laughed and sort of fell into Bob, his mouth catching on the last of the sentence. "Your place would be good. But I'm still paying for dinner."

Bob rolled his eyes. He could always just growl at their waitperson when they got to the restaurant. He was way more intimidating than Tom. On that thought, he smiled, and kissed back.

book_of_calm, Bob/Brian, Purim

Brian brought a box of yellow cake mix, a bag of chocolate chips and a jar of peach jam to Bob's place and Bob asked, reasonably, "Are we...making peach-chocolate frosting?"

"Yeah, because there's absolutely no way that could go wrong," Brian scoffed. "Tell me you have flour."

"Um, no, but depending on how much you need my neighbor is really nice about loaning me things. I think it's because she thinks I'm a shut in who's possibly starving to death."

"She doesn't know who you are?"

"She's like eighty-three."

"Do you at least have eggs?"

"Eggs are a staple, Schechter."

"So is flour, asshole."

"If you're going to bake," Bob said. "Baking is not a staple act of cooking."

"Go get me two cups of flour, Bryar. Now."

"I'm not on the clock, you realize?"

Brian just handed him a bowl big enough to carry back the goods.

*


Bob watched Brian preheat the oven and stir the eggs and water and flour into the cake mix until it had a dough-like consistency, rather than a batter-like one. He said, "Wash your hands."

Bob did as told, glancing over his shoulder to watch Brian knead at the dough. He asked, "You have any cans? OJ, soup, whatever?"

"Also a staple," Bob said, and unearthed a couple. Brian covered them in flour and handed one to Bob. "Roll."

Bob rolled silently alongside Brian until Brian looked over and said, "Good enough. We need two drinking glasses."

Bob reached up and grabbed them. Brian took one, upended it, and cut a neat circle in the dough with it. "Make as many as you can," was his instruction. Bob got to work. When there was no dough that had enough space for anymore circles, Brian said, "Two spoons."

Bob acquired the requested items. Brian unscrewed the lid from the peach jam and took a tiny scoop out, plopping it in the center of one circle. Then he pinched the ends up so that the dough folded into a triangle over the jam filling. He repeated the process, this time using five chocolate chips as the filling. Then he set the jam and the chips between them and said, "Well? Get to."

There was something soothing about the repetitive nature of the act. When they had the entire batch finished, Brian asked, "Don't suppose you have a baking sheet?"

"I have aluminum foil."

"That'll do. Butter?"

Bob nodded. Brian greased a sheet of foil with it and placed the cookies out evenly before sticking them in the oven and setting the timer. Then he gathered up all the dough detritus, smooshed it into a ball and said, "Time for round two."

*


The cookies were brown and just a little crisp at the folds, crumbly and moist and perfect on the inside, with the fillings providing the perfect amount of kick to the fairly plain consistency of the actual cookie-part. Bob said, "Okay, maybe flour is a staple. You win."

"I always do," Brian said factually.

"What are these things again?"

"Hamantashen."

"Because it's Pass-- P--:

"Purim," Brian said, having the grace to put his head down to laugh.

"Oh, like you know all that much more about it than I do."

Brian shrugged. "You're supposed to get lousy drunk on Purim. I remembered that fact from Sunday school forever and ever."

"Yours is an interesting religion."

Brian nodded. "Lots of booze and lots of marital sex." He took another bite and chewed slowly. Finally he said, "I failed at that last one."

Bob took another cookie. "Yeah, well, you gotta figure your booze habits counted double."

Brian choked on his cookie. Bob said, "Careful there. I'm not sure that choking on sacramental baked goods is considered very righteous."

"Sacramental," Brian said, his mouth twisting.

Bob laughed. "Whatever. These cookies are fucking awesome. Who thought up only having them once a year?"

"They might have been drunk at the time."

"Oh, well. Then I guess we can forgive them."

"Yeah," Brian said, reaching out to take the half of Bob's cookie that hadn't yet made it into his mouth, "I guess we can."


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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile