Ryland stood at the window of his hotel room, staring out at the city. "I think I'm kind of over Australia."
Alex turned a page of his magazine. "Okay."
"Isn't that horrible? That I'm over Australia? I think it's pretty fucking horrible."
"It's not that big a deal."
"It is. It's Australia. This whole other continent. And I'm over it. What kind of jaded old asshole am I?"
"Are you trying to get me to come hug you?"
Ryland glared over his shoulder and found Alex peeking over the top of the magazine at him. "No."
"Good, because I'm comfortable." He went back to reading and Ryland went back to staring out the window.
"How many times have we been here?" Ryland asked finally.
"I don't know. A few."
"Enough that I'm over it."
"Oh my God. Stop."
"Just. Like." Ryland bit at his thumbnail, then shoved his hands in his pocket. "I don't know."
"It'll be all right." Alex put the magazine down and stood up. "Well, old friend, let's get you out of this mood."
Ryland gave him a suspicious look. "Is this for real, or are you doing some kind of X-Men roleplay?"
"I'm never playing that with you again, you're an asshole." Alex came up behind him and pulled him into a hug. "Let's go find Butcher and Singer and get them to take their shirts off and roll around in weird Australian plants until they break out in hives."
"You're my favorite," Ryland said with every bit of sincerity in his heart.
Alex put his hands up to flank Ryland's reflection in the window with moose antlers. "I know."
In Singapore, it was Alex's turn to stare moodily out the window of their hotel room. "There's something weird about this tour."
"There are many things that are weird about this tour." Ryland stared at his phone and made another move in his cross-planetary game of Words with Friends against Mike Carden. His data plan bill was going to be horrific. "To name but one, people want to hear our stupid songs."
"Something else." Alex shook his head. "Something, like, mega-weird."
"Nate and Butcher's increasingly homoerotic pre-show rituals?"
"No. That's just kind of sweet, actually. Did you see yesterday, when Nate got him an ice pack after he made his nipples bleed? That was a moment."
"Yeah, that was cute." Ryland frowned at his phone again and made a play in his game with Patrick. "Though I do have to return to the question of just how jaded are we, if this is the stuff that isn't weird."
Alex turned to face him, leaning back against the window. It wrapped him in a halo of yellowish light. Ryland thought about Tweeting a picture of it with a suggestion that Alex was actually an angel sent to earth to heal the woes of the nations. Gabe would insist on taking over that joke and making it super-uncomfortable, though.
"On this tour," Alex said in his 'I am being very serious' voice, "we have not once been kicked out of a dive bar."
Ryland nodded slowly. "This is true."
"I haven't had to clean vomit off of my clothes. Not even once."
"I haven't had an adult man cry on me. Or pee on me."
"Singer cried on me once." Ryland frowned. "I'm not sure he counts as an adult man, though."
"He doesn't. My point is." Alex stabbed his finger into the air meaningfully. "This tour? We're all acting like adults."
They stared at each other for a moment. Ryland wrapped his arms around himself, suddenly cold. "Even Gabe," he whispered.
"Right?" Alex dropped into the other chair and hugged his knees to his chest. "Mega-weird."
In Manila, they huddled on the bed together in their room, their phones and laptops set up around them to form Command Central.
"Data point," Alex announced, pointing at his note-taking app. "Gabe spent the entire pre-show period on the phone with Erin instead of playing pranks, being annoying, or ingesting chemicals."
Ryland consulted his own notes. "To be fair, Gabe was also sick as a dog today."
"Sick due to some sort of actual medical problem, not being hungover."
"You know, not too long ago we were praying for him to have actual medical problems."
"That was then, this is now. Focus, Blackinton." Alex tossed his phone down and grabbed his laptop. "Okay, we have to do something."
"What do you have in mind?"
"What was that bar we went to in Tokyo that one time?"
Ryland sat in silence until Alex looked at him. "You're going to have to be more specific."
"The one with the booze," Alex said.
"Don't talk to me again for half an hour." Ryland lifted his laptop to hide his face. "You're on probation."
"Fine. Any bar in Tokyo will do."
Alex sighed and stretched out on his stomach, clicking around the screen. "Fine. Be that way. I'll figure this out myself."
"You couldn't party-plan your way out of a paper bag. Give me that."
"That doesn't even make sense."
"Neither does your face!"
Party-planning for Tokyo was temporarily tabled for a pillow fight. A very badass pillow fight to the death, if anyone should ever ask.
The dawn of their last morning in Tokyo found Ryland with his head pillowed on a pair of Alex's shoes and Alex with his head inside the overturned trash can.
Their phones rang simultaneously, prompting simultaneous moans of despair. Ryland jabbed at his until it came on in speakerphone.
"Good morning, assholes," Victoria growled. "I hope you're as miserable as I am right now. Actually I hope you're more miserable than I am right now. Taxi to the airport leaves in twenty minutes. If you miss it, I will fucking celebrate."
The phone went dead and Ryland squinted at Alex. His head was still inside the trash can, but he seemed to have managed to get his phone in there and listen to it normally. "Who did you get?" Ryland asked when the phone emerged again and feebly flopped to the carpet.
"Gabe." Alex whimpered and pulled out of the trash can slowly. "He's not feeling so great this morning."
"Neither is Victoria. Neither am I."
"I have to go throw up my liver before we go to the airport," Alex said. "What did we do last night?"
"We partied like Cobras." Ryland slowly turned onto his stomach and buried his face against the floor. "Why the fuck did we think that was a good idea?"
"It was a horrible idea."
"It was your idea."
"I thought you wanted to be wild and crazy again. And not-jaded. And we decided that getting drunk and partying like old times would be the best way to achieve that."
Ryland lifted his head and looked at him. "Let's embrace being old. I love being old."
Alex nodded slowly. "We can start wearing high-waisted pants and those little hats."
"Bow ties. And suspenders with belts."
"I'll carry a cane and call people 'whippersnappers.'"
Ryland extended his hand for a shaky fist-bump. "New plan. Best one ever."