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The Road You Have Chosen

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"Just fucking admit it!"

"Fuck off." William shoves Mike back from him, putting distance between them. The bus is too small again. They're at the point where the bus is always too small, no matter how big it is. His words aren't working, nothing's working. "Just fuck off."

"Gladly." Mike turns on his heel and slams past the divider, shoving Adam out of the way as he pushes through the lounge and out of the bus. William watches where he used to be and then turns on his heel and shuts himself in the back lounge. Mike won't be gone long. He can hear the last strains of 'Rock and Roll All Night' in the distance, which means they'll be on the road soon enough.

William rubs his forehead, cursing under his breath. He knows the other three are in the front of the bus, talking in worried voices about what's going to happen now. Michael's not happy, already looking at different bands that need help as soon as the tour's over. Butcher ignores all of them in his off time, working on his own songs.

The band's falling apart before his eyes and he doesn't know how to stop it. Nothing's going right. Everything's wrong. He thought this tour might end up being the right thing - them against the world - only instead it's worked the opposite, all of them crushed by the reception they've got. The jokes fall flat, the music feels lifeless. The band feels lifeless. Or worse. Dead.

His heart hits the wall of his chest, thudding emptily. This is it. He doesn't want to think it, because this is his family, but the thought is there, born and growing a little bit at a time. He wants to hide it, shove it in a box somewhere he can forget about it, but every day, every show, every word that he and Mike fight about makes it seem inevitable.

The door to the lounge opens and Mike's standing there. William can see the same thoughts in his eyes, the same things that were set in motion when Mike moved to Los Angeles, starting the process that still hasn't finished. Mike walks inside and shuts the door, leaning on it and looking at William with dark eyes.

"It's inevitable, isn't it?"

William blinks back the sudden pressure of hot tears. "Yeah."

"It always was."

"Yeah." He nods and looks up at the ceiling. The heat and the pressure don't subside at all, so he looks back at Mike. "I don't want it to be like this. Not now. Not yet. Not...not with this as the last thing of...of everything we had."

Mike snorts a rough laugh, his voice thicker than normal. "Really?"

"Oh, shut up." William laughs too and rubs his eye with the ball of his hand. "Not like this, okay?"

"Okay." Mike sighs and comes over and sits next to him. Even when they're working well, they don't have an easy physicality. Mike tends to repel William's instinctive clinging unless they're back to back on stage. He reaches over and takes William's hand, squeezing it. "Not like this. But...but eventually." He squeezes again. "Soon."

William's careful not to move, wanting to hang onto Mike's grip as long as he can. He realizes the irony of it and nods, letting go. "Soon."