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The second thing Tricia though upon encountering Joe at Borders was He's cute. The first thing, of course, was Neurosis!

Chances are if he wasn't, she'd still have jumped in - Neurosis is Neurosis, okay, and Tricia didn't know that many people she could really talk music with - but it helped. It's not something she likes knowing about herself.

On the other hand, screw it. A girl talked to a cute guy who likes the same things she does: alert the presses. It's not like Tricia expects anything. If thinking about Joe's promise to visit later, maybe jam, sets a little extra flutter in the bottom of her stomach, nobody has to know. Playing with others gets her plenty excited, after all. Probably nobody would even notice the difference.

Half an hour before they come over, Tricia tidies up her room and sets herself up for disappointment. Joe seemed like a decent guy, for the entire half hour they spoke, but. Well. Half an hour is not much of an indication. And he said he'd bring a friend over - swore he was great, but in Tricia's experience great people aren't always so great to her.

There's a knock on the door. Tricia pads there, asks "Who is it?", only sliding the bolt when she recognizes Joe's voice on the other side. 

The first thing she notices is eyeliner, lots of it. The next thing is Joe's friend saying, incredulous, "Is that argyle?"

This is why Tricia makes a habit of not wanting things. "I'm not looking for fashion advice from people in skinny jeans," she says, and almost slams the door in their faces when Joe yelps, "Wait!" He catches the door and gives her a pleading look. "Look, I'm sorry, Pete doesn't mean to be a dick. It's a condition. Foot-in-mouth syndrome."

Tricia narrows her eyes at him. Pete gives her an answering glare. "Got a problem with skinny jeans?" he asks her.

Tricia snorts. "If you had my hips--" she makes the mistake of glancing down. Big mistakes. She swallows before continuing. "Or any hips at all, you wouldn't have to ask."

It's true, to a degree, that Pete doesn't have hips. He does have hipbones, which his too-short shirt and low-slung pants expose, and they're clearly delineated and tanned and, fuck, inked. Tricia can only see a hint of it, the rest hidden under Pete's shirt, but it's definitely there. She's blushing. Goddammit.

Luckily for her, Pete's too busy laughing to pay attention. He has huge teeth, she marks to herself in a fit of satisfying pettiness. "Okay, point," he says, good-natured. He sticks his hand out. "Sorry we started on the wrong foot. I'm Pete. I write lyrics, play bass and sing."

"He calls it singing," Joe interjects. Tricia's grateful for the opportunity to snicker.

Pete ignores him and says, "I'm told you can play drums." He offers Tricia a hand to shake, all pseudo-dignified and utterly ridiculous.

"Tricia," she says, taking it and motioning them in. "My kit's in my room, c'mon."

~~

If Joe was cute, Pete is gorgeous. Tricia has no idea how to talk to people who look like that; they're like a whole other species with magical abilities like using makeup and not being afraid of crowds.

Once she gets over the first shock of hostility, though, Pete's actually pretty easy to talk to. He likes dumbass word games and laughs like a braying donkey at every third thing Tricia says; it's hard to be intimidated by someone like that.

Him and Joe and her kind of rock together, though she says so herself. Pete's not the kind of vocalist she prefers listening to usually, but he's fine for hardcore. Tricia pleases herself harmonizing with him, trying to work out chord progressions with her voice while her hands lay down the rhythms.

Then Pete stops flat in the middle of a song. Joe stops a beat after him, but Tricia's already in the swing of it and it takes her several beats to fall silent, drumsticks awkwardly dangling from her fingers. 

"Dude," Pete says. His voice sounds odd. "No, keep going."

Tricia raises an eyebrow, but she goes back to the beat she was working on. It sounds fine to her.

Pete waves his hand impatiently. "No, not the drumming, the singing."

"Uh," Tricia says. "I don't sing."

Pete turns to her, and his expression flows like water, through confusion and annoyance and several other things Tricia can't recognize, before settling down on determination. "You do now."

 

Chapter Text

One thing that Tricia loves about Pete is that he never contradicts her. When she says she's fat (which she tries not to, because people invariably think she's fishing for compliments rather than stating fact), he shrugs and says, "And if you are, so what?". When she says she's got a terrible temper, he nods and mournfully says, "Don't I know it."

Even when she says she doesn't like her voice, all Pete does is glare at her hotly and mutter something about some people having no taste, but he never tries to convince her to appreciate anything about herself that she's not already fond of.

(If Trish were in the habit of putting down her music writing abilities, Pete would probably have an aneurysm. But secretly, she actually thinks she's pretty good at that, so it's never been tested.)

So when Tricia says, "I can't front a band," instead of something awkward like Why not, Pete just waves her off saying, "So don't. I'll front. You just sing."

Tricia opens her mouth to object, and Pete looks her square in the eyes. "Maybe you don't think you're the world's best singer. Fair enough. I'll make you a deal: tell me you think I'm a better singer than you, and we'll talk no more about it."

Tricia opens her mouth, then closes it again with a snap. She feels herself flushing. She should tell Pete she thinks he's better. She's being unbelievably, inexcusably rude.

Pete doesn't seem offended, though. He actually waggles his eyebrows at her. Tricia groans and rubs her eyes. "Ugh. Fine." She turns to Joe. "Does he always get his way like this?"

"Pretty much," Joe says with a shrug. "Last chance to run before he sinks his claws into you."

At the time, Tricia was busy wanting to find a ditch to bury herself in, but in hindsight she thinks she heard Pete whispering, "Too fucking late," with vicious satisfaction.

Chapter Text

Pete is so fucking happy he got Andy to commit, he's practically high. The last thing Tricia wants to do is harsh his buzz, but she doesn't have much of a choice.

She braces herself and says, "I can't come on tour with you, Pete.”

Pete looks legitimately heartbroken. It's making Tricia cranky, because fuck, does he think she's any less crushed about it than he is? “Why?” Pete asks. “Is it the stage fright thing? Because you said you could work on that. We'd help.”

"No,” Tricia says slowly. It's not like Pete to be oblivious – okay, not this oblivious. “It's because my mom would have you arrested on charges of kidnapping.”

Pete blanches. Joe snorts. “Hey, if Jeanae's parents haven't killed him yet...”

Not Tricia's favorite subject, which may be why she snaps, “Jeanae's parents aren't my mom. She'll have Pete's miserable little balls.”

Pete gets that look he sometimes gets around her, like he thought of a witty, dirty rejoinder and then forcibly shut himself up. Tricia grits her teeth. Pete's just like that, he flirts with everything that moves. Even Andy, who's straight the way Tricia didn't know existed outside Euclidean theory. He doesn't mean it, which is why it's all the more insulting he won't do it with her. It's like he's afraid to lead her on or something, like she'd be dumb enough to fall for him.

Which might, in fact, be the case, but Tricia’s repressing it hard. She’s not dumb enough to think he’d reciprocate, at least. “You’ll find someone else,” she says. It’ll be fine.

By the set of Pete’s mouth, this is far from the last word they’ll have on the subject. Tricia ignores it. There’s nothing anyone can do here, not even Pete.

~~

She wakes up at three AM because someone’s throwing rocks at her window. Of course it’s Pete. Who else would it be.

Tricia opens the window and hisses, “Stop it! Can’t it wait till morning?”

“Nope!” Pete bounces on his heels. “C’mere, Trixy-fix, I got a plan.”

“If you wake up my mom what you’ll have a is a restraining order,” Tricia says.

His manic smile does not wane; if anything, it gets bigger. “But soft! What light—”

Tricia makes a throat-cutting sign, closes the window and heads for the door. Pete’s there when she opens it, thankfully quiet. “What did you want?”

“Your mom isn’t even home.” Pete sounds vaguely accusing. “Her car isn’t in the driveway.”

Tricia’s mom is on a date, but Tricia sees no reason why this is any of Pete’s business. “You said something about a plan,” she says, crossing her hands over her chest.

Pete’s eyes waver down, and that’s when Tricia remembers she didn’t put her bra back on before coming downstairs to open the door.

“A plan,” Pete says, slowly. “Plan. Right!” He perks back up. “What if we dressed you up like a boy?”

“Um,” Tricia says, and tries not to look down at her boobs. The air is cold and she thinks her nipples are getting hard. Fuck. “I don’t think—”

“No, come on.” Pete waves his hands expansively. “We’ll pad up your stomach so you’re just, like, round all over. Hide your hair under a hat. We can draw you a mustache!”

For a moment, Tricia actually thinks about that, what it would be like. She’s heard the way people talk about girls in bands, can’t even begin to apply that kind of image to herself. Then she sighs. “My mom still won’t go for it.”

Pete’s jaw works as he thinks. Tricia takes the opportunity to escape upstairs and put some clothes on. When she comes back down, Pete has made himself at home on her couch, feet on the coffee table. “Nice,” she says, scowling at him.

He beams up at her and says, “Thanks!” without even a hint of irony. “So see, I have another idea.”

“I’m guessing it’s terrible,” Tricia says. She sits down on the couch next to Pete, legs folded under her. Despite a good foot of space between them, she can smell his aftershave. It’s kind of awful, but kind of nice that he bothered, too.

Pete looks at her then, holding her gaze. His voice is lower when he speaks, painfully earnest. “If you don’t want to join us, just say so.” He’s holding himself tight, like he’s bracing himself for a punch. It’s a stance Tricia’s gotten to know well in the time they spent together. “You don’t have to come along.”

“Hey, fuck you.” Tricia hunches her shoulders and crosses her arms. “Of course I want to come, are you crazy?” She ignores his muttered, “Well, yeah,” and says, “I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life, you dick. But there’s no way my mom will let me go. She’ll be certain I’ll be, like, raped and murdered the minute I set foot outside the house.” She rolls her eyes.

There’s a moment of silence. Then, “We won’t let anything happen to you,” Pete says, still weirdly intense, like she’s the one he has to reassure.

“You won’t have to because nothing will happen, God,” Tricia says. “But there’s no way my mom will buy that. She thinks I’m still five. She’d make me hold her hand to cross the street if she could.”

“We’ll figure it out,” Pete says. He moves his hand across the empty space between them, palm up, offered to Tricia. She puts her hand over his after a moment’s hesitation, watching his fingers curl over her smaller, paler ones. “Just let me handle everything, ‘kay, Trish?”

“Don’t call me that.” But she’s nodding even as she says it. Of course she’ll let him.

~~

“I don’t know,” Tricia’s mom says, wrinkling her nose at the little flyer Pete’s friend mocked up. “This is kind of last-minute, isn’t it?”

“It’s a really great opportunity,” Tricia says. The best thing is she can be absolutely sincere saying that. “It could make or break my chances as a musician.”

Her mom chuckles. “A little dramatic, aren’t we? It’s just summer camp, sweetheart.”

What it is is a great big lie, but Tricia can’t think about that too closely or she’ll give up the game. “Please, mom,” she says. “They usually don’t let people in so late but the director heard me and they got me a scholarship.”

Tricia thought that part was overkill, but Pete was adamant.

“Even if you weren’t an actual genius,” Pete said, waggling his finger at her, “there’s no mother who doesn’t like to hear that her kid is special.”

Tricia scowled and muttered, “Stop it,” and had no plan of using it, but here she is.

And her mother, apparently, is just as eager to swallow the lie as Pete said she would be. She runs her fingers over the flyer again. “Still, you know how I feel about you being away from home for so long.”

“It’s just a few weeks.” Tricia’s heart hammers in her chest. Her mom’s this close to caving in, she can taste it.

Her mom hesitates. Then she says, “I want to see this place.”

“Sure,” Tricia says faintly.

Hey, if Pete could pull a flyer and a story out of his ass, maybe he can pull an actual camp out of there, too.

~~

“I didn’t mean it literally!” Tricia hisses into her phone. She’s hiding in the garage, waiting for her mom to come out to the car. “Please tell me you got my mom in on this. Please tell me this is all a dream.”

“Philosophically speaking,” Joe interjects from the back, and Tricia just barely stifles her “Shut up!” to under a volume that would alarm her mom.

“Don’t worry, Stumph,” Pete says, all airy confidence. “Pat won’t suspect a thing.”

Tricia considers reminding Pete not to call her mom by her first name, but that’s probably left for another time. Like, say, when Tricia’s entire musical future isn’t on the line.

The door opens, and Tricia slams her flip-phone shut. Her mom smiles. “Ready to go, sweetie?”

Tricia’s sure that her smile is weak, her entire expression shouting I’m lying to you. “Sure!”

“It’s okay to be nervous,” her mom says, starting the car. “And if you don’t want to go through with this—”

Just like that, she’s back at the same obstinate Stop telling me what I don’t want argument she’s been having on and off with Pete for months. “It’s fine,” she says, remembering to keep her tone soft on the last minute. Her mom isn’t Pete. Thank God for small mercies.

~~

Another small mercy: Tricia didn’t swallow her tongue when she saw the camp sign, or the cabins, or the few people milling around wearing camp shirts. Even if Joe and Pete are two of them.

“What the hell,” she hisses at Pete as she passes by him on the way to a cabin marked Head Councilor. He just gives her a smug grin and a crooked boy scout salute.

The cabin is darker than the outside, light filtering through white curtains. There’s a lanky guy sitting behind a desk, smiling at Tricia’s mom. “Hi.” He stands up and offers his hand. “Gabe Saporta, head councilor. How can I help you, Ms…”

“Stumph,” Tricia’s mom says, and she’s off with a million questions about whether any of the councilors have medical training, and what ages they have here, and are boys and girls segregated, what plans they offer…

Saporta just answers each question calmly, like he does this every day. Maybe he does, Patricia thinks, on the verge of hysteria. Maybe Pete got me enrolled in actual summer camp. Maybe this is recruitment office for a cult.

Finally, Tricia’s mom looks satisfied. “Alright, then. I think that’s all I wanted to know.”

“We have the forms right here if you want to get the paperwork out of the way,” Saporta says, smoother than silk. Tricia watches as her mom fills out her full name and signs dotted lines in triplicate. “You can also leave Tricia here for the pre-camp get together.” He hands Tricia’s mom another flyer. “You said you’re in Wilmette? We have another camper from there, he can give her a ride. It’s no trouble,” he waves off Tricia’s mom’s attempted protests, walks her to the car while Tricia stays rooted rooted to the spot.

She doesn’t move until she hears her mom’s engine rev and grow distant. Then, she has to, because Pete is trying to tackle her.

“What the hell,” Tricia says, once she successfully evaded him. She feels it bears repeating.

Pete just beams. “Wasn’t it cool?”

Before Tricia can answer that, Saporta pokes his head back in. “Yo, Pete! Is it jam time now?”

“Even better, my friend,” Pete says solemnly. He dives under the desk, fetching out a cooler. “I believe it’s booze o’clock.”

Saporta accepts a beer. Then he leers down at Tricia, there’s no other words for the expression. “One for yourself, m’lady?”

“Uh, no thanks,” Tricia says. She crosses her hands, rubbing her forearms. “Um, you did a good job, though. Thanks?”

“Think nothing of it,” Saporta says grandly. Then he ruins the impression by clinking his beer bottle to Pete’s and going “Wooooo!”

Tricia escapes outside, where Joe has his guitar out. “No drums,” he tells Tricia, semi-apologetic, “but there’s a spare acoustic Alex brought.”

With a guitar between her and the rest of the guys, Tricia feels marginally more at ease. It helps that Pete stays right beside her for most of the evening, loathe as Tricia is to admit it. Saporta saunters by again later. He’s got funny stories and a great voice, not to mention gorgeous cheekbones, but something about him unsettles Tricia. When he makes fun of her for not drinking, Pete steals the beer he tries to press on Tricia and drinks it himself, grinning at Saporta’s mock-rage.

“This was really great,” Tricia tells Pete later. “How did you do all of this?”

Pete shrugs. “I know people who know people. Everyone thought it would be an awesome prank to pull, and then we did it. Plus, it’s for the future of music as we know it.”

She snorts and shoulders into him. Pete shoulders back, and Tricia just remembers to take the guitar off before it turns into a full-fledged tickle fight.

Chapter Text

There are many things Tricia should have thought of before agreeing to ride in a van with three boys, and most of them have to do with showers. 

The first involves Tricia's masturbation routine, which she hasn't modified since she was in junior high, because why mess with something that worked? Sound reason, but now that meant going for days on end almost hurting with arousal because Pete insists on kissing her on the neck and then she can't even do anything about it. It makes her more snappish than usual, at first, and then slowly withdrawn because she just can't deal with Pete and Joe. She feels like every inch of her is hurting.

She realizes, slightly too late, that this has less  to do with sexual frustration and everything to do with her period coming up. 

"Pull over," she tells Andy, who's driving.

"What, no," Pete says, because he can't ever spend the drive sleeping like a normal person, has to stay up and criticize Andy's driving habits and Tricia's bathroom needs. "We've been over this, Stumph, you can pee in a bottle like the rest of us. I even got you one with a wide neck."

"Stop talking about necks before I wring yours." Tricia is seriously not in the mood. She's tired, she's in pain, and her uterus apparently wants to set something on fire. "And stop the car before I bleed all over your seats."

Then there's a bunch of shouting, which Tricia tunes out as the van thankfully slows down. She hops down from the vehicle, ignoring Pete who's close up behind her.

"Seriously, Trix," he says, way too close for comfort. "What's wrong, did you get hurt?"

The cool night air is sobering her up some, enough to remember to feel humiliated about discussing bodily functions. "I'm fine," she says tightly. "Fuck off so I can deal with it and we can get going."

Pete, though, chooses now to get worried. "Tricia, if you need to see a doctor--"

"I don't need to see a doctor." She turns and jabs him in the chest. "I need you to go away so I can insert my tampon in fucking peace, Christ!"

She only realizes she's yelling at the last word. Pete blinks at her and backs away slowly.

Going back to the car, Tricia's mood is not improved any by having to see to menstrual necessities in a fucking field with only thornbushes for cover and a couple of diner napkins from her bag for toilet paper. "Not a single word out of any of you," she says, climbing in, and she must sound pretty convincing, because nobody says anything.

The next time Tricia asks for a stop, there's no arguments. Joe just tells her to "Use her powers for good," which she accepts as generally sound advice.

Chapter Text

Warped isn't really a let down. It can't be. Tricia's been expecting it for so long, and just getting to play alongside so many brilliant musicians has to be worth the price of admission.

Currently, the price of admission is having to watch Pete orbit Mikey Way of My Chemical Romance, and Tricia is fucking determined not to let it ruin the tour for her.

She wishes she knew what it was about Mikey that gets under her skin like that. Pete's had plenty of romances and friend-crushes - hard to tell apart, with Pete - and all of them were with people like Mikey: pretty, skinny scene queens with unimpressed expressions. Tricia's made friends with some of them and ignored the others. She doesn't have to get along with every single person Pete likes.

Mikey, though, is in a category of his own. Somehow Pete and Joe and Andy are all hanging out together with Mikey, and it's not like Mikey's saying much. He just sprawls out on the sofa in their lounge, entrenched deep in Pete's personal space, giving Tricia the occasional blank look like he's not sure what she's even doing breathing the same air he is.

Joe's the first to notice her, smiling and waving her over. Tricia shakes her head, pointing to her headphones with an apologetic grimace. Joe nods affably and goes back to the conversation.

So far, nothing out of the ordinary. Tricia tries to focus on her music and fails miserably. Something's wrong, and it takes her a minute to piece it together: normally, that would be Pete's cue to drag her kicking and sometimes biting into whatever the rest of the band is doing. 

Today, Tricia's not even sure that Pete noticed her getting back on the bus.

Tricia sighs, collects her laptop and goes out. She'll be damned if she sulks in her bunk like a little kid because Pete is best-friend-cheating on her.

~~

Someone taps on the table in front of Tricia. It's mindfully done, the guy doesn't touch her or anything and his hand is in her line of sight, but she still jumps.

She takes her headphones off and turns around, and it's Ray Toro standing there, arms raised up, placating. "Sorry," he says. "Didn't mean to startle you, I know what it's like to get lost in stuff like that."

"It's fine," Tricia says. "Did you want something?" She bites her lip when she hears how that came out. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude, I was just--"

"In the middle of something?" Ray actually beams, like Tricia said just what he wanted to hear. He's smiling, nodding a little, which makes his hair bounce. "Like I said, I know what it's like. That's actually what I came here for - I mean, I have this studio on the bus, right, and I thought you might like a quiet place to work."

Tricia eyes him, wary. Pete's kept her pretty well buffered from practical jokes so far this tour, and she's not in any real hurry to see how bad it gets when he's not there to shield her. On the other hand, Ray doesn't look like someone with a hidden agenda. In fact, he looks painfully earnest. Like a cocker spaniel holding a frisbee in his mouth. Tricia's immune to Pete's puppy eyes, but this is a whole new level. "Why?" she asks.

Ray opens his mouth, closes it, then looks sheepish. "We heard you got kicked off your bus by the Pete'n'Mikey show. We figured it was the least we could do."

"They didn't kick me off," Tricia mutters, squaring her shoulders, but she packs up her laptop for the second time that day and follows Ray to the My Chem bus. 

"Naw, I get it." Ray opens the door for her, offers to take her laptop bag but doesn't argue when she shakes her head no. "They can be a bit much. We kicked them out, Gee said they were making his coffee taste like corn syrup."

Tricia snorts and sets up her things. The little studio's cramped, but it's private, and there's something calming about sitting there in the midst of all the equipment. Feels right.

~~

The next day she’s feeling better. Mikey Way is still around, but after a relaxing afternoon noodling with GarageBand in Ray’s studio, Mikey’s blank expression seems a lot less like he’s making it specifically to mock her. Maybe his face is just like that.

Pete’s still preoccupied. Tricia decides one day of self-pity is enough and goes in search of her own entertainment. She finds Bill Beckett, who honestly might be a little more entertainment than she bargained for, but she’ll take it.

“Tricia!” Bill’s smile is wide and his posture is loose. He was straightedge for a little while, just when Tricia first got to know him. Now he’s most emphatically not. “Hey, dude, come sit with us!”

Us, besides Bill, are Travis, Disashi and Tom, lounging in the shade under one of the buses. Tricia sits down, leaning back and contorting a little so her face isn’t in the sun. It’s kind of a futile efforts.

Travie notices that pretty quick. He grins at her. “Here, sit with me.”

Tricia eyes the little patch of dirt Travie pats - it really doesn’t look big enough to fit - then shrugs and butt-slides there anyway. Travis has no sense of personal space.

Then again, neither does anyone else on this tour, as Bill proves by dramatically falling into both Tricia and Travie’s laps. “I want to go swimming,” Bill says, pathetic. Travis pats him on the head.

Disashi pokes Tricia in the shoulder and offers her an ear bud. “Listen to these guys. They’re pretty good.”

They are, if a little rough - but then, it’s metal, rough is half the point. Tricia tunes out Bill’s whining and lets Disashi show her (in a manner of speaking) all the cool new stuff he’s got on his iPod. Tom hears rumors of popsicles and runs off. The day’s really far too hot to spend in close proximity to the hot metal of the busses and three sweaty boys, but Tricia’s built up a tolerance.

~~

The show that night feels awesome, Tricia feeling charged up, bouncing on stage and not caring if her boobs do their own little dance with her. Afterward she’s mellow and grinning, slumped on the couch in their bus’ lounge, too satisfied and lazy to switch out of her sweaty performance clothes. People come and go, chattering, some of them high-fiving her. Pete’s around at some point, and then he’s not.

Tricia never understood the people who get trashed on tour. It’s just so completely redundant.

~~

Even having made her peace with the inevitability of Pete-and-Mikeyway, Tricia’s grateful to be able to escape to Toro’s studio when shit gets particularly bad. Mikey’s not the aspiring nudist Pete is - Tricia doesn’t actually think she’s seen him shirtless the entire tour, which is something of a rarity in this bunch of exhibitionists - but he’ll occupy any empty space around Pete, bending himself into unlikely poses like a skinny eel. An eel that wordlessly demands that Pete scratch him behind the ears like a cat.

Okay, Tricia might be a little bitter. She’s trying not to let it get the best of her.

When she suspects herself in danger of acting snippy, she goes to work on music in My Chem’s bus. The air conditioner’s usually on and the sound equipment blocks the already-small windows. It’s like a cool, dry little cave.

Ray’s often in there with her. He’s a big guy - or maybe he’s an average-sized guy and Tricia’s just used to hanging with, as Pete puts it, “sweet little dudes”. Either way, he takes up more physical space than most guys she knows. At the same time, he barely seems to take up any space at all, sitting still and quiet but for the notes from his guitar.

He doesn’t mind when Tricia’s quiet and he doesn’t mind when she offers her opinions on the riffs he’s working on. Tricia may be getting a teeny, tiny little crush on him.

Bob hangs in with them some of the time. Tricia lets him listen to her tracks - he’s got a soundman’s ear and a drummer’s, he’s good at pointing out bits where the rhythm’s off. Toro chimes in talking about compositions in a way that make Tricia wish she’d learned more music theory, but he never makes her feel ignorant like some guys she’s known, just happy to explain everything he knows.

In Tricia’s opinion, at least two-fifths of My Chem are absolutely awesome guys. She’s aware her dislike of Mikey is mostly irrational, and Gerard and Frank give her this instinctive Too cool for me freaky vibe that she also had with Pete for approximately three seconds before she realized Pete was the biggest dork ever born.

But Bob and Ray. Yeah.

So one day she’s in the studio - alone, as sometimes happens - working something out to some of Pete’s more vicious lyrics because if she’s going to be petty she may as well be productive about it. The opening door is movement in the corner of her eye, but nobody comes in. This happens sometimes, someone looking for Ray and only finding Tricia there.

When she gets out of her working trance, though, she notices something on the floor.

It’s a Warhammer 40k space marine figurine, only the crest on its chest has been sanded away and someone drew a weird smiley-faced logo there instead. Next to it, there’s a note saying in spiky handwriting: I’m lost and away from home. Please take me back :(

Tricia snorts and picks it up. Just outside the studio door there’s a tyrant guard waiting for her, this one noteless but propped up so its blades are pointing towards the bus lounge.

When Tricia gets there, she finds the entirety of My Chemical Romance, sans Mikey, sitting around a table. Bob looks pained, Ray is frowning thoughtfully at the array of units in front of him, Frank is rolling dice with a maniacal expression - although, so far in Tricia’s limited acquaintance with him, he always looks like that.

Gerard has a GM’s screen and a demented, beaming smile that’s turned right at Tricia. “Ray said you play,” he says.

Tricia shrugs awkwardly. “Sometimes.”

Gerard expansively gestures at the table. He lifts up another space marine and intones, “I see you’ve brought our back our brethern.”

And this is how Tricia discovers that Pete is not, after all, the biggest dork ever born. No, that title belongs to Gerard Way, rock star, roleplayer and comic book fan.

~~

“I’m sorry about Mikey,” Gerard says a few days later. It’s a nice, sunny day out that’s miraculously not too hot, and most of the tour’s soaking up sunshine in the hour they have before the buses have to get going.

Tricia gets sunburned just looking out the window, though, and Gerard has his vampire cred to protect, so they stay indoors, playing a truly stupid card game where you get people married and make them have dynasties.

“He was always kind of like this,” Gerard carries on earnestly. Earnest, Tricia has found, is just Gerard’s basic setting, like unimpressed is Mikey and monkey on speed is Frank’s. “Like, when I was this major nerd in high school, he was friends with all the cool kids in my class. He was embarrassed to be seen with me.”

Against her will, Tricia snorts. She remembers being a little kid, getting plates of cookies for her big brother’s friends so she could hang out in the room with them while they played music and bullshitted. “I don’t buy that.”

Gerard’s smile is goofy, but a little sad somehow. “Okay, I was maybe exaggerating his embarrassment. But the bit about him hanging out with the cool kids is true.”

That, Tricia doesn’t doubt. “And him from such a good, geeky lineage, too,” she says with the straightest face she can manage.

Gerard points his finger at her. “Exactly. I have no idea where I went wrong.” He shakes his head mournfully. “And now he’s hanging out with the likes of Pete Wentz.”

I hang out with the likes of Pete Wentz,” Tricia says. “Pretty sure nobody would accuse me of betraying my geeky roots.”

Gerard turns around, locking gazes with her. “Tricia,” he says, “I hate to point this out, but you’re a rock star.”

At that, Tricia can no longer keep it in. She gasps out laughter, so overcome with it she has to flop out on the couch and kick weakly at the air. “Dude,” she says when she can get the breath for it, “so are you.”

Gerard actually looks kind of sad for a moment, saying, “I really am.” Then he perks up and brightens. “I really am!”

When Frank gets on the bus an hour later they’re still giggling about it. “What’s so funny?” he demands.

“Frank.” Gerard’s better than Tricia at maintaining his Serious Face. “We,” he gestures around the room, “are rock stars!” Then he dissolves back into giggles.

“Damn fucking straight,” Frank said, sounding extremely smug about it. “C’mon, rock stars, I need to kick your collective asses in Settlers of Catan."