No one noticed immediately when Tyson's glitter-phase ended and he started wearing shirts on stage again, because Tyson liked to shake things up sometimes – it was kind of what Tyson did – and he'd probably go back to the glitter sooner or later. Tyson loved glitter.
But it shocked nobody that the first person to notice was Nick.
"Hey, dude, where's all your glitter gone?" he asked one morning. "It's not all over the floor like normal."
Tyson just shrugged and turned another page of his book. "Got rid of it."
A silence fell over the bus. "You what?" Nick frowned.
"I got rid of it. Not really very me anymore, dahling." He drawled affectedly, then glanced up with a grin. "Don't get all broody on me, Nicky, I just got bored of dancing half-naked for the underaged."
"Tyson," Nick said slowly, "You love dancing half-naked for the underaged."
"You love nakedness full stop." Chris pointed out with a shudder.
"Been there, done that." Tyson shrugged again and went back to his book. And that, so they all thought, was that.
Nick would probably not have admitted it if asked, but he kind of missed the opportunity to ogle his friend on stage. Still, everyone had their cross to bear, and if Nick's was a distinct lack of half-naked friend, well, he figured he'd got off pretty lightly.
On top of the sudden cessation of glitter, there were also Tyson's inexplicable absences whenever they had a day off. He didn't make excuses not to spend time with them, he didn't talk about "me time", complete with camp hand-gesture, he just... wasn't there. Ever. The first time this happened, it was cause for some alarm amongst the rest of them.
"You seen Ty this morning?" Mike asked Nick, reaching across him for the coffee. "Still asleep?"
"Nope." Nick frowned, glancing round the hotel restaurant. "Weird, I thought he'd be down here."
"He's being pretty stealthy about it if he is." Mike grinned, cradling his coffee lovingly. "And I don't hear screaming girls anywhere near. Maybe he went for a walk?"
"Yeah, maybe." Nick's frown didn't ease all the way through breakfast and when Tyson was still not in attendance at lunch, even Shabba agreed that something might be wrong.
"I'll ring round." He promised, a worried crease in his forehead. "He's probably wandered off with strangers again."
The humour didn't defuse the atmosphere of worry all that much. "I'm seriously thinking about putting him on a baby-leash." Nick muttered and went back to fretting uselessly.
It was three in the afternoon before Tyson bounded back into the lobby of the hotel, wind-blown and grinning, and the rest of his band descended on him with worried, disappointed frowns.
"And just where do you think you've been?" Nick demanded curtly, and Tyson's grin disappeared. In fact, he looked almost – nervous, an unheard-of occurrence. Nick didn't think he'd seen Tyson nervous since his first date with Alice Lynn in middle school. He hadn't even looked this off-balance before their first big show.
"I. Um. I needed some fresh air." He said weakly, and it took conscious effort for Nick not to tap his foot irritably.
"Six hours worth of fresh air?" Shabba asked pointedly, and Tyson blushed. Actually blushed, which was a pretty sure sign that the world was about to end.
"I fell asleep. Sorry."
"You fell asleep." Shabba repeated sceptically. "You fell asleep whilst out getting six hours of fresh air."
Tyson had recovered his equilibrium and with it his bravado. "Yes. I went out to get some fresh air and fell asleep." He met Shabba's eyes for a long moment, then grinned widely. "So, did you all have fun without me?"
And then, on top of the lack of glitter and the strange disappearances, there was the sudden decrease in touch. Tyson was a tactile person, Nick knew this from long, long experience. There had been times when Tyson's desire to touch people had been the bane of Nick's life, but that was before he managed to get his crush back into perspective and their relationship back onto a reasonable level. He was immune to Tyson's over-exuberant hugs, the kisses he pressed to Nick's cheeks, the obscene gestures he made on stage. He even managed to return some of them nowadays.
Apparently he'd been less immune to them than he'd thought, because now? He really fucking missed them.
A month and a half into the New Tyson – as Mike had christened him – the triumvirate convened. They had a stretch of three or four days off, Tyson had once again disappeared, and they had all had enough of New Tyson. He wasn't anywhere near as interesting as the old one had been.
"He turned into a disappearing pod-person when we weren't looking!" Nick said, voice tense with annoyance. "It's getting fucking frustrating."
"How are we supposed to practice if he's never here?" Mike agreed. "And, dude, I never thought I'd say this, but I actually kind of miss the glitter."
"Can't say I miss all the bad-touch, though." Chris offered, and Nick kept carefully silent on that point.
"We have to do something." He said, instead.
Chris raised an eyebrow. "It's not like we can stage an intervention." He pointed out. "I mean, what would we say? 'We think you're being too normal, stop it.'"
"He is, though!" In his frustration, that almost came out as a wail.
"OK." Mike stepped in quickly. "Let's deal with the disappearance thing first, right, OK? We'll – when he goes out tomorrow, we'll follow him."
"Like that'll solve anything." Nick said, despondently, and Chris sighed.
"It'll give us something to do. And it might get you to stop moping."
Thus, it was decided.
Tyson was, they found, getting up at ass o'clock in the morning for his stunts, and they dragged themselves out of bed to follow him down, hiding behind an enormous potted fern as he made his way out the lobby then sprinting in an uncoordinated rush out the door so he couldn't turn a corner and get away from them.
They followed him, with varying degrees of stealth, for maybe half an hour until he reached a deserted lake just outside town, cliffs on one side and a gentle incline down to the water on the other. Tyson inadvertently led them up to the top of the cliffs and stood at the edge, staring up at the sky in total silence for a long, long moment.
"What, so Ritter's been disappearing so he can commune with nature or some shi-" Chris began, but before he could finish, Tyson took one large step right up to the edge of the cliff, and then another and before Nick could even move from their hiding place behind a rather sparse bush, Tyson was falling out of sight.
"No!" Nick managed, rather hoarsely, running towards the edge, Chris and Mike hard on his heels, when Tyson bobbed up again, looking around sharply.
He looked normal – rather dishevelled and sleep-deprived, but normal – except for the part where he was flying.
"Dude." Mike managed. "Dude, what the – what the everloving fuck?!"
Tyson was somewhat reluctant to come back on to solid ground – "You'll beat me!" he wailed – but they managed to coax him back onto the cliff edge, and Chris managed to catch Nick before his knees gave out, and they sat in silence for a good five minutes before anyone said anything. Tyson looked rather sullen about the whole thing and was inclined to pout; the rest of them were too busy getting over the fact that their frontman had grown wings and never bothered to mention it.
"So." Chris said, finally. "You. Grew wings. Over night." Tyson nodded, still maintaining his sullen silence. "When is Professor Xavier going to arrive?"
"Dude, I'm not a fucking mutant, OK?" Tyson snapped. "I. Made a wish upon a star."
Nick really couldn't have stopped the rather hysterical shout of laughter that got. "I'm sorry, you what!?"
"I was really drunk, OK!?" Tyson retorted defensively. "And I wished upon a falling star for wings, and I freaking got them."
"Can't you – unwish them or something?" Mike asked.
The first flash of enthusiasm. "Why would I want to?" he asked. "I can fly!"
"I'm just amazed that you didn't think to mention that little development earlier!" Nick said, his voice higher and unsteadier than he would have liked. "You fly! You have wings!"
"Very pretty wings." Tyson pointed out with a beatific smile. "Seriously, guys, look at them, they're all gauzy and sparkly and-"
"You gave up your glitter fetish for WINGS!" Nick shouted, his voice cracking embarrassingly over the words because, hey, that was something of a shock, and also, a shirtless winged Tyson was kind of insanely, uncomfortably hot.
"Why would I need glitter when my wings sparkle?" Tyson actually had the nerve to look smug about that.
"They're ugly." Nick said petulantly.
"Nicky Wheeler, you lying bastard." Tyson said complacently. "Look, guys, I know it's a shock, OK? But they fold up really small and no one can tell they're there under a T-shirt and if you don't touch me, no one knows they're there at all. There is no lose."
"Except when you have one night stands and it ends up all over the internet!" Nick pointed out heatedly.
Chris steered the conversation firmly back onto a more reasonable course. "Modelling, Ty. How are you going to model when you can't change in front of people?"
"I'll pull the diva rockstar thing, it'll be fine." Tyson shrugged. The movement made the fine, shimmery-gauze of his wings – his fucking wings, Nick groaned internally – bounce a little, catching and refracting the light in pretty interesting patterns.
"Can I touch them?" escaped him before he could stop it.
Tyson paused, then grinned. "Go for it."
Mike raised an eyebrow. "Nick, don't encourage him-" he began, but Nick was already moving, stroking a hand down one weird, silky wing. He totally missed the fine shudder it caused. Bolder, he ran a finger along the ridge at the top, and positioned as he was, missed the way Tyson's pupils dilated. Mike and Chris had no such luxury.
"Er, Nick, I think you should-"
"Nick, I don't think-"
Was all they had time fore before Tyson pounced. "Feels really good, Nicky." He breathed, yanking Nick down for a long, adrenaline fuelled kiss.
"Oomph!" was Nick's only addition to the conversation. He was also, Mike noticed, not struggling in the least to get away.
Five minutes later, with no end in sight, Chris and Mike withdrew. There were some things no one should have to see.
When Tyson and Nick returned to the hotel a couple of hours later, wind-blown, dishevelled and grinning, Shabba met them with a wry head-shake, and kept his peace.