"Make room," Bert says and tosses himself onto the bed Bob is sprawled on.
Bob shuffles the magazine she's reading to the side and oomphs when Bert crawls over her. "For fuck's sake, McCracken." Bert ignores her in favor of slinging one leg on top of her thighs and burrowing his head against her chest. "Christ, your hair!"
Bert looks up from where he's pillowed his head right on her tits. His eyes are fey and sweet from this angle, and his smile is young. "What? It's clean."
"And soaking wet, you shithead." Bob squirms uncomfortably against the moisture bleeding through her t-shirt. "If I get pneumonia, I will make you sound like shit. I mean it."
"You always mean it." Bert's smile shifts into a grin that he presses into the valley between her breasts. "You're good like that."
Bob rolls her eyes and shifts under Bert until she's not being stabbed by the underwire in her bra. Bert makes several discontent noises and then starts humming when she settles down. Bob arranges the magazine so that she can keep reading it despite Bert half-laying on her.
The first time Bert tried this, Bob almost punched him in the face and kneed him in the balls. The thing about Bert, though, is that as weird and fucked up as he can be, he's also got this streak of innocence to him that always manages to surprise people. Bob doesn't think Bert actually considers her chest to be anything more than a soft place to put his head, which is really fucking weird in Bob's experience, but whatever. That's Bert for you.
She's halfway through the magazine when the sounds of the shower cuts off in the bathroom. Jeph comes out thirty seconds later, a towel wrapped around his waist and his wet hair slicked back on his head.
He grins at Bob and Bert, then goes to a pile of clothes by his bag. He picks up a pair of jeans, sniffs the crotch and ass area, then shrugs and drops his towel. Bob slides her eyes away and looks back at her magazine.
"You hanging with us tonight, Bob?" Jeph asks.
Bob's been hearing enough voices coming from Quinn and Branden's connecting room to know they probably brought at least half a dozen people back from the show with them, and she knows the significance of Jeph going commando. "Nope. Hey, toss me my cigs, will you?"
Jeph lobs them at her on his way back into the bathroom. He talks to Bert loudly over the sound of a blow dryer, and with the ease of practice Bob manages to block out yet another scarring discussion of bowel movements. Sometimes she really wishes the guys weren't so comfortable around her because, seriously, she doesn't need to know this much about anyone's bathroom escapades, masturbatory habits, porn preferences, or random 'nad acne.
It's the trade off for not being treated like a possible lay, though, and Bob does her best to ignore most of what she doesn't want to know or hear.
She's almost done with the magazine and her cigarette when Jeph lands on the bed next to her and Bert. He props himself up on one elbow and reaches out to twirl a lock of Bob's short hair around his index finger. Bob pulls away from his hand and sets the magazine aside.
"You should stick around," Jeph says. He rolls until he's plastered against Bert's back and holds himself up so that his face is just a few inches from Bob's. "We've got booze. We've got people. We've got condoms. It promises to be fun."
Bert shoves his elbow back and catches Jeph right in the ribs. "I can't breathe."
Jeph flops over onto his back and looks up at Bob, coy and inviting. "I can guarantee that you'll get laid." He arches a brow and his back at the same time. "Guarantee."
Bob stares at him, her face purposely unimpressed. "Wow. You're hitting new depths of creepy."
Bert laughs against her chest and Jeph pretends to pout. Bob crushes out her cigarette in the ashtray on the sidetable, then slips out from under Bert and climbs off the bed. She checks her pocket for her room key, makes sure she has her cigarettes, and stops at the foot of the bed to grab a six-pack of beer from the cooler there.
"See you guys tomorrow," she says on her way out.
Brian is coming out of Bob's room when she gets there, holding her bag in one hand and a bottle of Southern Comfort in the other.
"The fuck, Schechter?" she asks, confused.
Brian looks a little pissed. "Quinn's not the only one who brought people back. I didn't think you'd want to stay in there with all of that going on."
Bob's eyes go wide. "Oh, you've got to be fucking kidding me. No. No way! Where am I supposed to sleep, Brian?"
As far as Bob knows the only other room they've got is the one Brian's sharing with the skeevy roadie that Bob had to mace ten minutes after meeting. No way in Hell is she going to sleep in the same damn room as that bastard.
Brian holds up a hand--the one with the SoCo, which Bob suddenly and desperately wants to be drinking--in a calming gesture. "Listen, okay? I took care of it. You're in with me--"
"I am not going to--"
"--and only me. I put Wes in your room."
Okay, that's reassuring. Except. "Did you get his key? Because I don't trust him. At all."
"I have it. He's got all of his shit, and I grabbed your stuff, so it'll be fine."
Bob takes a deep breath and presses a hand to her head. "Jesus. You had me worried for a minute."
"No fucking faith. You know I've got your back." Brian grins and shoves the SoCo at her. "Here, take this. We're down the hall."
Bob sort of feels like an idiot because, yeah, Brian's had her back every time they've worked together, and he's a lot better about it than some tour managers have been. She's been thrown to the wolves, and sometimes it's been because people think she needs to be able to deal with being a woman in this business or get the fuck out of it, but sometimes it's been out of pure dickery to scare her off.
"Thanks, man," Bob says when they get to their room.
Brian looks around from locking and chaining the door. "No problem. I already showered, so help yourself."
"I'll shower in the morning. Tonight I want to get shitfaced." She holds up the SoCo and beer, shaking them enticingly at Brian. "You up for it?"
"Bring it on."
They shotgun three beers each in ten minutes, then Brian pulls out a bunch of half-empty bottles of mixers and they try to find a combination that will make the SoCo taste less like sunscreen. After the fourth failed attempt it doesn't even matter anymore because the SoCo has stripped their tongues raw and they can't taste a damn thing.
When they're on the wrong side of buzzed and coming up on really drunk, Brian brings out a CD player. He puts it on the table between the two beds and sits next to Bob on the bed she's claimed as her own.
"I want you to hear something." He pushes play and they listen to the first track. When it's done, Brian pause the CD and looks at her expectantly.
Bob lifts a brow. "Are these the guys you told me about?"
Brian nods. "Yeah. My Chemical Romance. What do you think?"
It's hard to get a good idea of a band from one song but Brian's been raving about these guys lately so she pokes his shoulder. "Lemme hear the rest."
They put the disc on repeat while they finish off the SoCo. They're talking while they listen and drink, bullshitting about the tour and a bunch of other stuff, but somewhere around the third replay Bob feels it, right between her shoulder blades. All we are.../All we are is bullets/I mean this.
She blinks and stares at Brian. "Fuck. This is good. They're--"
"Gonna be fucking great," Brian finishes, giddy and excited that she gets it, feels it. "I know. I fucking told you."
Bob's sitting cross-legged now, her drink tucked between her thighs, her hands moving almost absently as she wields imaginary drumsticks and tries to follow the beat. She doesn't realize she's doing it until Brian reaches out and touches her arm. Bob freezes.
"You drum?" he asks, surprised.
Bob hesitates, then nods slowly. "Yeah. Well, I used to."
Brian looks at where her hands are moving again. "Looks like you still do. Why sound and not drumming?"
Bob shrugs and puts her drink on the table between the beds. She curls up on her side and looks at where Brian's stretched out at the foot of the bed. "I didn't want to be someone's gimmick. Besides, I'm more comfortable behind the scenes." She extends her leg and kicks his side lightly. "What about you? Ever want to be on stage?"
"Hell no." Bob grins at the horrified look on his face. "But I do want to manage." He looks at the CD player briefly. "I want to manage them."
Bob's not surprised. Brian has ambition and motivation, and is always looking to learn more to move upwards and onwards. "You'd be good at that," she says after thinking about how good a tour manager Brian is.
"I'm glad you think so, because so far they're not going for it."
"If anyone can make it happen, it's you, Schechter."
Brian turns his head and grabs her foot, which is still next to his side. "Would you come with me? Do sound?"
"As long as you can pay me, sure. I'm easy like that."
Brian laughs and lets go of her foot. "Keep going the way you have been and I won't be able to afford you." He drops his empty cup to the floor and stretches. "I'm done, I think."
So is Bob. They've got a late start tomorrow, which is nice, but they'll be getting to their venue with just enough time to set up and do sound check, and she doesn't want to be hungover and off her game. Brian slides to the floor and stumbles to his own bed while Bob squirms under her blankets.
"Can we leave the music on?" Bob asks.
In the morning, after Bob and Brian trade off on showers--"I need another one; I reek of stale booze and smoke," Brian complains--they collect their shit, clean up their mess, and go across the street to get coffee. There's about an hour before Brian has to start wrangling the others, which is a chore that Bob doesn't envy.
"Look, you can say no," Brian says as they cross the street with their coffees, "but I've got a proposition."
Bob slants a look at him. "Shoot."
"I want you and Wes to switch rooming assignments permanently."
Bob takes a deep drink of her coffee. "No."
"Why the fuck not?" he asks, and he sounds so damn reasonable that Bob wants to hit him. "You hate sharing with those two techs, I know it. And, honestly? I'm ready to fucking strangle Wes. This is the perfect solution."
"Oh, please." Bob glares at Brian over the top of her sunglasses. She hates it when he ignores important shit. "You know what it'll look like if I start sharing with you. No. No, no, no. A world of no."
"I think everyone will understand--"
"No, they'll say they understand," Bob interrupts harshly. "To my face. Maybe even to your face. But to each other? They'll say something different and we both know what it'll be. I am not opening myself up to that shit."
Brian grabs her arm and stares at her seriously. "No one thinks you fucked your way into this gig, or any other gig."
She shakes his hand off. God, she is too tired to be dealing with a well meaning but apparently oblivious Brian Schechter. "That's because I work really hard to make sure they don't," she snaps.
And she sees the moment that Brian gets it, when he realizes just how deliberate all of Bob's choices and actions are, and why they have to be that way.
"That really fucking sucks," he says eventually.
Bob's lips twist. "That's life."
Brian slings an arm around her shoulder and pulls her against his side. Bob resists for a second, then gives in and wraps an arm around his waist. They finish their coffees and have a cigarette each that way before Brian heads back inside to rally the troops.
Bob takes a deep breath, puts on her game face, and follows him in.