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Hot American Summer, or The Hardest Thing to Swallow

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It’s times like these that make Mike wonder why he doesn’t build a time machine powered by regret to return to the time that Fall Out Boy asked him to be their rhythm guitarist.

Bill hasn’t written a single usable line since last week’s “run, run, why are you running from another conversation.” That pretty accurately describes his recent actions. He spends half the day ignoring his phone and the other half delivering excuses to Adam, Butcher, Tom… anyone who isn’t Mike, really.

Sisky’s still permanently wrapped around Bill’s little finger. Same as the day Mike first met him. If Bill tells Sisky that he wants to disappear completely or take a year-long trip around the world for inspiration, Mike’s sure that Sisky will just smile and nod and eagerly ask if Bill needs him to do anything for him in that time. Too bad Bill can’t tell Sisky to write songs for him.

Butcher’s been quiet. Mike knows that he’s eager to write and record and get back to playing music. New music. The waiting and fighting is taking its toll on him. He’s not fed up with Bill’s excuses yet—not like Mike is—but he’s getting tired of it all. Mike considers Butcher his ally in this turmoil.

And Tom…

Tom is really starting to piss everyone off with his refusal to contribute. All he does is whine about how much the band is fighting, which is the last thing that Mike (and the rest of the band) needs to hear.

One of these days, Mike’s not going to be able to resist the wolf that keeps telling him to tear into Tom’s golden fur until it’s soaked with blood.

‘Can you guys stop arguing?’

Fucking.

‘Don’t make me pick a side.’

Tom.

‘We’re friends. We shouldn’t have to bully each other like this.’

Conrad.

……

The first day of tour is always a hectic fucking mess of crews trying to make sure the gear is in the right place, managers trying to keep their bands in check at all times, and bands just trying to get used to the routine again. And there’s five bands this time. Gotta hit the ground running.

Mike’s been touring long enough to know that he just has to wait out the first-day mayhem. At least everyone here is used to it. Fall Out Boy and their crew are chaotic most of the time and Mike’s heard that +44 can be just as wild. Mike doesn’t know what to expect from Cobra Starship and Paul. But he knows Fall Out Boy’s guys, and he doubts Gabe has changed much since they last toured together. They’ll fall into some kind of routine soon.

Mike can already taste the vodka and weed and pizza. Although… That might just be because he could smell two out of the three when he passed Fall Out Boy’s bus earlier. And he stole a bottle of the third when he swung by Cobra’s, which is now stashed in his bunk.

And that brief contact with Cobra’s guys (and girl) gave him a good first impression. Seems like Cobra knows how to have a good time. Fucking nice.

Having a good time… partying… even just playing shows and drowning his mind in the music… it all helps to distract from the wolf that fills Mike with the need to shift, run, fight. The wolf that needs to be around other wolves but also needs to wrestle those other wolves to the ground with force that can snap human bones.

Sisky and Butcher understand that. Tom… didn’t understand.

Thank god they’ve got Chislett now.

This is the first actual tour with Chislett. As funny as it was experiencing Bill’s reaction to having another werewolf in the band, Mike’s still apprehensive about how the chemistry of the band will change as the moon waxes and wanes when there’s no escape from one another.

Whatever. The last quarter was a couple days ago and the upcoming new moon means a bit of peace and quiet from the wolf that’s recently been telling him to snap his jaws around Chislett’s neck. Or fuck him.

God, he really doesn’t need to start that shit with another member of the band.

Mike stops just outside the dressing room. He’s about fifteen minutes early and he can hear Bill warming up down the hall by singing the same line from Big Mess over and over. More importantly, Mike can smell Butcher and Sisky in the dressing room. He hovers outside the door, breathing soft and silent. The light isn’t on yet, which may deter humans from entering but doesn’t mean much to a werewolf.

Butcher and Sisky aren’t being too subtle. By the smell, they’re probably about two minutes away from getting each other off.

Mike opens the door and flips the light switch without another moment’s thought.

Sisky and Butcher are tangled together on the couch. Butcher’s frowning and Sisky looks tense.

“Oh, sorry, were you busy?” Mike asks with a smile, shutting the door behind him.

“Yes,” Sisky says, although he’s already starting to pull away from Butcher. He smells so— “You could have waited, like, another minute.”

Yeah. He could have. “Would you rather Bill walk in on you?” Mike walks over to the table piled with snacks and throws a bag of Doritos at Sisky. Sisky blanches, takes the hint, and holds the bag in his lap while he tears it open and starts scarfing down the chips. The scent of nacho cheese powder starts to fill the room.

Butcher’s still frowning at Mike. He finally detaches himself from Sisky and leaves the room without saying anything.

Ungrateful fucker. Mike just did them a favor. See if he does it again.

Besides, there’s no reason to get all upset about this on day one. Butcher can finish sucking Sisky’s face and get around to his cock after they play their show. If he can catch Sisky after the show, of course. Mike knows how excited and energetic and fucking horny Sisky can get after a show. It’s better with more of the wolf dictating Sisky’s thoughts, but still. Those are the times that Sisky’s not picky about who’s with him so long as he gets off. Multiple times. The memories have Mike smiling.

“Wait,” Sisky says in a very loud and completely indiscreet whisper. He drops the Doritos on the couch and races out the dressing room to follow Butcher.

Mike takes the abandoned Doritos and sinks onto the couch. There’s also a box of powdered donuts on the table that look amazing. Technically, the band ate about two hours ago, but Mike was partly occupied arguing with Bill and anyone foolish enough to take his side about the setlist. Just something to take up time.

He digs a handful of chips out of the bag and realizes, as soon as they’re in his mouth, that he left his drink on the bus. He glances around and sees a stack of water bottles beside the powdered donuts. No alcohol. Fuck… is he going to have to go all the way back to the bus to get something?

Bill walks into the dressing room and looks around. “Where’s Butcher and Sisky?”

Probably blowing each other in a closet. Mike snickers around the mouthful of Doritos and Bill narrows his eyes in confusion.

“What?”

Mike shakes his head and covers his mouth to try and contain his mirth. And also to keep from spraying Dorito crumbs all over his clean jeans. They’re not going to be clean for long, but he can try.

“I thought they were here since they aren’t... what’s so funny?”

“Nothing.” He should stop laughing. They’ve got a show to play with some awesome new music that Mike loves. Yeah, think about the music. The music is what’s most important. The Academy Is… is here to do a job, and they’ll have time for screwing around once they’re done.

And he’ll have time to screw around with Sisky after the show. That’ll do good to keep his mind off Chislett.