Bob is kicking Frank's ass at Halo when Gerard comes into the front lounge and says, "We need to stage an intervention."
"What?" Frank asks, half-turning to look at Gee. Bob takes advantage of the distraction to leap down on Frank and shove him off his motorbike. "Motherfucker," Frank yells, and pelts after Bob on foot, wildly firing his gun.
"Seriously, guys," Gerard says, "it's Ray."
Bob's thumb hits the pause button, sudden and instantaneous, and then he gets up off the couch to turn off the TV and the Xbox. "Just because you're winning," Frank says, but Bob doesn't care, because he's been playing Halo with Frank and watching Buffy with Mikey and drinking pot after pot of coffee with Gee, but he hasn't seen Ray on the bus in days. "Shut up, Frank, Gerard's got a point."
"Thank you, Bob," Gerard says courteously, and Frank rolls his eyes, "as I was saying, Ray has been holed up in the studio for five days. Working. Alone." Gerard crosses his arms, trying just a little too hard to look serious and adult, "He's coming out for shows, obviously, but I don't think he's eating. Or, fuck, like, taking breaks. I went in this morning to talk about lyrics, and he's starting to look a little frayed around the edges." Too much of the weight of writing a new album falls on Toro, and they all know it; they all worry, but it's easy to forget, when Ray shoulders the burden and loses himself in the music and never asks anyone for help.
"I'll go talk to him," Bob says quietly.
Gerard smiles, pleased, and Bob feels suddenly transparent, his cheeks hot. "If you haven't seen us by sound check," he adds gruffly, "you should probably send in the troops. Just in case he starts in on drums or something."
Frank and Gerard both laugh, and then Gerard sits down on the couch and pokes Frank in the side and they're off, arguing about comics and album art. Bob goes down the hall to the studio.
Ray is frowning intently at the computer screen, headphones over his ears and one hand tapping out a beat on the edge of the table. He doesn't look up, so Bob sits down on the couch next to Ray's acoustic and watches him quietly, takes in the way his hair lies flat where he's been wearing headphones for too long, the faded Metallica t-shirt and bare feet and ink under his fingernails, the way he bites his lip and narrows his eyes and tugs chords out of air with his long fingers. When he reaches out blindly for his guitar, Bob puts the neck into his hand and Ray blinks, freezes, and finally turns to look at him.
"Um," he says, his voice high and scratchy with disuse, "How long have you been there?"
Bob shrugs, because he's not really sure if it was ten minutes or an hour.
Ray takes off his headphones and stretches, cracking his neck. "Sorry I didn't—um, I was—" he waves one hand and scratches his shoulder with the other, fidgety and unfocused now that he's no longer completely absorbed in the music.
"It's cool," Bob says, "You were sort of engrossed."
Ray laughs, "Yeah, I guess." He rolls his wrists, loosening the kinks, and says, "Did you want to do some drum parts?"
Bob always wants to do some drum parts. He opens his mouth, the "yes" ready on his tongue, but Gerard was right: Ray is looking a little frayed around the edges. "Maybe later," he says instead, because he's on a mission to save Toro from himself.
Ray frowns, disappointed. "Okay," he says, "I guess, well, it can wait." He looks back at the computer and shrugs, "I'm still working on the guitars and vocals, anyway."
"Actually," Bob starts, but Ray is already lost, again, eyes on the laptop screen and hands on the keys, eyes glazing over with melodies. "Toro," Bob says, louder, "Ray, seriously, you need to take a fucking break."
"Yeah," Ray says absently, "When I'm done with this. I will."
"Ray," Bob says again, but Ray doesn't turn, just flaps a hand at Bob and reaches for his headphones.
Bob sighs, counting out a slow, measured ten, and then he slides to his knees in the tiny space between the couch and the table and puts his hands on Ray's thighs, shoving them apart so that he can bend his head and mouth along the front of Ray's jeans.
"Uh—" Ray says, high and startled. Bob cups a hand against Ray's cock, and Ray clears his throat and tries again, "What are you—um. Bob?"
When Bob looks up Ray is staring down at him, wide-eyed and hot, utterly confused. He's taken off the headphones again, but the laptop is still open. "You need to take a fucking break, Ray," Bob says, "turn off the laptop and pay attention." He undoes the fly of Ray's jeans and raises his eyebrows. "Work with me, here."
"Oh," Ray says, "Yeah, um, okay." He folds the laptop shut and Bob tugs his jeans down around his ankles. His boxers have instruments on them: guitars and trumpets and tiny drums. Bob almost starts laughing, but then Ray's cock twitches under his hand and he has more important things to worry about.
"Shit," Ray squeaks, when Bob bends his head to lick at Ray's cock. "Fuck, okay, it's been a while, and I, um, are you sure you actually, because this might be weird, later—" and Bob really should have known that Ray was a talker. He pulls Ray's cock out through the front of his boxers and wraps his fist around the base, jacks him quick and dirty until he's hard in Bob's hand.
"Shut up, Ray," he says, and sucks the head of Ray's cock into his mouth. Above him, Ray makes a tiny, choked-off noise, and suddenly Bob really wants to get him in a bed, somewhere private with a door that locks, but right now he just squeezes Ray a little tighter and slides his mouth down to meet his fist.
"Fuck," Ray says distinctly, and puts one hand on the back of Bob's neck. He doesn't grab, though, and he doesn't thrust into Bob's mouth, either, which Bob appreciates abstractly but finds infuriating in the moment. Of course Toro has fucking perfect blow job manners.
Bob pulls off just enough to say, "You don't have to be polite," and then slides his mouth back down. Ray's hips jerk and Bob laughs around his cock and sucks him harder, dirtier, tightens his fist and uses his tongue until Ray finally—finally—lets go.
"I'm gonna—Bob—" Ray says breathlessly, at last, and Bob sucks him through it, swallowing around him as he comes. "Oh my god," Ray groans, sounding equal parts amazed and appalled. Bob laughs as he sits back on his heels and wipes his hand across his mouth.
"Um," Ray is staring down at him, flustered and debauched. "Uh, not that I'm complaining, really, but what the fuck?"
There are teeth marks on Ray's lower lip, a sharp indent where he must have been biting his lip to stay quiet. "You really needed to take a break," Bob says.
"So you decided you would blow me?" Ray demands, voice breaking.
Bob can't stop staring at Ray's mouth. "Also I wanted to," he says, and then, because it's true, "you're really hot when you're focused."
"Okay, but—" Ray is blushing, red spots high on his cheeks, and Bob puts his hands in Ray's hair and pulls him down for a kiss.
Ray kisses slowly, cautiously inquisitive, but his mouth is warm and wide as he sucks on Bob's tongue. Bob is suddenly extremely aware of how hard he is. "Do we really have to talk about it?" he asks plaintively against Ray's mouth, and Ray laughs and slides off the edge of his chair to meet Bob on the floor. "Okay," he says, "but what about—I was working, Bob."
"Hey," Bob says, tugging gently on Ray's hair, "I came in here to make you stop working, okay, just for a little while. The music isn't going to disappear, and you're not—you don't have to do it all alone, Ray."
"I am pretty distracted, now," Ray admits, half-rueful. He's smiling, though, and he kisses the corner of Bob's mouth and slides a hand up the back of his shirt, tapping out a meter along the bones of his spine.
"Good," Bob says, and kisses him back in time.