"You have to fucking write something!" shouts Mike. Tom wants to go back out the door of the bus and down the stairs, but Butcher is right behind her, and Siska is right behind him, so escape is not an option.
"We're going to fucking tour!" William yells back. "Pete wants us with his baby band. We're practically going to fucking headline; I'm not done touring."
"Shit," says Butcher under his breath and even Sisky looks a little queasy.
"Maybe let's go get lunch?" Tom suggests. Bill and Mike are in the bunks, haven't seen any of them yet, they can still get away.
"What if we leave, and they kill each other?" Sisky says. He sighs and slumps back against Butcher. "Dead Mike pieces everywhere."
"Don't underestimate Mike's potential for violently murdering Bill and then making him eat his own feet," says Butcher gravely. He wraps an arm around Sisky's shoulders. Tom watches them curiously, wishes for a camera, all of Butcher's ink next to all of Sisky's pale, unmarked skin.
The yelling continues, and it's the same fight they'd been having before. Tom isn't looking forward to writing the next album at all, but if what Bill says is true, after this summer, they'll just keep touring. Tom would be okay with that -- for all the ways touring sucks, there are three more ways it's the most amazing thing in the world. Tom never wants to go home, wants to stay on the road forever.
She slides over to where her backpack is tucked under the table and grabs her camera out of it, trains it on Butcher and Sisky. Their heads are bent together, and they're talking in low tones, something that isn't meant for her to hear. They're good about ignoring the camera, good about letting her just creep around and photograph them, don't get self-conscious and angry like Mike or flirtatious and sex-pot-y like Bill.
Tom misses film cameras but doesn't miss how any shot that wasn't composed so fucking carefully was a waste; digital, she can take six million pictures. Altering them in photoshop isn't as satisfying as making prints, but it's cheaper, and she can do it on the road with just her camera and a laptop.
Bill comes flying out of the bunks, pushes through Butcher and Sisky, and slams out the door. Tom watches him go through the small, dirty window, snaps a shot quickly just to get it, have it. Maybe it will be good, maybe not.
When Mike comes out, Tom's still got the camera in her face. It is so clear through the viewfinder that Mike is still fucking furious, that she wants William to get started on the next album now, not fuck around on tour and play the same songs every night, that she wants him to have stayed to argue with her instead of running away. Every time he walks out on an argument, Tom knows, it's ten times worse for the rest of them. Tom isn't sure why -- because Mike loses Bill's attention? Because Bill isn't taking music as seriously as Mike does? (Or . . . seriously in the same way, Tom thinks, because Mike's fooling herself if she thinks Bill isn't fucking serious about this shit.)
"That fucking camera!" yells Mike. "Jesus christ, Tom, fuck, get it out of my face!"
Tom tells herself as she lowers the camera to let the yelling slide -- Mike is so pissed she's almost crying, and Tom has seen Mike "deal" with her anger. She punches douchebags and screams and throws shit. She doesn't cry.
She's not fast enough, though, and Mike snarls at her. "You wanna fucking photograph me?" she demands and then her shirt is off. She's not wearing a bra, as usual, and she has tiny little bruises between her breasts where Tom had been biting her last night. A bigger bruise on her side, by her ribs, also from Tom, but older, yellowing already. Tom sucks in a breath.
So do Butcher and Sisky.
"Fucking take my picture then!" Mike yells and pushes off her skirt, steps out of it and kicks it at Tom.
"We're leaving," says Butcher firmly and hauls Sisky out of there.
Tom is too stupid to leave, too stupid to pass on this. She lifts the camera.
"Fine, I fucking will," she snaps and does. Her framing is sloppy because she's not taking her time, just pushing the button and so grateful to have a mostly-empty SD card in the camera. Mike is tanned dark, the bruises even darker spots on her skin, and the way she's standing, thighs spread, arms folded, she looks like an Amazon or one of the Furies.
"You getting my panties in that shot?" sneers Mike, thrusting out her hips and tossing her hair.
"I could if you stand still," Tom shoots back, and -- Mike does, freezes in place as Tom sinks to her knees. She focuses in on Mike's crotch, moves a little off to get the top of Mike's thigh where Tom left a bite mark to match the ones Mike keeps giving her.
("I like the bruises," Tom had said softly one night when there was enough darkness around them that she hadn't felt vulnerable, and now Mike doesn't let them fade, sucks new ones on top to keep them sore and soft.)
Tom gets the way Mike's hips are cocked and the way her ass curves under the pale green cotton of her panties. She gets the arch of Mike's back, her spine, the breadth of her shoulders, the muscles of her biceps. She gets the darkness of Mike's tan on the outsides of her arms and the paleness of her armpit, the brief hint of underarm hair. Mike's pale, less tan skin is practically darker than Tom's tan -- Mike would never let her, but Tom would love photographing them together, all skin and sweat.
She gets Mike's little potbelly, the way her pubic hair curls up and out of her bikini panties, the way her toes dig into her plastic flip-flops like they're trying to hide. The look of defiance on Mike's face.
"I don't want you to," starts Tom, but then she stops because Mike won't thank her for saying, I don't want to make you uncomfortable, or I don't want you to do something you don't really want to do. She loses her chance, anyway, when Mike tosses her hair again.
"Who cares what you want?" she says, and that's when Tom starts to feel weird. Afraid.
"You do," she says, even though she's not entirely sure that's true right now. "You care a lot about what I want."
"You see that through your camera, Tommy?"
Tom gets a picture of the line of Mike's neck, head tossed back, chin up. The way her nipples are hard, her tiny breasts barely even a handful -- barely even a mouthful, and Mike doesn't seem to get off on having her boobs played with, but she also lets Tom mouth at her nipples and bite at her skin without complaint. Tom frames the curve of a breast and the sharp jutting of a nipple against Mike's folded arm, takes the shot. Then she turns the camera off -- she's so tempted to set it to auto, let it take pictures every, whatever, ten seconds, from now until they're done, but she doesn't think Mike's ready for that. Doesn't even think Mike's ready for this, actually, because Mike is right -- Tom does see through her camera, so much better than she sees with her eyes.
"I care about what you want," she says and steps closer to Mike. Closer. She hopes no one's looking through the bus window when she presses their bodies together, Mike's skin hot even through Tom's white t-shirt. "Mike, I --" She stops herself because there's no good place to take this. I know you're upset will have Mike snarling some more at her; What can I do? puts her in the middle of Mike and William -- a place she finds herself far too often anyway; I'm sorry this sucks is fucking patronizing bullshit even though she is sorry this sucks.
"Done with your photographs? Done with me now?" demands Mike. Her hands on her hips now, the force of her glare practically tangible.
"God, are you kidding? Never," Tom blurts out and kisses Mike. "I --" She stops for another kiss, relaxes when she feels Mike's arms slide around her, a hand going under her shirt, sliding through the sweat on her back. She pulls her mouth away to catch her breath and gasps, "I want you all the time," and it is so embarrassingly true. She wishes she hadn't said it, wishes she hadn't shown that part of herself to Mike, especially with Mike in this mood. Fuck.
"Liar," mumbles Mike into her mouth, but before Tom can say anything, Mike's pulling her shirt off, fumbling with her bra, getting her hands on Tom's breasts, biting at her neck.
"Fuck, no." Tom lets her head drop back to give Mike better access to her collarbone, her nipples, anywhere Mike wants to put her mouth. "God, Mike."
"How about this?" Mike says and pushes Tom away, pushes her onto the unsteady table. Tom catches herself with her hands behind her, not sure where this is going -- until she watches Mike pick up the camera. "Let me look at you through this thing, see you, huh?"
There's still an edge of anger in Mike's voice, and it scares Tom a little, just because she knows Mike is capable of saying anything, of taking all Tom's soft places -- the ones Mike has been seeking out for weeks -- and using them against her.
"Look at me without it, and see me," Tom challenges; Mike just snorts and lifts the camera.
"Be beautiful for me," Mike says meanly, and Tom feels her heart starting to crack open. Just a little, but it's already too much. She could meet and match this anger of Mike's, get pissed off herself, yell and scream and throw shit. Tom is capable of that. She just doesn't want to do it -- she wants to calm Mike down, not goad her into another fight.
Tom leans on one elbow and runs a hand over a breast, rubs her thumb over a nipple. She keeps her eyes on Mike, not on the camera Mike's looking down at. She thinks about Mike kissing her fingertips, how yesterday Mike had sat on the floor next to Tom's legs and leaned her head against one of Tom's knees. She thinks about sleeping with Mike, in the same bed in that hotel, the a/c set to arctic so they could curl up together under a pile of blankets. The way Mike had looked in her strap-on, the way she'd said, "You want my cock in you, Tommy?" How she'd fucked hard into Tom, moving her across the bed every time their hips slammed together. How sensitive Mike is after she comes -- Tom can't even breathe on her after, but she can kiss Mike's knees, her feet, suck on the insides of her thighs where her skin is soft and thin.
She thinks about this and stares at Mike, at the angry line between her eyes, at the way her hair falls into her face, growing out of her old greaser haircut. The hickey at her jaw that she isn't bothering to cover, like maybe she wouldn't be embarrassed if people knew Tom was the one bruising her throat.
"What do you see?" she asks, surprised at how deep and hoarse her own voice is. She's wet already, so fuck it -- she lies down on the table and unbuttons her jeans, shoves them off, shoves off her panties, gets a hand between her legs. She comes in seconds, as soon as she gets her fingers around her clit and sucks in a breath, and then she gets her feet up on the table, keeps her knees bent and her legs spread.
Fingers inside, stretching, getting wet. Tom rubs her asshole, gets it wet; it doesn't do much for her, but she knows what it must look like, all shiny under the dim bus lights.
"What do you see, Mike?" she says. Her head is half-off the table, so she can't see Mike anymore, and she's got all the sound turned off on her camera, so she can't tell if Mike is still photographing her. If she could get a better angle for her fingers, get them inside her properly, she could come again, right now, keep going, keep coming while Mike watches her through the camera. "Is this what you wanted?"
"No," Mike says, and Tom swallows hard. But Mike . . . Tom looks up, wet fingers out, and Mike looks shaken. "This isn't what I want."
"Well, figure it the fuck out," Tom snaps. "What the fuck. Jesus, Carden."
She moves to slide off the table -- she wants to grab her shirt and jeans and get the fuck out of there. Mike stops her, steps in front of her, between her legs.
"You haven't called me Carden in a long time," Mike says. She wraps a hand around each of Tom's ankles.
"You haven't been this much of a dick lately," Tom says. She's crunched up, knees almost to her shoulders, and she can't get a breath. If they weren't fighting, this would be almost hot, gasping for air while Mike fucks her.
"I . . ." Mike closes her eyes and presses her forehead to Tom's, her nose to Tom's nose. Her breath is all coffee and cigarettes, and her skin is clammy.
"Mike," says Tom, and she moves just a little to kiss her. Soft, light, barely there. Mike kisses back the same way, hardly moving her mouth. She lets go of one of Tom's ankles, and Tom lowers her leg, takes a slightly deeper breath, wraps her leg around Mike's waist. Mike's naked skin always feels so amazing on Tom's naked skin. Tom could touch her forever.
Tom feels Mike's fingers slip into her. They go right in. Tom is so fucking wet, is always so embarrassingly wet, but Mike seems to love it -- has said she loves it. She fucks Tom with what's gotta be at least three fingers, maybe even four, Tom can't tell, but she feels full, and that's what matters. Mike has the magic fucking touch, always drags her fingers over the right spot inside, hard, even pressure, and the heel of her palm rubs Tom's clit, moves the hood around, gives Tom just the right kind of friction.
"Fu-u-uck, M -- oh, Mike," stutters Tom into Mike's mouth, and she comes, without even thinking about it, without holding her breath or trying for it, just comes on Mike's fingers.
"Come for me again, Tommy," says Mike, and Tom gets even fuller, somehow. She can't move her hips, not really, can't move her body or she'll fall, she's so precarious, even with Mike helping to hold her up. She can only sit there and let Mike fuck her, let Mike push her into another orgasm, let Mike breathe into her mouth and call her Tommy and watch her face.
"Am I -- am I --" Tom chokes out. "Am -- Mike --"
"What, Tommy? You're -- fuck." Mike fucks her harder, twisting her wrist somehow, so there's more pressure, and every time she twists her wrist, her thumb slides over Tom's clit.
"Am I -- good? For you?" gasps Tom. She can't hold the words back, can't do anything but say what's on her mind and hold Mike to her with that leg around Mike's waist.
"Oh, yeah, Tommy -- you're -- you're a good -- good girl --" Mike says, panting. "Good --"
Tom cuts her off with a wail as she comes again. "Mike, I can't," she cries, "please, please," and Mike starts to slide her fingers out. "No, no," Tom says, "more, oh my god, Mike, more."
"Greedy," Mike says, but she's smiling, and her eyes are soft, and Tom feel so much better when Mike's fingers go back inside her.
"Please, I'm there, I just need --"
"I know what you need, Tommy," Mike says. "I can see you." She kisses Tom softly, bends, uses the hand on her ankle to push her back, then uses it to open her up, lick her clit, suck on it, god, oh god, it can't be comfortable for Mike to bend like that, but Tom doesn't care, just wants Mike's hot, wet mouth on her all the time, making her come screaming, making the world fade out around them.
When Bill comes back to the bus, Tom and Mike are in the back lounge. Mike's head is in Tom's lap, and Tom is stroking her hair. It's dirty and sweaty, so Tom is letting what nails she has scrape over Mike's scalp. She's got her camera next to her, and every few minutes, she takes a photograph of Mike's face or the way her feet are pressed together, the way her skirt rides up to show her red satin panties.
Tom has the green ones -- soaked from Mike and where Tom had licked her through them -- tucked inside her bag.
"What the fuck," says William flatly, crossing his arms over his chest. He's blocking the tv, so Tom hits pause on the DVD. "What is this?"
"Bill," Tom says and smoothes a finger over one of Mike's eyebrows.
"God, shut up," Mike says at the same time. "I'm done fighting with you today."
"I'm done fighting with you," Bill says, tilting his chin up.
Tom shuts her eyes and refuses to look at either of them. "If you're both done fighting, let's watch Mythbusters and get stoned?" Tom suggests, hoping against hope that Bill will let it go, just this one time --
Bill heaves a huge sigh and flops down on the other couch. "Fine," he says. "But I'm not rolling."
"Oh my god," groans Mike. "We have a pipe, Bilvy. Don't waste the good weed on a joint."
Tom photographs the way Mike heaves herself out of Tom's lap, the way her fingers are deft at packing the pipe. She gets Mike smoking, lips pursed; she gets the moment Mike hands the pipe to Bill, their fingers complete opposites, and the smoke Mike exhales.
When she moves the camera to Bill, he's ready, fluttering his eyelashes as he takes a hit, his eyes never leaving the viewfinder.
Tom turns the camera back to Mike, and when she looks up from the viewscreen, Mike's eyes are on her, not the camera. Tom blushes, feels her face get hotter when she trades Mike the camera for the pipe. But she doesn't look away when Mike frames her as she smokes, keeps her eyes on Mike's the whole time.