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Hold My Hand Harder

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~ Glasgow ~

Ronnie and Mark pleasantly babbled about the intricacies of understanding Scottish accents as the band descended from the stage. Brandon was already half out of his clothes, hating how sweaty he got but absolutely unwavering in his commitment to looking the part. Dave had disappeared into the bathroom with more than one companion.

"Hey," Ronnie swung his arm around Brandon's shoulder, "How cool was that?"

Brandon smiled. It had been fucking cool. People in the crowd had sung the bass in Jenny back to them, as well as his lyrics. The whole band would be buzzing about that for months. It felt good.

But Brandon still felt a lull after each show. He didn't have his girl with him anymore. He hadn't heard her voice in over a month. And he'd sworn off alcohol since the night he fucked everything up, losing her number in a drunken mess. He'd probably used the napkin as a mat for his beer, or handed it to someone who was vomiting. The thought made him want to cry.

"Drink?" Ronnie asked, holding up a beer to Brandon and Mark. Mark gladly accepted, holding the cool bottle to his wrists before taking a sip. Brandon shook his head and dropped onto the couch to put on some socks.

"You know, Brando..." Ronnie started, looking at Mark, "We want you to be happy."

Brandon frowned at Ronnie. "This sounds like an intervention."

Nick piped up from where he and Richie were perched on another couch, strumming guitars and messing around with simplistic beats they could bring to their more experienced drummer later.

"There are other things than alcohol you can turn to after a show. Things that use up a lot of energy."

"You want me to do drugs after what happened to Keegan?"

"No!" Ronnie laughed, "Not drugs. Not alcohol. Surely you haven't forgotten some other ways you can have fun."

Brandon rolled his eyes.

"I think Dave is partaking in this kind right now." Mark grumbled.

"I get it. I'm good, thanks."

"Come on Brandon," Richie said, dropping onto the couch beside him, "We don't mean a different person every night or anything crazy - that's not you. Just... It wouldn't hurt for you to have some fun."

Brandon glanced at Ronnie and Mark. This whole thing had definitely been Richie and Ronnie's idea. But Mark and Nick seemed to support it. Maybe he did need to lighten up. Evie probably already had someone new. If their paths were meant to cross again, they would.

"I'll think about it." He sighed, pulling his hoodie over his head and heading for the door. "But right now, I'm going to the gym."

--

Brandon flung his duffel recklessly across the room, watching as it slid along the bench he had been aiming for and dropped onto the floor. He pulled his hoodie over his head and threw it on top, before peaking through the entrance to the hotel gym. The lockers were empty, and, mercifully, so was the gym itself.

It had been a blessing to upgrade their hotels to something a little nicer - since both The Killers and Echo Bubble had started to take off in the UK. Nothing drastic, but a 24 hour gym and the promise of twin beds instead of doubles shared by sweaty bandmates was good enough for him.

Brandon sighed as his feet began to pound against the treadmill. He used to hate running. But it felt like a good idea now. If he went up to his room with all the leftover energy from the show, he would drive himself crazy.

He missed Evie so much. Their relationship had been short-lived, and totally bizarre by his comparisons, but it had been the most relaxed he'd felt in as long as he could remember. He missed her sarcasm, her willingness to listen to him talk about jackets and his idols, the fact that she always had snacks. And he missed being intimate with her. He couldn't even think of seeing another woman's face doing the things they had done. He'd recoiled from every advance in a bar, backstage of a show, and during press.

"Huh, you're a night owl too, I guess."

Brandon slowed his treadmill to a walk as Katy appeared by his side. He wiped the sweat off his face and glanced at his watch. It was nearly 2am.

"Having some trouble sleeping?" She smiled.

"Uh, kinda. My adrenaline runs high after a show."

Brandon stepped off his treadmill and immediately blushed as he caught sight of Katy stretching not far from where he was standing. Her back faced him as she slowly bent over and touched her toes. Brandon coughed awkwardly and wiped his face.

"There's something peaceful about running in the dark." Katy continued, gesturing towards his treadmill, "It's nice when there's no one around."

Brandon nodded. He felt like prey as Katy circled around him a few times. Her eyes were on the equipment but her attention was on him.

"What other machines do you recommend?"

Brandon giggled. "Uh, I don't know."

Katy stopped in front of him, her feet almost touching his. Brandon sucked in a breath. It was so dark in the room that he couldn't see more than the outline of her face, gently illuminated by the streetlights flowing through the window.

"The best exercise isn't done in a gym, right?"

Brandon yielded to her as her lips met his, her hands lightning quick against the back of his head, pulling him down. Tentatively, he kissed her back, his hands landing respectfully on her shoulder blades. Katy hummed and pulled them down to her butt.

"Where's that guy you are on stage, hmm?" She purred, her hand running down his chest, her eyes on his crotch, "I always thought he looked like he knew how to have fun."

Brandon's lust overtook his reason as he pushed her back against the wall, turning her away from him as he kissed the back of her neck and tugged on her shorts. His hands moved over her hungrily, pinning her wrists above her head after she tried to turn around a second time. He really didn't want or need to see her face right now, and judging by the noises and movements she was making, she seemed ok with that arrangement.

He pushed his self hatred to the back of his mind as he thrust into her. Evie had probably moved on already. He needed to let go.

--

~ Las Vegas ~

Evie pulled one headphone off her ear as she heard a knock at her bedroom door.

"Yeah!" She called, covering her mouth as she tried to chew the chunk of blueberry muffin she had just bitten into unnaturally quickly.

Lydia appeared with a wave and frowned immediately at the sight in front of her.

"Sorry to be blunt but like... What the fuck is happening?"

Evie snickered and hopped to her feet. She was sitting in the centre of a wooden square, various other pieces of wood around her. She slipped her headphones down around her neck and rubbed the back of her head.

"Um, one of my brother's friends has this table that was falling apart. I'm fixing it for them."

Lydia opened her mouth to ask more questions but stopped herself. At least this explained the strange bangs and grunts coming from the room. Evie wiped the sweat off her brow and grabbed her coffee, taking a sip.

"Ok, don't be mad."

"I'm already furious. Saying that the best way to make me mad. What did you do?"

Lydia held her hands up in defence and smiled sheepishly. "I set you up on a date."

"No."

"Evie! You can't--"

"No."

"Listen, for one second."

Evie leaned on the wall and sipped her coffee. Lydia sighed and put her hands on her hips.

"It's been months, babe," She said sympathetically, "I don't think he's gonna call."

Evie stuck her jaw out. She was embarrassed, she had to admit. Spilling her guts about her hopes for this relationship only to be completely ignored by the so called love of her life. But deep down, she was really hoping he would still call.

"I'm sorry, maybe he will call! And that would be great! But right now... maybe you should have some fun? Summer is coming to an end and law school is gonna be so crazy for you. I just don't want you going into it depressed about some short lived, long distance relationship with a musician."

Evie sighed. She knew Lydia's concerns were valid. She hadn't exactly always been fun to be around.

"You could get any guy in this city. I don't wanna toot my own horn but this one is super cute." Lydia wiggled her eyebrows. "Tall, dark and handsome."

Evie reluctantly agreed, despite the man described to her was exactly the kind her father would approve of. Not usually her type.

Why the hell hadn't he called?

--

"What's up, dickbag?" Keegan waved from his bed. Evie flipped him off and flopped down onto his bed beside him.

"Nothing, asshole. I brought you soup."

"I'd literally rather die."

"Ok, I brought me soup."

She looked up at him. His face was filling out a bit more. He'd started to look really gaunt on tour, living on a cocktail of alcohol, drugs, and doritos. His mother's cooking was really helping him look more human again. The skinny boy thing might be all the rage in rock n roll, but it certainly looked frail in a hospital bed.

"How are you feeling?"

"Like I would feel a lot better if people stopped asking me that."

"Oh my god, Keegan," Evie snapped, standing abruptly and walking to the desk, "You nearly fucking died. We care about you. Stop complaining."

Keegan looked at her, eyes wide. They normally operated on the same plane of sarcasm or bickering without pushing it too far. But recently, she'd been short with him.

"Are you still mad about fucking Flowers?"

Evie pouted into the tub of soup she had just opened. "I'm not allowed to be mad at you."

"Oh my god! This is what I'm talking about!" Keegan yelled, "Be mad at me! I'm alive! Stop pitying me!"

Evie slammed the tub down on the table.

"Ok, you want mad? I'm so fucking mad. You do a bunch of drugs every night - a cocktail that no one can keep track of - and expected all of us to scrape you off the floor and reconstruct you on stage? You then proceed to yell in my face in front of my friends and colleagues over dumb shit all stemming from the fact you're jealous I spend more time with someone else."

"Evie--"

"Shut the fuck up, I'm not done!" She snapped, "When I finally find someone I actually like, you call me every night. I had to sneak out of my own fucking room almost every night, because you needed drugs. Because you would have fired me if I didn't. I had to lie to the guy I really fucking liked, Keegan. The few times he woke up, I had to act like I was just in the bathroom. And now, I can't fucking get in contact with him in another continent because you decided it would be fun to OD in some skeazy bar in Camden with random English dudes you had just met. I am furious."

Evie dropped back onto the chair by his desk. Fuck, that felt good. It also felt draining. She felt tears bubble to the surface and pushed them back down.

"Woah."

"Yeah."

"I guess I'm--" Keegan stared at the floor, "I'm sorry. I got out of control."

"Yeah, well."

They sat in silence as Evie sipped from the carton of soup. She had known Keegan since high school. He had once been a really good friend, but he had gone off the rails. She had become more of a babysitter, and if he thought about it, he knew that. He had used her as a verbal punchbag on tour because she was the one he felt could take it. And usually she could. Usually her sharp tongue was more than a match for his. Brandon seemed to have changed that.

"I have a date tonight."

"Oh?"

"Some guy Lydia met in the gym."

Keegan hummed. They both stared at separate walls, Keegan's gaze occasionally landing on his friend's pained face. He hated seeing her like this. All this had started on the tour. All this had started with Brandon fucking Flowers.

"I should go."

"Yeah."

"I'll see you tomorrow."

They could try to murder each other and still make plans to do it again the next day. She cared about him and he cared about her. Even if they got lost along the way.

Keegan waited until the door clicked behind her, before digging his phone out of the drawer beside his bed. He scrolled through his contacts until he reached 'Bowie Wannabe'. His thumb hovered over the menu. He hit delete.

She'd thank him later.