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Hold My Hand Harder

Chapter Text

~ Las Vegas, 2003 ~

Brandon held his breath as he waded through the crowd of people filling the small bar in downtown Las Vegas. The air was sweet and sickly with the combination of sweaty bodies and cocktails. He couldn't wait to be outside in the fresh air. Well, fresh air mixed with cigarette smoke. Much less suffocating.

"Hey man, where you going?"

Brandon squinted to locate the source of the slurred speech, his eyes eventually landing on a mop of messy curls leaning on the bar next to a group of blonde women. He raised his eyebrows at Dave, his bandmate.

"Outside."

"You said you were quitting," Dave said accusatorially, wagging his finger at Brandon.

Brandon rolled his eyes and flipped his bandmate off, resuming his quest to find the godforsaken exit to this place. Losing his patience, he elbowed into the release bar of a fire escape door and breathed a sigh of relief as it yielded to the night air.

He pulled his crumpled cigarette packet out of his jean pocket. Three left. Three more until he quit. He'd been trying that technique for the last 4 packs.

He breathed in deeply as he lit his cigarette, listening to the road noise on the other side of the buildings, trying to quiet the ringing in his ears. He caught the sound of pipes tapping. They must be having issues with the water around here.

"You really shouldn't be out here." Someone said quietly.

Brandon leapt into the air, clutching his hand to his heart as he spotted a dark figure on the wall a couple of feet to his right.

"Good hell..." He grumbled, as his increased heart rate set off a coughing fit. Maybe Dave was right. Maybe he did need to quit.

The figure laughed and flicked a lock of hair over its shoulder. As his eyes slowly adjusted in the dark he saw a leg swinging against the wall in time with the tapping he had mistaken for faulty pipes.

"How do you know I shouldn't be out here?" He asked, watching the silhouette carefully to glean what information he could about the person he was conversing with. Hanging out with strangers in alleys wasn't exactly advisable.

The figure hopped off the wall and walked towards him, its shadow stretching out beyond his feet. He felt he was at a disadvantage. This person could clearly see him, but due to the angle of the streetlight, he had no such benefit.

What he could see were heeled boots and legs clad in tight pants. A flick of waist-length hair brought his attention back upwards.

"Because I shouldn't be either." She said with a laugh. He recognised the cardboard click of a cigarette carton opening, and waited for the burst of flame that might illuminate his mysterious companion.

"This is the part where you offer me a light."

A garbled apology escaped him as he began to pat his pockets, forgetting where he had stowed the small but vital piece of plastic. Light flickered at the corner of his eye as her cupped hand surrounded her own lighter. He didn't see much more than a swoop of pointed black eyeliner and prominent cheekbones before the face went dark again.

"Kidding," She chuckled, "You dropped it." He heard a scrape at his feet as she bent down and recovered the object. He must have let it slip when he realised he wasn't alone.

"Thanks," He laughed nervously, sliding it safely back into his pocket. They smoked silently for a moment, puffs of breath punctuated by the click of her boot against the ground. "Wait," Brandon frowned, realising this girl had been sitting in the dark without a cigarette when he arrived, "Why are you out here?"

"On my break."

"You work in this bar?"

"No. You're the singer from that band, right? The Killers?"

Brandon chose to ignore how she had evaded his question. "Yeah."

"You guys are not bad."

He snorted. 'Not bad' is not what he was aiming for.

The girl laughed at his reaction. "I see how it is. The best or nothing, huh?" She removed her cigarette from between her lips and flicked it to the ground, snuffing it out with her boot. "Your voice is great. I mean, you seem pretty new to all this, but if you trusted yourself more... You've got a beautiful way of storytelling."

Brandon found himself grateful it was dark as the blood rushed to his cheeks. He flicked his own cigarette to the ground and rubbed his jaw with the palm of his hand. "Thanks. So tell me, why are we just 'not bad'?"

"I don't want to create issues."

"What makes you think I'd take your opinions as gospel?"

The girl snickered again and Brandon smiled. He still had enough confidence bubbling over from the show to be a little more snarky with his responses than he perhaps usually would.

"Okaaay..." She faltered, pacing a little in front of him, "Your drummer sucks. And if you're the songwriter, which I'm assuming you are, someone clearly hurt you. You need to get over them. No one wants to hear a whole set exclusively dedicated to being screwed over..."

"Hell, don't sugar coat it!" Brandon coughed, cutting her off as she listed off the things they had done wrong.

"My opinions aren't gospel," She smiled, "But I'm right, aren't I? You got hurt?"

He nodded. "She was my girlfriend for almost a year. Caught her with another guy."

"Shit. I'm sorry. The first song was a hit, though."

"Mr Brightside. I know."

"So take that one hit, get rid of the rest. She doesn't deserve that much time in your spotlight."

Brandon considered their setlist. She was right. All the songs had in some way been the product of that particularly dark moment in his life the previous November. It had been months and she was still infecting every creative urge he had.

"I don't even know where to start..." He murmured, more to himself than to this spectre of nighttime Las Vegas.

"New drummer. New energy. Start thinking less about her and more about where you guys are going."

Brandon was about to respond when she barged her shoulder against the fire door. The trickle of neon light illuminated her features, and Brandon found himself blushing again. Her eyes were devilish but warm, her lips curled up in a slight smile as she gave him the once over. Maybe she hadn't been able to see him as well as he'd thought. She pushed her waist length brunette hair over her shoulder and waved a goodbye before disappearing into the chaos.

"Pleasure to meet you, Mr Brightside."

--

"You didn't get her fuckin' name?" Shane asked, leaning over the table to steal the pop tart Brandon had just chosen for his breakfast.

"Well, no..."

"Are you sure she was real?" Dave's furrowed brows suggested he'd never make the mistake Brandon had.

He was beginning to regret telling his brother and bandmate about his encounter. But it had been on his mind, and he never was good at keeping secrets.

"Yes, David, I'm sure she was real."

Dave held up his hands in defeat and munched on a piece of toast. "So you don't know this chick's name and yet you're willing to scrap all our songs and fire our drummer because she said so?"

"Rob was only ever meant to be temporary, you just forgot to put out more ads," Brandon said defensively, "And we have to make something better! Did you hear Is This It? We have only one song that even holds a candle to that!"

Dave shrugged noncommittally, but Brandon knew if he really disagreed he'd have kept arguing.

"So it's settled, you'll reach out to some drummers who might be restless in their own bands. Today, Dave."

"Alright, alright!" Dave sighed, standing up and shaking the crumbs from his pants, "Someone got up on the wrong side of their princess bed."

Brandon glowered at him. He needed to find a new place. He couldn't abide living in Dave's pigsty, so he had rejected that offer. But he couldn't live in his sister's spare room forever. Maybe their new drummer would have a spare room.

"Wait, where are you going?" Shane called as Brandon scooped his car keys and pulled his jacket over his shoulders.

"A drummer isn't the only thing we need!"

Chapter Text

~ McCarran International Airport, 2004 ~

Brandon dragged his fingers through his hair and tapped his foot against the leg of his chair. He gulped as a plane took off from the runway in the distance. His third cup of coffee of the morning wasn't helping his jitteriness, but it was necessary. He hadn't slept a wink.

"Brando, this is a good thing! This is what we've been working for!"

He shot a grateful smile at the tall, bearded man next to him. Finding drummer Ronnie and bassist Mark had been a process of trial and error. Ronnie had left his other band when he heard the stuff Dave and Brandon had been working on. And Mark, by chance, found them. He literally walked past Ronnie's garage when they were rehearsing and pointed out what Brandon was doing wrong with the bass.

One thing had led to another. They had played for almost every big record company in the country, but apparently they didn't have the x factor. Mostly down to Brandon's looks. That was a sensitive topic for him, one that he avoided at all costs.

Despite this, they'd eventually signed a record deal, with a small indie label based in London. Sure, it wasn't Warner or Universal, but Brandon wasn't sure he could work with those people after how they'd ripped him apart. Besides, this was a free trip to London, if nothing else.

"Here," Dave sighed, holding out a mini bottle of flavoured vodka, "You look like you're going to throw up."

"And that's supposed to make him not throw up?" Mark asked.

Dave shrugged. "I dunno. Might make his vomit taste like strawberry?"

Mark screwed up his face in disgust, but Brandon already had half the bottle flowing down his throat and didn't notice.

Ronnie patted Brandon's back supportively and started pleasantly babbling about some gossip column he was reading about the emo band of the week. Brandon closed his eyes and leaned back, letting the vodka and white noise overcome his nerves.

This was a good thing. This was what they wanted. He just had to pull himself together.

--

~ London ~

"Alright, alright. Let's listen up, people!" An English accent called out and the packed room quietened.

Brandon fidgeted with the end of his tie. The man at the front of the room banged his fist on the wall to silence the last few chatterboxes. Brandon glanced around. A couple of faces were familiar from the few gigs they'd played in London over the last few nights.

But that was just the warm up. It was about to get serious.

"I've met most of you already, I think," Their leader squinted at the faces watching him with different levels of eagerness, "But for anyone I've yet to chat to, I'm Matthew Sykes, I'll be your tour manager. Katy, our assistant manager, is handing out contact details now, make sure you get me into your phones. Anything you need from here on out, you call one of those numbers."

Ronnie poked Brandon's ribs and wiggled his eyebrows suggestively as Katy's hand lingered for longer than necessary on Brandon's. He rolled his eyes when she turned her back. Hooking up with one of the management team seemed like a bad idea. Ronnie shrugged.

"So lets just recap what you all should already know. There are three bands here," He glanced at his sheet of paper and began pointing at each band in turn, "Uh, Echo Bubble, The Killers, The Velvet Kings." Brandon screwed up his nose. Ok, if nothing else they had the best name. "We'll be touring the country for three months, all three bands will perform every gig. We will never have more than 3 consecutive nights on stage, but this is a really good chance to test your stamina. Your own tours, should you get the chance to do them, will be much more demanding than this."

Brandon zoned out as Matt rattled through the additional information they'd need about hotel arrangements and buses between each city. Instead, he took in the other bands in the room. The Velvet Kings were four guys from New York and a lead singer from Reno. He'd already met their singer, and found him unbearable, but the other guys seemed better. Echo Bubble were new to him. They were English and had all greeted him warmly when The Killers arrived.

Aside from the 'artists', as everyone kept referring to them, there were a selection of crew members for each band. The Killers had brought a couple of friends who were well versed in their needs as a band, as well as Brandon's brother Shane. Echo Bubble had a similar size of crew. The Velvet Kings had more crew than anyone else. Brandon could only assume this wasn't their first rodeo.

"Alright, any questions?" Matt finished with a pause, "No? Ok great, you have our details if anything comes up. You're free to take a personal day, be outside the hotel tonight at 6pm sharp to kick this thing off at the Barfly in Camden!"

Murmurs of excitement rippled around the room. This was a pretty new thing, and the buzz was palpable. Three new bands, all signed to the same label, on a sort of hype-tour together for three months. They would be afforded time to work on their debut records, as well as honing their stage skills and building up a following of fans - if they were good enough. Brandon found himself lamenting the absence of a programme like this in the US. Maybe then his self esteem wouldn't have had to endure such a battering.

"Hey there!"

Ronnie's voice snapped Brandon out of his self pity. He looked up to see Ronnie, proactive and friendly as he was, introducing himself to the members of Echo Bubble.

"I love your work," Their singer grinned, "Truly, I was so stoked to see you were on this tour with us! Wasn't I, Nick?"

"He kept telling everyone we were going to be hanging out with killers. It caused a certain degree of alarm." Nick shook his head but smiled.

"I'm Richie."

Brandon reached out to shake his hand. "Brandon. I have to confess I haven't had a chance to listen to your stuff yet."

Richie waved a dismissal. "You have no reason to. We only have three songs so far. I heard you guys pretty much have a whole album in your back pocket though, is that true?"

Ronnie shrugged at Brandon, "Give or take. We're ironing some things out."

"Fuck," Nick laughed, "Your work ethic is something else. We'd love to hear the rest sometime."

Brandon was about to say they'd hear them all on stage - The Killers weren't hiding that they had a whole album of hits - when a loud Nevadan accent broke through the crowd.

"Where the fuck is Evie?"

Their group turned to look at the lead singer of The Velvet Kings as he stormed through the room.

"I'm serious, where is she?"

His bandmates and crew shrugged, a few checked their phones.

"I swear to god I'll fire her if she fucks around with us."

"You won't do anything of the sort," A tall man wearing sunglasses interrupted, "Chill, man."

Richie turned back to face Brandon and Ronnie with an irritated sigh.

"Anyone else wanna knock him out already or...?"

Chapter Text

Brandon flew off stage and bolted to the small backstage area, smiling bashfully at the various people who slapped his shoulders and passed their remarks on The Killers' set. He closed the door to the green room and dropped onto the couch, trying to steady his erratic breathing.

They'd been in England for three weeks now. They'd played 14 shows across 5 cities. And for each one, Brandon had been more drunk than the last.

Alcohol helped him feel less self conscious. And it drowned out the demons telling him he had no right to be up there. But, it wasn't without its pitfalls. He felt physically ill after shows if he didn't get the balance right. He slurred some of his lyrics and missed the more difficult notes. And he felt even more parched than usual when he left the stage.

Thankfully, offstage, it was barely noticeable in the drunken mess of musicians on tour. At any given moment at least three of The Velvet Kings seemed to be on an unknown cocktail of alcohol and drugs.

Brandon stood slowly and made his way to the beverage table, locating a water bottle and chugging from it, without breath, until it was empty.

"Feeling better?"

Brandon groaned at the sound of the drummer's voice. They'd been rooming together, and only Ronnie knew that the drinking for Brandon started significantly earlier than the drinking for everyone else. It was hard to hide the smell of booze in a small hotel room.

"Ron, I'm fine. Go have fun."

Ronnie shook his head and plopped down on the couch, stretching out his long legs in front of him. "No can do. I need to check my Brandy-Baby is not in need of a stomach pump."

"Fuck off."

"Charming as always, Bray. You're only mad because I'm right."

"You all drink, why is it a problem when I do?" Brandon snapped, opening a second bottle of water. His head was starting to hurt.

"Because none of the rest of us are drinking from 10am. A bottle of rum rolled out of your bedsheets this morning."

Brandon's head whipped round, so fast he had to close his eyes for a few seconds to make the world stop spinning.

"You snooped through my stuff?"

"No," Ronnie said firmly, "I was moving all your shit off our floor, and when I put it on the bed an empty bottle rolled out."

"It was from another night."

"We've only been here since 3am."

Brandon groaned. He was loosing track of what day it was - their buses often travelled at unsociable hours, and it was common to wake up in a different city than the one you fell asleep in. And when the other bands asked if they wanted to go out and party, Brandon invariably said yes. It made for a very confused mind.

"I'm not a fucking child--" Brandon started.

They both looked up as the back door opened, and a woman walked in, her cheeks flushed from exertion, and the sleeves of her t-shirt hiked up over her shoulders. She looked up in surprise.

"Oh, sorry. Usually no one is back here mid-show." She apologised.

Ronnie smiled and stood, closing the gap between them to shake her hand. Brandon rolled his eyes. Anything for skirt. Or ripped jeans, in this case.

"Ronnie. Drummer for The Killers. Available for dinner."

She snorted and took his hand. "Evie. Slave for The Velvet Kings. Already got some ramen in waiting for me in the hotel."

"Ahhh! Your mighty leader was looking for you earlier! You're in trouble."

Evie rolled her eyes. "Keegan. Hence why I'm on heavy lifting duty." She pointed at the keg she had been rolling through the door. "He has a messiah complex. Unfortunately for him, any job where I get to not deal with his bullshit is a good job."

Ronnie chuckled and looked over his shoulder. "It's polite to introduce yourself, Pouty McFrownie."

"No need," Evie smiled, "Hey Brightside."

Brandon's head snapped up again and he visibly winced at the spinning in his skull. Why did she know who he was?

"Woah," Evie frowned, "I know that look."

Brandon squeezed his eyes shut as Evie rummaged through the snack cart. He was way too far gone to think about why she might know him. He opened his eyes again at the smell of toast.

"Eat." Evie instructed. Brandon sniffed the toast and turned his nose up at it. He wasn't really hungry. "Not a request." She persisted.

He reluctantly took a bite and his stomach rumbled. Maybe he was a little hungry. Evie and Ronnie watched as he wolfed down four slices. He was still vacant, but he was shaking and swaying a little less. The colour was returning to his face and his breathing was evening out. She let out a relieved breath. Probably not alcohol poisoning - this time.

"Is he always like this after a show?" She murmured, carefully not to let Brandon overhear.

Ronnie sighed. "Recently, yeah. His nerves have been out of control. He thinks he needs it."

Evie nodded slowly. "From around what time in the day does he 'need' it?"

Ronnie's look told her everything she needed to know. Brandon was on a slippery slope. She hung out around enough cokeheads and alcoholics to know the signs. She took the paper plate from him when he was done and handed him a bottle of water.

"I'm calling you a cab."

"Evie, really," Ronnie interjected, "I can sort it."

"I'm sure. But you should stay with him. I'll call it now and send the driver to the back door."

Ronnie smiled gratefully and sat beside his friend, who looked a little less like death warmed up but still not himself. He was still staring at the floor, trying to shake the double vision out of his skull.

Evie turned as she left the door, smiling as Ronnie encouraged Brandon to put his head between his legs to ease the dizziness. Ronnie rubbed his back.

"See? I told you a new drummer would be a good thing." She called.

Brandon frowned at the floor. Why did that sound familiar?

Chapter Text

"Good morning, gorgeous!" Ronnie cooed as Brandon's hand thumped against the bedside table in search of the blaring alarm assaulting his eardrums.

"Make it stop."

"Open your eyes."

"No."

"Let me see those beautiful baby browns!"

"Fuck you," Brandon muttered, but obliged. Ronnie tapped his finger on the screen of the phone in his hand and the deafening wall of noise stopped.

"Welcome back to the land of the living!"

Brandon grunted and burrowed down in his sheets.

"Nope, no no no!" Ronnie chuckled, pulling the sheets from the bed and exposing Brandon's bare body aside from his briefs and socks. "Dude it's 2pm. You gotta get up. We have another show tonight and I can't cover for your drunk ass every night."

Brandon shot upright, the pain in his head no longer a concern. They had only five hours before the show. He had so much prep to do - hair, outfit, vocal warm ups, dinner, makeup, soundcheck. Plus he needed to factor in time for his dutch courage. Maybe that time was now.

"Hey," Ronnie frowned, as Brandon began to scan the room, "Don't even think about it. There's no alcohol here, I threw it away--" He held up his hand as Brandon started to protest, "No, Brandon. You don't need it. Have a drink before we go on stage. Enough with the day drinking."

"I don't get to hide behind a drum kit up there..." Brandon grumbled, "Maybe it's a little more difficult for me."

Ronnie held up his hands, his body language saying the conversation was over. But Brandon wasn't done making his irritation known. Currently his need for alcohol outweighed his genuine appreciation for his bandmate looking out for him. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and strode to his jacket. Digging through the pockets until his hand met glass, he turned to Ronnie and brought the small bottle to his lips without looking to see what it was. He'd bought more mini spirits at the airport when they landed in London and made sure to have at least one in his pocket at any given moment.

Ronnie sighed and shook his head, watching as Brandon downed the drink in one. He was trying to measure his tone. None of them had the heart to tell Brandon that his drunkenness was getting beyond amusing on stage. Dave was having to keep an eye on him to make sure he didn't stumble off the stage. And Mark had had to scrape him off the floor more than once when he decided to lay down while he sang. It was getting to the point management had told them to get their shit together or pack their bags.

"Don't look at me like that," Brandon snapped, "Why can't you let me do what I have to do?"

"Because your actions have implications for all of us, Brandon," Ronnie shouted. They both looked as shocked as the other as they registered what had just happened. Ronnie never raised his voice.

Ronnie slammed the drawer beside him shut and grabbed his towel. "I'm taking a shower then we need to go to meet the others."

Brandon watched silently as his bandmate disappeared into the small ensuite. He let out a shaky sigh as the water started. He didn't know what Ronnie meant about his actions having implications for them all. All he knew was that he didn't want to be the reason they struggled again. So if that was true, he had to pull himself together.

He dropped back onto the bed and reached for his notebook. If he had to do something that didn't involve a bottle, he might as well do his job.

--

"Brightside!"

Brandon's head snapped up and scanned the hotel lobby. His eyes landed on a pretty brunette girl making her way to his table, a wicked gleam in her eye. He instinctively tensed. He was awful with women.

"You're looking... alive, I guess?" She chuckled, looking him up and down.

He hadn't had a drop of liquor since he and Ronnie butted heads. Everything in his body ached for it, but he was nothing if not stubborn. And deep down he knew Ronnie was right. He didn't like himself in general right now, but he liked himself less when drunk.

Brandon blushed. "I... uh--"

"Don't remember who I am," She finished, "I figured. Evie. We were formally introduced last night, but a recap never hurt."

"Brandon."

She smiled and looked down at the clipboard in her hand. It was a ledger of things The Velvet Kings needed moved from their hotel to the venue for tonight's gig. Brandon rolled his eyes at the expansive list following the lead singer's name.

"He's high maintenance, for sure..." Evie smiled. She must have caught him peeking out of the corner of her eye. "Mind if I sit?"

Brandon shook his head and went back to staring at his coffee cup.

"Is that an, um, Irish coffee?"

"What business is that of yours?" Brandon snapped, instantly regretting his tone. He was a little tense.

Evie recoiled. "Woah. Sorry."

Brandon held up his hand and sighed. "No I'm sorry. That was uncalled for. No it isn't an Irish coffee."

His companion nodded slowly. She flagged down a waiter and ordered a double espresso for herself, before turning back to her clipboard.

Brandon took her distraction as an opportunity to take her in properly. The front of her long brunette hair was pinned back with a bright pink clasp, the rest cascading over her shoulder farthest from him where she was resting her chin on her hand. Her eyes flicked quickly over the page in front of her and she bit her lip every so often. Her oversized dark green sweater was rolled to her elbows, and she wore a jumble of rings on every finger. She looked uncannily familiar.

His eyes drifted back to her face to see her looking right back at him.

"Seen everything you need to?"

Brandon's eyes snapped back to his coffee and he started thinking of excuses.

"Brightside, it's fine," Evie snickered.

"You just look so familiar, but I can't place you."

Evie smiled and turned her clipboard face down. She flicked her hair over her shoulder and dug a cigarette packet out of her jean pocket.

"This is the part where you offer me a light."

Suddenly it all fell into place. The long hair, cheekbones, blunt, to-the-point way of speaking. She was the girl who made him get his ass in gear.

"Oh my gosh!"

Evie's eyes crinkled as she smiled wider. "You took my advice."

"It was all stuff I already knew."

"Oh ok..." Evie laughed, "I guess I won't claim royalties when The Killers hit the big time."

Brandon giggled. "This isn't big time?" He joked, poking his finger through the hole in his shirt and indicating his cheap plastic watch, "I don't know how it gets better than this."

"Keegan wears three hundred dollar sweaters with pre-cut holes in them," Evie rolled her eyes, "Who knows?"

"Christ, The Kings are doing that well?"

Evie laughed, "No. He comes from money. You're allowed to think they're not that good."

Brandon blushed, "I hope I haven't been making it that obvious."

Evie smiled knowingly and tugged her fingers through her hair. She yawned and stretched her arms over her head.

"So how did you become a roadie for a... subpar band?"

She snickered and downed her espresso.

"I had the summer free. Wanted to see England. Plus, I kind of like this..." She gestured vaguely, "I don't know. There's a buzz about new venues every other night, watching musicians do their thing, seeing people climb and others fall..."

"You were working for the Kings in Vegas that night?"

Evie nodded. The missing pieces clicked into place for him. That's why she'd been on her break in a bar she didn't work in. The Kings had been about to take to the stage after The Killers.

Brandon scratched his jaw. He was excited to see her again, she'd drifted through his mind on more than one occasion since that night. "I hear you, about all this. Never standing still, no two days the same. I love it."

Evie looked at him cautiously. "If you love it, why do you experience most of it in a drunken haze?"

Brandon anxiously cracked his neck. Normally, he would snap or change the subject, but something about Evie made him want to bare his soul.

That being said, he hesitated. He looked at Evie sheepishly, and her unwavering gaze calmed him.

"Well..." He started quietly, "We went through some shit with record labels back home-- I-- Let's just say I need some help feeling like I belong up there."

Evie nodded slowly. "Were you drunk that night in Vegas?"

"No." He frowned.

"What about all the other gigs you did before the labels had a say?"

"No."

"And you got through those gigs?"

"Yeah." He sighed, "I see where you're going, but it's not the same. People are counting on it now. We're supposed to be something."

"A fucking great band?"

Brandon blushed again and shook his head at his coffee cup. The quality of their band had never been the thing in question. He had.

Evie sat forward in her chair and lay her hand on his arm. Brandon startled slightly, looking from her hand to her face. There was something comforting about her effortless confidence.

"Whatever they said to you, prove them wrong. The man who writes Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll has a wicked sense of humour. The one who writes Jenny has more imagination and creativity in his little finger than half the other bands in the country. I don't know what they said but you gotta get that spark back, Brandon. It was there that night in Vegas, and I know it's still there somewhere."

The earnestness in her eyes made him melt. He'd kind of forgotten what genuine support from someone outside their band felt like.

"I--"

Evie stood and held her hand up. "Just think about it. You're more than whatever this is."

Brandon nodded and gave her a small smile as she turned and walked towards the door, where the buses were arriving to take the party to the venue.

He was starting to feel like he had people fighting his corner.

Chapter Text

He had really done it. A whole show, in a foreign country, completely sober. Brandon beamed at Ronnie, who shot Brandon a proud expression and held up his drink in cheers. He'd need to apologise later for what had been said, but right now he knew it was enough that he had taken Ronnie's concerns seriously.

"Flowers!!" Richie cheered, slapping him on the back enthusiastically and shouting over the buzz of the backstage area, "That was fucking incredible man! The second song you played? Holy shit!"

Brandon beamed again. He'd made the last minute call to play Midnight Show instead of Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll, much to the excitement of his bandmates. He hadn't dared try to sing something that demanding while inebriated.

"You think?"

"I KNOW!" Richie shouted, "A fucking hit! Better than every song on our album combined!"

Brandon giggled and waved away the compliment. Not that he disagreed. But he was aware he was biased. And he liked Richie and Echo Bubble enough to spare them from any of his arrogance.

"The was a Killer gig, Brandon!" Nick burst out laughing at his own joke. The same one he had made every night. Brandon smiled, he didn't even care. That gig had felt so good. "A few of us are heading over to Koko since we have tomorrow off. Will you join us?"

Brandon considered the offer. What harm would a little drink do now that the show was over? He'd done his job, now was time for relaxing.

"Sure!"

--

Brandon's head spun as he sat at the table occupied by various members of the bands and crews on their tour.

"I think I'm gonna vomit." He grumbled.

"Push through it," Nick laughed, "And drink some water."

Brandon took a gulp of the glass handed to him and winced. Vodka. Nick hooted in laughter beside him.

"Hey, I think your drummer pulled," Richie cooed in his ear.

Brandon looked up and squinted through the mass of sweaty bodies until he spotted Ronnie, his arm tightly wound around a tall blonde girl's waist. She was toying with his shirt collar and whispering in his ear. Abruptly, they stood up and left the bar. Yeah, Ronnie definitely had more game than him.

"You looking to pull, Brandon?" Nick asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Uhhh," Brandon giggled, his default when he was drunk, "I don't-- I--"

Richie laughed, "Come on. What's your type? Girls? Boys? All of the above?"

Brandon shrugged. He knew he liked girls. He didn't know that he didn't like boys. And most importantly, he always hated that question. Why was it anybody else's business?

Nick smiled, "Or... Is there already someone who's stolen your heart?"

Brandon felt his cheeks flush as Nick and Richie ooh-ed and ahh-ed on either side of him.

"What's their name? Do they feel the same? Did you leave a sweetheart in Vegas? Are you MARRIED?"

Brandon held up his hands to silence the questions and then rubbed his eyes. Man he needed to sober up.

"I talked to a girl today who seemed pretty cool..."

"Oh my god!" Richie clapped, "Someone on our tour? Wait, is it that management lady who has the hots for you--"

"No!" Brandon laughed, "Her name is Evie. She seemed cool."

Nick and Richie shared a knowing glance.

"Ahh yes," Nick chuckled, "The unconquerable Evie Claron."

Brandon first took in her full name - it suited her - before turning to Nick with a frown.

"Our drummer tried it on with her," Richie explained, "She shot him down without a second thought. I hear a few other guys have had the same outcome. Word on the street is she already has some cowboy back in Vegas."

Brandon's heart sank. He was so sure there had been a connection between him and Evie. But maybe she was just being nice.

"I thought--"

Richie patted his back, "I mean, maybe she's vacation-single? Maybe you could hit it before tour ends."

Brandon winced at the crudeness. He hadn't even thought about sleeping with her, so much as taking her out to dinner. His downtrodden expression must have been mistaken for plotting, as Nick slid a napkin across the table to him with the number '742' scrawled across it in his drunken hand.

"That's her room number," He winked, "She's a few doors down from me."

Brandon blushed and swept the napkin into his pocket, eager for this conversation to end.

"Who wants shots?" A loud voice came from the other end of the table. A roar of agreement went up in response and Brandon sighed. He was going to need a few more to forget about this.

--

Brandon stumbled out of the cab, saved from landing face down in a puddle only by Mark's hand on his elbow. He swayed in the breeze as his bandmate paid the driver and then eased him out of his trance to bring him up the front steps of the hotel.

"You're the best Mark. Marcus. Marco. Markert. Markander. Mar--"

"Brandon, shh," Mark said softly as they reached the elevator, "It's 3am. People are sleeping."

"How can they sleep when there's so much to do?!"

Mark sighed, unsure of what the pressing goal the population of London was not achieving was. "I guess they'll do it in the morning."

Brandon looked horrified and Mark had to snort. This was the preferable kind of drunk Brandon, the kind that said something idiotic and then moments later got dizzy staring at the ceiling of a moving elevator. The kind that apparently thought he could dance.

It was a different matter finding him sobbing into a bottle of vodka, talking about how he'd never be good enough and he should just pack it in and go back to Vegas. He was born to valet cars, why had he thought he could do more than that?

The singer clung onto Mark's arm as they walked slowly out of the elevator.

"What if we'd never stopped going up?"

"Shut up, Brandon."

They reached Brandon and Ronnie's room pretty quickly, despite stumbling into corners and stopping to admire the shiny room numbers on the doors more than Mark may have liked.

"Ok, you good?"

"Yessur!"

"Brandon."

Brandon pouted and fished out his room key, waving it in Mark's face. Mark held up his hands and waited until Brandon unlocked the door, before calling a goodnight and heading back down the hall to his own room.

"Ronnieeeeeeeee," Brandon called in the darkness, "Where you hiding?"

He spent several minutes looking under the bed, in the desk drawers and in the bathroom cabinet for his bandmate before he hazily remembered that Ronnie had left the bar they were partying in with a blonde woman hours earlier.

"Ah shucks." He grumbled to himself, bursting into giggles as he tried to escape the confines of his jacket.

Half a napkin fluttered to the floor, catching his eye.

Chapter Text

Evie groaned as the light knocking on her door persisted. She'd been doing her best to muffle it with pillows for ten minutes. She had told the Kings she needed to get some sleep, and to call one of the other roadies if they needed something. But clearly one of the giant man-babies hadn't been listening.

"What the fu--" She stopped in her tracks as she swung the door open. Brandon looked up at her from where he was sitting, crosslegged on the floor, his big, dopey grin making her smile despite her irritation at being woken up so early. "Brandon?"

"Oh my gosh it's you!" He said gleefully, "My hero!"

Evie let out a nervous laugh. "Brandon, shhh," She helped him to his feet and pulled him into her room, "People are sleeping."

"Why are they always sleeping?" He pouted.

Evie snorted and flicked on a light, guiding him to the small armchair beside her bed. She held his arms until he was safely planted on the chair. Thankfully, Evie's roommate, another roadie for the Kings named Steph, had been hooking up with their drummer. Evie had been blessed with a room all to herself so far on the tour. She was rooting for them to stay together just for the sake of her solitude.

"Oh my GOSH!" He yelped, covering his eyes dramatically. She frowned, looking around to try to figure out the cause of his distress. "You are NAKED! I'm so sorry!"

Evie flapped her hands in confusion. She was wearing an oversized Die Hard shirt that came halfway down her thighs.

"Brandon, I'm wearing a shirt."

"But are you wearing anything under it?" He asked, cautiously peeping out from between his fingers. She tugged the shirt up to reveal black shorts underneath. Brandon's hands flew from his face and he sighed dramatically.

"Now that we've cleared that up..." She said, fishing around in her bag for a bottle of water, "Um, what are you doing here? Is everything ok?"

Brandon took the water gratefully, chugging it down so fast a line of water dribbled down his chin and onto his shirt. He didn't seem to notice. When he was done, he dropped the bottle on the floor and took her hand.

"You always know what I need." He shook his head.

Evie snickered and squeezed his hand, "Ok, drama queen."

"Is my eyeliner smudged?"

"A little." It was streaked down his face like warpaint. But he didn't need to know that.

"I wanted to tell you, Evie," He started, "Evie Carlton. No wait, that's not right. Evie Claron! So beautiful. I wanted to tell you that I got on stage undrunk tonight! You were right! I could do it!"

Evie raised her eyebrows. "I know, I was there. You did good."

Brandon blushed and looked down. He let go of her hand and began to rub his hands against his thighs. "I did good."

"Yeah," She smiled, sitting down on the bed beside her, "You killed it."

Brandon's shy smile made her melt. Whoever had hurt this boy had to be the most heartless person on the planet.

"I killed it."

He nodded to himself for a moment, before a tear dripped down his cheek. Evie dropped to her knees beside him and took his hands.

"Hey now, Brandon..." She said softly as he tried to hide his face, "Hey, what's wrong? Tell me what's wrong."

Brandon's little sobs echoed around the quiet, dark room. Figuring that the best thing to do was to just be there while he got it all out, Evie stayed silent. His whole body shook as she ran her fingers over his shoulders and down his arms.

As his tears began to subside, Evie stood and gave his face one last comforting brush with her fingertips before making her way to the small kettle on a shelf attached to the wardrobe. She could hear Brandon wiping his face and nose with his sleeve as she pressed the teabag against the edge of the cup to draw it as quickly as possible.

She cautiously handed him the hot cup - hoping that the crying had sobered him up enough not to drop boiling water on either of them.

"Thanks."

She sat on the floor, looking up at him, and placed a hand on his arm. They sat in silence as Brandon delicately sipped his tea; Evie's thumb rubbing his arm. Eventually, he took a deep breath and looked at her sheepishly.

"They're right," He laughed, but there was no humour in his eyes.

"Who is right?"

"The labels. The problem isn't the band, or the songs, or anything. It's me."

Evie frowned as she watched him take shaky breaths. His mug rattled against the wooden table as he set it down with wobbly hands.

"I'm not appealing. I don't-- People don't want to look at me. I'm not sexy."

Evie's heart sank at the sheer heartbreak on his face. Yes, it was ridiculous the way he slurred the word 'sexy' in his drunkenness. And yes, he was saying this with enormous streaks of black eye makeup all over his face. But his pain was so real she could practically feel it in the air. Someone had told him he wasn't enough and he had been carrying that around in his heart ever since.

"I should go," He sniffed, standing abruptly, his cheeks pink.

"No!" Evie jumped to her feet and caught his arm, "Don't go. You're tired, and you're drunk, and you need to have someone with you right now."

Brandon turned sheepishly, his eyes on the floor.

"You don't have to feel sorry for me."

"I don't feel sorry for you," Evie said softly, moving closer so she could hold his arms, "I feel sorry for those label assholes who missed out on a great band, all because they don't know what sex appeal is."

Brandon huffed and tried to turn away, but Evie held on to his arms.

"Don't leave."

Eventually Brandon's eyes met hers. He just looked broken, and all she wanted in that moment was to make that look go away - for good.

But that wasn't a one night thing.

She helped him out of his damp shirt and pants, both of them giggling as he got his foot stuck in the ankle of the thin leg. He sat on the bed and waited as she found him a shirt, which he slipped into gratefully.

"I can sleep on the couch--" He started, bashful now he was sober enough to realise the intimacy of the situation.

"As much as I would love to see you try to fold those stilts you call legs into that tiny couch," She snickered, "You need a proper sleep. Get in."

He obliged, trying to cause as little obstruction as possible. Evie shut off the light and sighed. He felt the bed move as she tried to get comfortable.

"You sleep on your back like a vampire?"

Brandon let out a yuk-yuk laugh, despite his anxiety reaching sky-high. He tensed again as Evie slid closer to him and encouraged him onto his side. She pulled him back against her, so his back was flat against her chest.

"Is this ok?" She asked, genuinely nervous about his reaction. She just wanted to hold him.

"Yeah."

With that, she snaked her arm around him, her hand landing over his heart - which he was sure she could feel racing. She planted a soft kiss against his shoulder.

"It's gonna be ok. You're gonna be ok."

Chapter Text

Evie tiptoed across her room, her towel wrapped around her as tightly as possible. She glanced over her shoulder and smiled as Brandon let out a quiet snore. It was kind of nice seeing him look so peaceful after the internal turmoil she'd had a glimpse into the previous night. He was on his stomach, his face smushed into the pillow and his arms curled around himself. He had kicked most of the blankets off in the night and one leg was hanging over the edge.

She thought about what he had said as she gathered her clothes and slipped back into the bathroom. Label executives had said - apparently to his face - that he wasn't sexy enough to succeed. No wonder he spent all day drinking just to get himself on stage in front of a couple of hundred people. All eyes on him. After being told he couldn't draw anyone's eye and his talent couldn't make up for it.

And he had told her all those months ago in the grotty alley behind a bar in Las Vegas that a girl had cheated on him and broken his heart. Another occasion where he thought he hadn't been enough.

The click of the bathroom door for the fourth time that morning finally made Brandon stir. Evie smiled as his eyes fluttered open, a groan escaping his lips. He was about to be in for a world of hungover pain.

"What--?" He croaked as he spotted her plaiting her hair in the corner of the room.

"Morning."

Brandon frowned and looked down at his still clothed body. Evie snickered. He really was optimistic if he thought he had been capable of that last night. He pulled himself onto his elbows and yawned.

"Uh... morning. Hi."

"Hey," She smiled, "Can I interest you in an aspirin?"

"Oh hell, yes please," He smiled bashfully.

She handed him a glass of water and a couple of pills, watching as he took them and downed the whole glass, before looking back up at her. He frowned and glanced around the room. His face drained of colour as his memories of the previous night took shape.

"I should go," He said softly, "Um, thanks for letting me stay and-- Uh, everything."

"I was actually wondering if you want to stay? I mean, I'm just gonna put on a movie and eat junk food but it would be nice to have some company."

Brandon avoided her eye as he pulled his jeans up his legs and began buttoning his shirt. "I don't think that's a good idea."

Evie nodded and leaned on the desk, trying to disguise her disappointment. She had been hoping she might be able to get to know him a little better on this tour. Finding out that The Killers would be on the line up for the tour had been so exciting for her, between her love of their music and how intriguing she had found their lead singer one night in Vegas. But he was so quiet and private that it was tough to get a minute alone with him. And now she'd had a whole night alone with him, but he didn't want to know. That's what she got for falling for a guy she met in an alley.

Brandon eyed Evie carefully as he collected the last of his stuff and walked past her. She gave him a smile that didn't reach her eyes as he passed in front of her.

"I'm uh sorry," He rubbed the back of his head, "I just... You have someone and I don't wanna be that guy, it's really not me."

Evie frowned at him. "What are you talking about?"

"Well I don't really feel comfortable doing um... I just would feel bad for your boyfriend."

Evie's hand grabbed his arm as he reached for the door handle.

"Brandon, I don't have a boyfriend. And if I did and he didn't let me watch movies with a friend, I'd kick his ass."

"I heard--"

"I'm gonna go out on a limb and say someone made up an excuse for their friends when I wouldn't suck their dick."

Brandon laughed, his face turning pink. He looked at her. "So... you're single?"

"I am. But to be clear, I'm asking you to watch a movie, not have sex."

His blush deepened and she grinned at him. He was so fucking cute.

"Um, what movie were you thinking?" He smiled, laying his tie on the back of the desk chair.

"No," She shook her head, "Get more comfortable first. Take your pants off."

Brandon laughed, "Normally I'd be a little disappointed if a girl told me to take my pants off but we aren't going to have sex."

Evie snickered and climbed onto the bed as Brandon stripped his pants and shirt and tugged the t-shirt she had lent to him over his head. He sat beside her cautiously, crossing his legs at the ankles and folding his arms over his chest. He turned to watch as she reach over the side of the bed and pulled up a plastic bag full of treats.

"Oh my gosh," He giggled, crossing his legs and leaning forward to get a proper look at what she had bought, "Were you planning on having company or..?"

"Don't judge me, Brightside! We don't all get fancy meals."

Brandon shook his head as he rifled through the bags of chips and candies, settling on the British version of Cheetos. The bands had a budget for restaurants. The crew got a significantly smaller food budget.

"I would do unspeakable things for a burger."

Brandon laughed and made a mental note to ask around about London's best burger joints. He munched on a handful of cheesy goodness as she flicked through the free movies on the tiny hotel room TV.

"Hey, Brandon?"

"Yeah?"

"If you eat all my knock-off cheetos I'll hurt you."

--

Brandon followed Evie down the corridor of their hotel. It was the 11pm, and the first time they'd left the room all day. Four movies and a nap later and he had basically forgotten he was in a band. He was just on a wild date-month with someone who might just be his dream girl.

Evie smiled as she caught him looking at her in the elevator. Her hair was tied back in a messy bun, the ends trailing on the oversized leather jacket hanging off her shoulders. She had a white tank top underneath. London was warm enough in the summer to keep it's heat well into the night, but the persistent wind made things a little less comfortable.

They were walking down the steps together when Evie slipped her hand into his, Brandon quickly interlocking their fingers and giving her small hand a squeeze. They walked in easy silence down the street, quiet but for the hum of activity as they passed the doors of pubs and clubs. It wasn't late enough for people to be spilling out onto the street, so they only passed the occasional straggler.

Evie released his hand as they reached Waterloo Bridge, using her hands to hop onto the wall and look towards the glowing spectre of Big Ben and Westminster a bridge further. Brandon leaned against the wall with his forearms and followed her gaze.

"So," She said quietly, "Do you wanna tell me what's going on?"

Brandon frowned up at her, his heart suddenly beating faster. "What do you mean?"

"The drinking, the anger, the whole 'not sexy enough'... You're going through something. Do you wanna talk about it?"

His frown didn't fade, but he directed it towards the water below them. Eventually he sighed and hopped up on the wall beside her. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to talk, and maybe she was the only one he wanted to talk to. No one had every really asked him.

"Short version or long?"

Evie shrugged and rested her chin in her hand, "I have nowhere to be."

"Uh ok," He giggled nervously, tugging his hand through his hair before staring down at his fingers. "I guess I've always had a sorta complex about how I look. I used to be-- um, I don't know, a chubby kid. I always hated people looking at me. It would kill me if someone in a restaurant laughed because I always thought they were laughing at me. But like, whatever, I lost weight and I look after my body now and I guess I feel... better about that."

Brandon looked up nervously at Evie. He wasn't sure why he always assumed people were laughing at him, but a wave of relief went through him as he met her calm brown eyes, watching him thoughtfully. He took a breath and considered what he needed to say next.

"So I dunno, I guess when I ended up on stage as a lead singer - which was kind of an accident - I uh, just had to get used to being in front of people. And that took a while. I don't wanna tell you how many times I felt like I was gonna throw up on the front row."

Evie smiled as Brandon let out a yuk-yuk laugh. But it didn't last long. His face darkened and he started anxiously scratching his thumbnail against the palm of his other hand.

"But uh, that got harder again after we performed for the labels. We'd been getting really good feedback from local music magazines since we got Ronnie and Mark on board. I really thought this was it, we were that good and the labels were finally gonna see that. But it turned out that the problem with 'seeing' us was um, seeing me."

Evie's heart cracked all over again as Brandon chewed on his lip. He was reliving everything in that moment, it was written all over his face. She could only imagine what he'd gone through the days after those comments.

"So uh, yeah," He sighed, shaking his head as if to shake away the thought, "I got total stage fright the first performance after that. I was the reason we weren't good enough. The guys would do so much better with a better, hotter lead singer. It started to become normal to get so drunk I kind of forgot who I was before I went on stage. Because if I wasn't me, I might be good enough."

They fell silent again, Brandon's brow furrowed in concentration as he scratched his palm until it was red. Evie let out a long, slow breath.

Brandon broke first, letting out a gaspy laugh, "Anyway, you know. It's the industry. It's what happens--"

Evie cut him off by sliding her hand into his, covering the scratched area.

"No."

"I mean, a band has to look good enough to sell--"

"Brandon, no."

He finally turned to look at her. Evie leant over and placed a small kiss on his lips, before wrapping her arms around his neck and squeezing him as tight as she could. Hesitantly, Brandon's hands landed on her back and he pulled her closer.

"You don't have to make excuses for someone's dumb opinions. They had no right to make you feel like that."

He nodded against her neck. She finally let go of him and they hopped off the wall, entwining their hands as they walked unhurriedly back in the direction of their hotel.

"And for what it's worth," Evie said softly, standing on her toes to kiss his cheek, "I couldn't disagree with them more."

Brandon smiled down at her as she stopped them and turned to face him. He reached up carefully and twirled a loose strand of her hair around his finger.

"Thanks."

Evie shrugged and smirked back up at him. "Ahh it's nothing. Maybe I kinda like you. Despite the fact you apparently thought I was gonna fuck you behind my boyfriend's back."

Brandon blushed, "I... I didn't... You're just pretty enough to-- I mean--"

Evie pressed her lips against his, partly because she wanted to, partly to shut him up.

Chapter Text

Evie slid her sunglasses off as the sun began to retreat behind the clouds. She'd managed to escape The Kings for the evening, and was planning to meet Brandon in Southbank for dinner. Keegan would yell at her for 'skipping out', even though she worked her ass off for them, but it would be worth it.

"Oh god," Evie snickered as Brandon and Ronnie rounded the corner of the street she was waiting on, "What happened?"

Ronnie waved cheerfully as a pouty Brandon scooped her into a hug. They'd been in interviews all day. Brandon's least favourite thing.

"Same old, same old," Ronnie chuckled, "Brandon revealed he has a crush on Jessica Simpson, which was news to me but I enjoyed it."

"Why did I talk about her for so long?"

"I dunno man, but you should definitely apologise to Evie."

Brandon turned to Evie in horror and she waved his anxiety away. "Chill, if you have a chance to get off with Jessica, you should go for it."

Brandon whined. "But I don't even want to!"

Ronnie snickered and checked his watch. "Well, I should leave you little lovebirds to it. Catch ya later."

Brandon gave Ronnie a halfhearted wave and smushed his face into Evie's neck again. She stroked his back lightly, lifting his chin with her forefinger and pressing a kiss to his forehead.

"Food will make you feel better. What do you feel like?"

Brandon perked up immediately and grabbed her hand, taking off in the direction he and Ronnie had just come from. Evie laughed as she jogged alongside him. His legs were way longer than hers.

"Oh my god, where are we going?"

"I got talking with one of the photographers this afternoon," Brandon explained, frowning at street signs as he tried to remember where to go next, "He told me about this really good burger place."

Evie's stomach rumbled in approval and Brandon giggled, turning them abruptly in a small alleyway, empty but for a doorway about halfway down. The entrance was spilling over with flowers and the music got louder as they approached. Brandon made an approving face at the sounds of New Order. Evie made a matching one at the smell of food.

"Two?" A waitress smiled at them as they walked through the door.

"Uh, yes please."

"Oh! Americans!" She laughed, "We're getting so many of you at the moment."

"Was the guy you talked to about this place American?" Evie whispered as they followed the waitress to a small booth at the back.

Brandon nodded. Maybe he hadn't been the only one who had been sent to this place.

A sharp whistle confirmed their suspicions. A large table of men whooped and hollered as they took their seats. Brandon waved bashfully to Dave, who was tucked away amongst the rowdy group. Evie stuck her middle finger up at Keegan as he glared at her.

"Any chance you have a table anywhere away from them?" Evie asked their waitress.

The waitress tapped her pen on her chin and pointed to a table slightly further away. It would still be in the eyeline of the larger group, but at least they wouldn't be able to listen in. They accepted it gratefully.

Brandon stopped her as she began to hand them menus. "Two bacon cheeseburgers, one curly fries, one regular fries, two cokes."

"One diet," Evie interrupted and Brandon made a face, "It tastes better."

"Maybe this date is over," Brandon frowned, his eyes twinkling.

"Oh no," Evie shook her head, "It's not over until I eat my burger and then make a run for it. Our food budgets are very different."

Brandon smiled and leaned forward a little. "My treat."

Evie blushed and fidgeted with the edge of a napkin.

"What's up?"

"Oh you know..." Evie grinned, "You know how when sometimes you wanna kiss your cute date but you can't because you can feel the eyes of your friends, coworkers and bosses on you?"

Brandon giggled. "And you can't wait?"

"You risk losing your place in my mind to an enormous burger."

Brandon leaned further forward, looking at her lips and biting his own, "Well I can't have that." He plucked a drinks menu from the table and opened it, before holding it up between them and their spectators. Evie snickered and placed her hand on his cheek, giving him a kiss she hoped he would remember for days. Brandon gulped as she flicked her tongue over his bottom lip and pulled back.

He opened his mouth to speak and was interrupted by the arrival of their food, forcing him to snap his menu shut and simply watch as Evie dug in with more enthusiasm than he'd ever seen.

"What are you looking at?" She said, through a mouthful of fries.

Brandon smiled and shook his head, taking a bite of his own burger. Damn. That guy was right, this was a nice burger.

They ate pretty much in silence, both consumed by how good the food was. Evie occasionally made small appreciative noises, which were catching Brandon's ear more than he was comfortable with in public.

Evie sat back and sighed, licking her fingers clean of barbecue sauce. "Holy shit."

Brandon nodded in agreement. He was still working on his fries. "So," He pointed a fry at her as she sipped her drink, "When you're not dealing with... that, what do you do?"

Evie followed his gaze to where Keegan was telling some obnoxious story, gesturing like mad and howling with laughter every now and then. No one else seemed to be finding it as funny as him.

"Well, when I get back home I'll be heading back to UNLV for my graduate degree."

"No way! In what?"

"Law," Evie said, smiling as Brandon's face tried to disguise his confusion that she would study that, "Yeah. Dad's a lawyer, brother's a lawyer, mom was a lawyer before she had us..."

"Got it," Brandon giggled, "Dynasty."

Evie rolled her eyes, "I guess."

"You'd rather be doing something else?"

Evie waved her hand in dismissal. She never liked talking about that. Maybe law wasn't her passion, but there was no way out of it now, and she preferred not to consider how bleak that made her future seem.

"What about you? Did you do anything before you did this?"

Brandon nodded and munched his fries, "Yeah. I've been in and out of various hotels and restaurants on the strip since I was 16. You name it, I've probably worked there."

"Your family lives nearby?"

"No, they actually live in Utah. I was the baby of a family of seven, when I asked to move to Vegas to live with my aunt at the ripe old age of 15, they said please go."

"So when did music come into it?"

"Not until I was, I don't know, 17 or 18 I guess?" Brandon stroked his jaw, "I mean I liked music way before, I used to spend every penny I had on it as a kid, but it took me a while to feel like I could make music."

"The Killers were your first band?"

"Third," Brandon smiled, "High school band just for fun, and then a synth band called Blush Response."

"Oh that's a terrible name," Evie snickered.

"And 'The Velvet Kings' is a good one?"

Evie held her hands up, "I didn't say that!"

Brandon slid his plate across the table and beckoned the waitress.

"You maybe wanna get out of here?" He raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes towards the table across the room. They had certainly distracted themselves, but there was at least one pair of eyes on the couple at all times.

"Are you trying to get me alone Mr... Wait! What is your surname?"

Brandon smiled, "You won't believe me."

Chapter Text

"Morrissey is good, you're just not listening right."

Evie rolled her eyes and extracted the teabag from her mug, throwing it at the back of Brandon's head. It made a satisfying slapping noise before dropping to the floor.

"Really?" He asked indignantly, turning round. Evie burst out laughing. His right eye was entirely lined with black, perfectly smudged just enough to look tidy but unintentional. His left was entirely eyeliner free. Both were pretending to be mad.

"I don't know how to persuade you to stop listening to sad-boy music, so I had to resort to violence."

Brandon broke into a grin and stuck his tongue out at her, before spinning back to the mirror to perfect his left eye.

"Oh hey Evie," Ronnie said cheerfully as he emerged from wardrobe, "I'm starting to think you're trying to stealthily join the Killers crew without the Kings noticing."

"I can neither confirm nor deny."

Ronnie chuckled and settled on the couch, tapping his sticks against the small coffee table. Brandon had tried lying to him about why he'd been disappearing every evening for the last few nights, but Ronnie had seen right through him. And he hadn't been surprised in the slightest, in fact, he seemed over the moon. Brandon was finally resisting day drinking and seemed like he had a reason to get up in the morning other than spite. That could only be a good thing, even if their relationship seemed to be accelerating faster than normal for Brandon.

After two days to themselves, therefore, Brandon and Evie had gone 'public' in their sphere of colleagues. After being spotted, it had taken mere hours for everyone to know their business. Since then, Evie had been for dinner with the rest of The Killers and their crew, and the Kings didn't bat an eyelid when Brandon came snooping around their dressing room to ask Evie a question.

That didn't mean there weren't some bumps in the road.

"Evie, of course you're here," another Kings roadie said breathlessly, "Keegan is about to start blowing smoke out his ears."

Evie reluctantly poured her tea down the drain and rolled her eyes at Ronnie. She smiled up at Brandon as he turned to face her, poking her nose with his eyeliner pencil. She knocked it out of his hand and brushed her nose with a laugh. He bent down to kiss her, his hands gently running over her upper arms and shoulders.

Their kiss was long, and slow enough to make the waiting roadie knock on the wall and cough irritably. Evie broke away and pecked a few kisses down his chin and neck. She looked back up at him and his face crinkled into the biggest grin.

"I'll see you later?"

He hummed in agreement and bent down to kiss her again. Despite the sear of the roadie's angry gaze on her back, Evie reciprocated the kiss enthusiastically, wrapping her arms around his neck as he picked her off her feet.

"Hey!" Brandon smiled, his hand finding the slip of paper in her back pocket. His face crinkled as he looked at the strip of four photos they'd taken in a photobooth earlier that day. "Can I have this one?"

Evie looked at the bottom picture he was indicating. She was looking at him, the biggest smile on her face while he laughed.

"Of course!"

Eventually they parted and Evie jogged out of the room. Brandon turned around with a dramatic sigh, aware that he was becoming a Disney princess who's just met her Prince Charming.

"You two are disgusting," Dave said through a mouthful of chicken, turning to Ronnie, "I don't know how you cope."

Ronnie shrugged and kept tapping away on the table. "They don't use our room. And I'd rather he was cuddling a lady friend at night than a bottle of vodka."

Brandon couldn't wipe the dumb smile off his face as he fixed his lipgloss and obsessed over the ends of his hair.

"She makes me feel good."

"Ugh I'm going to vomit, please keep your dick out of this," Dave groaned.

"No!" Brandon giggled, "Like I just feel better with her. I like her a lot."

Ronnie nodded, "Ok... But have you boned her yet?"

Brandon put his hands on his hips and raised an eyebrow. "Ronald."

"That's a no..." Dave snickered.

Ronnie smiled. "You got two and a half months left. You're an old fashioned soul, Brando, but even you can nail her in that time span."

Brandon rolled his eyes and went back to getting ready. His bandmates never really got why he wasn't into the one night stands and getting-sucked-off-in-the-backstage-of-a-sketchy-bar thing. And sure, he'd caved a few times and participated in stuff that was fun for a few hours before making him feel hollow and like he needed to take seven showers. That lifestyle wasn't for him.

He'd worked in hotels for five years. He knew the difference between the energy of people who loved each other getting a room, and the energy of people whose main concern was pleasure. And the old romantic in him preferred the steady, calm manner of those in love. Even if they were fighting or desperate to be alone together, there was a comfortableness to them that for him vastly outweighed the chaotic lust of strangers.

And yeah, he was sleeping in Evie's bed every night. But it felt comfortable. It felt safe.

"Brandon!" Matt waved to him from the hallway, "You guys free?"

"Sure."

Dave and Mark shot their tour manager a wave, while Ronnie joined Brandon by Matt's side. He rifled through a stack of papers until he found what he was looking for.

"I just wanted to let you guys know that there are some reviewers in the audience tonight. Now that the tour is well underway, they wanna see who the next big thing might be."

Brandon's stomach flooded with butterflies. He found himself thinking about something stronger than his bottle of coke for the first time in a few days. Ronnie noticed the change and put an arm over his shoulder.

"Thanks for the heads up, Matt," The drummer smiled, "We'll give them hell."

Matt nodded and excused himself as his phone began buzzing. Brandon let out a long, slow breath.

"You're fucking killing it out there, every night, Brando," Ronnie smiled, "It's time to show them we aren't fucking around."

Brandon's lips curled up slightly and he nodded. Ronnie was right. Spite was significantly stronger than alcohol, and that's what he needed to use to fuel him right now.

"This is all wrong," He muttered to himself.

Ronnie rushed to his side again, ready with encouraging words and motivational anecdotes - until Brandon pulled his jacket off.

"I need something more... More of a statement."

Chapter Text

Brandon bounced into Evie's room, full of leftover energy from the show. He threw down his duffel and more carefully took off and hung up his jacket.

"You know, you're the only man I know who could get away with wearing pink leather and not looking like a stripper." Evie smiled, locking the door behind them and shuffling out of her own coat.

Brandon giggled and loosened his tie, before parking himself on the end of the bed with a sigh.

"Thanks darlin'. I'm really starting to enjoy this."

Her heart skipped a beat at his contented face as he turned on the TV and found a music program.

"If your jackets are gonna correspond to your mood, I don't even want to know what that hot pink trench coat in your wardrobe signifies."

Brandon giggled and caught her waist as she tried to slip between him and the TV, pulling her down onto his knee.

"Enough about me," He mumbled, "What's this about?"

She blushed as his hand ran up her fishnet clad leg until it reached the dark purple leather of her skirt. She involuntarily shivered as his fingertip brushed under the material for a mere second, before his hand ran back down and gripped her leg at the knee.

Evie had noticed the change that took place in sober Brandon after a performance. Especially after a good performance - which right now, they all were. He became more confident, more self assured, and infinitely flirtier with her. They'd had three shows since Evie and Brandon became somewhat of a 'thing', and every night they had come back to the hotel significantly earlier than everyone else to make out in the privacy of her bed.

So far nothing else had happened, but he was driving her crazy, and judging by the tenting in his pants after particularly steamy sessions, she might have been doing the same to him.

Evie pulled herself up off his knee and turned so she could straddle him, grabbing the back of his neck and pulling his lips to hers hungrily. Brandon groaned and gripped her waist as he returned the kiss, the heat of their bodies rising.

When her lips were sore from kissing, Evie trailed her mouth along Brandon's cheek and down his jaw - licking and nipping with her teeth as he sighed in her ear. From this position, she could grind gently into his crotch, the feeling of him getting harder under her sending a thrill through her body. His hands slid up to her shoulders and he pulled her away.

"Are we--" He said breathlessly, his cheeks turning pink as he realised the gravity of what was about to happen.

"Only if you want to." Evie smiled, kissing his cheeks and pulling on his hands so they were intwined with hers between them.

She was significantly more experienced than Brandon, they'd had that conversation. This wouldn't be his first time, but it wasn't far off. And although she felt like he wanted to take this next step, she wasn't going to do anything without hearing it from his lips.

Brandon gulped and nodded, "Yeah."

"Relax, honey," She coaxed, easing him back until he was laid out beneath her. She kissed him softly again as she undid his tie and ran her hands over the material of his black shirt.

She felt the tension gradually leave his body under her fingertips, until his hands were on her back again, tugging gently at the zipper down her spine. She brought herself closer to him to help him reach the clasp, shivering as he trailed his fingers in the wake of the material he unzipped.

Sitting up, Evie let the shirt fall away from her chest and pushed her hair out of her face, keeping her eyes on Brandon. He'd trailed his hands under her shirt before, but he hadn't seen her shirtless. The look on his face made her blush.

"Oh my gosh," He sat up, his hands confidently but gently reaching for her ribs, "You're so beautiful."

Evie rolled her eyes, her own face crinkling into a smile to match his.

"Shut up," She laughed as he looked up at her with his big brown puppy-dog eyes.

"Nope," He grinned, his lips meeting her jaw as his hands started to brush over the sides of her bra, "I won't."

Each time their lips met seemed more fervent and loving than the last. He loved the way she responded to him, her little gasps and moans as he flicked his tongue, and the way she bit his bottom lip playfully.

Her fingers made quick work of his button-down, and she pushed it off his shoulders, before placing her hands on his chest. Brandon mirrored her and she giggled.

Their lips parted as Evie took his hand from her breast and placed it on her sternum, the clasp for her front-open bra cool against his fingertips. He smiled up at her before releasing the clasp and letting the material fall away.

Brandon let out a low groan, his breath on her bare chest making Evie shiver slightly. He looked in her eyes as he began to kiss over the swell of her left breast until her nipple was in his mouth. Evie hummed pleasantly and let her head fall back as Brandon flicked his tongue, his hand reaching for and toying with her other nipple. He moaned as her fingernails dragged down his arms.

Evie pulled his face back up to hers and kissed him hard, before dropping her hand down his stomach, and gently brushing over the growing bulge in his pants. She hummed happily as she cupped him, revelling in the way his lips momentarily stopped moving, as if he was frozen in that particular feeling. After a few strokes and squeezes, she gently bit his bottom lip to bring him out of his trance.

Brandon giggled as she raised her eyebrows at him.

"I think I kind of love you."

"You can't say that during sex."

"I know," He smiled, "That's why I'm saying it before."

"Are you really trying to get out of that on a technicality?"

"Mhmm."

Brandon wrapped his arms around Evie's waist and stood, allowing her feet to fall to the ground. He took a small step back from her and looked her up and down, another giggle escaping his mouth.

"It's rude to laugh at someone's body," Evie smirked, kicking off her boots and kind of enjoying the way it brought her down from chin height to shoulder height on him. She'd grown to like being able to bury her face in his wide chest.

Brandon kicked off his own shoes and socks, and caught her in a slow kiss.

"I just can't believe I get this. I can't believe I get you."

Evie groaned against his lips. He was so sweet she wanted to scream.

Brandon's hands strayed to her hips, and he began to edge the zipper on the back of her skirt down.

"No no," She laughed against his mouth, "Let me. This is not gonna be elegant."

Brandon giggled and sat back on the bed to watch as Evie wiggled out of the tight skirt. He'd always thought people must use some kind of magic to get into tight clothes, now he was even more convinced.

Evie raised her eyebrows as she kicked the skirt across the room and tugged her tights down, sitting on the bed beside Brandon to pull them off the rest of the way.

"Hey, I'm comfortable with you, it's a good thing."

Brandon laughed and cupped her face, bringing her lips against his again.

"You're gorgeous," He mumbled, "Even when you're fighting with skintight leather."

"You must know what that's like," She teased.

Brandon held her waist and lay her back on the bed, resting himself over her. Evie sighed at the weight of his body on hers as his hand ascended to her chest, his thumb brushing her nipple gently.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to unzip his pants as their mouths moved together, Evie groaned and pushed on his chest.

"Please take your pants off," She laughed, "The zipper is so stiff."

Brandon smiled and wiggled his eyebrows, "It's not the only thing that's stiff--"

"Oh my GOD," Evie groaned, "You're the worst."

Brandon giggled and reached his hand down to unzip his pants. Evie held his wrist for a second.

"I think I kind of love you too."

Brandon's face crinkled into one of his mega-watt smiles and he looked down bashfully. When he had processed what she said, he unzipped his pants and then pressed his body against hers again.

"Ok," She giggled as Brandon's lips tickled her neck, "I was hoping you might take them off."

Brandon looked up when his mouth met her collarbone, sliding his body down further. "What's the rush?"

Evie sighed and made herself comfortable in the pillows as Brandon kissed down her body. Her hands landed on his soft, still a little sweaty hair as he reached the top of her panties. He smiled up at her.

"You're a little shit, you know that?"

Brandon giggled as he kissed along the waistband and down the tops of her thighs. "How come?"

Evie groaned as his mouth drifted over her core and began to kiss her other thigh. "That! You're a tease."

Brandon looked up at her and she noticed he was blushing. She pushed herself up on her elbows and cocked her head. "What's up?"

"Um," Brandon said quietly, his trademark nervous giggle a total contrast to how much of a tease he was moments ago, "I've never done this before."

Evie frowned. She was sure he had said he had been with other girls before her. It dawned on her that he meant oral.

"Ohhh," She said eventually, sitting up and encouraging Brandon to do the same, "Hey, that's ok! You don't have to do that. Or anything, if you aren't ready."

Brandon was still blushing and staring at his knees. Evie tilted his chin up and kissed him slowly.

"I want to."

"Ok."

"If that's something you'd want."

"Hell yeah."

"It's just..."

"Not tonight?"

"Not tonight."

Evie smiled and climbed into his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck as they started to make out again. Brandon's hands were so soft and gentle as they ran along her back, through her hair, along her thighs. She smiled against his lips. He had no need to be nervous. Someone as caring and careful as him, she would bet serious money, would have no problem pleasing a woman.

Brandon held her tightly as he placed her on her back, his hand slipping down her stomach and into her panties without hesitation. Ok, this he had done before.

"Fuck--" Evie groaned, breaking their kiss to push her head back into the pillows.

Brandon's lips curled up in a smile as he slipped his middle finger into her and she gasped. She looked so good responding to his touch, he could watch the way her face changed and her lips parted all night. When he inserted a second finger she grabbed the back of his neck and kissed him hard, her hand palming his erection sloppily, before she tugged his underwear down and took him in her hand.

Brandon snickered as she made an 'ooh' noise and broke their kiss to look down at her. Evie smiled wickedly up at him.

"Nice."

"Nice?"

"Well you never know what you're gonna get, you know? This is... This'll work."

They both laughed, Evie taking the opportunity to roll them over. She liked seeing his big dumb crinkly-faced smile. He was a guarded person, it felt like a win to make him relax and allow himself to feel.

"Evie!" Brandon yelped as she pushed herself down his body and licked his cock from base to tip.

"Yep?"

"What?!"

Evie snickered and spat into her hand. He wasn't the only one who 'wanted to'.

Brandon pushed himself onto his elbows to watch her, but his efforts were futile, his head falling back as soon as she took his tip in her mouth. She smiled, as best she could. His way over-exaggerated responses were intoxicating.

She swirled her tongue and bobbed her head until Brandon's hips started bucking upwards. He sat up and pulled her up by cupping her face and kissing her, before flipping them over again, rolling on a condom, and positioning himself at her entrance.

He looked at her carefully, their faces inches apart. "Yeah?"

Evie nodded quickly and pulled him into a kiss as he pushed into her. Their combined moans filled the room as Brandon's face descended to her neck. Evie's fingers grabbed at his back and hair as he stilled, allowing her to adjust.

"Please, Brandon." She mumbled into his ear. He came alive, his movements purposeful and gentle, his hands on her waist and pushing into the bed either side of her.

Their matching loud moans when Brandon found the right pace made them both laugh. Evie tugged her hands through his hair and pulled his smiling mouth to hers as she wrapped her legs around his waist.

It didn't take much longer for Brandon's thrusts to become a little unsteady.

"Baby I'm gonna come--" He breathed, burying his face in her neck again as he concentrated on his movements. One of his hands wandered to her leg and pushed it up, giving him a new angle that made Evie shiver.

"Fuck, me too."

Evie kept her leg high when Brandon's hand left, his fingers instead moving to rub her clit.

That was the final straw for Evie. She gasped his name as her legs tightened around him. Brandon followed quickly after, the feeling of her walls contracting around him and her body shuddering below his tipping him over the edge.

They lay tangled together for as long as possible, gentle touches and soft kisses punctuating the stillness. They both knew saying the L word after sex was a cliché. But from the look in their eyes, they both knew it was true.

Chapter Text

Brandon winced as Evie left his side from where they had been snuggled up on the bus. There were no official 'sleeping bays', he figured this probably wasn't the kind of bus U2 travelled on, but there were a couple of chairs right at the back of the bus that were particularly comfy. Anyone who needed a nap claimed those, in this case, Evie and Brandon.

His frown deepened as he realised what had woken her.

"Evie!!! Evie I swear to god if you don't get out here right now!!!"

She bent down and kissed his cheek gently. "Go back to sleep babe."

Brandon sat up as the door clicked behind her. He rubbed his eyes and looked at his watch. 7.40am. They must be nearly at the next town.

"Where are we?" He asked groggily, to no one in particular.

"Manchester," Katy muttered. She had been weird ever since Brandon and Evie had become a couple. Evie brushed it off as her crush on Brandon, but he was more inclined to believe she just had a stressful job with a bunch of little shits who wanted to be rockstars.

He nodded and wandered to the window, sneaking a peak at their rude awakener. They seemed to be stopped at a gas station - the other bus parked just in front of theirs. Keegan was waving his arms around him like a maniac, Evie and his bandmates trying to calm him.

"Between you and him," Dave said, appearing behind him, "She has every level of friendliness covered with the singers on this tour."

Brandon flipped him off and sighed. "I don't know why he thinks he has a right to talk to her like that." Evie had explained that she and Keegan had known each other for a very long time. They'd bonded over music. But things had become a little different when they went from friends to boss and underling.

"Go kick his ass, Romeo."

"Do not do that," Ronnie intervened, "She works for him Brandon. He's a dick to all his staff. It's gotta sting a little that she spends more time with another band on the tour."

"Plus she does more for you than she does for--"

"Shut it, David." Ronnie laughed.

Brandon dropped onto a different chair - freeing up the sleeping bay if anyone wanted it. Sure enough, Nick fell like a sack of potatoes and started snoring. He looked up as the door clicked open and Evie slunk back onto the bus. She looked pale.

"Everything ok?"

Her eyes snapped up to him as if she had forgotten he was there and she smiled. "Yeah. They don't sell Doritos here."

Ronnie laughed as Evie sat down beside Brandon and tugged her hood up, leaning on his shoulder as he wrapped his arm around her again. Her breathing slowed quickly, and she was asleep before the bus kicked into motion. Brandon frowned at the seat in front. This wasn't the first time Keegan had gone apeshit in front of everyone. But recently, his meltdowns had become more regular and had required more and more people to calm him down. And he always went hardest at Evie.

--

Evie skipped down the steps of the bus at their hotel, grabbing Brandon's hand and taking off in the opposite direction.

"Woah! Don't you have to like, work?" He laughed, pulling her back towards him.

"Honestly, Keegan can get fucked today," She shrugged, "I need a break. I deserve one."

Brandon frowned at her and she waved her hand, "It's all good, Will and Tony offered. They'll deal with him."

He nodded. She seemed to get along just fine with the other members of the Kings. Brandon hadn't spent much time with them, but Will and Tony - both guitarists - always seemed like decent guys to him.

"So where are we going?"

Evie grinned. "Food. You'll need your energy."

Brandon had just about given up trying to get her to explain why she was being so coy when they reached a small cafe. They both ordered a heap of food. There was no show tonight, and Evie had taken it upon herself to make sure Brandon ate well on their days off. He was notoriously bad at eating a single healthy thing on the day of a show. Or anything at all.

When their plates arrived, she started grinning again.

"Oh my gosh!" Brandon laughed, "Tell me what is on that mind of yours before you explode!"

She set down her fork and bounced in her chair like an excited kid. "Where are we?"

"Uh... Manchester. I think."

"Yes. What date is it?"

"Fuck, I don't know."

"Ok, that's fair," Evie laughed, "It's the 3rd."

Brandon nodded. "Right... Oh shit, is it your birthday?! No wait, that's November..."

"I appreciated your momentary panic, though." Evie pulled two tickets out from under the table and handed them to Brandon.

Parklife
Manchester, Heaton Park
3rd June DAY TICKET
OASIS

Brandon let out a squeal he would have been embarrassed about if his mind wasn't totally occupied by the thick, black ink claiming he was going to see Oasis with his girl. The last thing on his mind on tour had been other band's tours. He couldn't believe he hadn't realised he'd have the day off at the same time his favourite band ever were performing.

Evie was beaming ear-to-ear when he looked back up. Brandon lunged across the table and kissed her, pulling her into a bear hug.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oh my god!"

"You're welcome! Now, eat your breakfast so we can get somewhere near the stage."

--

By the time Oasis were due to come on stage, Brandon and Evie were pressed up against the barrier, surrounded by drunk hyper-fans.

Evie leaned her elbow on the barrier to grab a water from the security guy. She took a sip and passed it over her shoulder to Brandon. He'd insisted on standing behind her, his arms protectively fenced around her as he held on to the barrier. He'd said it was to stop people from jostling her, but she had a suspicion he was not enjoying being jostled. The row behind the front row was somewhat less pushy.

"You ok?" She yelled over her shoulder. Brandon nodded and kissed her cheek. Despite his hatred of crowds, she could see how excited he was by the way he kept looking at every movement side of stage - waiting for his heroes to emerge. His fingers hadn't stopped tapping the barrier.

He squeezed her hands as Noel Gallagher strode out and the crowd went crazy. British festival-goers were nuts and it was kind of awesome to see. As the opening chords of the first song began, Brandon spun her around in the small space in front of him. He smiled down at her as he kissed her.

"You're the best."

Chapter Text

"Holy shit."

"I know!"

"Holy SHIT."

"I know!" Evie snickered as Brandon shook his head, peeling off his sweaty layers until he was perched on her bed in his underwear.

"Holy--"

"Brandon!"

"He looked at me!"

"I know, I was there!"

"Liam Gallagher looked right at my face!"

Evie nodded enthusiastically. Brandon was unbearably cute as a fanboy. She peeled off her own sweaty jeans and threw them onto the desk, running her hands through her hair in an attempt to tame the chaos happening up there. She wasn't sure who's eyeliner was more smudged, hers or Brandon's.

Brandon snuck up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, kissing her neck and chin before burying his face in the crook. Evie smiled and reached up to stroke his hair.

"Thank you so much."

"You're welcome. That was so much fun."

Brandon hummed in agreement, tickling her neck with the curly ends of his long hair.

When he was working, he found it almost impossible to switch off. This whole tour had been like working, pretty much up to when he was losing his mind in the crowd of Parklife. Even when he was drunk in bars with the other bands he was acutely aware that he was here to work.

"I don't think I could do this tour without you."

"None of you could, you musicians are like giant babies."

Brandon laughed and let her go. She smiled back at him and he knew she knew what he meant. He watched as she pulled her lace up black vest over her head, and followed her into the bathroom, where she took off her underwear and hopped into the shower. Brandon brushed his teeth in the sink, both of them humming various Oasis tracks and reminding each other about weird or cool moments in the show.

"Are you coming in here or not?" Evie asked, popping her head around the curtain. She hadn't pulled it closed, but from where he was leaning on the sink it had been obscuring her.

Brandon nodded and pushed his briefs down, climbing in after her. He winced as the water hit his skin, reaching over her shoulder to turn up the temperature.

"Jesus," Evie laughed, grabbing his waist and putting him under the jets instead of her, "Why do you like your showers this hot? Trying to burn your skin off?"

"I miss the blazing heat."

"Why? It's the worst bit about living in LV."

"What?!"

Evie silenced him by leaning his head back and running her shampoo through his hair. He melted away for a moment, totally enraptured by the slow movement of her fingers. Fuck, he was tired.

He looked in her eyes again as she rinsed his hair.

"How can you not like the heat?"

"I like to be comfortable. Why do I wanna deal with sweat and heat headaches? Plus, lawyers are still expected to dress all fancy. It sucks."

Brandon's brow furrowed and she laughed, lathering up some soap to wash his body. His eyes fluttered as she began to massage the bubbles into his skin.

"When we get back home I'll take you into the desert."

"That's vaguely threatening, but I'm into it," She smiled, pushing him back under the water to rinse his soapy torso.

"It's a cool place."

"I agree. I prefer it at night."

"Me too."

"We should get takeout and eat it under the stars."

"Oh you wanna get eaten by a mountain lion?"

Evie laughed as they climbed out of the shower, drying off and wrapping up in towels before climbing onto the bed.

"Ok, maybe not. But we should definitely go stargazing."

Brandon nodded. "Deal."

He leant over and kissed Evie, mostly to stop himself saying something way too much. All he could think about was the life they'd have together back home. This was cool, but it wasn't his ideal setting for dating. He wanted to be traditional, in his own way. Pick her up in his rusty old car and take her for a nice dinner, or a movie, or out to Bonnie Springs.

He wanted to give her everything. Except he didn't know what 'everything' was going to be, after all this. He could be successful, a little money in his pocket. Or, he could return to Vegas, tail between his legs and ask for his old job back at the Gold Coast. He knew they would succeed someday, but the future was so uncertain now.

"Hey," Evie cupped his face, "Where did you go?"

Brandon smiled. She could read him way too easily.

"Nowhere."

She raised an eyebrow and nodded.

"I was thinking about the future," He admitted.

"Stay here for now."

Brandon's heart flipped and he pushed his lips back against hers. She was right.

Evie smiled against his lips as he lay her down and rested his hand at the top of her thigh, where the soft towel met her skin. She giggled as he unhooked the part of her towel holding the wrap together, pulling it open and kissing down her chest. His tongue flicked over her nipple and she gasped.

Brandon's hand ran down her side and he registered the goosebumps on her skin.

"Are you cold?"

"Partly loving this, partly fucking freezing, yes."

He laughed and stood, pulling her up with him. They climbed under the sheets and Brandon made himself comfortable between her legs again. She hummed as his head slipped below the the covers, yelping as he bit her hipbone lightly. The covers didn't totally muffle the giggle he let out.

When his hands spread her legs and he started to trail his mouth along her thighs, Evie couldn't help outright moaning his name. This seemed to spur him on and he licked her pussy, his tongue flat against her.

"Fucking hell, Brandon..." She groaned, biting her hand as he flicked his tongue over her. A mumble came from under the sheets in response. "Huh?"

Brandon's voice came out clearer, "Tell me if I'm doing it wrong."

Evie muffled her laugh against her hand. He was so cute. "I will."

Her hand landed on the bump where Brandon's head was as he started doing things with his mouth that made her question whether he was holding back when he kissed her. She gasped and clutched at the sheets, her hips bucking up to meet him until he lay his hands against her hipbones and pushed her gently back down onto the bed.

When he hummed, she yelped and had to cover her face with a pillow. Brandon clearly heard that, humming again as he sucked on her clit.

"Oh my god, there's no way you haven't done this before!" Evie said breathlessly. Brandon shook his face between her legs and she let out another yelp.

"Brandon -- fuck -- I'm so close babe."

Brandon held back for a moment, trying to decide what that meant he should do. His hand wandered up her body and grabbed her arm, pulling her hand back down with him and laying it in his hair. Evie took the hint and guided his movements, tightening her grip when he found just the right rhythm.

Evie cried his name as she saw stars, and Brandon intuitively slowed down, moving his mouth more gently until she tugged on his hair.

"Jesus christ."

"Was that ok?"

Evie made a face at him that made him burst out laughing.

"Is that a yes or no? I'm gonna need to hear it."

Instead, Evie pounced on top of him, kissing him so passionately he forgot he'd asked the question.

"Yes."

"Yes what?"

"Yes that was more than ok, Brandon."

"Oh," He smiled, "Cool."

Chapter Text

Brandon frowned as his hand met empty space next to him. He sat up, rubbing his eyes and looking around. Yeah, this was definitely Evie's room. The previous weeks hadn't been some fever dream.

"Evie?"

No response.

Groggily, he clambered out of bed and located his clothes, before jogging to the room number Ronnie had texted him that he was in. A few minutes of knocking revealed he wasn't there either. It was 10am. That was way early, by band standards. Ronnie tended to wake early, but stay in bed until at least 11.

"Hey!" Mark waved from the bar as the elevator doors opened onto the lobby. He was tucking into a croissant, seated with Ronnie and Dave, Richie and a few other people Brandon only vaguely knew.

"Hey guys, um, have you seen Evie?"

Dave snickered. "You lost your girlfriend?"

One of the vaguely familiar people at the table flapped his hand. "She's probably still with management."

Brandon frowned.

"Oh, didn't you guys hear yet?"

Ronnie shook his head. Brandon breathed a quiet breath of relief that he wasn't the only one totally out of the loop.

"Keegan OD'ed last night. They had to fly him back to the states."

"Oh shit," Dave winced, "That's awful."

"Yeah. The rest of the Kings have been with management all morning. I hear Tony flew back with Keegan, so they're two down."

"Fuck, a guitarist and a lead singer down?"

Brandon already knew what was coming before Mark said it.

"Shit, I guess they're out of the tour."

--

Their shows for the next two nights in Manchester were cancelled. Brandon had been waiting in Evie's room for three hours when he heard a key in the lock. Bouncing to his feet, he flew across the room and hugged her.

"I heard what happened," He mumbled into her hair as she squeezed his t shirt in her hands, "I'm so sorry. Do you have any news?"

"Uh, yeah," She said, wiping her nose with the back of her hand. Her eyes were red, "He's not out of the woods yet, but he's alive."

Brandon watched as she walked across the room and dropped onto the bed. She looked broken. She didn't always like the guy, but it was a whole other story when someone you spent 24 hours a day with for nearly 2 years ended up on death's door.

"They don't know what he took," She continued, "So it's been more difficult for them to treat. Tony and Will were able to tell them some, but Keegan was with a weird group of dudes most of the night. We have no idea who they were to contact them."

"Jesus," Brandon breathed.

"Brandon," Evie looked up at him suddenly, "I have to go home."

"Baby, no," He rushed to her side, "I mean, there's nothing you can do for him there. He's in good hands."

"No, I know that," She said, taking his hand, "I have to go home. The Velvet Kings aren't touring any more. My contract has been cut. They've booked us on the next flight to McCarran."

Brandon's body went numb. He managed one word. "When?"

"Tonight."

--

"I'm sorry, dude," Dave said, genuine sympathy in his tone. Fuck, I must look like shit.

Brandon nodded, biting his bottom lip. He was grateful to his friends for waiting in the bar with him. He'd helped Evie pack, both of them standing as close as was practical to each other all day. She'd grabbed his hand and kissed him every ten minutes. He'd hugged her every five. They'd made love on the couch, movements and moans punctuated by whispered declarations of love.

And now, she was signing her contract termination papers with management, before she had to leave to catch her flight.

He went to her as soon as the elevator doors opened, pulling her around a corner to give them some privacy. Evie wrapped her arms around him, burying her tear stained face into his chest. He held her tight.

"I'll call you every day." He mumbled.

"No you won't, that would be weird."

Brandon laughed as she freed herself from his arms and smiled up at him. "But please call me every other day."

"Deal."

Brandon rummaged in his pockets before realising his phone was in his hotel room. The day had been a blur. Evie grabbed a napkin from a nearby table and scrawled her number on it.

"You can't stop me from calling every day."

Evie giggled. "I would expect nothing less."

"Evie, we gotta go!" The call came from the lobby.

Looking at him one last time, Evie pulled him into another hug, before pressing her lips against his. Brandon's fists tightened on her waist, even though he knew he was fighting the inevitable.

They walked out of the hotel hand in hand, accompanied by Evie's fellow travellers and a selection of people from the tour who wanted to say goodbye. She looked up at him as she reached the bus door, pulling his head down so she could rub their noses together.

"Bye bye, Brightside."

And like that, she was gone. Brandon's whole body felt numb. His hand kept going to the napkin in his jean pocket, as if clinging to the last thread that held her to him.

Ronnie pulled him into a hug, keeping his arm around him as the group began to chatter. Keegan's condition had dipped again. There was really no telling whether he was going to live or die from one minute to the next.

"Fuck," Richie shook his head, "Is it insensitive to want a beer?"

Dave shook his head, "It's a toast. I feel like it's what Keegan would want."

"You guys in?" Nick turned to Brandon and Ronnie. Ronnie let Brandon make the call. He would go with him if he wanted to, or he would go lie in their room in the dark if he wanted to. This was a whole lot to take for someone as young as their singer. Ronnie was his de facto guardian.

Brandon nodded. It felt like the right time to break his no-alcohol policy. It had been a hell of a day.

"Let's do it."

--

Ronnie stirred. Someone was rooting through their room. Shooting upright, he flicked the bedside light. Brandon jumped out of his skin from where he was on his knees under the desk.

"Jesus," Ronnie groaned, looking at the clock. 4.45am. They'd only gotten back to the hotel at 3am, all as smashed as each other. "What the fuck are you doing?"

"Ronnie I fucking can't find it."

"Find what?"

"Evie's number."

"It was in your pocket, dude."

"It's not any more."

Brandon sank onto his bed and rubbed his face. He'd lost her number. He'd fallen off the wagon and it had ended the worst way he ever could have imagined.

"What am I gonna do?"

Chapter Text

Brandon anxiously tapped the toe of his boot against the wall. It was 9am - on the dot - and he was waiting for management to let him in. Every minute had been painful while he waited, and he was going to cry if he had to wait a minute longer.

"Brandon?"

Brandon spun on his heel as Katy approached him, keys and coffee in hand. He waved half-heartedly.

"Is everything ok?" She frowned. It can't have been that often people they managed turned up at their office before they did.

"Um yeah," He stuttered, "I just-- I need to ask you something."

Katy nodded, her eyes twinkling a little. "Well sure. Come in."

Brandon held the door for her and followed her inside, watching as she set down her bags and flicked on the light. He dug his hands in his pockets.

"Coffee? It's shit, but you know."

Brandon shook his head as she indicated the pot in the corner. He would actually kill for a coffee, the smell of her store-bought latte was making his head spin, but he had more pressing matters right now.

"So," She smiled, sitting in the chair behind her desk and indicating the seat across from her, "What can I do for you?"

Brandon chose to stand. "I, um-- Ok this is going to sound weird but, you have all our numbers saved, right?"

"Sure."

"I need Evie Claron's number. I mean-- please."

Katy's face frosted a little. She took a sip of her coffee. "I'm sure you understand that I can't do that, Brandon."

"I know, it's just -- We were kind of dating and --"

"I'm not at liberty to hand out personal details like that."

"I understand that but please, you can ask anyone on tour --"

"Brandon."

He ran his hand through his hair. He was on the verge of tears - hungover, reeling from the events of the day before and wracked with guilt for losing the number in the first place.

"Please, Katy. Call her. Ask her for her permission."

"We wiped their numbers when they left," Katy sniffed, "Even if I could -- I couldn't, you know?"

Brandon stared at her. She stared back. He was so sure that was a lie, but what could he do? His guilt switched to what the result of pissing off management may be. He couldn't make his bandmates suffer for something he did. Reluctantly, he stayed silent and walked out the door.

--

~ Las Vegas ~

Evie huffed as she carted her suitcase up the stairs of her friend Lydia's apartment. She'd flown into McCarran two days ago, taken a taxi home, and left for Lydia's apartment 3 hours later. She couldn't face living with her family again, especially now that Keegan was in hospital. There was only so much 'I told you so' a person could take.

"I got it!" Lydia smiled, pulling the suitcase up the remaining stairs. Evie smiled gratefully. Lydia had already been looking for a new roommate, and she had been absolutely adamant that Evie come live with her when she turned up on her door at 9pm.

Evie pushed her sunglasses back down onto her nose as she swung the last duffel bag over her shoulder and locked her car. She pulled her phone out of her pocket for the three hundredth time that day alone. No new calls.

"You wanna order pizza while we get your settled?" Lydia called over the small balcony attached to her living room.

"Oh sure!" Evie smiled. She was trying so hard not to be crazy about this dude from a band she'd been dating for less than half a month. But she wanted to hear his voice.

Keegan was recovering. He'd been rushed for liver surgery while Evie and her colleagues were in the air, but was stable by the time they landed. The procedure seemed to have gone to plan and he was back to harassing her via phone. She didn't mind - not right now. Irritatingly, she couldn't even blame him for ruining her summer.

She closed the door of her new home behind her and breathed in the air. Lydia was a costume designer. The apartment always smelled like a strangely intoxicating mix of perfume and new fabric. She didn't have curtains in the living room, just drapes of whatever fabric was not needed at the time.

Evie smiled to herself as she took in the organised chaos. This was much more her than the minimalistic clean lines and empty surfaces of her family home. Even her dad's office was meticulous; despite the volume of paperwork he dealt with, he was obsessive about keeping things in neat piles and boxes.

Her room, in contrast, looked like a music magazine and a vintage furniture shop had a baby.

"What is this?" Lydia frowned, a stick of wood in her hand.

Evie laughed and turned it the other way around. "Chair leg."

"Sure," Lydia nodded, "Why not."

"The chair it belongs to is in an antique shop near here," Evie continued, picking items out of her case and beginning to hang them in the roomy wardrobe in the corner, "I'd kill for it, but it's been priced up since someone made a relatively good copy of the missing leg."

"Relatively good?"

Evie shrugged. It irritated her that someone had made a new leg instead of fixing the old one.

"I hate to ask but..."

"I'm applying for a few jobs in shops and restaurants," Evie smiled, "I'll let you know as soon as I hear."

"Ugh thanks. I can cover our rent this month but you know."

Evie nodded her understanding. She knew a few of Lydia's past roommates had screwed her over on rent, caution was probably wise.

"Oh hey, you dropped something."

Evie's heart stopped at the thin piece of paper in Lydia's hand. It must have fallen out of her jean pocket as she unpacked her bag. She took the three pictures of her and Brandon and wedged the slip into the corner of the mirror.

Chapter Text

~ 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.