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Burnin' Down the Bridge

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It was a normal day. At least, as normal as Slipknot could get. Corey's mad about something. Shawn's ranting like the pretentious art bastard he is. Jim's ignoring it all with a tired grimace. Mick's watching 'Rambo' for the fiftieth time this month because his DVD player broke and he can't be bothered to fix it. Chris and Sid are playing Mario Kart on their Nintendos. And nobody knows where Craig went. Completely normal in Slipknot terms.

Alex sat back and watched it all go down from his spot in the corner closest to the door. He was the new guy - newer than Jay, even. He felt like the outsider's outsider. There's no place for him in this crowded backstage room that feels too much like a reluctant family reunion to be a band coming back together after almost five years apart. But, it is a band coming back together, and he's the newest new guy, and nobody even looks at him when he gets up and leaves the room.

Alex knows that he shouldn't feel bad about being around the 'elders' in the band, that it's not his fault that Paul died and the only reason he's there was because nobody else was stupid enough to put themselves into this situation. Alex lets the guilt wash over him as he stomps down the hallway - he's been trying to find the exit, but the halls twist as his mind fades it's focus from the outside world to the inside, and eventually he's standing in the middle of stage.

It makes him feel small, being up there all by himself. There's too much empty space and not enough movement.

Suddenly, though, there's a series of clanging noises startling Alex out of his thoughts and a hushed yell of "I'm sorry" from the general area of the drumkit. Alex turns to face the source of the noise. Jay's scrambling - he had dropped a drumstick, followed it with his entire body instead of just his hand, and had toppled through half the kit in less than two seconds. Alex couldn't bring himself to laugh impatiently, like he knows he would have done if the situation were different. But he gets it. He understands Jay's nerves and clumsiness and mistakes. He understands the crushing weight of having to live up to, not only Slipknot's standards, but the Maggot's standards as well. Joey's a legend in the drumming world - the stress of being the heir to that legacy must be unbearable.

"Hey." Alex calls out to Jay, who snaps his head towards the greeting like he was expecting to get slapped for fucking up. His eyes are wide - too wide, Alex notes, as Jay's eyes are naturally wide - and his cheeks are flush with shame. "Hey, calm down. It's just me."

Jay's expression flashes briefly with something akin to bittersweet understanding at the way Alex's tone drops at his last sentence. He sounded so disappointed in himself for just being himself. Jay couldn't really blame him, though. Stepping up to the plate after such an essential element to the band died must be hard. Jay can't even begin to comprehend what the bassist is going through.

"Do you need help with that?" Alex points in Jay's direction, not really pointing at anything, more just in the general area in hopes that it'll give him something to focus on, and Jay seemed confused. Not the response Alex wanted, but he'll go for it. "Do you need help fixing the kit, Jay?"

"Uh, no, no thank you. I've got it." Jay hurries to pick up the snare, but the snares on the bottom have snapped off and it's now that Alex notices blood on Jay's arm and leg.

"Jay, you're bleeding, mate." Alex tests a step closer, feeling like the distance was keeping him safe from something but he wasn't quite sure what. "Come on - let's get you fixed up."

"Yeah, okay." Alex deflates a little bit at how defeated Jay sounds. Like he's expecting to be fired once they get far enough away from the damage he caused to the expensive pieces of equipment he had fallen on. Alex grabbed Jay's elbow protectively when he got close enough. Mostly to help the kid out from behind the mess of instrument parts, partially because he wanted to. Something about Jay makes Alex want to be near him.

The pair walk quietly down the hall together. Security, roadies, and other random personnel watch them curiously as they pass by, intrigued by the sad puppy dog look on Jay's face as blood slowly trickles down his clothes. Alex keeps his face flat to hide his worry. Jay's the only one who's actually nice to him at the moment. He knows that being mean (and sometimes downright cruel) is part of the hazing, part of the grieving, but that doesn't mean he's okay with it. Jay makes him feel human when the others make him hate being there. Alex can tell that Jay feels the same way about it. They're the new guys - they have only each other.

Alex leads Jay, who seems to be pretty okay with being dragged around by the Brit, back to where the others are simply just to get the First Aid kit he had spotted on the table earlier. Most of the people around knew enough about Slipknot to know to leave them with enough shit to take care of themselves now-a-days. It's almost relaxing when nobody even acknowledges Alex and Jay's presence. Even more so when nobody seems phased by the blood seeping through Jay's shirt and shorts and socks. Alex feels somewhat proud to be the one to take care of him.

Jay tugs on Alex's shirt, knuckles brushing against Alex's side when his hand accidentally slips past the fabric. Jay pulls his hand away immediately. Alex ignores the burn of happiness that echoes around just below his ribs - right where Jay's skin had ghosted against his. Alex made a mental note to wear muscle shirts more often. "Alex? Not to be picky, but can we not patch me up here?"

"Yeah, of course." Alex doesn't need any further explanation. Spending time around Slipknot is like a masochistic experience gone wrong at every turn. Especially with the hazing. Especially with the grief that could choke even the most emotionally gone person on the planet. "I think I saw a one-person bathroom back that way. We can use that."

Jay shrugs an 'okay' in response. Alex's arms shifts slightly, as he still has Jay's elbow tucked into his palm like the contact is the only thing keeping him from packing his bags and saying 'goodbye' to Slipknot forever. Which, Alex admits, Jay is the reason why he doesn't leave. He can't just abandon the guy after all that they've saved each other from - not now, not ever. They're stuck surviving together whether they like it or not.

Alex manuevres Jay so the drummer is sitting on the lid of the toilet, his bleeding leg rests on the porcelean sink and the other hangs uselessly off to the side. Alex dabs the beads of red off of Jay's skin, all careful-like with steady hands and gentle touches. Jay swings his okay leg like he's bored, which Alex understands. This isn't exactly number one on his list of Fun Things To Do, either.

Eventually, Jay's all bandaged up. He taps the band-aids like he isn't quite sure what they are, but he's all smiles as he looks up and Alex feels his heart speed up, breath hitching like a teenager in a high school-themed romantic drama. Something in Alex's expression must've given away his train of thought because Jay shifts, his face twisting to show his intrugue, confusion, and nervousness, which somehow only makes Alex worse. Jay blushes as he steps into Alex's space. Alex lets him, hyper-aware of the heat radiating off of his and Jay's skin.

To make matters even worse, Jay's eyes are shining with uncertaintity and want, which Alex realizes is because he's subconciously crowded the man against the sink, hands fleeting from his shoulders, down his biceps, and settling on Jay's hips. Jay seems to be tired of waiting for Alex to just make a fucking move already, and pulls Alex down to his level.

"If getting hurt is what it takes to get you to get close to me, what's it gonna take to get you to kiss me?" Jay whispers, breath ghosting against Alex's lips in the close proximity. Alex smiles softly, rubs a couple of cirlces into Jay's hip.

"This, actually." Alex closes the distance. His entire being sings with joy at the contact, and Jay bristles against his chest - kneading his shoulders to try and bring him closer even though there really isn't much closer to get. The kiss is soft and warm and just barely there but it's enough to have them both grinning like idiots. Jay presses a quick peck to Alex's lips, then his jaw, and brings his hand up to his lips and kisses his knuckles. Alex burns pink; no ones ever kissed him like this before, and it sends another burst of joy through his soul when Jay twines their fingers together and gently kisses the back of his hand, just above the wrist. Jay's lips are feather-light against Alex's skin, and the bassist can't help but to smile. "You're the sweetest man I've ever met, Jay."

"I love you, too, Alex." The moment doesn't last long, as someone begins pounding on the door as if their life depends on it.

"Guys! Hurry up with your moment - show starts in forty-five minutes!" Chris yells through the door. Jay sighs, Alex rolls his eyes. Jay picks up the First Aid kit in one hand, the other firmly clasped in Alex's larger one, glee evident through his wide grin and slight bounce in his step. Alex doesn't let go of his hand. He waves Chris' off, chuckling lightly at his bandmates confused expression. Not even Shawn yelling at them both for disappearing before a show doesn't ruin their shared good mood.