She woke up again at about nine, she stayed in her bunk trying to fall back asleep, to no avail. Braelyn hopped down from her bunk. She was a little chilly in her tank top so she grabbed her blanket off her bed. Topher and Bob were up and sitting at the table. Braelyn wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and slid into the booth next to Topher.
“Good morning,” she said, sleepily, but cheerfully.
“Morning, Braelyn,” Bob replied. There was some resentment in his voice. Like Braelyn had just interrupted a serious conversation between him and Topher.
Braelyn picked up on that almost instantaneously. “Should I go?”
“No, it’s fine.” Bob said. He stood up and began to walk away. “I’m going back to bed.”
Braelyn watched him leave, worry on her face. When the curtains closed, she whispered to Topher, “Did I do something?”
“No,” he said, his voice a mixture of concern and frustration. “Team Gerard had a little falling out last night. I’m not sure what’s going on.”
“Some drama for your mama.”
“Happens.” Topher let his head fall to the table.
“Want some coffee?” Braelyn asked getting up.
Braelyn made a pot as she and Topher talked about her interview and some other things that applied to her budding career. They continued talking until Ray woke up a while later. Braelyn went to go put her blanket away and to check on Mikey. She pulled back his curtain and sat on his bed.
“Mikey?” She called softly. “Can you wake up for just a second?”
He rolled towards her and opened his eyes.
“How ya feeling?” She put the back of her hand on his forehead to see if he had a fever.
“Terrible,” he said hoarsely.
Braelyn grimaced when her hand touched his forehead and she pulled it away pretty quickly. “You’ve got a fever. Topher wants to know what else is wrong so he can tell the doctor.”
Mikey groaned. “I hate being sick.” He paused to think. “Um my throat hurts and my head. I was dizzy earlier when I was walking around.”
“Poor Mikey. Do you need anything? I can get you some Tylenol to bring your fever down.”
“I’m definitely getting you some Tylenol and water,” she said smiling. “Is there anything else you want?”
He smiled back up at her. “Thanks Braelyn.”
“No problem.” She went to the front of the bus to tell Topher Mikey’s symptoms and to get water and Tylenol. Then she was back at Mikey’s bunk, who was already asleep. She gently shook him awake again. “Mikey, you’ve gotta take some medicine, then you can go back to sleep.” He sat up and took the medicine she handed him. When he laid back down she said, “If you need anything, let one of us know, ok?”
He nodded. Braelyn closed his curtains and went back up front. She and Ray started playing video games. The rest of the boys, except Mikey and Bob, trickled out of the bunkroom one by one. They all took turns playing video games, heckling each others’ ‘skills.’ Around one the bus driver stopped at a truck stop.
“Fifteen minutes max, guys,” Topher told them as they pulled off the highway. “If we take much longer, we won’t get there before six.”
They clambered off the bus to get food and stretch their legs. They managed to all make it back on the bus within the allotted fifteen minutes. They spent the next half an hour trying to cook on a moving bus.
“All I want are some Shells ‘n’ Cheese!” Braelyn said trying to get the burner to work.
“Let me try.” Ray fiddled with some stuff and the burner lit up.
“My hero!” Braelyn threw her arms around his neck.
He laughed. “You’re welcome.”
“Should we see if Mikey wants anything?” Gerard asked.
“Go wake him up,” Topher suggested.
Gerard did, and a few minutes later, he and Mikey emerged from the bunkroom.
“Dude,” Ray said, “You look like shit.”
“Thanks ever so,” he rasped back as he sat down in the booth.
The boys made fun of Mikey for a while Braelyn made him soup. “Here, eat this. Did you know that chicken noodle soup has actually been proven to help you feel better when you’re sick?”
“Really?” Bob asked.
“Not medically, but psychologically,” Braelyn clarified.
“Random fact, Brae,” Frank teased. She stuck her tongue out at him.
“Thank you, Braelyn,” Mikey said, eating a spoonful.
“No problem, Mikey,” she walked by with her cheesy shells and ruffled his hair.
They all ate and then Braelyn decided she wanted to nap. Or at least hang out in her bunk and read. She needed a break from those crazy boys. She had gotten through half a chapter when Mikey shuffled into the room. She stuck her head out of her bunk and asked, “Going back to bed?”
Mikey shook his head, “I don’t think so. That room just gives me a headache.”
“I feel ya. Sometimes they’re a little intense,” she said grinning. “So what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. Read or something.” He got into his bed.
“Super fun.” Braelyn said, settling back against her pillows. She started to read again. About a half an hour later, the bus violently shifted. The sudden movement threw Braelyn out of her bunk. Years of practice led her to fall so she managed not to hit her head, but she hit the floor with an obscene thump. She lay crumpled in a pile.
“Oh my God, are you ok?!” Mikey exclaimed, getting out of bed and going to her. Braelyn just moaned.
“Is everyone alright?” Topher burst through the curtain. He saw Braelyn on the floor. “Shit.”
“What happened?” Braelyn asked, rolling over. The others were now standing in the doorway looking worried.
“Wait. Stop,” Topher said, joining Mikey crouching over her. “First, are you hurt?”
Braelyn froze and thought for a second. “I’m probably bruised. But I think I’m ok. Can I sit up now?”
“Ya, that’s not happening. Did you hit your head?” Topher said.
“No. I’ve had worse. I promise, I’m fine.”
“Ok,” Topher said thinking. “We should probably put you in a bed.”
“We’ll put her in mine,” Mikey offered.
“No, you’re sick. I can’t take your bed,” Braelyn protested. “I’m fine. Really.”
“Please?” Topher asked. “Just for a little bit?”
“Fine,” Braelyn sighed. She started to sit up.
“No, no, young lady,” Topher said. He picked her up and put her in Mikey’s bed.
“Will you explain what happened now?” Braelyn asked once he had put her down.
“The bus has a flat,” Topher said, frowning. “We have to wait for the mechanic. I’m gonna go check and see how it’s going.”
Topher left and the others came to see how Braelyn was. She kept telling them she was fine. Bob went to get her some water and Tylenol, telling her that it would hurt after a while. After she took the medicine, it was obvious to Ray that Braelyn was frustrated with everyone clucking over her.
“I think Braelyn’s ok. Why don’t we go see if we can help Topher and Steve,” Ray suggested.
Mikey, who was sitting on the floor, spoke, “I’m gonna stay here. I feel like shit.”
The others nodded and left. As soon as the curtains closed, Braelyn let out an exasperated sighed.
“You ok?” Mikey asked, tilting his head up to look at her.
“I can’t believe I fell out of my bunk,” she moaned.
Mikey laughed, hoarsely. “It happens to the best of us. Just be glad it wasn’t in the middle of the night. The first tour we had a bus for, Gerard fell off the top bunk at three am in only his boxers. We laughed at him for years.”
Braelyn giggled appreciatively. Then she said, “No offense, but you sound awful.”
“I feel worse.”
“Here,” she started to move, “You should take your bed back.”
“If you move, Topher will be angry.”
“I don’t want to lay here like an invalid.”
Mikey laughed at her vexation.
“Stop laughing at me,” she said, a laugh creeping into her own voice. “Can I at least sit up?”
“I guess that would be ok.” Mikey slowly stood. “Want your book or anything?”
“Thanks Mikey.” She smiled when he handed it to her. “You can sleep in my bunk, if you want. Since I’m currently occupying yours.”
“That’s ok. I don’t want to get my germs all over your stuff,” he said, grinning. “Besides, I’m not sleepy. I’m just gonna read.” He reached across her to grab his own book off the shelf.
“I can share,” Braelyn offered, folding her legs in front of her so there was room on the bunk. “That way you can read in peace.”
“How thoughtful of you,” Mikey said chuckling. He took the space Braelyn had offered. Not too much time had passed when the bus started moving again. Topher checked on Braelyn several times to make sure she was ok.
After the fifth time in an hour, Braelyn put down her book and called after him with a mix of frustration and humor in her voice, “Topher, if you come and peer at me one more time, I will make you regret it! I told you I’d see the doctor when we get there. But I promise. I. Am. Fine!”
Mikey was laughing as she settled back down and picked up her book.
“What?” She huffed.
“Cut him some slack. He just wants to make sure he didn’t break the shiny new talent. Plus, the girls we usually have on the bus, which are very few and far between, are pretty high maintenance. They tend to treat Topher like he’s a servant, not like he’s our boss,” Mikey explained. “He’ll calm down.”
Braelyn felt bad. After a couple of minutes she called out for Topher. He put his head through the curtain looking warily at her. “I’m not gonna bite,” she said, beckoning him into the room. “I’m sorry I yelled. I know you’re just worried about me.”
“Tom threatened to break my kneecaps if you got hurt on my watch,” Topher replied with a wry smile.
“I’m fine, I promise.”
Topher nodded. “Alright. I still want you to see the doctor before the show and stay in bed. And we have to reschedule your interview with FOE. We’re not going to have time to do it before the show. I’ll call Chelsea and see what she wants to do.”
“Chelsea’s doing the interview?” Mikey asked curiously. When Topher nodded, Mikey explained to Braelyn, “Chelsea’s awesome. She’s done some press with us before. Frank’s in love with her.”
Braelyn asked, “Like in love with her the way he says he’s ‘in love’ with me? Or-“
“Like ‘in love’ in love,” Topher said shaking his head.
“It really is funny, he has no idea how to go about it. It’s kinda like watching a train wreck,” Mikey continued.
“I look forward to it,” Braelyn said, smiling.
“As you should,” Topher said. “I’m gonna go call her.”
Topher left. Mikey continued to read. Braelyn found and dug through her backpack to find a notebook and pen. She began to write and doodle in her spiral. After a while Mikey fell asleep. Braelyn was so engrossed in writing that she didn’t notice until Mikey had slid down so much, his head was on her shoulder. She smiled and put down her notebook. She straightened her legs so her feet stuck out into the aisle and shifted Mikey so he was laying down, his head in Braelyn’s lap. Done with writing for a while, she picked up her book and began to read again.
A/N: Izzy, since you're the only one leaving reviews, I feel like my whole note can be directed at you =) thanks so much for reading, I hope you enjoy this one too.