They didn’t see Team Gerard until they got on the bus. Bob was sitting by himself at the booth. Gerard, looking moody was sitting in one of the chairs in front of the television. Ray was sitting on the bench seat next to Topher who was on the phone. Mikey took the other seat and Frankie sat on the floor in front of him. Chelsea, who was holding Braelyn’s hand and had been since they got off the elevator, drug Braelyn to the back of the bus. They sat in one of the bottom bunks, probably Bob’s since it was practically empty.
“K. Spill,” she demanded.
Braelyn looked at her with wide, innocent eyes. “What are you talking about?”
“Stop it. I saw it.” She was grinning. “The subtle arm around you. The way he looked at you. Guess you really comforted him, huh?”
“I’m offended. Is that all you think of me?” Braelyn asked feigning offense.
Braelyn busted out laughing. When she calmed down a bit she said, “He did need a bit of cheering up. I do what I can.”
“Get it girl.”
“Stop that.” Turning a bit more serious, she asked, “How do you think tonight’s gonna go?”
“It’s gonna be awful. The interview was super tense. And I know all the boys are really upset about it. I’m not sure what exactly will happen, but it’ll be tough. Topher and the record company are having me post the interview and the article at the same time Bob gives his speech during the set tonight, I can only imagine how the crowd is going to be.”
“How are they gonna handle it?” Braelyn asked, referring to the boys. “I’ve really only known them like three months…”
“From what I’ve seen, Gerard will be up for several days without sleep. Frankie will go through bursts of anger. Ray will talk to Krista forever. And Mikey will go quiet. That’s what I predict.”
Braelyn nodded. The girls continued to talk as the bus wound its way through the streets of Albuquerque to the venue. When the bus stopped, they took a few seconds to finish their conversation. They made their way to the front of an empty bus, the tension in such a small space too much for the boys to handle; they must have escaped as soon as the bus stopped. Braelyn and Chelsea followed their lead and got off the bus.
The boys were just beginning their sound check when Braelyn and Chelsea walked into the venue. Braelyn took her normal spot, sitting on the side of the stage, but her normal insults to Frank stayed quiet. The strain was palpable, but the band was managing to keep it together. There were little swipes at Bob from the band and at the band from Bob, but it was no more than normal. Then everything exploded. Bob said something to Frank. Frank threw down his guitar and was yelling, up in Bob’s face within seconds. Gerard was there immediately, putting himself between Frank and Bob, but yelling at Bob. Ray was trying to haul Frank away. Mikey just put his bass down, not looking at anyone else, and left the stage. Braelyn just sat there. The yelling had triggered something in her that made her freeze, her mind racing.
Ray managed to get Frank to walk away with help from Chelsea. Gerard said to Bob in the calmest voice he could muster, “Maybe you should stay off the bus, man.”
Bob nodded, eyes downcast, and Gerard began to walk away. When he reached where Braelyn was sitting, he looked down and asked, “You ok, sugar?”
Braelyn gave a little shiver, but smiled up at him. “I’m fine.”
Gerard nodded and continued to walk. Braelyn got up to follow, but Topher reached her first. “I know you want to go make sure they’re alright, but they didn’t finish the check, and now I have to calibrate a whole new guitar for Frankie. Could you stay and help?”
“Absolutely.” Braelyn, Topher, and the techs finished the sound check for the boys and Braelyn. On her way out to the bus she passed by the green room where Bob was sitting alone. She paused at the open doorway. Bob looked up at her. Braelyn’s voice shook as she spoke. “I’m sorry you’re leaving today.”
“Me too,” he replied, softly.
“I have to go make sure they’re ok. Sorry.”
“It’s ok. I understand.”
Braelyn walked away, shaking her head. Gerard was leaning against the bus, smoking and brooding. Braelyn said hi as she walked past, but he only nodded to her. On the bus, Ray was playing video games. Frank was sitting on the bench seat, leaning over, elbows on his knees, hanging his head. Chelsea was sitting next to him, rubbing his back. When she and Braelyn made eye contact, Braelyn silently asked where Mikey was. Chelsea nodded toward the curtain. Braelyn walked towards it, stopping to kiss the top of Frank’s head. In the bunkroom, Mikey’s curtains were closed.
“Mikey?” She reached out and touched the curtain. He didn’t respond, but she could hear him move. She pushed the curtain away to see him, on his side facing the wall of the bus. She sat down next to him and pulled up her legs so she could close the curtain again. She sat there, a hand resting on his shoulder. After a few minutes, Mikey reached up and grabbed her hand. They sat like that for a while, until Braelyn checked the time on her phone. “It’s time to go get ready, ok?”
Mikey nodded and followed her out of the bunk. Back in the front of the bus, Braelyn put on a smile and said, “Showtime!”
Chelsea, knowing that it was going to go smoother if the boys at least went into the show happy, added, “Are we doing stars tonight?”
“Frankie?” Braelyn asked. He looked up at her. When he saw her smile, he smiled too and nodded. “Yay! What color?”
Frankie picked the same pink they used at the first show. After drawing on everyone, Braelyn took her makeup and left the bus before they others.
A few minutes later, in the venue, Frank stopped short in the doorway of the green room. He asked, with anger in his voice, “What are you doing?”
Braelyn looked to the others, only a small amount of guilt in her eyes. She was drawing Bob’s star on his face. “We all wear the stars.”
The anger on Frank’s face was evident to everyone in the room. Chelsea wedged her way into the spot next to him and wound her arm around his waist, “She’s right. If all of you go out with a star except Bob, the fans will immediately know something’s up. Who knows what’ll happen.”
Frank calmed down and Chelsea managed to get him out of the doorway and into the room, the others following. Braelyn finished Bob’s star and then found a PA to take her kit back to the bus. She was opening a bottle of water when someone from the venue came to get her to go on stage. Everyone, again sick of the tension in the small room, followed to watch from the wings.
Braelyn’s set went well; more people knew her songs and more people were paying attention at the beginning of the show, waiting for her to come out. She wasn’t just an afterthought anymore, which was a wonderful feeling. Braelyn said goodnight to the crowd and bounded of stage. As usual, she hugged all of the boys, even Bob, as they went out on stage. She went out to sing ‘Disenchanted’ and banter wittily with the guys. A few songs later, Bob spoke into his microphone and asked if he could talk to the audience, as planned. The others came off the stage as Bob freed himself from his drum kit and walked to center stage to address the crowd.
They came to stand with Chelsea, Topher, and Braelyn while Bob told the now silent crowd he was leaving. Mikey was standing next to Braelyn, his arm around her waist and her head on his shoulder. Braelyn was holding Gerard’s hand on the other side. The crowd began to boo and they were getting unruly. Gerard spotted the first bottle thrown. He let go of Braelyn’s hand and ran out on stage, taking another mic and speaking to the crowd.
“Hey guys. Hold on a second.” They quieted a bit. “I know we’re all disappointed. But Bob is still a great person. He’s been an integral part of the band for years and he’s one of our best friends. I want to thank Bob for realizing it was time to step back for himself personally and not letting this drag on, bringing all of us down.” He walked to Bob and put an arm around him. “We’ll miss you.”
Bob nodded, fighting to keep his composure. The two boys hugged. In the wings, Braelyn felt tears rolling down her face and she could hear the hitch in Chelsea’s breathing. It was Mikey who moved first, walking back out on stage. By the time he had joined in the hug, the others realized what was happening and followed, leaving Braelyn and Chelsea in the wings. Braelyn wiped her face as Chelsea filmed. The crowd was quiet. The boys broke their embrace. Gerard spoke again.
“Alright. We have a few more songs for you guys if you want to hear them.” The crowd cheered. “Alright then. Guys, battle stations.” They continued their set. After not one, but two encores, the boys were finally finished. On the bus, the feeling was sad. Frank was getting upset again, but trying to keep his temper under control. When they got off the bus in the hotel parking lot there was a car there waiting for Bob. They stood there awkwardly.
“I’m sorry it ended like this,” Bob said, opening the door.
“Us too,” Ray replied. He went forward to hug his friend goodbye. One by one they said their goodbyes and headed into the hotel. Bob got in the car and drove away. Gone.
The elevator ride was silent. In their suite, Braelyn and Chelsea let the boys have first showers. They sat on the couch in silence for while.
Then Chelsea said, “I think I’m going to stay.”
“I think I’m going to stay on tour.”
“Why?” Braelyn asked, and quickly continued, “Not that I don’t want you to, just, don’t you have a job?”
“You guys need me,” she said haughtily, smirking. “But seriously, Frankie needs me. He’s really upset.” Braelyn nodded. “As for my job, this ‘Bob leaves MCR’ story will be big. I’ll get paid the big bucks for being on the scene.” She winked.
“They’ll be happy you’re staying,” Braelyn said, hugging her friend.
“I’ll be happy.”
“Good.” Braelyn heard the bathroom door open down the hall. “I’m gonna shower and go to bed. It’s been a long day. See you in the morning?”
Chelsea nodded. “Night Brae.”
After showering, Braelyn changed into her pajamas and braided her hair. When she got back to her room there was a quiet Mikey laying on her bed, watching tv. She sat next to him and slipped her hand into his. “Hi.”
He kissed the back of her hand. “Hey.”
She leaned her head on his shoulder. “You doin ok?”
He nodded. “Thanks for being around today.”
“No problem.” There was a knock at the door. “Yes?”
“It’s Frankie and Chelsea. Can we come in?”
“Of course,” Braelyn answered, not moving from her spot.
Frank walked in, covering his eyes. “Is it safe to look?”
“Shut it, Frankie,” Chelsea said playfully hitting him on the arm. “We brought booze!” She brandished a bottle of rum.
“We were thinking we should do a few shots. In celebration of me not throttling anyone today,” Frank added.
“Such behavior should be rewarded,” Mikey answered sitting up.
“Truth,” Braelyn answered, following suit. She took a shot glass that Chelsea offered her. “Fill me up!” Frank poured everyone shots. They raised their glasses and Braelyn toasted, “To Frank not committing homicide!”
“Cheers!” They all took the shot.
Chelsea grimaced and Braelyn gagged a little bit at the strong rum. She croaked, “Do we have a chaser?”
Chelsea ran out of the room and returned with a two liter bottle of Coke. “Will this suffice?”
Braelyn nodded and reached for the bottle to take a swig. “Ah. Better.”
They did another, citing the fabulous time they were having on tour and the fabulosity they would be having as soon as they got over this little setback. Another as a toast to Braelyn, for being generally awesome, which led to shots in honor of everyone’s general awesomeness. They had finished off the Coke and they decided it was time for bed. Frankie and Chelsea left and Braelyn flopped back onto her bed. Mikey moved towards the door
“Where are you going?” She asked sitting up and reaching out for him.
He took her hand, pulled her up to him, and kissed her. “I’m just gonna get some water. I’ll be right back.”
She giggled and swayed. “Ok.”
He let go of her and left the room. Braelyn sat back down and was absorbed in whatever was on television. Mikey returned and collapsed on her bed next to her. “Back.”
She rolled over to face him. “Hi.”
“Hi,” he said, grinning.
She reached out and pulled him to her, her lips colliding with his. Then she pulled away. She slurred, “I like kissing you.”
Mikey, equally inebriated, replied, “That’s good, ‘cause I like kissing you.”
She giggled and their lips met again. She managed to maneuver herself on top of Mikey, straddling him, kissing him avidly. She was sitting up, taking a break, and he was looking up at her, grinning. Mikey sat up and hugged her. Braelyn lost her balance and they toppled back onto the bed, giggling. Laying back down, Braelyn slid off of Mikey, her head coming to rest on his chest.
“I’m sleepy,” she said.
“Can we go to bed now?”
Mikey nodded. And tightened his arm around her. They let themselves become hypnotized by whatever was on the television and they soon fell asleep.
A/N: I thought they needed a little liquor. Soooo unfortunately I have some bad news...my break is ending today, plus it's the start of March Madness. So not only will I be back at school, but I'll be traveling with the team too. Not that I won't update, you just won't get five updates in a day, so watch out lol. Soooo go review! hearts and GO HUSKIES! Corri