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Monday, May 10th, 2010 07:11 pm
Title: Slipping Like a Fault Line
Fandom: bandom
Pairing: Bob/Mikey, minor Gerard/Frank and Brendon/Spencer, hints of Gabe/William and Pete/Patrick
Rating: NC-17
Wordcount: ~22,000
Warnings: BDSM
Summary: Theater AU in which Bob is a stage manager and Mikey is a ninja. (or, there is a theatre. the cast is mad and the crew is worse and there is lots of sex.)
Notes: Thanks to [personal profile] sperrywink for the final beta and to everyone who read it at various stages of completion. Thanks also to [personal profile] carleton97 for answering all my theater questions. If I got anything wrong, it's my fault not theirs. Thanks to lj user= akire_yta for the conversation that spawned this thing months ago and for the best part of the summary.



----------

"Bob, I'm getting a migraine. That new guy is giving me one," Ray announces dramatically.

"What?" Bob stops fiddling with the wonky cable that'll probably have to be replaced, and crawls out from behind the sound board. He just narrowly avoids getting a knee to the face as Ray throws himself in the rolling chair at the board, one hand draped over his forehead. Bob stands up and moves back a safe distance, just in case Ray gets flaily.

"Way. He's insisting that we hire his baby brother for the crew. They are a package deal." Ray massages his temples. Bob knows he's thinking how his life is so hard, and that Bob just doesn't understand how hard. Except Bob does, because Ray tells him all the time.

"Give the little brother a try and if he's dead weight, fire his ass. There are about 800 singers in this town who would snap up Way's part in a heartbeat."

"But I want Way! He has incredible stage presence. I'm willing to overlook his lack of formal training. He can emote like a motherfucker. I just...his brother? What the hell is that?"

Bob shrugs and inspects the cable in his hand and thinks Brian's going to be annoyed when Bob tells him he needs more money for repairs. "Give the kid a chance, then."


A few hours later, Bob finds Ray slumped in a seat at the back of the house with a dazed look on his face. Bob sits down next to him and says, "Migraine gone?"

"I'm keeping him. Them." Ray gestures vaguely toward the stage. "The kid's, like, a...a ninja."

Bob nods like this makes any sense at all and watches Gerard on stage, widening his eyes and clenching his script to his chest as he sings a bit of one of the songs and Patrick watches him like a hawk, making suggestions whenever Gerard pauses for even a second. Bob thinks there is no way in hell he should not look ridiculous. But it works.

He drags his gaze away from Gerard only when Frank sits down next to him and leans over to tell Ray, "He needs a boa."

"What?"

"A feather boa during Mama. Gerard needs one." Frank makes vague shapes in the air with his hands, sketching out his vision. "I think a black and white one, and I know just where to get it."

Ray groans, but finally nods. "Talk to Brian about your budget."

"Trust me, Ray. It's going to look awesome." Frank bounces out of his seat and takes off, presumably to find Brian and a feather boa.

Ray looks at Bob and says, "Seriously? Did that just happen?"

Bob shrugs and secretly thinks that if anyone can pull it off, Gerard Way is the man to do it. Then he gets up to go meet this amazing ninja kid, because Bob needs to know his crew.

***

Bob finds his new crew member easily enough when he finally gets down to the work room some fifteen minutes later. He's standing next to his brother who is proudly introducing him to anyone who will stop what they're doing long enough to pay attention, which of course, with this bunch is everybody because they love nothing more than fresh meat. Cortez is giving the younger Way a lascivious look over the crate he's trying to pick up and Andy has to tell him to pay attention before he drops it on the Butcher, who's crouched on the floor, trying to paint a backdrop even though he's not really looking at his work anymore.

"Hey, Mikey, do you want to see my tattoos?" Butcher starts to take his shirt off before Mikey has a chance to say anything, but everyone else in the room yells out "No!"

"Maybe some other time," says Mikey, and Bob is surprised that Gerard's "baby brother" is not a baby at all. Not more than a couple years younger than Bob or maybe even the same age, but at first glance he looks at least as young as Brendon and Ryan. He proves he's also not as delicate as he looks by going over and helping Cortez move the crate from one side of the room to the other. The sleeves on his t-shirt pull tight across wiry muscles and he doesn't have trouble with hard work or doing what needs to be done without being told.

Bob approves, so far.

Gerard catches sight of Bob and rushes over, saying, "Bob, come meet my brother Mikey. He's awesome."

"Yeah, well, we'll see about that." Bob is not a pushover, no matter how pretty--no matter how much of a good worker someone seems. Yes, that's totally what he meant.

"No, he is." Gerard stares at Bob like he's the president of the Mikey Way Fan Club on a membership drive. "He's worked in a bunch of clubs and done lots of shows. He also plays bass, if you ever need a bassist."

"I'll keep that in mind." Bob continues watching Mikey as he goes about making friends with his new coworkers. Andy looks a little skeptical, but considering the way he follows Cortez around, maybe that's not too surprising.

Bob could go over there, but he's content to hang back for the moment and watch Mikey pulling people into his orbit. Bob can't tell if it's as effortless as it looks but it makes him suspicious. A crew that gets along together is a happy, productive crew. A crew that gravitates around one person becomes a jealous, useless crew. Bob will have to keep a close watch on the situation.

"So I hear you're a ninja," are the (unintentional) first words out of Bob's mouth, when Mikey finally ends up in front of him.

"Really?" Mikey's eyebrows shoot up and he grins. "No, I'm just me."

"When he was four, he wanted to be a unicorn," says Gerard helpfully. "Then when he was five he wanted to be a cowboy who rode a dinosaur instead of a horse. He also went through a pirate phase. I don't think ninja was ever on the list."

Mikey covers his face with one hand and groans. "Gee, please. Not on my first day. Just go away now."

"Hey, at least I didn't bring pictures," Gerard protests with a laugh, but he does actually leave.

Bob holds his hand out and says, "Bob Bryar, stage manager and occasionally sound engineer and whatever other jobs need doing."

"Mikey Way." Mikey shakes Bob's hand firmly and maybe it's Bob's imagination that he lingers just a couple seconds too long. "I've already heard a lot about you."

"The bad stuff is probably true." Bob shrugs and shoves one hand in his pants pocket, rubbing the back of his head with the other. He stops and drops it when he realizes it makes him look nervous or something, which is he not. "Anything good you should probably take with a grain of salt."

"He's going to kill me for telling you this, but he deserves it for the unicorn thing. You're sort of Gerard's hero already." Mikey is sizing Bob up as he says it, and not even being subtle about it. Bob feels like he's the one being interviewed for a job.

"He's been here for, like, five minutes. How could he have much of an opinion of me?"

"Oh, but Bob, you're the man. The guy who makes things happen and gets things done," Mikey says, and it sounds like he's quoting someone else.

Bob groans. "He doesn't have a crush on me, does he?"

"Why?" Mikey raises one eyebrow and tilts his head to one side, a move that stretches the tendon in his neck in a distracting manner. "Are you straight?"

"No," and Bob has to force himself to say that calmly because he doesn't want Mikey thinking he's one of those guys. Straight guys who end up in careers where they're surrounded by gay guys and then lap up the attention--attention they'll never return-- for the ego boost and laughs, those guys make Bob fucking sick. "Definitely not. It's just fucking awkward when they think they like me. I don't date actors, especially the ones in my shows."

"Don't worry, it's not a crush. Not that kind anyway. Gerard just has this appreciation for competent, highly organized people." Mikey flicks his eyes up and down Bob almost too quickly to catch. "I think I can see why."

Bob feels like he's about to blush and what the fuck is that? He clears his throat but before he can say anything, Mikey is speaking again.

"So, where do you want me? I can do pretty much...whatever you need," Mikey says, and Bob is kind of amazed that it's possible to flirt in monotone. Not only is it possible, but Mikey is a fucking master at it. He's suddenly intensely curious about what Mikey did to make Ray hire him and sing his praises with such a stunned look on his face.

"Go help Cortez and Joe get that furniture put together," Bob says, and then he doesn't exactly flee to the sound booth. He had some stuff to do there anyway.

***

"Hey, Siska, go get the stuff on Frank's list, and then when you're done take it--" Bob looks up from his clipboard and stops when Siska shakes his head at him.

"Mikey already did it," Siska says with a shrug and goes back to helping Butcher maneuver a new blank panel into place against the work room wall so he can start painting it.

"I just gave it to him," says Mikey from right next to Bob's shoulder. Bob does not jump or flinch in surprise--he's finally gotten that under control--but if his heart speeds up and he gets a tiny jolt of adrenaline then no one will ever have to know. Mikey's quiet voice sends another spike of something through Bob when he says, "What do you want me to do now?"

"I don't know why you bother to ask since most of the time you've already done whatever it is I tell you to do." Bob says it like he's just thinking out loud, but there is an honest question there.

Mikey picks up on it but just shrugs. "I like how you give orders."

"Really," Bob says flatly, unsure of what to make of this. He didn't think he gave orders any differently than anyone else. Maybe it has something to do with how he doesn't yell much unless someone is really getting on his last fucking nerve.

"Yes," Mikey says, glancing at Siska and Butcher who have moved out of earshot. "It's...it's a thing. I like knowing I'm giving you exactly what you want. I need the structure."

Whenever Bob doesn't know what to say, like now, he takes refuge in the familiar. "Go upstairs and see if Andy needs help."

"And if he doesn't?" Mikey is standing way too close, but Bob doesn't move away like he usually would with anyone else. He's close enough to smell Mikey's aftershave or body spray or whatever the hell it is that makes him smell so good.

"Tell Joe we need to work on some wiring and then come find me," says Bob, trying not to give his next words too much weight. "I'll give you something to do."

"Thanks," Mikey murmurs right next to Bob's ear, but when he turns Mikey is already out the door.

"Okay, that is spooky," Bob says to himself.

"I know, right?" says Gerard, and Bob does jump a little because he'd been so focused on Mikey, he hadn't even noticed Gerard curled up in a chair in the corner, his script open on his lap. "He's always done that. Here one minute, gone the next. I told you he's awesome."

"Yeah," says Bob, contemplating what Mikey said. He tries to formulate a question that is neither too nosy or too weird to ask a guy's brother. He looks at Gerard's face, all bright eyes and earnest smile, and decides he can't do it. Instead, he just asks, "So, everything going all right?"

"Yeah, yeah, so far." Gerard lowers his feet to the floor and leans forward, eager to tell Bob all about it. "Wardrobe fittings have been fun. Frank is much more thorough in his measurements than other wardrobe people have been. They mostly just threw some clothes at me and hoped they fit. He really seems to care that we look good."

Since Gerard seems so happy about this, Bob keeps his comments on possible reasons for Frank's newfound thoroughness to himself. He makes a vague 'I'm listening' sound, but Gerard hardly seems to notice or need it.

"He's really nice. Everyone here has been great." Gerard clasps his hands together and looks up at Bob with...Bob doesn't even know what. Conviction? Whatever. "I really appreciate Ray and Brian giving Mikey a chance. Oh, and you too, of course."

"He does a good job," Bob says with a nod. He's got no complaints there. Or anywhere else where Mikey's concerned.

"It's just, we've worked together so many times now, it would feel weird to not have him here. Do you know what I mean?"

Oddly enough, Bob does know what he means. Mikey has only been on his crew a week and already Bob can't imagine not having him around. If Bob was less secure, he'd be worried that Mikey might end up taking his job one day.

"I think Mikey really likes working with you--here. I mean, working here. He lights up whenever he talks about...the company."

"Well, that's very nice," Bob says, trying hard not to sound sarcastic because he does mean it. The way Gerard said it is kind of...well, Bob doesn't need any more encouragement to be attracted to Mikey. It's already a done deal, no matter how hard he suppresses it. They work together, Mikey is his subordinate, and also way out of Bob's league. So, Bob suppresses like a motherfucker. "But I have to get back to work."

"Oh yeah, I should get back to learning my lines. We're blocking this scene this afternoon and William already has it down cold." With that, Gerard curls back into his chair and submerses himself in his script, occasionally muttering to himself.

Bob goes back upstairs, passing Gabe and Alex on the landing.

"I don't know why I always get the antagonist roles," Gabe is saying in a pensive tone, "no matter what I audition for. They're always, like, 'no, no, you'd be perfect for this other part' and it's the asshole boyfriend or evil boss or creepy stalker or serial killer. What the fuck?"

"It's a bitch," Alex agrees, rubbing a hand across Gabe's shoulders. "But, you know, you are really good at it. And it could be worse, you could be stuck in the best friend/roommate role for the third time in a row."

"It's better than unemployment," Bob tells them as he passes by.

"Bob, you really miss the point of a good bitch session," Gabe says, like he pities Bob for it.

"I know." Bob gives him a very solemn look over his shoulder. "I'm working on it in therapy."

Alex nods knowingly while Gabe cracks up laughing.

"Don't mock my pain, motherfucker," Bob says and continues up the stairs. He doesn't know what Gabe is complaining for anyway. He gets to make out with just about everyone in the cast. He's already been practicing with William all over the theater. Only, Bob's studied the script very carefully and there's really no call for them to have their shirts off.

***

Bob just happens to be at the side of the stage when Mikey walks up behind Frank and says, "Hey, Frank, Ray wants you to--"

The rest of his sentence is cut off by Frank's high-pitched scream. To call it girly would be an insult to the girls that Bob knows, most of whom could kick Frank's, Mikey's, and possibly his own ass.

"What the fuck?" Frank spins around and clutches at his chest like he's having a heart attack. Bob just shakes his head and wonders how the fuck Frank ended up behind the scenes instead of on stage. Overdramatic little fucker.

"Oh, did I startle you?" Mikey has an awesomely deadpan voice and a wicked innocent face. Bob can't help but be impressed. And slightly turned on, but he tries to ignore that part because he is a professional and suppressing.

"Yeah, you startled me, you ninja fuck. You scared ten years off my life. I told you not to do that shit." Frank smoothes his hair down over his forehead and points at Mikey menacingly. "I'm putting a bell on you. Don't think I won't."

Mikey looks supremely unconcerned. "Ray wants you to come to the dressing rooms. William is having an issue with his costume."

Frank rolls his eyes and sighs. "Yeah, okay, of course he is."

Bob and Mikey watch Frank stomp off toward the dressing rooms, and then Bob turns to Mikey. "You enjoyed that, didn't you?"

"More than you could ever know," Mikey says dryly and tilts a smirk in his direction. Bob thinks about kissing him, just pressing his lips to the corner of Mikey's mouth where it kicks up all silently snarky.

"Go get me some coffee," is what Bob says instead.

Mikey shoves his hair behind one ear and holds his hand out while Bob digs his wallet out of the back pocket of his cargo pants. He folds some cash into Mikey's hand, fingers lingering on Mikey's just short of being creepy, and says, "Get yourself one too."

"Well, yeah. They just started serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes again." Mikey licks his lips and Bob tries very, very hard to think about coffee. Just coffee. The suppressing is getting harder and harder.

"Ooh, are you going to Starbucks?" Gerard's head--all crazy hair and wide eyes-- pops out from behind a piece of backdrop that somebody left in the wrong fucking place and Bob will be getting to the bottom of that. His body follows and he makes a beeline for Mikey, patting at his pockets like there might magically be some money in them this time. "Get me one too?"

Mikey carefully does not look at Bob, but Bob pulls his wallet out again and adds another five to the money in Mikey's still outstretched hand. If he doesn't get in Mikey's pants before the end of this show's run, he's presenting these fuckers with a bill. He never signed up to be their sugar daddy and if he's going to accidentally end up with the job, he'd better be getting something out of it. Just thinking that makes him feel all kinds of dirty. But also a little turned on, which he still ignores because hey, he's supposed to be suppressing these urges not justifying them with skeevy rationalizations.

"Awww, Bob, you're so sweet." Gerard presses a kiss to Bob's cheek before Bob can get away from him, and Mikey laughs. It's quiet but genuine, and Bob melts a little inside before he gets a grip.

"Yeah, sweet," says Mikey, back to deadpan, but there's a twinkle in his eyes that wasn't there for Frank. "I'll be back in a few minutes."

Bob watches him go and then turns around to get back to work, but Gerard stops him with a hand on his arm. Bob raises an eyebrow and just looks at him. Gerard drops his hand and shrugs. "I...just...he's. You know."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Bob says with no shame at all, and hopes Gerard will let the lie go. Of course, Gerard does not let it go, because he is Gerard fucking Way who wants to save the world through musical theater.

"I understand," Gerard says earnestly, reaching for Bob's arm again, but Bob steps back out of his reach. For a second, Gerard looks like he's going to follow, then obviously thinks better of it. "He's very magnetic, right? Like you can't help yourself. He draws people to him, like a...a magnet."

Bob is suddenly afraid of whatever Gerard is going to tell him, so he takes the coward's way out and cuts this off before it goes any further. "Mikey's a magnet, got it. Can I go back to work now?"

"Yeah," Gerard says, his hands kind of flutter between them before he shoves them in his pockets.

"Why don't you go hang around with Frank or something," Bob says, not unkindly. Then he walks away, rubbing his temple and wondering if he's getting one of Ray's Way-induced migraines.

***

Bob is up on a catwalk above the stage trying to fix a light before he has to call in an electrician, when he sees Frank walk toward Mikey with a small colorful bag in his hand. Truth be told, Bob's been paying more attention to Mikey than the light because Mikey's been moving things around and his t-shirt keeps riding up over his back, and Bob really wants to lick that strip of skin that keeps being revealed and then concealed again when Mikey pulls his shirt down. His t-shirt is black with a sparkly unicorn on it. This is mildly upsetting to Bob in ways he probably couldn't articulate but should be obvious to any other man, and yet he finds it unbearably hot. It captures the essence of Mikey in a way that few things could.

"Hold still," Frank tells Mikey sternly, and Mikey does it. Bob gives up any pretense of working and just grips the railing of the catwalk so tightly his knuckles ache.

Then Frank reaches into the bag and pulls out a collar--a skinny red leather collar intended for a pet with rhinestones all around and a motherfucking jinglebell dangling from the buckle. When he reaches up and fastens it around Mikey's throat, Bob's heart beats so hard in his chest he thinks maybe he's having a heart attack. He vows to give up smoking and bacon cheeseburgers if he lives through the day. He realizes he's probably not dying a second or two later when his cock throbs inside his pants. Yeah, okay. He'd known he wanted Mikey, but he didn't know it was a thing, but now that he does, he's going to have to kill Frankie for touching what's his.

By the time he's gotten back down to the floor, Frank is laughing and flicking the little bell with the tip of his finger, which then brushes over Mikey's throat, and yeah, Bob has to kill him now. Just before he reaches Frank and Mikey, Gerard rushes over and takes one look at all the parties involved--staring extra hard at Bob-- then pulls Frank away. He's speaking low and somewhat frantically in Frank's ear and Bob hears the words "for your own good" and thinks Gerard just might also be a genius off stage as well.

Bob does not stop when he reaches Mikey, just grabs his wrist and drags him along until they are tucked back in a dim corner, hidden from view by a stack of crates. Once there, he stares at Mikey's wrist still clutched in his hand and then at the collar. Wrist, collar, back and forth, and until finally he meets Mikey's eyes and sees...challenge? Really now.

"Got a problem?" Mikey says in this low, knowing voice that sets Bob's nerve endings on fire. He's never believed in spontaneous human combustion, but it's starting to look like a possibility now.

"You let him collar you." Bob runs the fingers of his free hand along the edge of the collar, the leather is smooth and warm from Mikey's skin.

"No." Mikey raises one eyebrow and, fuck, Bob wants to lick that too. "He gave me a cat collar with a fucking bell on it because he thinks he's funny." Bob opens his mouth and Mikey shakes his head minutely. "Not the same thing. Not even close."

"Are you--" Bob gets an idea of what it must feel like to be Gerard, so many words in his head and such a struggle to get them out in a coherent order. "I mean, would you?"

Mikey snorts a laugh and slides one foot in between Bob's, twisting his wrist in Bob's slackened grip, his long skinny fingers tangling with Bob's. "Not for Frankie."

Bob swallows hard and mutters "fuck" about a dozen times and then leans forward. Mikey meets him halfway, his lips already parting to let Bob in.

Mikey tastes like coffee--of fucking course he does--and Bob licks at his mouth and wonders how long they can do this before someone comes looking for them. Probably not long, but he wraps his hand around the back of Mikey's neck and Mikey makes this sound, this tiny moan that Bob probably wasn't even supposed to hear, and Bob can't stop kissing him yet. Someday soon, but not yet.

When Ray's voice calling his name finally registers, Bob has Mikey pressed against the wall and Mikey's got one hand hooked inside the front of Bob's pants, his knuckles digging into Bob's hip. Mikey pulls his mouth away and tilts his head back and Bob just has to lick his neck. He has to.

Then he hears Ray getting closer, calling, "Has anyone seen Bob?"

Frank giggles and Gerard shushes him, and Bob groans because fuck his life. Mikey just stares at him and says, "You're gonna finish that later, right?"

"Yes," Bob says fervently. "Yes."

Mikey smiles and slides away and Bob is left standing alone, one hand over his flushed face, when Ray finds him and starts talking about something that Bob can't bring himself to care about.

***

Bob is not actually into BDSM. He once had a boyfriend who owned some handcuffs and liked to be tied up occasionally, but they only did it a few times before he left Bob for a better job in LA. Bob hadn't gotten off on dominating Matt, so much as he'd gotten off on Matt's enjoyment of being dominated. So once Matt was gone, Bob didn't look for it or think about it again. So he finds himself kind of puzzled by both his recognition of the significance of that collar on Mikey's throat and his reaction to it. Mikey's reaction was very interesting as well, and requires a lot of thought. And Bob is going to devote as much time as possible to doing just that, as soon as people stop talking to him constantly.

"Bob, what do you think about this?"

"Bob, do you think we could change this?"

"Bob, I need your help."

"Bob, we need your opinion."

"Bob, we have to fix this by yesterday!"

"Bob, I'm worried about how this is going to work."

"Bob, you're the only person who will listen."

"No," Bob finally snaps at the last one. "No, I am not. I'm all listened out. I'm your stage manager, not your mother. You have a director and an agent and a brother. Or go to fucking confession and talk to your priest. Whatever. Just leave me the fuck alone."

"But, I--" Gerard starts to say but then Mikey appears out of nowhere and wraps an arm around his shoulders. He gives Bob a death glare and Bob silently curses himself out in the most vicious and colorful way he knows how. He can kiss his chances with Mikey goodbye now.

"Sorry, Gerard," Bob says, wondering over the logistics of kicking his own ass. "I've had a bitch of a day."

In the space of a blink, Gerard's face transforms from disappointment verging on heartbreak to compassionate understanding. It's kind of fascinating to watch. "Oh. Oh, Bob, I'm sorry. We do ask an awful lot of you, don't we?"

"It's okay," Bob says gently. "Was there something you needed right now or can it wait a while?"

"Oh, no, I can go talk to Frankie instead." Gerard pats Mikey's arm and wanders away in search of Frank.

Bob doesn't look Mikey in the eye when he says, "If anybody needs me, I'm going out for a smoke."

"Somebody always needs you," Mikey says in a voice Bob doesn't try to read for once. He knows what he'd like to hear, but he's not going to start filling in blanks. That way lies madness.


Bob steps out of the stage door and comes up short when he realizes he won't be alone. Brendon, one of the actors, is crouched by the wall smoking a cigarette. He's got his hand cupped around it like a kid afraid his mother's going to catch him--although Patrick's the real threat because he will kick his ass if he sees him--and when he hears Bob, he glances up with a guilty expression.

"Relax," Bob says dryly as he lights a smoke of his own. "It's just me, not Patrick."

"That's the problem," says Brendon with a nervous laugh. "I can't relax."

Bob sighs and figures that it's best to just get it over with so he can have a moment's peace. "What's the trouble, kid?"

Brendon scowls briefly--probably at being called a kid, but even if Bob's not that much older in actual years, he feels older in every other way possible--but then he goes back to smoking furiously, if furtively. Bob waits patiently, and finally the silence obviously becomes too much and Brendon blurts out, "Ryan and Patrick gave us a new rewrite. Now I have to kiss Gerard in Act 2."

"Yeah." Bob knew about it long before Brendon did. When nothing else is forthcoming, he asks, "So what's the problem?"

"I've never had to kiss anyone on stage before. Much less another guy." Brendon crushes out his cigarette, but stays crouched by the wall.

"But aren't you gay?" Bob asks cautiously. He's pretty certain, but the kids can be a little weird about it at first.

"Yeah, but.."

"And didn't you join a queer theater company understanding what that meant?"

"Yeah, but..."

"Is it Gerard? Do you not like him or something?"

"No, it's just. Well, one, Gerard is intimidating. He's all--" Brendon waves his hands around. "--you know, Gerard-y. And second, Frank scares me."

"First of all, Frank is the least scary person I know, next to--well, you and Bill Beckett. And second, what does Frank have to do with you kissing Gerard in Act 2?"

Brendon's face scrunches up in confusion and he looks like a kitten or something. Bob almost wants to pet him, but not in a creepy sexual way. He saves all those impulses for Mikey. "I thought it was obvious?"

It takes Bob a second or two to realize Brendon is referring to Frank and Gerard being obvious and not Bob's desire to pet Mikey.

"Guess I've been distracted." Bob almost chokes on his own understatement. His brain has been pretty evenly split between trying to get everything done to make blocking go smoothly and Mikey. It's a wonder he hasn't accidentally set himself on fire or something.

"Anyway," he says after a moment. "Even if there is something going on between Gerard and Frank, you have nothing to worry about. Frank is a professional--mostly. And he knows what happens when you get involved with actors."

"You have to watch them kiss other people." Brendon sounds less like he's going to have a breakdown, and he even smiles at Bob when he stands up to go back inside. "Thanks, Bob. If there's ever anything I can do for you in return..."

"Know anything about bondage?"

Brendon's eyes widen and his mouth falls open and Bob says, "Just kidding. Listen, if you're still nervous about Act 2, talk to Gerard about it. Or Ray. He's real big on open communication."

"Okay." Brendon take a deep breath and shakes his hands out as if flinging the tension out into the universe. "Okay. Thanks, Bob."

"No problem. Don't hug me," Bob adds quickly as Brendon's arms come up and he steps forward. When Brendon just pouts a little and goes back inside, Bob slumps against the wall.

"For someone who's kind of cranky, you're really good with people," Mikey says and Bob can't stop himself from jumping a little. Mikey is no longer wearing the collar with the bell.

"Where'd you come from?" Bob asks, adrenaline coursing through his veins, but Mikey just makes a vague motion with one hand. Bob tosses his cigarette butt to the ground and straightens up. "What's wrong now?"

"Nothing." Mikey seems to consider the sheer improbability of this and says, "Well, a fuckload of things, I'm sure. But nothing too immediately pressing that I'm aware of."

"Then fuck it, I'm having another smoke." Bob lights up another cigarette and notices Mikey staring at him, more weirdly than usual. "What?"

"You have nice hands."

Bob looks at them, turns them over to see all sides: pale skin, freckles, calluses, a scar or three from his misspent youth, faint yellow stains on the tips of a couple fingers and one thumb. They're nothing special that he can see.

"They'd look even better holding me down," Mikey says right in Bob's ear and when did he get so fucking close?

"Do you use that line to pick up dudes in bars?" Bob doesn't look at Mikey because if he does he's going to shove him against the dirty brick wall at his back and then they'll both be arrested for public indecency or some shit.

"No." There's a hint of laughter in Mikey's voice that nobody would pick up except someone who has made a habit of paying attention to every nuance of every word out of Mikey's mouth. "You're the only one. I like your...potential."

"Huh. You're trying to kill me, aren't you?" Because one word spoken in a very particular tone of voice should not make Bob hard and aching in the middle of his work day. It's not fucking fair. He gives Mikey a narrow-eyed glare, but Mikey just raises one eyebrow and smiles.

The stage door slams open and Ray's hair comes outside, followed a few seconds later by the rest of Ray. "Bob, Brian wants to have a meeting."

"When?" Even though he's looking at Ray, Bob can feel Mikey drawing away. Not the movement so much as a sudden lack of warmth that Bob had barely even noticed before.

"Now," Ray says almost apologetically.

"Of course." Bob turns to look at Mikey, but he's already gone.

***

Pete Wentz shows up about half way through the meeting. "Just like to see how my money's being used. I don't suppose Patrick is around here anywhere?"

So everything grinds to a halt because it always does when Pete is around. Patrick is called down to Brian's office, and he brings Ryan and then Frank gets pulled in. What follows is half actual productive discussion and half excuse for Pete to shamelessly flirt with Patrick.

By the time Bob is able to get free and finish up some stuff he can't just leave for the morning, everyone else--i.e. Mikey--is gone for the night. He tells himself he's not disappointed, that he'll be seeing Mikey again tomorrow. But still.

He's less than a block from the theater and still two blocks from the subway when he gets a text from Frank telling him to stop by the bar. He doesn't have to ask which bar since the Stagedoor is the only bar they ever go to, so instead of going straight at the corner he turns left and in less than five minutes, he's standing at the end of the bar with a beer in one hand and a Mikeyway in the other.

"Hi," Bob says, somewhat startled to find Mikey pressed up against him when Bob hadn't even seen him when he'd walked in.

Mikey catches his straw with his tongue and sips at what looks like a margarita on the rocks, and none of that should be sexy but it kind of is. "We have a table in the back."

"Okay." Bob nods but when Mikey doesn't move, he adds, "You gonna let me go?"

"Guess I'll have to," Mikey says and steps away, looking over his shoulder to make sure Bob is following.

Like Bob could do anything else. He shamelessly watches the graceful way Mikey moves through the bar, the way his jeans seem tighter and his t-shirt seems clingier than earlier in the day, even though he hasn't changed clothes between work and here. Bob writes it off to more of that odd Mikey-magic.

They settle into chairs near one end of the long row of tables that have been pushed together to accommodate their numbers. Gerard is wedged between Frank and Cortez at the other end of the table and he waves and smiles when he sees Bob and Mikey. "There you are. Now we're complete."

"All right then," Bob says and takes a long gulp of his beer. It's not like they haven't all seen each other all damn day anyway. As much as he likes everyone at the table, if not for the prospect of seeing Mikey, Bob would have gone on home. He's tired and a little stressed, and he's been on the edge of arousal for most of the day and that makes him a little grumpy.

Brendon is sitting on Bob's other side and Bob waits for a break in his conversation with Bill and Ryan to get his attention. When Brendon leans closer, Bob asks him softly enough to not be overheard by anyone else, "Have you resolved your problem with Act 2?"

"Well...sort of?" Brendon shoots a confused look at the other end of the table and says, "I took your advice and tried to talk to Gerard since Ray was in meetings all afternoon."

"And what did he say?" Bob is trying to be encouraging, but he can feel Mikey's hand on his knee and he's really having a hard time focusing on Brendon's problems right now.

"He offered to practice the scene as much as it takes for me to be comfortable."

"That's great, right?"

"Frank also offered to "practice" with me." Brendon makes quotes with his fingers and his eyes are huge.

"Oh, kid." Bob shakes his head and claps Brendon on the back. "Welcome to the theater."

Brendon takes a gulp of whatever violently red concoction he's drinking, and says plaintively, "What should I do?"

"Whatever you feel comfortable with," Bob manages to choke out, distracted by Mikey's hand sliding up his leg.

Bob turns to see Mikey giving him this look like...Bob is terrible at metaphors, but if pressed he'd say Mikey is starving and Bob is a nice juicy steak. And that's so cliché that Bob kind of wants to smack himself, but seriously. If they were alone right now, Bob is certain he'd be naked just from the intensity of Mikey's stare. If this guy is truly a sub, then Bob is going to have to rethink everything he thinks he knows about dominance and submission issues.

Mikey squeezes Bob's thigh and his eyebrows shoot up in surprise that may or may not be exaggerated. "Bob. What else are you hiding underneath those baggy pants," he muses, like he already suspects the answer and it pleases him.

Bob looks down at Mikey's long slim fingers, a pale contrast to the dark grey fabric of his pants, and words fail him as all he can think of is those fingers wrapped around his dick. He watches them tighten again on his thigh and almost flinches when Mikey says, "Nice," right into his ear.

Bob is intensely grateful for his baggy pants at the moment because he is so hard that tight pants would probably cause him serious damage. He takes a sip of his beer and then sets it down carefully. Remembering the sound Mikey made earlier, Bob clamps his hand on the back of Mikey's neck and leans in close and says in a very firm voice, "Stop it."

"Yes, Bob," Mikey breathes and his hand falls away, his eyes downcast.

"Go to the bathroom and wait for me. Text me when it's empty." Mikey immediately gets up and starts to walk away but Bob grabs his wrist and pulls him down so that Bob's mouth is pressed against his ear. "When I get there, you better be on your knees."

"Yes, sir," Mikey whispers and Bob turns him loose.

Bob watches Mikey go and then turns back to his beer. After a moment, Brendon clears his throat and says, "What the hell was that?"

Bob pins him with a look and says casually, "Why? What did you hear?"

"I didn't hear anything, just...um...saw?" Brendon leans in close and Bob wants to pull back because he's not Mikey. He forces himself to stay still. "Is this why you asked me about bondage? I thought that was a joke."

"It was," Bob says, but it sounds pretty weak even to himself. "Just a joke."

Brendon looks unconvinced and he's eyeing Bob speculatively in a way that makes Bob want to squirm in his seat. Brendon is way too fucking young to be thinking whatever it is he's thinking. Brendon's eyes go impossibly darker and his teeth sink into his bottom lip and Bob's not sure he is old enough for whatever Brendon's thinking. "Yeah, um. Could you not...?"

Brendon shakes his head and his face clears like he's coming out of a trance. "Oh. Sorry, Bob. Sorry."

Bob turns away from Brendon and digs his phone out of his pocket. It takes six minutes and thirty-seven seconds for Mikey's text to come in, and as soon as it does, Bob gets up and walks away without making excuses. He glances back when he gets to the hallway that leads to the restrooms and no one but Brendon is watching. As if realizing he's been caught, Brendon blushes and looks away.

The area is deserted when Bob slips into the restroom and the sight that greets him has him leaning against the door. Mikey's facing the door, kneeling on the surprisingly clean floor, wrists crossed at the small of his back, head bowed. His longish hair is falling over one side of his face and Bob's fingers ache to tangle in it, to wrap the strands around his fingers and tug Mikey's head up for a tender kiss, a gentle caress, a sweet little interlude. But Bob senses that's not what Mikey wants, what he needs right now.

And Bob desperately wants to give Mikey what he needs.

Fumbling behind him, Bob locks the door and stalks forward slowly, watching the tension in Mikey's shoulders, the back of his neck. He stops when the toes of his boots brush against Mikey's knees and says, "Are you sure?"

Mikey doesn't move, just says "Yes" with unmistakable certainty.

"Do I have to tell you what to do?" Bob hates negotiating, but he hates not knowing what the fuck he's doing even more. If he's going to do this for Mikey (for himself), he's got to do it right. He's perfectly aware that this is an audition of sorts, and he wants to win this part more than he's ever wanted anything. He grabs the back of Mikey's hair, rougher than he'd like but not enough to hurt, and tilts Mikey's head back so he can see Mikey's face when he says, "No, I've already let you have too much control. You need to learn your place."

"Yes," Mikey says, soft as an exhaled breath and his eyes are shining up at Bob with terrifying devotion.

Bob casts his mind back to Matt and their casual games and realizes that Mikey's not going be a casual anything. "Safe word?"

"Gee."

"Okay, no. That's fucked up. Pick something else."

"I don't think you're ever going to hear it," Mikey says with his usual boldness, the kind he hasn't shown in this room so far. Bob suspects Mikey's not going to budge on this one thing, so finally he nods. Mikey's face relaxes again, as he waits patiently for Bob's next move.

Bob releases Mikey's hair and pats it down, Mikey tilting his head into the caress before Bob pulls away completely. Knowing their time in here is limited, Bob says roughly, "Quick and dirty, Mikey. We don't have time to play." Then he opens his pants and shoves them down, taking note of the way Mikey's tongue darts out to wet his lips when Bob unbuckles his belt. Tangling his left hand in Mikey's hair again, Bob uses his right to push his cock between Mikey's lips. Mikey's eyes fall shut as he opens wide and takes Bob in, and Bob can see the bliss creeping across his features.

"No, open your eyes," Bob says softly, his tone brooking no argument. "You're going to see who's fucking your mouth."

It takes a second or two for Mikey to catch up, but when he does, when he's looking up at Bob with that same devotion that sets Bob's heart to racing, that's when Bob lets himself go. He thrusts into the tight wet heat of Mikey's mouth, staring into Mikey's eyes and knows he's not going to last long. He's been on edge nearly all fucking day and his dick has no respect for the concept of drawing it out.

He shoves deeper until he thinks Mikey's going to choke, but he doesn't. He just opens his throat and swallows Bob down like it's nothing, and it's the hottest thing that has ever happened to Bob. It's like something out of a porno, except the little sounds that Mikey's making are about a billion times sexier and Bob knows he's going to come down that throat embarrassingly quickly if he doesn't pull back.

Mikey's mouth is too full to answer verbally, so Bob says, "I want to come on your face. Close your eyes if you want me to."

Mikey's eyes slam shut and Bob groans a little at how fucking beautiful this man is. He tries to follow Bob's cock with his tongue when Bob pulls out but Bob holds him still. It only takes one stroke of his hand up his spit-slick cock and then he's coming, shuddering with pleasure and painting a white stripe from Mikey's parted lips to his cheekbone. He takes a moment to admire the pretty picture before he drags the tips of two fingers down Mikey's cheek and pushes them into his mouth.

Mikey sucks the come of Bob's fingers eagerly, licking all the way up to his knuckles before Bob pulls away. Bob pulls his pants and underwear up and steps back to help Mikey up. When Mikey is steady on his feet, Bob takes Mikey's hands in his and kisses Mikey chastely on the lips, smiling as Mikey sighs against his mouth.

Bob leads Mikey to the sink and washes his face, then kisses him again, deeper this time, tasting himself on Mikey's tongue. "Come on, we need to get back before someone comes looking for us."

Bob pushes his fingers lightly against the erection straining against Mikey's jeans and says, "Next time I'll let you come."

He feels like a selfish bastard, but Mikey's eyes light up and the corner of his mouth kicks up in a smile and Bob knows he made the right call.

***

Bob goes home alone. It's weird because he wants to put Mikeyway in his pocket and never let him go, but that's just not feasible. And is just a tad insane. So, he waves at Mikey and Gerard as they head off in the opposite direction and he doesn't watch them walk away. Mostly because Frank is standing beside him with this big I know all your secrets grin and Brendon is trying to watch both Bob and Mikey and ends up tripping over his own feet as he heads for the bus stop.

Bob's life is so hard.

The ride on the subway and walk to his apartment are uneventful and as soon as he gets inside he fires up his computer and settles down to some serious research.

The next time he talks to Mikey in a less than professional capacity, he wants to have a better idea of what's expected of him. So far he's been making it up as he goes along, but he suspects that won't work for long. Mikey will figure out that Bob is out of his depth and find someone who isn't, a proper master or whatever. Just thinking that word makes Bob roll his eyes and want to make a stupid joke or twelve. It's just so...not him.

However, if he can't adjust and take it seriously, Mikey probably won't be interested anymore. Bob thinks about the light in Mikey's eyes when he talks about this stuff and the sound of his voice when he was on his knees and Bob knows he doesn't want to give that up any time soon.

If his first half-hour of websurfing teaches Bob anything, it's that as adventurous as he might have considered himself before, he has been, in fact, distressingly vanilla. The second half-hour teaches him that there are just way too many options and if he has any hope of figuring this shit out, he needs some guidelines.

He starts typing up an e-mail before he realizes that he doesn't know Mikey's address. Brian might have it but it would be in his office at the theater and anyway, he can't ask Brian because he'd want to know why Bob wanted it. So he sends Mikey a text with his own e-mail address, asking him to get in touch. It's nearly an hour before the e-mail pops up in Bob's inbox, no subject line and the body saying simply: Hey Bob, I'm here. What can I do for you? -MW

Bob carefully considers how to say it and then hits reply and types: Mikey, I want to give you what you want, but it's a little overwhelming. It actually pains him to admit that, but trying to front like he knows what the hell he's doing won't benefit either one of them. Can you give me a list of the stuff you like to do? Or I guess it would be the stuff you want me to do. After a moment or two he adds: Maybe a list of stuff that you don't like too? Just so I don't try the wrong thing.

He clicks Send before he can talk himself out of it. He worries that he sounds like an idiot and Mikey will decide to go for someone with more experience. Knowing that if he sits there and waits for Mikey's reply, he'll drive himself nuts, he gets up and turns on the TV and X-box before settling into his favorite chair to dish out some pixelated mayhem.

He's so caught up in the game that the sound of new mail notification comes as a surprise and he has to scramble not to get his guy killed before he gets to the save point. When his game is saved, he turns it off and goes back to the computer.

When he opens up the e-mail with the subject line "Stuff I Like", Bob is surprised, first, by how relatively short the list is and, second, by the parenthetical remarks that Mikey's included. Apparently, he's more talkative in text than he is in person. Bob had imagined this to be bigger but somehow less complicated. He is, however, relieved that he isn't going to have to learn to do anything too out there, and he appreciates the extra information.

Some things like tie me to your bed and handcuffs/rope/silkscarves/neckties and use a hint of teeth when you blow me and talk to me while I'm blowing you don't have any other comments, but next to breathplay Mikey has written only if I ask for it. NO SURPRISES!!! Bob is momentarily taken aback by the capslock and extra exclamation points and wonders if this stuff hasn't all been sunshine and roses for Mikey. When he feels himself getting angry at the thought of anyone hurting Mikey against his will, Bob decides to push that aside for now and ponder it later.

Next to bloodplay is only if we both go get tested together, but Bob has no intention of going there. He's got no problem with being tested, of course. He isn't all that wild about causing Mikey real pain, but drawing blood is just too much like causing harm. Bob's not a saint by any means, and he certainly got into more than his share of fights in school. But there's a big difference between making a guy bleed because he's trying to hit you back and drawing the blood of a completely defenseless guy who just takes it. Even if the guy in question says he enjoys it, it just feels to Bob like picking on someone weaker than him.

Luckily for Bob, Mikey seems to be more into being controlled than pain, although he enjoys spanking (occasional)--my first choice is your hand but other stuff is okay too. Bob imagines laying his hand on Mikey's bare ass, imagines smacking him hard and watching his pale skin turn pink and then bright red with every successive smack. The mental image is making him flushed and eager to try it, but it's thinking about the sounds Mikey would make that has him hard and needy so fast he goes a little light-headed from all his blood rushing south.

Without taking his eyes off Mikey's words on his computer screen, Bob slides one hand down his stomach and flicks open the button on his pants, toying with the zipper a little as he decides if he really wants to do this. Of course, there's almost never a reason not to get off when it's not hurting anybody, so he pulls down the zipper and gets his dick out. He's already hard just reading about it, so he can only imagine how fucking amazing actually doing it will be.

Bob spits in his hand and starts to stroke himself, the recent memory of Mikey's mouth entangled with the fantasy of all the varied things that Mikey wants Bob to do to him. The sound Mikey makes when Bob clamps a hand on the back of his neck makes Bob squeeze the base of his dick before pumping his hand a little harder than usual. He gives the head a little extra attention to the mental image of Mikey spread out on his bed, hands tied to the headboard and his eyes wide and mouth red as Bob touches every inch of his body. Bob decides right then, in the haze of pleasure washing over him that he will never blindfold Mikey. No matter what else they do, it won't be that. He's got to be able to see Mikey's eyes because that is where Mikey gives everything away.

Bob comes just as his computer beeps with an incoming e-mail. Slumped back in his chair, he wipes his hand off carefully on his pants leg before touching the mouse to open Mikey's message.

The subject line is READ THIS, and again the all caps set Bob on edge a little before he even sees what it is. He clicks on the e-mail and the body reads Sorry I forgot about this. If you aren't very experienced, this is important info. If you change your mind I understand. Bob clicks the link and reads about aftercare and something called sub drop.

Holy fuck. He gets up and walks around his apartment for a minute. He goes to the kitchen and drinks an entire glass of water in one go, and then clutches his stomach and tries not to throw up. This new information that he could majorly fuck Mikey up without even meaning to, out of carelessness and ignorance, is chilling. He looks at the fine tremor in his hands and wonders if maybe he should back out now, while they are both intact and not committed to anything.

Except. Except that Bob does feel committed, at least a little. The moment he asked Mikey for a list, he committed to at least trying it out. He committed when he made Mikey kneel in a bar bathroom and suck him off without even making Mikey come.

Bob is more committed than he's been to anything except his work in a very long time and it's both terrifying and exhilarating.

Going back to the computer, Bob hits reply on Mikey's last e-mail and types I'm in. Come home with me after work tomorrow. Plan to stay awhile. He clicks Send and then turns off the computer and goes to bed.

He lies awake for a long while, making plans and organizing shit in his head. That's the one thing that Bob feels pretty confident about. He can plan and organize like a motherfucker. He hopes Mikey's impressed by that.

***

Bob gets to the theater early, shuts himself up in the office he shares with Ray, and tries to get all the schedules coordinated. If one more person comes in and says they just got a new job and their hours are going to be changing a lot, he's going to kill somebody.

By the time Ray gets in, Bob's ready to get started on the blocking they have planned for the day.

And he's only thought about Mikey once every ten minutes. Since he'd expected it to be more constant than that, he's sort of impressed with himself.

Then Ray makes a comment on one of the set pieces they have yet to build and Bob says, "Don't worry. Mikey will take care of it."

"You really trust that kid, don't you?" Ray says contemplatively as they head toward the stage.

Bob nods and says, "Yeah. He's good at what he does."

But he knows it's so much more than that.



***

Mikey has an overnight bag with him when they leave the theater. Bob looks at it and then at Mikey, and wonders. He doesn't ask. He just waits.

When they get to his apartment, he offers Mikey a beer because he needs one himself to relax, but Mikey shakes his head. "Don't need it. You go ahead though."

Bob grabs two cans of soda out of the fridge and sets one on the table next to Mikey, who just smiles slightly and starts digging in his bag. He pulls out a familiar looking plastic bag, and holds it out to Bob. "You can put it on me, if you want."

Before he even takes the time to think about it, Bob is shaking his head. "Frank bought that for you."

"He didn't mean it," Mikey says, but he tosses the bag with the collar back into his overnight bag.

"I know." Bob takes a few steps closer and pulls Mikey into his arms, kisses him gently even though his thoughts are less than tender at the moment. "But if I ever do it, I will. It'll be my collar around your throat, not some stupid joke of Frank's."

Mikey licks his lips and jerks his head slightly in what could be a nod or could just be nerves. "Where do you want me?"

"Right now, I want you to sit down at the table while I fix some dinner." Bob kisses Mikey's cheek and pushes him toward a chair before he goes over to the refrigerator and pulls out ingredients for a quick stir fry. The vegetables are already cut up, so he slices up a couple pieces of boneless chicken and throws them in a pan with a little oil. He glances over at Mikey as he works and notices the worried little wrinkle between his brows. "What?"

"Can't I do something for you?" Mikey's face crumples up a little as he adds, "That's why I'm here."

"Yeah, later. I wanna do something for you first." Bob turns back to the stove and adds more stuff to the pan, stirring it to mix the sauce and vegetables in with the chicken. When it's done he divides it into two bowls and slides one in front of Mikey along with a fork. Mikey just sits there and stares at it.

"Something wrong? You're not a vegan or anything, right?" Bob asks, and when Mikey shakes his head, Bob says, "Then eat." He wants to make some comment about Mikey needing to keep his strength up for later, but Mikey looks instantly more relaxed the second it becomes an order.

Bob tries to make small talk at first, but after a while of getting nothing but muttered monosyllabic responses, he gives up. Instead, he watches Mikey carefully, sees the change coming over him before Bob has really even done anything. It's weird, but fascinating and just a little bit scary because what if Bob fucks this up?

When their bowls are empty, Mikey gets up and takes them to the sink. He turns on the water and reaches for the dish soap, but Bob says, "That can wait. Go to my bedroom and undress."

Mikey nods, turns the water off, and does what he's told. Bob sits at the table for another moment and finishes his soda. He tries to pretend his hands aren't shaking when he gets up and goes to his bedroom.

Mikey is standing near the foot of the bed, his clothes are in a neat little pile by the closet door and his hands are twitching at his sides. When Bob stops in the doorway, Mikey shrugs, "You didn't say how you wanted me."

"Yeah, sorry," Bob says absently, stepping into the room and just taking in the fact that he's got Mikey Way naked in his bedroom.

"Bob, can I speak?"

"Yeah, of course, yeah," Bob says quickly.

"Not 'of course'. You have to tell me what you want. That's kind of the point here." Mikey sounds like he's trying not to be bossy, but it comes out kind of bitchy anyway. Bob is amused but doesn't show it because laughing at Mikey would definitely ruin the mood.

"Right now, what I want is for you to just stand there and look pretty." Mikey rolls his eyes so Bob adds, "And stop talking, except if you have to use your safe word." Bob ignores the almost silent snort of disbelief that gets him, but he vows to remember it later. "Move away from the bed a little--about three steps to the right-- then kneel, hands behind your head."

Mikey assumes the position, and Bob walks in a circle around him just looking at him. Mikey's all planes and angles, with surprisingly broad shoulders and no ass to speak of. His hair was brushed back from his face for most of the day, but now it's falling across one eye and sweeping over his cheek and Bob pushes it behind one ear and lets his hand linger, enjoying the subtle way Mikey tilts into his touch.

"You're very good at doing what you're told," Bob says and Mikey's expression doesn't change except for how it sort of does take on a glow of pride. Bob thinks back to Mikey's e-mail and that he likes to be talked to, so he pushes past his natural reticence and says, "You're good at sucking cock too. Is that what you want? You want my cock down your throat?"

Because Bob told him to stop talking, Mikey doesn't answer verbally but he does open his mouth and flick his tongue over his bottom lip, and Bob is instantly harder than he's ever been in his life. He takes a deep breath and thinks about how embarrassing coming in his pants would be. He swallows hard and his voice is a little rough when he says, "Or would you rather get fucked? You want me to fuck you, Mikey? You want to tie you down and open you up?"

Mikey's breath stutters and Bob crouches down to look at him close up, says, "Open your eyes, Mikey."

Mikey is a sight to behold, cheeks flushed, pupils blown, cock hard and already shining damp at the tip. With his hands behind his head, the muscles of his arms are taut and the veins on the inside of his wrists and forearms are more visible than usual. Bob has to close his own eyes for just a second and remember what he's supposed to be doing. He's tempted to just push Mikey to the floor and lick him all over, but he's not sure that's what Mikey wants or needs right now.

Bob hates being unsure of anything, so he falls back on his plans. He goes over to his bedside table and picks up a necktie he bought for a wedding five years ago and has never worn again and a soft length of rope he liberated from the last theater he worked for. He can't remember why he needed it at the time, but he's glad he did. He walks back over to Mikey and takes his hands off the back of his head. Circling Mikey's wrists with his fingers, Bob helps him to his feet and over to the bed.

"Do you like being blindfolded?" Bob asks as he lays Mikey down on his back in the middle of the bed.

Mikey shakes his head and Bob smiles slightly, pleased and a bit more confident for the moment because he can say, "Then that'll be your punishment if you're bad."

Mikey jerks his chin down and his mouth twitches in a way that makes Bob think he wants to smile but isn't in the right headspace for it. He sighs a little as Bob spreads his arms out and ties each wrist to the corner posts of his headboard. "Mikey, I'm not tying your legs down, but I want you to keep them spread for me. If you can do that, I'll fuck you. And if you're very good, I'll reward you when I'm done."

Mikey's breathing is harsh but he doesn't say anything until Bob says, "You can answer this time."

And the words pour out of Mikey's mouth like a dam breaking, "Oh please fuck me Bob fuck me yes I'll be good I promise please please--"

"Shhh, Mikey, I will," Bob says in a quiet, soothing tone and Mikey falls silent again, his eyes locked on Bob as he starts to undress. Bob takes his time and puts his clothes away as he goes, watching Mikey from the corner of his eye to make sure he hasn't moved.

By the time Bob takes a condom and a bottle of lube from the drawer and lays them on the bed next to Mikey's side, Mikey is covered in a fine sheen of sweat and his breathing is deep and even, and Bob is kind of in awe of how Mikey manages to look completely relaxed and yet painfully turned on at the same time. Bob feels like he's about to vibrate right out of his skin and all his plans of dragging this out and making it last as long as possible are starting to seem ridiculously unfeasible.

Climbing onto the bed, Bob kneels between Mikey's spread legs and grabs Mikey's ankles. Murmuring reassurances, he pushes Mikey's legs up so that his knees are bent and his feet are flat on the bed. "You've been so good, Mikey."

Mikey's mouth twitches and he makes an aborted sound in the back of his throat. Bob slides his hands from Mikey's knees down the insides of his thighs and presses both thumbs behind his balls. Mikey twitches all over and makes that sound again, and Bob hides his smile against Mikey's knee. He moves his thumbs in tiny circles and touches the tips of two fingers to the base of Mikey's cock, just to see what Mikey will do.

Mikey takes a deep breath and does nothing, but when Bob glances up at his face, he can see the pleasure and anticipation in his eyes. "Good boy," Bob mutters and grabs the lube, slicking his fingers.

Bob watches Mikey carefully when he pushes two fingers in at once, and when he sees no signs of discomfort or distress, he twists his fingers and says, "How's this?"

"Good, good, more," Mikey gasps and Bob gives him more, pushing in deep before pulling out, adding more lube and pushing three fingers in. Mikey's hot and tight and the restrained little moan that escapes him is the hottest thing Bob's ever heard.

"You can make noise if you want to. Tell me what you like," Bob says as he opens Mikey up, going from offer to order without even thinking about it. He rubs up against Mikey's prostate and Mikey moans again, louder this time and the sound sends shivers down Bob's spine. He may have made a tactical error in allowing Mikey to make noise if he wants to actually fuck Mikey before he comes all over him.

Bob counts backward from twenty and when he hits zero, he pulls out his fingers and wipes his hand off on the towel he left on the bed just for this purpose. He puts the condom on but before he lubes up, he leans over Mikey and licks a stripe from his belly button all the way up to the base of his throat. He bites down lightly and then kisses Mikey, hard and wet and possessive, a little preview of how he's going to fuck him.

Mikey kisses back and moans deep and needy. Bob has to pull away to catch his breath and he says, "Fuck, Mikey, fuck." And he sounds embarrassingly helpless and desperate to his own ears, and he worries about what Mikey's thinking.

"Yeah, yeah, fuck me, Bob, please," Mikey gasps out and his hips jolt against Bob's and, for the first time, his arms strain at their bonds. Bob's worry melts away under the onslaught of now now now that fills his head, and he just does it--grabs Mikey's hip with one hand and guides his cock in with the other, slow and steady and relentless.

Once he's pressed up tight inside Mikey, he leans down for another kiss, just a quick dirty slide of lips before he says, "Don't come until I tell you to."

Mikey nods his head and jerks his hips, and Bob goes on instinct and smacks Mikey's thigh with his open hand. Mikey immediately relaxes and his face looks blissed out even though he's got to be aching to come by now. Bob smacks him again just to see what'll happen and Mikey relaxes further and his tongue slides across his lower lip and he moans so obscenely that Bob has to kiss him again before he settles in and starts fucking him hard and fast.

"You're fucking killing me," Bob mutters as he thrusts into Mikey and knows he's not going to last much longer, the hot tight clench of Mikey all around him is driving him over the edge. Mikey's eyes are barely open now and his limbs quiver with need, and Bob can't hold back any longer. He shoves in one more time and comes hard.

His arms give out and he collapses against Mikey, catching his breath for a moment before sliding a hand in between them. Mikey gasps when Bob's fingers circle his cock, but he doesn't come. Bob is really fucking impressed by Mikey's control, so he says, "That's amazing, you're doing so good, Mikey. Don't come yet, just a minute, okay, just another minute more."

After carefully pulling out, he slides down the bed and says, "count to twenty and then you can come." Then he takes Mikey's cock into his mouth and sucks gently as Mikey counts out loud and then comes down Bob's throat with a shaky gasp.

Bob has to stand up to untie Mikey's wrists and his legs are a little shaky, but he gets rid of the condom and unties Mikey before easing Mikey over so he can lie down next to him. He pulls Mikey against his chest and rubs Mikey's arms and presses kisses to the side of his face, nuzzling his ear and whispering, "Mikey, how are you? All right?"

"Yeah, I'm good," Mikey sighs and stretches and drapes himself over Bob with feline grace. He rubs his face against Bob's chest and makes a sound suspiciously like a purr.

Bob smiles and says, "Don't go to sleep until I get you cleaned up."

"Yeah, okay," Mikey says faintly, and Bob knows he'd better move fast if he's going to get anything done before Mikey conks out. He untangles himself from Mikey and gives him a kiss before going into the bathroom and wetting a washcloth. He lets the water run until it's almost too hot so that it'll still be warm by the time he wipes down Mikey.

Once he's got them both clean, Bob turns off the light, maneuvers Mikey under the covers, and crawls in next to him. Mikey makes an incoherent sound and curls into Bob and in less than a minute he's asleep. Bob lies awake for a while longer, smiling a little in the darkness.


***


"Seriously, guys...if you don't settle down and get this shit done Ray's gonna have a fucking aneurysm and do you really want that on your consciences?" At the skeptical looks that gets him, Bob sighs, "Oh fuck you all, I know you have them."

Joe and Butcher get back to work and Andy looks like he's about to say something until Cortez walks up and distracts him. Bob rubs both hands over his face and thinks about which of the five hundred things he has to get done that he's going to do next.

He feels Mikey come up behind him before Mikey speaks. Bob is sort of irrationally proud of himself for that, so when Mikey leans in, his mouth close to Bob's ear, Bob just smiles and says, "Yes?"

"That thing with Frank's collar last night? That was a test," Mikey breathes against Bob's neck, and Bob gets a sudden mental image of what they must look like together, Mikey's long lines and Bob's solidity. It's a little shocking how hot he finds it.

Bob tries to sound casual when he asks, "Did I pass?"

"You always do," Mikey says and there's a very subtle thread of laughter in his voice. Bob feels Mikey's fingers brush lightly over his hip before Mikey walks away.

Bob is now half-hard. At three o'clock in the afternoon and he can't fucking leave work for about five more hours. When he gets Mikey to go home with him tonight, there's going to be retribution of some kind. He remembers his earlier fantasy of spanking Mikey and thinks this might be good excuse to try it out. If Mikey's into it, of course.

He turns to get back to work and finds Brendon watching him with big careful eyes, his bottom lip caught between his teeth. "What? Did you need something?"

Brendon swallows hard and shakes his head. "No, I...I have to," he points vaguely toward stage left, "umm. Yeah."

Frank walks up in time to witness most of this exchange and he says, thoughtfully, "We gotta get that kid a boyfriend."

"What?" Bob asks before he can stop himself and he doesn't want to hear the answer. No matter what Frank says, he's not getting involved in matchmaking. Matchmaking, for fuck's sake.

"You never noticed how he's always watching? Me and Gerard, you and Mikey--"

"What about you and Gerard?" Bob interrupts to ask, just to shift attention off him and Mikey.

Frank just blinks at him and then he sighs like Bob has somehow disappointed him. "Really, Bob? You've been that obsessed with Mikey that you didn't even notice that I'm banging his brother?"

"Well, Brendon said, but...No, I've been obsessed with getting this show together. And also, never, ever tell me about your sex life ever again."

"But Bob, come on, Gee is totally hot, and like, really open to experimentation--"

Bob slaps a hand over Frank's mouth and says, "If you value your life. Stop now."

He moves his hand. Frank grins and says, "He does this one thing with--"

"Seriously, Frankie. I don't want to hear this." Bob then considers it more carefully and adds, "I can't hear this."

Frank just laughs until his face goes pink and his eyes water and then wanders back to whatever the hell he'd been doing before he decided to come over and scar Bob for life. He can't think of his--of Mikey's brother having sex ever. He shudders and gets back to work.

***

Bob has to stay late at the theater for a conference with Brian, Ray, Frank, and a few other people who turn out to be extremely long-winded. After about an hour with no end in sight, he surreptitiously sends Mikey a text telling him to go on home and not wait around for him.

When Bob finally gets home, he's too frustrated to sleep so he grabs his phone off the nightstand and texts Mikey: Are you still awake?

A couple minutes later Mikey texts back: Yes. Still up. Thinking about you actually.

Bob smiles and abandons text for calling Mikey directly. When Mikey picks up, Bob says, "Were you really?"

"Yeah. Why would I lie about that?"

"I don't know. It's just...you know. Why..." Bob curses himself for sounding so insecure but it's not like he and Mikey have an established relationship or anything. He changes tack to more familiar ground. "I mean, what were you thinking?"

"Bob." Mikey huffs a little breath into the phone and Bob shivers a little. "How are you so smart and so dumb at the same time?"

"Hey." Bob sits up and props the pillows up against the headboard, so he can lean back more comfortably. "I'm not."

"I was thinking about you and the stuff you did to me last night," Mikey continues as if Bob never protested being called dumb. His voice drops into a lower register when he adds, "And thinking about all the other stuff I want you to do to me."

"Yeah?" Bob moves the phone away from his face slightly and clears his throat. "I had planned to spank you tonight. For getting me all turned on work. What do you think about that?"

"I think...yeah, you should do that."

Bob hears fabric rustling and pictures Mikey lying in bed, shoving the covers off so he can palm his cock, getting turned on from just thinking about Bob spanking him. "Yeah, I really should. Strip you naked and turn you over my knee."

"What would you use?" Mikey asks tightly, and Bob shoves his hand inside his boxers.

"Just my hand. I want to feel your skin." Bob strokes his cock a couple times and rubs his thumb over the head slow and teasing. "Wanna feel your ass heat up under my hand, feel the blood rushing to the surface, turning your skin red."

"Um." Mikey sounds a bit strangled when he says, "How many?"

Bob feels lost for a moment, not really knowing what's a good number, so he says, "As many as it takes until you whimper my name."

"And what--what would you do then?" Mikey says faintly around heavy breaths that are doing more to turn Bob on than the fantasy is.

"I'd um..." Bob suddenly remembers why he doesn't do phone sex, the embarrassment factor is too high. But he and Mikey are both wound up too much to stop now, so he tightens his grip and soldiers on. "I'd soothe the burn with my mouth while I fingered you open. Then I'd hold you down and fuck you."

"Hard and fast?" Mikey gasps and Bob smiles into the darkness of his room.

"No, slow. So slow you'll be begging me to let you come and I'll just slide in a little deeper--"

"Fuck, Bob, I can't--"

"Yeah, you can. You fucking can, Mikey, don't you come until I tell you to."

There's a hitch in Mikey's breathing but he says, "'kay."

"I'd bend you across the kitchen table, yeah? And if you squirm I'd smack your ass again, right where it's all red and hot. If you try to buck, I'd put my hand between your shoulder blades and hold you down. I'd dig my fingers into your hips and just hold you down while I fuck you, slow and easy, and when I finally had my fill of you...I'd say it."

"Please fucking say it."

"Come, Mikey."

Mikey's long low moan pushes Bob over the edge and it only takes a couple quick strokes and he's coming all over his hand.

Mikey is so quiet Bob almost misses the quiet little "Thanks" he sighs before clearing his throat and saying, "I don't think I'll have any more trouble sleeping now."

"Me either," Bob says with a little laugh, and then, "Good night, Mikey."

"Good night, Bob. See you tomorrow."

Bob hangs up and wonders how this became his life. He wipes his hand off on his boxers and strips them off. As he pulls on a pair of pajama pants he realizes he wouldn't change a thing.

***

A few days after Frank's weird pronouncement, Bob is standing in the aisle three rows from the front watching the cast rehearsing their songs. The whole cast wrap up Boycott Love, and Brendon and William move into place to do Little Did He Know. He's making occasional notes on his clipboard and trying to keep his toes from tapping, when he hears footsteps behind him. He turns to see Frank dragging some bewildered-looking guy in a dark suit down the aisle.

They stop next to Bob and Frank gestures at the stage and whispers loudly, "So what do you think?"

The bewildered guy in the suit stares at all the people on stage and says, "What? There's, like, half a dozen guys up there and they're all hot. You're gonna have to narrow it down a bit."

Brendon sings the opening lines and the guy immediately stops trying to pull out of the death grip Frank's got on his elbow and his mouth falls open a little. He barely glances in William's direction when he comes in on the harmonies, just keeps his eyes glued to Brendon.

When the song is over, Brendon grins and throws his arms around William for a quick hug and in the ensuing silence, the guy in the suit says faintly, "I'll never doubt you again, Frank."

"I know, right? I'm a motherfucking genius." Franks beams at Bob and tugs on suit guy's elbow. "Bob, this is Spencer. He's Ryan's best friend and now he's going to be Brendon's boyfriend."

"Hey, I never agreed to that," Spencer says, but he looks back at Brendon who is leaving the stage so that Gerard can sing Me & You at William.

"Bob says Brendon needs a boyfriend and we think you'd be perfect."

"Fuck off," Bob snaps, no longer quite as amused at Frank's antics. "You said that. I'm not involved in your stupid matchmaking."

Spencer ignores them both and smiles as Brendon comes bounding toward them. "Okay, Frank, I'm here. What's my surprise?"

Frank giggles and Bob shakes his head and walks away.

***

Bob and Mikey are alone in the work room going through a box of supplies, Mikey unpacking while Bob checks each item off his list. When Mikey takes something out but doesn't tell him what it is so he can check it off, Bob looks up to see Mikey holding a box of latex gloves. Confused as to why anyone would need them, he consults the list. "That's weird. Nobody ordered gloves."

Mikey still says nothing, but his hand has tightened on the box until his fingertips are white. His eyes go dark and he takes a deep breath and Bob is a little impressed at how fast he figures out why. He lays his clipboard aside and slips around behind Mikey, puts an arm around him, and whispers in his ear, "Latex? Really? You are one kinky motherfucker, Mikey Way."

"Yeah, I kind of am." Mikey shudders and leans back, letting most of his weight rest against Bob's chest. "Is that a problem?"

"No, that should be obvious by now." Bob glances around to make sure nobody is around and then presses his lips against Mikey's ear. "What do you want? You want me to glove up and touch you? Maybe run my hands all over your body, push my fingers inside you? Go so deep you feel it for a week. You want me to move you around, bend you and fold you into whatever position I want you in? Is that what you want, Mikey?"

When Mikey's breath hitches but he doesn't say anything, Bob circles one hand around Mikey's throat. He doesn't squeeze, just rests it there, feeling every breath against his palm, feeling Mikey's pulse against his fingertips.

It only takes Bob a moment to realize he's made a tactical error. He only meant to tease Mikey a little, but he recognizes Mikey's response as the beginnings of what Mikey calls 'going under'.

And they were at work. Fuck.

"Hold on a minute, Mikey, we can't--"

"Bob." Mikey turns his head slowly and rubs the side of his face against Bob's cheek like a cat, and Bob rethinks what he was going to say.

Mikey getting turned on is making Bob hard and he really wants to be unprofessional for once. And it's not like anyone around here would even notice since they're all trying to get in each other's pants on any given day. "Okay, we can, but not here. Anyone could walk in."

"Bob," Mikey says again, quietly. "I need..."

"I know, baby, I know." Bob is barely even aware of what he's saying, as he spots the door at the far end of the room. "Just hold on."

He walks Mikey over to the closet, keeping one arm around him, his hand firmly planted in the middle of Mikey's chest. He pulls open the door and has to shove a couple boxes out into the room to free up some more space. Once inside the closet, he props Mikey against a box that's almost as tall as he is and pries the box of gloves out of his hand. "Take off your shirt," he tells Mikey while he rips the box open and pulls a couple gloves out.

As he snaps them on, Mikey digs around in his pants pocket and then holds his fist out to Bob. Bob holds his hand out and almost laughs when Mikey drops a condom and trial size bottle of lube into his open palm. "Mikey, you are a man of constant surprises."

Mikey makes that weird little face that means he'd smile if he wasn't so far gone, and Bob is amazed all over again that he can read Mikey so well after only a couple weeks of sleeping together. He leans in and kisses Mikey, a little faster and harder than he intended and Mikey kisses back almost frantically.

Without even pulling away from Mikey's mouth, Bob lays the condom and lube on top of pile of suitcases and runs his gloved hands across Mikey's chest and shoulders, skims them lightly down his arms in what should be a soothing motion but makes Mikey's hips squirm. Bob pushes Mikey's hips against the box at his back until he stills, whispers, "Good boy."

Unfastening Mikey's jeans, Bob doesn't push them down yet. He just slides his hands over Mikey's belly--the latex catching on the little hairs trailing up to his belly button makes Mikey gasp-- and back up to his chest. Circling his hand around Mikey's throat again, Bob strokes lightly, up and down, staring into Mikey's eyes until Mikey nods against his hand and says, "Please."

Bob watches him carefully for another moment until Mikey pushes his throat against Bob's hand. He squeezes lightly and curses the gloves that are separating him from Mikey's warm skin, but Mikey's eyes slip close and a tiny helpless moan escapes his throat.

Bob tightens the hand that's hooked around Mikey's side and murmurs, "You're doing good, so hot, just hold on," and then slides his fingers into Mikey's jeans, pushing them down on one side and then the other until they're loose enough to fall to Mikey's ankles. He has to use both hands to push down Mikey's underwear and Mikey makes a bereft little sound when Bob turns his neck loose. Once he's got Mikey bare, he shoves two fingers into Mikey's mouth, pressing the others into Mikey's cheeks, and says, "Get 'em wet."

Mikey closes his mouth around Bob's fingers and licks them until they're dripping when Bob pulls them out. He turns Mikey around and bends him over what looks like a tuba case and presses his wet fingers deep inside him, steady and slow until he can't go any further and then he works them until Mikey's hips jerk back and he whimpers, "Bob, please."

"Did I say you could beg? Be quiet. I know what you need," Bob murmurs and sinks his teeth into Mikey's shoulder. He sucks hard enough to leave a bruise and pulls his fingers out, tilting his head to watch Mikey's face while he reaches for the condom and lube. Before he takes his hands away from Mikey's body, he says, "Put your hands behind your head and don't fucking move."

Mikey shudders and complies. Bob presses a light kiss to Mikey's laced fingers and gets his pants open in record time. He puts on the condom and slicks it with half the lube in the bottle and squeezes the rest into the hand he reaches around and slides over Mikey's cock. He can tell Mikey wasn't expecting that, so he strokes him a few times with the exact rhythm that Mikey loves best and says, "You come whenever you want to this time."

Mikey bites off a desperate gasp and then jerks his head in a nod, and Bob pushes in relentlessly, once he's sure Mikey's adjusted to him, he pounds into him hard and fast, stoking Mikey's cock in counterpoint to each thrust until he's as desperate to come as Mikey must be. He shoves in one last time and just before he comes, groans, "Mikey, Mikey, fuck."

Bob comes hard and a moment later Mikey nearly shakes apart underneath him.

As he catches his breath, Bob strips the gloves off and drops them on the floor with the condom. He can't stand the feel of latex a second longer, he needs to touch Mikey and really feel him. He runs his bare hands up the smooth soft skin of Mikey's back and takes Mikey's hands away from his head, lowers them gently, twining their fingers together as he presses kisses to the back of Mikey's neck and makes wordless soothing sounds against his damp skin.

Mikey presses his head back against Bob's face and lets out a long shaky breath.




With one last stroke of his hand down Mikey's back, Bob tells Mikey to clean up the mess they made and slips out of the storage closet. Brian is standing next to the table reading Bob's abandoned checklist. He glances up and says, "Oh there you are. I wanted to ask--"

"Yeah? Why don't we go to your office?" Bob interrupts, trying not to sound impatient but probably failing, as he subtly tries to herd Brian out of the room before he notices the noise coming from the closet or Mikey opens the door, which ever comes first.

"It'll just take a minute." Brian pulls away from the arm Bob has wrapped around his shoulders ushering him out of the workroom. "What the fuck is your--oh."

Brian had turned as he spoke so he's got a clear view of Mikey coming out of the closet. "Ohhh," he says again with less surprise and more amusement. "So that's how it is."

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Bob stares at Brian, all blank innocence.

Brian laughs in his face. "When has that ever worked on me? I have never bought your bullshit and I'm not going to start now."

"It was worth a shot," Bob mutters, feeling very put-upon as Mikey walks over to join them.

"Hey, Brian," Mikey says, as if he hasn't just been caught in what mostly looks like it could possibly be the aftermath of a compromising position. "What's up?"

"Umm," is all Brian gets out before he's laughing again.

"Shut up." Bob digs an elbow into Brian's side. "What are you? Twelve?"

"Aw, come on, he practically handed it to--hey, where'd he go?"

While Brian and Bob were distracted, Mikey apparently slipped away. Bob just smiles a little and says, "He's probably off doing his job. We should go follow his good example."

Brian narrows his eyes and says, "Yeah, sure, but don't think I'm going to forget this."

"Is my job in jeopardy?" Bob asks slowly.

"Pfft. No, don't be stupid. Just, you know, be smart about whatever you're doing." Brian claps him on the back and snickers as he adds, "And sleep safe in the knowledge that I will mock you about this for the rest of your life."

"Great." Bob sighs but he gets to laugh at Brian half an hour later when Brian comes and finds him again to ask the question he'd never got around to before.

***


"You wanna come over to my place?" Mikey asks one day while they're eating their lunch together in a little café not far from the theater. As soon as the words leave his mouth, he looks back down at his plate and picks at his sandwich, rearranging the cheese and the meat with great concentration before pulling the lettuce off altogether.

Bob is acutely aware of the fact that they've now been--well, he hesitates to call it dating since they rarely go anywhere--engaged in a sexual relationship for a month and this is the first time Mikey has ever mentioned going to his place. Bob had wondered if it was a trust issue, so hadn't pushed it. If so, Mikey must have decided that he trusts Bob enough to let him into his personal space. Bob swallows and takes a drink of water before he nods and says, "Sure. When?"

"We're both off tomorrow. We could rent some movies or something." Mikey blinks and looks away, says diffidently, "And you know, you can fuck me however you want to."

Bob ignores that last part because it makes him feel weird for some reason. Not the usual turned-on-in-an-inappropriate-place kind of weird that Mikey usually inspires, just...weird. Like he's being tested again.

"That new Christian Bale movie just came out the other day, and I still haven't seen the director's cut of Watchmen. I can pick them up on my way over."

"Bob, please. Like I don't already own the Ultimate Cut." Mikey's laughing at him so everything feels much more normal. "But yeah, bring whatever else you want to watch."

Carte blanche like that makes Bob grin and he says, "So I can bring my complete Mr. Bean collection?"

"Anything but that." Mikey takes a big bite of his sandwich and Bob relaxes. He will convince Mikey of the genius of Bean one day. He can afford to be patient.


***

Bob isn't sure what he expected from Mikey's apartment--maybe more leather, some chains and fetish gear casually lying around. In actuality, it's just a cluttered and cramped two bedroom that he shares with his brother. Most of the furniture is from IKEA and everything else seems to be either comics or horror movie related. It's all perfectly normal if a bit on the geeky side.

Mikey smiles while Bob looks around and confesses, sort of sheepishly, "I like putting things together. Assembling flat pack from IKEA is a relaxing day for me."

"When I was a kid, I loved to take things apart," Bob says almost absently, wondering what that means in the greater scheme of things. "I was always getting into trouble for that."

"Then it's no surprise you grew up to be so good with your hands," Mikey says, just as one of the bedroom doors open and Gerard steps out, killing any desire Bob had to return the compliment, possibly with a practical demonstration of how good they both are with their hands.

Gerard takes in how close Bob and Mikey are standing and how Bob had subconsciously wrapped a hand around Mikey's hip while they talked, and his face goes curiously blank for just a second. Then a brilliant smile spreads across his face, reminding Bob of just how good an actor Gerard is.

"Hi, Bob," Gerard says as he crosses to the kitchen and grabs a sketchpad off the table and shoves it into the messenger bag slung across his torso. He heads for the door and grabs Mikey in a one-armed hug as he passes. "Don't forget that Frank and I will be back around six for dinner. Six-ish."

Mikey laughs quietly and says, "Probably closer to seven, then?"

"You know me too well, Mikes," Gerard laughs and waves and then he's gone.

"So. Here." To hide how awkward he suddenly feels, Bob shoves the bag of DVDs at Mikey and sits gingerly down on the couch, which is a hideous shade of bright green and looks like it might not hold Bob's weight--or that of any other creature larger than a cat. It turns out to be surprisingly comfortable and sturdy, so he sinks back into the cushions. Mikey gives him a knowing look and then turns to pop a DVD in the player.

"I'm making some popcorn," Mikey announces as he tosses the remote to Bob. "Do you want a Coke? Or I think we might have some Red Bull."

"Coke is fine, thanks." Bob amuses himself flipping through all the special features until he hears the beep of the microwave and then he sets the movie to start and hits pause until Mikey comes in carrying a bowl and a couple cans of Coke.

He hands the bowl of popcorn to Bob who smiles and says, "Fancy. I usually just eat it straight out of the bag."

"We do too, but I thought I'd class it up a bit today." Mikey's doing that thing where he's barely smiling but he still looks desperately amused. It's all in his eyes and it makes Bob laugh a little and pull him down to sit snugged up against Bob's side.


About halfway through Watchmen, Mikey sets the empty popcorn bowl on the floor and curls up, laying his head on Bob's lap. "Is this okay?" he asks without looking away from the TV.

Bob strokes Mikey's hair away from his face and says, "Sure."

When he slides his hand down to Mikey's shoulder, Mikey reaches up and moves it back to his head with a murmured, "Don't stop. That feels good."

Bob cards his fingers through Mikey's hair and smiles at the quiet little noise he makes, but instead of trying to turn it into something...more, he focuses on the screen again and makes a comment about how the current scene differs from the book.


When Gerard comes home with Frank in tow, Mikey is sound asleep in Bob's lap and Bob looks up from the Discovery Channel documentary he's watching, points at Mikey with the hand not buried in his hair, and shushes them.

Gerard nods and motions Frank to follow him into his room. About thirty seconds later, he comes out without Frank and sits down in the chair next to the couch and stares at Bob for a long moment.

Bob stares back.

Gerard sighs a little, his entire body tense, as he says very quietly, "Look. I know you're a good guy. And I figured you'd be good for Mikey, but..."

When he trails off and Bob refuses to fill in the blanks for him, Gerard sighs again, waves a hand vaguely, and says, "Just be careful with him?"

Bob blinks and thinks about all the anxiety he had in the beginning about getting into this thing, and how it's mostly gone now. He still has to actively think about everything he does with Mikey so that he doesn't fuck up, but it doesn't scare him or really worry him all that much anymore. He smiles as he feels the subtle tension in Mikey's body that lets him know Mikey's waking up but trying not to show it. He looks down at Mikey as he tells Gerard, "I will."

Mikey's mouth twitches against Bob's thigh and Gerard grins and reaches out to poke the top of his head. "Open your eyes, Mikey. We know you're awake."

Bob rubs Mikey's shoulder as his quiet laughter is muffled by Bob's jeans, and then Mikey raises his head and says to Gerard, "At least you didn't try to threaten him."

Bob laughs as Gerard sputters, "That was one time. You were sixteen and it was your first real boyfriend. I'd have totally kicked that guy's ass if I had to."

At this point Frank joins the group in the living room and says, all interest and delight, "Really? I'd fucking pay to see that."

Which makes Bob and Mikey both laugh even more. Gerard says, "Fuck you all" but he's laughing when he says it.

***

The next time Bob sees the guy in the suit, he's just walked up behind Bob at the side of the stage during blocking of a scene between Gerard and Brendon. Bob glances back and says, "Excuse me, um, friend of Frank's...what's your name again?"

The guy in the suit drags his attention away from watching Brendon flirt with Gerard on stage and seems surprised to see Bob standing behind him in the wings. "Oh, sorry. Spencer. Spencer Smith. I just came to see Brendon?"

"Did you?" Bob smirks a little and watches Spencer shift uncomfortably under Bob's scrutiny. "He's busy right now."

"Frank said it was okay. And we're not really friends. He's my neighbor. Well, I guess we're kind of friends in that we say hi and occasionally chat in the hallway and he dragged me down here to meet this guy who would be perfect for me, and well...it's Brendon." Spencer says the name with stars-in-the-eyes reverence that makes Bob want to laugh and also pat him on the head.

"Frank can't give you that kind of permission, but yeah, Brendon is special all right," Bob says, swallowing his amusement and trying to sound serious. "You could definitely do worse. Just in this room right now, you could do much worse."

"Yeah, but I don't know." Spencer looks discouraged as he motions at the scene being rehearsed on stage. It's Act 2 and Brendon is going to kiss Gerard in about six more lines. "I'm not. You know." He motions again with a sad little flap of his hand. "Exciting like these other guys. I can't even sing really."

Bob sighs and can't fucking believe he's going to do this. "Yeah, don't worry about that kind of stuff. Brendon's a friendly kid who likes a wide variety of people. Hell, he fucking loves me no matter how hard I try to discourage it."

Spencer's face falls and Bob rushes to reassure him. "Not like that. I have a boyfriend. Who is definitely not Brendon." He feels like tool just saying that, but it's pretty much true and anyway this is about Spencer and Brendon right now. "Just give Brendon a chance to get to know you before you write him off. Maybe he'll find you plenty exciting."

Spencer's whole face lights up when he smiles and Bob thinks that Brendon is a probably a goner. If he's not already, he will be when gets that smile aimed his way. Bob, of course, is unmoved. He's pretty sure Mikey could kill them both and no one would ever find the bodies, so he just pats Spencer on the back encouragingly and says, "Now get lost. Brendon can't come out and play right now. He's working."

About ten seconds after Spencer walks away, Bob curses Frank viciously because for all his good intentions of staying out of it, he just got involved in Frank's matchmaking after all.


When Bob finally gets ready to leave for the night, Mikey is waiting by the stage door for him with a completely blank look on his face. When Bob approaches, one of Mikey's eyebrows twitches and his mouth turns up the tiniest bit at the corners. It's an expression that puts Bob on edge for some reason and he says, "What?"

"So I hear you have a boyfriend," Mikey says, mischief lying just under the surface of every word.

"Really? Sounds pretty crazy, if you ask me." Bob crowds Mikey up against the wall because there's nobody left but the two of them and Brian who is a crazy motherfucker who seldom goes home and is currently shut up in his office. Bob tilts Mikey's head back with one hand and runs the other down his arm as he presses his open mouth to Mikey's neck. He drags his tongue up to Mikey's ear and says, "Are you sure you heard right?"

"Yeah," Mikey says, his voice still amused but just a little tighter around the edges. "Yeah, I definitely heard you say you have a boyfriend. Anyone I know?"

"Maybe. If he has no objections."

"I don't think he does."

Bob watches Mikey carefully as he says, "Well then, he needs to come home with me tonight."

"We haven't played in a while," Mikey says, offhandedly, not like it matters or anything. Bob reads between the lines anyway and nods.

"Whatever you need, Mikey." Bob slides his hands down Mikey's sides and clasps his hips gently. He nuzzles Mikey's neck and murmurs, "There's something I need too."

When he pulls back and reaches for the door handle, Mikey is watching him with bright interested eyes. "You don't ask for much. What is it?"

Bob feels oddly shy all of a sudden, and he just shrugs. "It can wait."

"It's not going to be a very fun evening if I die of curiosity. Unless you're into necrophilia," Mikey complains, making Bob laugh as they walk out into the night.


Half an hour later, Bob has Mikey stripped and tied to a kitchen chair next to the coffee table in front of the couch. He tests his knots and says, "How's that?"

Mikey struggles against his bonds and when he doesn't get loose, he nods and says, "That's good."

Bob brushes Mikey's hair out of his face and drops a kiss on the top of his head, then moves into the kitchen. "What sounds good for dinner? I was thinking of heating up some soup." He pokes around in the refrigerator for a moment, then pulls back so he can see Mikey. "Or I've got some of that pasta left over from the other night. It's probably still good."

Mikey thinks about it for a moment, and then says, "Whatever you want."

But Bob remembers how much Mikey enjoyed the pasta so he pulls that out, sniffs it experimentally, dumps it into a bowl and heats it up in the microwave. He fills a glass with ice water and puts a straw in it and when the microwave beeps, he sticks a fork in the bowl and takes it all into the living area.

After putting the bowl and glass down on the coffee table, Bob strokes Mikey's hair and face, pats his chest, rubs his arms and shoulders. "You okay?"

Mikey's eyes had slipped closed when Bob was touching him, so he opens them now and smiles. "Yeah."

"You'll tell me if you're not," Bob says and it's not a question, but Mikey nods his agreement anyway. Satisfied, Bob drops onto the end of the couch and picks up the bowl, stirring the pasta before taking a tiny bite. It's not too hot, so he takes another bite and then feeds Mikey one. He alternates feeding himself and Mikey, occasionally taking and giving sips of water between bites.

He wipes off Mikey's mouth with his fingers and grins when Mikey tries to catch them with his teeth. He holds up the glass and says, "Want any more?"

When Mikey shakes his head, Bob drains what little water's left and then sinks to his knees in front of Mikey. Mikey's eyes go wide and his cock twitches. He says "Bob, yes" kind of reverently when Bob leans forward, curls a hand around Mikey's cock and licks. Mikey shivers, probably from the coolness of the water still on his tongue and Bob grins because what's coming next will be even better. He licks across the head of Mikey's cock, swirls and flicks and teases until Mikey is fully hard.

He keeps his eyes locked on Mikey as he reaches over and takes a piece of ice between his fingers. Mikey's eyes widen when the ice clinks against the edge of the glass and Bob smiles. "Oh yeah. Brace yourself."

He pops the small piece of ice in his mouth and then lowers his mouth over Mikey's cock, trapping the ice between his tongue and Mikey's hot skin, sliding it from the tip as far down the shaft as he can go without choking. Mikey shudders so hard against his bonds that the chair shakes and he gasps, "Fuck."

Bob goes from that warm just getting interested stage of turned on to being hard and nearly aching with it. He pushes his free hand against the front of his pants and pumps his other up and down Mikey's cock as he draws back to get another piece of ice from the glass. This time he drags the ice down Mikey's cock and across his balls, circling and drawing little designs against the skin as Mikey shivers and makes a little squeaking sound that's kind of hilarious and adorable and hot all at the same time.

Mikey's legs are spread as wide as they can be given the width of the chair, and it's just enough space for Bob to get his hand in there. He rubs a fresh piece of ice behind Mikey's balls and as he lowers his mouth over Mikey's cock again, he shoves the ice farther back. Mikey bucks into his mouth and it's almost painful, but it's so fucking hot that Bob shoves the ice in deeper just to see what Mikey does.

Mikey makes a keening sound and bucks again and gasps and comes, nearly all at once. It's kind of overwhelming for Bob and he swallows as best he can and then falls back.

He sits back on his heels and looks up at Mikey, and when Mikey finally opens his eyes and stares back a little blearily, Bob says, "Mikey...will you..."

Mikey blinks and licks his lips and Bob feels momentarily off-balance as his stomach twists and swoops. He knows what he wants but doesn't know if Mikey will give it to him. They've never done it that way, and he doesn't know if Mikey even will.

Mikey looks down at him and smiles, his gaze soft and still a bit unfocused. "Anything for you, Bob."

"Fuck me?" Bob had intended to make it an order, one of those dominance things that Mikey loves so much, but it comes out all shaky and questioning.

"Fuck...yeah, I...whatever you want, yeah," Mikey says after a long pause, his voice rough and almost broken. "I can't...I mean."

"Yeah, no, after recovery, not right this second." Bob laughs a little, relieved and feeling settled in way he hasn't for a long time. He gets to his feet and straddles Mikey's lap, kissing him deeply while he reaches back to untie him. When Bob pulls back, Mikey tries to chase his mouth so Bob has to kiss him again, even though it's making it impossible to concentrate on the knots he's fumbling with. He finally gives up and just focuses on the kissing until Mikey makes an uncomfortable little sound against his mouth.

"Sorry, sorry," Bob says and climbs off Mikey so that he can get to work freeing him. Once Mikey is completely released, Bob rubs his wrists and places tender kisses on them and then does the same to his ankles before pulling him over to the couch and wrapping a soft fuzzy blanket around him. He cuddles Mikey on his lap and says "No, don't worry about it" when Mikey worms a hand in between them and tries to get Bob's pants open. If Mikey touches him right now, he'll come and he wants to wait. It's stupid and self-defeating because he can get it up again later when Mikey's ready again.

But he wants to wait.

Mikey raises his eyebrows and then shrugs a little and sinks down into Bob's arms, resting his head against Bob's shoulder. "I want ice cream."

"I don't have any," Bob says, digging the TV remote out from between the arm of the couch and the throw pillow.

"Liar. You just don't want to have to get up and get it." Mikey rubs his cheek against Bob's shirt and bites lightly at Bob's chest through the fabric.

"Busted," Bob admits cheerfully, as he turns on the TV and flips through the channels. He settles on a gaming show on G4 and raises his eyebrows at Mikey. "There's nothing stopping you from going and getting it yourself."

"But I'm comfy," Mikey says, and anyone else would have sounded whiny but he just sounds matter-of-fact.

"Yeah, and if I get up and get it, you'll have to move anyway. So, you have to decide which is more important, having ice cream or being comfortable." Bob scritches his fingers through Mikey's hair, petting him until Mikey relaxes even further and makes a little purring sound in the back of his throat. "I'm guessing you're going with comfortable, then?"

"Damn you, Bob Bryar, and your magical hands," Mikey says with a laugh that cuts off abruptly when Bob snakes one of those so-called magical hands under the blanket and slides it up Mikey's thigh.

"I promise to get you ice cream," Bob says, sliding his hand just a little further until his fingertips bump up against his cock. "Afterwards. You have to earn it first."

"Now?" Mikey asks, eagerly shoving off the blanket and twisting in Bob's arms until he's straddling Bob's lap. "I'm ready if you are."

"I've been ready," Bob says dryly and adds, "Hold on tight."

Mikey wraps both arms around Bob's shoulders and tightens his legs around Bob's hips as Bob scoots to the edge of the couch and then he yelps when Bob settles one hand in the small of Mikey's back and pushes off the arm of the couch with the other hand and stands up, Mikey still wrapped around him. "Holy fuck, Bob!"

Bob smirks smugly as he carries Mikey into the bedroom and dumps him on the bed. Mikey watches him undress and Bob remembers a time when that would have made him deeply uncomfortable and self-conscious but now he just stares at Mikey and says, "I know how I want to do it."

"Yeah? Tell me," Mikey demands and Bob smiles because...Mikey. He just makes Bob smile all the time.

"Scoot up to the head of the bed and make yourself comfortable," Bob says and goes to put his clothes away. When he comes back, Mikey is propped up against the pillows, dead center, his cock already erect and glistening at the tip. Bob squints at him. "Did you touch yourself without permission?"

"No," Mikey says, a little smirk tilting the corner of his mouth. "I got this way just from thinking about fucking you."

"So. You...really want this? You're not just indulging me or..." At the incredulous look Mikey shoots him, Bob shuts up and gets the supplies out of the drawer.

"Bob, seriously, I really do," Mikey says and when Bob rips the packet open and rolls the condom down onto Mikey's cock, he adds, "I can't believe this is the one thing that you question."

"No, I've questioned all of it, just--" Bob waggles his fingers near his temple. "--inside my own head."

Mikey looks skeptical but then Bob straddles his lap and the time for talking is pretty much over. He watches avidly as Bob flips open the lube and when Bob starts to slick his own fingers, Mikey grabs for it and says, "Can I?"

"Yeah," Bob breathes and gives it all up to Mikey, grabbing the headboard on either side of Mikey's shoulders and spreading his knees apart so Mikey can push his fingers in, so...fucking...slowly that Bob feels like he's going to lose his mind before they even get to the best part. He hasn't done it in a long time so he's pretty tight, but Mikey's fingers are skinny and dexterous and he works them into Bob relentlessly. Stretching and slicking until Bob is nearly begging. "Mikey, Mikey, fuck, please just..."

Mikey smiles and pulls his fingers out and aligns his cock with Bob's hole, easing just the tip in. Bob reaches down and pulls Mikey's hands away, stretches Mikey's arms out until he's grasping the corner posts of the headboard. He says again, "Hold on."

Mikey's eyes go wide and his fingers tighten on the posts and Bob lowers himself down onto Mikey's cock. He allows himself just a moment to adjust to the difference between Mikey's fingers and his erection, and then he raises himself slowly and slams down again. It almost hurts, but it feels so fucking good--Mikey fills him up perfectly and, when he adjusts the angle of his body just that little bit, the head of Mikey's cock rubs over his prostate on every thrust. He sets up a hard and fast rhythm and wants to touch his cock so bad he can taste it but he just leans forward and kisses Mikey, quick and messy before sliding back and slamming home.

Bob watches Mikey's face, marvels at the serene wonder in his eyes and the tiny smile gracing his lips and thinks this is the guy. This is the guy that Bob has been looking for--waiting for--for years and he didn't even know it. He didn't even realize there was this weird hole in his life that turned out to be Mikey-shaped.

He gasps out, "Touch me, Mikey, please," and Mikey barely gets a couple strokes in until Bob is coming all over his chest with an incoherent tangle of obscenities and endearments.

"Bob, just another--" Mikey raises his hips like he's trying to crawl inside Bob and groans as he comes, "Fuck. Yeah."

After a long breathless moment, Bob carefully pulls off of Mikey, holding the condom until he's free and then pulling it off and knotting it. He drops it into the trashcan by the bed and then sinks down to Mikey's side. "nnrrgh," he groans into Mikey's shoulder and that's about all he can manage at the moment.

Mikey tentatively lets go of the post he still had a death grip on and runs his fingers through Bob's sweaty hair. Bob thinks they both need a shower really badly, but that would require energy he just doesn't have.

"Don't fall asleep. You still owe me ice cream," Mikey says and pokes Bob in the side.

"You are a very pushy boy," Bob mutters against Mikey's shoulder, letting his tongue sneak out to taste the salt of Mikey's skin.

"That's what you like about me. You'd have never made a move if I hadn't pushed you into it." Mikey sounds amused but there's a very faint hint of a question, and Bob is shaking his head before he even knows what he's going to say.

"It's not the only thing. I like pretty much everything about you," Bob admits, and he can feel his cheeks getting warm. He refuses to look at Mikey, just presses his face harder against Mikey's shoulder.

"I...like pretty much everything about you too," Mikey says, slowly, his voice a little shaky until he adds, "except for the fact that I still have no ice cream."

Bob shakes his head and flops over onto his back. "All right already. Don't say I never did anything for you."

As Bob climbs to his feet and reaches for the pajama pants he left folded on top of the dresser, Mikey says, "That's one thing I'd never say."

When he glances back, Mikey is eyeing him with a lascivious gleam and an absolutely filthy smile. Bob groans and jerks his pants on and then opens a drawer and pulls out another pair he throws at Mikey. "Put those on and come to the kitchen with me. You are not eating ice cream in my bed."

"What? Like it's gonna get any stickier?" Mikey laughs but obediently pulls the pants on and follows Bob to the kitchen.

***

Bob is really fucking relaxed for the first time in a while. He's sitting in the front row of the theater, sipping a cup of coffee and staring up at the stage. Opening night is fast approaching and the last two weeks have been insanely hectic. He's got about ten more minutes to himself before everyone else starts arriving and another evening of rehearsals begins.

He thinks this could be one of their best shows ever. Patrick and Ryan have really come into their own as writers and are already hard at work on their next musical. All the cast have already improved by leaps and bounds since they first started work. This crew is one of the best he's ever worked with and with a few exceptional moments that he won't allow himself to think about right now, his relationship with Mikey is not interfering with...pretty much anything.

Bob wishes they had more time to spend together, but that's par for the course when it gets this close to opening. He takes a sip of his coffee and sighs. His alone time is almost up and he's suddenly kind of missing Mikey even though he's going to see him in just a few minutes. He wishes he had him around more often. Like...in his apartment. All the time. Because Mikey lives there.

Oh. Hmmm. Maybe he should think about this a little more. No need to rush into anything after just a few months, but it's a tantalizing thought nonetheless. The distant sounds of doors opening and people moving around drag him out of his fantasy and back to reality.

He glances up to see Mikey standing on the side of the stage by the edge of the open curtain. Mikey's watching him with that curious little smile that makes Bob smile back every time, no matter how he feels or what else is going on.

Mikey points at him and says "Stay there" and disappears behind the curtain. A couple minutes later, he sits down in the seat next to Bob and says, "You're not worried, are you?"

"Not at the moment. Give it time," Bob says with a shrug. "Gabe missed his cue twice last night."

"William keeps distracting him--not on purpose, I don't think, but still."

"Yeah, William brings his own issues. If he keeps losing weight, he's going to disappear and we're gonna have to get Jon to take over his part."

"Nobody wants that. The outfit would look ridiculous." Mikey pauses and Bob tries to picture Jon in the long skinny jeans and flowing shirt that William wears for most of the play. He'd look like a little kid playing dress up. As if he just pictured it too, Mikey makes an amused snort and Bob laughs.

"No, not even Frank could make that work."

"Don't worry," Mikey says, patting Bob on the knee. "I'll make sure he eats something tonight."

"That's not your job," Bob protests.

"I do whatever you want me to do," Mikey says with a little hitch of his shoulders.

"Better be careful what you offer," Bob says with an amused glance.

"It's a little late for that, don't you think?" Mikey says quickly, and that makes Bob laugh because well, yeah. It's way too late for a lot of things. He thinks again about asking Mikey to move in with him. It's too soon. Other than Gerard, they haven't even met each other's families--and hasn't that been a deal-breaker in some past relationships--or gone through a major holiday together. But still, the question hovers on the tip of his tongue before settling in the back of his throat and almost choking him.

Bob casts about for something to say other than what he's thinking, and finally settles on, "Did you and Butcher get the fireplace fixed?"

"Yeah," Mikey says. "It looks as close to real flame as we can get it without burning down the theater."

"Don't burn down the theater," Bob says and rubs a hand over his face. He's suddenly so tired he just wants to sleep for a week.

"I promise not to burn down the theater," Mikey says solemnly but the teasing glint in his eye gives away his amusement at Bob's expense.

"You don't want to see how hard Brian would cry if you did," Bob says gravely and then grins when Mikey cracks up laughing. He glances up at the stage when he realizes that people have drifted in and are getting ready to start rehearsing. Gerard is watching him and Mikey with a small smile that looks an awful lot like approval.

***

Dress rehearsal is a disaster. Barely half an hour in, Ray is stressed to a new and alarming degree and even Alex--steady and dependable Alex who is generally the kind of guy who grounds other people--is suddenly and somewhat inexplicably a nervous wreck. Gabe takes him aside for a pep talk while Bob makes Ray sit down and take some deep breaths. Gerard pets a visibly worried Brendon, and William just drifts around looking a bit lost until Mikey brings him over to sit next to Ray.

Having just about enough, Bob yells, "All right, everybody. Sit the fuck down and shut the hell up." Once he's got everyone's attention he says more quietly, "A bad dress rehearsal means a good opening night, so you guys need to just calm down. We'll get the kinks worked out." Then he turns to Ray and says, "All right, now it's your turn."

Ray stands up with renewed purpose and a zen-like calm and claps his hands. "Right. We're going to completely start over from the beginning. Places, everyone."

Bob moves off to the side and out of the way and Mikey slides up behind him and says, "That was kind of hot."

"Only kind of?" Bob asks. "I'll have to try harder next time."

"Dunno if I can handle that," Mikey breathes almost directly into Bob's ear.

"Pretty sure you can handle anything," Bob says, and tries to tell himself the warmth in his cheeks won't be visible to anyone else. Mikey touches his arm so briefly it could have been an accident--but Bob knows it wasn't--and then gets back to work.

***


On opening night, Mikey's doing a last minute check of the props that will be moving on and off stage over the course of the show when Bob walks over, brushing his hand down Mikey's back as Mikey smiles up at him and says, "Don't be nervous."

"I'm not," Bob says and when Mikey gives him a skeptical look, he adds, "Really. If anyone's looking for me, I'll be out back having a quick smoke."

"Because you're not nervous at all," Mikey says, and then he adds very softly, "They're gonna love you."

"Right." Bob nods and heads for the back door. He glances into the room where the cast members are warming up their voices and notices a few faces that are slightly tinged green and some shaking hands. He knows they'll be fine when they get on stage. The lights and music will settle the nerves and the dedicated performers that they are will take the places of the nervous wrecks who are currently trying not to throw up all over the dressing rooms.

Bob slips outside and has his cigarette lit before the door even closes behind him. He takes a deep drag and then cracks his neck. He paces a few yards down the alley and then back again. It's going to be fine. This is not his first show. He's done this several times and never once has anything catastrophic happened. Little fuck-ups are to be expected and he knows how to deal with them. It will be absolutely fine.

The fact that Gerard's--or more importantly Mikey's--parents will be in attendance and coming backstage afterward makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. He tosses his spent butt to the cracked pavement and lights another cigarette. It's not like they'll know what all Bob had been doing to their son, right? Mikey hasn't told them about that kind of thing, right? Has he even told them about Bob at all? Bob doesn't even know because Mikey didn't say anything except that his parents were coming to see Gerard's play and they're really excited about it. Of course he'd told Bob this while Bob was in the middle of fixing three problems at once, so Bob really hadn't had time to have a full conversation about it or, if he was honest with himself, pay that much attention to what Mikey was even saying once he realized that nothing was wrong.

It had really only hit him hours later when Frank gave him a thumbs up and a cheesy grin, and said, "Meeting the boyfriend's folks. How awesome is that?"

Bob had said, "What the hell are you talking about?" And then he'd remembered Mikey's offhand comment from earlier and had gone cold all over.

Still. Meeting Mikey's parents on opening night. What the hell. Like he needed more stress in his evening.

And with that thought, he checks his watch and sees that it's time for him to get his ass inside and make sure this is the best damn opening night ever. Or at least keep the theater from burning down.

***

The show goes off without a hitch and the audience loves it if the applause and cheers are anything to go by. "A full fucking house, fuck yeah!" Brian had announced gleefully just before the curtain went up, and Bob didn't have the heart to point out that more than half were family and friends of the cast and crew.

Backstage is all celebratory chaos and Bob is seriously thinking of sneaking out the back for a smoke when Brendon appears out of the crowd and throws his arms around Bob, squeezing him in a bear hug that nearly drives all the air from his lungs and saying, "Bob, that was amazing. And I couldn't have done it without you--none of us could have done it without you."

"Um, yeah, that's my job," Bob gasps out as he extricates himself from Brendon's hold. "You guys did great."

Spencer walks up and Brendon beams at him before turning back to Bob. "Thanks. Hey, are you and Mikey coming to the afterparty down at the Stagedoor?"

"Yeah," Bob says automatically and then remembers, with a fresh wave of not-quite-panic, that Mikey's parents are here. "Well, I don't know."

"You totally should," Brendon says with big eyes before grabbing Spencer's hand and dragging him off into the crowd yelling, "William, come meet my Spencer!"

Bob shakes his head and turns when he hears his own name being called. Mikey is carefully leading an older couple toward Bob. The lady has big blonde hair and the handsome silver-haired man is so obviously Mikey's dad that Bob could have picked him out of any crowd. Mikey smiles in a way that Bob has never seen before. He looks younger and almost shy when he says, "Mom and Dad, this is Bob."

Bob shakes hands with Mikey's dad and says, "Nice to meet you, Mr. Way."

When he turns to Mikey's mom with his hand out, she says, "Huh uh," and engulfs him in a White Shoulders-scented hug that makes him miss his own mother rather acutely for just a moment. "Call me Donna, please. Mikey's told us so much about you, Bob."

"Just the good stuff, I hope," Bob says with a smile.

Donna laughs and Mr. Way smiles and says, "Where's Gerard? I need to tell him a few things."

Mikey points his dad in Gerard's direction, leaving Bob alone with Donna who gives him the kind of look that he gets from Mikey sometimes, like she's trying to read the inside of his skull. Bob clears his throat and says, "Did you enjoy the show?"

"It was wonderful. We're so proud of Gerard and Mikey." She smiles slightly, still giving Bob that look that's starting to make him a little twitchy. "I'm so glad we could come on opening night. The energy is just...different. More vibrant."

"It is," Bob agrees, somewhat surprised that she noticed.

"And I'm glad," Donna continues as if Bob hasn't even spoken, "that we could meet you. I worry about both my boys, but Mikey is my baby."

Bob has no idea what to say to that but Donna doesn't seem to need a response as she says, "I'm telling Mikey to bring you around to the house soon, so we can get to know you better." She waves a hand at the laughing, talking people all around them and says, "I know this is not the best time."

As if to prove it, Gerard comes up and throws his arms around his mother and then drags her off chattering about Frank and the show and where they should go for a late supper and who knows what all as they get swallowed up by the crowd.

"Gerard and I left Dad with Frank. That is kind of awesome," Mikey says, and Bob hadn't even realized he was back.

"Yeah." Bob pictures it in his head and thinks it probably is, then he remembers part of Gerard's chatter. "Are you going out to dinner with Gerard and your folks now?"

Mikey watches Bob closely as he says, "No, I thought I'd go to the afterparty with you."

"Yeah, we can do that." Bob nods and feels like he passed not just a test but the final exam.


The end.

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