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Frank woke up when Bob all but vaulted out of the bed at nearly two in the morning. Frank called, "Um, Bob?"

But by that time, Bob was too busy vomiting to respond. Frank winced. This tour was fucking cursed.

Frank got out of bed, and moved into the bathroom. He had long gotten to the point where neither the smell nor the sound of vomiting was enough to make him sick. Living on a van with four other guys was a good cure for that.

He ran the cold water in the sink and wetted down a face towel. He soothed it over Bob's back. "Hey."

Bob was too busy being violently ill to respond in any way.

Frank sighed, and settled in.


An hour later, when Bob was still puking, he left long enough to grab his Sidekick, call Gerard and say, "Bob's sick."

Gerard made a sound that did not, in any way, resemble a word.

Frank said, "Wake up," and waited for Gerard to actually do so.

"Bob?" Gerard asked after a minute or so.

"He hasn't stopped puking for an hour."

"Fuck. Flu?"

"Either that, or food poisoning. You probably need to check around, see how the others are doing. Because we all ate at that place. Even Muse."

Gerard sighed. "On it."

Frank took the Sidekick back with him, and sat down behind Bob again. He kissed the ridge of Bob's shoulder blade. "Back."

Bob said, "Shoot me?"

"We haven't gotten there quite yet, Old Yeller."

Bob leaned back over the toilet. "You suck."


At around five, Frank called the front desk and got them to bring a couple of buckets to the room. He was just glad he'd thought of it before the others, because Gerard had reported Ray and the overwhelming majority of Muse to be in similar situations, and he was pretty sure there was going to be a run on buckets.

He nudged Bob up, wrapping Bob's arm over his shoulder and pretty much carrying him back to the bed. Bob curled up on his side, his head very, very close to the edge, where Frank had placed the bucket.

Frank curled himself around Bob's back, trying to calm the chilled shudders that had begun. He said, "You know, if you'd just give up chicken, we wouldn't have this problem."

Bob's voice sounded stripped raw when he said, "And if you'd stop kissing other people, you wouldn't have had your mono problem, but I didn't get on your case, did I?"

"I don't kiss other people," Frank said, thoroughly indignant.

Bob leaned over the edge of the bed and wretched. When he was done he asked, "Could we have this conversation sometime when I'm not barfing?"

Frank laughed a little, although not at the situation. He pressed his lips to the back of Bob's neck and said, "I don't kiss other people."

Bob said, "Mhm," but didn't sound too worried.


Gerard came in during one of the brief periods of respite, when Frank was rubbing gently at Bob's lower back, caressing at sore stomach muscles. Gerard said, "I don't think this show's gonna happen."

Bob asked, "How long have we got?" He sounded as though he had a mild case of death.

"Seven hours," Gerard said. "Give or take."

"Wait a few more," Bob said.

Frank kept his fingers loose, careful of muscles that were pretty abused at this point. "Bob."

"Wait," Bob told them.

Gerard sighed. "Ray's saying the same thing."

Frank shrugged. He'd done pretty stupid things in the name of this band in his time. Not as stupid as Bob, granted, but that was kind of what Frank loved about Bob--or, at least, on the list. "Then I'd say we wait."


At five hours to the show, Bob was still making friends with the bucket, and Frank said, "Call the show."

Bob didn't even try protesting. He couldn't vomit and speak at the same time.


At three hours to what would have been the show they had gone a full hour without a single dry-heave, so Frank went and got some water.

Bob looked at it doubtfully. "I don't know."

"Water or hospital," Frank said. Then, graciously, "You choose."

Bob glared at him, but took the water. His hand was shaking enough that he got a fair amount on his face and chest, but Frank didn't offer his assistance. Bob was clearly feeling helpless enough as it was.

Fifteen minutes, when Bob started puking the water up, Frank said, "Hospital it is."


They put a fluids IV on him and gave him some anti-nausea meds through the drip. Frank curled up in a chair beside his bed and threaded his fingers in Bob's. Someone could get a fucking picture. It wasn't any worse than some of the stuff people had taken of him and Gerard.

It was just less true between the two of them. At least in this way.

Bob said, "I'm gonna pass out on you now."

"'Bout time," Frank told him.

"You could leave and get some sleep. At the hotel. On the bed. I'm sure they'll change the sheets if you ask."

"Shut up."


"No, seriously, it turns me off when you're stupid."

"But not when I'm puking."

"Some people like that sort of thing."

Bob looked at him for a minute. Before his eyes slid shut he said, very calmly, "We are never sleeping together again. Ever."


Bob stayed true to his word for roughly twenty-four hours after getting discharged. Frank slept in his bunk with him, enjoying the way his skin had returned to its normal warmth rather than the frightening chill of Chickenzilla Night--so christened by Gerard. He brought him bottles of blue Gatorade, which was his favorite and even sat by him when he smoked, despite the fact that it made Frank really, really want a damn cigarette.

Bob woke up from the on and off comatose state he'd been indulging in ever since they'd got on the bus when they were nearing Columbus.

He crushed Frank slightly getting out of the bunk. Frank said, "Back to being a bully, I see," and followed him into the bathroom, where Bob brushed his teeth again despite having done so roughly eight times since he'd been released.

Frank took the opportunity to brush his as well. It had been a while for him, and Bob was once again looking like someone he could probably get lucky with.

Bob turned to leave, but Frank just pressed him into the wall with one hand. It wasn't that Frank wasn't pretty strong--he played the guitar for a living, he had a compactness that was often deceptive--but Bob was stronger. It was just that he never really fought Frank, not in these instances.

Bob's back hit the wall. He grinned at Frank. "Crest turn you on, Iero?"

"Let's test the theory," Frank said and leaned it to kiss Bob, hard and hot and with an urgency that probably betrayed the way he'd been just a little worried. Bob was sturdy, but Bob had come a little too close to dying on occasion for Frank to be entirely blasť about the other man's health.

Bob's hands came to Frank's neck, his thumb caressing at the scorpion. Bob had good hands--great hands--hands that could hold and warm and massage in all the right places, all the right ways.

Frank crushed his hips up against Bob's, got the both of them just a little bit ready, just a little bit. He let his hand drift from Bob's chest to his stomach, from his stomach to the waistband of his sweatpants. Below.

Bob said, "Always intent on proving me wrong."

Frank offered, "Don't have to fuck me. Not if you don't want."

Bob dropped his hands to Frank's shoulders and twisted him so that he was facing the mirror. Frank put his arms out, pressing his hands to either wall in the cramped space, ink rippling over muscles, flesh.

Bob licked from the right shoulder up to the elbow, his eyes on Frank's reflection. Frank kept his eyes forward, forward, not rolling back.

Bob pushed Frank's pants down, reaching into the medicine cabinet for the lube and condoms. Frank said, "Not slow, kay?"

There were times when Frank really liked immediacy.

Bob smiled into the mirror.

Frank rocked back as he pushed in, and there was nothing, nothing slow about it. Bob's hand came over Frank's stomach, pulling him further onto Bob, further into him. Frank let his head drop back onto Bob's shoulder. Bob brought his other hand to Frank's neck, wrapped it over the elongated stretch of skin.

Bob thrust, hard. "I suppose it's not such a chore. Fucking you."

Frank grunted and brought his head back up, looked at Bob in the mirror through hooded eyes, throat convulsing with each breath under Bob's palm.

Bob smiled, slow and drawn out. "No, not so bad."

Frank tightened his muscles, all of them.

Bob moaned. Frank grinned.

"Uh huh," Bob said, and let his hand fall from Frank's stomach to his cock.

Frank lost the drive to be smug at that point, and really at all points forward until he was finished, leaning back into Bob, Bob who was strong enough to hold them both, even in the moments after his own climax.

Frank looked forward, caught Bob's mirror-eyes. He said, "I really don't kiss other guys."

Bob laughed. "I'm not giving up meat."

"You're just too much of a pansy for vegetarianism."

"And yet, my balls are big enough to keep you satisfied."

Frank grinned. They really were.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile