"At the museum. Where are you?"
"Um," Gerard said.
"Wait. You left us? Gerard, we're in fucking Baraboo, Wisconsin, how the hell do you expect--"
"When you say us, you wouldn't be speaking hyperbolically, would you?"
"No, Jon's here, and--"
Jon heard Spencer squawk, "You lost Jon? Who the fuck loses Jon? Even we don't lose Jon and--"
Gerard snapped back, "Last I checked, Walker was with Urie."
Jon had actually been with Frank, but a) he'd snuck away to watch Mikey get all excited at having petted an elephant and b) Jon wasn't a tattle-tale. Besides, he heard Frank say, "Oh, shit."
There was silence for a second and then Gerard said, "This is totally Urie's fault for suggesting a field trip."
Nobody disagreed. Jon personally thought Gerard needed to share a little bit in that, for insisting that they not take security--security was pretty good about making sure everyone was in one place--but it was true, Brendon's deep and bizarre need to see the circus museum was really the root cause of all this. Then again, they had all agreed to go. Pretty readily, at that.
Ray said to nobody in particular, "I'm here too, just in case anyone was wondering."
Jon clapped him on the shoulder. "They would have missed you when Frank had to play two guitars at once."
"Damn right," Ray said. Jon felt kind of bad for Ray. Where Mikey had been busy communing with creatures larger than himself and Jon had been busy ogling Mikey doing such, Ray had just picked an inopportune time to go to the bathroom. Then again, Ray seemed pretty zen about the whole thing, like it was something he'd gotten used to.
Mikey said, "You can't be that far, just come back and get us."
"Um. Yeah. There's a small problem."
Mikey rubbed his nose a little and Jon really fought to maintain some sort of dignity and not think, "oh fuck, so cute," but it was a lost cause. Jon was a doomed man. He really wished he weren't surrounded by Ringling Brother's paraphernalia. It was killing some of his rightfully deserved melodrama and at a time when he wasn't surrounded by Ryan and Brendon, who could always, always out-melodrama him. Jon sighed. Mikey patted his arm and mouthed, "It'll be okay."
The irony was overwhelming.
"Define small," Mikey said.
"We're a little lost."
"We're very lost," Brendon shouted.
"Totally, totally lost," Ryan agreed.
"I thought you guys only left like ten minutes ago," Mikey said.
"Frank insisted that he knew how to get us back and that maps were for weaklings."
Ray yelled, "Jesus, Gerard, how many times have I told you--"
"I know, I know, tell him Bob already yelled at me. And Spencer." Frank sounded a little miserable.
Jon was going to hug Spencer when they were reunited. All right, maybe Frank too.
"Okay, okay," Mikey said. "We're in Baraboo. How hard can it be to find your way back?"
"Um. Well. Bob's been looking at the map for a while now, but they don't really seem to have a close up of Baraboo, and the directions that we came with aren't really helping because of the whole part where we got lost, so--"
"We could be here a while?" Mikey finished.
"Maybe you should see if you can find food somewhere, you know?"
Mikey hung up. Ray asked, "We weren't supposed to play tonight, were we?"
Jon said, "We should find coffee," and lead the way.
Two hours, fourteen phone calls, and two lattes a piece later, Ray asked, "What were you guys doing that you got left? They never leave Mikey."
"Looking at the elephants," Mikey said without shame. Ray nodded like this made the most sense of anything he'd ever heard. Jon imagined it probably did.
"And you?" Ray asked. "Spencer seemed pretty surprised by this turn of events."
"Elephants," Jon said, because he'd been with the elephants too and he couldn't exactly say, "scoping out your bassist."
Ray looked at him. "Uh huh."
"I like elephants," Jon said. Jon did like elephants. There wasn't much in this world Jon didn't like with the exception of mean people, cooked cabbage, and mildew. Those three were all on his "to be avoided" list.
Ray looked at Mikey and snickered. Mikey looked kind of hurt for a second and Jon was about to smack Ray's shoulder except that then the hurt transformed into mild confusion and then, worrisomely, comprehension. Jon smacked Ray. Hard. Ray just snickered some more. Jon said, "I'm gonna-- Anybody want-- Uh--" and made a mad dash for the coffee counter. He really wished Starbucks served alcohol. "Double shot of espresso, please?"
He was going to be more wired than Brendon on pixie sticks. He was hoping it would make it hard for him to think.
Mikey asked softly, "Plan on running back to the hotel?"
Jon jumped. He hadn't heard Mikey come beside him. "At this point, it might get me there faster."
The store employee handed him the drink and Mikey took it from him, stole a sip. He blanched for a second. "That'll put hair on your chest."
"Yeah, I'm the one member of my band who doesn't actually need that." Jon took as big a sip as he could manage without burning everything in his mouth right away.
"Why didn't you just tell me?" Mikey asked.
"Do you, usually, with the people you--"
"Like, crush on, wanna bang?"
Jon didn't say anything.
"Yes to the last, no and generally not to the first two."
Jon made a,"well, there, you see," motion.
"Oh," Mikey said, grinning even more widely than he had back with the elephant.
"Oh?" Jon was confused. He went back over what Mikey had said. "Oh. Oh! Jesus, Mikey. You're Mikey Way."
"Yeah, usually that's justification for the third, not a reason for number one and number two."
Jon really shouldn't have been drinking the espresso. It was only going to make him want to beat the people who'd made Mikey believe that down more. "They'd really, really better get here soon."
Mikey sighed. "I think they might be on their way to the twin cities."
At this point, Jon wouldn't have been surprised.
Ray answered the phone for the fifteenth call and said, "Let me speak to Bob."
"Gerard, hand the fucking phone over."
There was rustling and Jon heard Bob say, "You could have just called me on your cell."
"I was trying to make a point."
"Gerard's made Frank ask for directions at six gas stations as penance. He is appropriately penitent and if this map has stopped lying we should be there shortly."
"The map was lying?" Ray sounded doubtful. Jon didn't blame him.
Surprisingly, Ryan came to his aid with a defensive, "It's a fickle beast."
Jon hid his smile. Mikey didn't bother, he laughed. Ray rolled his eyes. "Get here, Robert. If you have to forcibly drag Gerard from the driver's seat and take over, get here."
Jon was totally in Ray's camp on this.
Gerard shouted, "Hey, I--" but Ray hung up.
Bob was driving when they pulled up, Spencer in the passenger seat with the map spread out over his knees. He threw Jon a really apologetic look. Jon just shook his head.
They piled into the van, Ray making sure that Jon and Mikey were sitting next to each other. Mikey slipped his hand into Jon's now that he could, now that it was safe, and smiled before turning to look out the window. Brendon peered over from the seat behind them to see their hands and then leaned back, whispering not-quite-softly-enough to Ryan. "See, I told you the circus museum was a good idea."
Ryan called, "Do we actually know how to get back to where we're supposed to, y'know, be doing our jobs?"
"Blow me, Ross," Bob said without much heat.
Spencer said, "Sit back and relax, asshole."
Ryan snorted, but followed instructions. Frank said, "It's okay, we have Ray now. Ray never gets lost." He smiled endearingly at the Ray in question. Ray shook his head and mussed Frank's hair. Frank went with it.
Bob keyed the ignition and Jon squeezed Mikey's fingers a little. The museum had been a good idea on Brendon's part. Getting lost had been an even better one on Gerard and Frank's.