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Most of the time, Bob was the kind of guy who allowed himself to think long and hard before he did anything. It wasn't that he was slow, just that he liked moving at his own pace, and tended to make better decisions when given the chance to do so. When he wasn't, things like the Niguero thing happened, stupid things.

The worst part about it was that Niguero hadn't really been trying to be offensive, actually, Bob was pretty sure he'd just been making prison's version of small talk. The problem with prison's version of small talk was that it tended to involve a lot of machismo, and, in this case, insults to Gerard's pride and manhood, and Bob--who had managed to watch patiently as Gerard was passed around until he could get hold of him, start to strengthen Gerard's defenses through his own connections--snapped into pieces.

It was the second day of Mikey being held in the infirmary, the first of Gerard being shaky on a lessened dosage of the coke, and for any of those reasons--or maybe one of the million others Bob could think of--the words, "How's your pretty little cunt doin'?" sent him right over the edge. Bob hadn't even noticed how close he was; if he had, he'd have been more careful to stay completely to himself. Instead, somewhere in the middle of the word "cunt" Bob began ripping Niguero a new asshole. With his hands, not his words. Bob was a hands-on kind of guy.

The hacks got to them before Niguero was completely unconscious, but not by much. Bob struggled in their grasp until he realized they weren't the Latinos and then he let them take him. Fighting was only going to end with this going worse for him and things were fucked enough as they were. Bob had no doubt of where they were taking him. It was one thing to spend some time in the hole with Mikey around to watch Gerard's back as much as he could manage, to stand as much in the way of Gerard and trouble as he knew how. It was something completely else to leave Gerard to fend completely for himself.



It was Bob's first time in the hole but it was much like he'd imagined it would be--cold, dark, with the smell of dampness left to still too long. All in all, it wasn't where Bob would have chosen to spend his time, but it didn't frighten him, didn't bother him the way it was probably meant to. The thought of Gerard being on his own, though, of the days they would probably keep him in here undoing every bit of progress he'd managed to accomplish--that was enough to drive him completely batshit insane.

Bob shut down the thought, pure and simple. He wouldn't allow himself to think of Gerard, not the way he watched things when he was lucid enough to pay attention, or the way he smiled for Mikey when he thought nobody was looking, or even the way he talked to himself under his breath a lot, his lips moving but no sound coming out. Bob didn't think about those things. He thought about getting himself some sleep.


He could keep track of the days by meals, or what passed for them. Bob wasn't exactly sure what they were giving him, but it wasn't even the crap that the Italians churned out from what seemed to be a wholly functional kitchen, so far as Bob could tell. He figured they were a little busy making sure none of the other gangs took complete control of the tits trade.

There was one meal in the evening and one in the morning. Bob would have railed at the unfairness of being denied a third meal, but Bob's life was sort of uniformly unfair and he wasn't the type. It was a waste of his energy, and energy was something Bob didn't care to waste.

After the first three meals, his cunning plan to sleep through the entire experience failed him, as the cold of the cement made itself known against his skin. Bob sat up and curled over himself, putting his head on his knees and trying that way, figuring the conservation of body heat and lessening of skin contact with the floor would help, but no, he was well and truly awake.

Bob sighed, because, if nothing else, this was the one place in this prison where nobody could hear him indulging in his own moment of melodrama. Then he closed his eyes and allowed himself to catalogue the parts of the 1995 Ferrari he'd recently buffed up for resale. He'd driven it once or twice, Ilya in the passenger seat, giving him faulty directions. Ilya couldn't tell up from down, but he was the closest thing Bob had ever had to a brother, so more often than not Bob just allowed himself to get lost for the sake of Ilya's pride. There were worse reasons to end up on roads that went nowhere.

Bob missed a lot of things from the outside--the purr of an engine beneath him, the smell of motor grease, the quick whip of air through an open window. Mostly, though, mostly he missed Yuri's sharp reactions, Sasha's quiet calm, Ilya's ubiquitous laughter. Mostly, he missed being part of something that wasn't simply a trade economy.

He wouldn't think about Gerard in here, he wouldn't.


They let him out after his sixth meal, so, two full days, three full nights after they'd put him in. They let him out just in time to shower and catch his shift in the mail room, so it wasn't until dinner that he was able to get to Gerard. He was sitting with Mikey, who was still more bruise than person. Bob grabbed a tray--the meal, amazingly, almost looked appetizing after his two days on gruel, or whatever the hell they'd been giving him. He would have to try eating completely disgusting semi-edibles more often. He went and sat on Gerard's other side.

Gerard looked at him and said, "I hear they had to wire Niguero's jaw back together. Bet that makes it hard to suck cock, huh?"

On the other side of him, the timing of Mikey choking on his food was just a little suspicious. Bob totally felt for Mikey. He was lucky he hadn't taken a sip before Gerard started talking. Bob said, "Just trying to help out. The old wiring seemed to be malfunctioning."

"Oh?" Gerard asked.

Bob shrugged. "It was calling things by the wrong names."


In the pod that night, Bob said, "You look, um--"

"Like shit?" Gerard asked, not looking at him.

"I was going to say..." like you remembered how to enable power steering, "more with it."

"I skipped two hits today. I thought, um. I thought I should figure out why nobody was touching me even with you gone. And I needed to pay attention to do that. And you were right, Mikey needs me to actually be here with him. I gotta tell you though, this is gonna fucking blow. Even at a couple of hits less, I kinda feel like I want to tear my skin off."

Bob blinked. He didn't remember Gerard talking this much. Ever. Gerard caught the look of surprise. He said, "Sorry, I didn't mean-- I talk a lot when I don't know what the fuck else to do, but maybe I should just shut up and--"

The "and" involved Gerard's fingers at the button to Bob's jeans. Bob knocked them away. Gerard said, "Relax, I'm told my mouth is better than a girl's. Close your eyes and you won't even know the difference."

Bob took a step back. "No."

"Seriously," Gerard said, just following him, "you don't want a reward? You totally sent a guy to the hospital for calling me a name, trust me when I say that deserves--"

Bob grabbed Gerard by his upper arms and said, "Look at me."

"I am--"

"At my face, Gerard."

Gerard looked up. After a few seconds, Bob asked, softly, evenly, "Do you want to suck my dick?"


"It's a yes or no question."

After a long moment, Gerard said miserably, "I do want to thank you."

"Let me borrow your body heat for a bit," Bob said.

"My body heat?"

"I'm cold," Bob told him, and it was true. Odd, because Bob usually retained heat just fine, but true. It had been ever since they'd released him. Besides, it was a good excuse to get close without seeming threatening, a good way to allow Gerard his appreciation without taking advantage.

"Just-- Like a hug?" Gerard tilted his head, squinted a bit.

"I was thinking we could lie close for a bit, until I warm up."

"Not much of a thank you for going up against a guy who outweighs you by at least fifty pounds and spending over two days in the hole." Gerard looked suspicious.

Bob shrugged. "I'm a man of simple pleasures." He was aware that sometimes--most of the time--his brand of humor went entirely uncaught.

Gerard skipped a few beats, but then he laughed. "Your show, I guess."

It made it easier if Gerard believed that, at least for now.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile