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BBB: Wuthering Heights and Stormy Nights (1/4)

Master Post | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

2011: January

Bry feels weirdly calm. She's on her knees in a shitty diner bathroom, puking up her breakfast for the fifth morning in a row and all she can think is oh.

Which is about when Lindsey walks in. "Oh shit, what's up? Bad eggs?"

Bry wipes her mouth on her hand and stands up on knees that shake a little. "Bad condom," she says and waits for Lindsey to get it.

"Shit," Lindsey breathes, leaning her ass against a washbasin and folding her arms across her stomach. "Are you okay?"

Bry nods. The water from the faucet tastes like shit but it's better than how her mouth tastes. She sticks her face under and swallows a couple of big mouthfuls. "I'm pretty good," she tells Lindsey then makes a face at her hollowed out reflection.

"What about the dad?" Lindsey asks, opening her purse and handing Bry a couple of wet wipes. Bry wipes her face and tidies up the places where her eyeliner has smudged down her cheeks.

"Haven't told him." She scrapes her hair back into a messy ponytail and smiles at Lindsey's reflection. "You're the only one who knows."

Lindsey's reflection smiles back at her. "I'm gonna hug you," she warns Bry. "It's gonna be totally girly, sorry."

Bry laughs, curling her hands around Lindsey's wrists when Lindsey's arms wrap around her from behind, hands splaying out across her still-flat stomach.

"How's he gonna take it?" Lindsey asks quietly.

Bry shrugs. She feels her cheeks heat and watches them go tellingly pink. "It's Bob, so, you know."

"Wait what?" Lindsey asks, letting her arms drop and pulling Bry around so they're facing each other. "Bob Bob?"

Bry nods. "The Bobest of them all," she says solemnly.

"Jesus Christ." Lindsey's smile reappears, growing scarily fast. "Oh my god, you and Bob."

"Hey, don't." Bry holds her hand up in warning. "It's not a thing, okay. We just, you know, fuck sometimes."

"You and Bob," Lindsey repeats, all fake-saccharine and dreamy and Bry smacks her with her own purse.

***


Bry and Lindsey make their way back out into the diner, where the guys and Worm are wallowing in early morning cups of coffee.

Bob looks up at her, blinking sleepily. "You okay?" he asks.

"Yeah," Frank pipes up, "You were gone forever."

"Oh, Frankie," Lindsey says, patting the top of Frank's head. "You only wish you knew what girls get up to in the bathroom together."

"Yeah, I do," Frank agrees, grinning.

Bry rolls her eyes. Her stomach still feels delicate and she doesn't think she wants to sit around smelling all this grease, even for the fun of teasing Frank. "Okay, I gotta head back," she says, pointing over her shoulder at the bus.

Lindsey squeezes her hip and Bry smiles, tweaking one of Lindsey's braids.

"Bry?" Bob calls when she's on her way out the diner; she knows she didn't answer when he asked if she was okay. She turns in the doorway and waves to him, lifting her lips in an almost-grin before she escapes.

***


They have three buses on this tour. The Baby Bus for Gerard, Lindsey and Bandit, the Non-Way Bus for Bob and Ray and the Oh-God-They're-Going-To-Kill-Themselves Bus for Frank and Mikey.

Bry has been riding on the Non-Way Bus and it's blessedly cool and empty when she opens the door. She pours herself a long glass of orange juice, looks longingly toward her bunk then gets to work at the kitchen table.

After ten minutes of staring blankly at her organiser, Bry stands up, shakes herself and takes a walk around the kitchen.

Okay so she's pregnant. It's… not exactly a part of her life plan.

She'd like to give herself a day to freak out but she doesn't have that kind of time. They're three weeks into the tour for the new album; she's out with them for another three days and then she's flying out to catch up with Drive By. She doesn't have time to sit down and think about this and she sure as fuck doesn't have time to be pregnant.

Possibly she should have thought about that before she and Bob fucked with the only condom left at the bottom of his holdall – one that had probably been there since back when they started fucking for fuck's sake.

Her phone rings and she latches onto that, pushing everything else out of her head.

***

***

1992

It was coming up on dark, still hot and sticky from the day, and Detroit was glimmering dully down below. There was a Nirvana tape in Bry's walkman and she was almost content.

The crunch of gravel and raised voices behind her told Bry that other kids had arrived to take their turns at the skate ramps some unknown someone had set up way back when. She'd been here all day, had no plans to leave unless the cops came by to clear them out again.

Bry dropped her board, kicked off and practised flips while she waited her turn. She knew a lot of the kids here but they knew better than to talk to her when she had her headphones on. She liked that about being out here; no one tried to get her to talk.

"Hey!" someone called out and Bry looked up with everyone else in time to watch one of the senior boys, Chris something showing off on the lip like he was fucking Neil Blender or someone. He ended with a Jolly Mambo, skidded at the very end of the fakie and had to jump off and twist around not to land on his ass. He got a couple of laughs but mostly appreciation. Bry's knees itched to have a go.

She pulled her headphones down around her neck and scrambled to the top of the ramp.

"Yo," one of the boys with Chris said, nodding to Bry. She rolled her board up in greeting and launched herself down the ramp, not trying anything fancy just wiping the cobwebs off her brain with the rush of air through her ears.

They were still waiting for her when she got back to the top and it just wasn't physically possible for Bry to back down from a challenge, even a silent one, especially not from boys who'd tried to see if they could fit her in a locker last year when she'd been a sophomore at their school. She'd punched Chris in the nose and it hadn't directly led to the whole expulsion thing but it probably hadn't helped.

There were tricks that Bry tried when she was alone and tricks she did in front of other people. The first set were way more likely to end up with her on her ass than the second; embarrassing herself in front of other people was not high on her list of priorities. Today though, she was feeling feisty.

"Watch this," she tossed over her shoulder and ollied over the side rail at an angle into an overcrook grind before dropping off into a hurricane, trying it frontside on a whim.

She ended up on her ass. It still felt fucking awesome though and she was laughing when she rolled up onto her feet.

"Not bad," someone said, handing over her board. It was Chris.

Bry shrugged. "Yeah, thanks," she said, hoping she wasn't blushing. He might be an asshole, sure, but he was fucking good skater.

"Yo, Schechter." It was Chris's friend again, the one who'd nodded to her. "Heard you're in Catholic school now."

Bry lifted her chin. "S'right," she agreed. If he asked to see her uniform he was getting cockpunched.

He grinned cheekily and she swapped her board to under her left arm, fist already clenching when headlights swept through the park and everyone looked up, startled, even as shoulders dropped and kids groaned.

"Fucking police," Chris said, "Be seeing you."

"Sure whatever," Bry threw back, already stepping back into the shadows. They weren't doing anything wrong, technically, but the cops liked to hassle them and Bry did not need any more trouble from her parents at the moment.

She half-tripped over a kid, a boy, no taller than her, going in the opposite direction and grabbed his arm. "Wrong way," she hissed, not sure why she was bothering, and pulled him along with her.

"Um," the kid said but he kept pace until they were away from the park and down into the old graveyard, leaning against the mausoleum wall to catch their breaths.

The boy was panting. "Thanks," he said, "Fuck."

Bry shrugged and shook her head. "Don't thank me."

He smiled kind of uncertainly. Bry groaned inwardly; he had the look of a boy who thought he should be nice to her, because she had tits and that was what his momma had always taught him. "That was scary?" he tried.

Bry laughed, trying not to act like she was laughing at him even though she kind of was. "That? Seriously? That was fun." The kid was looking at her like she was crazy so she added, defensively. "When the hell does anything ever happen around here, huh? At least when we piss off the cops, something happens."

She pulled a half pack of her mom's cigarettes out of the back pocket of her cargo pants and shook one out before offering it to the kid. He shook his head, no.

"Is it safe to go home yet, do you think?" the boy asked her, looking around nervously like he thought he was in fucking Blade Runner or something.

"Sure," Bry told him because if he wanted to be melodramatic who was she to stop him? People had to make their own excitement around here. "But you be careful, okay? Don't let the cops spot you or they'll know where you live."

The boy nodded seriously and crept away with a furtive right-left-right. Bry thought about him creeping all the way home, jumping at shadows and tried to feel bad about it. She couldn't.

***


The summer was dragging on worse than normal that year.

Bry had been working for local promoters since she was a freshman. There were always bands looking for kids to hand out their fliers and in return they'd sneak her into gigs, theirs and other peoples', so she spent her nights watching shitty bands she didn't enjoy and a couple of great bands she could barely hear over the run-down clubs' falling apart sound systems.

She was too young to drink and small enough that she looked it, no matter how much make-up she let her friend Crys cake onto her, but however bad the music the dancing and the lack of beer was, it beat out staying at home and listening to her parents scream at each other.
***


Bry found out the name of the kid from the skate park. Lee. He was a year younger than her, didn't sneak out, didn't drink beer and skated because he liked it rather than because everyone else did it.

As August continued to stretch out endlessly and Bry found herself falling off her skateboard more and more just because the scrape of gravel and the flash of blood across her palms were the only things that seemed to wake her brain up, her parents told her they were getting divorced, her dad moved out, her mom cried nightly.

The day she found out her dad had been cheating, had a kid on the way, Bry went to the park, dragged Lee under the ramp and unbuckled both their pants.

Lee was a good boy, better than her, and he asked her things like was she sure, did she want to wait, was she okay, was he hurting her, until she had to stick her fingers in his mouth just to shut him up. They fucked in the cold, shadowy darkness under the most broken of the ramps that night and every night after for the rest of the summer.

***


By the time school started, Bry's mom was pulling triple shifts and barely able to get out of bed when she was home.

Bry's older brother was away at college so it was up to her to make breakfast for her kid brother and sister, to make some attempt at cleaning the house when the dust got so thick that her mom would run her fingers through it and sigh, and to answer the phone when her grandparents called and lie and tell them everything was fine.

Nothing was fine and Bry was starting to live for the day she could get out of there.

***


Crys had been Bry's best friend since grade school. She played drums and base guitar in a queercore band of college kids.

They were easily Bry's favourite band at the moment, not just because they let Bry hang out in their practice space even though the most musical thing she could manage was to play was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on her kid brother's recorder.

Bry was curled up on a ratty sofa in the corner, reading ahead in her history text book, looking for sex scandals, while Crys and Shelly noodled in the background when their guitarist, Jack, slammed into the room, hands flailing and already mid-rant.

"What's up?" Bry asked, having learned early on that it was a good idea to interrupt him before he became shrill enough to hurt.

Jack looked over at Crys and Shelley, looked back at Bry, then dropped down on the floor next to Bry's seat. "Those fucking bastards at The Pit," he said, earnestly – the way he said everything. Bry nodded. Those Fucking Bastards at the Pit were well known to everyone on the scene. "They pulled our gig."

"What?" asked Bry, sitting up straight. The band was due to be playing in five days; they'd been rehearsing for months. "No, what? That's fucked up."

"It really is." Crys came over and sat on the arm of Bry's chair. Bry squeezed her knee; she knew how excited Crys had been. "Why?"

Jack shrugged. "We're not what they're looking for."

"Not what they're-?" Bry repeated, incredulous. That was totally fucked up. She thought about how hard the three of them had been working, how disappointed they all looked now and scrambled to her feet. "We'll fix it," she promised.

***


Bry had a knack for fixing things. Mainly by being a stubborn bitch until people let her have her own way, but whatever. It worked. Taking on the owner of the biggest club in their town was just one more challenge.

She pulled on her tallest boots, her heaviest pants and her kick-ass leather jacket, hopped the bus down the to venue and then had to stop at the front door and take a really deep breath.

She could totally do this.

She pulled up her hood, slipped on her sunglasses and marched through the club.

The main office was locked and she had to knock three times before anyone opened the door. The guy who opened it was huge. Two heads taller than her and three times as wide.

"Yeah?" he asked slowly, looking her up and down.

Bry folded her arms. "Are you in charge here?" She pitched her voice low and serious, adult hopefully. He nodded. "I need to talk to you about Sharp Eyed Kangeroo." Internally, she winced. Fuck but that was a stupid name.

The guy laughed. "Jesus, kid, are you even old enough to shave?"

Bry raised her eyebrows. And her bullshit levels. "Yeah," she drawled, hands going to her fly, "Wanna see?"

The guy's eyes went wide and he peered at her closer. "Oh fuck me, you're a girl."

Bry took her hands off her pants and folded her arms. "Well done," she said. "Now are you going to talk to me?"

He was still watching her like some kind of circus freak. She really wanted to slap him but, well, she'd promised her mom she'd stop doing that. "How old are you, fourteen?"

She bristled. No fucking way was she telling him he was only a year out. "You agreed to let them play. You're in breech of contract." Bry had done some research and watched a lot of Law and Order; hopefully she sounded like she knew what she meant.

The guy just smirked at her. "Did you see me sign a contract?" he asked, "Do you have this imaginary contract?" and she was so relieved that he was actually prepared to talk to her about this that it took her a second to realise that they were probably screwed.

"A verbal contract is legally-," she started but he just laughed and shook his head.

"It really isn't, kid," he told her and steered her very firmly out.

Back outside, Bry leaned against the wall and sighed. Fuck. Now she was going to have to do something big and she'd promised her mom no drama this year.

***


It turned out to be pretty easy to talk the band into plan b; Jack looked at her like she was his own personal saviour, Crys draped her legs over Bry's lap, finished drawing skulls onto her fingernails and beamed quietly. She was used to Bry's crazy plans.

They had to find a stagehand to bribe into hiding the instruments at the side of the stage and getting them tuned, but Jack solved that problem two nights previous by hooking up with one of the boys who worked weekends and then asking very nicely.

They waited until the first act had played, Crys, Jack and Shelley growing more and more impatient beside her and Bry felt like a Civil War general or a great conductor when she nodded her head and set them racing for the stage, grabbing up their instruments and starting to play before anyone thought to stop them.

Bry watched the owner going red with anger in the wings, watched Crys throw herself into her bass, listened to Shelley screaming out their song and laughed solidly for the one point five songs they managed to cling to the stage long enough to play. They pulled her up for the last point five and she was still laughing, watching the crowd mosh and dance and laugh along with her.

Lee was standing in the back corner of the club, laughing, a soda warming in his hand for her, when she finally tripped down from the stage.

"You're fantastic," he said, pressing the drink into her hand. "You're so fucking great."

Bry laughed. "That was so much fun," she told him, tipping her head back against the wall and downing her soda. Some of it spilled down her chin, dripping into the collar of her shirt but she didn't give a shit. She felt alive, her skin humming with energy like she hadn't felt in forever.

***


Bry didn't put in any work for her PSATs; she already knew she wouldn't be going to college. She'd gotten a bit of a reputation after that stunt at The Pit and people and bands that she'd only known in passing before had started talking to her, asking her questions she didn't know the answers to but bullshitted her way through until she went somewhere and found out the answers. It was amazing and heady and exactly what she wanted to do with her life.

So yeah, she didn't work for the tests but that didn't stop her spending ten minutes just blinking blankly at her results. They were good. Really fucking good. Holy shit.

Top two percent in the fucking country; there wasn't really much further to go with that, was there? She'd done the education thing and won and now she kind of wanted a whole different challenge.

It was pretty sweet to see the looks on the faces of a couple of her teachers though – who knew the punk ass chick who hung with the 'bad influences' from the school she'd gotten kicked out of actually had a brain under her pink and blue hair?

Sister Elsa, who Bry suspected had always sort of liked her even if none of the other Sisters did, gave Bry a smile and a pat on the back and Bry grinned brilliantly at her before running around the corner of the building, jumping in the air and pumping her fist mouthing yes!

Then she put her gameface back on, cut school and went home to tell her mom that she was done with education.

***


Her mom freaked, obviously. But she was too exhausted to do it vocally, so she packed Bry off to her dad's in the hope he'd have a go.

Bry thought that was a pretty shitty plan.

"No. No way on earth." Her dad actually looked up from the bouncing bundle of baby puke his new whore- sorry, wife – had popped out last month.

"You can't stop me," Bry said, pretty reasonably she thought, considering she wanted to pick one of the dirty diapers out of the hamper and crush it down on her dad's head. "This was just a courtesy call."

"Bryony," her dad said. He almost stood up, almost actually engaged her in a full-on conversation, but the baby squalled and instead he sighed and sat down. "You're not dropping out of school."

Bry watched the baby's hand curl around their dad's finger, around the new gleaming gold band that replaced the cheap, tarnished one he'd worn for her mom. "Go to hell," she said flatly and walked out.

It was kind of an empty gesture considering she didn’t have a car and had to sit on her dad's front lawn for two hours until her mom could pick her up.

Her dad never came out to see if she was okay though, so that was that.

***


Lee didn't say anything when she told him. Just nodded and smiled a twisted up grin and said, "Well, duh. Of course you're getting out."

Bry felt kind of stupid for not realising she was breaking up with him until that moment.

***


Her mom cried when she packed up her bags, which made Bry feel shitty.

"I'll be gone three months," she said reasonably. It wasn't like she was moving away forever, just the length of a three month tour around the fucking country. She had to tap down on a victory bounce; the furthest she'd been before now was fucking Chicago.

"And Crys is going to drive you down?" her mom asked. Again.

"Yeah, Mom," Bry said patiently.

"And you've got an apartment lined up? Somewhere safe?"

"Safe as houses," Bry promised. "I'll call you when I can, okay?"

"You'll call me every town you stop in," her mom contradicted firmly and Bry nodded. She picked up her duffle bag and swung it over her shoulder.

"Bye, Mom!" she said brightly. Nerves suddenly welled up in her belly underneath all the excitement, but she crushed them down ruthlessly.

Her mom sniffed, blew her nose and pulled Bry into a hug. "Oh god, be careful," her mom whispered into her hair, like she was sending Bry off to war or something.

Bry smiled, readjusted her hold on her bag and got the hell out of there.

In the car, Crys turned to say something but Bry just shook her head and pointed urgently forward. "Drive," she said, "All this lying is making my head hurt."

Crys shot her a look in the rearview mirror but gunned the engine like the good friend she was. She didn't say anything until they were on the highway and then it was, "You know I really would drive you down if I could?".

Bry rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Don't worry about it." They were reaching the outerlimits of town and Bry clutched the handle of her bag. "Here's good," she said.

Crys slowed down but didn't look convinced. "Sure?" she asked, looking doubtfully at the near-empty stretch of road.

"Sure." Bry tapped her foot impatiently until Crys pulled up. "Millions of people drive to Chicago every day, right? One of 'em's got to give me a ride."

"And not kill you," Crys stressed, like that part of the plan might have slipped Bry's mind.

Bry grinned easily. "Yeah, that too."

"Bry," Crys started to say but Bry didn't want to hear it. Crys was someone whose opinion she actually respected; if she started saying things like don't go, this is a crazy idea, Bry might actually give into the part of her that wanted to run home, curl up in bed and not do this.

"I'll see you," Bry promised. "And when I make it, you've got to come out and let me manage you, yeah?"

"Yeah," Crys said and darted across the gear stick to kiss Bry's cheek quickly before Bry got out of the car. "For sure."

***


It took an hour for anyone to stop for Bry. When they did, it was a two ton guy in a twenty ton truck who leered at Bry out of his passenger-side window. "Hey, honey," he said and no, Bry thought, no.

"Hi!" she said brightly. "New York?"

The guy just looked at her for a long minute before driving on. Bry heaved a sigh of relief and sat back down on the grass verge.

It wasn't like she didn't know how to get guys to stop for her. If she popped a couple of buttons on her shirt, maybe let her hair down, she was decently hot. She wasn't going to suck anyone's cock for a ride though and she didn't even want to pretend like she was.

In the end, it was two girls in a beat-up old van who drove her half way to Chicago and a businessman in a slick suit who drove her the rest of the way. Bry was comfortable with the girls, but the guy kept shooting her looks out of the side of his eye, like he was fantasising about maybe stopping and seeing what he could get her to do, even if he didn't have to balls actually to try anything.

It had been a long day and Bry was really fucking tired but she forced her eyes to stay open and fixed on the highway ahead, one hand wrapped around the pepper spray in her pants pocket, not trusting what might happen if she let her guard down.

***


Chicago was fantastic. She sat on the L going nowhere the whole of her first day there, listening to tapes on her walkman and watching people watching her.

A woman she'd met back in Detroit had offered her a job selling merch on a three month tour with a couple of bands Bry had never heard of and she'd set Bry up in a hostel for a couple of nights until they were ready to leave.

Bry got off the train at Navy Pier, bought herself some cotton candy and rode the ferris wheel for hours, feeling the same sense of freedom and fresh air as she did when she skated.

She grinned, took a bite of pink candy and breathed deeply. She could so totally do this.

***

***

2011: February

Drive By are in the studio, which means life has less drama than when they're on the road, but it's still not drama free.

Within an hour of arriving, Bry's already had to mediate one screaming fight about a bass line while Chris sits patiently in the corner not even bothering to join in, take two phone calls from Jae's mom and go out on three Starbuck's runs.

It's on the third run that she drives past her doctor's office and – almost accidentally – finds herself parking and walking inside.

***


"Congratulations," her doctor says. There's the tiniest bit of rising intonation in her voice and Bry wonders what kind of vibes she's giving off that make that not a foregone conclusion.

Bry shrugs. "Not exactly," she says. "But thanks."

The doctor's smile gets smaller but it also looks more genuine. Bry appreciates that. "Let's go through your options," she says.

Bry nods.

When Bry was twenty-two she had an abortion. The dad was a scene guy she was casually seeing and neither of them were in any place where they could raise a kid. She doesn't regret it; she's never really wanted to be a mom. But.

She's not sure where it's coming from, but this time there's definitely a but. She's older now and while she's definitely not ready to settle down, she thinks she might be ready for another challenge.

"Thanks," she tells the doctor at the end of her appointment. "I'm pretty sure I'm keeping it."

***


Okay then. It looks like she’s keeping it.

***


Bry catches up with My Chem on the Sunday afternoon, an hour before soundcheck. She's completely exhausted and all she wants to do is sleep but she can't even let herself lie down on the giant bed in the hotel room they've saved for her.

"Where are they?" she asks Cortez when she bumps into him waiting for an elevator. She wants to lean her head against the wall, which is mirrored and cool-looking, but instead she pulls her shoulders back and tries to stand up straight. She skipped lunch and now she's lightheaded. Awesome.

"Downstairs," Matt tells her. He frowns down at her. "You okay?"

"Sure," she says, shrugging easily. "Fucking tired."

Matt grins. "You should have been here last night. Par-tay, dude."

Bry groans. "Awesome. Am I gonna get billed for anything valuable?"

It's Matt's turn to shrug. "Probably not," he says thoughtfully which is nowhere near comforting. It does distract her from how much she wants to lie down, though.

***


Matt directs her to a private room with a pool table and a lot of – really tempting – sofas then wanders off to wherever he was heading before.

"Hey," Frank says, looking up when Bry comes in. He's the only one in the room but Bry doesn't worry – so much – about this band when she can't see them, not as much as she used to anyway.

"Yo," Bry says, hearing the tiredness in her voice. "Where are the others?"

Frank takes another mouthful of the burger he's eating and ticks names off his fingers, talking around his food. Bry's stomach turns over. "Bob's on the phone with his mom. Gee and Lindsey are fucking. Mikey found someone with a puppy and Ray's making sure he doesn't steal it." He grins up at her. "I'm not supposed to know where MSI are, right?"

"Right," Bry says and tries not to look at the sauce on his teeth. She's never been squeamish; pregnancy sucks.

"What no thanks?" Frank asks, pouting.

Bry sighs and flops down on the sofa opposite Frank. "Thank you, Frankie," she says.

Frank shrugs. "Want?" he asks, holding out the unchewed half of his burger.

Bry gets a whiff of onions and fake meat and, "Urgh, get that away from me," she says, covering her mouth with her hand.

Frank's expression turns evil and Bry groans inside. She should never have let him know he's gotten to her that easily; she's not a rookie at Frank Iero.

He leans forward and pushes the burger up under her nose, following her back across the sofa with it and oh, god, here she goes again. She pushes Frank's arm and Frank's stupid burger out of her way and grabs the first thing she can find to puke in.

It's a trashcan thank god, though it'd serve Frank right if it were his shoe.

"Um," Frank says, hovering, when she stops for breath. He pauses, hesitates then asks, "You're not hungover are you?"

Brian's head snaps up. "I swear to god, Iero, if I could stand right now I would punch you in the fucking face."

"Sorry!" Frank scrunches his mouth up apologetically. "But you look kind of hungover."

Fuck. It's on the tip of her tongue to shout at him that she's kind of pregnant, but she's not going to tell Bob's friends before she tells him. "Ate something bad on the plane," she lies then has to turn back to the trashcan for another round of heaving.

When her stomach has finally calmed the hell down, Frank is still biting his lip and still hovering.

"What?" she snaps, irritable. She wipes her mouth with the back of her hand and thinks longingly about her mouthwash.

"Sorry," Frank says, kneeling down beside her. His hand flutters around her elbow before finally settling down to squeeze. "I didn't mean-."

She rolls her eyes but she feels bad for snapping at him and bad for lying to him. "It's fine, Frankie."
He lets go of her and leans back. "Go get cleaned up," he tells her awkwardly, "I'll sort this out."

Bry wants to argue because cleaning up puke is kind of her job but she doesn’t.

"Thank you," she makes herself say and Frank smiles.

***


It's dark when Bry wakes up. She curses and rolls off the bed. She needs to get a grip on this; there's no way she can afford to be this useless for the next eight months.

She's more clear-headed now, more awake, and she really needs to find Bob.

There's a quiet knock on her door and she wonders if that's what woke her in the first place. "Hang on," she calls and goes to check her reflection in the mirror. She's sleep-flushed and her hair's a fucking mess but she doesn't look sick so that's okay.

The knocking happens again. "Hang the fuck on," she snaps, crossing the room. "What?"

It's Bob.

"Oh, hi," Bry says. She finds her hand half way up to flattening down her hair and forces it back down and into her hoodie pocket.

Bob's eyes scan over her assessingly. "Frank said you weren't feeling good," he says gruffly. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Bry says slowly. "Come in."

Bob comes into the room and Bry shuts the door behind him. She wishes she wasn't half dressed, that she at least had her shoes on so she could look him in the eye without tipping her head back like a fucking penguin. She wishes Bob wasn't rumpled and sweaty and that the hair on the back of his neck wasn't starting to curl-

"Shit, did I miss the show?"

- that he didn't look exactly the way that got her into this situation in the first place.

"Yeah," Bob says, definitely frowning now. "That's why I came to check you were still alive."

Bry makes herself smile but it feels cracked on her face. She takes a deep breath and shit, she never gets nervous normally.

"Bry?" Bob asks carefully.

Bry hates being coddled. "Sit down," she says, waving him toward the bed. Bob sits. "Okay," Bry says, "So here's the thing-."

Bob looks up at her, all blue eyes and soft, shaggy blond hair. Bry feels suddenly way more than nervous. She and Bob aren't the romance of the century or anything – they're not actually any romance; they just fuck – but he is her best friend. He better not freak out about this.

"Okay, so I'm knocked up," Bry says bluntly.

There's a seriously long pause. Bry puts her hands on her hips and forces herself to keep looking steadily at Bob. Bob looks like he's been hit in the face with a lump of concrete. He stands up.

"Shit," Bob says and Bry grimaces, waiting to see what the next word is. Assuming he manages another word. She hadn't realised that she'd been counting on him being… if not pleased then supportive, until right now. "Um." The rubs his palm over his chin, a nervous habit. "Who's the dad?"

It takes Bry a beat to process that she's actually heard that. Then she draws back her hand and punches him in the jaw.

Bob's pretty solid and Bry is tiny but Bob still rocks back a couple of steps into the bed which fills Bry with a righteous sort of glee.

"Who the fuck do you think is the dad?" she snaps. "The mailman? Worm? The concierge at that hotel we stayed at last month where, oh yeah, I fucked you, no one else."

Bob brings a hand up to his jaw and stares at her with huge, blue eyes. "Christ," he says. "Did you have to hit so hard?"

She puts her hands on her hips. "Did you have to be so stupid?"

***


The next day, Bry doesn't see Bob until he comes looking for her after the show. He's got an angry purple bruise on his jaw that she feels bad about if not exactly sorry.

"Anyone else know?" is the first thing he asks.

She shrugs, shoving her hands in her pockets. They're between the venue and the bus and it's fucking freezing out here. " Lindsey. No one else."

Bob makes a face. "Yeah I thought so. I think she would have hit me if it wasn't really obvious you already had."

She shrugs again; she doesn’t know what he wants her to say. "You gonna smoke?" she asks. She hopes he isn't seeing as how she can't.

Bob makes a frustrated sound. "Of course I'm fucking not."

Bry doesn't look at him. She shivers and pulls her shoulders up to her ears.

"Christ," Bob mutters under his breath and takes off his jacket, offering it to her.

She rolls her eyes. "I'm not weak just because I'm knocked up, Bryar."

Bob grabs her hand, pushes the jacket into it. "I don't think you're weak," he snaps, crossly, "I think you're cold. You would have taken it last week, so take it now."

Bry blushes and pulls on the jacket. She's normally the more logical one. "You being bossy doesn't turn me on," she tells Bob sullenly.

There's a beat and then Bob laughs. When she looks up at him, startled, he's grinning at her. "Lucky we have different kinks then, huh?" is all he says.

She pulls the zipper up to her chin and glares. "Are you calling me bossy?"

He holds up his hands and gives her his most innocent look. It's not convincing.

***


Bob drags her off the bus as soon as they stop at the next venue and takes her to the nearest Starbucks.

"Coffee?" Bry asks hopefully. She can't find a book or a website that agrees on whether or not she can have caffeine so she's been drinking Gerard's fancy teas and getting increasingly cranky.

"Hmm," Bob tells her, leaving her to find them somewhere to sit while he gets in line.

He comes back carrying two mugs overflowing with whipped cream and Bry makes a face. Hot chocolate is awesome but it isn't coffee. Bob just rolls his eyes and hands her one of the mugs. "Just drink it," he says.

Bry takes a sip, getting cream over her fingers and looks up sharply. "Mocha?" she asks.

Bob grins. "I called my mom. She says coffee's fine as long as you don't drink shit loads."

"Bob Bryar, I love you-," Bry says fervently, licking away the cream so she can get to the sweet, sweet coffee. Then the caffeine kicks in. "Wait. You told your mom?" Shit, Bry really likes Bob's mom.

Bob licks cream off his lipring and Bry tries not to suck on her own in response. She fails. "I didn't tell her why I was asking," he says, "I figured you wanted to keep this on the downlow for now."

Bry should probably feel bad about the swoop of relief in her belly when she hears that. "Okay," she says, "Thanks."

Bob doesn't say anything. Bry doesn't say anything else. She pulls her feet up onto the sofa under her and glares at the pink-haired barista when he looks like he might object.

"Okay," Bry says eventually. "Did you ask me out just to look at me?"

Bob's eyebrows draw together. "I figured we needed to talk." Bry snorts and he asks, "What?"

Bry shakes her head. "You want to talk about your feelings, Bryar?"

"Fuck you," Bob says comfortably. An old lady walking past them gives him a sharp look. Bry laughs into her coffee.

"Okay," Bry says, feeling her laughter dry up. "So we're having a kid."

Bob's fingers clench around his mug. "We are?" he asks.

It takes Bry a second to get what he's asking. She scrapes a bit of dried chocolate off the rim of her mug. "I'm keeping it," she says quietly.

Bob doesn't say anything. When Bry peeks up from under her eyelashes, he's very still.

Bry bites her lip. Fuck. It's not like she was expecting Bob to move in and raise the baby with her or anything but she was kind of hoping he'd be supportive; he always supports her. Besides, Bob's a soft-hearted guy underneath it all and she'd put money on him wanting kids.

Of course, that doesn't mean he wants them with her.

"No pressure on you, okay?" she says quickly. "You can have as little as you want to do with all this." Fuck, she's pathetic but she doesn't want Bob to stop being her friend because of this. That would suck way too hard to bear.

That gets Bob vocal again. "You think I could have a kid and not be part of its life?" he asks, frowning like he's worried she might really think that.

Bry shakes her head. "I just want you to know that I'm not expecting anything from you. This is my body and my decision and-."

"Right," Bob says, interrupting. "I get it."

He sounds off and Bry uncurls one leg and pokes her toes against his knee. "Bryar?" she asks.

Bob rubs his thumb against the rim of his mug, concentrating on that and not on her. "I said I get it."

Good, Bry thinks. Because that's good, right? "Good," she says. She makes it half a question but Bob doesn't correct her. "Good," she says again, more decisively.

***

***


1992

Tour life was half exactly what Bry had expected it to be and half completely different.

She was selling merch for the headlining band who were really not the greatest band of all time but were all pretty nice guys, good to a sixteen year old girl who was away from home for the first time. The tour manager was a shit and didn't give a damn that Bry was underage as long as she did her job and didn't get in the way.

Selling merch was not exactly difficult and it didn't give her much to do every day before the fans arrived. She wasn't the only girl on the tour but most of the rest seemed to be the girlfriends of someone in a band and she didn't want to be associated with that; she was here to kick start her own dream not get tied to anyone already living theirs.

She was hanging around backstage at the latest venue, drawing skulls on the back of her hand and thinking about Crys when one of the techs caught her eye. Bry had seen her before, tuning guitars and necking beers with a couple of other techs; she had one full sleeve of tattoos and a cluster of three piercings in her cheek.

"Hi," Bry said, getting up and moving over to a closer crate, careful still to keep out of the way. "I'm Bry."

The girl looked her up and down and smiled distantly. "That's nice," she said. "I'm Zoe and I'm busy." It didn't sound like she was trying to be unfriendly, just like she really was busy.

Bry jumped up. "Can I help?"

This time Zoe didn't even both to look at her. "Can you lift boxes?" She didn't wait for Bry to reply before she was shoving a box of – shit, bricks? metric ton weights? – into Bry's hands.

Bry held back a grunt as her knees tried to buckle but she just tightened her arms, hefted the box further up her chest and followed where Zoe was leading.

They got the equipment moved and set up in a couple of hours and Bry felt sweat drying fucking everywhere all over her body. The stage looked ready for the opening band though and she had helped do that. It was a great feeling.

"Who are you?" Zoe asked, handing over a bottle of water and a lit cigarette. Bry took both and grinned her thanks.

"Bry Schechter," she said again.

"Yeah sure." Zoe nodded. "But who d'you belong to? Are you someone's kid or girlfriend or what?"

Bry bristled immediately, feeling vaguely disappointed but mostly angry. "I don't belong to anyone," she said fiercely.

Zoe laughed for a second then looked at Bry thoughtfully. "Oh shit," she said with another laugh. "You're another one, aren't you?"

"Another one of what?" Bry asked, still prepared to get pissed if need-be.

"On of us," Zoe said. "You're doing this because you want to be here for good, right?"

"Yeah?" Bry said warily. She didn't think that was that weird.

"Shit, kid," Zoe said, "You've picked a hard life for yourself."

Bry shrugged. "So?"

"So nothing," Zoe said but she was smiling properly at Bry now, almost fondly.

***


Bry didn't really get what Zoe meant for a long time. Sure, tour life was hard but it was also excellent. She was good at what she was paid for but she was better when Zoe let her help out with stagehand stuff. She was busy all the time and she was doing shit with music, which was all she'd ever wanted, really.

Then three weeks before the end of the tour, Bry overheard a couple of venue security guards talking trash to Laurie, the opening act for the last shows. She had an unusual act, just her and her drumkit but she was pretty good and anyway, that wasn't the point.

The point was that Bry honestly could not sit around listening to them being assholes and not say anything about it.

"The fuck?" Bry demanded, storming up to where Asshole Security Guy One was leaning in and tweaking one of Laurie's blonde braids, laughing when she slapped his hands away and asking if she was a dyke.

Asshole Security Guy Two looked up at Bry and snorted. "Uh-oh," he said, all faux-terror that made Bry want to punch him. "Think this one heard you calling for dykes."

Bry gave him the finger. "Laurie, you okay?" she asked, ignoring Asshole One.

Laurie nodded and tossed her hair. "Fine," she said but her eyes were scared and Bry's blood boiled up.

"Mark wants to see you," she lied, getting a hand behind Laurie and pushing her out of the corner those assholes had pressed her into. "Come on."

Laurie's fingers found Bry's sleeve, gripping tight, as they stepped away together and as much as Bry really wanted to kick some ass, she was just congratulating herself for negotiating this like a adult when someone, Asshole One or Asshole Two, pinched her on the ass.

Bry shook off Laurie's fingers and turned around so fast that Asshole Two didn't even get a hand up to stop her before she slapped him.

"Fucking bitch," he snarled, eyes going wide then narrow and angry.

"Keep your hands to yourself unless you want to lose them," Bry snapped at him, which was something she'd said a lot in her lifetime and rolled off her tongue easily.

He caught both her wrists in one hand, grinding the bones together and Bry had a long second to think fuck before there was someone else there, pulling Asshole One's hand away from her and shoving him back one step then another.

Bry looked up to see one of their security people glaring over her head with a fixed, angry expression. He didn't look much older than her, a Thundercats t-shirt stretching across his chest over puppy fat that was slowly turning into muscle.

"Finished?" he asked. Assholes One and Two looked mutinous but walked away.

"Thank you," Laurie said immediately, touching their guy's arm.

"I was handling it," Bry heard herself say even though she knew she should be saying thanks as well. It was just so fucking galling to stand up for herself over and over and have it do not good.

The guy nodded. "You were handling it good," he agreed and Bry looked close but she didn't see any mockery. "Just thought I'd lend a hand."

"Right." Bry drew herself up to her full height. "Thanks then."

That earned her a grin. "No problem," he said. "Bry, right? And Laurie?"

Laurie nodded. "Yeah,"

He held out a hand. "I'm Worm." Bry snorted but Worm just grinned wider, showing his teeth. "Like your name's any better, little girl."

Bry tried her very best to bristle at that but he was so obviously teasing that she couldn't. "Fuck you," she said easily. "You know anywhere around here we can get coffee?"

"Sure," Worm said, "Long as you're buying."

"Oh fuck you," Bry said again but she didn't really care.

***


After that, Bry wasn't sure if Worm was around a lot more or if she was just noticing him more. There was nothing she could call him on; it wasn't like he was stalking her or anything. He was just there.

When a guy hit on her at an afterparty and she couldn't shake him off, Worm would suddenly loomed up behind her and asked her something totally innocuous until the guy was gone. And when Bry got into fights – mostly word fights now, not fist fights; she really was growing up – she was always distantly aware of her Worm-shaped shadow silently backing her up.

It was part way comforting and part way infuriating.

"Stop it," she snapped at last, when she'd turned around five times in the last hour and found Worm within a twenty-foot radius every time.

"Stop what?" Worm asked blankly. "You stop it."

Bry grit her teeth. "I don't need a bodyguard," she said.

Worm snorted. "Yeah, you really fucking do," he said. "I've never known a girl to get in as much shit as you do."

Bry put her hands on her hips. "I swear to god I will bitch slap you if you don't leave me alone."

"Okay," Worm said slowly, frowning like she'd actually offended him or something. "Whatever." He turned on his heel, stalking off and Bry found herself feeling kind of bad.

***


"Okay, so I could have been nicer earlier," she said later on, passing Worm a can of stolen beer.

Worm took the beer and fiddled with the ring pull. "I wasn't trying to be creepy," he said at last.

Bry grinned into her own beer. "Shit, I know that," she said. She never felt uncomfortable in Worm's presence, just annoyed. "Just. I don't need looking after. I'm not a little girl."

"You're the youngest person on tour," Worm said, holding a hand up before she could protest, "And yeah, I'm not much older and shouldn't be here either, I know. Nothing wrong with us two sticking together, is there?"

Bry thought about it. "I'm not going to sleep with you," she said finally.

Worm choked on his beer. "I should fucking hope not," he told her. He ducked his head, cheeks going red. "Anyway, I'm sleeping with Laurie."

"Yeah?" Bry asked, surprised. She elbowed him. "Awesome." She hoped he could hear the thanks and the sorry and the appreciation that she meant to say but didn't know the words for.

He looked up at her and elbowed her back. "Yeah," he agreed, "She is," and that was that.

***


Master Post | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four
Tags: bigbang-2009, bob/brian, fic, nc-17
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