Tora (torakowalski) wrote,
Tora
torakowalski

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

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

2011: June

Bry makes it into her sixth month before photos of her pregnant self start appearing on the internet. For some reason, My Chem's internet fangirls are pretty taken with her – she knew it was a bad idea to be so visible in the Life on the Murder Scene DVD – and suddenly there's speculation everywhere she looks online about whether she's really pregnant and who the father might be.

Bry has to stop herself logging onto the My Chem blog and telling them all to go fuck themselves and that she's just been eating a lot of carbs lately.

"Yeah, no," Bob says, lifting her hands off the keyboard. Okay so maybe it isn't Bry stopping herself.

She spins around in her chair and glares at him. "There's a whole thread on there full of people debating whether I'm having Gerard's love child for fuck's sake."

Bob shrugs. "Yeah, that sucks. You should set Lindsey on them." He glances away then back at her. "More people thinking it's mine though," he says, not quite hiding a grin.

"Yeah." She studies her nails. Maybe she and Bob weren't as discreet as she always thought.

He sits on the table and gently nudges her ankle with his shoe. "We're going to have to make a statement soon."

Yeah, she knows. With Bandit, she and MSI's manager had everything planned and out in the open months before this. "Or we could not," she says, letting herself not be a manager for one selfish minute.

"Fuck that," Bob snaps, more vehemently than she'd been expecting. "You're not a secret and this kid isn't a mistake." He subsides, looking embarrassed. "Or something that doesn't make either of us sound like Scarlett O'Hara."

Bry laughs. She likes it when Bob gets passionate about stuff. Then she groans. "Oh fuck, I'm going to have to tell my folks now, aren't I?"

Bob looks at her oddly but thankfully doesn't act surprised that she hasn't already. Bob knows that Bry's relationship with her mom and stepdad is… interesting. She loves them and they love her but the idea of each others' lifestyles brings them out in hives.

Bob puts his foot on the seat of Bry's chair and she obligingly lifts her feet off the floor so he can spin her chair around until her back's to him. "Your dad going to come after me with a shotgun?" he asks, beginning to massage her shoulders.

She groans and tips her head back. "Nah, he's a card-carrying Democrat. He might run you over with his eco-car though."

Bob's fingers dig into the back of her neck, making a stiff muscle pop nicely. "So I'm fucked."

"Yep," Bry tells him unsympathetically. It's easier to mock Bob than it is to decide how the fuck she's going to tell her parents that they've got a grandkid on the way. Grandchildren were always supposed to be her brothers' and sister's department; she made them agree to that when she was still in grade school.

"So," Bob says. "You want me to come with you when you tell them?" He sounds as if he's asking if she wants him to come with her to an execution.

Bry makes a face at him. "I'm not going to tell them in person," she says. The idea of sitting her mom and stepdad and birthdad down in the same room is too horrific to contemplate. "I'll call them. You work on some kind of statement for your fangirls. Deal?"

Bob doesn't exactly look as if his execution has been stayed but he agrees anyway. "Yeah, sure, deal."

***


"Hey, mom," Bry says.

"Hello?" Bry's mom says then, "Oh, hi darling. Sorry, I can't hear you. It's so loud in here, your stepfather's watching Deal or No Deal." Her voice drifts away. "Nick, turn that down! It's Bryony."

Bry winces. "Mom?"

The background noise dies down and then her mom's back. "How are you?"

Not in the mood for small talk. "Mom, sit down okay."

"Okay?" her mom says cautiously. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Jesus." Bry takes a breath. She and her mom haven’t had an entirely comfortable conversation with each other since Bry called home and told her parents she was an addict. "I'm pregnant."

There's a very long silence. Bry strains her ears but all she can hear is Howie Mandel on the TV.

"All right," her mom says. She doesn't sound hysterical, which is nice. "How far along?"

Bry winces. "Six months."

Her mom goes quiet again. Fuck, Bry should have called her months ago. "Right. So! Who's the father?"

"A good friend of mine," Bry says quickly. "Bob Bryar? You met him a couple times. I think you liked him?"

Her mom doesn't give an opinion one way or another. She probably doesn't remember. Bry's introduced her to My Chem twice and each time she's looked completely out of her depth. "I suppose it's too much to hope that he's a good friend of yours who's also your husband?"

Bry can't help it; she laughs. "Nice try, Mom."

"Yes well." Her mom sighs. "I had to try."

Bry grins, rubbing her thumb around the casing of her phone and feeling the knot that's more or less always in her chest ease a little. "Oh, yeah. A+ for subtlety, Mom."

***


2011: June

If you're friends with Bob Bryar for long enough, you come to terms with the fact that he can damage himself in wildly bizarre ways at any given time of day.

Bry has never liked how careless Bob can be with his own safety, but she likes it even less when they're having a kid together. When she finds him on the roof of their bus, unharnessed and in nothing but her socks, she sees red.

"Bob Bryar, what the fuck are you doing?" she yells up at him.

Bob shifts around on top of the roof, making her wince. "The skylight's broken," he tells her. "I think I can fix it."

Great. "Are you kidding me? The sky light's broken? Well that's great; when our kid asks where its dad is, at least I'll be able to tell it that you died for a good cause."

"Hang on," Bob says and he disappears from view. She waits to hear a crash, but instead, he appears by her side. "It was totally safe," he tells her.

Bry rolls her eyes. "Right," she says and glares at him until he shifts, grimacing.

"Okay, so it was mostly safe."

She raises her eyebrows. Then she ruins her glare a little by yawning. "Okay, I'm taking a nap," she tells him. "Try to still be alive when I wake up?"

***


Bry wakes a couple of hours later to a high-pitched scraping sound above her head. She cracks her eyes open and curses when she sees a person-shaped shadow through the skylight. She is honestly going to kill Bob.

She storms off the bus, building up a nice hurricane of rage inside her chest and contemplating whether she wants to hire a hit man or do the job herself, when she rounds the corner and walks straight into Bob. Who is standing on safe, solid ground and directing Cortez, who is up on the roof, wearing appropriate safety gear and everything.

"Oh," Bry says, the wind going out of her sails.

"What?" Bob asks, innocently. "The kid's gonna need a dad, right?" He shrugs like it's no big deal, but she can see the beginnings of a smile in the corners of his mouth.

She smacks him. "Asshole," she says, but she can't hold back a little bubble of relieved laughter. She hits him again, harder, to make up for it. "I hate you."

Bob reaches over and pulls her hair; it's just long enough for a ponytail for the first time in years and she knew growing it was going to be a mistake. "I figured Cortez was expendable, right?" he asks, pitching his voice for Cortez to hear.

"Oh totally," Bry agrees and laughs when Cortez shuffles around in a careful circle to flip them both off.

***

***


2011: July

The last day of the tour falls on the first day of Bry's third trimester. The road is her life but just this once, she's relieved that they're headed home. She needs to sleep somewhere that isn't a bus or a hotel; she wants her own bed.

Bry's been fielding calls from Gerard ever since the Waybaby was born so she's already done tons of research on the correct way to hold a baby and how not to drown one in the bath and a dozen other things, so in some ways she feels pretty prepared. On the other hand, she's about one more piece of 'concerned' advice from various friends, acquaintances and business associates from choking a bitch.

So, you know, she wouldn’t say she’s totally calm.

There's a million and one things to sort out: shit like how long she'll have to wait to bring the baby on tour. What work Jeff can handle and what she'll be doing from home. How much maternity leave she can take.

Depending on when the kid comes, it looks like she's either going to be renegotiating contracts for Drive By's new album while in labour or hanging out backstage at Warped nine months pregnant and ready to drop.

And then there's the fucking birth. Those hours that she's gonna have to spend shoving a person out of her cunt. Bry is – though she hates the word – fucking petite; she doesn't have childbearing hips and her tits are barely big enough for a half cup of milk.

***


Three days after she gets back to LA, she wakes up at two a.m. her brain still foggy from a dream in which she could hear her baby screaming for her but couldn't fucking find it. Her hands are shaking, her heart beating too fast, her head spinning. The phone is in her hand before she even thinks about it.

"Ray," she says. She's maybe hyperventilating. She doesn't know why she called Ray except it's two in the morning, she's totally on her own, and he's the one she calls when she needs to be reassured that there actually will be a band in the morning or that their next CD really will hit the shops before President Obama has to run for re-election.

"Bry?" Ray asks thickly. He sounds like she woke him up which, duh, of course she did and in the background, she can hear Krista asking if everything's okay.

"Sorry," Bry says. Her voice sounds high and too-thin to her ears. "I just. I wanted to check-." Shit, she can't even think of a decent lie.

"Oh hey," Ray says sounding like he's waking up, "I am so glad you called, dude, wait til you hear this killer riff I was dreaming about. Hang on one second and I'll play it for you."

Bry wants to tell him that it's okay, she's just having a moment and she really doesn't need to be humoured but instead she listens to the sounds of Ray scrabbling around and then the first strum of a chord. She screws her eyes up tight and focuses on breathing. Her eyelids feel damp but she eventually feels calmer.

“Good?” Ray asks her when he’s done.

She doesn’t know if he means the song or her but, “Yeah,” she says anyway, “Good.”

***


She's been home less than a month before she realises that she needs a new place to live. Her apartment is awesome, she loves it, but it's not the kind of place a kid should grow up. Kids need a yard and neighbours, other kids to play with. Sure, she's basing this on shows like Boy Meets World and Gilmore Girls but that doesn't mean she's wrong.

Damn it.

It turns out that there are a lot of houses for sale in LA at the moment and a quick double-check of her finances tells her that she can afford a lot of them. It's pretty wild.

She opens up about a million tabs then checks her IM. Sure enough, Bob's there. Let Bob go home and he's as much as an internet geek as Mikey is.

sch3cht3r: make yourself useful – I need a new house
bcb: but u love that place
sch3cht3r: shut up – look at this link: http://www.househunt.com/b-la-cty.htm.
bcb: how the fuck do I know where u want to live?
sch3cht3r: where does your *kid* want to live bryar?

Which is how she ends up letting Bob come with her to look at houses. Shit, houses, when did she turn into that kind of girl?

***

***


2004

The day after Matt quit the band, Bry left the other four staring blankly at each other and flew to Chicago.

Bob barely got out a hi before Bry had him pinned against the wall, sucking on his tongue and scrabbling at his pants like this was their last time. She tried not to let herself think about the fact that it almost definitely was.

"Jesus," Bob said after. They'd somehow made it to his bed though Bry wasn't sure how. She propped herself up on her elbows and smirked at the long, red scratches standing out starkly on his pale chest. "Where the fuck d'you learn shit like that, Schechter?"

Bry pushed her hair out of her eyes and looked at him levelly. "Well it wasn't from the nuns," she said and grinned when Bob's eyes went wide.

"You went to a Catholic school?" Bob asked.

Bry rolled her eyes.

"You were a Catholic schoolgirl?" Bob said. Again.

Bry whipped her hand out sideways and punched him in the shoulder. "You can keep saying it, Bryar. It won't make it any less true or whatever you're fantasising about any less sick."

Bob rolled onto his side and grinned at her. "You still got the uniform?"

"Shut up a minute," Bry said regretfully, not letting herself think about straddling Bob while wearing her old school skirt, tying him to the headboard with her tie. "I need to talk to you about something."

It didn't take many words to ask him to save her band and when she finished, Bob stayed quiet.

"If I join the band, you're going to say we have to stop this, aren't you?" He waved a hand between them.

"Yeah," Bry said, relieved he knew her well enough that she didn't have to say it. "It's really not professional to fuck your manager." She didn't point out how unprofessional it was to fuck your tour manager; they both knew that one.

"Yeah," Bob said slowly, "I'm not sure. That might be too high a price to pay."

Bry laughed – because obviously he was joking. No one gave up a place in a band they loved in order to preserve a buddy fuck. After a couple of beats, Bob laughed to.

"You'll do it, right?" Bry asked and tried not to sound too desperate. "You want to?"

Bry tugged on her bangs until she lifted her head and smiled at her, his smile was quiet, more serious than it should be; he had a band, he should be jumping for joy. "Yeah, I want to," he said.

***

***


2011: August

"Madison?" Frank asks. "Olivia? Hermione?"

"Hermione?" Bry asks. "The fuck?"

Frank spins around in his chair then spins back to point to the webpage he's got open on Bry's laptop. "It's the fourth most popular girls' name, Bryony, says so right here."

Bry thinks about telling him to call her Bryony one more time and die but he already knows that. She wonders if Bob would do the actual murdering for her; she's just gotten settled on the sofa and it takes her ten years to stand up again these days.

"What are you doing, Frankie?" Bob asks, coming back into the room. "Bry looks like she's plotting the easiest way to kill you."

Bry tips her head back and grins up at Bob. "I'm plotting the easiest way for you to kill him," she contradicts. "I'm way too fucking heavy to be stealthy."

Bob rolls his eyes. "Sure, now you want me to do your dirty work for you." He stops behind the sofa, arms braced on either side of her head and smiles down at her. "Now?"

"Hey," Frank squawks, "I'm helping here."

"Helping how?" Bob asks.

"Baby names," Frank tells him. "You fuckers haven't gotten anywhere on your own so I'm helping out."

"Uh," Bob says, looking the special kind of panicky he always gets when someone reminds him that this pregnancy isn't going to last forever and eventually there will be spawn.

"We don't need help, Frank," Bry says for the seven hundredth time, even though they maybe really do. She and Bob are doing okay at the moment; waiting for the baby feels like limbo and they've carved out their own little niche in it. After the birth things are going to be different, they'll be sharing custody and that might get weird.

Frank just looks at them. There's no way he can know exactly what Bry's thinking but, "You totally need help," he tells them. "Now. Bobert, any thoughts?"

Bob shrugs, but it's his not sure he wants to share shrug rather than his actual not having an opinion shrug and Bry sits up, curious. "Bob?"

He picks at a nail awkwardly. "I kind of like Cory for a boy?" he says quietly.

Bry nods; she only has to think about it for two seconds. "Yeah," she says. "I like that."

Bob's head snaps up. "Yeah? It was my mom's dad and-."

"I like it," Bry interrupts. She only realises she's put her hand over Bob's when he squeezes her fingers in return.

Frank clears his throat. "Awesome. I'll send you my bill. Schechter, you got a hankering for Bryony Junior for a girl?"

"Fuck no," Bry tells him. Her parents took shit loads of photos of her when she was growing up but there's one that sticks in her mind – she was eight or nine and wearing a white lacy dress with ruffles around the collar that her great aunt made for her. She remembers being miserable and in the photo her smile is stretched and strained, her eyes panicked. That little girl is the epitome of Bryony to Bry, the good little girl her parents wanted but didn't get.

"Bryony Bryar," Frank's saying. His eyes go wide and he giggles. "Wow, you two can never get married."

Bry frowns at him. She hopes like fuck that she isn't blushing and can't work out why she’d even want to. It's not like she wants to marry Bob. "The fuck, Iero?"

"Bryony Bryar," Frank repeats and collapses into more giggles. Bry hates him. She also cannot stop herself laughing along with.

"Oh Jesus," she says, grinning, "Wow, Bryar, we can never get married." It's easy to joke about that; she doesn't need a wedding ring.

Bob's smiling too, but not outright laughing. It doesn't reach his eyes. "It's not like I'd expect you to take my name," he says quietly.

Beside Bry, Frank's laughter turns into a startled 'ulp' sound and he falls off the couch. "Holy shit, Bob, you've thought about it?" he asks from the floor.

Bob is definitely blushing. "No I fucking haven't," he growls at Frank. "I was just, you know. Saying." He shifts not meeting Bry's eyes. He looks uncomfortable, trapped and Bry jabs his arm with her elbow.

"Your surname sucks," she tells him.

"Your first name sucks," he shoots back.

Bry laughs. "Do you see me arguing?" she asks.

Bob's quiet for a second then, "Actually, it's kind of pretty," he says. Frank hoots, Bry definitely blushes and Bob stands up abruptly. "We're meeting the realtor at four, Schechter."

"Yep," Bry says carefully, levering herself off the sofa. She clears her throat. "Give me a minute; your kid's sitting on my bladder again."

"Nice," Frank snorts. Bry shuffles over to him, very slowly flips him off then licks her finger and sticks it in his ear for good measure.

Frank flails, hesitates half way toward slapping back at her and falls off his chair again instead. Bry feels suitably vindicated. She winks at Bob on her way out the room and Bob's laughing too hard to do anything but give her an approving thumbs up.

"House hunting?" Frank's voice carries down the hall as she reaches the stairs.

"Bry and the baby need a new house," Bob tells him. There's something in his voice, some tone that Bry doesn’t quite recognise. It's almost the defensive one he uses around reporters but it's not quite that. It wouldn't be, shouldn't be anyway, not with Frank.

***


Bob has been Bry's best friend for years and most of the reason they get on so well is that they agree on most of the big things and disagree on three-quarters of the little stuff.

It shouldn't be surprising then that they conclude their house hunting each with a house that they love. A different house that they each love.

"Look," Bob says, pushing up his shades and dragging Bry inside the house he's picked for another look. It's a big, open plan house, dark stained floorboards and warm-painted walls. It's a lovely house.

Bob pulls her from room to room; it's strange to see him so excited. "Look," he says again, "Tell me this isn't the most goddamn perfect house ever."

It is. It really is. Bry looks where Bob tells her to look and yeah, she can imagine their kid running through these rooms, chasing Tilly and the other dogs or being chased and… she can't.

She can imagine it, sure, but not without Bob living there too.

"It's a good house," she admits. "But I'm still going with the other one."

***


2011: September

When Bry looks in the mirror, she looks like she has a giant beach ball under her shirt and she can't wear her heels anymore so she's basically doing a great impression of a really short beached whale.

A lot more of her meetings are taking place over the phone or via email, partly so she doesn't have to struggle into clothes more complicated than sweatpants and the t-shirts she keeps stealing from Bob and partly so she can finish getting the house set up.

She's standing in her new house in the middle of what will be the baby's room, staring at the walls and wondering when the fuck she decided that mint green was an appropriate colour for the walls and how quickly she can get rid of it before Gerard sees it and bitches her out for offenses to art.

It's peaceful in the nursery. The bright LA sun is shining brightly outside but inside it’s muted by the white curtains with little Umbrella Academy umbrellas that Gerard found at one of his conventions.

Bry jumps when the house phone rings and she closes her eyes for a moment before waddling over to answer it.

"What?" she answers and Bob's laugh comes over the line.

"Nice to talk to you too, Schechter."

Bry's a girl but she's not a girl so the only reason for the swoopy feeling in her belly is indigestion. "What?" she repeats patiently, "Bob."

He laughs again. "Got any plans for next weekend?"

"Oh sure, yeah, I've got a hot date," she says automatically. He's silent so she rolls her eyes. "Bryar. I'm the size of a small horse and I'm not sure I fit through my front door, so no I don't have any plans."

Bob snorts. "I'll bring some oil to slide you out then."

She frowns. "What? Where am I going?"

He hesitates, which in her experience is never a good sign.

"What?" she asks cautiously.

Bob clears his throat. "My mom had an idea that you might want to go away somewhere for a break before the baby comes?" he says, sounding unusually uncertain.

"Go where?" Bry asks, looking down at herself. She barely manages to waddle out to her car.

"It doesn't have to be far. Mom suggested a resort a way up the coast that her friend's daughter liked." He hums. "It doesn't matter. I just thought maybe you could use the rest."

It's kind of sweet, in that she doesn't immediately want to shoot the idea down. "Thanks," she says, meaning it. "But there are contracts and-."

"Jeff can handle them," Bob interrupts her. "And it'd be my treat." He pauses. "Not that I'm saying I'd have to come with or anything."

Bry closes her eyes for a second. She hates it when Bob really wants something; she's shitty at saying no. "Who else can I make fetch me ice and massage my feet?" she asks, cursing herself for being so easy.

"So really you'd want a slave?" Bob asks, but he sounds relieved, happy.

***


The resort Linda suggested is three hours up the coast towards San Francisco. Bry drives, Tilly navigates, and Bob complains every one of the nine hundred times that Bry and/or Tilly need to stop to pee.

There's palm trees, white sand, beach huts and massages. It's the kind of place Bry would normally run screaming from, but the idea of five star, all inclusive treatment is really tempting at the moment.

Working on reception, there's a tall, shiny-haired redhead with curves in all the places Bry just has baby, who starts to chat Bob up when they arrive and continues on and off all day.

"Uh, hello?" Bry wants to ask her, barely restraining her cattiness because okay, maybe she and Bob aren't together but they must look like they are. The idea that maybe they don't leaves Bry feeling really sad. Hormones, she decides.

Still, Bry isn't out to stop Bob having a life and, later in her room, she hears herself say, "You can take that girl out tonight, if you want."

Bob lowers the room service menu he was reading and frowns at her. "What?"

Bry waves a hand, going for airy and unconcerned. "It's cool; she was hot. There's no reason why you can't have some fun." She hopes she sounds like she means it.

Bob's mouth works silently for a minute and he's calm and quiet when he says, "Fuck you."

Bry frowns, honestly confused not just faking it to annoy him. "What?"

"You know I don't want her," Bob says, standing up. "You know that. Just. Just stop acting like you don't know, okay? It isn't fair."

"What?" Bry asks again. "What's not fair? Fuck it, Bob, I was trying to be nice."

Bob snorts. "Yeah, it's nice to remind me that you're never gonna want me like I want you. Thanks, Bry, real nice."

Bry stares at him. She's still staring when Bob turns on his heel and makes for the door. She can't exactly run after him, but she can waddle pretty fast and she gets to the door at the same time he does.

"When you say 'want'?" she asks, pressing her back against the door so he can't get past.

Bob sighs heavily. "Come on, Bry."

"No," Bry says, shaking her head. "I don't know. Tell me."

"I want the whole-," He makes angry gestures with his hands. "The whole nine yards, okay? You and me and our kid as a family." He holds up a hand before she can speak. "But I know you'd hate that. So." He shrugs, not quite meeting her eyes.

"I-," she manages. She flounders for a minute and then she gets really pissed. "Who the fuck are you to tell me what I want?" she snaps, hands on her hips.

Bob rubs his hands over his face. "Because I know you?" he asks, talking to his palms.

That stops her for a minute. It's true; he does. "You want to what?" she asks, testing the waters, "Marry me?" She'd do a hell of a lot for Bob but she can't do that.

"No." Bob drops his hands. "No, not that. Everything else maybe." His face is so red, she'd be able to feel the heat coming off his skin if she moved any closer.

"Bob, is this because we're having a kid?" she asks him because she's never asked him for that.

Bob looks down. When he looks up, he's wearing his most determined expression. "It’s because I'm in love with you," he says.

Bry develops a sudden need to sit down. "Um," she says, staying on her feet with difficulty. "You what?" She sounds reedy, stunned.

His cheeks flame redder but he keeps his head up. "You heard."

"That's uh." She flails out a hand helplessly. "That's pretty sudden." That's really sudden. He's not supposed to spring things like that on her.

Bob shakes his head. He grabs her hand and leads her over to the sofa. She's still pretty staggered so she follows without any kind of argument. "It's really not sudden," he tells her when they're sitting down. "It's been a while."

"How long?" He hasn't let go of her hand and Bry doesn't want to mention it. Bob looks away so Bry shakes his arm a little. "C'mon. How long?" If he says any time within the last eight and a half months, she's probably going to slap him.

Bob shrugs. "You remember that time in Kansas when Bert picked up a hooker and they were fucking outside the bus?"

She nods, currently too taken aback to laugh even though in hindsight it was pretty funny.

"You emptied the dirty washing hamper over their heads and then you insisted on driving her home because we were in a shitty neighbourhood."

Bry can't do anything but nod again. She remembers that, sure. It was about a year after she and Bob first met. The baby does a somersault in her belly and yeah, Bry knows exactly how it feels.

"Bob." She's struck pretty much dumb. "Bob, that was years ago." It's just not possible that he's been in love with her that long; she would have noticed.

Bob shrugs. "Yeah, I guess."

"Wow," she says and punches him in the arm. "Holy fuck," she upgrades to while he's cursing her and rubbing his arm. "Asshole, you could have fucking told me."

"I'm telling you now," he protests.

"Yeah, when I'm too pregnant to suitably kick your ass. Bob, for fuck's sake."

Bob's shoulders draw up and he tries to pull his hand away. She grabs on, sinking her nails a little way in. "Bob," she says again. She feels kind of lost, breathless all of the sudden. "Bob." She wants to crawl into his lap and just… hold on. She's not that flexible right now though. "Come here," she says, trying to pull him around.

Bob hesitates. "So you can kick my ass?" he asks. She just pulls on his arm again and Bob sighs but rolls up onto his knees so he's facing her. She slides her fingers into his hair and carefully touches his cheekbones with her thumbs. This is pretty huge; she really doesn't want to fuck it up.

Bob swallows. Bry sees his adam's apple move up and down, hears the click of his dry throat and for some reason that makes her have to kiss him.

"Let me think about this, okay?" she says against the corner of his mouth and ten minutes ago she wouldn't have known that was the answer she would give to this but now she can feel pieces of her brain slotting together, faster than she can keep track of, and it's the only really fair answer that she has.

***
***


2007

Watching Bob play through the New Jersey Bon Jovi show was one of the worst things Bry had ever seen. He was Bob, so he wasn't exactly moaning in agony throughout it or anything, but the look on her face told her that he wanted to be.

His skin was grey-tinged with pain, sweat rolling down his cheeks that she didn't think had anything to do with the heat in the stadium. He was missing cues and dropping the beat and Bry wanted nothing more than to march out there and drag him away.

She got Ray's attention during a break between songs. "I know," he said, before she could say anything. "I know. But fuck, we've tried talking to him." He rubbed a hand through his hair, sweat dripping off the curls; he looked about as sick as Bry felt.

"I'll talk to him," Bry said firmly. She looked across the stage at Bob. He was bent over, one hand cradled against his chest, the other shaking while he tried to take a drink from his water bottle. He was carefully not looking toward her, so Bry snapped her attention back to Ray. "Are you going to be able to finish the set?"

Ray pursed his lips. "Maybe," he said, "We're gonna try." He gave her a look, and she nodded. He didn't need to say anything else; this was Bon Jovi on home turf, of course they were going to try to finish.

Twenty minutes later, they cut the set short. Bob pushed past Bry to get off stage and then she got stuck consoling the others, so it was another half hour before she could get him alone.

"Don't," Bob said, before Bry could say anything. He was lying back on his hotel bed, wrist strapped and a bottle of Percocet on the night table. Percocet sounded like a really awesome idea right about then and Bry briefly hated Bob for making her think that.

"Don't?" Bry echoed incredulously, closing the door with a slam and marching over to the bed. "Okay, I just won't then, huh? I'll just forget I'm your fucking manager and you fucking lied to me."

"Hey," Bob protested, sitting up. "I didn't-."

Bry threw up her hands. "You did. I asked if you were okay to play and you said you were fine."

Bob's expression closed down. "I thought I was," he growled. "Do you really think I would have fucked up like that voluntarily?"

"I think you're a stubborn asshole, Bryar. You fucked that set up for everyone," she shouted and his face just kind of crumpled.

"I know," he said, all the fight gone out of him. He pressed his lips together and turned his head away from her. "I know I did."

Bry sighed. Message delivered and unwilling to watch Bob slowly admit defeat, Bry picked up Bob's cigarette pack and retreated out onto the balcony.

She was just starting her third cigarette when Bob joined her. "Give me one of those," he said gruffly, slumping down against the railings by her feet.

Bry folded down to sit next to him, giving him her cigarette and lighting a new one for herself.

"I talked to your doctors," Bry said quietly. "You need surgery."

Bob shook his head, but he didn't argue. "I know," he said. "I fucking know I do, but fuck."

Without looking at him, Bry reached over and squeezed the back of his neck. "You'll hate yourself if you let the guys down again," she reminded him.

Bob laughed but it was a frantic, bitter sound. "If I get the surgery, there's a chance I'll never play again," he said, his voice flat.

Bry didn't have much to say to that; it was true. "If you don't get the surgery, you're going to fuck yourself up so bad that you'll for sure never play again."

Bob leaned back into Bry's hand. "I know," he said. He was quiet for a long few seconds. "I really fucking love this band. I can't lose that."

She tightened her grip. "You won't," she promised. "You get the surgery and it'll be fine. And-," She swallowed. "And if it's not, I will sort something out for you, okay? You can go back to the soundboard or you can work for me or something. You won't have to stop touring, I promise."

Bob rolled his head toward her and she couldn't resist any longer, had to look across at him. Bob licked his lips. "I-," he started then seemed to run out of words.

"Yeah, you're welcome," Bry told him quickly, totally uncomfortable with hearing any gratitude when she hadn’t said any of that to be nice. She’d said it because she'd just realised that she didn't want to be out here without Bob after all these years on the road together.

***

***


2011: September

They're back home and Bry has a plan.

By which she means she has a plan. A printed one that tells her how to assemble flat-packed furniture. She wishes she had one for her life as well; she'd even take one like this with the dubious English and the carefully labelled contents list that doesn't include half the shit in the pack.

Bry is in charge of telling Bob what goes where; Bob is in charge of fucking up his fingers on sharp edges. They're currently at an impasse over who's in charge of any lifting. Bry is pretty sure that wrist surgery trumps pregnancy, but Bob's a stubborn asshole and not easily convinced.

"The flat bit goes there," Bry tells him, pointing.

Bob spits out a screwdriver that he was holding between his teeth to say, "Where?"

"There."

"Here?"

"No." She slides down onto her knees and slaps his hands away from the pieces of TV cabinet that they're currently working on. Most of Bry's furniture came ready built but she couldn't resist a quick trip to Ikea as well.

She pulls the half-built side of the cabinet over onto his lap. He huffs and pulls it back. "I thought you were supervising," he says pointedly, but he's laughing.

It's a cloudy day and there's no explanation for the way he suddenly seems to light up in front of her eyes, something going ping in Bry's brain until she can't take her eyes off him.

This is Bob. Bob who has never once made her feel like she's a chick in a man's job, who always sticks by her and sticks up for her and puts up with her bullshit, who trusts her with his bullshit, who's sat back and let her have her own space, even though they're having a baby, even though he's apparently in love with her, who doesn't want to own her and is working his fingers bloody to build a home for her in a house he doesn't even like.

"Oh," she says, feeling stupid in a really wonderful way. "Oh hell."

Bob smiles at her uncertainly. "Hell?"

Bry puts her hands on his thighs and cocks her head. "Fuck's sake, Bryar, I'm in love with you."

Bob's laugh takes a second to come but, when it does, it's bright and loud and so fucking relieved that Bry has to kiss him. And then she has to kiss him again.

***


2011: September

LA is so fucking hot that Bry can hardly move. Of course, Bry can hardly fucking move anyway because she's just too big and too heavy and too fed up with life to bother.

It's possible the heat is getting to her just a little bit.

"Hey," Bob says and she waves a hand toward him but can't find the energy to turn her head all that way to actually like, look at him. Bob laughs like she said all that out loud and comes to sit next to her on the bed. The skin of his knee is scratchy against her bare shoulder but it's cool so she presses against him. "Your life, so hard, right?" Bob asks fondly.

"Fuck off," Bry mutters but she doesn't mean it. Bob's sitting between her and the sun, casting a heavy shadow over her and it's heaven.

"Okay, I brought ice cubes, orange juice and there's ice cream in the freezer."

That gets Bry to look at him. "You are my goddamn fucking hero, Bryar," she tells him earnestly. Bob grins.

He tugs on the hem of her thin, washed-out t-shirt, pulling it up until her belly's exposed then further until she feels air conditioning on her breasts as well.

"Bob," she mumbles, "Seriously? It's way too hot."

"Hush," Bob tells her and then his hands are on her skin and holy mother of god they're cold.

She hisses between her teeth and curls up, not sure if she's trying to move toward or away then making up her mind and realising that those hands are never, ever allowed to leave her. "What?"

Bob grins. "Ice bucket," he tells her, pointing to the bedside table where, yep, he's stood an ice bucket. He puts his hands in it again and when they come out, they're wet and dripping.

Bry catches his wrist, holding one hand above her belly and sighing in relief as cool drops of water pool around her belly button and roll down the sides of her swollen stomach. "God," she whispers and pulls his hands down so they're cupping her tits. She hasn't worn a bra since her breasts went through their last epic growth spurt and the feel of Bob's cold hands directly over her sweaty, sore skin is fantastic.

"Bob," she says and Bob laughs and leans down to kiss her.

"Lie still," he says and gathers up more water and a little bit of ice, cooling off her arms then pushing up her skirt to do her legs. She lets her legs drop open, feeling kind of embarrassed as she does so, but Bob doesn't have any problems running his hands up her inner thighs and around the v of her groin.

Cold fingers brush her folds and she's suddenly wet with more than just ice water.

"Mph," she mutters, "If this was your insanely roundabout way of trying to get me in the mood, it's working."

Bob looks up at her, eyes wide and genuinely guileless. "Seriously?" he asks, touching her breasts again with one hand.

Bry shakes her head. "Not there," she tells him and pulls her skirts up higher to give him the idea.

Bob laughs even as he settles down between her thighs. It's light and easy, his tongue on her clit while he rubs ice up and down her inner thigh with the hand not holding her open. When she comes it’s lazily too, easy, not exactly rocking her world or anything but that's okay, her world has been rocked enough lately.

She tugs on Bob's arm until he crawls back up the bed towards her then does her best to kiss him like she's coming to learn Bob should always be kissed. He sighs into her mouth, licking gently at her tongue.

"You're going to have to do all the work," Bry tells him, rolling onto her side. He spoons up behind her back and pushes her hair aside to kiss the nape of her neck.

"Is this okay?" Bob asks. She can feel the brush of the backs of his wrists against the small of her back when he unzips himself. He pushes his cock between her thighs and she tightens them around it. She wants him in her though. "Can't sex this near the end bring on labour?"

Bry reaches behind herself and palms his cock. "That's orgasms," she says, "And it's a bit late for that." She's a week off her due date; she's pretty sure the kid's ready for some world by now. She knows she's ready.

Bob laughs and leans over to kiss her mouth. "Know-it-all," he says fondly. She hears I love you.

***


Bry goes into labour the next day. Bob gives the impression of someone who'd be saying I told you so, if he wasn't so busy also looking like he was going to pass out.

***

from Twitter

bcbryar: baby boy. Cory. 3.17pm. 8lbs 4. Mom&bb gd.

gerardway: @bcbryar congrats dudes! Whens gd for visits?

michaeljamesway: @bcbryar ray frank and me booking flight now. Congrats!

gerardway: @coryschechterbryar welcome to the world little man!

bcbryar: @gerardway bry says wtf our son has a twitter?

***

***


2011: October

It's early evening and Cory is sleeping, one hand curled around the horn of the unicorn Mikey and Alicia gave him. He's six days old and Bry is exhausted.

She should probably be asleep right now, except she can't stop looking at him. He looks like Bob and not much like her but she doesn't care. Bob keeps telling her that all babies have blond hair and blue eyes and he'll probably grow out of it, but Bry hopes he doesn't.

Cory has ten fingers and ten toes, which Bry knows because she counts them pretty regularly. She'd be embarrassed about that, if she didn't keep losing Bob in the night and finding him standing over Cory's crib, just watching him breathe.

Bob's sacked out on the floor, Cory's spare blanket over his eyes. It's a good plan so Bry lies down next to him. He reaches out blindly and pulls her closer.

"I hate this house," Bry says quietly after a minute of silence.

Bob's head snaps up. "What?"

She looks away, feeling ridiculous. "Do you think it's too late to put in for the other one?"

"Bry." Bob rolls over and frowns down at her. "I thought this was your dream house."

She shakes her head. It sounds so stupid to tell him that she started to realise she was in love with him when she didn't buy the house he wanted her to get.

"C'mon," Bob says, poking her gently in the side; she squirms. "Tell me."

This whole relationship thing is going to get old fast, she thinks, slapping at his hand then giving him the finger. "I, uh." She looks away. "I didn't want to live in the other house without you, okay?" she tells the closet. The closet doesn't look surprised.

Bob's quiet for long enough that Bry contemplates giving up her careful study of every other part of the room that isn't his face.

"Fuck," Bob says eventually, quietly. "Jesus, just when I think I've gotten you figured out."

She smiles and lets herself look at him. "I wouldn't want to be boring," she tells him.

"You're not," he says sincerely and kisses her. She wraps her arms around his neck and bites his bottom lip – because, yeah, she's never going to be boring and he better get used to it.

/End

That's all folks - thank you for reading. All feedback gleefully received ♥.



Master Post | fanart by theopteryx | fanmixes by kthxrawr, defreule and shellies.
Tags: bigbang-2009, bob/brian, fic, nc-17
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