Fandom cliché #2: Telepathy | Bob/Brian | 870 words | for the lovely harborshore
Guess It's Half Timing (The Other Half's Luck)
“Jesus,” Bob says, rubbing at his beard with the palm of his hand. It’s a nervous tick that he only usually gives in to when shit is really hitting the fan.
“No, I can’t hear His thoughts,” Brian says because, well, why not.
Bob drops his hand and glares at Brian. “This isn’t funny, asshole,” he says and no, of course it’s not. Bob’s just found out that Brian knows every single secret thought he’s ever had.
“I’m sorry,” Brian says and he doesn’t mean for the bad joke.
Bob frowns. He kicks the lounge door shut with his heel even though they’d both made sure the bus was empty before they’d come back here to talk, after Brian had realised that the rapid widening of Bob’s eyes and gibbering in his brain meant he’d found Brian out.
“Why the fuck are you sorry?” Bob asks, coming to sit on the sofa opposite Brian. Their knees almost touch and Bob’s thoughts run something like: really close, careful not too close, shit does he know I-. Shit. People don’t think in complete sentences but it’s easy to fill in those particular blanks.
“Bob,” Brian says, putting his hand on Bob’s knee. “That’s why I’m sorry.”
Bob goes a dull brick red. “Can you hear everything everyone ever thinks?” His mind is immediately full of snapshots of every dirty thought he’s ever had about people who Brian knows. The ones about Brian flash up the strongest.
“Nah,” Brian says, shrugging. “They’ve got to be within about ten feet of me. And it’s normally just impressions, not full sentences.” He doesn’t think now is a good time to mention that when it’s someone he’s really close to and when whatever they’re feeling is really strong, distance doesn’t matter. When Bob got sick from the burn on his leg, Brian was in another state and he still heard the frantic, frightened babbling of the fever wrapping around Bob’s thoughts.
“But everybody?” Bob presses.
Bob whistles. “Holy shit, Schechter, how do you cope?”
Brian doesn’t, not always. “The drugs and the drink really helped,” he says then looks away from whatever’s going to be on Bob’s face; sympathy or confusion or revulsion or whatever.
They sit in silence for a while. Well, Brian sits in silence; Bob’s thoughts are running around in circles but Brian does his best not to listen.
Eventually, Bob decides on what he wants to say. Brian keeps picking at his jeans and pretends to be surprised when Bob touches his elbow. “You want me to keep it a secret?” Bob asks. He doesn’t approve, but he’s willing to do it for Brian. Brian fights down a smile.
“Yeah,” Brian tells him. “I don’t like lying to the guys but I can’t do my job if everyone’s weird around me.”
“I’m not being weird around you,” Bob says.
Brian laughs. “You are totally being weird around me,” he says, letting himself relax just enough to nudge Bob’s shoe with the side of his boot.
Fuck off, Bob thinks loud and clear and obviously deliberate.
“You fuck off,” Brian says, nudging him again.
“That’s really weird,” Bob says and thinks in tandem (Brian suspects most people would be surprised at how rarely anyone thinks exactly the same words that come out of their mouths. Bob’s more honest than most at that though; it’s refreshing).
There’s not really anything else they can say. Yes, Brian telepathic. Yes, it’s kind of freaky. No, Brian doesn’t want anyone else to know. Hopefully, Bob isn’t going to completely flip out once he’s thought about it a little more.
They should get back to the others before anyone misses them, but Brian finds himself putting his hand on Bob’s arm when Bob stands up.
“Hey,” he says, trying for a smile that feels kind of nervous.
Bob’s face shuts down and Brian is working really hard not to read his mind for any clues. “Schechter, don’t.”
“You like me,” Brian says and he knows that teasing is a really shitty way of doing this, but they need to talk about it or Bob is going to be weird around him forever.
Bob collapses back into the sofa and groans. “Oh my god,” he sighs. “How about we just don’t, yeah?”
“I’m your manager,” Brian reminds him, “Nothing can happen.”
“I know,” Bob says, still sounding pained.
It's a shame that Brian can't read his own mind because he would have appreciated a heads up that his response was going to be really far too honest. “I like you too.”
Bob looks up sharply. “I-,” he says, swallows, “I didn’t know that.”
“Ah,” Brian says, tapping his temple. His heart is beating mega, mega fast. “Because you’re not telepathic.”
Brian stands up. Look at that, look at the time; he really does have to get back to work. “You shouldn’t wait for me,” he says, stopping in front of Bob. “I’m not asking you to wait for me. But I might not be your manager forever, you know.”
He opens the lounge door and walks through the bus before Bob can reply, but just as Brian reaches the front door, he hears Bob’s thoughts coalesce into a laughing well *fuck* and he grins to himself before stepping off the bus.