Title: Becoming Who You're Not
Pairing: Gen (Ray/Bob)
Word count: 2,500
Request: Bob/Ray [OTP!], something about the early days. Right before/after Bob joined the band.
Notes: This is the first time I've ever written Ray in a fic, so I hope I did him justice. I don't know if this is what you wanted... it's a tad angsty, but mostly just really cheesy :).
The first time Bob steps on the My Chemical Romance tour bus as an actual member of the band, it’s like he’s stepping onto a totally different planet. He’s been in tour buses before, buses that were cleaner than this one and messier, buses with more people and less, noisier buses and ones where the only sound is the engine and the wheels moving over pavement. Hell, he’s been on the My Chem bus before, dozens of times, to talk about sound issues with Ray or to knock back a couple of beers with the group. He’s kicked Frank’s ass at Halo on that couch and let Gerard fall asleep and drool on him during horror movie marathons.
But none of that matters at all when he steps onto the bus for the first time as an actual member of the band. He’s running a couple of minutes late, having hit traffic on the way over, and everyone’s already there, waiting for him, when he punches in the code and climbs the steps. Bob may still be on Planet Earth, but the five stares following his every movement make him feel like an alien under a microscope.
It’s Brian who breaks the awkward silence. “Bob,” he says, and there’s something like hope in his voice. “Thanks for flying out on such short notice.”
Bob looks around the front lounge, takes in Frank and Ray looking tense, Mikey avoiding eye contact, Gerard pale and shaking but more aware
then Bob’s ever seen him. There’s a conspicuous void on the end of the couch, and Bob starts when Brian motions for him to take it. He hesitates, then nods and slides in next to Ray.
“So,” Bob says, “what exactly do you need me to do?”[-]
It’s a good week before Bob actually gets on the tour bus again. They film a music video (and Bob adds three new scars to his collection, tiny crescent-shaped marks on his palms from digging his nails into his skin and silently reminding himself that he wants
this, and that means he’s not allowed to hit any of the cameras), and Bob throws himself into practice, trying to learn a dozen songs in a few short days.
When he does get on the bus again, though, he can’t help but feel like an alien again. No one acts differently around him, but there’s a feeling in the air nonetheless. No one mentions that there used to be another member of the band, and it’s like they pretend that Bob’s been there all along. When Bob misses a snare roll during practice, Frank’s head whips around, mouth ready to say something biting, but he freezes when he realizes it’s Bob, not Matt, sitting on the throne, and he quickly swallows his words and starts the song again.
“It’ll just take some time for them to get used to you,” Brian says when Bob brings it up. “They’ve had a tough time, and they’re still not sure that this… you, that you’re going to work out, y’know?”
And that’s the problem.
Bob wants this—whatever ‘this’ is—to work out. He’s always been a drummer, first and foremost, even when he was a sound tech, and now he’s got a chance to play the instrument he loves in a band he respects. There’s no way in hell he’s going to mess this thing up.[-]
The first morning on the road, Bob sets his phone to go off at 8 AM. It takes him a couple of seconds to actually wake up, and he lies on his back and stares at the bunk above him, contemplating going back to sleep. But then his hand brushes the pair of drum sticks he’d stuffed in his bunk the night before, and it’s like a bucket of cold water.
Bob rolls out of bed before he can change his mind, blinking at the bright morning light that’s coming in through the open door to the front lounge. The bus is utterly silent except for the faint snores coming from the bunks and the occasional sound of a passing car on the road outside.
“The guys already love you,” Brian had said the evening before, when Bob had been scrounging his bedroom for his cell phone charger before dashing out the door to meet the bus. “Just be yourself, everything will be okay.”
Except that Bob can’t just be himself. Being himself means being a rusty drummer who hasn’t touched a kit in a couple of years. It means being a guy who can out-drink Quinn Allman on any given night. The guy who would rather punch out a photographer than pose for one. He’s not the guy My Chemical Romance wants.
He’d said as much to Brian, and gotten a snort in return. “You just have to be better than Pellisier. Which, not that hard to do.”
Brian’s words echo in Bob’s head as he stretches and wakes the rest of the way up. He can be better than Pellisier. He may not be the kind of guy that My Chem wants, but he’s pretty sure he can become that guy.
He makes his way towards the front of the bus, aiming for the kitchen and the coffee machine he knows is there. He’ll start coffee, maybe clean whatever dishes are in the sink. If the band sees that he’s different than their former drummer, better, maybe he’ll be allowed to stay.
He’s watching the coffee drip into the pot when he hears a voice behind him.
“You’re awake early.”
Bob starts, then turns to see Ray watching him from the doorway. He shrugs, says, “Yeah, I was awake early, figured I’d start a pot for when everyone else wakes up.”
Ray gives him an unreadable look, but nods, sleep-ruffled hair bobbing. “The other guys won’t be up for hours,” he says. “I’m surprised you’re up, though. Didn’t take you for a morning person.”
Another shrug, and Bob doesn’t meet Ray’s eyes as he says, “Yeah, well, it’s just how I am.”
There’s a moment of silence, and Bob waits for Ray to say something else, but the moment passes and the coffee finishes dripping with a soft gurgle. Ray pushes into the kitchen, fumbling for a mug, and Bob slips out of the room while he’s busy measuring cream and sugar.[-]
Bob’s first show is August 18, in Philadelphia. He’s had half a dozen practices, played in one major music video. The guys offer to take a couple of songs off the set list, but Bob just shakes his head and stretches his wrists out, going over beats and rhythms in his head.
He fucking nails
Afterwards, he gets a hug from Frank and a fist-bump from Mikey before Gerard comes stumbling off stage, exhausted but ecstatic, still pale and shaking from the nerves but grinning widely. Bob watches as the band crowds around him, and he congratulates himself on not screwing up.
“You did good, man.” Ray slides up next to Bob, startling him for the second time that day. “You sure you haven’t played recently?”
Bob glances over to Gerard, Frank, and Mikey briefly before turning to look at Ray. “Not in a few years,” he says. He massages his wrist absently, even though it barely hurts.
Ray hums under his breath. “Couldn’t tell,” he said. “Sounded like you’ve been playing with us for ages.”
“Practice,” Bob says, but Ray’s already walking away to join the rest of his band in celebration.[-]
The next morning, Bob pulls himself from bed once again before anyone else is awake and stumbles into the kitchen. He starts coffee and tosses out the trash that was left on the counter from the previous night, cigarette butts and coke cans, but not a beer bottle in sight.
“You don’t have to do that.”
Bob thinks he should be getting used to Ray sneaking up on him, but he jumps anyways. “Doing what?” he asks, grabbing a clean mug and pouring coffee in it for Ray.
“Cleaning up like that,” Ray says. “I mean, it’s not your bus, you shouldn’t have to…” he trails off suddenly, realizing what he said.
Something clenches in Bob’s gut, and he forces a smile. “It’s not a problem,” he says. He passes Ray the coffee, then brushes past him. “I think I’m going to get a couple more hours of sleep before we hit the next venue.”
He hears Ray say his name, low enough not to wake anyone else up, but pretends like he didn’t and crawls back into his bunk. He lies on his back, listening to Gerard snore above him, and wonders what, exactly, he has to do to not fuck this thing up.
At some point he must doze off again, because the next thing he’s aware of is Frank giggling outside his bunk and the sound of the TV in the lounge. His cell phone says it’s almost noon, and Bob groans and rolls out of bed.
Everyone else is already awake, and they greet Bob with smiles and coffee mug salutes before returning to their conversation. Ray pointedly doesn’t look at him, and Bob wonders if this is how Otter felt before they kicked him out. It doesn’t feel like he’s a part of the band, at least.[-]
The morning coffee encounters in the kitchen are starting to become a regular thing, Bob thinks. This time, at least, he doesn’t jump when Ray clears his throat behind him.
“Sorry about yesterday,” Ray says. He’s looking at the dirty tile floor, hair falling in his face. “I didn’t mean to… what I said, about this not being your bus? It is, you’re totally a part of this band. Well, we want you to be, you know, it’s just…”
“I know,” Bob says. He passes over a cup of coffee, a peace offering, and Ray offers up a tiny grin in return.[-]
They’re in the middle of fucking nowhere, Bob thinks, and a week into the tour. Somewhere with cows. Lots of grass. Not a whole lot else. Bob’s been staring out the window for half an hour now, jolted awake when the bus hit a pothole in the early hours of the morning, and unable to get back to sleep. It’s earlier than his phone alarm is set to go off, even, and everything outside the bus is hazy with early morning light.
Even if he wanted to get back to sleep at this point, it probably wouldn’t happen. Bob glances down mournfully at his third cup of coffee, a habit he’s quickly picking up from Gerard. “There are worse things to be addicted to,” he mutters under his breath, draining the last lukewarm sip from the mug and wondering if it’s worth standing up get a fourth.
“Talking to yourself?” Ray sounds amused, but also tired.
“Jesus,” Bob says, clutching the mug tightly. The caffeine isn’t doing anything to help him, and his heart is racing. “You’ve gotta stop doing that.”
Ray eyes the coffee pot, mostly empty, and then ignores it in favor of sliding into the table across from Bob. “Stop doing what?” he asks.
“That,” Bob says, waving his hand around. “Sneaking up on me. What are you even doing awake this early?”
“I could ask you the same thing,” Ray says.
When Bob doesn’t answer, Ray frowns. “I don’t remember you ever being a morning person before this tour,” he says. Bob opens his mouth to answer, but Ray keeps talking. “Or a clean person. But every morning, the dishes in the sink are done, and there’s always coffee ready when the guys wake up.”
Bob never took Ray for the most observant person ever, but, then, he’s never really talked to Ray outside of video game marathons, either. “Just trying to be helpful,” he says.
Ray watches Bob for a second, then nods and stands up. “Could smell the coffee from my bunk,” he says. “Did you finish it off, or is there enough left for me?”
And Bob thinks that’s the end of that conversation.
Only it’s not. Three days later, they’re in Tulsa or Toledo or Toronto, and it’s five minutes until they go on stage. Bob’s sitting off to the side, warming up and watching Gerard apply another layer of makeup in the tiny green-room mirror. He feels someone watching him, and has to look around the room twice before he spots Ray, a Rolling Stone open on his lap, watching him from the couch in the corner of the room.
Ray doesn’t say anything, or even acknowledge Bob returning his stare. But as they’re walking out to the stage, he bumps his hip against Gerard’s, whispers something in his ear.
After the first song, Gerard steps forward to the edge of the stage, greets the audience. Then he whirls around, arms spread wide, and points to Bob, who almost drops his sticks. “And this,” Gerard announces, “is our dear brother, Bob, who’s agreed to come out on the road with us as our new drummer. Let’s give him a big motherfucking welcome!”
The crowd cheers, and Bob almost misses his cue to start up the next song in his surprise.[-]
After the show, after he’s showered and changed and downed a beer in the back room and brushed his teeth so Gerard won’t have to smell it, after all of this, Bob seeks Ray out.
Ray is having one of his rare smokes on the side of the venue, but he drops the cigarette to the ground and crushes it beneath his sneaker when he spots Bob.
“What’d you say to Gerard?” Bob asks immediately. It comes out harsher than he’d intended, but Ray doesn’t look offended or angry.
Instead, Ray looks confused. “Isn’t that what you wanted?” he asks.
That’s the problem… it’s exactly
what Bob wanted, what he dreamed of. “Why would you think that?” he asks.
“You…” Ray trails off, and the confused look deepens. “You wake up early. You make sure there’s always coffee ready when everyone else wakes up. You wash dishes. You practice every spare moment, like you have something to prove. I just thought…”
Ray sighs. “I just want you to realize that you are
a part of the band,” he says. “We’ve gone through a lot of shit, yeah, and the other guys are too caught up in their own issues to notice it right now, but we do want you here.”
There’s a distant sound of laughter, growing closer, and Bob and Ray look up at the same time to see Gerard turn the corner, Frank hanging off his back and Mikey a half-step behind.
“I just don’t want to lose this,” Bob says, before the other guys get close enough to hear him.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to keep you, Bryar,” Ray replies, patting him on the shoulder. “Come on, we’d better save Gerard before Frank strangles him.”
Bob hesitates for a second, then nods and follows Ray to join his band.