Summary: Mikey lost Frank at the zoo. It's up to Bob to find him and bring justice to the world; not necessarily but quite possibly in that order.
A/N: this time it's aholelabledlove's fault. 100%. Also inabathrobe who edited and fixed this fic and now you get it. YAY.
Bob didn’t start to worry until Mikey sidled up beside him in the Night & Day exhibit. When Bob looked over, Mikey’s hands were clasped behind his back and his head was tilted to the side as he watched the bats. He looked a lot like Gerard until he drew his shoulders together and darted his eyes over to meet Bob’s for a split second before looking back at the cage in front of them.
“Frank’s gone,” Mikey said without raising his voice or eyebrows. He didn’t turn towards Bob or make any indication that he’d ever even spoken.
“Uh,” Bob said, blinking in surprise.
“Gerard can’t know,” Mikey said.
When Bob blinked again, Mikey had disappeared. Bob would have been surprised, but this wasn’t the first time this had happened. Bob checked, and yep, Mikey had teleported himself to Gerard’s side, leaving Bob to go and find Frank.
Why, exactly, was Frank Bob’s responsibility?
Bob decided to find Ray first because Ray usually knew what was going on. When Bob found the curly-haired man sitting on a bench right outside the bat exhibit, however, Ray just shook his head.
“Don’t ask me how to get them to leave,” Ray said. “I tried telling them that the zoo has other animals in it, but Gerard won’t budge.”
“No, uh,” Bob said. “I was wondering if you’d seen Frank.”
“Frank?” Ray asked. The fingers of his left hand were moving idly up an invisible guitar neck. “I was just sitting here thinking about riffs, man. I didn’t even want to get off the bus. How should I know?”
Bob shrugged. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to, either. Mikey came up to me and --”
“Woah,” Ray said, dropping his hands in his lap. “Stop right there.”
“Mikey told you to do something,” Ray said, “and instead of doing it, you’re standing around talking to me? The hell’s your problem, man? You have any concept of personal safety? That kid tells you to do something, you go do it.”
“I thought you might know,” Bob said, but Ray shook his head.
“If you’re supposed to find Frank, then I don’t think I can help.”
“Is this some kind of supernatural thing?” Bob asked, heaving an internal sigh.
“Fuckin’ Ways, man,” Ray said. “Maybe, Mikey turned Frank into a monkey.”
“Is that possible?” Bob asked. Frank was already a handful in his human form; Bob did not want to imagine what kind of havoc he could wreak as a primate with even fewer cognitive abilities.
Ray shrugged and went back to his air guitar. “Fuck if I know,” he muttered around the tune he was humming.
So Gerard couldn’t know, Ray wouldn’t help, Mikey was some kind of mastermind... Bob contemplated asking Brian quite briefly, but could imagine the fallout of such a decision all too vividly. Brian would probably drop whatever cup of coffee he was drinking at the moment and run around, shouting, “He’s loose! Oh my GOD, he’s loose. What are we going to do!” or maybe he’d just have a heart attack and everyone would blame Bob.
Fuck, he’d thought that accompanying his band to the zoo would be no big deal, that Gerard would wax on about how poetic it was to observe an elephant, marching heavy across the lea, unencumbered as you see by the problems of modern society. And Frank would be sitting near Gerard, trying to twist every line of poetry so that it was a reference to his genitalia, and Mikey would be apart from them all, texting on his phone, and Ray would be making up riffs next to Frank, ignoring everyone.
Instead, Gerard had made a beeline for the Night & Day exhibit because of “Fucking bats, Bob!”, Mikey had shuffled off towards a spot of shade, Ray had gone to get a popsicle...
And Bob had chosen to follow Gerard instead of Frank. Fuck, big fucking rookie mistake that had been. But even though Frank hadn’t been the one to struggle with alcoholism or depression, Bob should have known better, should have remembered that when faced with the image of a bat, let alone the real thing, Gerard can amuse himself for hours.
Bob’s phone vibrated in his pocket. It had a message from Mikey.
find him yet
no, Bob replied. What kind of animals did Frank like anyway? Bob knew that Frank had a weakness for dogs in general and small dogs in particular, so he started with the meerkats.
He briefly considered asking some people if they’d seen Frank but didn’t think, “Have you seen a pint-sized guitarist with more tattoos than the underside of a bridge has graffiti,” would yield any desirable results, nor would, “Have you seen the jackass who’s been ruining my life for the past year?”
Bob had six more texts from Mikey by the time he made his way over to the big cats section of the zoo. He must have silenced his phone because he couldn’t remember the phone buzzing for any of them. He scrolled through them as he walked into the big cats exhibit.
where r u bob
did u find him yet
if ur ignoring me ill be very angry
Bob rolled his eyes. no, no, no, and no. stop texting unless you know where he is.
He pressed Send and moved to put his phone back in his pocket when it buzzed. He was expecting another text that said “bob” or maybe an emoticon that would convey Mikey’s impatience, but instead the text that popped up on his screen was from Ray.
mikey says frank might have been turned into a sixyearold.
Bob stopped walking.
He closed his phone and opened it up again.
The message was still the same.
His phone buzzed again when he closed it, but instead of a laughing text from Ray, it was from Mikey and all it said was:
Fuck this band. Fuck the fucking Ways and their fucking... ways.
Ray texted Bob again. mikey stole my phone. what’s up?
Bob’s eye twitched. FUCK EVERYTHING.
dude, capslock? Ray replied.
FUCK YOU, Bob texted back. And then he called Mikey. “Frank has been turned into a fucking what the fuck now?”
“Ray texted you,” Mikey said. “Is your phone not working?”
“How the fuck,” Bob said, and took a deep breath. “Fucking what?”
Mikey sighed. “I was turning on the microwave, and Frank said, ‘No, don’t do that,’ and told me that if I put metal in the microwave, everything would explode, and I told him he could suck my dick, and Frank said he couldn’t actually if the bus exploded, so I took my coffee out of the travel mug and put it in another cup, and Frank said, ‘Don’t microwave plastic either, Mikeyway!’ but the microwave turned on, and then Frank was six. And then he ran away.”
“He just ran off the bus? Mikey, what the fuck— How... What kind of... How does that even happen to a person?” Bob took a deep breath and tried to remind himself that there was more to the story and Mikey had some kind of plausible explanation.
“Um. It might have been a plastic-metal hybrid. And I may have brought him into the zoo... because I thought it would be funny. And then he might have run away. When he saw a butterfly. Or something. I don’t know. I am dealing in hypotheticals here. If Frank got turned into a six-year-old by me which I’m not saying he did, he might be loose. In the zoo.”
“Oh my god,” Bob muttered.
“Gerard’s coming, bye,” Mikey said, and hung up.
Before coming to the band, Bob would have agreed that, while the media and the hordes of fangirls had My Chem pegged as a band of satanists and magic-doers, the band itself was composed of four regular guys who just loved to play music. But that was before he’d joined and lived with them on a bus, and if these were regular guys, then Bob didn’t know what kind of world he was living in, but he’d like to go back to the normal one where people didn’t get turned into six-year-olds every other fucking day.
Okay, as fucking ridiculous as it seemed, Bob kind of trusted Mikeyway on this one, even if the man had somehow magically turned back the time on Frank’s clock.
The best course of action that Bob could think of was to just keep walking. If he had to do ten loops of this zoo, then he was going to kill Mikey with the dullest butter knife they had. He was going to make sure he died slowly.
Bob had to walk slower now because he wasn’t entirely sure what Frank had looked like as a six-year-old and also because checking out every dark-haired kid in the zoo would probably make someone tip off the authorities that a pedophile was walking around their establishment.
It seemed, though, that Mikey’s announcement could not have come at a better time because the moment Bob walked around the corner from the lions to get to the tigers, there was a little kid with black hair, leaning on the railing and trying to get as close to the big, bored-looking cat as he possibly could.
A woman with lots of blonde hair was looking at the kid disapprovingly and tugging her own blond five-year-old closer to her to get away from the little kid who seemed to be trying to get the tiger to eat him.
“Here, kitty, kitty,” the kid said.
“Frank!” Bob barked as loudly and menacingly as he could, hoping to God that the kid was Frank and not some fucking stranger.
But the kid flinched and dropped off the railing the second Bob called his name, and fuck, Bob had never been so relieved in his life. Frank looked at the blonde woman quickly and hunched his shoulders together.
“Frank, fu--” Bob said, cutting himself off before the end of the curse. “I’m so fu- Uh, sh-- I mean, you’re all right, thank... heavens.”
The blonde woman sniffed.
“Bob!” Frank said, brightening up a bit. “Look, they’ve got fuckin’ tigers!”
The woman looked scandalized and clapped her hands over her son’s ears. “My goodness,” she hissed, glaring at Frank and then at Bob. “Keep your son under control.” She wheeled her son away and stomped off towards some areas of the zoo that would hopefully have less swearing, though Bob hoped in a vindictive kind of way that she would go towards the monkeys and be horrified about them jerking off or something.
“Frank, fuck,” Bob said when he was in front of the kid. “What the hell?”
Frank blinked his huge eyes up at Bob. If Frank the adult was the picture of innocence after pulling a prank, Frank the kid was a fucking angel from heaven. “I wanted to pet the kitty,” he said.
“I mean, why’d you run off?” Bob asked, running a hand through his hair. “You scared the shit out of Mikey.”
Frank tilted his head to the side. “Mikey said I could play,” he said, slowly.
“Why didn’t you tell him where you were going?!” Bob asked, throwing his hands up in the air. “Frank, fuck, come on. How old are you?”
Frank beamed and held up five fingers.
“Six, Frank,” Bob said. “You’re six.”
“That’s what I said,” Frank said, rolling his eyes. “Why did you ask if you knew?”
“I wanted to make sure you knew, Frank! Do you know anything? Do you know that it’s irresponsible to not notify other adults where you’re going? Or to not keep your clothes on? Or to not ask before you fucking climb on people?” Bob was aware that he was probably raising his voice a little, but he’d spent the entire day looking for Frank. He spent most of his days looking for the tiny fucking maniac. “And why the hell were you sticking your hand into the tiger enclosure! Do you want to have your hand bitten off? Is that what you want, Frank?”
Frank was blinking rapidly now, and he shook his head quickly. “No,” he said, starting to open his mouth to say something, but Bob wasn’t done yet, and Frank couldn’t just keep interrupting him, fuck. He’d had about enough.
“Do you want to get lost so bad that we leave you behind, Frank? Do you want Mikey to have a panic attack? How about Gerard? Or Ray? Or me? Did you ever think about how Brian would feel if you just fucking disappeared, Frank? Do you ever think about anybody other than yourself?”
Frank sniffed then, loud and wet, and Bob pulled back.
“I’m sorry,” Frank wailed, tiny shoulders heaving before he just sat down in front of the tiger cage and buried his face in his minuscule hands.
Only then did Bob take a look around and notice that Frank’s hair was sticking up like it did when he started to run his fingers through it, which only happened when he got frazzled. He saw the candy wrapper sticking out of Frank’s pocket, and he remembered suddenly that Frank’s eyes had edged over to ecstatic from confused and terrified when he’d seen Bob. Oh, shit.
“Frankie, hey,” Bob said, kneeling down in front of Frank. If he was six all over, then he might not actually know them all, and now Bob just felt like a giant bully. Great. “Hey, stop, I didn’t mean it, come on. You scared me, that’s all.”
Frank’s eyes were huge when he dropped his hands in his lap and Bob wished he could kick himself in the head. He’d spent the day walking around from exhibit to exhibit, but Frank had probably done the same on an empty six-year-old stomach. Hungry Adult Frank was a pain in the ass; Bob couldn’t even imagine a child version of Frank in a similar state. He was pretty thin, so he probably had a pretty quick metabolism.
“I c-couldn’t find nobody,” Frank said between hiccuping sobs. “Mikey w-went away, and then B-b-brian didn’t know me, and ev... everybody was gone.”
Fuck. “Hey, you probably couldn’t find me because I was walking around looking for you, okay?”
Frank blinked and wiped at one eye with a hand. “You w-were?”
“All day,” Bob said, nodding. “I went to the flamingoes and the giraffes and the elephants.”
Frank hiccuped, but it didn’t look like he was crying as much any more. There was an awful lot of snot on his face that he kept sniffing back in. “And the monkeys? Did you see them too?”
“Yeah, the monkeys,” Bob said. “And the penguins.”
Frank smiled shakily. “I like penguins,” he said, voice small.
“How about we go see them, huh? After we get some food into you?”
Frank nodded, so Bob pulled out the tissues he’d brought along for Gerard’s inevitable crying fit at the way the animals were kept locked up. “Come on, buddy,” Bob said, reaching the tissues across. “Here, blow your nose.”
Frank stared up at Bob and leaned forward, hands still in his lap. Bob gritted his teeth together. Right. This was okay, he vaguely remembered that kids didn’t know how to do fucking anything. “Now blow,” Bob said, and where the adult Frank would have giggled, this Frank just heaved in a breath, squeezed his eyes shut, and blew into the kleenex as hard as he could.
Bob wiped Frank's face up as best as he could and grimaced at the tissue until it was safely in the garbage can. When he turned around, Frank was standing back at the fence of the tiger’s enclosure. He was resting his weight on his elbows on the wooden fence, and his toes were barely touching the ground.
“Okay, buddy, good job,” Bob said. “You’re probably pretty hungry, huh?”
Frank nodded, but didn’t move away. “I want a tiger.”
“I... don’t think Brian would really like that,” Bob said.
“Mikey likes cats,” Frank said.
“Not ones that will eat him,” Bob said.
“Okay, come on,” Bob said, reaching a hand out for Frank to take. Frank’s face lit up at the gesture, and he pushed himself away from the tiger cage to grab Bob’s hand with both of his.
“I want a hot dog,” Frank announced.
“You can’t eat meat,” Bob said, rolling his eyes as Frank lunged forward, pulling Bob along behind him.
“How about cake then. Can I have some cake?”
“No,” Bob said.
“Bob!” Frank shouted, darting around a couple and dropping Bob’s hand to gesture wildly away from them. “They have sharks, Bob! Sharks!”
“No,” Bob said, trying to catch Frank’s hand again.
“Okay,” Frank said, oddly complicit for a moment. They walked for two minutes before Frank tugged on Bob’s arm. “Bob,” he whispered.
“What?” Bob muttered.
Frank tugged on his arm again, motioning that he wanted to talk into Bob’s ear. Bob barely refrained himself from rolling his eyes again and leaned over.
Frank cupped his hands around Bob’s ear. “I have to pee,” he whispered.
And here, Bob had thought that his day would be over when he found Frank. Luckily, a woman directed them to the nearest bathroom just as Frank started to dance nervously around.
“I want a hot dog,” Frank announced when he came out of the bathroom.
“Wash your hands,” Bob said.
“And then I can have a hot dog?” Frank asked, eyes hopeful.
“Why don’t you just eat some of that weird chickpea stuff you got yesterday?”
Frank blinked, looking up at Bob like he was an idiot. “Because I want a hot dog,” he said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Of course you do,” Bob sighed. “No hot dog.” He still remembered, quite vividly, the last time Frank had eaten a hot dog out of desperation and hunger. It had ended in a lot of Technicolor vomit.
“No hot dog,” Bob said when Frank opened his mouth.
“You’re no fun,” Frank pouted.
“Wash your hands,” Bob said, “and we’ll get you a veggie dog.”
Frank frowned. “Is that like a hot dog?”
“It’s exactly like a hot dog,” Bob said, remembering all the times when his parents had lied to him just like this. Everything suddenly made sense.
Frank appeared to be thinking quite hard for a few minutes and then he nodded. “Okay.”
When he came out again, he presented dripping wet hands for Bob to inspect. “Good,” Bob said, grimacing when Frank grabbed his hand and dragged him towards what was apparently the front of the zoo. It was where Bob had been intent on leading them because it would take them to their tour bus, where there were all sorts of foods that Frank could eat, but they didn’t seem to be walking towards the exit at all.
“Frank, where are we?” Bob started to say, when he saw the hot dog cart. “No! Frankie, no, no hot dogs!”
“But I want one!” Frank said. He tugged on Bob’s arm again, and Bob planted his feet in the ground. If Bob hadn’t been mildly irritated with Frank, he would have found Frank’s determination to pull Bob forward hilarious.
“I said no!” Bob yelled. He yanked up on Frank’s arm, and Frank was so busy trying to motor towards the hot dog cart that he didn’t notice Bob was lifting him off the ground until it was too late.
“Bob!” Frank shouted, wiggling in Bob’s grasp.
Bob froze, trying to keep Frank off the ground. Frank seemed to struggle for another moment and then he went still, hanging off Bob’s arm like it was a monkey bar. “Haha,” Bob said, turning around. “Brian. Hey.”
Brian looked at Frank and then at Bob. “Who’s that?” he asked.
“This is... a fan,” Bob said, arm straining as Frank wiggled again, apparently hauling himself up. “Um, of the band. Haha, yep. Just an ordinary fan.”
“That you were shouting at,” Brian said, raising an eyebrow. “Right.” He watched as Frank ignored him completely and concentrated on climbing up onto Bob’s arm. “Hey, isn’t that the kid from earlier? I saw him...” Brian looked over to where he had apparently been sitting, in front of the kiosk that sold coffee. When he turned back, Frank had climbed onto Bob’s shoulders and Brian’s face fell. “Oh my God, it’s Frank.”
“I told you!” Frank shouted. He wrapped his arms around Bob’s head. He seemed to be vibrating, which was not a thing that adult Frank did when he was sitting on Bob’s shoulders.
Brian’s eyebrows flew together. “I am going to kill Mikeyway,” he hissed and downed the contents of the cup he was holding. “Frank, here,” he said, digging in his pocket and coming up with one of those energy bars he carried with him wherever he went.
“He’s with the bats!” Frank shouted, bouncing on Bob’s shoulders and making grabby hands for the energy bar.
“I thought you said you didn’t know where anyone was,” Bob said, taking the bar from Brian and handing it to Frank, so Brian could stalk off to find the Ways.
“Mikey said the bats would eat me if I went inside,” Frank announced.
Bob’s phone vibrated and he flipped it open.
did u just tell brian
“I don’t want it,” Frank announced, stilling just long enough to drop the energy bar into Bob’s hands. “I want a hot dog.”
“No,” Bob said. He unwrapped the energy bar and handed it back up to Frank. “You’re going to eat this.”
“No!” Frank said. He pushed it away.
“Come on, Frank,” Bob said, looking at his phone when it buzzed again.
“No!” Frank said. He was bouncing again, and Bob took in a deep breath so he wouldn’t snap. It was probably a bad idea to give a cigarette to a six-year-old. “No, no, no!”
“If you don’t eat this,” Bob said, closing his eyes, “the bats will eat you.”
Frank froze. “Okay,” he said and took the bar.
im not the one who bullied a six-year-old, Bob typed back.
fuck u bob, Mikey replied.
did you tell Brian about Frank, Ray texted.
i hate u bob, Mikey texted.
Bob put his phone back in his pocket. It vibrated again, but he decided to pretend it was off. “How is it?” Bob asked instead. He received an eyeful of energy bar in response.
“It’s gross,” Frank said. “I don’t like it.”
“Well, eat the rest of it,” Bob said. “Oh, fuck, was that the chocolate-covered one?”
“Yes,” Frank said. “I like that part. All done!”
“Fuck,” Bob said. “Get down, get down.” He knelt on the ground, and Frank reluctantly slid off his shoulders. His hands were coated in chocolate, as was his mouth. And somehow he’d managed to get it between his eyes. Okay, he needed something to wipe Frank’s face clean with. He looked around and snagged a handful of napkins from the hot dog vendor, and when he turned around, Frank was gone. “Fuck,” Bob muttered. He’d lost Frank again.
But when he started walking off towards the penguin exhibit, he heard a familiar giggle before a blur of black and white tore past him. “Can’t catch me!” Frank shouted, running as fast as his little legs could take him.
Bob looked stupidly at the napkins in his hand. “But I was going to clean your face,” he said to nobody in particular. Fine. If Frank wanted to run around, then maybe he’d tire himself out. Bob headed after Frank, speeding up at first, so he could keep Frank in his sights and then slowing down when it looked like he might catch him. “I’m gonna get you!” Bob said when he caught up to Frank.
“No!” shouted Frank, giggling as he ducked around a crowd of people.
“You’re not too fast for me, Frank. I’ll get you!” Bob said, reaching his arms out like he might catch Frank’s arm.
“No, Bob!” Frank said, darting away.
Bob laughed, ducking and weaving like Frank was until he burst into an area free of people, and.
Bob was panting a bit, damn his lung capacity. “Frank?” he asked, shoving his hair away from his face. Had he lost Frank again?
“Flying ninja!” something screamed and then there was a Frank attached to Bob’s leg, clinging on like a fucking spider monkey. Frank looked up at Bob, eyes wide. “I got you,” he said.
“Oh,” Bob said. “You got me!” He clutched two hands over his heart and made a choking sound before falling over. Frank shrieked when Bob fell forward and scrambled away from his leg, trying to get away before Bob fell on him.
Bob lay on the ground for a moment, catching his breath and keeping his eyes closed. He could be patient. He waited until he heard the shuffling of tiny feet and Frank leaned down and poked Bob’s cheek. “Bob, are you alive?”
Bob waited another second until it sounded like Frank was crouching on the ground beside Bob’s head, and then he lunged forward, tackling Frank to the ground and attacking his sides. “I am a zombie,” Bob announced, grinning in satisfaction as Frank shrieked again and tried to get away.
“Bob, no!” Frank said, giggling and squirming beneath Bob. “No more!”
“I am the tickle zombie,” Bob droned, wriggling his fingers around Frank’s neck.
Frank tucked his shoulders up. “Bob!” he wheezed, giggling so hard that he couldn’t breathe.
“I am the tickle zombie and I want to tickle your brain,” Bob said. He let Frank go and Frank zipped away, giggling all the while.
When Frank finally stopped running, they had made it to the penguin cage, and Frank plastered himself right up against the glass.
Bob took the opportunity to wet the napkins in his pocket at the water fountain. “Frank,” Bob said, kneeling down beside Frank, “c’mere.”
Frank shook his head, apparently transfixed by the black and white birds. Bob grabbed Frank’s left hand and wiped away the now-dry chocolatey mess from his hand and then the glass before moving to the other hand. “Frank,” Bob said. “Turn this way, please.”
Frank turned his face to the side without taking his eyes off the penguins. “They swim good,” he said.
“Mmhmm,” Bob muttered, using the cleanest part of the napkin he could find to clean off Frank’s face.
Frank’s eyes flickered up to Bob’s for a moment, and Bob stopped scrubbing his cheek. “What?” he asked when Frank kept staring.
“I like you,” Frank said, simply.
Bob swiped at the spot of chocolate between Frank’s eyes and tried not to focus on the green spots he could see mischievously glinting around the brown in Frank’s eyes. “Thanks,” he said. “I, uh, like you too.”
“I found this,” Frank said after Bob wiped up the chocolate smeared on the glass. He held out the hand that Bob had just cleaned that was empty a moment ago and dropped a rock into Bob’s hand. “It’s for you.”
“Wow,” Bob said. The rock was so warm. “Where exactly did you find it?”
“In my pocket,” Frank said, and turned back to the penguins.
Bob smiled and put the rock in his own pocket. For him, okay. “You’re a good kid, Frank,” Bob said.
“I want a penguin,” Frank said.
“You can’t have one,” Bob said.
Frank ignored him and just kept his face pressed up against the glass. They watched the penguins swim in relative silence. “I want a penguin,” Frank said, finally.
Bob closed his eyes. His phone rang and he pulled it out, keeping Frank in his peripherals. “What?” he asked.
“Where are you.”
“Mikey?” Bob asked.
Bob hung up. He had had enough of Mikeyway for a lifetime.
“I want a penguin,” Frank said.
“No,” Bob said, pocketing his phone.
Frank sighed hugely. “May I please have a penguin?” he said.
Bob rolled his eyes. “Still no.”
Frank huffed out a breath and turned back to the penguins, shifting from foot to foot. Already? Really?
“Frank, do you have to go to the bathroom?” Bob asked.
“No,” Frank said, but he didn’t look sure about his answer.
Right. He was still dealing with a six-year-old. “Frank, we’re going to the bathroom.”
Frank latched onto one of the big stones surrounding the tank. “I’m not going!” he said.
“Frank,” Bob said, trying to tug Frank away without drawing too much attention to himself. He let go and scratched his head. How the fuck was he supposed to get Frank to go where he wanted him to?
“Frank,” Bob said, “I bet you can’t beat me to the bathroom. You’re too slow.”
“Nu-uh,” Frank said, eyeing Bob suspiciously. “I’m fast.”
“I’m faster,” Bob said. “Race you!” He bit his lip and took off in the direction that he remembered seeing a bathroom in. He was barely jogging, but soon he heard a huff and the sound of tiny feet pattering after him, and Frank sped past him.
“I’m the Flash!” Frank announced.
Bob ran in front of him for a bit to direct him over to the bathroom. The moment Frank saw where they were going, he perked up and ran faster. Bob had to stop in front of the building and pant for a bit because he was a grown man with absolutely no stamina.
Frank came out as Bob was leaning up against the wall. “Wash your hands,” Bob said, flipping out his phone. Frank scowled and trudged back in to the bathroom.
brian hates u everyone hates u
do u have frank brian says u do
bob i dont hate u
This time when Frank walked out, Bob closed his phone and tried to look as surprised as he possibly could.
“What?” Frank asked.
“I thought I saw a squirrel by the water fountain,” Bob said, pointing to the fountain that he could barely see.
Frank’s mouth fell open. “Really!?” he asked. “Can we go!?”
“Hurry!” Bob said. “Go see if he’s still there!”
Frank nodded and ran off to the fountain. Bob watched as he poked around a bit and then ran back to him. “He wasn’t there!” Frank said.
“Are you sure?” Bob asked, making his eyes as wide as possible.
Frank blinked. “No,” he said and ran off to the fountain again.
He was back in a minute, eyes bright. “Bob, he wasn’t there!”
“Wait, is that him?” Bob asked, pointing towards the tip of the African exhibit he could see.
“Where!” Frank shouted and ran in the direction Bob was pointing. He got to the fence and looked around before coming back to Bob. “I didn’t see him! Did a lion eat him?”
“Maybe,” Bob said. “Hey, run to the penguins and then come back!”
Frank looked startled, but he ran away.
brian says come 2 bus
Bob put his phone back in his pocket when Frank came back. He still looked like he had a lot of energy. “Did you see the penguins?” Bob asked.
“Yeah!” Frank said.
“Did they look happy?” Bob asked.
“I don’t know!” Frank said.
“Go find out,” Bob said.
Frank nodded and ran off again.
Bob honestly thought it would be harder to make a child tire itself out, but apparently it was quite simple. When Frank got back, Bob pointed to a tree. “Run to the tree!”
Frank did. When he got there, Bob yelled for him to come back. He did and immediately sat down on the ground. “I’m tired,” he said, looking confused as to how this could have happened.
“Okay,” Bob said. “Come on, let’s go back to the bus. Mikey said he wanted to apologize to you.”
“I’m tired,” Frank said. He looked up at Bob and held up his hands.
“All right,” Bob muttered. He scooped Frank up, so he was resting on Bob’s hip. Frank wrapped his arms around Bob’s neck and turned his face to the side, and within seconds, he had fallen asleep. “Holy shit,” Bob muttered, hiking Frank up before walking back to the bus.
Everyone was waiting outside when Bob finally made it past the gates and down the endless parking lot. Frank was getting heavy in his arms, and his feet kept hitting Bob’s thighs whenever Bob took a step, but Bob was not willing to stop until he could put Frank into his bunk.
“Frank?” Gerard asked when Bob got within earshot of them.
“Shh,” Bob hissed. “He’s finally sleeping.”
Mikey looked a bit nervous, and Ray looked like this was the funniest thing that had ever happened to him.
“I could kiss you on the lips, Bob Bryar,” Brian said, voice low.
“He’s so fucking cute,” Gerard whispered, his freakish eyes and teeth awfully close to Frank’s face. Bob felt Frank stir and was about to growl or snap when Gerard leaned in even closer. “Hey, Frankie,” he cooed, face melting into a truly horrifying mask. “Oh my god, can I hold him? Can we keep him? Frankie, how’re you doing, little buddy? Think the fans would notice? Mikey, can I—”
“No,” Mikey said.
Gerard’s face fell. “But—”
Mikey perked up. “Is that coffee I smell?” he asked.
“Where?” Gerard asked, looking around.
Bob felt Frank sit up a bit in his arms, looking around, too.
“I think it’s on the bus,” Mikey said.
Gerard blinked at Mikey and then climbed on the bus. Mikey smirked at Bob, who snorted. He had done the exact same thing with the sleepy bundle in his arms not half an hour ago. “Weird. I never noticed that before,” he said. “You didn’t...”
Mikey just grinned, briefly. The sight was mildly terrifying. “Remember when we told you we had secrets? Now you know why Gerard couldn’t find out about Frank.”
Ray looked like he was barely containing his laughter, and Frank’s fingers were curling around the collar of Bob’s t-shirt, so Bob nodded to everyone and climbed on the bus. Gerard was standing in front of the coffeemaker like liquid might magically appear in the carafe if he just wished for it hard enough.
Bob was just about to put Frank into the bunk area when his phone rang. “Hey, buddy,” Bob said to the yawning Frank, “Just sit tight, okay?”
Frank blinked sleepily and rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand. “Okay, Bob,” he murmured, turning his face into the cushions. Bob hesitated for a second and tucked Frank’s hair behind his ear before jogging off the bus to answer his phone.
“Hi,” he said.
There was silence on the other end and then whoever it was hung up. Bob frowned in the general direction of his phone as he snapped it shut. Weird. He should really update his phone and maybe get caller ID.
It buzzed with a text not a moment later and he flipped it open.
coffee is ok 4 kids rite
“Mikeyway,” Bob growled, running onto the bus.
A very grown up and very naked Frank was sitting on the floor of the kitchen, blinking dazedly at his surroundings and holding a plastic mug of coffee.
“I told you it would work!” Mikey crowed, pumping his fist in the air.
“What,” Frank said, forehead creasing in a slow frown.
“Holy shit,” Bob said, pointing at Frank but looking at Mikey. “How did you do that?”
“Why’m I naked,” Frank said, looking down at himself. “Did I get drugged or something?”
Mikey took the cup from Frank and dumped it in the sink. “I figured, better reverse whatever happened, right? So I got him to stand back because I didn’t think we wanted embryo Frank running around or whatever embryos do, and then I had him drink from the cup because I figured... that was probably how it worked.”
“How the fuck did you figure that out?” Bob asked. “Frank, for the love of God, put some pants on.”
Frank looked surprised, but he got up when Bob told him to and disappeared into the back. “Wow,” Bob said. “That has never worked before.”
Mikey looked guilty. “I definitely have never turned Gerard into a kid by accident and then reversed it by doing what I just did with Frank.”
“Oh my God,” Bob hissed. “The media was so fucking dead on about this band, what the fuck.”
“We don’t sacrifice virgins or anything!” Mikey exclaimed.
“No, you just practice fucking black market coffee voodoo! Oh my God, Mikeyway,” Bob said.
“Well,” Mikey said, rolling his eyes, “at least I knew it would work.”
“Knew what would work?” Frank asked, emerging from the back in a pair of boxers and nothing else. So the coffee voodoo didn’t really work all that well in making people follow simple instructions when the person receiving those commands was already damaged in the brain. Good to know.
“Nothing,” Bob said.
“My microwave thing,” Mikey said.
“Oh,” Frank said, sniffing the air and looking past Mikey at the coffee in the carafe that definitely hadn’t been there five minutes ago. What the fuck, this band. “Like that time you turned Gerard into a five-year-old?”
Mikey smirked at Bob. Frank filled up a cup with coffee and sipped it before looking at the two of them. “What?” he asked. “What did I miss when I passed out?”
A corner of Mikey’s mouth lifted. It was a good thing, Bob thought, that Mikey didn’t use his powers for evil. “Nothing,” Bob said.
“Mikey,” Frank whined. “What did you do?”
“I think it’s time you went to sleep,” Mikey said, taking Frank’s coffee.
“Oh my God,” Frank moaned. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
Mikey glared at Bob and then turned to Frank. “Don’t you ever take my coffee away from me again. You hear me?”
“I’ll take whatever I fucking want!” Frank shouted, and snatched the coffee from Mikey’s hands. “You can’t turn me into a kid without my permission, what the fuck!”
Mikey pursed his lips. “Watch your back, Frank Iero. The next time you cross me, it won’t be pretty.” He glared at Frank and then stalked into the back.
Frank rolled his eyes into his coffee as Mikey left and raised his mug to Bob. “Fucking Ways, man,” he muttered, downing the contents.
Fucking Ways indeed.