G.B. had just turned off the lights in the front of his store when Marshall Lee appeared outside the door, pressing his face to the glass. G.B. rolled his eyes. When Marshall Lee didn't move, he walked over. "I gave you a key. We don't have to go through this every time."
"But I'm a vampire," Marshall Lee replied.
"And I've invited you in time and again, so that shouldn't be stopping you." He shook his head and opened the door, suddenly enough that Marshall Lee stumbled. G.B. caught him and pulled him inside. "When will you stop being such a goofball?"
"When it stops annoying you."
"Never," Marshall Lee agreed, slipping his arms around G.B.'s waist. G.B. reached past him to lock the door again before he lowered his head for the kiss Marshall Lee was trying to give him.
"What are you doing here anyway? I thought you weren't going to be done until late." G.B. tugged Marshall Lee back behind the counter so he could continue counting out his drawer.
Marshall Lee shrugged, his face a careful blank mask. G.B. frowned at him, but Marshall Lee pretended not to notice, sliding open one of the case doors to steal a muffin. "Practice got done early, I guess. None of us were feeling it today. I think Kevin is sick. He looked all gross and shit."
"Which one is Kevin?" G.B. asked absently, marking down his change on the tally sheet.
"My keyboardist. So, you know, kind of important with the whole synth rock thing we're doing now." He huffed. "I mean, I guess I can switch hit, but that'll be a pain in the ass."
"Don't you have backups for this kind of thing?" G.B. stole a piece off the muffin. He hadn't had time for his last break, so he was starving.
"Well, yeah, but they're the backups, so they suck." Marshall Lee climbed on top of the counter and swung his legs. "Can I do something?"
G.B. glanced up. "No, it's all right. I do my best to have the place cleaned up before we shut the doors. You know that." He frowned. "Is something on your mind? You look weird."
"I am weird," said Marshall Lee, picking apart the muffin instead of eating it. "Not as weird as you, but still. It's rubbed off."
"I suppose it's been almost four years at this point," G.B. said. "We've had plenty of time to pick up each other's bad habits." He finished with the last of the cash and dropped it into the safe bag, then pressed the button on the register to spit out his electronic transactions. Once it started and he was sure it wouldn't jam, he straightened and put his hands on his hips. "Now really, what do you want?"
Marshall Lee blew a raspberry at him. "Whaaat, I can't just come pick my boyfriend up from work?"
"Work is three blocks from home, Marshall Lee. Don't play coy. Did something happen?" He raised his eyebrows. He thought they were beyond any point where Marshall Lee might have a falling out with his mother or his bandmates, but you never could be sure. That was how life worked. You could never be sure about anything.
"I wanted to see you, that's all." He looked sulky for some reason. Maybe G.B. was blowing it out of proportion, but neither of them changed their routine except for emergencies. And G.B. had chased Marshall Lee out of the store for trying to distract him enough times for Marshall Lee to know better than to try it. Mostly.
G.B. looked at him a moment longer, but Marshall Lee didn't crack. "Fine, fine, we'll go with your story." He ripped the transaction list off the printer and put that in the bag as well.
Marshall Lee reached over to touch his face. "You've just gotten paranoid in your old age."
G.B. huffed, but he kissed Marshall Lee anyway, because it would keep him from whining. And because even after all this time, he was still getting used to the idea that he could kiss Marshall Lee whenever he wanted and nothing catastrophic would happen. No one was going to run away or disappear or die. They could just be together--when both of them weren't wrapped up in business, that was.
"Now stay put for one damned second and stop distracting me so I can put this away. It's the last thing I've got to do, and then we can leave." To be honest, there were always a thousand other things G.B. could do, but he didn't feel like doing them now that Marshall Lee was here and making a nuisance of himself.
To his surprise, Marshall Lee didn't argue. He finally ate the bits of muffin, watching G.B. finish locking up and double check that everything was put away. When G.B. put his hands on his hips and nodded to himself, Marshall Lee said, "So you're done?"
"Yes. Let's go."
Marshall Lee took his hand and practically pulled him out of the store. Only practically because G.B. was used to such tricks and always walked at his own pace when Marshall Lee did this.
When they got outside, G.B. glanced around for Marshall Lee's bike, but it was nowhere to be seen, and Marshall Lee tugged on his hand, pulling them toward G.B.'s house. "So you came to pick me up so we could walk?"
Marshall Lee responded by pushing G.B. up against a streetlight and kissing him. Not the sort of thing you could get picked up for public indecency, but only just. G.B. kissed him back for a few minutes, and then he put a hand on Marshall Lee's chest and pushed them apart. For once, it wasn't because he was uncomfortable with PDA. That, at least, he'd gotten better with. "Really, what's gotten into you?" He searched Marshall Lee's face. "Have you decided to go on a surprise tour or something?" It was the only thing he could think of on short notice that would make Marshall Lee show up like this.
Marshall Lee tightened his hands in G.B.'s shirt and leaned forward to press his mouth against G.B.'s neck. "Maybe I'm just really fucking horny," he said, pressing their hips together.
G.B. dug his fingers into Marshall Lee's hips even as he said, "That's always true. Don't tell me then. But you won't be able to keep it a secret forever."
"Totally not the plan," said Marshall Lee, after dragging his teeth down the side of G.B.'s neck.
G.B. shivered. "So there is a plan."
Marshall Lee mumbled something, and G.B. rolled his eyes again. "Come on. Let's go home before you get really carried away."
To his surprise, Marshall Lee stepped back, holding out one hand for G.B. to put his own in. G.B. put his arm around Marshall Lee's shoulders instead, and they walked home like that.
G.B. thought Marshall Lee would calm down after they had a chance to work out some of their leftover energy, but he was still fidgety, flipping on his side, then his stomach, then his back. G.B. rested his hands on his stomach, waiting for Marshall Lee to tire himself out.
Finally, Marshall Lee made a disgusted noise and pressed his face into his pillow.
"Are you trying to smother yourself?" G.B. asked, raising his eyebrows. "If you're not tired, we can watch something. Or you can go fuss with your guitar out in the living room. I'll put earplugs in."
"It's not that."
G.B. knew better than to ask what it was, because if he spoke too quickly, Marshall Lee would make a joke, and then they'd never get to the root of it. At least he knew it couldn't be anything bad, or Marshall Lee would have been sullen instead of squirmy. Instead, G.B. laced his fingers together and recited prime numbers in his head.
When he got to 73, Marshall Lee groaned and pushed himself up on his elbows. "Look, everything's, like, where it should be right now, yeah? Finally. You've got your bakery and I've got a contract that doesn't murder me."
G.B. frowned. "Are you just trying to confuse me now?"
But Marshall Lee shook his head, and G.B. could tell by the frustration in his eyes that he wasn't just trying to keep G.B. from getting a good night's sleep. "I'm right, right?"
"I suppose...?" G.B. spread his hands. "Since when have you ever cared about checking off milestones?"
"I don't, but you do." And he was being earnest, not pejorative. Would wonders never cease. "And, you know, I wanna give you shit that you want. I want..." His eyes moved over G.B.'s face, and then he groaned again and shoved his head underneath the pillow this time.
"You never plan on finishing that sentence, are you?" said G.B. Marshall Lee just sighed in disgust. "Fine. Then I get to talk." He tugged the pillow out of Marshall Lee's hands. Marshall Lee still had his face hidden in the mattress, but it was a step up. "Yes, I like checklists and milestones—for my business and my professional accomplishments. This is not a contract. This is a relationship." He paused, picking at a loose thread in the pillowcase. "Is... is something bothering you?" His voice came out small, and he hated that. Never mind that it was honest.
Marshall Lee shook his head. "No, I'm just being a dumbass."
G.B. put the pillow underneath him, and Marshall Lee flopped on it, but not in despair this time. He was just sleepy. "Are you sure?" he said at last.
Marshall Lee muttered something too low to hear into the pillow, and then he picked himself up enough so he could drop his head down on G.B.'s chest. "Yeah, yeah, everything is fantastic and awesome and super happy fun time. I've got something on my mind, but it's not something bad. I'm just being stupid."
G.B. pushed Marshall Lee's dreads away from his face. "I wish you wouldn't disparage yourself."
"And I wish you wouldn't use big words after eleven at night, but we can't always get what we want," said Marshall Lee, still grumpy. "Now hush up and go to sleep. I need to wallow in my scaredy cat-ness for a while."
"That is not a word," said G.B., but he closed his eyes anyway. So Marshall Lee had decided to fuss over something. It was most likely nothing. The last time he'd acted this way, it was over asking G.B. if they could move out of Pepper's house and get somewhere of their own, which G.B. had been planning to do anyway. G.B. didn't think they needed to move again—their new place was pretty small, but it was good enough to hold all their stuff, since they mostly only came here to sleep. But he'd been wrong before.
The next day, G.B. got a text from Fionna. Yo dawg we should hang ouuuuttttttttt
Telling her that they saw each other on a regular basis since MoChro worked at the bakery and therefore Cake was always here would not fit in a single text, and G.B. didn't like splitting things up into multiple messages.
Anyway, he had been working a lot. And Fionna was in her first year of college, working her way through a phy ed major. They were busy people. We'll have dinner. At your place, not mine. He barely had room for a folding table in his apartment, and he did not like having parties where people ate on the couch. It just meant getting crumbs everywhere the vacuum couldn't reach.
Aww yiss. I want chicken pot pie.
Duly noted. When are we meeting?
It took Fionna a few minutes to answer. Well, Kala's got Saturday off. U?
He had the bakery like every day, but Pepper could run it in his stead. The nice thing about running his shop was by the time he was finished getting everything ready, most people weren't even out of bed yet. And Marshall Lee didn't have a show that weekend—he was put out because his keyboardist really was sick, so they couldn't do the small set of surprise gigs he'd been planning. Saturday is perfect. I'll make a cake just for you.
Fionna's answering yissss took up three texts.
G.B. had expected to spend at least part of Saturday lazing around the apartment with Marshall Lee, since they so rarely got a matching day off, but Marshall Lee cried off, saying he and the band were going to visit Kevin the keyboardist and make sure he hadn't died in his apartment because no one had checked on him. G.B. couldn't argue with that logic, although it still made him bite his lip until he realized he was doing it and made himself stop. There was nothing wrong. They still fought like two cats in a small carrier, but everything had softer edges now. Their arguments were like well worn shoes, or like grooves worn in a carpet from years of walking from the living room to the kitchen. Comfortable. Familiar. People no longer looked at them as though waiting for the bomb to go off. It was a good thing. Everything was fine. Absolutely.
MoChro picked him up, since he couldn't walk to Fionna's with the ingredients for chicken pot pie. As usual these days, G.B. had to throw several baby things in the backseat—the triplets were three years old at this point, but everything they owned was still ridiculously tiny and strange.
Usually, G.B. and MoChro didn't talk when they were driving somewhere. They texted and messaged and all the different things you could to do talk to someone in this day and age, but when they were actually together, they were silent, just like always. G.B. liked to think that MoChro liked the quiet as much as he did: neither of them would trade their lives now for the way things used to be, years ago, when G.B. was still in high school and MoChro was working nights, but still. Everyone else in their lives was loud.
G.B. couldn't seem to sit still on the way over, though, and MoChro pulled over halfway there and gave G.B. that flat look that said they were not getting out of this conversation and G.B. shouldn't even try.
"Marshall Lee's acting weird," G.B. blurted. He wanted to cover his mouth, but then he would have really felt like Fionna. MoChro raised his eyebrows, and G.B. let out a disgusted sigh. "Weirder than usual.”
"Bad weird?" MoChro asked. Other people always said he talked quietly, but G.B. was so used to his tone he didn't notice anymore.
"Weird weird. He says there's nothing going on but—I don't know." He rubbed his arms, feeling chilled even though the car was warm. "I'm being paranoid."
But MoChro's expression remained steady and even. "You have terrible instincts. Don't trust them."
G.B. frowned, despite himself. "You were the one who was always reminding me that Marshall Lee left," he said flatly. It was an old argument, barely valid anymore. But G.B. felt like he'd swallowed a hedgehog, and MoChro wouldn't hold his actions against him.
"And now he's got his feet nailed to the floor next to you," MoChro replied, unperturbed. "People change." He looked out through the windshield, his eyes narrowing. "Just... trust me. You've got nothing to worry about."
"You know that's only going to make me worry more, right?" G.B. said, crossing his arms. It was weak. MoChro didn't indulge stupid feelings, and that was what G.B. had always liked about him, because most feelings were stupid.
MoChro looked at him, his expression still placid and calm. Then he started the car again.
Fionna and Kala were sitting on the floor with the triplets, teaching them some kind of clapping game. G.B. made to sit on the couch, but Fionna grabbed his ankle and yanked, and he sat beside her before she could actually pull him over. She was strong enough to do that, and it hurt.
"Where's Marshall Lee?" Fionna asked.
Kim Kil Whan climbed onto G.B.'s lap, and G.B. started playing the clapping game with him so his hair wouldn't get grabbed. "He's busy today. But he said he'd be here soon enough."
Fionna blew a strand of hair out of her face. "That's weird," she declared. She pushed herself up and picked up the toddler so G.B. could join her.
"One of his bandmates is sick," G.B. said, shrugging. He was glad it sounded like it didn't bother him, because rationally speaking, it didn't.
But Fionna shook her head, picking up the bags of groceries. "Not that part. He told me about that. But this whole getting together for dinner thing was his idea. He said it's been a while since we all hung out."
This was true. Ever since Cake and MoChro had kids, and now that Kala and Fionna were talking about moving in together, getting them all in the same room was harder and harder. G.B. had been too busy to let this bother him. Mostly.
She cocked her head. "What, he didn't tell you that?"
G.B. shook his head, setting out the different ingredients just so even though they would invariably get thrown all over the kitchen. Fionna was an enthusiastic cook, but she was not a clean one. "I thought it was your idea."
Fionna shook her head. "Nope." She started dicing the celery, sucking on her teeth. "I thought maybe it was for something special, except I can't think of anything. Nobody's birthday is coming up, and it's not anybody's anniversary, I don't think." She glanced over at G.B.
G.B. frowned down at the chicken, and not because scraping the fat off was annoying and always would be. "It depends on what you're counting," he said absently.
"What do you mean?" Fionna asked, squinting at the celery. She took making sure that her pieces were evenly diced very seriously, no matter how much G.B. told her it didn't matter.
"Well, our anniversary isn't for a while yet, like you said." Fionna raised her eyebrows, and G.B. sighed. "But if you count further back, in a week it'll be seven years since the day we met."
Fionna's eyes widened. "Seven years? Wow, that's lucky."
G.B. shrugged, although Marshall Lee cared about lucky numbers as well. He'd shaken off most of his weird beliefs about hospitals and death, but he still threw a pinch of salt over his shoulder and made jokes about hanging a horseshoe over the door of their apartment. "I doubt that Marshall Lee even remembers the exact date. He's done well with our official anniversary, but that’s because of his time with the band. When we first met, he'd forget what day of the week it was. It didn't matter all that much to him." G.B. blew out a breath. "And in any case, that does not explain why he would want all of us together to commemorate a day that only has significance for us."
Fionna considered this. Then she shrugged. "Maybe he just wanted to have a party."
"It's probably that."
Thankfully, Fionna changed the subject to one of her classes after that, because talking about it was making his skin itch. Rationally he knew he had no reason to worry. But rational and Marshall Lee had never belonged in the same sentence.
Marshall Lee showed up just as G.B. was taking the chicken pot pie out of the oven. In other words, just in time to get in the way. G.B. wished that Marshall Lee had had to take a job in food service, even if it was only for a week, so he could learn to respect the cries of "hot pan" and "behind" like every other sane person on the planet. Everyone else was in the living room playing with the kids, so G.B. turned to him. "How was Kevin?"
Marshall Lee looked distracted, but that might have been because he'd stolen a roll off the tray and had burned his fingers. "Sick. Disgusting. I don't know what he got, but it sure as hell ain't no weekend bug." He pouted, sucking on his finger. "I really wanted to have a surprise show, too. I've been hinting at it on Facebook and stuff, so now I'm just going to sound like a dick."
"Again, I thought that's why you had a backup keyboardist." He turned to get plates out of the cupboards. "Don't even think about touching that pie while I've got my back turned, Marshall Lee. Not if you like having your fingerprints."
"Maybe I'm really upset about this secret show thing and I decided I wanna live a life of crime, you ever think of that?" Marshall Lee muttered. The effect was ruined since he was still sucking on his fingertips.
G.B. rolled his eyes. "That doesn't answer the backup keyboardist question."
"My backup keyboardist sucks, and then my show will suck, and the entire point of a popup show is it's supposed to be as epic as possible so that people lose their shit when they realize they missed it." He picked up the tray of rolls and followed G.B. into the dining room without being prompted.
"Well, you can always have one later, then. Go and get everyone else."
Marshall Lee obeyed without complaining, which suggested he really was upset about this whole keyboardist thing. Maybe G.B. shouldn't have been so flippant about it. He'd apologize later, when they were alone.
Fionna, of course, wasn't going to let anyone be the slightest bit sad or upset on her watch. She got the whole story out of Marshall Lee, who told it with appropriate dramatics. When he finished, she tapped her lips with her fork. "Why don't you just have G.B. play the keyboard for you?"
Marshall Lee blinked, and G.B. frowned. Not because there was anything wrong with the idea on principle, but just because it looked like Marshall Lee was seriously considering it. "I am not a part of your band," he said, nudging Marshall Lee with his knee. G.B. had wanted to make sure that his bakery sank or swam on its own merits and not because of Marshall Lee's legion of fans, who would come by hoping for a glimpse of him. Therefore, since opening the bakery, he had strenuously avoided Marshall Lee's livestreams. He came to shows, and everyone knew Marshall Lee had a boyfriend, but G.B. tried not to draw attention to himself. Marshall Lee had avoided ever mentioning G.B.'s full name. Even the most dedicated groupies on Tumblr hadn't managed to look G.B. up through two initials and a handful of blurry photographs of the two of them together.
"You don't have to be," said Kala, who was usually the sane one in these conversations. "You could put on a costume like everyone else does."
She had a point. Not to mention that it was difficult to recognize people on stage anyway, what with the flashing lights and smoke effects Marshall Lee used. And it wasn't like he really cared about playing with Marshall Lee's band. He knew all of his songs, after all. Even the really weird ones.
But Marshall Lee's behavior had been so weird lately, and the idea of doing something that would upset the balance even more just made G.B.'s skin itch. So instead of agreeing or disagreeing, he shrugged. "I'll think about it."
That meant, of course, that Fionna spent the rest of the dinner pestering him with reasons why he should totally do it. But G.B. was too used to her absurd ideas to ever complain at this point. He knew it was best to just wait it out. What surprised him was the way that Marshall Lee kept quiet during her parade of reasons. Usually he'd join in or one up her, but during the entire evening, he kept surprisingly quiet, enough that Fionna asked him if he thought he was picking up Kevin's bug.
When they got home, Marshall Lee turned to him and said, "So would you actually do it?"
G.B. looked at him, surprised, and pulled his shirt off so he could take a moment to think. "I didn't think you wanted to do the popup shows that badly. I thought they were supposed to be extra awesome."
"And it would be, because you'd be there, and you are totally better than Kevin. Don't tell him I said that, but it's true." Marshall Lee flopped backwards on the bed, still clothed except for his motorcycle boots.
G.B. rolled his eyes. "I know you're just saying that so I'll do it."
Marshall Lee blew a raspberry at him. "Why is it when I'm not lying, you never believe me?"
"Maybe because I'm too used to you acting like an idiot all the time. You never seem to think of the ways that will backfire." He stepped out of his khakis and shoved at Marshall Lee's legs to get him to stretch out the right way, which he did only reluctantly. "Also you only turn into a flatterer when you want something."
Marshall Lee rolled over so he can press his face into G.B.'s chest. "Not true. I tell you how good you look all the time." He dragged his fingernails over one of G.B.'s hipbones.
"And when you do that, you definitely have an ulterior motive." Marshall Lee mouthed at G.B.'s neck instead of answering, and G.B. ran his fingers down Marshall Lee's back, absently. "If you want to have sex, you're wearing an awful lot of clothes."
"Maybe I want to be unpredictable."
Marshall Lee huffed and climbed on top of him, and that was the last thing they said for a while.
G.B. had about fallen asleep, his face pressed into the back of Marshall Lee's neck, when Marshall Lee said, "Seriously, though, will you play keyboard for me so I can have a super cool popup show?"
He was being honest for once. And it wasn’t like G.B. doesn't want to do it. He just still felt off for some reason—but he didn’t want to get into a discussion about that, so he shrugged. "I suppose. If it means that much to you."
In lieu of an answer, Marshall Lee picked up his hand and kissed the back.
G.B. nudged him with his leg. "But don't tell anyone who I am. I don't want a bunch of Goths stalking my bakery."
"Nah, I'd tell 'em to come dressed up Lolita style instead," and G.B. didn't have to look to know that he was smirking.
"I can still change my mind, you know."
"But you won't, because you're the best."
"Don't push your luck, dear."
Letting Marshall Lee have his way once in a while was good, to make sure he knew that the fuss G.B. puts up was always an act. G.B. told himself that, anyway, as his face and hands got covered in dusky pink makeup.
"It can be a thing!" Marshall Lee had proclaimed, throwing his hands in the air. "I'm Marshall Lee the Vampire King, and you can be Prince Gumdrop."
"Why don't I get to be a king?" G.B. had asked, folding his arms. He knew there was no point in arguing.
"Because there can't be two kings. That would make this whole band mythos really complicated."
G.B. thought about asking how a prince was less complicated than a king, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that weird. Marshall Lee's entire band had a really complicated backstory, told via the three concept albums already released, a number of show-only songs, and lots and lots of fanart. Marshall Lee had meant to drop the vampire king shtick a long time ago, but the fans had gotten so into it that he was both stuck with it and not upset about that anymore.
"Besides, you and I both don't want any information about you out there," Marshall Lee had added. "The more mysterious you are, the better."
In G.B.'s opinion, he was about as mysterious as an apple tart, but nevertheless. Here he was. The makeup wasn't as annoying as he thought it would be, although he was still paranoid about getting it on his clothes. They were also pink, but a different shade. Marshall Lee had wanted him to die his hair, since it was blond and would actually take pink dye, but G.B. had put his foot down at that. So he got to wear a wig instead.
When he was finished, he had to admit, he didn't hate the effect. He looked nothing like himself, which meant that no one was going to see him on the street and connect him with anyone on that stage. Not that he felt like he belonged in a rock band when he was bright pink, either. But it was Marshall Lee's band, and so far he'd made all the right choices.
Also, Marshall Lee grinned like a shark when he saw G.B. That helped too. "The only problem with all this makeup is we can't make out," he said, tugging on the tails of G.B.'s jacket.
G.B. rolled his eyes. "Good thing we're not making this a habit, then. I've got my thing, and you've got yours."
Marshall Lee smirked. "Well. I'll make sure to show you how much I appreciate it after we're done." He smoothed his hands over G.B.'s jacket again, and his expression shifted from the cocky, perpetually randy grin he showed to other people to something softer, something G.B. had not expected to see this close to a show.
He put his hands over Marshall Lee's wrists. "What?"
Marshall Lee opened his mouth, then hesitated. He tugged on G.B.'s wig. "Nothing. You're just hot when you dress up, that's all."
G.B. rolled his eyes again. "God forbid you be serious for thirty seconds."
"I'm totally serious!" He looked like he was going to say something else, but then the bassist banged on the door and told them they had to stop having sex and come out for mic check.
"It's good to know everyone in your band is just as charming as you are," G.B. muttered, shoving Marshall Lee out the door first as payback.
G.B. actually felt nervous about being on stage, which he wasn't used to. Then again, he hadn't performed directly in front of people since he was in high school and still in band, and then he hadn't been so exposed. And covered in pink makeup, although a band uniform was worse.
It dropped away once they started playing, though. Marshall Lee was right about that. And he was being a shit. Between songs, when they retuned instruments or just took a break for water, the band always bantered in character. And Marshall Lee being Marshall Lee, he directed all of that at G.B.
After the first song, Marshall Lee had to replace one of the strings on his bass. As he did that, his fingers moving automatically with the ease of long practice, he said, "So, I know you're new and all, but you look like you'd taste damn good. How do you feel about sunlight?"
"I'd say you look stupid enough with the parasol you carry around, and I'm not joining you," G.B. snapped, surprised even though he should have been expecting it.
"But we could be all matchy matchy. It'd be super cute." He was smirking, and G.B. seriously considered pushing him off the stage. Only then his fans would just catch him, and he’d act like it was all part of the act.
"I'm perfectly happy where I am, thank you. Now hurry up and fix your guitar. Some of us don't have the rest of eternity."
And so it went for the rest of the night.
It was a short set, for Marshall Lee anyway—his shows usually went two hours. But G.B. was still sweaty and exhausted at the last song. He'd gotten more involved than he thought he would, considering he was only filling in. And considering he was wearing a thick jacket, which was the first thing he pulled off when they stepped off stage. Before he could yank off the wig as well, Marshall Lee had seized his hand and pulled him into the changing room.
"That was the hottest fucking shit in the entire world," Marshall Lee said, shoving G.B. against the wall.
G.B. put his hands on Marshall Lee's shoulders, keeping them apart so Marshall Lee couldn't actually pin him. Marshall Lee retaliated by shoving his hands up under G.B.'s shirt and dragging his nails down G.B.'s ribs. "Marshall Lee, I am not one of your groupies, and we are not having sex in your changing room."
Marshall Lee actually looked offended, drawing back his hands. "I have never had sex with one of my groupies."
G.B. looked at him blankly. "It was a joke, Marshall Lee."
But Marshall Lee was frowning now; he shrugged off his long vampire coat and threw it over the chair in front of the mirror.
G.B. grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and tugged him close again. "What I meant was we're going to wash off all this makeup and have sex at home, where it's actually comfortable."
Marshall Lee blew out a breath, slowly undoing the buttons of his shirt. "I know." But his voice was a mutter.
G.B. folded his arms. "What's with you lately? I know there's something on your mind, so don't act like there isn't. I'm not stupid."
"Do you think I'm serious?" Marshall Lee burst out, as though he'd been waiting to ask for a long time. Even though it was a nonsense question and G.B. was just as confused as if he hadn't asked at all.
"Is this a trick question?" he said, trying to keep his voice light.
But Marshall Lee shook his head. "That wasn't what I meant to say. I guess I just haven't got all the dumbass out of my system yet, Jeebles. Just chill. It's all good."
G.B. folded his arms, more to reassure himself than to indicate he felt any kind of way. "You're making me nervous," he said, because it was true, and because he was trying to be better at actually saying things instead of just thinking them until his head hurt.
Marshall Lee kissed his mouth, sweet and light and gentle, like they were out at a fancy dinner party instead of inches away from grinding against a wall. "Let me just figure out how to say it, okay?" Marshall Lee murmured, his lips still pressed to the corner of G.B.'s. "I'm not good at words like you are."
G.B. blew out a breath, resting one hand on Marshall Lee's hip. "Okay. But hurry up and get your shit together. Before I start wondering if something is really wrong."
"Everything is just as sweet and perfect as you, gumdrop," said Marshall Lee, and he laughed when G.B. shoved him away, shaking his head in disgust even though he felt better.
Marshall Lee laughed and cracked jokes with everyone else in the band, so that someone watching might have thought there was nothing on his mind. But G.B. was not just someone, nor was he stupid. Still, he kept his mouth shut until they got home because he didn't believe in ever causing a scene in public. Not that he was planning on causing a scene, but who knew what was going on in Marshall Lee's head when he got like this? Certainly not G.B., and that was the entire problem.
Once they were at home, G.B. grabbed Marshall Lee by the collar and pulled him over to the bed. "I didn't know you were serious about the sex part," said Marshall Lee, willingly falling backwards.
G.B. leaned over him, studying his face. Marshall Lee seemed as relaxed as he did any other night. G.B. sighed and stretched out next to him, resting his hands on his chest. "Please tell me what's going on," he said, looking at the ceiling. "You're scaring me. I don't know what to think about all these comments you keep making about our life, except that you got bored somehow without telling me. Is that it? Are you bored?"
Marshall Lee closed his eyes and sighed, and G.B. wanted to hit him. He didn't, but he wanted to. Instead he stared at the ceiling, focusing intently on the nonsense pattern of the tiles, until Marshall Lee rolled over and propped his elbow on G.B.'s chest. G.B. might have snapped at him, but then Marshall Lee looked down, his eyes moving over G.B.'s face, and G.B. still had no idea what was going on, but at least he didn't think that Marshall Lee was bored anymore.
Marshall Lee leaned down to kiss him, long and slow and languorous, and G.B. tried to relax into it, although he didn't do a very good job. Marshall Lee pressed their foreheads together. "I love you," he murmured, and before G.B. could say it back, he added, "Marry me."
G.B. pushed him away before he even realized he was doing it so he could sit up and stare at Marshall Lee. Marshall Lee stared back, his expression unreadable. Or maybe that was only because G.B. was so upset. "You want me to marry you?" G.B.'s voice came out in a squeak. "That's—that's why you've been acting so weird?"
Marshall Lee sprawled across his lap instead. "Yeah, I mean—" He blew out a breath and let his head fall back onto G.B.'s thigh. "I knew it would confuse the hell out of you, and I've been trying to figure out how to say it all week, but I'm not good at planning shit. You know that. If I try to write stuff down in advance, I just sound like an asshole. And I just..." He reached up to cup G.B.'s face. "I want you to know what you mean to me."
G.B. stared at him, then tipped his head back so he could think rationally. He wasn't upset. Shocked, yes. But he needed to stop sounding like an ass. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "I know that. I do." He looked back down at Marshall Lee, and it was a little easier to look at his face and see the total sincerity there. "What on earth does marriage have to do with anything?"
Marshall Lee wrinkled his nose. "I thought you cared about shit like that. You know. You went to high school and then you went to college and now you have a job. That's what you want. You wanna wake up when your alarm goes off and put on your dress pants and shake people's hands. I don't like normal, but I love you. So... married." He said it, as he always did when describing something that made no sense to someone else, as though he were trying to explain why two and two made four to a person who'd never heard of numbers.
"I have never once mentioned marriage to you, except when we were very clearly being specious." But that was too sharp. G.B. let out a breath. "It's not that there's anything wrong with the idea. I'm just... confused."
"That's what I was trying to avoid, gumdrop." He pushed himself up so he could kiss G.B. again. G.B. leaned into it, trying to relax. "I know you don't like surprises."
"Well, if you wanted to get married, why didn't you ever mention it?" said G.B., putting an arm around Marshall Lee. He thought maybe he was finally sounding like he wasn't terrified of the idea. Maybe. Because he wasn't. Probably. "We've talked about having kids and getting a house together and all those other sorts of couple things."
Marshall Lee snorted. "See, and I figured you were waiting for me to get my shit together or something. Or that you were pulling some weird kind of romantic comedy crap where you didn't tell me what you wanted and were getting all upset about it without saying anything."
G.B. wrinkled his nose. "It never even crossed my mind." He glanced over at Marshall Lee and raised his eyebrows. "Though I'll point out you don't even seem to have a ring."
"I totally have a ring. And I've been trying to get up the balls to take it out of my pocket this whole damn time." He bit his lip. "Except that there's no point unless I know if you're going to wear it."
G.B. shifted, turning the idea over in his head. "It's not that I'm against the idea," he said, picking up Marshall Lee's hand. "But you're the one who's got beautiful people of all genders throwing themselves at you at every opportunity. If anyone needs to wear a ring, it's you."
"I already wear rings, dude."
"Yes, but none of them are my ring." The possessive note to his own voice surprised him.
"Well, goddammit." Marshall Lee rolled over so he could press his face into the side of G.B.'s neck. "I thought you were expecting me to do it because I'm the one who was always running off like a dumbass. Now I hear I coulda saved myself the trouble and had you get down on your knees."
He huffed, although it was only an act, since he was crawling on top of G.B. "And I'll tell you what." He took G.B.'s wrists and pinned them down to the bed. "If you're going to tell me you never gave a shit about making me an honest man, then by God, you are going to give me the best fucking proposal in the entire world. If it's not Instagram worthy, I'm saying no." He leaned down to kiss G.B., but before their lips met, he paused. "Speaking of which, you never actually said yes or no."
G.B. rolled his eyes, sliding his wrists out of Marshall Lee's grip so he could rest his hands on his slim hips. "Yes, Marshall Lee. I will marry you. And I will propose to you. I want to give you what you want too, you know." He pulled Marshall Lee down for a kiss. "I would have done it earlier if I knew you wanted it."
Marshall Lee shrugged. "I didn't think I wanted it until I thought about it, but yeah, I totally do. I want..." He looked at G.B. for a moment. "I think I want to be a kept man."
The last bit of strangeness inside G.B. finally let go, and he dug his fingernails into Marshall Lee's back. "Good. Because that's what you are." He tilted his head. "But if you thought it was so important to me, why didn't you do it before? You've had plenty of opportunities."
Marshall Lee chuckled. "Duh, babe. Lucky number seven." And before G.B. could tell him that lucky numbers absolutely did not exist, he kissed G.B. again.