Dreamlike Lightning

A One-Shot

"Are you Mr. Agent?" A rude voice enquired loudly from behind him. Samuel winced at the mangled pronunciation and turned quickly.

"Argent, actually." He corrected mildly, adding the missing letter and softening the 'g' as he adjusted his glasses a bit. If he wasn't mistaken, the man standing in front of him was one of his new charges. The drummer, he thought, blushing a bit as the man gave him a dismissive look.

"Whatever. Do you have your bags?" The tone of voice was bored, now, instead of impatient. Dark sunglasses hid the man's eyes, but the distinctive red, white and blue dyed hair pinpointed the man's identity. Sam noted with slight amusement as a few girls pointed and giggled in their direction.

"Yes. I don't mean to be rude or anything, Mr. Jackson, but why are you picking me up? It's not really safe, now is it?" Sam asked as they started walking. The man seemed a bit surprised that he knew his name, but Sam couldn't really tell, behind the sunglasses.

The drummer grinned a shark's grin, but Sam stayed placid, waiting for an answer. "Testing the water."

He blinked, but let it pass, shifting the one, heavy duffle he'd packed hastily before being stuffed on the plane on his shoulder, the strap digging in uncomfortably. The airport was rather crowded, and Sam decided to put his questions on hold until they'd navigated out of the mess.

It was quite short notice really. He'd been informed this morning about the assignment, and only had an hour or so to pack before the plane left. He didn't even know why the previous manager had quit so suddenly, or much about the band itself, something he had to fix as soon as possible. Starting as soon as they were out of this mess.

The crowd in the airport moved apart rather quickly for the young man he accompanied, and it was really easier to just walk in the drummer's wake, his shorter stature and slimmer build not meant for crowd-breaking. It didn't take long before they were out on the sidewalk, headed towards a large parking area off to the side, Sam struggling to keep his strides as quick as his companion's.

The man stopped in front of a large, ugly and rusting Cadillac, one of the doors a different color than the rest, and a wheel cap missing. Sam didn't miss a beat, shrugging off his bag and throwing it in the spacious trunk before climbing into the passenger seat and pulling a thin file from his carry-on.

"I've read your file – the band's file." Sam broke the quiet as the surprisingly well-running car pulled from its spot, cutting off an electric blue Beetle. "There's not a lot in it, and I have no idea what Mr. Cunningham was doing before he quit."

Jackson snorted in amusement. "That's because Cunningham had no idea what he was doing before he quit."

Sam's eyes widened a bit before he could help it. The man next to him caught this and laughed loudly. Sam slumped a bit back in his seat. "Wonderful." He muttered as he reached for his bag and pulled out a yellow legal pad covered in scrawled writing. "So he was doing next to nothing?"

"That's about the sum of it, yeah." Jackson agreed, flashing him a sunglassed glance.

"How the hell have you been getting your shows off?" Sam asked, scowling a bit as he adjusted his glasses once more. He started on a fresh page, quickly filling it with his distinctive chicken scrawl.

"Luck." Jackson smirked, and Sam's eyes narrowed a bit in irritation before smoothing once more.

"Who was – is his first assistant?" Sam asked absently, continuing with his writing.

"Jamie Kensington." Jackson supplied readily.

"I'll have to talk to him-"

"Her."

"Her, as soon as we get there." Sam said, half talking to himself. Jackson smirked again, but Sam was too distracted to notice, spending the rest of the ride making a plan to pull off that evening's show.

xXxXxXx

Jamie Kensington was a bleached blonde bimbo with fewer brains than a mole rat on acid. Her every other word was 'like.'

Sam fired her after spending fifteen minutes trying to figure out how she'd made first assistant, and kicking her out after she tried to keep her position by offering to sleep with him. With an accentuated thrust of her ample bosom of course.

He caught sight of Jackson smirking outside the door, still wearing the sunglasses, thin lips curled in amusement. Sam beckoned him in when the crying blonde finally left.

"Who is really in charge here? And don't give me any bull about 'luck,' there's no way in hell you can get such a complicated show off without someone doing something." Sam scowled a bit in distaste as he recalled Jamie's sickeningly obscene display.

Jackson seemed vaguely surprised once more, but actually smiled a bit, something that relaxed Sam a bit.

"That would be Chester." Jackson's smile slipped into a smirk once more. "I suppose you'll want to speak with him?" Jackson's voice taunted a bit.

"Yes. But you have rehearsal. Go." Sam dismissed the drummer, who seemed a bit surprised once more, but it was damn hard to tell with those damn sunglasses on. The man left, and Sam snatched up his bag and left the small room that he'd been shown to first.

Half an hour later, he'd found his man. After correcting half a dozen safety violations and three wayward workers first, of course. One of the workers pointed Chester out from across the arena easily. Mainly because Chester was a very tall, very muscled black man with a shaved head. He probably weighed twice as much, if not three times, what Sam did.

After standing nearby for a few minutes without a hint of acknowledgement from the tall man, Sam grew impatient, stepping in front of Chester as he turned to give another order. At least the man seemed to know what he was doing. Unlike that vile Jamie woman.

"Are you Chester?" Sam asked him, a bit surprised when the man scowled.

"Jackson sent you?" The man rumbled deeply, his scowl not budging an inch.

Sam's eyebrows knitted a bit in surprise. "Yes." He offered cautiously.

The man heaved a great sigh and turned his attention from where he was supervising the sound setup for the rehearsal and show. "I don't have time for this." Sam caught him muttering under his breath.

"Look, you can go back and tell him that it was mildly amusing the first time, but it's just getting old now." Chester rumbled at him, frowning most intimidatingly.

Sam scowled. "I'm sorry?"

Chester seemed mildly surprised, but plowed on nonetheless. "No. I'm sorry. I don't care if you're not getting paid until you've completed your 'task,' but I'm busy." The man paused and raked his gaze up and down Sam's body lecherously. "Come back later though."

Sam's cheeks heated, and his scowl deepened. "I think you've got the wrong idea here." He began in a dark tone, drawing Chester's attention once more from the sound crews. "I don't know what it is you think Jackson sent me for, but I was told you're the one who has been getting these shows off. If I'm to replace Cunningham, I'm going to need to talk, in depth, with you."

Chester choked, his eyes widening before he let out a string of blistering curses that ended with him casting doubts on Jackson's legitimacy. When he was finished he turned to Sam, a surprisingly apologetic look on his face. "I'm very, very sorry about that." The man said vehemently, scowling a bit.

"It's fine." He brushed it off. "Rehearsal was supposed to start half an hour back. What's the problem?"

"The sound isn't finished being set up, and we're short three crew people." Chester said, hesitantly.

"Alright. How long until we're up for a basic run-through?"

"Half an hour?" Chester guessed, scrunching up his face in thought.

Sam adjusted his glasses once more, and turned back to his legal pad, muttering softly under his breath to himself.

"Okay, here's the plan. Get everything, and I mean everything, set up for the show tonight. They just had a show last night, so unless they really need it, there's no rehearsal, not with the band. If you can manage that within the next hour and a half, we'll have time for a quick dry-run through before the crowds start showing up. Take five people – two from security, there's a bit of an overrun there, and three from the stands, they can afford them – and put them to work on the crews – sound and lights. Menial tasks only. Supervised at all times." Sam instructed.

Chester nodded. "Can do."

"Good. See to it, I'll be around again in a bit." Sam waved distractedly, returning to his notes as he headed off across the grounds.

xXxXxXx

There were five band members. Two women, both on guitars, three men – the singer, drummer and keyboardist. All wore red, white, or blue, and had their hair dyed in varying shades to match the theme.

Melinda Shryer was the lead guitarist. She was in her late twenties, had long, flowing hair and didn't speak much.

Emily Cross, the backup guitar and vocals was, in contrast, barely out of her teens, was loud and outspoken, and had short cropped hair dyed the same as Jackson's.

Kyle Truss was the keyboardist, with tight curly hair and a mischievous glint in his eyes. He eyed Sam rather disrespectfully, smirking a bit from his perch on the couch next to Scott Shryer, the lead singer, who was seemingly asleep.

Matthew Jackson stood next to the couch, his smirk bigger than Kyle's as he, too, stared at Sam.

Sam's first move, upon entering the small room where the group had ensconced themselves while they waited for practice, was to cross over to where Jackson stood, and slug the man in the jaw, much to the man's shock, Emily's delight, Kyle's laughter, Scott's amusement and Melinda's satisfaction.

The sunglasses skittered away, and Sam scowled, turning back to the group. Emily applauded, smiling rather widely. Jackson himself seemed shocked speechless as he blinked, wide-eyed at the small man who had just punched him.

"Are you well enough acquainted with your music to do without a full rehearsal?" Sam asked, his tone slightly cold.

Scott answered. "Of course." He scoffed disrespectfully.

"Good." Sam ignored the tone.

"Why?" Melinda asked, curious.

"Because there's no rehearsal. Too much to do. You'll do a quick run through before the show tonight, but nothing in depth." Sam explained. "You have until four-thirty to do as you please, but get in the way of anyone who's working and I'll have your asses."

Kyle laughed a bit, but Sam just pinned him with a cold stare. "I don't deal with bullshit." Sam said, his tone still a bit cold. Then he completely ignored them and scowled down at his legal pad, scratching something more before repeating his admonition. "Four-thirty." He reminded on his way out the door. "Be there or you're not going on."

xXxXxXx

"I like him." Emily chirped, bouncing in her seat a bit.

"You only like him because he punched Jacks." Kyle shot a smirk at Jackson, who scowled a bit.

"At least he seems to know what he's doing." Melinda interjected. "That's at least better than Cunningham."

"Do you think he'll flip?" Emily asked, biting at her lip as she shifted a bit closer to Melinda.

"If he does, he's not worth the money the company's paying him. Like Cunningham." Kyle decided rather viciously, baring his teeth at the door.

Scott laughed, ruffling Kyle's hair. Kyle growled a bit, but leaned into the touch. "So far so good, at least. I can't believe you sent him to Chez like that, Jacks."

"Had to test him. He seems rather unruffled so far." Jackson replied, a bit absently as he ran one hand over the sore spot on his jaw. He wouldn't be surprised to learn Sam boxed professionally – for all his short stature, he had a mean right hook.

"I wonder why they sent some little fish though. I would've thought we merited someone with at least a little reputation." Scott pondered, smirking a bit at Jackson's vague look.

"Well, apparently there was a typo. And we've been pronouncing his name wrong." Jackson said, a bit of a smirk curling the corners of his lips. Scott raised an eyebrow.

"Oh, really?"

"Does the name, Samuel Argent ring any bells?" Jackson's smirk spread as four jaws dropped.

"The Samuel Argent?!" Emily squeaked out. Kyle laughed, choked a bit, then laughed some more at the high-pitched noise Emily was making.

"Yep. The one-and-only." Jackson replied, looking rather smug.

"So apparently we do merit someone big." Scott said, deciding smug was a good look.

"How goes the tally, Jacks?" Kyle calmed a bit to ask.

"He passed the car test. No hesitation I could see. He passed the Jamie test. She got fired in fifteen minutes and the look on his face when he kicked her out. Probably made a pass at the poor man." Jackson snickered as all four of his bandmates shuddered at the thought. "As far as I know he passed the Chez test, since Chez didn't pulverize him, he didn't freak and leave, and well, he punched me." Jackson rubbed absently at his chin a bit.

"So only the kiss test?" Kyle asked, eyes gleaming mischievously.

"Yep. Any bets, ladies and… ladies?" Jackson asked, smirking a bit as Kyle threw a shoe at him.

"I think he'll pass." Melinda spoke up. "He didn't seem too freaked when Chez assumed what he always assumes whenever someone calls him Chester."

"I'll go with her." Emily smiled at Melinda, who rolled her eyes good-naturedly, but smiled back.

"I don't think so. He seems a bit high-strung." Kyle decided. "Four-thirty or we won't go on?"

Scott frowned. "No, I think he's the type not to be fazed by much. He could be a good manager for us. He'll pass."

"Shall we say twenty?" Jackson asked, smirking a bit as he received agreement from all corners.

"Before or after the show?" Kyle asked, grinning impishly.

"After." Jackson decided. "We don't want to muck with the show, and we'll have three days until the next one if he fails."

Kyle cackled until Scott pushed him off the couch.

xXxXxXx

Sam didn't know how he pulled it off, but the show went on and did well enough, only a few stilted moments, and quick improvisations kept the crowd oblivious and loving every minute of the show. The only dangerous thing was the fireworks, with about sixty of them having faulty fuses. They needed to be taken care of immediately.

Then there was the packing up of the equipment to supervise, and the rechecking of the grounds to make sure that everything was in place to be loaded in the morning. Not to mention the security guards had to be given instructions and the temporary help dismissed. The workers that traveled with them had mostly slunk off to the hotel they'd rented out, the band had disappeared back there as well – at least Sam hoped they had, and weren't out partying and breaking laws.

Chester had assured him they were a generally well-behaved group though, and Sam was willing to take the big man's word for it. All Sam had to do before he could head over to the hotel himself was a quick check to make sure everything was done, and then he could grab a few hours sleep before working out Cunningham's paperwork. At least for this venue. He couldn't deal with everything in the few hours he'd have before he had to be back here supervising the load-up, but he needed to get things squared away before they left here, at least, before delving into the other papers.

Getting things settled for the night took longer than setup had, at least, or so it seemed to Sam, who had been up since nine that morning, had changed time zones, and was currently on his twenty second hour awake. Three hour time changes were not something he wanted to do daily, and neither were concerts on the same day.

So he was slightly tired as he finished checking the backstage area for extra people, or things that needed either to be tied down or packed away. The small room he'd met the band in earlier had a light on under it, and without thinking, he tried the doorknob. It gave under his hand, and he opened the door.

To the sight of Kyle straddling Scott, the keyboardist's hands under the singer's shirt, and their mouths seemingly fused together.

Sam shut the door, blinked, and decided he was hallucinating.

Another quick look proved him wrong, with Kyle's shirt conspicuously missing.

Sam shut the door for the second time. Decided that that room was one that could wait until the morning to be rechecked, and walked on.

xXxXxXx

Jackson smirked in the shadows as Sam walked away from the door, waiting until the short, bespectacled man was out of sight before knocking on the door lightly. Kyle answered a moment later, slightly out of breath, but having regained his shirt somewhere, though it was still unbuttoned.

"So?" Kyle huffed, starting a bit when Scott appeared behind him, reaching his hands around hide under the front of Kyle's shirt. Kyle shuddered a bit, but mostly ignored him.

"He just walked off." Jackson said, smirking a bit more. "He checked twice."

Kyle's eyebrows rose. "Well, that's not very clear." Scott bit down lightly on Kyle's neck, before sucking noisily on the skin. Kyle's eyes shuttered a bit as he clamped down on his lip to keep from making any odd noises.

"I have a plan. I'll let you know the results tomorrow." Jackson smirked a bit more before leaving the two to their own devices, a low groan following him down the short hallway.

xXxXxXx

Twenty minutes later, Sam was searching for Chester, without much luck. The arena that had been so packed earlier was pretty much deserted, only a few security guards scattered about to protect the equipment until it could be packed in the morning. He didn't know how such a big man could disappear so thoroughly, but the man had managed it somehow.

But with the way his day had been going, Chester had probably forgotten about his offer to take Sam to the hotel, or he hadn't really meant it in the first place. Which meant he needed to call a cab so that he could get some sleep before he was back here in the morning, supervising the load up. They were leaving at ten in the morning for the next venue, and everything had to be on schedule.

He'd only get a few hours sleep tonight, though, since he had to get together some sort of schedule for rehearsals and setups and work crews and organize the small suitcase of paperwork he'd inherited from Cunningham, who, it seemed, just shoved everything into the case without a single care as to what each was.

Sam scowled a bit as he made his third circuit of the arena. It was official, Chester was not waiting for him. Sighing, he let the expression melt off his face. He was too tired to sustain any type of anger really, too much effort. Instead he began rooting through his pockets, managing to dig out his cell phone without much trouble, setting the thick suitcase of papers down on the ground next to him as he dialed the operator.

The sleepy woman informed him that there were no taxis that ran this late, before promptly hanging up on him. Sam closed his eyes, slipping his hand beneath his glasses to rub tiredly at the heavy eyelids.

When he removed his hand, Jackson was standing not two feet in front of him, squatting a bit so as to be on eye level. Sam started in surprise, then scowled a bit. Jackson smirked, but scooped up his bag, and walked away.

Rolling his eyes, Sam followed, back out to the beat-up looking Cadillac, where his papers were stowed in the trunk, next to his thick duffle, and he took up residence in the front seat, not a single word exchanged between the two.

Jackson smirked, he liked the new manager. The man had great reactions and did a good job. Tonight's show had been the best one they'd done in ages, and mostly thanks to the almost seamless choreography that had run behind the scenes.

But there was still one more test to be run, since it didn't seem Sam had even registered Scott and Kyle's little display. They had to be sure that Sam wasn't opposed to such things, and Jackson knew just the way to figure it out. He was practically humming in anticipation of Sam's reaction, part of him hoping the man would flip, the other part hoping the man wouldn't and they'd get to keep him.

The hotel's parking garage was attended by a fan, who grinned happily as he drove past. Jackson acknowledged him with a smirk and a nod, quickly finding a parking spot near the lobby entrance. But when he turned to Sam, the beginnings of a new smirk on his lips, he found the short, slender man fast asleep, his well-used notepad cuddled to his chest.

Jackson let out a sarcastic 'awww,' before opening the door, barely missing swiping the car next to him as he clambered out of the old Caddy, slamming the door loudly. He laughed loudly as Sam jolted awake, swinging around to the back of the ugly car and removing the bags from the trunk. Sam had removed himself from the car in the meantime and was once more scribbling something on his notepad, murmuring something Jackson couldn't quite decipher under his breath.

Jackson slung the duffle over his shoulder and grabbed the small suitcase Sam had been wandering around the arena with, amused at the way Sam just fell into step beside him without comment or complaint, still scrawling illegibly across that ever-present legal pad.

Sam's key was waiting for him at the front desk, and he picked it up, his rather large shadow still following him as he headed towards the elevator. His watch told him eleven pm, but with the three hour time change, it was actually two am, here. He had to be back on the concert site at six-thirty. Two hours of sleep, and then two hours to get a head start on that paperwork from Cunningham, half an hour to get showered and dressed and ready to leave, and he should be fine. At least he was going to get a ride, for sure tomorrow morning. Or he'd steal the damn Cadillac. If he had to he'd wake the drummer up so he could get a ride.

The room that he'd been assigned was large, spacious and entirely too much effort for him. Though the bed looked rather comfortable and inviting. Two dull thumps came from behind him and he turned. Jackson had just dumped his bags on the floor, rather carelessly. It was a good thing his laptop was in his messenger bag, currently slung over his shoulder.

"Thank you, Mr. Jackson." Sam murmured, ready for sleep. Jackson smirked and stepped forward.

"It was nothing." Jackson practically purred, and Sam narrowed his eyes. He thought he was done with this nonsense, but apparently the drummer wasn't finished yet.

But the last thing he expected was Jackson quickly crossing the distance between them, tilting his chin up to kiss him soundly on the lips. Sam tensed, then relaxed, not responding, but not pulling back either.

Jackson was a bit surprised, but kept pressing for a reaction, one of his hands slipping around Sam's head to deepen the kiss. Still no reaction, as those soft, firm lips stayed steadfastly shut against his assault. Finally he gave up, pulling back petulantly to judge, from a bit of distance, Sam's reaction.

There was a bit of a blush on the shorter man's cheeks, but his lips were firmly shut still, turned down in a frown, and his eyes, which Jackson realized were a rather pretty grey color, were narrowed. Jackson waited.

"Are you quite finished now?" Sam asked finally, irritably crossing his arms.

Jackson raised a brow quizzically. "Finished?"

"Have I passed all of your tests? Or are there more?" Sam asked, scowling.

Jackson paused, considering. "I suppose you have." Then he smirked. "For now at least."

"Good." Sam relaxed a bit. "Now get out."

Jackson grinned. "Right-o, boss man." Sam just rolled his eyes as Jackson sauntered out, whistling a bit, anticipating Kyle's reaction when he told him he'd lost another bet.

xXxXxXx

"You did what?" Emily shrieked, then started laughing. Kyle was laughing as well, Scott chuckling as he ran fingers through Kyle's short curls. Melinda shook her head, though in disapproval or because Emily had shrieked practically in her ear, Jackson didn't know.

"What? It was the only way I could be sure." Jackson smirked.

"I'm sure there were other ways." Melinda said, but smiled as well. "How didhe take it?"

"Without a batted eyelash, like the others. Chez was ready to kill me, you know." Jackson replied, flopping down in a seat next to Scott and Kyle.

"So he's good then?" Scott asked. "Anyone have objections?"

"He made me lose my bet." Kyle pouted, his now-dark dyed hair shining in the lamplight.

"Aww, poor Kyle." Jackson taunted. Scott whispered something in Kyle's ear and Kyle beamed.

"He's good." Kyle chirped, still beaming.

Melinda rolled her eyes. "I think he'll be good for the group."

"I've got no objections." Emily said, nestling a bit into Melinda's arms.

"Jacks?" Scott prompted.

"I don't know." He mused. Then he flashed them a grin. "Well, at the least I can try and find out if he's gay."

Scott shook his head. "God, get a boyfriend already Jacks."

"You offering?" Jackson smirked.

Kyle shuddered, latching onto Scott's arm. "Hell no. Mine."

Scott grinned. "What he said."

xXxXxXx

Sam was to ride on the tour bus, with the band, since he hadn't had time to drive in his own car. The Cadillac was apparently Chester's. Chester had insisted that Sam call him Chez, something Sam was fine doing as he promoted Chez to first assistant, much to the man's surprise.

The pack up had gone without a hitch, though Sam was awake and alert only through the aid of a pot and a half of strong black coffee, a convenience he thanked god was part of the room he'd stayed in last night.

The band members had supervised the packing of their instruments, something that Sam had whole-heartedly endorsed. Nine-thirty and they were almost ready to leave. Sam allowed himself a smile at this, they were a bit ahead of schedule. He just had to sign the release forms that let the company pay the temporary employees at this venue, while Chester - Chez checked for stragglers or pieces of missed equipment.

Ten minutes later he was clambering onto the tour bus, the thickness of his messenger bag nearly obstructing his walking as he climbed the stairs. He checked with the driver, who assured him he knew the way to the next stop. Sam then turned to the back of the bus.

Three of the band members were in the large 'common area' of the bus, the two women and the singer. Melinda was reading while Emily dyed Scott's hair in the 'kitchen' sink. Dark red dye was running in rivulets down the sink drain. Emily's hair was a shockingly bright blue, spiked in eye-catching twists that shot out every which way. Melinda's hair, by contrast, was a deeper, darker blue, braided into one thick, damp twist that fell down her back.

Sam didn't say anything, just gave Melinda a distracted nod before claiming the small table for his own, setting down the thick bag and pulling out a few bulging folders. The bus lurched into motion, and Sam buried himself in paperwork.

It was a few hours later that his cell rang. Blinking in confusion, he pulled himself away from the reports on worker salaries to look around him. Melinda and Emily were on the couch, Emily's head pillowed in Melinda's lap, fast asleep while Melinda continued to read. Scott was nowhere to be seen, though Sam could hear some rather suspicious noises from the back area of the bus. Jackson was also nowhere to be seen, and Sam had no clue as to where he could be either.

"Hello?" He answered the phone quickly, to keep Emily from waking.

"Sam?" The voice on the other end rang out loud and clear and Sam winced at the volume, taking a moment to turn it down on his end before replying.

"Yes."
"How goes it, chap?" One corner of Sam's lips quirked up. For some reason his boss felt the need to call him 'chap' every time he talked to him.

"Not as badly as it could've." Sam replied, careful to keep his tone low to keep from waking Emily.

"That's good, that's good. When will you have a report written up?" The man's voice still boomed through the little cell phone.

"I'll email it before tomorrow." Sam replied, shuffling a few papers in front of him absently.

"Wonderful! I'll touch base with you after that, chap."

"Alright then."

"Ta!" Before Sam could roll his eyes, the dial tone sounded. Clicking the phone off, he tossed it casually into his bag and turned back to his tabletop covered with papers, and the bag of trash papers he'd collected beside his seat.

"Emily! It's time!" Kyle's loud voice could be heard from the back, and Emily's head shot up from Melinda's lap, a rather evil and shockingly alert expression on her face.

"Jacks! Get in here!" She called, and Sam paused, curious. Jackson slunk in, looking rather put out, scowling with a head full of deflated soap suds, an odd, darkish green color.

Sam watched as the dye rinsed out, leaving Jackson with dark green hair – that curiously matched one of his eyes. The other was a pale blue, Sam noted for the first time, but shook it off, turning back to his paperwork. He was almost finished organizing the papers Cunningham had left behind. Most of them had been trash, and useless, but at least he kept everything, versus keeping nothing.

Half an hour later, Sam was stacking the much diminished folders neatly, before slipping them back into his bag. He pulled out his laptop, blinking bemusedly as Jackson slumped in a seat across the table from him. Apparently the man had showered, since he was toweling his green hair dry and was wearing new clothes. Sam plugged in the laptop, booting it up quickly and attaching the portable mouse. He hated those little keypad mice. They were terrible. He also attached his cell to the modem, connecting quickly to the internet before opening his email browser.

Ignoring the new messages for the moment, Sam started a new email. It was as he started typing the report that he registered Jackson's gaze. The man was staring at him, rather obviously.

"Can I help you with something?" Sam asked mildly, raising one eyebrow behind his glasses.

Jackson just grinned that shark's grin and shook his head. Sam blinked a few times but went back to his report, ignoring as best he could the weight of Jackson's gaze. Twenty minutes later, he sent the report as he idly wondered if Jackson had blinked at all, the man's eyes still on him, though both of them were blue now, he noted as he sent the email out, returning to his inbox to check his other messages.

Mother, mother, boss, Chris, Priss 'n boots, Rainbow Mud. So basically, guilt trip, guilt trip, read, delete, read, read. Sam's lips quirked up in a bit of a smile, opening the email from his boss. Just letting him know that this assignment was his until the end of the three months the group was on tour.

The ones from his mother were as he expected, a guilt trip and gossip fest that he just skimmed through quickly. Chris's he deleted without opening, he didn't need or have time for something that was long over. Amused, though, he read through the mail from two of the groups he'd managed before, an actual smile on his face as he stored them away and booted down his laptop.

Jackson was still staring, though he looked vaguely surprised as Sam returned his stare for a moment. Sam blinked a few times before returning to packing up his things a bit, the laptop taking it's place in his messenger bag, the mouse next to it, and the diminished files next to that.

Sam yawned widely, rubbing his eyes a bit under the glasses. Glancing about the room a bit, he realized all of the band members were present for the first time since he'd gotten on the bus. Kyle lounged over Scott's lap, his feet propped up on Emily's lap. Melinda was puttering about in the small refrigerator that was bolted to the counter next to the sink. And Jackson was still staring.

Sighing a bit, Sam turned back to Jackson and asked, "Is there someplace I could get a nap?" His tone was purposefully quiet, and Jackson took a moment to ponder the question.

"Yeah, sure." He finally decided, with a lazy smirk, standing slowly and stretching, his hands brushing the low ceiling. Sam blinked, reminded how much taller the drummer was then him, but shook it off, following Jackson to the ladder that led to the upper level.

It was even more cramped in the upper level, Sam's head actually brushing the ceiling, and Jackson having to stoop over. It was also insanely messy with a slew of clothing and things strewn about the floor. Sam watched his step as he made his way over to the lower bunk Jackson gestured to, sitting down gingerly and removing his shoes and a skimpy skirt and bra from beneath the covers.

"Thank you." He yawned again and removed his glasses, setting them carefully on a nearby ledge. Jackson just nodded, ever-present smirk still on his face. It didn't take long for Sam to slip off into sleep, barely registering the faintly feminine smell that pervaded his senses as he did.

xXxXxXx

Jackson made his way down the ladder thoughtful. A Mr. Argent without glasses was a rather cute Mr. Argent. Perhaps this would be a really good thing after all. It was obvious the man knew what he was doing at least, and Chez was praising the hell out of him earlier, slightly awed about his promotion. And Chez didn't praise lightly.

He skipped the last three rungs on the ladder, landing loudly to make an entrance. He reclaimed his seat at the little table Sam had spent the morning, and a good part of the afternoon at, lounging back with a smirk.

Kyle spoke first. "My uncle called."

That gained attention. Kyle's uncle was a higher up in their recording company, and dealt with almost everything concerning the band himself.

"And?" Emily asked, sitting up to let Melinda take a seat next to her.

"Mr. Samuel Argent is to be our manager for the remainder of the tour, and he said if things work out well enough they may make him ours permanently." Kyle said, yawning a bit, smiling at Scott as Scott slipped an arm around him casually.

"Really? That's so awesome!" Emily cheered.

"He might just work out. Especially since he hasn't freaked yet." Melinda murmured, slipping one of her arms around Emily in a parody of Scott's move.

"Especially since he didn't freak after I put him to sleep in Emily's bunk." Jackson stated, grinning his shark-like grin. Emily sat up straight.

"Jacks!"

"What?" Jackson asked, batting his eyelashes at Emily.

"Oh my god, how ever will I face him later?" Emily slumped back into Melinda's arms, scowling madly at Jackson.

"What?" Jackson repeated. "He wasn't fazed by the bra at all." Jackson paused. "Or the skirt." He added as an after thought, laughing outright as Emily scowled even harder at him.

"That… is all?" Emily sounded vaguely hopeful and Jackson started laughing, even as Emily dashed over to the ladder and up it, disappearing from sight.

Two minutes later she returned. "I am going to kill you Jackson. Kill you dead."

"Em. He's a decent drummer. After the tour, dear." Melinda placated. Emily pouted, then sighed loudly.

"Alright, fine. But why didn't you stick him in your bunk?" Emily demanded, settling down once more next to Melinda.

Jackson just raised an eyebrow. "Anything in your bed is much, much tamer than anything in mine. You wouldn't want him to be eaten, now would you?" Jackson smirked.

Emily glowered, but didn't answer, content to lean into Melinda, who was playing with the twists of hair Emily had her bright blue hair done in.

"Got your eye on him?" Scott questioned, looking smug. Jackson just raised an eyebrow.

"He is rather cute." Kyle grinned as Scott turned to him, looking affronted. Kyle took in his expression and laughed. "Of course you're cuter." He assured Scott, who didn't seem too amused by the slightly condescending tone Kyle used.

"Kyle-"

"Want me to prove it?" Kyle breathed, right next to Scott's ear, letting his voice drop a few octaves. Scott looked a bit torn. Continue with his insulted spiel, or let Kyle 'prove it.'

"Go for it." Scott replied, leaning towards Kyle's lips, inches away. Kyle smirked a bit, and at the last second turned his face, so that Scott got his cheek instead.

"Later dearest." Kyle chirped, laughing at the expression on Scott's face.

Emily was giggling, while Melinda watched with barely concealed amusement. Jackson was smirking. Scott scowled, but let it slide. Kyle would get his – later.

"So, Jacks? Interested in our new manager?" Melinda asked, smiling widely.

Jackson stopped and considered a moment, before agreeing. "Yeah, I suppose. He is," he paused, smirking, "as Kyle so helpfully pointed out, rather cute."

"Does he swing that way, you think?" Emily asked, bouncing a bit in her seat.

"Don't know." Jackson shrugged. "A bit rude to ask."

Kyle frowned. "But the kiss-"

"He didn't respond one way or the other." Jackson cut him off. "I couldn't tell."

"Damn." Kyle scowled. Strange as it was, Jackson wouldn't pursue anything until he was sure Sam was at least interested in other men. He was weird like that. "But what about the Jamie thing?" He tried again. Jackson had been the odd man out for too long for Kyle's liking.

Instead of answering, Jackson turned to Emily. "Em. You get a nice, curvaceous buxom woman offer to sleep with you if you will only let her be part of the band. Your answer?"

"Hell no." Emily replied vehemently. "Only talent here, please."

Jackson turned back to Kyle, with a raised eyebrow.

"But-" Kyle began, but Scott stopped him.

"Let it drop, Kyle. At least for now." He whispered and Kyle subsided, scowling petulantly.

"At least we've managed to snag a manager who knows what he's doing." Melinda said, a small smile on her face as she fluffed Emily's hair. "And one who doesn't care about any of us."

"Thank god we finally ran Cunningham off." Kyle said vehemently.

"The new manager's cuter anyway." Jacks smirked. Scott rolled his eyes.

"Like that's hard." Emily spoke up. "I don't even look at guys, and I could tell he was an ugly fucker."

Kyle laughed, thoroughly amused. Scott rolled his eyes again, then aided Kyle by tickling his sides, only breaking off as the bus slowed, turned rather abruptly and came to a stop, the engine turning off, leaving it quiet in comparison. A moment later the driver appeared in the doorway to the driving cabin.

"Hour break." He announced, then glanced around. "Where's Mr. Argent?"

"Sleeping." Emily replied. "We get a break?"

"Yeah, it's on the schedule." The driver said, gesturing back towards the front of the bus. "We're on schedule, so we have an hour. Enjoy."

"Wow. On schedule." Melinda said, as though it was a novelty, as the driver disappeared into the front again. The hissing sound of the bus's hydraulics echoed throughout the area.

"There's a Chinese place!" Kyle exclaimed, pointing through the window. Scott rolled his eye briefly but shifted the energetic keyboardist off his lap, ruffling his vibrant purple hair a bit.

"Let's go. Anyone else for Chinese?" Scott asked, slipping into his sandals. Emily made a face and shook her head, and Melinda unsurprisingly followed suit. Jackson contemplated.

"Should we wake him?" He pointed up, but no sooner were the words out of his mouth than Sam appeared at the ladder, climbing down carefully. His hair was slightly askew, but nothing too bad, and his slacks were a bit wrinkled.

"Morning." Jackson greeted, his lips twisting in amusement. Sam spared him a glance but didn't reply, offering a wide yawn instead. Sam's eyes wandered about the crowded room, taking in the gaze of each and every band member, each fixed on him with varying shades of curiosity, or in Jackson's case, smugness.

Sam relaxed a bit, biting back another yawn as he offered a small smile. "I don't believe we were ever formally introduced." His smile grew a bit. "I do know who all of you are, of course." Sam added as a bit of an afterthought.

Emily beamed, bouncing a bit in her seat. "We know who you are too." She chirped. Sam blinked a bit at her enthusiasm, but smiled all the same.

"You do a good job." Scott said, somewhat serious. As serious as he could be with a giggling keyboardist in his lap.

Melinda nodded. "We like you so far, which is good since you're going to be with us for three months." Sam blinked, but his smile grew a bit.

"Well, I like you so far as well." He offered, adjusting his glasses a bit, sparing Jackson a glance.

"We're going for food, care to join?" Emily asked, her smile wide.

"Sure." Sam agreed without protest.

"Well, Scott and Kyle are going for Chinese. And me an' Linda are going to the Mexican place, right, Linda?" Emily turned in her seat and gave Melinda a pleading expression. Melinda smiled, rolling her eyes a bit.

"Yes."

"Jacks? Where're you headed?" Emily asked, a suspicious glint in her eyes.

Jackson shook his head. Emily was transparent. "Italian."

Sam seemed more oblivious though, as he considered for a moment, before discretely eyeing the way Kyle and Scott were talking quietly to each other. "I think I'll make it even then, and go Italian as well." Emily beamed. Jackson smirked, before heaving himself to his feet and heading towards the door on the bus.

"Shall we then?" He drawled, over his shoulder to Sam, who smiled a bit and followed him, leaving the other four to sort themselves out accordingly.

xXxXxXx

The Italian restaurant was a cozy little affair with dim lighting and wonderful smells. Jackson ordered a rather large plate of lasagna, while Sam went for the spaghetti. Jackson was amused when Sam asked for a spoon to complement his fork, their waitress slightly flustered as she recognized the drummer. Jackson was even more amused when as he watched Sam eat his spaghetti with both fork and spoon, twirling the sauce-covered noodles on the fork, and holding them in place with the spoon.

"It's a habit I picked up from a friend of mine." Sam explained. "He was from the Philippines. They eat everything like this, but I only do it for spaghetti and the like. It's easier."

Jackson just smirked a bit before shoveling another forkful of lasagna into his mouth. It really was very good. They were quiet as they ate, though Jackson was itching with curiosity. After the hair dye he had looked Sam up online. Only to find out a number of interesting facts about the man.

Like the fact that he had, in the past, managed six different tours for five different groups. He'd never been photographed with anyone other than a member of these groups, or one of his parents. Famous parents – his mother was an actress, and his father was the owner of the music company that held their record contract. Which made it rather odd that, in contrast, he was a relatively non-important figure in the company.

"How did you all get together?" Sam asked, twirling some more pasta.

Jackson blinked, leaning back in his seat a bit. "Well. Scott was my roommate in college. Melinda is his sister. Scott met Kyle at a GSA rally of some sort, and Emily is Kyle's cousin. We all started hanging together and this evolved. More of a gag idea than anything, but well, not anymore." Jackson explained, watching Sam poke the uneaten half of his spaghetti with his fork.

"This is your second album though. Who did your first tour?" Sam questioned, adjusting his glasses, which kept sliding down his nose.

"A guy by the name of Jacobs. Ronald Jacobs, if I recall correctly. Retired afterwards, because all these spooky things kept happening to him." Jackson smirked. Jacobs had been an old, right-wing conservative, and the group had hated him with a passion. Cunningham was almost better, except he hadn't done any work. There had been a few 'accidents,' like falling light fixtures, and horrible mishaps around Jacobs, convincing the man that he needed a vacation, of the more permanent variety.

"Wow, Ron Jacobs?" Sam looked slightly impressed. Jackson frowned a bit – just the slightest downturn of his lips. "How did you manage? When I met him he was such a sanctimonious bastard." Sam continued.

"Yes, well, let's just say that not all of the accidents were accidental." Jackson smirked, amused when Sam rolled his eyes.

Jackson leaned over, spearing one of Sam's leftover meatballs with his fork. Sam just blinked, bemused. But Jackson didn't eat it. Instead, he chucked it with aplomb over his shoulder, towards the far corner. Sam's eyes widened comically, and Jackson smirked, even as Sam hastily pushed his plate across the table.

Sam choked a bit, forcing down laughter as the meatball landed in the middle of a table filled with high schoolers. He tried not to smile, knowing it would only encourage that sort of childishness – but it was rather funny. But instead of watching the teens any longer, he turned back to Jackson, who was still sporting that amused smirk as he ignored the raised voices from the far table.

"Time for the check?" Sam suggested pleasantly, with a smile he couldn't keep contained. Jackson nodded agreeably, and they paid and left the restaurant leisurely, ignoring the ruckus in the corner.

xXxXxXx

They were the first back on the bus, Jackson still amused, and Sam still smiling, a look Jackson liked on the shorter man. Of course, their solitude together lasted all of three minutes and sixteen seconds, before Scott rushed onto the bus, looking supremely pleased with himself, if not a bit out of breath. He flopped complacently on the couch, waving a hand in greeting to Jackson and Sam, who were sitting at the small table.

"What did you do to Kyle?" Jackson questioned, kicking his feet up onto the bench opposite him, next to Sam. Scott looked rather smug for a moment before coughing loudly.

"Revenge." Jackson laughed.

"For earlier?" Jackson questioned.

"Um, yeah. Don't let him kill or strangle me, 'kay? I've got to sing in a few days." Scott said, glancing towards the door a bit nervously. "But it was so worth the look on his face."

"What did you do, exactly?" Sam asked, curious. But Scott didn't answer, as the door to the bus opened, and Kyle stormed in, his face beet red, and generally looking furious. Jackson laughed out loud at the slight bulge in Kyle's jeans, while Scott tried hard not to cower or laugh as Kyle marched up to him.

Crack.

Jackson laughed harder, tears coming to his eyes as Scott's head whipped to the side from the force of Kyle's slap, the keyboardist then fisting his hand in Scott's shirt, and pulling him into a standing position. Scott allowed this, still fighting a smile as Kyle dragged him into the back room of the bus, the thin door slamming behind them.

Seconds later, a rather shameless moan echoed through the tour bus. Jackson laughed harder, wrapping his arms around his stomach as Sam watched bemusedly, a slight pink tint to his cheeks and a small smile on his lips.

Jackson decided then and there that his favorite color was that particularly pretty shade of grey Sam's eyes became when he smiled, offset by the pale pink blush on his cheeks, of course.

xXxXxXx

Kyle scowled as he watched Sam direct a few of the temporary workers setting up the lighting for the night's show. It had been a whole month since Sam had joined their tour, and Kyle couldn't remember a single time in their career that things had run so smoothly in the background around them.

But Sam himself was an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle, or some such crap. Whenever Kyle or Emily, and even on occasion Scott, tried to pin him down about anything – especially his feelings for this one specific drummer – he was as slippery as a unbattered octopus. Hell, they hadn't even figured out if Sam even had an interest in men at all.

Jackson was a bit disappointed, but being too gallant, staying friendly, even as he lusted for the slender manager. Kyle was rather unimpressed, and only Scott and the fact that Sam did such a wonderful job on their shows kept Kyle from snapping and shaking him until he gave some straight answers (though hopefully, not so straight).

But Kyle was nothing if not tenacious, especially when it involved his band members, people he considered surrogate family. So he wasn't giving up yet. But Sam was busy now, so he'd have to corner him after the show. Again. Unless Scott distracted him. Again.

xXxXxXx

Sam sighed, adjusting his glasses as the last of the show wound down. One month down, two to go. At least there was no sign of any unexpected and unwelcome guests, something that had been a possibility since they were in Atlanta, and Chris's emails had doubled in the last week. The man didn't know when 'no' meant 'no,' and when to give up and move on.

Everything wasn't smooth with the band either. Kyle seemed intent upon setting him up with Jacks. Which he didn't mind so much, except Jacks seemed entirely interested on a platonic level only. Sam smiled a bit. Jacks was actually not a horrible person to spend time with. Even if he did have a spontaneous streak that more often then not landed them in trouble. Though whenever it did, the drummer just used his charm to wiggle his way out of it.

But of course, Kyle didn't let it go. Sam was a bit concerned, since Kyle seemed so obsessive, but Scott said he'd keep the keyboardist in line. It was fun to frustrate Kyle though. The more vague the answers Sam gave, the more irritated Kyle seemed to become, so Sam put to use his extensive knowledge of avoidance tactics, learned from a mother who had spent years dodging the press's questions.

It was actually sort of fun, really, Sam decided as he supervised the closing effects for the show. Like stretching the limit on how far you could go without being rude. A loud cheer rose from the crowd, as the show ended on one massive guitar rift. Sam shook his head a bit, smiling. Emily and Melinda were real showmen (show-women?) with their guitars, something he hadn't thought Melinda would be really good at, considering her quiet demeanor.

The band slipped offstage, the lights on the massive arena flashing on and lighting the area the crowd filled. Sam nodded distractedly as the five pushed past him and to the small dressing room that had been set up for their use.

It was an hour later that Sam remembered that there were contest winners that had to see the band from this city, some stupid publicity event for the group since they were apparently not that popular in this region of the country. . Something Sam found hard to believe since the arena had been packed. Perhaps it meant the publicity had gone well then. Chez was taking care of it, but Sam wanted to check up on it anyway

The group of four 'winners' were already chatting with the band, two looking very intimidated, though by Chez's looming figure or the fact that they were meeting a famous band, Sam couldn't have said. The third was chatting enthusiastically with Emily and Melinda about guitar rifts and the fourth was the one person Sam was hoping to avoid in this city – Chris.

Chris who was scowling rather avidly at Jacks, who was smirking in amusement in return, a common look for Jacks. Kyle and Scott were trying to draw the timid ones out of their shells. Well, Kyle was, Scott was watching with amusement as Kyle bounced around hyperactively. Though perhaps that was why the two people were looking so scared.

Jacks was the first one to notice him, giving him a rather amused and surprisingly predatory look. Chris was the second one to notice, and the scowl dropped rather quickly, replaced by a sickeningly sweet simper that made Sam queasy.

Of course, it didn't help that Chris then practically skipped over to him and threw his arms around him. "Sam!" He chirped, in a high pitched tone that made Sam wince. Or maybe that was the tight grip Chris had, effectively pinning his arms to his sides.

"Chris." Sam greeted, deadpan, aware of the looks they were garnering from the rest of the room. "Let go." He let a bit of coldness creep into his tone, and Chris promptly loosened his grip, pouting aggrievedly.

"Oh, Sam, don't tell me you're still mad!" Chris said, his tone full of forced cheer that made Sam's head hurt.

"Mad?" Sam enquired calmly, then remembered the audience. "I'm not doing this here, Chris." With that he whirled and walked out the door, slightly amused, but not really, at the surprised look on Chris's face. He paused at the door, and turned back to the dumbfounded man. "Coming?"

Chris beamed, and scurried after him, ignoring the curious looks the rest of the room was giving them. Sam didn't return the expression, keeping his face purposefully blank as he led Chris to a slightly secluded area a few dozen feet away.

"Chris." Sam said, scowling, finally letting the blank face slip away. "Why are you here?"

Chris pouted, but was undeterred. "I made a mistake, Sam! Don't ostracize me for one little mistake! I still care." Tears filled the man's eyes.

"I see you've gotten better at your acting at least." Sam replied, dryly. "No, you don't care. And you can't say 'still' since you never did." Chris looked to interrupt, but Sam held up a hand, forestalling him. "You only ever wanted me for two things, and I wouldn't give you either of them, so you moved on. And I'm sorry, but so did I, and I have absolutely no reason to go back."

Chris scowled, the happy, carefree attitude dropping. "Fucking hell, you always were a stiff-necked prude. But I didn't think you were this cold, Sam."

Sam scoffed. "Cold? For not wanting someone who only wants me for what I could give him in prestige? Yes, that's mighty cold of me Chris. I'm so sorry about that."

Chris seemed speechless for a moment, but then he narrowed his eyes at Sam. "I don't want you only for the prestige-"

"But the fact remains that most of the reason you do want to be with me is my parents. I'm sorry Chris, I'm just not that desperate." Sam said, replacing his blank face, letting his tone get frosty once more. "I doubt I ever will be either."

Chris scowled. "As though you could do better than me. I bet you haven't even looked at anyone since you left!"

Sam smiled, taking Chris off guard. "Well, I can truthfully say that's a lie."

"But I bet he doesn't want you!" Chris exclaimed, his voice rising in volume. "No one but me will ever look at you that way! You'll die lonely, wishing you had taken me up on my offer, you'll see!"

"Get out of here. Now." Sam's voice was dark, his eyes narrowed behind his glasses. "Before I call security."

Chris looked rather shocked, but slunk off without another word, casting a few glances back over his shoulder as he left, but Sam didn't move until he was out of sight. With a trembling sigh, he turned and walked away from the secluded corner, pushing the hurtful words from his mind to ruminate over later, in private. He had work to do first.

xXxXxXx

Jackson couldn't contain his fury, and so lashed out at the nearest thing – a thick wooden post that held up part of the lighting. He bruised his knuckles rather viciously, but bit back his curses as Sam walked past his shadowed hidey-hole, back rigid and looking rather tense. Jackson wanted nothing more than to run out and soothe him, but knew it was a bad idea to be caught spying.

Sam was a mystery. He was funny, took most things in stride, but was avoidant about anything too intensely personal. He wouldn't talk about his family, any friends save those in the bands he's managed in the past, past relationships, or anything that would let Jackson understand him in the least. It was frustrating.

And then this Christopher Wilkins had shown up, bragging about his relationship with Sam, which Jackson doubted so much that it wasn't even funny. From what he knew about Sam, there was no way that the short man would go anywhere near the mooch. And so he smirked at the man, thoroughly discomfiting him until he admitted that no, they weren't currently in a relationship, but it had always been an on again, off again thing, and that he was looking to make it a permanent on. Something Jackson doubted very much would happen.

And he was right, Sam had been livid – cold and composed, but livid nonetheless. Until Chris kept talking, and what was that about Sam liking someone?

Sadly, as much as he'd like to follow Sam and make sure he was alright, as well as get some answers, and perhaps get a head start on his 'Screwing Sam Senseless' plan (bonus points for alliteration), he had to get back to the room before he was missed too much. The other three winners had a right to talk to him too, and Sam would be distracting himself with shutting down the arena in any case. He'd talk to him later, settle things down, and perhaps get under Sam's skin a bit. Because he finally had confirmation that the young man could indeed be interested in him, even if it was only because of a slug like Chris.

Scott was the first to find Sam after the show. Jacks had been distracted by Chez, and Kyle by Emily and Melinda, per Scott's request. The man deserved fair warning at least.

Sam was helping one of the workers load a particularly sensitive light display into it's moving case, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, the first two buttons undone on his shirt.

"Thank you, Sam!" The perky redhead chirped as she snapped the lid on the crate with a smile that Sam distractedly returned, waving her off as he clicked the lock on the lid.

"Scott. What can I do for you?" Sam asked and Scott was slightly offset by the oddly neutral tone Sam spoke in.

"Can we talk?" He asked, and the perky worker grinned and waved, walking off and leaving them alone. Sam's eyes followed her progress for a moment before he turned back to Scott.

"What is it?" Sam asked, marking something off on the clipboard Jackson had bought him a few weeks back.

"I just wanted to warn you." Scott paused, thinking about how to phrase this.

"Warn me? About what?" Sam asked mildly, starting to walk away, checking the next crate.

"Well, that man back there – the really smarmy one? He was bragging about how you two were together. And were about to get back together." Scott began, noting the scowl that passed across Sam's face.

"I take it that didn't happen?" Scott asked, dryly.

Sam's scowl deepened. "That presumptuous ass." Sam muttered under his breath. "No, of course not." Sam replied.

"That's rather what Kyle and Jacks thought. But the fact remains that you did in fact have an interest, in the past, in this guy, for whatever reason." Scott said. Sam just scowled. "And now Kyle and Jacks know this, and know that you're free, and they're going to start pushing more. Jacks, especially. He doesn't go after someone he likes unless there's some chance that the feeling would be returned. And now that he knows that you are, in fact, interested in men, he's going to break out the charm."

Scott stopped, watching Sam's reaction carefully. When Kyle found out – and Kyle would find out – he'd press Scott for all the details.

Sam blinked. Opened his mouth, then shut it with a snap. A small smile played across his lips. "Well, I hope it doesn't affect his performance on stage."

Scott's jaw dropped, with his hopes that Sam actually reciprocated the feelings. "Yes, well, I just thought it fair to warn you, since you've got the combined forces of Kyle and Jacks against you."

"Thank you Scott." Sam smiled a bit more. "I'll see you tomorrow then. I need to get this finished up."

"You're welcome." Scott replied, stopping and watching Sam walk away, a little puzzled, but deciding the reaction was probably one he should've expected.

xXxXxXx

Jacks found Sam next, which was rather obvious, since he tended to give Sam a ride to whatever hotel they were staying in at the moment. Sam was wandering about the arena, the clipboard with notepad clutched to his chest as he made his way around a myriad of wires, seemingly lost to his thoughts.

"Hey, Argent." Jacks called, smirking a bit as he pronounced it 'ar-gent' with the g accentuated. Sam usually just rolled his eyes and greeted him back. Usually, but today was a day for difference, it seemed. Sam started rather viciously, whirling about. Jacks would've started laughing, for that was the first time he'd managed to startle Sam, if Sam hadn't stepped on a particularly evil clump of wires, bundled together, his ankle twisting most awkwardly.

Sam fell, unsurprisingly, letting out a yelp of surprise or pain, Jacks wasn't sure as he hurried over to where Sam just sat there, scowling balefully at Jackson, a faint blush on his cheeks. Jacks couldn't help it, he started to laugh as he neared.

Sam just rolled his eyes, accepting the hand up Jacks offered. Of course, as soon as he tried to put any weight on his right ankle, it gave out, with a shock of pain that left Sam wincing as he stared in consternation down at his ankle.

"Well, shit." Jacks said, blinking as Sam leaned on him – something he wasn't at all adverse to, but he couldn't very well change his occupation to Sam-crutch forever, now could he? Sam was testing the foot, carefully leaning small bits of weight on it, though it didn't take much before it gave out again.

"Yes. That's apt." Sam said, pausing to adjust his unsettled glasses, giving Jackson a timid smile. "Help me over to that crate?" Sam pointed to a rather large box, a bit away. Jackson smirked, and instead, scooped Sam off the ground, eliciting a small squeak of surprise. Jackson's smirk grew and Sam rolled his eyes, smiling a bit as he crossed his arms obstinately. Jacks set him down gently, ruffling his hair before retrieving Sam's clipboard, deserted on the ground by the treacherous wires.

Sam, in the meantime, was easing off his shoe, setting it beside him as he peeled off the sock underneath. The ankle was swollen, that much was clear – it was almost twice the size it normally was, and turning purple-blue. Sam poked at it a bit, wincing at the pain that provoked.

"Ouch." Jacks commented dryly, and Sam rolled his eyes, picking up the clipboard and reading over it.

"Can you find Chez for me?" Sam asked, eyes glued to the clipboard. Jacks laughed a bit, under his breath.

"Sure. I'll be right back." Jacks smirked. "Don't go anywhere now."

Sam didn't reply to that, just gave him a dry look as he walked off in search of Chez.

xXxXxXx

Chez was suitably easy to find, actually, just around the corner, busily stacking crates for tomorrow's move.

"Hey, Chez." Jacks called from a bit of a distance, smirking as he imagined the tall black man having the same reaction as Sam had. But Chez just turned imperturbably, raising an eyebrow in question.

"The boss-man wants to see you." Jackson said, pointing back the way he came.

"Really?" Chez asked, slightly surprised. "Did he say why?"

Jacks grinned. "You'll see."

Chez was amusingly confused when he saw Sam perched on the crate, making notes on his legal pad in the chicken scrawl that only he and Chez ever seemed to be able to read.

"You needed to see me?" Chez asked, blinking at the bare foot that dangled off the crate.

"Hmm?" Sam looked up. "Yes. I seem to have had a bit of an accident." Sam gestured to his foot, pulling the pant leg up a bit to show the swollen ankle. Chez's eyes widened a bit. "I need to have it checked out, can you finish the close up? There's not that much more to do."

"Yeah, sure." Chez agreed, taking the proffered clipboard.

"Don't worry too much about loading anything tonight, we can worry about that in the morning. Just make sure everything gets locked down and security is set up for the night." Sam instructed. "If you need anything, just call my cell."

Chez nodded, scowling at Jackson. "I know you had something to do with this, drummer boy. Take good care of him, he's the best manager we've got."

Sam rolled his eyes. "I'm the only manager you've got."

"So that makes you the worst manager we've got too." Jackson teased, smirking.

"That's just mean." Sam said seriously, adjusting his glasses once more before hopping off the crate onto his left foot. "Thank you again, Chez. Shall we?" Sam asked Jackson, who smirked – one of those signs he was planning mischief again. Seconds later, Sam found himself once more scooped off the ground, cradled gently against the drummer's chest.

"Dammit, Jacks, I can hobble." Sam said, though he didn't sound too put out. Jackson just snickered, heading to the parking lot, leaving Chez to bark orders behind them.

"There's a hospital not too far away." Sam said as soon as Jackson had set him down the old Cadillac. Luckily, the arena was mostly deserted, so that had saved Sam some embarrassment. "I need to get it x-rayed, to make sure it isn't broken." Sam explained.

Jackson nodded, pulling out of the parking lot. Sam wondered for a moment how Chez got back to the hotel, since they took his car every night, but then decided it was none of his business. He felt vaguely like he was missing something, his constant companion of the clipboard missing to keep his thoughts from straying for too long onto bad things, like Jacks.

All in all, it had been a long, eventful day, and Sam was tired, and his ankle was throbbing now. Chris's appearance had shocked him, though it really shouldn't have. Chris was known to go to great lengths to get what he wanted, and apparently, that was currently Sam. He had probably bribed or slept with the contest official to get the ticket to go backstage.

Then Scott's revelation about Jackson actually liking him – that had been a shocker. He still wasn't sure what he was going to do about that, though he was interested in what Jacks was going to do. He'd probably wait a bit and see what Jacks had planned. Sam smiled a bit – it should be interesting.

"Turn left. Follow the bright blue 'H' signs." Sam instructed. Jacks nodded in acknowledgement, making the turn quickly, cutting off a pale green Honda Civic. Sam snorted, amused. "Try not to kill me before we get there?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." Jacks said, disdainfully.

"Of course not." Sam said dryly as they pulled into the hospital parking lot. Jacks pulled into a spot near the front, whipping out a handicapped sticker from somewhere, hanging it on the mirror. Sam blinked in surprise, but didn't mention it, unbuckling his safety belt and maneuvering carefully out of the car. Jackson made it around in the time it took him, being careful not to jar his ankle, which had turned a nice, dark color.

"Oh, no you don't. Not again. Either help me walk, or don't come near me at all." Sam warned with a hint of laughter as Jackson looked ready to scoop him off the ground again.

Jacks pouted outrageously. "I was just trying to be helpful."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Then get over here, human crutch."

"Yes, maaastah." Jack drawled, taking up position on Sam's right side as the short man rolled his eyes, leading him into the tall, brightly lit building.

xXxXxXx

Luckily, the x-ray showed no break, and it was deemed a rather vicious sprain. Sam was given a few ibuprofen, ace bandages and a pair of crutches, Jacks laughing when they had to give him the adolescent sized ones, since the adult ones weren't short enough for him.

Of course, he stopped laughing (mostly) when Sam threatened to bean him with the aluminum sticks. It was late when they finally reached the hotel. Sam had insisted, after that first night, that the large room was too much for him, alone. Kyle had heard this, and insisted he share with Jacks. Sam hadn't protested too much, since he was getting his way, and well, he got to share with Jacks.

Jackson opened every door for Sam. Sam rolled his eyes at the elaborate bow he performed at each door. Jacks also carried Sam's messenger bag and shoe. Their room was on the fourth floor, nestled between the room Melinda and Emily shared and the room Kyle and Scott shared. Luckily there was an elevator.

Sam entered first, glancing perfunctorily about the room as he hobbled in. There was something wrong with the room, and it took a moment for the single, solitary bed to sink into his exhaustion-fogged brain. It was a large, king sized bed, but the fact remained that there was only one. Sam decided he was long past caring, and hobbled over, collapsing with a sigh onto the bed, letting the crutches fall to the floor with a soft clang.

It took Jackson an even shorter amount of time to realize the one-bed dilemma. Smirking a bit, he watched Sam as the manager just sort of sagged into the mattress, letting his crutches slip to the floor. Idly he wondered if it were possible to convince Sam to share, but dismissed it, if only because he didn't want to disturb the sprained ankle.

Setting Sam's messenger bag down on the floor gently – Sam had threatened to beat him with the crutches once more if he broke anything in the bag, namely the laptop – Jacks crossed the room, smirking a bit as he pulled the pillow out from under Sam's head, fluffing it a bit before sticking it under Sam's injured ankle. Sam glared rather sleepily at him, then ruined it by yawning.

Sam smirked then, a bit, mischievously, and Jackson raised an eyebrow. The expression promptly vanished, and Sam sat up, unbuttoning his shirt and tossing it on the floor.

"Do you steal covers?" Sam asked, yawning again.

Jackson licked suddenly dry lips as Sam wriggled out of his pants, tossing them on the floor as well, leaving him clothed in boxers and a thin white tee-shirt. Struggling a bit, he managed a reply. "Um… no." Sam hid a smirk, yawning a bit again as realization sunk in.

"We're not sharing." Jacks firmly stated, scowling. "I refuse to be put in a position where I could cause you further harm."

Sam snorted, inelegantly. "It's too much bother to do anything else. Do you know how late it is? And I refuse to let you sleep on the floor."

Jacks tried to think up a suitable excuse against it, but nothing sounded good enough, and really, why was he debating over something he wanted to do anyway? Shrugging, he shed his shirt, shoes and pants, leaving them strewn on the floor.

"If I kick your ankle though –" Jackson started, but was cut off by Sam.

"I'll hit you with a crutch." Sam said decisively, then collapsed back onto the bed, yanking the pillow from the other side of the bed to rest his head on.

Jackson raised an eyebrow. "You've already got a pillow." He said, moving around the other side of the bed and flopping down heavily on it. He and Sam both bounced a few times before settling. Sam just rolled his eyes, turning a bit so that he faced Jacks.

"Yes, and? It's supporting my foot." Sam explained, slowly. "Would you rather have me not prop it up?"

Jackson blinked, then snitched Sam's glasses, folding them and setting them on the nightstand behind him. Sam blinked in confusion for a moment, but shrugged it off, like normal.

"Why don't you wear contacts?" Jackson asked, changing the subject completely. Sam took a moment to answer.

"I don't like poking myself in the eye." Sam said dryly, making Jacks laugh.

"You should. You have pretty eyes." Jacks decided

Sam blinked, amused, his cheeks heating slightly. "Are you coming to load up in the morning?" Sam asked, settling further into the pillow.

"Might as well." Jacks replied, resting his head on his arms in lieu of a pillow. "Wake up when?"

"Five thirty. I've seen how long it takes you to primp." Sam murmured, yawning so hard his eyes watered.

"Excuse me?" Jackson demanded, affronted. Sam just muttered something sleepily, letting his eyes slip closed. Jacks raised an eyebrow, turning his head to catch sight of Sam half asleep, breathing even and eyes mostly shut. Rolling his eyes, he shifted so that he was facing Sam, watching the manager sleep quietly. He'd learned early on that Sam didn't snore, or talk in his sleep. Which were pluses in his book.

Jackson frowned, though, watching the current object of his affection (obsession). He idly wondered if there was even the slightest chance that Sam would ever return his feelings. Sam was just far too good at concealing his feelings, though it was rather easy to get him to blush. The comment on his eyes, for instance. Sam did have really pretty eyes.

Brushing a lock of hair away from Sam's closed eyes, Jacks smirked a bit, scooting over on the bed. Sam had conveniently left half the pillow free, the half of the pillow closest to him, and he'd be damned if he wasn't going to take advantage of it. He fell asleep rather quickly after that, breathing in the scent of hotel shampoo and Sam.

xXxXxXx

Sam woke first in the morning, as he was prone to doing. He had a rather good internal clock. Today was a bit different though. Firstly, because his ankle felt like someone had river-danced on topof it. Secondly because somehow, in the course of the night, Jackson had managed to gravitate over to him, his head resting on the same pillow as Sam's.

Sam laughed, still a bit sleepy. He took the moment to study Jacks without being scrutinized himself. Jacks needed haircut, he decided. The man's hair was getting a bit shaggy around the edges, though it was currently cutely messy. It was also a burnished copper color, though Sam was, by now, used to the band's efforts to have a different hair color at every concert. He idly wondered what color it really was, but of course, that led to bad thoughts that were best kept constrained until later.

Jackson had a wide forehead, generally covered in the droopy bangs, a chiseled nose and chin, and such interesting eyes. Jacks had told him once that he had two contacts – but only wore one a day, so it was a toss-up as to whether he'd be blue or green eyed each day. Sam smiled a bit, shifting to get up when one of Jackson's eyes slipped open a crack, peering out at him. His smile widened a bit as Jacks faked a yawn, stretching out one arm to casually drape it over him.

Fighting the rather girlish urge to giggle, Sam instead scowled a bit, playfully, poking the arm as though it were some sort of alien being from another planet. Jacks just retaliated by tightening his grip, letting his eyes fall shut again. Sam laid there for a few moments, just enjoying the sensation of Jackson's arm around him, before abruptly rolling away, careful with his right leg. Jacks muttered in irritation, finally sitting up as Sam reached for his crutches.

Sam hobbled over to his bag, struggling with it for a minute before freeing the day's outfit. Then he closeted himself in the bathroom, intent on a shower. Then breakfast, which Jackson would order and eat part of while he was in here. then he would eat while Jackson showered, then they would check out, squaring things with the hotel manager before heading over to the arena to supervise load-up. It was routine.

xXxXxXx

Kyle was tired. Seven in the morning was way to early the night after a show. But Sam would have his ass if he didn't make sure his keyboards were packed up correctly. That and he wanted to make sure his keyboards were packed up correctly. He didn't want his babies (Scott's competition) to get hurt. Scott was lucky. He didn't have an instrument, aside from his voice, and that really didn't require any packing.

Of course, that didn't spare him from the horrendous hour. Though he could be asleep, for all that he was moving, slumped on Kyle's shoulders as Kyle watched with eagle eyes as two of the techs loaded the crates with the carefully packed keyboards.

It was odd though. Sam usually checked up on them by now, and Jackson's drums were still waiting to be packed. Kyle smiled mischievously. Perhaps Jacks had managed to get Sam into his bed, and they'd over slept. That would so make Kyle's day.

"Hey, Kyle. Scott." A deep voice greeted from behind them. Kyle turned and smiled at Chez, who returned the smile with one of his own. "How goes it?"

"Fine, as you can see." Kyle replied, gesturing to the loaded crates.

"Good, good. Listen, can you do me a favor and get Jackson's drums ready to move out? He's busy with Sam." Chez asked, smirking when Kyle's eyes went wide.

"I knew it!" Kyle exclaimed, grinning.

Chez let him cheer for a moment before correcting him. "I'm sorry. I meant, he's busy helping Sam."

Kyle stopped, then turned on Chez. "You… oh!" Kyle glowered, then stomped off to where Jackson's drums waited.

"That was mean." Scott chided sleepily, having lost his perch leaning on Kyle a good while ago. "You know how much he wants those two together."

Chez just smiled again. "Can't help it, I'm sadistic." Then he looked down at the clipboard in his hands again, and it occurred to Scott that Sam didn't usually need Jacks's help.

"Isn't that Sam's clipboard?" Scott asked, narrowing his eyes in confusion. "And why does Sam need Jacks's help anyway?"

Chez grinned again. "Yes. Sam gave it to me, since he can't really carry it."

"What?" Scott questioned, exasperated. "Explain."

"Sam twisted his ankle yesterday. He's on crutches, and it takes him quite a bit of time to get anywhere. It was apparently Jacks's fault, so he's helping Sam out until he's back on his feet." Chez explained, still grinning.

"Oh. Well, that sucks." Scott decided.

"Yeah, I've got more work to get done. Departure's been postponed half an hour, if you'd be so kind and let the rest of your bandmates know." Chez replied, checking the clipboard again.

"Yeah, will do. I'll explain to Kyle too, so he doesn't kill you." Scott said, smirking a bit. Chez grinned back, before wandering off.

xXxXxXx

The tour bus was a crowded thing, since there were only three bunks, and the couch. Of course, Kyle and Scott shared, and Melinda and Emily shared. Sam usually took the couch, and Jacks the remaining bunk.

Kyle wasn't a happy camper. Especially not with Chez, who had wisely been avoiding the moody keyboardist since that morning. The fact that Jacks didn't really seem to be doing anything on the Sam front was irritating him like mad, and the only one who could talk to him without him snapping was Scott. Who was currently dragging him into the back end of the bus, where their bunk was located.

Scott pushed him down on the bunk, but didn't follow, standing in front of Kyle's sprawled position. Scott scrutinized him like that for a minute, before sighing, sitting down next to him.

"Kyle, babe. I know you want to help Jacks and Sam, but you've gotta let them do it themselves." Scott murmured, wrapping an arm around Kyle's shoulders and pulling him close.

"But they're so stubborn! And Sam will never admit anything!" Kyle protested. "And poor Jacks is the odd man out, and that's just terrible. They'll never do anything if we don't give them a push in the right direction."

"Kye, if you keep harping at them, they'll never get time to sort out their feelings. How would you have felt when you were trying to work out how you felt about me, if someone kept trying to shove you at me all the time?" Scott asked, gently, as Kyle wrapped an arm around his waist.

Kyle was quiet for a moment. "So you think I should back off?"

"At least for a bit. And then if they do get together, you can claim to be a matchmaking genius." Scott said, smiling at Kyle's laughter.

"Alright. I won't bug them anymore. But they'd better be together in a few weeks or you'll be getting it, mister." Kyle threatened, without any sincerity at all.

"Oh, I will, will I?" Scott asked, smirking. "And, just, pray tell, how will I be getting it?"

Kyle blinked, turning his head up to meet Scott's gaze, smirking. "No sex. For however long it takes." Kyle's smirk deepened. "I should put that into effect now. You get some when Jacks gets some."

"That is so not fair." Scott said seriously, playing along. "Besides, I don't think you can go through with it."

"Oh?" Kyle asked, raising an eyebrow haughtily.

Scott smirked, giving the keyboardist a predatory smirk. Kyle had time to let out a short 'eep,' before Scott had him pinned to the bunk, fingers tangled in his hair, lips crushed to his, and Kyle's resolve flew out the window as he threaded his arms around Scott's neck and pulled him closer.

xXxXxXx

Melinda and Emily had disappeared upstairs moments after Kyle and Scott had disappeared into their room. Jacks had decided it was probably a safe idea to stay in the 'living' area of the tour bus, where Sam was busily typing up reports and notes from their last venue. His injured leg was propped up on the table, on a cushion from the couch, a bag of ice resting on top of it.

Jacks sat next to him, debating a semi-spontaneous idea he had. Sam was close enough that he could probably pull it off without too much awkwardness. The only problem was the laptop. Sam would kill him if he hurt the laptop. But if he took the laptop and set it on the table, he would have the added bonus of Sam's full attention. And the laptop wouldn't be hurt.

Jackson smirked.

The laptop was promptly slipped from Sam's grasp, mid-typed-sentence, Sam blinking in confusion as the little computer was set on the table next to his bandaged leg. Sam then turned wide grey eyes on him, and so was in almost the perfect position for Jacks.

Jackson's smirk deepened, and he reached out, and took off Sam's glasses, though these Sam tried to grope after. A quick smack to the questing hand and Sam subsided though, looking rather adorably confused as Jacks tilted his head back up to meet his gaze once more, before leaning in and kissing him full on the lips.

It wasn't anything like the first time Jackson had kissed Sam. Sam didn't immediately tense, though he didn't immediately respond either. But he did respond, and that's all that mattered, really. Responded quite enthusiastically, wrapping one arm around Jackson's neck, and leaving one buried in Jackson's hair, pulling him closer.

They both seemed to have the idea to deepen the kiss at the same time, though Sam actually bit at Jacks's bottom lip lightly, and Jacks let his hand wander down, resting it against Sam's side. Jacks slipped his tongue into Sam's mouth, tasting mint and Sam and something he couldn't place, but it was incredible and he wanted more. Apparently Sam felt the same way, except with teeth, biting lightly at his tongue, then his lip, and Jacks wanted more, maneuvering Sam so that he was lying on his back, but not breaking the kiss, though the need for air was soon to come between them.

Of course, Jacks, distracted completely, had forgotten Sam's ankle. In his defense, Sam had too, but promptly remembered it when it slipped from it's perch on the table and crashed to the floor. Sam hissed, accidentally biting down on Jackson's lip as pain jarred through him. Jacks jerked away, both he and Sam tasting blood.

"Ah, sorry." Sam murmured, pink spilling into his cheeks. He released his grip on Jackson's hair to soothe away the blood with his thumb, but it kept coming, and he winced again, Jackson sitting up straight and smirking a bit, though that pulled a bit painfully at his lip. He grabbed a handful of napkins from the table, carefully reinstalling Sam's injured leg, ice bag and all, before sitting back, holding the napkins to his lip.

There was blood darkening Sam's bottom lip, but he was smiling a bit, and Jackson decided that while the color of Sam's eyes while he blushed was rather pretty, he much preferred the color of Sam's eyes after he was thoroughly kissed and blushing.

Of course, then Sam ruined it. "Can I have my glasses back now? The laptop would be nice too." Sam murmured, then laughed outright at the look on Jackson's face.

"No." Jackson decided, tossing the napkins away and experimentally licking his lip. Tangy copper stung his tongue, but he was more concerned with the way Sam's eyes followed the movement. "We weren't finished."

"We weren't?" Sam asked, raising an eyebrow and generally looking infuriatingly smug.

"No." Jackson said, scooting closer on the couch, moving to kneel beside Sam, towering even higher over the shorter man.

"Hmmm… alright then. Do continue." Sam murmured in a sultry tone, his eyes half-lidded as he watched Jackson lean closer, only to stop inches from his face.

"Well, now that you mention it…" Jackson breathed. "Perhaps we were finished."

Sam's eyes narrowed, and in the next second, Jackson was being pulled forward by the front of his shirt, and then his lips were tangled once more with Sam's, something he was not at all adverse too. He quickly braced himself on either side of Sam's head, not wanting to fall and crack his skull off Sam's.

Sam licked tentatively at his lower lip, as though soothing the stinging that remained from the bite, the copper taste of his blood tainting Sam's mint and 'Sam' taste, but Jacks still found himself enthralled as he sucked gently on Sam's bottom lip, giving it a bit of a chiding bite before pulling back, because the tour bus was slowing to a stop, and he didn't want Sam's leg to slip again if they were turning.

But no, apparently it was one of the scheduled stops, since Melinda and Emily appeared from upstairs, Emily's hair half-undone from the weird arrangement she'd managed earlier. Kyle and Scott showed up seconds later, Kyle pulling his shirt over his head.

"Oh my god, Jacks, what happened to your face?" Emily gasped as soon as she caught sight of the still slightly bloody lip. Melinda laughed, taking the opportunity that Emily presented by standing still to get to work on untangling another section of her hair.

Sam answered, with a remarkably straight face. "He kissed me, so I bit him."

Scott started laughing, even as Kyle turned a bit red. "Does that count?" Scott managed, before dissolving into laughter once more. Emily and Melinda stared, though Melinda's fingers didn't pause in her task.

Jacks smirked, handing Sam his glasses back. Sam smiled, letting his fingers linger a bit as he accepted them. "Want to get something to eat?" Jacks asked, ignoring the rest of the room. Sam laughed a bit, setting his sore ankle on the floor as he accepted with a nod. Jacks stood, helping Sam to his feet and handing him the crutches.

"I'm armed now, so no more funny business, hmm?" Sam smiled again, waving one crutch a bit as he balanced on the other.

"Yes, yes." Jacks smirked. "For now." The smirk deepened as Sam said nothing in protest, ignoring the speculative stares they were getting from the other band members as Jackson preceded Sam off the bus, letting him lead the way to an small pizzeria.

xXxXxXx

"Do you think?" Kyle asked, staring with confusion at the two departed figures as they crossed the parking lot slowly.

"I think Jacks kissed him. And that Sam bit him." Melinda said, finishing the detangling of the rest of Emily's hair. "But I also think that's not all that happened."

"Kyle." Scott said warningly, much recovered from his laughing fit from earlier.

"I know, I know. I'll leave them be." Kyle pouted. "That doesn't stop me from being curious though."

"We'll just keep a tighter eye on them." Scott said, ruffling Kyle's hair. "Did you want to follow them to the pizzeria?"

Kyle frowned. "No, pizza is the devil's work."

Scott rolled his eyes. "Chinese?" He asked, pointing out the buffet-style restaurant that was three doors down.

"Can we?" Kyle cheered up immediately, and Scott smiled, agreeing wordlessly.

"We'll keep an eye on them!" Emily decided, looking back to Melinda, who nodded.

"I'm curious." Melinda explained.

"I want a full report." Kyle warned. "Just because I'm not going to do anything doesn't mean I want to be left out of the loop."

"Of course, Kyle." Emily replied, beaming as she and Melinda left the bus.

"Come on." Scott prompted, pulling Kyle along behind him.

xXxXxXx

"Nothing." Emily stated, plopping down with a sigh next to Kyle on the couch.

"Nothing?" Kyle repeated, looking a little put out.

"Nothing." Melinda confirmed, wedging herself in next to Emily. "I mean, he practically waited on Sam hand and foot, but that could be because of the ankle thing. They talked a lot, but we couldn't hear what they were saying and nothing really seemed more than overly friendly."

"Well that sucks." Kyle said, slumping back in his seat.

"What sucks?" Jacks asked as he walked in, holding the door for Sam, who took his time hobbling up the treacherous bus steps.

"Kyle." Scott said dryly, laughing as Kyle glowered at him.

"Not anymore." Kyle said, with narrowed eyes, and Jacks laughed, catching Sam's elbow when he slipped on the last step. Sam flashed him a smile. Jacks just smirked in return.

"Hey, Kyle, Scott, do you mind giving up your bunk for the night?" Jacks asked, suddenly, taking a seat in the booth around the table. Sam sat on the other side, leaning his crutches against the wall.

"What? Why?" Scott asked, blinking curiously.

"Jackson! The couch is fine." Sam hissed. Kyle blinked.

"Because I don't think Sam should be sleeping on the couch with his ankle like that." Jacks continued as though he didn't hear Sam.

"Yeah, that's fine, but I don't think the two of us will fit the couch. Why can't you just switch with him?" Scott asked, raising an eyebrow.

"How do you propose he get up the ladder?" Jacks asked dryly. "You two can have my bunk, I'll couch it."

"Make sure you clean out that bed of yours. I don't trust it at all." Kyle said, wide eyed.

Jacks laughed. "Yeah, yeah sure." He stood and scaled the ladder in the corner, disappearing upstairs, leaving Sam scowling after him.

"You really don't have to." He muttered, taking off his glasses and setting them on the table next to him, rubbing at his eyes.

"Anything for your comfort, Sammy." Kyle chirped, ingratiatingly. Sam laughed a bit, replacing his glasses just as the bus started up around them. There was a small crash from the level upstairs, a loud curse, and a moment later Jackson appeared, slightly disheveled, and with a small bulge in one pocket.

"You're good." Jackson announced, flopping back down across from Sam, who rolled his eyes, setting his head down in his arms.

"Shall we go check out the new digs, dahling?" Kyle drawled, smirking a bit. Scott smirked back, and they both stood. Jacks narrowed his eyes at them.

"Don't be doing anything in my bunk. I still have to sleep there when Sam's better." Jacks said, eyeing them suspiciously.

"Of course not Jacks. Don't worry about it, Scott's not getting laid for a few weeks at least." Kyle said with a beam at Jacks, before turning and giving Scott a rather venomous glare. Scott sighed, looking sad.

"It's true." Scott lamented as Kyle climbed the ladder. Then he grinned. "I should be able to convince him otherwise though, before too long."

Jacks laughed, amused as the two disappeared. Emily stood then, looking mischievous. "Come on, Linda, let's go keep them away from our stuff." Emily made the short trek across the room, Melinda following her. A moment later Sam and Jacks were alone.

Jacks smirked. Sam rolled his eyes at him again. "I really don't like you sometimes." Sam murmured. "I would've been fine on the couch."

"No you wouldn't have." Jacks protested, looking rather smug.

"No, I would've been. But you won't. You're much too tall." Sam smirked.

"Aw, but it'll be worth it, dearest, to know that you're resting comfortably." Jackson fluttered his eyelashes and Sam laughed, before looking thoughtful.

"We could share, I suppose." Sam said, laughing as Jackson's eyes lit up. "But it'd be strictly like last night, chastely." Sam laughed some more as Jacks's face fell.

"Dammit, so this is worthless?" Jacks asked, digging something out of his pocket and dropping it on the table between them.

Sam choked, then scowled. "If you were close enough, or I was mobile, I'd punch you for thinking me that easy."

Jacks laughed, slipping the little plastic tube and the six foil wrappers back into his pocket. "If I had you that close, I wouldn't punch you." Jacks smirked. "And I am mobile, so…"

Jacks slipped around the table, unsurprised when Sam didn't actually punch him, but instead simply scowled. Without a second thought, he slipped Sam's glasses off once more, earning an eye roll as Sam met him halfway, one of the manager's hands going up to cup his cheek as he used his own arms to pull Sam to 'easy kissing range.'

It was a second later that a loud cheer was heard from the upper level, and Sam pushed him away, his face steadily turning bright pink as Kyle and Emily tumbled from the upper level. Jacks scowled irritably at his bandmates as Scott and Melinda more sedately came down, actually using the ladder.

"I knew it." Kyle proclaimed, pointing a finger at them. Sam just rolled his eyes and smiled a bit, but Jacks was irritated. He had had a promising make-out session going there. He glowered, radiating his irritation.

"Heel." Sam commanded, tapping Jacks on the nose. Jacks blinked, his expression clearing for a moment in surprise. Purposefully ignoring Emily's snickers and Kyle's laughter, he smirked.

"Or?" Jacks asked, keeping his tone low.

"Or I'll bite you again." Sam said, laughing a bit when Jacks looked surprised.

"And this would be a bad thing…" Jacks trailed off, smirking.

"I'll bite you where it would hurt. A lot." Sam said, his smile growing a bit as he reached out and patted Jackson's lap.

Scott laughed, sidling over to Kyle, draping his arms over the ecstatic boy's shoulders. "He's getting some. Can I get some?" He whispered in Kyle's ear. Kyle smirked and tossed him a coy look over his shoulder.

"Not in Jacks's bed." Kyle said, turning in Scott's arms, settling his own arms around Scott's waist and giving Scott a chaste kiss. Scott laughed, breaking away to pull Kyle towards the back of the bus.

Sam shook his head, snagging his glasses back and slipping them back on. "I'm not sure I want to sleep in there."

Jacks laughed. "Don't worry, we'll change the sheets first." Jacks waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

"That sounds so bad." Sam groaned, as Emily laughed again, before Melinda pushed her over to the ladder once more. Jackson snickered as well, kicking his feet up so that they rested on the other side of the booth. He was about to accost (read: molest) Sam again, when the slender man slid out of the booth, grabbing a crutch.

Sam gimped over to the table, shutting the top of his monitor with a click before picking it back up and hobbling back to settle next to Jackson. Jacks pouted as Sam started doing his reports again, only slightly appeased when Sam leaned back into the arm he slid around his shoulder.

Sam smiled a bit when he caught sight of Jackson's slightly petulant expression. "I'm almost done, I promise." Sam said, his smile widening as he continued to finish his write-up on the last venue.

"Fine, fine. God, you normal people and your 'jobs.'" Jacks complained. Sam laughed, but didn't reply, focusing on his report.

It took him ten minutes to finish it, and send it off, checking his email one last time. Chris had sent him an email, but he deleted it. There was also one from his boss, and he opened that one after sending his report off. Jackson was to all appearances asleep, leaning heavily on Sam's shoulder, not that Sam minded.

"Hey." Sam poked Jackson's forehead. It slid off his shoulder and landed with a dull thud on the table. Sam just laughed as Jacks groaned, sitting up.

"Done?" Jacks grumbled, blinking sleepy eyes.

"Yeah, read this." Sam turned the laptop towards Jacks, who blinked blearily, but did as he was told. It was a short email, and it didn't take him long to read it, and so a moment later he was smirking.

"So are you going to?" Jacks asked, smirking.

"I don't know…" Sam said, seeming to think it over. Jacks growled a bit, scowling, but Sam laughed, and smiled at him, so it melted away. "Of course. I'm not stupid you know." Sam murmured, laughing when Jacks pinned him with a slightly disbelieving stare.

"Good." Jacks said, still pouting a bit.

"You going to pout all night?" Sam asked, adjusting his glasses, and thus drawing Jackson's attention to them.

"No." Jacks smirked. Sam smirked back. "When we retire, though, will you retire?" Jacks questioned, looking thoughtful. "Since you're going to be here for 'the rest of our career' or whatever?"

"I don't know." Sam replied, mirroring Jackson's expression. "I guess we'll see."

"Yes…" Jacks trailed off.

A moment later, he sprung into action, sliding around the entire booth to slip out without knocking Sam out of his seat. Sam blinked, shutting down his laptop as Jackson stood, stretching leisurely.

"To the couch." Jacks said, and Sam laughed, standing slowly. Before he could grab his crutches however, Jacks stalked forward and scooped him up, earning a scowl.

"You're not earning any brownie points." Sam said, seriously, his hand shooting up to keep his glasses in place as Jacks set him on the couch, reaching for the wire frames. "Stop doing that."

Jacks pouted. "But you've got such pretty eyes." He whined, sitting sideways next to Sam.

Sam turned a faint pink, but smiled. "And the lenses are clear." He replied.

"It's not the same." Jacks didn't give Sam any time to reply, deciding the best tactic would be distraction. The glasses ended up on the table.

"I'm going to have to get contacts, aren't I?" Sam asked rhetorically, laughing a bit breathlessly. Jacks just smirked.

Teh End.

Fireworks notes: watched a special on fireworks. There are like, three THOUSAND of the fuckers in one half and hour show. One half an hour show that's not a huge spectacular. Think small town fireworks. Sixty or so isn't going to make a huge difference, except they need to be taken care of carefully and immediately by soaking in water.

Chez is pronounced like 'chess'. Exactly like chess. Do not pronounce it the french way, with which the last sound, the 'z' sound, is dropped (shey is the sound).

Tour bus RV like.