"I'm so excited I can't stand it!" Isabelle bounced next to Chris who was struggling his way out of his costume. It was never an easy task to remove the tighter than skin jeans and leotard after the show, especially when they were sweat soaked. Tonight it was even worse because his girlfriend was shaking him in an attempt to transfer some of her excitement to him.
"I'm excited too. Thrilled." He deadpanned. "I'd just like to live long enough to get out of these pants and this stupid fucking leotard."
"Awww, my baby is cranky." She peeled the wet lycra from his skin, kissing across his back as she did.
"Sorry, it's been a long day. I wish we'd gotten this thing a week ago like we were supposed to. Last night on the dude bus sucked." He toed off his boots so he could slide the entire thing off.
"I know, and I can't wait to see it in the daytime but still, we get it tonight and we'll finally get a decent night's sleep."
"Here's hoping." He pulled on a pair of jeans that were slightly less constricting than the pair he'd dropped in the laundry and tugged a t-shirt over his head. The shirt was some video game reference Issey didn't understand but she was very excited to see him stuff his (very large) feet into his soft grey sneakers. She took his hands as soon as he looked ready to move and wiggled a little dance in front of him, "Please be excited about this. This is a big deal for me, and for us."
Chris pulled her into his embrace and kissed the top of her head, "Of course I'm excited. I'm sorry I'm so grumpy. I'm excited to see our new home away from home."
Her eyes sparkled when she looked up at him, "I really think you're going to like it. It took them a little extra time because I added some stuff but hopefully it will be worth the wait."
Chris's jaw dropped at first sight of the thing. "It's HUGE."
It was a sleek silver double-decker bus with pale blue accents. One of the windows was round like a port hole on a boat; others bore screens, something Chris had never seen on a bus. Issey got on first and greeted Fred; he was her favorite driver from past tours and happened to be free to drive the remainder of this tour.
A little on the older side but clearly a pro he shook his head and fanned his arm out like Vanna White ,"Leave it to you Isabel, I've never seen anything like this before."
"Did you like your room?"
Usually a tour bus had a front room where everyone hung out together and a back salon like the one she and Mia had hung out in. There was generally a small kitchen and bathroom, occasionally with a shower and then an area of bunk beds. There was never an area especially set aside for the driver. The idea was that if the bus was on the road the driver would be driving and when the bus is not in motion the driver would be in the hotel. Issey felt the driver might like to feel at home as well and made the back salon on the first floor a room specifically for Fred. "It was a very thoughtful thing to do. Thank you for that."
Chris raised his eyebrows in question so Issey told him what she'd done. "So there's no back room?" he seemed a little concerned. Everyone knew that on a tour bus the highest ranking person on the bus had the back salon as a getaway from the rest of the crew. It was seen as the most prestigious area and the one with the most privacy.
"Not on this floor. The way I see it the entire bus is just for the two of us so we don't really need a hide-a-way from the group. C'mon let's look around."
The driver's area was state of the art with his own privacy door so he could choose to separate himself from the bus interior or be a part of it. He had an excellent sound system in his space and a place to set food and a drink. There was a light overhead if he needed it and a kick ass GPS.
A few steps beyond the separating partition was the kitchen. With gleaming white enamel stove, oven, sink and small refrigerator it had a more homey feel than the usual utilitarian stainless steel kitchen. Chris ran his hand over the countertop, "Is this marble?"
"Yeah, pretty right? I wanted to be able to make candy and a marble surface is key."
"Sure, yeah, make candy. You're aware you have an apartment and I have a house. We have somewhere to live when we aren't on the road."
She pouted a little, "You don't like it."
Fred interrupted briefly, "We need to get moving. I put your things upstairs, hope that's okay. I'll try to keep her steady, heard you could both use some sleep."
"You're the best Fred!" Issey called to him as he closed the privacy shield and separated himself into his own little world.
Chris poked his head into the fridge coming out with a cold bottle of water smiled at her. "Of course I like it, it's just, extravagant."
She sat at the four seat kitchen table that looked straight out of a 50's diner. Looking down Chris realized the floor had been pattered in black and white tiles, the entire kitchen was in fact 50's themed. He sat across from her.
"I don't want to show you the rest of the bus until you tell me why it seems to be bothering you that I wanted to make this nice for us."
He took her hand and held it loosely. "I'm happy that we have this place to be alone together, but I can't help thinking that it's also an escape hatch for after the tour. You can take another gig and hop into this thing and be gone in a minute."
"Love I hate to break this to you but I don't need a bus for that."
He nodded, "Guess not."
"Besides…" she got up and pulled him out of his seat, "this place was designed for US not just for me. If I get another gig while you're on hiatus and you want to write I want you to be able to come on the road with me and enjoy it."
He bent down to kiss her softly; she swore he got taller every day. "You really think about us that far in the future?"
"Of course." She felt her heart contract. He obviously didn't think about them beyond the end of this tour. Was she assuming too much?
"Good." He mumbled it into her skin just in front of her ear and suddenly her knees were weak and her head went dizzy.
She gave him a playful shove away , "All right, all right, do you want to see the rest?"
"Lead on, McDuff."
There were cabinets on either side of the bus that made a slightly narrowing passageway demarking the change from kitchen to hallway with a room on either side, both closed off with doors. "These walls come out in case we decide to do something else with the area later but for now I have this." She opened the door on the right side and revealed a piano room with acoustic panels, a flat built in the wall recording board and a keyboard. There was enough room for four people to work comfortably. "It's soundproofed too so I can let clients get as loud as I need to and never disturb you."
"This is amazing." He played with the mixing board, "Is this 26 channel?"
"Out, 32 in."
"And you can remix from your iPhone remotely."
"This is going to save you so much time in studios."
"Exactly. I really wanted to rerecord Kevin's tracks, now I can do it here and not have to rent studio time on the road."
He continued to stare in awe at the room until she nudged him out the door and opened the door across the hall. "This is yours."
The room was similar to his bedroom at home in color palate, masculine and calming. There was a butter soft slate grey leather snuggle recliner next to a wall of books. A writers desk, complete with a new laptop was nestled in the corner, flanked on either side by roman columns. Above the desk was a shelf she'd had adorned with photos of Chris's family and pets as well as a number of reference books and fresh cut irises. She turned the dimmer to bring the lights low and then pressed a button next to the desk. Slowly a rectangular piece of the wall beside his desk retracted revealing a window, complete with screen. He had the option of turning this space into a complete cocoon, letting in the sun or moonlight, or flooding the room with fresh air. A remote control allowed the room to fill with music from the laptop, or if he wanted he could sit in the snuggler and watched dvd's on his laptop. A small fridge filled with fruit and diet coke was built discretely into the wall.
Chris ran his fingertips over everything. He marveled at the soft ivory carpet beneath his feet, designed with two trees coming from different directions but their branches growing together. He remarked on the perfect assortment of black and white photos she'd chosen to be a part of his personal space. Pictures of his parents, his sister, his pets and friends all surrounded him in complimentary frames. He sat in the recliner and called her to join him, tipping them back as soon as she did. Wrapping her up and holding her tighter than she expected his voice waivered slightly, "I can't believe you put this room in just for me. I didn't expect anything like this, you're incredible." They kissed and snuggled together, as anxious as she was to see the rest of their bus this was a perfect way to christen the room she'd designed to be his sanctuary. She'd be happy to take a week seeing each new area if it meant Chris kissing her collarbone like he was right now.
(A/N: I have started a tumblr for Issey. It is running slightly before this story begins, while she is designing this bus. You can see things from Issey's perspective by going to the tumblr of Isseysroad)