Kian noticed this as the boy approached and got all up in his face, his thick fingers spreading apart Kian’s eyelids as if he was trying to see into his soul or some shit. Kian tried to blink the boy away though his attempts were useless so instead, he reached up and gave the back of Javi’s hand a few quick swats. Was he comparable to an angry kitten? Yeah, but at least Kian thought he looked cool.
"You need to slow down. Are you high right now?" Javi asked as he stepped back and crossed his arms over his chest. Kian reached out a hand to very platonically give his friend’s pec a good poke but instead pulled his hand back, his thumbs looping around the black pleather belt sitting on his hips.
“Yes, duh.” Kian stated rather bluntly. “Wait no, I’m not. I’m not sober. Er, no I am sober. Sober, sober, sober. No drugs here, no sir, I am Kian Clean Cut. I wonder if I could trademark that. None of that changing the ‘C’s to the ‘K’s though, you could see the issue with that.”
Ah yes, Mr Phelan, very smooth and totally not very obvious. Who was he kidding? Certainly not Javi, Kian knew his bandmate knew his way around drugs.
While Javi continued to talk, Kian gently placed his guitar down beside the vanity and peered at himself in the mirror. Fuck he looked rough. His brown hair stuck out wildly from his head in a sort of brunette halo, dark circles ringing around his blue eyes. It would have helped if Kian had slept the night before rather than partying with his next-door college neighbours but hey, ecstasy was far more fun that catching some zzz’s.
"No one in their right mind thinks Lucky is fucking sweet. Didn't he punch you in the balls last week?"
Kian looked over his shoulder at Javi and laughed.
“Hey, I think Lucky’s sweet. Have you seen those baby blues, man? Soft enough to make a grown ass Kian cry.” Kian patted his chest and wiped away a fake tear. “But no, he didn’t sack me. If Lucky was gonna touch my balls, it would be a gentle, loving caress, not some mean ‘hit em in the family jewels’ sort of affair, ya know?”
Flopping down into one of the three empty chairs along the vanity, Kian reached over and grabbed some sort of hair wax that had been left on the countertop. Maybe it was Javi’s, maybe it was left by the people who had the dressing room before them. Kian really didn’t care. Taking a rather healthy glob on the ends of his fingers, he began to work the wax through his hair to pin the fly aways down onto his skull.
"I thought you'd at least be impressed I made it here, man.” Javi pried, earning little more than a shrug from Kian in response. “Wait 'til Ol' Fucky lays his eyes on me. He'll shit his pants knowing I'm about to go on stage. And wait 'til he lays his eyes on this."
“I am surprised you’re here, I just don’t think it’s much cause for celebration. You sorta have an obligation to be here since, you know, you’re in the band. And what’s up with ‘Fucky’? I thought you two were tight. Also what am I supposed to be lo-” Kian spun around in his chair and his eyes landed directly on Javi’s ass.
Javi’s butt is a good butt. Firm, athletic, slappable. If Javi didn’t talk out of it so damn much, Kian would have rated it a 10/10 butt. But alas (no pun intended… fuck it, all the puns intended), Javi’s ass could only be a 9.9/10 for logistics.
“Good ass, dude.” Standing up from the chair and giving himself a quick double finger gun of approval at his hair job, Kian readied his hand and smacked it rather harshly against Javi’s butt. “Godly indeed.”
With his hair finally pushed into place, Kian pulled his guitar out of the case gently and laid it across his lap. Taking out a cleaning cloth, he carefully wiped down the black exterior and ran his fingers down the strings, which he had freshly replaced the night before. Batman was his baby.
What? Can’t a guy name his guitar Batman without getting weird looks?
Does Bruce Wayne make you feel better? Yeah? Fine.
Bruce Wayne was his baby.
Slinging the guitar strap over his shoulder, Kian grinned at Javi as he absently strummed away at the strings, playing an indecipherable melody.
“So, where is Mr Fucky anyways? I hope he’s not gonna be late. I’d really hate to have to take over the leading lad role, I don’t really have the same amount of raw sex appeal that he does.”
Nope, you don’t even have to say it. Charlie knows it, Amy knows it, their roommates know it, the whole student body of Hollywood Arts knows it, hell, the entire damn world knows it: Charlie May Howell does not, in any capacity, deserve a best friend like Amethyst Kiana Jones.
Amy, in Charlie’s eyes at least, was what a perfect human looked like. No, not technically perfect. Amy had her flaws, her ups, and her downs just like everyone else in the world does. But without a thought, Amy kept uplifting her friends over and over and over again, even when they definitely didn’t deserve it. There Charlie was trying to be a supportive bestie when Amy turns around and somehow manages to comfort Charlie who, let’s be real, had zero issues upon entering the room.
"Trust me Char, you and me both! Is that an option? Can we opt out of being people today? Cause I've been feeling rather partial to duck all morning."
Charlie flopped her legs over Amy as she laid her head down onto the soft blanket across Amy’s mattress.
“I think we should. We could do it, I already talked to Lin. Hear me out.” Charlie raised her hands to paint an imaginary picture on Amy’s ceiling like some sort of sixteen year old female Michaelangelo. “We hop a plane, call this whole Art Fest thing off. We buy adjoining mansions on some tropical island because why not? And then we start up a business or something, no dirty money to keep us rich and wealthy. We settle down, raise some kids, become the queens of the island. It would be awesome. No rules, no judging, no school, no societal pressures. Just you, me, Linny, some little gremlin children, and all sun and sand.”
Charlie’s head bent slightly to look at Amy.
“Ugh, fine. I guess the plan can wait. I guesssssssssssss we can make it through Art Fest first.”
Swinging her legs off of Amy, Charlie made her way over to Amy’s closet and pulled it open. Charlie knew what she was going to wear for her performances, she had been prepared for fucking weeks. Still, Amy’s clothes were so damn pretty, so Charlie found herself shopping in her friend’s closet. This was not a strange or uncommon occurrence, Charlie had a horrible habit of making herself far too comfortable in other people’s spaces.
“As true as that is especially for you because both of your performances are going to bring the house down! I don't think they deserve that much mercy from us. Not our fault they aren't ready for the dynamic duo, and we wouldn't be us if we didn't come to win."
Charlie pulled out a rather thick coat and threw it across her thin shoulders, taking a few steps back to admire herself in the mirror. “Meh, I’m just there because I have to be. I’d much rather be touring somewhere, livin’ life, forgetting about all the stupid high school shit, ya know? But who knows? Maybe we’ll find ourselves some next tier managers and move on up in the world. Oooooh, what about a reality TV show? Like The Kardashians meets Golden Girls. Picture it: Howell and Jones: Hit the Road. Dude, we’d be legends!” Scrunching her nose up, Charlie pulled the coat off of her shoulders and looked down at the fabric in her hands. “Girl, I don’t know how you look so damn good in this thing. I look like a tiny blonde smurf. Like Smurfette, but less cool.”
With a quick thread of the thick hanger through the coat’s shoulders, Charlie continued pushing through the closet, careful not to make a mess or wrinkle the clothes. Too dull, too bright, too patterned, too Amy, not enough Charlie. Huh, imagine that. Amy-styled clothes in Amy’s closet. How dare she?
"As for getting me ready? First, a correction. We need to get each other ready." Amy spoke from behind Charlie who had become fascinated with a beautiful pair of boots at the bottom of the closet. They were the ones Amy wore to their duet performance at Homecoming. "Secondly, I know how I want my hair and make-up no problem...but I'm suddenly having doubts on the outfit. I know it's last min but… Help"
The closet was no longer interesting. Instead, Charlie spun around and looked at Amy, throwing on her best scowl and hands-on-her-hips-like-a-concerned-mother pose.
“Amethyst…” Charlie stretched out, eyes squinting at her friend. “Doubts? Seriously? You look hot in everything, don’t even worry about it. I’m trying to shop at Boutique d’Amy here!”
No expression change from Amy. With a shake of her head, Charlie abandoned her closet pursuit and hopped onto the bed, her slender legs folding neatly beneath her. With a heavy sigh, Charlie motioned for Amy to show her.
"Saving grace! I've been up all morning, so I've narrowed it down. Here's the original.." Amy said as she moved to grab her phone to show the options. As Amy went to dig through the closet, Charlie took the phone in her hands and looked down at the picture. After a few brief seconds, Amy pulled a second outfit free from the closet and held it up. "And this is the basics of the back-up. What do you think?”
Charlie’s eyes darted between the two outfits, phone raised so that she could get a better mental picture of what the outfit would look like on Amy.
“Okay, you absolute hot piece of ass, you didn’t have to go and make this difficult on me.” Charlie laughed half-sarcastically, though the decision really was difficult. “I think you’d look great in both but let’s be real here, I think you’d look great in literally anything. I’m thinking garbage bag chique next performance, eh? Really hit em with the Glad Forceflex, ya know?” Charlie continued to stall as she made her decision. A few moments and a very concentrated lip gnaw, Charlie nodded and gently shook the phone. “I’d go for the original. There’s extra spice in that one, it would match your song better. Now,” Charlie took the outfit from Amy and set it back in the closet before plopping down onto Amy’s desk chair, “you gotta help me with the hair sitch. The ol’ manager wants it up for added sex appeal because, you know, a sixteen year old needs sex appeal apparently, but I’m kinda feeling it down. Thoughts from the Amy House of Cosmetology? Wait, lemme just…”
Charlie hopped out of the stool and rushed to her bedroom. Pulling her outfit from the closet, Charlie slipped into it and ran back to the other room, pausing briefly to strike a pose in the doorway before flopping back down into the chair.
“Okay, alright, we are good now.” She laughed warmly as she ran her fingers through her hair. “What are we thinkin’, Ames?”
The freckled boy latched his leather satchel and shoved it back to rest on his hip. He shifted his right elbow to rest atop the satchel as he bounced his eyebrows at Lydia, his blue eyes focused amusedly on the girl beside him as he watched her reaction to being offered the Hershey’s Cookies ’n Cream bar.
‘course, she said red wasn’t his color. Ess-em-aych. Red was too his color — everything was his color. He rocked anything. But he’d let that slide, luhmao. He’d managed to evade Ricky, the O Assholy One, so today was officially a good day again.
She smirked at him, sighing, “Oh yeah, you mean I saved your ass. Again.”
“Fineeeee,” Lin groaned, rolling his eyes. “Fine, yeah, yeah, you saved my ass, whaaatever. Technicalities, luhmao. I got your payment right here, ess-em-aych.” He wiggled the chocolate at her. “C’monnn, take it — once in a lifetime dealiooo, call now to get free processing and handliiing, if you call right now you’ll get an extra luhmao absolutely freeeee…c’monnn, take it, you know you wanna, wanna, wannaaaa.” He bit his lower lip, craning his neck and cocking his head, bouncing his eyebrows at each syllable of his following, hummed jabs: “Hmm, hmm, hahhh?”
She was sure to correct him on the amount that he owed him. “Two. You owe me two.”
“You’re keeping tabs?!” Lin raised an eyebrow, his eyes widening, and then he let out a loud whine that caused several bystanders to raise their own eyebrows at them. He flopped the back of his chocolate hand to his forehead, throwing his head back and whining again, even louder than before. “Ugh-g-g-g-g!” He re-annunciated each of the g noises, like a putting engine. The noise seemed to amuse Lin — yeah, luhmao, he was amused by pretty much everything — so he laughed again before he went back to his whining. “Unfaiiiiir!” He dropped his arm, lowering his chin to look at Lydia with a pout on his face. “Lyd-d-d-d…meanie, you’re keeping tabs. I mean, next thing I know you’re gonna be asking for your yellow scrunchie from sophomore year back or some shit, and then you’re gonna get all sobby ‘cuz I used it to rig the visitor’s bathroom’s bidet at the condo complex to spray you when you lifted up instead of when you flushed…ess-em-aych, or you’re gonna be asking for your thirty bucks back from when I stole it from you a couple of months ago.”
At that, his pouty facade cracked, because he realized that, oh shit, she didn’t know it in the first place. A grin spread across his face, and he let out a loud snort and a cackle before he added, “Oh yeah, bee-tee-dubs — that was me, luhmao.”
He laughed about it for a few moments, and then he wiggled the chocolate bar at her again. “Chocolate, though. Hah? Haaah? It’s eateeen off of, oooooh. You could sell it to one of my stans for, like, a solid couple of bucks, if ya wanted, but I’d suggest just eating it, luhmao — c’monnn, c’mon, you know you want iiiit.”
A look of disgust came over her face, which made him laugh loudly again. “I’m sure you can think of something better, Lindsay.”
“Bro, better?!” He put the back of the chocolate hand to his chest, his eyes widening in offense. He gasped dramatically. “Dude, chocolate’s the best fucking payment besides bread! Get your facts straight!” He shook his head, clicking his tongue as if he were ashamed. “Ess-em-aych, then. Suit yourself.” He was yet again unable to maintain his facade as he bit off a hunk of the chocolate, and he wound up laughing again.
“You just get off stage?” Lydia asked, and Lin nodded. “Yuh-huh.” He swallowed his bite of chocolate, peeling the wrapper back to take another bite. “Luhmao, got on that extra-extra-strength deodorant — smelling fresh as hell even when I’m sweaty as hell.” He crossed his eyes and looked up towards his forehead, and he grabbed one of the strands of damp hair dangling at his forehead. “Zeggzy,” he muttered to himself, and then he looked over at Lydia, laughing happily and dropping the hair.
“You shoulda seen me, dude!” His grin was bright, excited, his eyes alight with a genuine, boyish excitement that ramped up the more he thought about his performance. “I fucking rocked it, man! Even Frederic was like, ’Ayo, good job, man.’” His grin faltered slightly at that thought. “‘cept he said it in his douche way. But fuck him, luhmao!” He waved a hand, dismissing the thought, and his grin brightened again. “I was up there, and the lights were like nnts nnts nnts and I was like, Laaaaaa, and then when it ended, I did the whole Freddie Mercury power pose, luhmao, and the crowd went fucking wild — crowd was wild the whole time, though, luhmao! A lot of them were, like, screeching the lyrics and shit — it was fucking sick, dude! You should’ve been there!”
Yeah, duh, he assumed she hadn’t come — why should she’ve?
Also, yeah, apparently, all on its own, without Lin really ever asking it to, his brain had decided that it officially didn’t completely hate Lydia, because he was calling her bro again.
Luhmao, sure, that was fine.
He took another big bite of the chocolate bar, which left it standing at about a third left. “You’re doing some…” He swallowed, waving the mostly-eaten bar at her, as his brows knit together with curiosity. “Whaddo you Lit-ty kiddies even do for Arts Fests, luhmao?” He took another bite of the chocolate. “Eh, whatever. When’s that whatever-you’re-doing happening, eh?”
He twisted and grabbed his bag, then unlatched it again. He narrowed his eyes, rifling through his bag and shoving back the gummy worms and the 'nilla wafers and the taffy and the this and the that until — “aha!” — he finally found what he was looking for, and he pulled it from his bag and hid it in his palm. He tucked his hand behind his back, grinning over at Lydia slyly. “Ayo, gimme your hand. Hold it out. Do it, do it.”
Once she did, he pulled the thing out from behind his back and sat it in her palm — a little party-sized Twix, actually wrapped and wholly uneaten.
If you hadn't already been wondering, you might've been wondering right about now, Just how much candy does this kid have?
If you were to ask him about it, Lindsay's answer would just be, "Wouldn't you like to know, Weather Boy?"
His grin softened into a thankful smile, his light eyes grateful. “There. Lil' right Twix. As thanks.” His tone wasn’t as harsh, and there was no arrogance to it like there usually was. “Ya know.” He chuckled softly, shrugging. “For sparing me and shit, luhmao.”
The Arts Festival was finally here. The moment that he’d been waiting for was finally happening. The moment that everyone had built up as one of the most important showcases of his Hollywood Arts career…was finally taking place.
He wasn’t nervous. Fuck nerves. He was restless. And before you nitpick…there IS a goddamn difference.
The last two weeks had been jam packed. Rehearsals with Ash were daily now. They’d even catch a quick rehearsal in the middle of the school day if they were able. Jet Black Neon rehearsals were just as frequent. It made it easier now that Kian had officially moved in and Javi had…just kept showing up. But it worked. And the rehearsals were just as intense.
He fucking loved every minute of it.
He was doing what he loved. He and Ash were solid. They had been for weeks now. But Ash’s lack of confidence, no matter how much he assured her, kept them on task. Hell, even vodka hadn’t worked this time.
JBN was another story. They were good. Had the potential to be great. Fucking awesome really, but keeping Javi entertained while he and Ki worked on music and lyrics was a full-time job in itself and he and Kian had to do a few run throughs shirtless to keep his attention, but it was the price you paid to be great.
And while he missed having the place to himself, he loved having another person in his life that was just as passionate about music. Not just playing, but writing and creating. They’d spent hours just creating and writing and listening to all types of music. Doing everything they could to nail the perfect sound. The sound that represented each of them, but also made sense together.
Even Javi had impressed him. He showed up, made an effort. He cared about it. And took it seriously. Sure, he punched Dorian and almost got banned from the festival, but they made it work. It was going to work. It had to work.
He tapped his foot restlessly…not nervously on the floor of his aunt’s car. He was late. Not really, but later than he wanted to be. Later than he told Ash he’d be. She was probably a tiny disaster blonde of nerves at the moment and he wasn’t there to reassure her. Not that it ever worked. But it made him feel better. And she cared enough to throw him a bone and at least pretend that it worked. It had become kind of their thing.
LA traffic was a bitch.
His restlessness…was quickly being infiltrated. Infiltrated by the thoughts and truths that he’d been able to block out these past two weeks. Really only the one: Josie. He still wasn’t sure why it plagued him. She’d never find out. It meant nothing. And they could just live their lives like nothing changed.
He knew he should have found a distraction this morning. And yes, by distraction he meant…sex. A hook up. Is anyone really surprised? It had been two weeks since his impromptu roofsex with what’shisname. Seriously. He never got the dude’s name. But regardless, he hadn’t had sex since and he was…restless. He glanced at the time. Contemplating…only for a moment…if he’d have time before he tracked down Ash.
He was supposed to be there. And if these cars would just move fucking faster, he would be. New York traffic was just as bad. Worse even. But in New York, he would have just taken the subway. Public transportation in LA sucked ass.
“We’re here.” A sigh of relief exited his body as they pulled into the parking lot. He looked over at his aunt. “Mind dropping me off up front and then finding parking? I’m already late.” Of course she agreed. She knew how important this was. The car came to a stop and Lucky leaned over and kissed his aunt on the cheek. “Thanks.” He hopped out of the car and grabbed his backpack and the garment bag holding his outfit. “See you inside.” He shouted back as he shut the door.
It took him a minute before he found their dressing room and entered without knocking. “I know, I know.” He walked straight toward the center of the room and set his bag down gently before unzipping the garment bag. “I said I’d be here like twenty minutes ago, but apparently my aunt thinks she’s going to find the love of her life at this thing and went through like seven wardrobe changes.” He sighed as he removed the t-shirt he was wearing and tossed it on the ground.
He was excited if you couldn’t tell. Usually not a man of too many words, yet he couldn’t shut up. He undid his belt and pulled it quickly out of the loops. He glanced back at her briefly and motioned with his finger for Ash to turn around. “No peeking.” He said with a small smirk as she did as she was asked and he quickly changed into his outfit. He didn’t really care if she peeked, but he knew it’d make her uncomfortable.
He slipped into his shoes and put on his jacket before checking himself out in the mirror. “Looking good.” He said with a soft chuckle. “Alright…” he spun around around. “How do I…” he stopped when he saw Ash. “Wow.” He said as he took in her outfit. “You look…” Hot. Beautiful. Gorgeous. “…amazing.” He wasn’t shocked. She always looked good. And he’d seen her in the outfit before. But right now…in this moment…aside from the underlying panic and terror in her eyes, she looked great.
He cleared his throat awkwardly as he drew his gaze away from her. “I…uh…got you something.” He said as he reached down for his bag and pulled out a small container. He straightened his posture, hiding the contents of the container behind his back as he stepped toward her with a smile. “And no…before you get too excited, it’s not a pre-show shot of vodka, even though that sounds fucking amazing right now.” He said as he presented her with a single blue flower.
“It’s a chrysanthemum. It’s supposed to mean good luck.” He swallowed. “My…uh…my mom used to give me one before every one of my performances and I always killed it, so…” he didn’t ever talk about his mom…not anymore really and it was rough. “…I figured I’d pass the tradition onto you. Not that we need it.” He exhaled a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “Plus it’s way less lame than a rose, right?” He tried to lighten the conversation up. Mention of your dead mom tends to be a mood killer and that was the last thing they needed.
Now that any fear of being yelled at had been squashed, Zeph's normal politeness and friendliness was able to come out. He wasn't perhaps the most extroverted person, or the most social -- not that he didn't like being social, because he did like hanging out with the handful of friends he did have, but he also wasn't one of those people that was consistently having to pack every minute of every day with socialization.
Plus, he remembered being a freshman at Hollywood Arts so long ago. It had been terrifying, and he remembered coming to his first Arts Festival feeling completely overwhelmed. At least he'd had some help and hadn't been completely alone. He'd well, he'd had Stella, at least, which was more than he could probably say for the girl before him.
So when she did say that she was new -- and that she'd missed a bunch of school thanks to volleyball and cheerleading -- he had some sympathy for her. After all, he understood missing school (albeit for very different reasons), and he could understand feeling like you were falling behind or drowning in the motion that seemed to constantly be flowing at this school. It was like if you tripped up, you'd be lost in the current.
“Uh, maybe you can give me a rundown, if you have some free time?” She asked.
He hesitated, glancing around at everything that was going on around him. He'd promised to hangout with Lin later, but... he didn't see him anywhere. Maybe his buddy was still at his own Arts Festival project, or he was busy with whatever. Either way, he could... probably wait a little while longer before he tried to seek out his friend.
"Well," Zeph started. "I'm supposed to hangout with my buddy, Lindsay, but uhh..." he gave a shrug of his shoulders, and then smiled down at the girl. "I got a bit before I gotta find him, so... yeah, I can show you around real quick. Give you a, ahh... a rundown of the... of the Arts Festival."
Oh god that was a little weirdly worded.
He gestured with a tilt of his head for Kinni to walk with him, and he started walking through the theater. His hands moved to rest in the pockets of his jeans (because there was no way he was showing up in a fancy suit for the day), and he glanced down at her again as they started to walk.
"So is this your first..." he trailed off when he realized how stupid of a question that was, because obviously this was her first Arts Festival, so he decided to pretend like he'd never even started that sentence and, instead, move on. "Basically, everyone's just gotta do some kinda project. It's a ahhh... like a real big grade and stuff, so everyone spends like... months working on their projects, ya know? And then ahh... oh, so there's scouts and talent agents and stuff that come out to watch and will ya know, they'll like sign you if you're really good."
Or so he'd heard. Zeph hadn't been approached by such things, not that it was a surprise. He was still young and he knew that those opportunities were usually awarded to the seniors and juniors.
"You said ahh... you do cheer and volleyball? That's pretty cool. What're you here for? Like at the school? I'm here for uhh, for dance."
i'm too lazy to come up with a good mood right now
Alex was the complete definition anxious and the coffee certainly wasn’t helping. She had a small indicator that someone had switched her to decaf without her knowing and if they had, it was for the best. If they hadn’t? Alex will look down on them from heaven. You know, after her heart explodes from beating too hard.
The last few weeks have been the most stressful weeks of her life.
Everything had been going moderately smoothly, but that didn’t mean Alex was any less nervous. A first time film director-- co-director, but it still counts. Wrapping the film had been a good break. Or, it would’ve been if she hadn’t been going through every minor detail in her head. “I hate coffee.” She mumbled to herself, placing the cup down near Chas, who was entirely too focused on his reflection to notice her at the moment.
“Alex! Where’s my coffe-- Oh.”
Chas lifted the iced coffee and Alejandra opened her mouth, about to lift her hand to stop him but he’d already taken a sip. The taller girl lowered her hand, shaking her head and decided not to say anything.
Alejandra turned her attention to her phone ignoring the many missed calls and messages with a swipe up.
You’d think she was checking social media, at least replying to a message or two. But no, Alejandra was just looking at the home screen. Doing… nothing. There was a pit starting to form in her stomach, and Alex already knew it wasn’t the coffee’s fault.
Her partner mumbled something about a foreign maid before glancing over his shoulder.
"Look at you all dressed up, Barbie,"
His words brought Alex out of her daze and a slight grin tugged at her lips.
“Yes, look at me.” Alejandra gestured towards herself with a flourish of her hands. It wasn’t a secret that the latina was never confident in her appearance, at least around certain people. Although around Chas, it was different.
He had enough confidence for the both of them.
"You sure fashion isn't really your true calling?"
Alex chuckled, gently chucking her phone onto the vanity as a phone call came through. 'Illinois Correctional Facility' was splayed across the caller ID and it was the fifteenth missed call in a row this past week, but obviously Alejandra was set on ignoring it.
“Har-har. Simone picked out the outfit for me when we were out looking for costumes. If it was my choice, I would’ve shown up in jeans.” They both know she wouldn't, but for comedic relief let them believe it.
“But-- thank you. You clean up nice yourself, Dickens.”
Alex was never one to get nervous before anything. Surprising, yeah. But she usually was calm, cool, and collected. Just not today. She had everything riding on today. Everything as in ‘her last shot to get into the lit department.’ And to Alex, of course that was everything.
A man walked in, young-ish looking, a mic on the side of his ear. He looked like one of those important stage manager-types.
“Here for the… ?”
He clearly wasn’t sure how to word it, a glance around the room, Alex spotted Chas’s laptop and handed it over to him. “Great. Thanks.” He rushed out of the room in a hurry. The showing wasn’t until another hour or so, and it was almost shocking how they didn’t ask for the laptop sooner.
“Are you nervous? You look it."
“A little. You aren’t? Aren’t you the slightest bit worried about what people will think?” She asked, eying the mint that Chas held out.
Whatever happened to the mints that were mint flavored? Alex had learned not to question any of the people in LA. They were always some sort of odd. She took the mint, popping it into her mouth.
Turns out Elderflower wasn’t so bad.
“Wait. I look nervous? How do I look nervous?”
Two knocks at the door interrupted them and the man from earlier walked in, concern written all over his face as he held out the laptop.
“Uh, the video isn’t-- the film, it isn’t there.”
“What?” Alex glanced over at Chas and took the laptop from the older boy, flipping it open and messing around with the trackpad before finding the folder.
“No, see, the folder is titled Corrupted Defi--”
Alex’s heart dropped when her gaze fell upon an empty folder.
“Okay, no. This isn’t right.”
“Could it have been in a different folder? Did you delete it by accident?” The brunette asked the older man who seemed… completely dumbfounded.
He didn’t do anything, she knew that.
“Did we have a backup? Didn’t we? Why wouldn’t we make--” Deep breaths, Alex. The stage manager or whatever the hell he was shuffled out of the room, giving Alejandra and Chas a little privacy.
Two fingers were pressed against the bridge of her nose. A million and one possible scenarios flying through the little brain of hers. The brain of hers who didn’t think to make a backup. Why did she trust anyone but herself?
She’s shifting the blame on others.
It was her fault.
“It can’t just be fucking gone, Chas.” Alejandra gestured towards the laptop and her voice raised higher than it should’ve. She chewed the inside of her lip and placed two hands on both sides of her hips, taking a breath before continuing.
“I’m sorry, sorry. It’s just… It’s just not possible. I don’t get it. What the hell am I supposed to do now? Put it on as a play?” Her features quickly changed from anger to sudden realization.
The script was written out to be a play before it was a film, maybe…
“I need actors. We need actors. Who’s available in the next hour?”
Remi would like to have pretended that today was just another day at HA. It wasn’t. Whether he liked to admit it or not, there was nothing normal about today. This was the first weekend after winning a state championship as the starting Quarterback for an arts school. A feat that was hard enough being at a school that put sports first, but it was an even larger challenge at a school that didn’t even really notice that he did.
Yet somehow Remi still went about the day like he would any other day. There was no game the night before, so he didn’t take the morning off. Instead, `he had his schedule reflect his usual weekday routines, so he started it with his morning workout in the gym area of his apartment. Shoulders, biceps, chest. That smith machine was going to get some use from the young man today. He needed to stay in shape for one to maintain his physique for baseball season, and two he needed to maintain it for next year when ran it back and took his team to another ring.
He went to work, using the machine for benchpresses when he heard his phone vibrate in the distance. It caught his attention, though it normally wouldn’t have, because he was anxious about Maggie. He rarely drank and never to excess. Yes, he was the lame at the party who drank milk and drove everyone home safely. Though I guess that was kind of cool depending on the perspective you looked at it from.
It was a celebration for a state championship, so of course he indulged the rest of the team. They called him choir boy since he was never in trouble, always the one who kept everyone together. He wouldn’t tell them to not do bad things, but he would do his best to mitigate the things that they did. Well that night he was right next to them.
That led to him getting home and staring at his phone in his bed. There he sent a drunk text to Amy. Mainly talking about how much he loved her and how excited he was for their future. Yet, he also sent off texts to Maggie. Those texts were more about the past, about why he broke off their kiss, and how he wished that she would have given them a chance. It might not have been the most opportune thing to do, but it was something he had held inside, and the alcohol finally removed his inhibitions and allowed him to express them.
That was the issue right now. He wanted to forget that he ever sent those texts to Maggie for a couple of reasons. One of them, was he didn’t want his feelings hurt by what Maggie said. That she’d say she would never date someone like him. The other, is that he was perfectly happy with Amy and he didn’t want anything messing that up. Even though they weren’t official, they might as well had been since they were together in everything but name.
He could only sigh as he finished his workout, finally checking his phone, relieved that it wasn’t Maggie. He took a towel and wiped his forehead off before moving to the shower. It was a quick shower and a venture to twitter, and then eventually a venture to messaging Amy. Time would pass as he got ready for the day, spending the time in between either studying, working on his script, or running through film.
It was drawing time to go see Amy, so he moved towards his dresser and grabbed a small bag with some expensive jewelry in it, put it in his jacket pocket and left out. Before long he was at the stage in the crowd waiting for Amy to go before he heard his name.
You’re Remi, right?
He turned to face the person who had called out, surprised it was that easy to hear his name amongst the crowd, though it was probably because the performance hadn’t started. It was Hunter, his exes’s ex.
He looked him over for a bit before offering a smile,
“Hunter, right? What’s up man.”
Don’t think I ever had the pleasure, man. Think we only talked briefly on Twitter
He couldn’t help but chuckle because he did remember their brief interaction on twitter. It wasn’t the most pleasant, but Remi couldn’t hold that against him. He would have probably done something similar too,
“But yeah, kind of awkward thinking about it so let’s move past it, right? We’re in the same place now.”
In their short period of friendship, Ezra had come to the simple realization that Auguste was a careful person. He rarely spoke out of turn, chose his words carefully, never caused confrontation, observed more than interacted. Ezra could imagine how those social tendencies would make him seem cold or disinterested in communication. To the artist, this only proved to make Auguste more fascinating, especially when Ezra’s words and actions took the already quiet boy and turned him into a blushing mess.
“Ah, the carnations.” Auguste spoke the obvious quietly, a recent thickening of his accent forcing Ezra to pay closer attention to his words. “I… thank you. Again.”
“I promised you flowers, did I not? I am a man of my word, Auguste.” Ezra replied with a coy smile and a half-assed bow. Nodding to the dancer in front of him, Ezra pushed himself off the door and took a few steps into the room. “Take a few deep breaths, my friend, you seem to be going redder than the flowers. No need for so much formality.”
Ezra peeled his long black jacket from his shoulders and laid it gently across the back of a chair. Peering into the mirror that sat against the back wall, Ezra ran a hand through his hair to push down a few flyaway strands and to make sure that he had lost the terribly bored expression that had plagued his face somewhere between his display and then.
“... You look nice.” Auguste complimented from behind him. A smirk tugged at the corner of Ezra’s lips as he leaned onto the countertop. “I was… just… eh… Out…. sorry for missing your exhibit.”
The compliment was quickly buried beneath an excuse and a quick change of subject. Unfortunately for Auguste, distracting Ezra was not going to be that simple. Complimenting someone verging on narcissistic was certainly not the best approach if you didn’t want them to hang on to the compliment until they parted.
“I’m glad you think so. I would have hated to get all dolled up only for you to think I look like a dumpster fire.” Ezra laughed warmly, catching Auguste’s gaze in the mirror and throwing him a wink. He wasn’t about to let Auguste get away with the subtle compliment without using it as a prime teasing point. “I’d return the favour but you already know that you’re attractive, even more so all sweaty and worked like that, so I’ll just leave it at that. And don’t worry about missing my exhibit, it really wasn’t much. I can show you pictures if you’d like.”
“I can… eh.. Buy you something to eat… eh… While we’re out. Pay you for these.” Auguste offered. Ezra didn’t mean to laugh, he really didn’t, but he genuinely couldn’t believe his friend.
“Auguste,” Ezra started as he turned to face Auguste, his hips leaning against the countertop behind him, “you don’t have to pay me back for a gift. That sort of defeats the purpose of gift giving. If you wanted to ask me out, you should have just said so.”
Ezra pushed his body off of the countertop and grabbed his coat from the back of the chair. With a few graceful slides of his arms and a readjustment of the collar, Ezra nodded to the door. “Come on. I can explain to you how gift giving works over lunch. My treat. You might want a coat or a sweater, the wind has a bit of a bite.”
Stepping out into the hall, Ezra waited patiently for Auguste before making his way quietly out of the long hallway of dancers’ dressing rooms. He was careful to offer a few nods and smiles to dancers about to perform, never knowing if there was someone there to give them any sort of encouragement. There had been too many kids at Spencer’s performances with sad looks on their faces when they realized that parents or friends hadn’t made their recitals and had no one to support them. He really hoped that someone had been there for Auguste.
“So, I know you said you wanted your friend to come but he couldn’t make it. But did your parents show?” Ezra asked, tucking his hands into the warm pockets of his coat. Screw his chronically cold fingers.
Extending an arm, Ezra pulled open the door and held it for Auguste to pass through, the pair stepping out into the main backroom for the performers. Two figures stood in the middle of the room, a long red dress instantly catching Ezra’s eye. Looping his arm through Auguste’s, Ezra nodded to the two familiar faces. Ezra was really looking forward to that lunch Auguste had proposed but by the look on Chas’s and Alex’s faces, a little drama detour would be an excellent appetiser.
“Let’s go say a quick hello, shall we?” Ezra asked out of formality because before Auguste could respond, Ezra was carefully dragging the slightly taller boy behind him with their looped arms. “Well well, if it isn’t the director and Chas, right on time I assume.” Reaching a hand out, Ezra gently took Alex’s and placed a soft kiss on the back before gently releasing it. “You look lovely, Alex, red is certainly your colour.” Ezra then looked to Chas and offered him a half-smile. He wasn’t about to compliment him even though he looked incredibly good. Chas didn’t need any more ego stroking. “Nice to see you again, Chas.”
Ezra carefully looked over Alex and Chas’s shoulders to peer down at the computer screen that had ‘CORRUPTED FILE’ written all over the screen. The words immediately explained the panicked looks on the pair’s faces.
“Don’t tell me that’s your film.” Ezra spoke though he already knew the answer: that was definitely their film. “Did you try the backup?” His gaze flickered between the two again. “I’ll take a guess here and say that you don’t have a backup. Wonderful.”
For a second, Ezra considered walking away. This wasn’t his problem. Sure, he had worked on the film with Alex and Chas but it wasn’t his fault the film was corrupted, wasn’t his fault that neither of the people in front of him had brought or even thought to create a backup. His job was done.
But then he saw the panicked look on Alex’s face again and sighed, shoving his hands back into his pockets. He really didn’t get paid enough for this.
“What can we do to help?” Ezra asked bluntly, nodding his head towards Auguste and hoping that the dancer wasn’t too mad about Ezra volunteering him again. “Auguste and I are both done with our performances, so we’re at your disposal.”
As Tilly staggered up, she was seeing double and triple. And no that wasn’t the dog dare tiers nor some Team Rocket speak. She was literally seeing two or three copies of someone who she didn’t think she recognized. The sound of their voice was familiar enough and maybe if Tilly’s head wasn’t ringing louder than a symphony of cell phones going off all at once.
So to answer their question, Tilly most certainly wasn’t okay.
Or maybe she was and all of this was a big ole dream.
Tilly pinched herself and the audible “ouch” proved two things: she really did pinch herself in front of the person her head collided with and she wasn’t dreaming. This was real life. She really wasn’t okay and now Tilly had to explain both why she pinched herself and why she was going so fast that she didn’t see where she was going.
Right, first thing's first!
“I’m fine!” Tilly’s delayed response came abruptly and she rubbed her head.
A few moments of silence passed, in which Tilly used to collect herself. She spent it taking in deep breaths. She felt her head starting to hurt less. Her vision was still somewhat blurry but it was significantly better than those initial moments after the bad bonk. “I..” She looked around, looking at the person in front of her and she nearly gasped. “Oh! Bailey! You’re Bailey, right?”
Tilly knew she recognized them. “Oh my god, your head! I’m sorry! I’m sosososo sorry!” Out of habit from both panic and her upbringing, Tilly bowed like she would whenever she and her family would visit her Obaasan (Grandmother) in Japan.
For a moment, Corey had to do a double-take to make sure it was clear in his head that who he saw wasn’t some poor lab-made clone of Eli. Sure enough, as much as he was annoyed about the line taking forever, when he heard his voice and familiar tone filled up the gaps left from the noise from everyone around them, Corey felt like there was a weight lifted or something.
Or maybe it was just the fact that there was a familiar presence who clearly felt the same way about the line taking god-knows how long.
Corey couldn’t remember the last time he and Eli had talked. There might’ve been a few times where he’d pas shim in the hall or in a class or two, but honestly, Corey couldn’t tell ya when it was that he last had a one-on-one with Gen’s twin.
Ah frick, Gen. Yeah, that’s probably why he felt somewhat awkward around Eli. It had nothing to with Eli being a bad person. Honest to god, Corey had nothing against Eli. Hell, they were probably more alike than anyone else at this school, but that was it. Corey always felt that Eli might come after him or something similar to that because he slept with Gen a few years ago.
Even though Corey had no idea who Gen was until the week after.
Ah yes, that was a fun time.
“Fourty-five minutes?” Corey echoed what Eli just said as if trying to process standing in a line for that long. And maybe it was just him looking at Eli, but Corey couldn’t help but admire Eli’s shirt. It certainly was a lot more tame than what he had on.
He had to admit, though, if this line was going to drag on or if they really were going to be here a while, either talking to someone about it or making the most of it wasn’t such a bad idea. “I could eat. I’ve been so nervous lately about my performance that I honestly forgot to eat,” Corey admitted with a sigh. “Oh, I’m doing a poem. A spoken word poem, actually. Honestly, it’s my first time doing it. Like, I’m not what anyone would call a performing artist -- not like Dorian is. And I’m probably going to mess up.”
Great, there went all of the confidence he spent three hours in front of his mirror building up. One moment spent talking about it and exactly what it implied and Corey Preston undid basically everything.
“Sorry. I’ll shut up now,” Corey chuckled nervously. “What about you, Eli? You doing some kind of history lesson?” Corey asked, laughing as he pointed to Eli’s shirt.
Truth be told, Hunter couldn’t even remember what exactly happened between him and Remi on Twitter. No offense to the guy, of course. He was almost positive that he was a great guy. Nickie didn’t date idiots nor did she indulge herself in people who didn’t have taste. Remi clearly was one of those. From a first impression viewpoint, Hunter didn’t really get one from Remi on Twitter. People could fake it online, so judging him based on that wouldn’t have been fair.
Plus like he said, they were in the same place and they got burned by the same girl.
“Fuck her, right?”
Wow, did he really say that? Hunter was almost shocked about how casual, yet coldly, he said that. It was almost without even thinking and yet, he doing that just now: thinking about Nickie and about how bitter he felt towards her. Her name was venom on his skin and the sound of her voice no longer filled him up with the same joy as it did when they were together.
“I mean, hey she burned us both. Not sure about you but I’m pretty sure I have second-degree burns. The only cure for that is maybe someone who isn’t her, ya know?” Hunter laughed, looking forward for a minute. Ash had mentioned that he should date outside his grade but he wasn’t sure about that. As much as he would like to, he didn’t think anyone who was older than him -- at least within reason -- would see him as anything more than just some punk kid.
Well, it wasn’t like he didn’t date outside his grade. Nickie is a junior.
Yeah, maybe he should date in his grade.
But who? He’d never date JJ even if she hadn’t insulted his dead mother. She was with Dorian now.
And don’t even get him started on Ronnie. She was someone he would prefer not to think about. He still remembered how he spent over an hour in the Hollywood Arts parking lot just to avoid sitting next to her at homecoming.
So that’s a big pass.
“But it’s all good man, right? She’s not in our lives anymore and whatever poor asswipe catches her eye is gonna be in for a world of disappointment.”
She hadn't actually been sitting for that long alone when the door to the dressing room opened up. Ash lifted her head, blinking in confusion for a moment before her face relaxed when she realized it was just Lucky. She relaxed, a faint smile on her face as she watched him rush in, garment bag in hand.
Seriously, he hadn't even changed?
Ash rolled her eyes.
He started explaining why he was late -- something about his aunt and her wardrobe changes, and then without any warning. Like without asking Ash to step out of the room, which would've made more sense to Ash, he just started changing. And at first it was fine, whatever, he just took off his shirt. It wasn't like Ash hadn't seen a ton of shirtless guys before, but she still turned her gaze towards the ceiling.
It was weird to, like, stare at shirtless guys changing or whatever.
"No peeking," Lucky said, which just cause Ash to glance over at him. He motioned for her to turn around, and Ash rolled her eyes and did as she was asked.
Not like she wanted to see any of that, anyway.
However, she was facing a mirror, so turning around didn't do much since she could still see Lucky's reflection in the mirror, which caused her to quickly squeeze her eyes shut and cover her face with her hands. "Not peeking," she noted aloud, just in case there was, like, any question about it.
At least there weren't any witnesses. Like, that'd be such a weird thing to try and explain.
When he was finally done, she dropped her hands from her face and glanced back at him. He did look good, and she made a mental note to thank Evie again for helping her out with picking the costumes -- or at least with picking his. With a small smile, she stood up from the chair and walked towards him.
“Alright…” he spun around around, and Ash let out a small laugh. “How do I…”
He trailed off, and she looked at him with a smile, her head tilting to the side while she waited for him to finish his thought.
“Wow.” He said. “You look… amazing.”
"Oh, umm..." Ash looked down at her outfit, her hands awkwardly brushing against the fabric of her shirt to smooth it down, and then she smiled back at Lucky. "Thanks. You look... really good, too. Like, amazing. Amazing, too."
Well he did look good.
“I…uh…got you something.” He said as he reached down for his bag and pulled something out, although he kept it hidden behind his back. “And no…before you get too excited, it’s not a pre-show shot of vodka, even though that sounds fucking amazing right now.”
She giggled at that. "Damn, really could've used the vodka," she joked, as Lucky held out a single blue flower. She glanced from it to his face, and then back to the flower as she delicately took it from his hands. Ash twirled it slowly in her fingers, and a warm smile slowly returned to her face.
“It’s a chrysanthemum. It’s supposed to mean good luck.” He explained. “My…uh…my mom used to give me one before every one of my performances and I always killed it, so… I figured I’d pass the tradition onto you. Not that we need it. Plus it’s way less lame than a rose, right?”
She laughed at his joke, her gaze going back down to the flower. "Roses are cool," Ash responded, "but like, this is... I don't know, I've never gotten one of these. It's pretty." She looked back towards Lucky with a smile, and then headed over to the vanity to set the flower down -- like, to get later, because obviously she couldn't go on stage with it.
"I didn't know we were doing good luck gifts, otherwise I totally would've brought you something." She joked as she walked back over to him, and then gave him a tight hug. "Thank you, though. Like seriously, that's like... one of the nicest things I think I've ever gotten, especially before a show." She said before she let go. Her teeth had started to bite lightly into her lip as she remembered that they were about to go on to perform.
Right, so his dead mother used to give them to him as a good luck thing.
Yeah, they definitely needed all the good luck they could get.
Also what was she supposed to say about the dead mom thing?
"That's sweet, though. Like of your mom -- getting those for you." She smiled softly and, to busy her hands, she started messing around with Lucky's jacket and shirt, smoothing them down so it looked better -- not that it had looked bad in the first place. "I'll have to, like, start getting them for you when I umm... come to see your open mic nights."
Return the favor or whatever it was.
Her eyebrows furrowed together as she reached forward and tugged at the sleeve of his jacket. "You're not gonna get too, like, hot with this on stage, right?" She asked, looking up at him as she spoke. "I'd really rather not go out there and have you just, like, collapse on stage from heat exhaustion or whatever it is."
Yep. 17 years old was as far as he got. Starving, fighting, scraping his way through his childhood and his early teenage years so that he could escape his shitty household and finally feel something again? Absolutely nothing in the face of fucking Ezra Gray.
How dare he be nice. Disgusting.
And Auguste knew that he was starved for affection, even though his friend and his friend’s parents had tried their best to unofficially adopt him. However, nobody else had to know that, thanks. As far as anyone else knew, he had a great life so far and was just socially awkward to the extreme. Introverted. Hated talking to people - hated people. Scared of them. Get away.
Auguste was left absolutely shocked silent. But he did take Ez’s suggestion to take a few deep breaths. Helped calm his erratic heartbeat down.
And yes, Ezra, he did know how gifts worked. But he felt bad. Because Auguste didn’t have anything prepared for him, and Ez probably thought that Auguste was taking advantage but he wasn’t he just never had this shit prepared ahead of time because nobody usually gave him gifts or took him out for lunch or-
Deep breaths. Alright. It was the same with his friend. Ez liked his company (like a weirdo) so Auguste just had to be entertaining. He could be entertaining. He could do this.
“But did your parents show up?”
The sharp bark of laughter came out before Auguste could really stop it. Added with a few snickers before Auguste could get his emotions under control again. He shook his head, smiling as he did so.
“Trying to get to my tragic backstory, are you?" Auguste teased. Thank God, they were back to normal. He went on, in a casual sarcastic drawl, his face dropping into a serious look "Well.... It all started when my dad killed himself. And then my mom neglected and abused me. And then I started dancing to feel something again."
Auguste broke out into a brilliant grin. "It would make for an awfully good story, if it were true, would it not? I should join literature. Or send it to Chas, I heard he's looking for good stories to sell."
There. Make Ez sweat a little bit with the truth. See what he'd do with it. Auguste could play a mind game or two. And then he noticed his companion staring at two figures.
Oh, Chas and Alex. And they looked stressed. Ez. Ez. No. Please. Please.
Auguste was led over, somewhat reluctantly, too stressed with the impeding social interaction. Couldn’t they just… not? Could they not? He didn’t want to get wrapped up in any more of the film drama than he had already. And also, he was really looking forward to lunch. Hungry.
He analyzed the scene before him as Ez did his thing. Corrupted file. That wasn’t good, was that the film? Well. Explained the stress. Awfully annoying, their project was dead. Too bad, they had to go to lunch… please?
No. That wouldn’t be the nice thing to do. The nice thing to do would to offer help. Especially because Ez worked really hard on the film. Alright, he could wait until Ez was done helping some more, Auguste hadn’t really done much on the film. Ran and got some coffees here and there. Nothing too big. But his friend helping? Yeah, that was fair. Go ahead.
“We’re at your disposal.”
Alright, time to play the waiting game until Ez was do-
WE are at your disposal??
When did Auguste offer? Hello? Ezra? What was he supposed to do? He was a dancing monkey, and sometimes made pretty noises. Not… whatever this was.
Auguste glanced at Ez, maybe just two seconds too late. This was not his area of expertise. Film, acting, all that stuff. It just wasn’t for him. He’d never looked into it. What in the world could he possibly do. Go for another coffee run?
“... Yeah. Whatever you need.” Auguste echoed, shooting another half-glare at his companion. Alright, that’s the way this was going to go.
Javi's face scrunched up in response to the absurd notion Kian had brought forth to half-assedly claim he was sober... Yeah, right. The guy was clearly blitzed out of his gourd if he thought he could pull that sneaky shit and expect to get past a professional partier/drug dealer/doer-of-stupid-shit.
"Whatever, man. Just, next time, if you're gonna snort a line, invite me too." He turned back to the mirror and carefully fixed his hair, but stopped as he realized he wasn't done with his thought. His face hardened gravely as he focused back on his bandmate. "But I'm still kicking your ass in Lucky's absence. I don't know you well enough to trust your ability to function normal." The curly-haired boy pointed a warning finger at Kian, raising his eyebrows like his dad back when he had to explain Javi's inevitably-ignored curfew nightly.
It was almost like being thrown into the Bizarro World having to lightly scold Kian, who he normally bugged with overtly erotic, unsolicited truth-or-dare questions while he and Lucky devised the lyrics to their next piece. Of course he'd known the dude was outgoing and experimental enough to pop pills and twerk at someone's house party, but it was still a trip to see in action. Javi had once pictured him as the chill, carefree stoner guy who just kind of did whatever back when they'd first met. It was almost amusing observing the difference between that perception and the hyperactive, fast-talking guitarist in front of him.
Further, he was such a tease. All Javi could do was roll his eyes as he gushed over Lucky's features with the full knowledge that he'd declined the prospect of a circle jerk more than once. Still, he had to give Kian some credit for rightfully appreciating his ass. “Good ass, dude.”Smack! Javi almost doubled over as a surprisingly strong hand landed right on his ass.
"Godly indeed." Javi smirked, satisfied to have his muscular features recognized by a guy he was more than willing to lock lips with. He turned around completely, hiding his ass away from his seated bandmate. Suddenly, all he could envision was bending over and whispering indecent words into his ear, his hands exploring those beautifully-sculpted arms.
But, alas, there was a show to prepare for, and time would quickly fly by if Lucky arrived, likely ending up unable to help himself to his two studly bandmates.
“So, where is Mr Fucky anyways? I hope he’s not gonna be late. I’d really hate to have to take over the leading lad role, I don’t really have the same amount of raw sex appeal that he does.”
Javi crossed his arms and shook his head. "I trust him. He'll be here," he assured, checking the clock on the wall, "I think he's got something going on first with Ash." Based on Kian's words, it was obvious he wasn't all too worried about Jet Black Neon's third member arriving and, honestly, Javi wasn't concerned either. They'd all put their best efforts into the band, especially as of late. Whenever the trio shredded a riff, hit a key, and reached a note all on the right tempo, their shared awe was crystal clear based on the light in Lucky's eyes.
As private of a guy as he was, he had a tendency to unknowingly reveal himself (beyond the obvious, because I know you're thinking it) to Javi with a warm, passionate glow. The three boys' musical chemistry surpassed everyone's expectations, and it helped keep Javi's head in the game. Yes, he still needed a shirtless rehearsal or two every now and then to keep his focus, but that flakiness didn't stop him from genuinely pouring his heart into the one talent he had that rose above the miles-below-sea-level expectations everyone had for him.
Fuck you, Papá. I'm going on a real stage now. What was that about amounting to nothing? Yeah, that's right, sing along, you stupid fucking—
Ahem. Javi snapped out of his thoughts, having stared Kian dead in the eyes for a few seconds as he zoned out and slightly mouthed his thoughts to himself.
"I think we all got killer sex appeal. That's why we're the fucking coolest!" He stuck his tongue out, then threw up a pair of rock star hand gestures. So metal. "And the ass, and the ass!" he added, turning around for a brief second to remind Kian of his prized possession's existence.
"Bang, bang, bang..." the energized junior mumbled, flexing his back restlessly. He almost wanted to ask Kian if he had any illicit substances left over to calm his nerves, but decided against it for once. If he was gonna be potentially kicked out by festival staff, he ought to at least be sober enough to explain himself. Then again, he wasn't all that sure just how strict the administration was going to be about last week's punishment considering he never got that call back. And if he had, it probably went straight to his parents anyway.
"This shit's a whole lot bigger than the backyard gigs I've been to," he thought aloud, absentmindedly pacing around the room, "You got anyone coming to watch us tonight? Other than, like, scouts and shit... And Kelli."
If there was anyone in the school who could remotely feel for Dorian and Jace after their skirmish with Javi, it was Angel. He'd continued to endure beatings from his anger-issued older brother for years despite the curly-haired rock enthusiast being recently emancipated. Even as a middle schooler, he always chalked up the punches and kicks and death threats to typical brotherly arguments, but at this stage... it was really starting to wear him out. Especially as Javi began to show a noticeably lesser restraint as of late.
The first week of December was Angel's lucky week, as on top of all the semi-serious portraits he had to complete in a matter of days, his kind older brother had blessed him with a full-force punch in the face and subsequent black eye, all for apparently consorting with the enemy. He hadn't realized his entire social life was under surveillance by Javier, but apparently sympathizing and politely chatting with Maddie was a big no-no. Like, such a no-no that any request for an explanation was met with shouts so loud and furious that flecks of spit occasionally landed on Angel's face.
He lightly placed two fingers on his black eye, wincing and quietly grunting due to the dull burst of pain that followed his prodding. It wasn't the end of the world or anything since he wasn't performing onstage, but he still had to have the occasional picture taken by his artwork... Couldn't Javi have waited until after all the winter festivities to grill him for all his mistakes?
All of that was nothing to dwell on, though. This was supposed to be his day. It was one of the few chances he got as a soft-spoken visual artist to really get the recognition he definitely didn't seek out, but relished all the same. He was terrified of the stage, and didn't have any charisma or talents that would draw a live audience, but he still looked forward to his time once a year to share his passion with the occasional art-interested passerby.
It was a nice kind of quiet; nothing like all the crowded commotion around the music performances. When he got tired of standing around chatting with random art people and families escaping the crowd, he hoped to catch his brother's and a few other friends' performances. Angel was the last person to ever be seen or heard in a crowd, but if he could just stand around and smile and get credit for supporting people, that was good enough for him.
But for now, standing in front of portraits and smiling.
He was especially fond of the pair of portraits he'd done of Corey and Maddie, two of which told very distinct tales verbally and, well, with the looks on their faces. It was obvious the day he'd sat the two down separately to describe the other's facial features, smile, thoughts, and dreams that they maintained a strong, precious bond. It almost felt like intruding to probe the two so extensively, but they really were the perfect subjects for his art project.
It was all about the way people view others. He'd gathered friends, family, lovers, and even so-called "enemies" to verbally describe the other. He wasn't exactly sure what he was aiming for, but it was something along the lines of idealizing others' positive attributes, as well as the ugly parts of people, inside and out. Javi was really good at explaining the ugly parts, for example, and it almost felt rude honoring the way he depicted some of his acquaintances faces.
Needless to say, the older brother was relieved of his volunteer service early. The bias he so strongly exhibited was an acutely interesting angle to work with, but there wasn't a chance in Hell that boy's patience would last long enough to describe every last detail.
It didn't really matter if anybody understood his project or his surrealist art anyway. The whole point of drawing was so he didn't have to put things into words, after all. Hell, he didn't even need a career in art, really. Hollywood Arts was just a means to sketch weird shit in his notebook every day and call it homework. It was luck more than anything that his art teachers praised his people-drawing affinities.
Angel still liked the praise, though. It's exactly what kept him checking his watch every so often awaiting the arrival of his family before he went and ditched to watch Javi's band play. Ricky always had nice things to say. Tía Isabella, too. His mom and dad were a bit more "Looks like tuition is paying off. You learned this in class? Have you submitted your portfolio yet?" and stuff, but that wasn't necessarily bad. Lydia didn't always understand what part of his brain his bizarre inspiration came from, but she was still caring enough to say he did a good job every time. Everybody just voiced their support in different ways, he supposed.
It was nothing compared to the thought of Lin or Javi showing up and saying his art looked pretty, though. Just the one prospective compliment would probably make his year, but...
He knew not to dream. He was naïve, perhaps too idealistic, but he wasn't a moron.
Still! Still! Happy! Winter Arts Fest day, woo! Things weren't so bad so far! Someone he knew would come by eventually.
Avery had cast his mind back to try and remember what the weed stick drug thingy had look like and felt like, which made him feel sick.
“I– I don’t think it was made of wax…” that was all he got in response to Casey’s question. That day had been difficult for Avery, especially the part where he had been smoking the candle – weed, and just hacking and coughing, and all he could remember was the hacking and coughing and not what the weed had been made of.
Oh no, was Casey going to be upset because he couldn’t answer him properly?
Worry had started to cease him again when Casey started talking again.
"Hmm... floating does sound pretty cool, though," he admitted in a mumble. "I've always wanted to go on the moon and just kinda ya know... bop, bop, bop around in that zero gravity. There's this real cool trampoline world that kinda feels like that, 'cept I got hurt 'cause I didn't land on the trampoline one jump. The moon doesn't have metal so it doesn't hurt."
If you could see the inside of Avery’s brain right now, you would probably be seeing a lot of sparks flying and headless chickens running about colliding into each other and screeching as they tried to patch the spots the sparks were shooting out from.
He was short-circuiting. Casey jumped around so much and so quickly that he just, he couldn’t keep up and you could see it through that dazed little look in his eyes, if you were paying attention.
While processing one section of Casey’s words, the overly talkative chap would bounce to a completely different topic and Avery’s brain just couldn’t keep up.
Think an overworked kitchen flood with way too many orders.
His brain was starting to go bop, bop, bop from this conversation.
Let’s see, floating on the moon like a trampoline world and… metal on the moon? No wait he said no metal. Wait a trampoline world.
Avery’s eyes lit up as he looked straight at his friend.
“A trampoline world? There’s such a thing? And it’s like floating on the moon? That’s so cool! Where is it? I want to go there.” He was practically jumping with excitement minus the jumping of course, and he had that look of childlike wonder and excitement dancing about in his eyes as thought of jumping around on trampolines like he was on the moon carried him away.
He had never even travelled anywhere other than Japan and the few places his parents had brought him on vacation when he was younger but with this trampoline world it would be like he was on the moon?
It was incredible just to think about.
“I’ve never been on a trampoline before!” He admitted voice chirpy and bright, and then his voice died off and the joy in his expression quickly turned upside down. “Ah, you said you got injured at the trampoline world, are you okay? Does it still hurt? Where did you get injured?”
How could he be so insensitive? Here he was getting excited about the trampoline world and wanting to go there when Casey had mentioned that he had gotten hurt and he hadn’t shown the least bit of concern towards him or about his injury. Instead he got excited about the source of his injury.
Casey wasn’t upset was he?
A trampoline world, I want to go there, ah but Casey got injured, I failed to show concern, oh no I messed up again didn't I?
Jace’s face perfectly summed up the meaning of the word disgusted with the expression it contorted into when she teasingly suggested there being a little something between him and Javi. The boy was really bad at taking jokes or identifying them. Well his inability to handle jokes was entertaining in its own way. A nice bit of much needed variety.
"No," Jace whined and gave a rapid shake of his head. "No, no, no. He... he... he punched me at, at school. He's... he's.. he's crazy. And he threatened me. Threatened... threatened to kill me and stuff, so..." he sighed. "I guess... I guess sending my friend would be the best way to... to do that..."
Ah… so Javi had threatened him, no wonder. Also he had gotten punched? Just what had Jace done this time? She didn’t see any bruises so that meant it was either quite some time back, not that hard of a punch or somewhere not immediately visible like his stomach.
What? Jace was like a stick made of tofu, by which she basically meant that he bruised, easily. At least he seemed like the type to bruise easily. Hell, he was probably bruising from the spot on his back where she’d hit him. Whoops.
At any rate, she couldn’t undo the fact that she’d hit his back already so, moving on~
Hmm? Did who – ahhhh, did Javi send her? Well no, actually speaking of the hunk who doubled as her drug dealer, it had been quite some time since she last talked to him, especially now that she could easily procure drugs from the room just down the hallway in the apartment she shared with Felix. She probably ought to change that soon, in any case back to the matter at hand, the answer was no.
Javi hadn’t sent her, but Jace didn’t know that and it wouldn’t hurt to make the boy squirm a little more while she tapped her chin and pretended like she was trying really hard to remember if Javi had or hadn’t sent her.
“Hmmm, did he? That is an excellent question…” She said slowly, deliberately taking as much as she could while watching him from the corner of her eye.
Jace really needed to do something about how easily intimidated he got. Now should she put him out of his misery yet or drag things out a little longer?
Yeah, nah, she could do that later, for now she wanted to do a little digging, find a few answers to some questions.
Like why Javi punched him.
“I still can’t believe you were brave enough to upset him into punching you. Who would have thought you had the guts to do such a thing? Why did you do that anyway?”
If ever there was a time that Mikaela was messing around with a friend way too much, now was definitely it.
Was making him even more antsy before his performance a good thing?
Definitely not. Neither was her pretending like she knew what had happened, that probably wouldn’t help with his anxiety either, but she never claimed to be a good friend.
At least not that she remembered, if she had ever said something like that while she was drunk or high… well she couldn’t remember.
Kelli and Ronnie were a different breed of people then Bella is used to associating with. They were both so genuinely friendly to the point that Bella silently found herself wondering if they had ulterior motives. People weren’t usually that kind unless they wanted something, so what could it be that they desired?
There was, of course, the idea that the girls were just actually nice people that wanted to be her friend. Somehow, that seemed like the less likely of the two options.
“For us? Heck yeah, if you’re offering, I’d love one!” Kelli complimented as she took a muffin from the tray. “They’re. So…woah, prettyyyy. These look like muffins straight out of some professional bakeshop!”
With a soft laugh, Bella sat down carefully onto the foot of Kelli’s bed and crossed one leg over the other.
“My dad and I used to have late night baking sessions whenever I got anxious. Turns out, I got incredibly good at baking because of it.” Bella explained as she pulled off a piece of the muffin and popped it into her mouth.
Quietly chewing away at her muffin, Bella listened to the exchange between Kelli and Ronnie. Bella wondered how someone as talented as Kelli could be so worried about performing or how someone with as much pressure on her as Ronnie could be so calm and collected. She hardly seemed nervous even though the music department seemed the most cutthroat of the five departments.
"Just, uh... be yourself? I mean, you dance all the time, Kell. How's today any different beyond the obvious?" Ronnie’s eyes settled on Bella."And aren't you a writer? You're basically good so long as your work is submitted. It's not like they'll make you do backflips or anything. And half of it is just having enthusiastic supporters. You guys like your project partners, right?"
Bella could feel her eyes roll dramatically. Short answer? No, she absolutely did not. Long answer? Avery was fine but Casey had the habit of setting her teeth on edge. Part of Bella hoped that Casey crashed and burned so that he wouldn’t get the idea that they were a good team or something… Mostly because they had actually worked very well together, not that Bella would ever want to admit it.
“It is… complicated.” Bella managed as she flopped backwards across the foot of Kelli’s bed. “I am working with Casey and Avery. Avery is kind enough. As for Casey, he is not… bad, I suppose, but he is so aggravating. I mean, how does one person end up so cocky? He took my journal and read it and made the assumption that my poems could be improved by his stupid guitar. Imagine that! If I wanted to write songs, I would.”
Bella cut herself off. She didn’t need to rant, there wasn’t anything she could do about the situation. All she had to do was to get through the day and then her short stint as a songwriter would be over. More importantly, her partnership with Casey would be over. She could go back to writing her poems and he could go back to playing his little songs.
“Speaking of which, I should probably get going.” Bella said softly as she stood up from the bed. “I think Avery and Casey are already at the venue. Leaving them alone is usually a bad idea, like leaving two children, oui?”
Making her way gracefully over to the door, Bella smoothed out her dress in the mirror by the door and waved a quick goodbye.
With a quick thank you to the cab driver she had hailed on the outskirts of the Hollywood Arts campus, Bella turned and made her way through the massive crowd of students and attendees. Her anxious fingers gripped the strap of the black purse slung over her shoulder, her teeth gently catching the inside of her lip. This performance was way bigger than she was used to and she certainly wasn’t ready for the challenge.
Stepping through the crowd, Bella spotted Avery and Casey involved in some sort of conversation. For a split second, Bella considered turning around and leaving. They didn’t need her, she was only going to make things worse. Bella was only going to worry and fuss and ruin Avery and Casey’s fun.
No, she couldn’t skip out, that simply wasn’t her.
With a deep breath and a final adjustment of her dress, Bella made her way over to the pair.
"Bonjour mes partenaires.” Bella greeted, forcing a warm smile onto her lips. “I am sorry for being so late.”
As Cappie politely waved back to Trevor, he heard himself thinking, Wow, he’s the most awkward stoner I’ve ever met. It wasn’t every day he witnessed someone scampering away and leaving two people with his minivan still unlocked. He didn’t get a chance to tell him about the scuff mark on one of the seats.
He heard Trevor was awkward and a bit on edge, but Cappie hadn’t expected him to be this uptight. Like, Trevor seemed more tightly wound up than two or three dozen wind-up toys altogether, and Cappie couldn’t think of the reason why.
After Trevor was out of sight, Nate began rummaging around the front part of the van. Cappie just stood outside, next to the van, patiently witnessing the art student commit minor theft. It was fine. Nate claimed the vehicle’s owner had given him permission to look around—though, Cappie doubted that Nate was given permission to steal his condoms, but those can be replaced.
"Evie's convinced he has a spank bank of her somewhere.” (Heheh, spank bank.) “Well, I kinda convinced her by accident. Told her he kept calling her hot even when I asked him to stop. He's not the sharpest tool in the shed, ya know what I mean?"
So, Sir Callaghan kept calling Nate’s girlfriend hot. Such vile fiend.
Actually, Cappie thought it was the pettiest reason to steal someone’s condoms and childhood photo—he wasn’t high enough to miss Nate taking that either. However, he wasn’t going to judge aloud. Nate was probably just being an overprotective, possibly jealous boyfriend... even though Cappie was certain that Evie hardly minded being called hot by Trevor or anyone else. Just another reason why he didn’t want to date during high school.
As Nate sauntered away after confirming which Ash that Trevor dated at the fall fair, Cappie offered a generous friendly advice.
“Make sure nobody catches you with your new possessions together. Lots of folks will assume all sorts of wrong ideas.”
He went on his way in a different direction of the school, taking the remaining minutes of lunch period to contemplate the latest revelation of his childhood friend’s interesting dating life.
* * *
Dislocating his shoulder a week before the winter art festival was never a good idea.
A little over a week ago, he was rehearsing his fight choreography skit with a half-dozen people involved, including a burly varsity jock from HA’s football team that would pick up and toss Cappie on the breakable prop table. Long story short: the not-so-bright football player WWE-style dropped him on the wrong prop table that didn’t have the safety mat under it, and Cappie crash-landed on the polished hardwood floor. Fight scene skit scrapped, along with the extra class credit.
Good news: the school nurse arrived on-site and popped his left shoulder back in place almost easily since it was a mild dislocation that didn’t need surgery. (According to the nurse, anyway.)
Bad news: his shoulder still hurt like hell. Funny thing about joint dislocations—the pain doesn’t go away immediately right after popping it back in like on TV shows or movies, or they just don’t show the characters going through the aftermath for long. There was some swelling and bruising, might have a little tenderness along the collarbone.
And it takes several weeks to recover.
It could’ve been worse. Imagine if it was his spine. Yikes. At least he had one less ArtFest project to stress over now.
He hadn’t, however, told Chanel about what happened to his shoulder. After his unfortunate incident, Cappie begged his housemates not to say one word about his injury to her, which was pretty easy because they were busy with their own festival stuff. Should he have told her sooner? Yeah, he really should’ve, but he didn’t want her preventing him from performing in their play. Maybe not out of concern that Chanel most likely wouldn’t have towards his well-being, but of reasons based on her own strict professionalism.
Or worse: she drops out of the project and Cappie ends up in a futile search to find a replacement at the last minute. Who else would be interested or willing to do a 10-minute serious, contemplative stage adaptation of a Robert Frost poem with him?
Plus, he promised his mom that he’d email her a recording of his Art Fest performance. So, yeah, he couldn’t simply cancel this over a stupid injury, and he definitely did not want to get into an argument with Chanel, especially not before their performance.
He was used to hiding bruises from doing extreme stunts under his clothes, and he never complained about them. Not in public, anyway. At home, he used a sling; during school hours, he wore a shoulder brace thin enough to hide under a shirt and jacket, limited movement of his left arm. See? He was responsible, in his own reckless way. He was still able to rehearse with Chanel without raising suspicion. Well, he hoped she wasn’t suspicious. He was right-handed and could still walk on both legs, so it was fine... Right?
Cappie arrived at school somewhat early, already dressed in his “Classic Rustic Farmer” costume. He’d always wanted to try wearing suspenders—not including the throbbing ache in a certain joint. The discomfort wasn’t overwhelming under the blue suspenders, and it wasn’t hurting like hell anymore, but Tylenol could only do so much.
Not wanting to tire himself early out by walking around the festival too long, Cappie sat on a folding chair somewhere backstage, near the stage set structures that would make up the modest farmhouse porch later. The dressing room felt crowded, and he needed a more secluded place to focus on reviewing his lines and easing the soreness on his shoulder.
His script laid open on his lap. He slipped off the left suspender strap, loosened the top part of the brace from under his shirt, and gently pressed a gel ice pack (courtesy of the school nurse’s office) against the top of his left shoulder.
Mind you, he still kept his shirt on, with the exception of the four top buttons left unfastened. He does know when to show some decency.
His only company was the dressed-up human dummy, whom Cappie named Randy. Randy was “playing” the character Silas in the play, and his only job was to slump in a chair and look like he was “sleeping” (with the face mostly covered by a large farmer straw hat) in the small kitchen, which was revealed through a large, wide window beside the house porch. Think of the house window almost like a TV screen—the audience won’t see the entire kitchen set through the wall built in front of them, but they’ll see Chanel’s character discover Randy dead at the end of the scene.
Spoiler alert: In case the title wasn’t obvious to anyone, Randy’s character dies at the end of “The Death of the Hired Man”.
@He.went.2.Jared has set their status to: It's showtime
@He.went.2.Jared has set their outfit to: Outfit for project
@He.went.2.Jared has set their location to: Backstage
@He.went.2.Jared has mentioned: Maddie
@He.went.2.Jared has interacted with: Gen(geminiy
) Mike (Ditto
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“Yeah, yeah, we know you’re hot. Get over yourself.” Gen spoke bluntly, though there was the slightest hint of a teasing undertone in her voice, as she pushed a few strands of hair away from her face and hair spraying them down to her head. “Unfortunately, naturally attractive and hygienically inclined or not, we all need to be perfect today. I’m not going to have either one of you fuck up my reputation and all the work we’ve put into this because of some stupid pride. It’s not happening.”
"I'm no stranger to being required to be perfect. I won't let you down so try to de-stress a few notches. Otherwise It'll cause early wrinkles." He hummed back in a teasing tone and flashing a playful wink her way. It was the truth even if he was trying to lighten her up even a smidge. He knew the odds were unlikely until the show was over, but he couldn't let her get under his skin. No one here had gained that right. Plus if she wanted perfection, hounding him wasn't how you achieved that from him. He was already a Dimond but not because he was naturally born that way. No it was due to the grueling pressure given from birth by his parents.
Perfection was the bare minimum requirement in their household which is why Magnolia would never measure up. Him on the other hand? He hadn't failed at least not in the public eye ever. Today wouldn't be his first either. The pressure is what turned him into the dazzling gem you saw now. Hard work blood, sweat and while he'd never admit it tears. He didn't care about much in this place, but that didn't mean he was willing to suddenly become anyone's disappointment due to it. And he liked Gen a hell of a lot more then he did his parents. Not to be mistaken he loves his parents, but Liking them despite being like them wasn't easy.
Especially with his current situation being 100% their fault and their scheming at hand. He understood it, he saw the value in it...didn't like it...but he would always comply without question. That's who he was. He knew that Gen knew he was reliable and it was the pressure talking. If she didn't think he was capable he wouldn't be here right now. If she honestly thought for a second he'd fuck up and get...what was it dirty? Dirty of all things? Yah no not the type. That wasn't his pride talking it was experience, his professionalism, and his respect for her.
Of course the moment Mike arrived in view they started up their same old witty and decently flirtatious banter. He'd gotten used to drowning it out for the most part and zoning back in when it was relevant or time for him to actually do something. The two had never been good at hiding the sexual tension but being smack dab in the middle of it for the better part of two weeks made it eve more obvious, and a bit annoying if he was honest. He didn't quite see Mike's appeal if he was honest, but Gen was a grown enough woman to make her choices. What did it matter to him that she dated below her?
Maybe it was this school's version of the appeal of dating the 'bad boy' type since there weren't truly any of those around here. The worst any of them seemed to do was sleep around a lot, and make snarky online comments. A big mouth womanizer isn't what Jared would consider a bad boy when he's seen actual criminals in his home and some of them be around his same age being put on trial for murder and such. Nate seemed to have been the closest and covered that up pretty well since the only reason people now knew (even if it seemed most either didn't believe or don't care) was due to Chas spilling it all over twitter.
Still his opinion wasn't needed, asked for, or ever given. Gen was a big girl, she'd be fine. He just hoped she wasn't actually too invested in it because types like Mike? They took a while to mature and realize a good thing when it's in front of them. There was also a 50/50 chance he was the self-sabotage type. He wasn't sure but from all the drama he's been in this year alone he sounded like he could be. Mikes a good time not a long time kinda guy, so he'd hold out a little hope Gen knew that too.
He spent the time she was perfecting Mike's hair to smooth out and shape his brows perfectly, put some Chapstick on his lips to soften them up, and brush his hair even if it was very little if she wanted perfection he'd give it to her. Once she was done with Mike she threw one last warning/threat at them as if she was their mother and disappeared to go get changed. The last one to get dressed and was still fussing over them? Divas. Can't live with'em, but would rather not live without'em.
He simply rolled his eyes playfully at the remark that would've earned her some sort of flirtatious comeback...but he restrained himself. He was taken now, so he needed to keep such thoughts to himself. While it has started becoming easier and easier to do especially since he's spent a lot more time with Maddie recently, it still was a chore in times like these. Times when he's like at least a little bit of leeway to release some of the building stress. Maddie didn't really seem the spontaneous make-out type...though he could be wrong he wasn't about to test those waters. Plus if he disappeared off to find her or any other girl for that matter Gen would go into a rage he was sure of it. God he couldn't wait till this was over, and he could be a free man again in every way.
He was ready to just wait for Gen to get back thinking it wouldn't take her too long to get dressed so they could get this show on the road. Of course Mike couldn't do that though. He had to fill the void with his voice because the bustling of people around them just wasn't enough noise.
“Senior year Arts Fest, huh? Last show we’ll ever be doing in this place for this damn festival, ever. Heh, well, I guess unless one of us makes the sudden decision to flunk to make a statement or some shit, but neither of us really give the whole…’eff the system, rock and roll’ vibe.”
Jared looked down at his watch as he spoke more occupied with wondering about how things were going at his own project without him there yet then whatever Mike was trying to talk about. God casual conversation was pointless. He might as well be asking how's the weather is because that's how pointless this conversation was. His only saving grace that kept him from being too worried was he assumed Maddie would be their by now as she was one of his models and wouldn't let anything too bad happen.
Jared finally looked back up at him, "Yah, but I don't feel much since it's only the second one I've ever done. Last year I just walked someone eles's show." He shrugged. The pressure to perform well in this didn't come from the same place as everyone else. While he has never really broadcasted it due to feeling like it'd be a bit insensitive and there was no need to ruffle everyone's feathers for no reason...this wasn't big for him. He was going to college to study political science then going to law school after this so what did it matter what grade he got on a fashion show? He didn't really care if talent scouts liked him or not. He didn't need to say eff the system because he was getting the hell out of it.
However even with that in mind he knew if he didn't engage Mike he'd just keep rambling all on his own and that'd be worse. "Really? I wouldn't be surprised if you went the rock and roll vibe. All your talk of Jazz metal and all." He decided to keep things civil because once again why rile him up? There was no benefit to such things. Even if the real reason Jared would think Mike would flunk out isn't due to rock and roll vibes, but because he'd heard the rumors about entanglements with the younger classes. Perhaps he wasn't done playing the high school field of girls just yet.
Though honestly would the school even allow back and already 18 year old repeat senior? Wouldn't look good on them, it it'd be easier to reject him and leave that spot open for an up and coming transfer who might not make a fool of them. If he was going to fail and stick around he'd have had to have done it before now. He wondered if HA even had a GED program or would you have done all this work for a regular GED or diploma from a local high school? Seemed like a lot of work even for Mike.
“Though, ya know, I definitely could rock some eyeliner. Hey, who knows. Maybe I’ll just drop out after this killer performance, buy a saxophone, and round up my obviously vast fanbase featuring some agents or something to get them to rally behind the creation of the real Karma’s Touch, huh?”
"Oh see, there's the spirit!" He tried to sound vaguely supportive with a snap and wag of his finger, and not condescending and sarcastic. How successful he was in that endevor would depend on Mike's interpretation.
“You want in on that deal, Darrington? I’m telling you, jazz metal’s the way of the future. Pretty sure Woods and I’ve already got it covered as far as the actual music goes. Sorry if you wanted to get on that, man, but hey, ya know, I think you’d make a great roadie or —“
Oops too supportive it seemed. He should've gone for vague disinterest it seems. He wanted no part in anything dealing with the music industry if he was honest. That was Maggie's domain and she could have it. He was cut off by Gen calling out to him. Saved by the bell or in this case the self proclaimed boss.
Jared took a seat, "I'm good thank you. Though if you ever need a lawyer when one of your roadies OD's or something and they try to pin in on you guys give me a call." he smirked. Yup this was it, this was why he stuck around because people like him, and Nate were bound to get in trouble down the line and would help his future law firm boom. the bigger stars they became the better. He considered his support in whichever forms it cam in to the people around him as an investment.
Mike walked off to go help Gen and Jared let out a sigh he hadn't realized he'd been holding in. He sent off a quick text to Maddie asking how everything was going and closed his eyes for probably the only moment of peace he'd get today until whatever was going on in the changing room was over. Because let's face it, he wasn't just doing to zip up her dress and immediately walk back out. Zipping takes 10 seconds or less.
Bailey looked at Tilly pinch herself. Was that really necessary? What was going on- did they step into an alternate dimension where this kind of thing was normal? Hello?
Maybe she was concussed. They should probably go to the nurse.
“I’m fine!” Well. That was good at least, but Bailey was pretty sure she was concussed or something. Why else would she be so…. Weird with how she was acting? She seemed nice enough though. Not nearly mean enough to brush off easily.
“Alright, that’s good.” Bailey said slowly. What were they supposed to do in this situation? Try to lead her to the nurse or something? “Guess we both have hard heads. Or something… hah…”
Well. This was going absolutely fantastically. Her delayed response was also probably something to worry about - what were the symptoms of a concussion anyway? The designer never had to worry about that, so they’d usually let their parents deal with medical things.
“You’re Bailey, right?”
… Okay now they felt bad that they didn’t know who this person was. Who was she? Was Bailey even known enough to be recognized? They didn’t think they were. Hmmm… Who was she. Names. Names. Faces…. Wait, she looked a little bit familiar now. Billy? Lily… No… It would be awfully rude to not call the girl by name now.
“Yeah that’s me… Remind me again… I want to say… Tilly?” Hopefully that was correct, at least. Bailey was going to feel really really bad if it turned out her name was Billy.
And then Tilly was bowing. Was Bailey supposed to bow back? How did this work exactly…
Wait, was it rude to even think about bowing back? That sounded wrong. Cultural appropriation-y. What was someone’s response to bowing? It was to bow back right? They didn’t know how to bow. The designer decided it’d be ruder to even try and make a mockery out of it, than to try to be polite and bow back.
“....yeahhhh it’s cool… bro….” Bailey said, stretching out the words as they spoke. They hated this, could she just… not be as awkward as they were? That would be nice. “... sorry about your… head.”
Bailey glanced around. “Where were you headed to in such a rush?”
She giggled at his playful antics going along with the joke. She enjoyed people who weren't serious and stiff 100% of the time and who knew how to ride a joke. "Good, cause I don't think I can put a medical bill on a tab." She chimed playfully. Was it weird that this was the most she's laughed in a week?
For her...yes, yes it was. Normally no matter how down and out she is about things Maggie was always able to make her own fun even if she was all by herself doing it. So what was different about this past week? Well there was finishing everything for the Festival, the awkward feelings she still had around Lucky, and if that wasn't enough now she had the added stress in the form of an unanswered Text message sitting in her pocket.
Remi had sent her a message about something she'd honestly pushed to the back of her mind, and now...she wasn't sure how to answer it. She didn't know what to say because she didn't wanna hurt her friend, but she didn't wanna lie, and all things considered...why now??? So just like she'd done to Lucky before their shopping trip she was now doing to Remi and that was avoiding the problem all together until she figured out the right answer. OR at least an appropriate one that wouldn't hurt their friendship.
So this right here? Having fun with a random stranger? This was the perfect distraction now that her performance was over from her somehow complicated, yet none existent love life. "Spence got it." She hummed. Spence was a cool name, and she resolved it in her head just like with Auguste and Angel...Spence was going to become her new friend. Even if he didn't know it yet. Well she was sure none of them knew that yet expect maybe Auguste.
She just smiled at his response to her. So long as he kept it in mind that was good enough for her. She knew it was kinda a wild idea, and while that was her brand she knew not everyone was the same. She could also understand if he didn't totally believe her about wanting him to do that, or being supportive of him if he did. They'd just met and for all he knew she could be lying, or trying to make a fool out of him.
This was a competitive place and not everyone was kind or had your best interest at heart. Some people just liked to use and abuse people, use them as stepping stools, or just toy with them for entertainment around here. She hated that part of being here, seeing all that. It's why she was usually the one cheering for the underdog, the outcasts. They deserved to have someone on their side in this ruthless industry called high school. It might take time for him to see that she was different, and she was perfectly fine with that.
She clasped her hands together excitedly when he said he wouldn't go on for like an hour, "Oh then we've got plenty of time! Also I'll be as close to the front as I can, though I'm kinda a tall girl with box braids so I'm kinda hard to miss." She giggled flipping a few of her stray braids over her shoulder. She'd also dyed some of the strands to match her performance outfit so they were a maroons-ish purple in the light and a few white ones for pop.
She let a smirk curl onto her strawberry glassed lips because well...she'd never disappointed before and she didn't plan on starting now. She'd just have to figure out what type of fun he was interested in. She never liked to judge a book by their cover, but it's never a good idea to start off at 100 either, so she'd do baby steps to figure out his comfort zone, then work from there. As calculating as that sounds, to most people's surprise that is her natural way of thinking. She was reckless and spontaneous sure, but there was always a method to her madness. As much as she'd never admit it her and the rest her family were different sides of the same coin.
She was about to ask what he was looking around for when he suddenly told her to follow him and took her hand in his. Most people upon meeting a stranger and 100% sober wouldn't do this, but it was kind of thrilling for her. It was different, and she always welcomed different. Plus it kinda made it feel like they were already becoming fast friends. Like the kind you get in elementary school when you say your best friends because you shared crayons or your snack and napped next to each other. It didn't feel odd or out of place so she did her best to keep up bobbing and waving through the crowd grinning the whole way.
Once they came to a stop she noticed they were at a food stall causing her eyes and smile to light up as he let go of her. She gasped excitedly, "Oh this is perfect! A guy after my own heart." She playfully placed a hand over her heart and let the other fan herself for a second, "Or stomach rather. Food and drinks are the key to both." she added in before busting out laughing and turning to look at the menu.
"Well you are right about that! Oh yah we're gonna get along just great." She chimed when he mentioned food and drinks are a must. Maybe they were really like hmm? Sadly she couldn't drink the way she wanted to right now. Not with her parents lurking around. It meant Jared was going to be extra ornery, and she had to be on her best behavior as well.
For all her shenanigans they did still keep her on a leash and that grip tightened whenever they were physically in her presence. She hated it, but she was at their mercy. Why did he bother to invite them anyways? It's not like he cared about any of this. It's not like they would care about seeing them or their projects? But good ole golden boy Jared just couldn't fucking resist could he.
She was a bit surprised when he offered to pay for her food. Now as a pretty girl in LA she was no stranger to random guys doing nice things like that for her, but usually they wanted something in return when that happened. Did they always get it? No, it was largely dependent on her mood, how hot they were, and that opening their mouths didn't irritate her. Niceties like this just for the sake of being nice? That was a luxury she only really knew from her actual friends. Spencer didn't seem the type to be wanted the former...but you never know. Those TM 'nice guys' be lurking everywhere. For now she'd wait and see what he did.
"Oh really? Thanks spence." She grinned. "I promise I won't break the bank." She giggled. It wasn't in her nature to be a big spender on other people's dime. She knew not everyone who came here was wealthy already like she was. Hell her best friends here were the proof of that. Plus she liked buying expensive ludacris things on mother dearest dime because they owed her that much if they were going to be the worst parents ever.
She tapped her index finger against her cheek in thought looking over the menu, "Uhhhh how about spicy pork Katsudon bowl and a water?" She hummed. Even though she was done performing she had a lot of cheering to do and didn't wanna irritate her vocal chords more then she already was about to for anything less then liquor. "I love spicy food." She chimed. She liked spicy and hot in just about all aspects of her life though so it wasn't surprising. Who wants bland anything?
They were given a ticket number and told it'd be a few minuets, so Maggie looked around an found an open spot for them to sit. She grabbed his hand in turn, "Hurry before it get's taken!" She grinned rushing to the spot she'd locked her eyes on. It wasn't too far so they should still be able to hear when their order was ready. The festival was getting mroe and more crowded as the day went by. She assumed because of the families of later performances arriving, and the early ones sticking around to enjoy the rest. Once they got to the small table she let him go and sat down, "So you said you were in the dance dept. What style do you like most?" She asked curious to learn more about her new friend. She knew a little bit about the department thanks to Josie.
Genevieve isn’t someone for always making the wisest decisions socially. She’s the type of girl who operates on impulse and rarely cares for the possible repercussions of her actions. If she says something to offend, she doesn’t care. If she makes someone care for her, she doesn’t pay them any attention. If she spends the night with someone, she’s quick to cut the ties the next morning. Historically, this was true in every case. But as she ages and experiences more, there are people who have taken this principle and flipped it directly on its head.
See: the tears cried over Evelyn Sinclaire.
See: the lonely nights spent thinking about Livanna Moore.
See: the concern about growing closer to Landon Sinclaire.
See: Michael. Fucking. Reid.
Mike spelled bad news from the beginning, there was no doubt about it. When Gen looked at him, she saw a version of herself that she genuinely hadn’t anticipated to meet. Mike was cruel, witty, dedicated, passionate, cold. He was, in almost every sense of the being, a male version of Genevieve Johannes. When you bring two people so similar together, there is only one possible outcome: pain.
The laugh that bellowed out of Mike’s chest cut through Gen, her entire being going from relaxed to completely on edge within seconds. This is what she had anticipated to have happened a long time ago. She had expected the laugh, expected the shut down, expected the lies that fell from his lips. What she hadn’t anticipated was being used by Mike, the very person that she had decided to use all those weeks ago.
“Psh, ha, yeah, sure we should.”
Gen instantly retracted her hands, putting space between herself and the dick in front of her. This is what she had expected, she knew this was coming, this wasn’t a surprise.
So why the fuck did it sting so much?
“Yeah, bet that’d go great. Don’t know why I didn’t think of that myself, God! Genius. Come one, come all, the Whores — trademark, ding! — would be the thing to see, ya know. The main attraction. They’d all say, ’Came for the Sluts, t-m, slipping tongue by the stage, stayed for the ear-bleeding music, subpar, cheesy décor, and the seeming lack of air conditioning.’ The talk of the fucking school would be that they’re, aww, sex fwiends to souwmates, and everyone’d be waiting for the part where they fucked on the punch table and got jizz in the punch bowl,” Gen’s jaw tightened the more he spoke. Seriously? Is this what he thought she had meant? “— and, of course, the night would end with us fuckin’…ripping each other’s throats out or some shit because obviously, that’s the appeal of Michael Reid and Genevieve Johannes’ relationship to the masses, huh? Yeah, that’s a real good one, Gen. I mean, that would be hilari..."
Mike’s eyes met Gen’s and his face instantly fell. No, Gen had not been joking when she had proposed going to ball together. But now, with him laughing in her face and acting like he was doing her some sort of favour by rejecting her, she was pissed.
“Gen…” Mike started with a shake of his head. “Gen, babe…what the hell? There’s no way you were serious, right? You don’t think I’m gonna say yes, right?”
“Well, considering it’s an invite to a fucking meaningless high school dance and not a fucking marriage proposal, I didn’t know what you were going to respond with.” Gen responded bluntly, forcing herself to not cross her arms out of fear that the silky fabric across her chest would wrinkle.
“You’ve been thinking about us a lot? Then you should know: we are seriously just friends with benefits.” Mike was trying to prove a point with his words, the term ‘friends with benefits’ hanging awkwardly between the two. “I don’t know what you think is between us, but that’s all it is. And besides, you know me. Dates? Being someone’s date to something? Not my style, especially with people I’ve fucked. Being each other’s dates like that, like, ya know, they are more than what they are, isn’t something that friends with benefits — and a guy who doesn’t want more than that — should do, so I have no interest in going with you, babe.”
This time, it was Gen’s turn to laugh. Was this guy serious right now? Did he genuinely think that Gen gave that much of a shit about him? She wasn’t going to lie to herself and say that his sudden objection didn’t hurt slightly but each pang of regret that rang through Gen’s core was met with an equally potent laugh.
“Nothing personal. But hey…good joke, Genevieve.”
It was the mention of her full name that finally set Gen on edge. Genevieve was not the person in front of him. The person who made a charitable offer was Gen. The person who had spent way too much time by his side was Gen. The person he was looking in the face and flat out rejecting was Gen. Genevieve wouldn’t have given someone like Mike the time of day. Genevieve wouldn’t have been hurt by his sudden change in attitude. Genevieve would have brought him on board for the project just to turn around and watch him crumble when he couldn’t keep up with her pace.
A smile formed on Gen’s face. Mike wanted Genevieve? Fine, then it was Genevieve he was going to get.
“Oh Michael,” Gen giggled as she turned back around to face the mirror. Her hands traced down her sides to push down the bunching of fabric before slinging the sheer fabric across her chest and over her shoulders. “Michael, Michael, Michael.”
She wanted to scream.
She wanted to yell.
She wanted to put him in his goddamn place where he belonged.
But a word of advice about people like Michael Reid? They don't respond to yelling. No, they get off on the anger of others, they get a high off the rush that comes from arguments. Hell, it was the closest thing people like him had to an emotional connection with another person. People like Michael Reid need a special touch.
“Here I was making a very simple offer to you out of courtesy. School dances are meaningless, good for nothing more than a quick dance and some free entertainment. If I genuinely wanted a date from you, I would have offered to take you somewhere a bit nicer.” Gen began to muse as she opened a purple velvet case. Inside, a necklace filled to the brim with glistening gems sat protected from the world. With delicate fingers, Gen brushed her hair aside and clasped the necklace around her neck. “Perhaps I would have taken you to Providence, maybe brought you along as an attractive accessory to a gala. But a school event? Seriously? That’s a low blow, even by your pitiful standards.”
Next, Gen pulled a shoebox out from underneath the bench. A pair of white heels adorned with crystals along the toe and down the shoe were carefully pulled free. With a quick inspection in the light, Gen carefully lifted her dress and slipped her feet into them, the already taller girl now standing considerably higher than the boy in front of her.
“But since you brought up the topic of relationships, I suppose I should elaborate on what I meant. I don’t blame you for not understanding, of course. You don’t have any experience in people actually giving a shit about you, hmm? Always kept around for the eye candy or the sex and never because anyone ever actually gives a shit if you stay or go.” Gen paused to look at Mike over her shoulder, a fake glisten in her eye. “Must be unfortunate to be the person no one cares about. So, allow me to give you a quick lesson in emotional connection since you assumed my offer was a marriage proposal, okay?”
Taking a few casual steps towards Mike, Gen placed a manicured hand onto the collar of his shirt. With a quick flick of her fingers, Gen straightened out the collar and nodded quietly to herself before smoothing out the creases in his shirt.
“My offer was one of civility, Michael, nothing else. You really aren’t the kind of person I would ever choose to associate with. I mean imagine the headlines: Genevieve Johannes Putting Out for a Charity Case and more on page 4. Imagine that, seriously, take a second to think about it.” Gen giggled warmly and stepped past Mike and into the main room where Jared was located. Fuck it, she didn’t care if Jared would hear what she was about to say. “And I also don’t tend to make a habit of dating clones. If I wanted you, there are a thousand of you out there. You are so fucking replacable because there’s nothing unique about you. The bad guy act? Been there, seen that. The ‘pity me, Genevieve’ act? Stale, boring, overplayed. The ‘I’m better than you because I’m afraid to admit that I’m flawed’ thing? Seriously, not winning any Oscars here.”
Genevieve walked to the vanity and unzipped her makeup bag, paying little mind to Mike or Jared. Pulling out a tube of cherry red lipstick, Gen uncapped the item and gently placed the stick to her lips, coating the plump surface in a few quick and calculated strokes.
“There are a thousand boys out there just like you Michael Reid, do you know that?” Gen asked as she smacked her lips together, a damp tongue running along her teeth as she eyed Mike in the mirror. “Boys with the same act, the same sob story, the same lack of emotional range, the same tendency to push people away. It’s cute, really, that you can’t just be yourself when people threaten to break through. What a shame.”
Gen turned on her heels, flicking her hair over her shoulder.
“What? Don’t look at me like that, we both know that’s what you’re doing. You’re afraid of getting close, of having to drop the act, of having to finally be vulnerable. You’re so used to people even giving a fuck if you’re here or not that your itty bitty brain can’t comprehend when people care and want to keep you around.” Gen laughed heartily, her hands crossing carefully over her stomach. “Don’t you worry, Michael, your secret is safe with me. I don’t vouch for Mr Darrington, though. But you can’t lie to me, babe.”
With a few quick steps towards Mike, Gen was towering over the boy and peering down at him through hooded lashes, a fanged grin peeking through her blood red lips.
“You can pretend you don’t care, pretend you don’t want me around, but you can’t pretend you didn’t beg me to be with you. You can’t pretend that you spent just a little bit more time with me before and after we would hook up. You can say that you don’t want me all you want,” Gen looked away to laugh, “but just remember that you can’t unmoan my name, Michael, can’t get my name off of your lips, can’t get my touch off your skin. You were fucking addicted for someone who vowed they wouldn’t keep coming back. Hell, I bet I was even on your mind when you were all alone in your cute little bed, hmm?” Gen giggled again, pushing a strand of her curled hair behind her ear. “So much for no attachment. And here you are. All that effort and you’re still fucking alone.”
Was Gen being overly cruel? Perhaps, but she absolutely did not care.
“But you know me, I’m a people pleaser. I mean, you were so pleased that you came back for seconds. And thirds. And fourths and fifths and… Do I need to carry on? Right.” Gen moved towards the door and laced her fingers around the silver knob. “You want me gone Michael? Consider it done. I thought you knew better than to make an enemy of me. You could have just said no, could have admitted weakness, but alas, even you’re too pathetic to do that.”
Cocking a finger towards Jared, Gen flashed Mike another genuine smile. There were no tears, no panicked expression, no fear, no sadness. Gen was gone, replaced by the crueler version of herself that Mike had obviously wanted to see so badly.
“Come now, Jared, we have a performance to do.” Gen spoke sweetly as she moved to open the door. “Don’t bother tagging along, Michael. I have no interest in a fucking charity case being on my stage. Who knows? I can probably find someone just like you in the crowd. Heard carbon copies of little mewling assholes like yourself are in massive supply these days.”
Gen caught Mike’s eyes, a playful glint sparking within the deep brown embers of her enraged gaze, though she was a picture of perfect composure.
Maybe learning how to not immediately go off was starting to grow on her. I mean, she technically did but, she didn’t finish. So I guess the IDEA was growing on her, because the results were speaking for their self. If she had this situation with this tall piece of eye-candy would have gone so much more south.
So she would consider not being so quick to snap in the future.
I'm supposed to hangout with my buddy, Lindsay, but uhh...
Oh. He had a previous engagement. Though she supposed that wasn’t so surprising if she really thought about it. This arts fest was apparently a very popular thing and why wouldn’t someone who had been attending this school already have their day organized.
I got a bit before I gotta find him, so... yeah, I can show you around real quick. Give you a, ahh... a rundown of the... of the Arts Festival.
Oh. Well, that definitely went a different direction than she had thought it was about to go. From his response she was sold on the don’t immediately cuss people out thing. You know what that’s called? It’s called growth, and little not so little Kinni just gained a few EXP for her current level.
She nodded a bit as she thought for a moment. His weird wording withstanding, he had offered to give her a bit of a tour and that was enough for her to smile about. She moved along with him as he began to walk and started to walk in line with his stride. She had to admit that it was nice to not have to slow down her walk that she tended to have to do with people ever her own height. She was tall, but she also had extremely long legs (and arms) that made her feel taller than she was.
So is this your first...
She glanced up with a quirked brow as he stopped himself halfway through his sentence. She knew what he was going to ask, so she chuckled turning her eyes forward to avoid eye contact as he continued to speak.
Basically, everyone's just gotta do some kinda project. It's a ahhh... like a real big grade and stuff, so everyone spends like... months working on their projects, ya know? And then ahh... oh, so there's scouts and talent agents and stuff that come out to watch and will ya know, they'll like sign you if you're really good.
There was something in his voice that felt familiar. Well, sounded familiar. Feeling familiars seems creepy. Like she heard it before. She didn’t really care about what he was talking about, she knew most of it. This might have been her first rodeo, but it wasn’t her first time learning about it. She knew it was important, she knew it was a big grade, and she knew she could get attention just by participating and doing well. That’s not why she came to HA. She worked for Nike, even at her wee age. She was already signed. Though she would be lying that she would have rather been on board with a luxury fashion line. Still. She came to HA to learn formally and back up her skill and vision, with technical abilities and theory.
She knew it was important, and she would NEVER blow it off like some people. (Sango says :COUGHREMICOUGH)
Still. She was currently more interested in her future Beau and his familiar accent. She knew several Maori folks from her time in Hawaii. Though she couldn’t explain why they were in Hawaii, perhaps similar cultures? Like the haka, which was technically Maori in origin. Anyway, his accent sounded familiar to a Kiwi’s. It wasn’t pronounced enough to be sure, and she definitely didn’t want to be rude and she definitely didn’t want the wrath of confusing a Kiwi accent from an Australian one.
You said ahh... you do cheer and volleyball? That's pretty cool. What're you here for? Like at the school? I'm here for uhh, for dance.
She had kind of drifted off in her mind with the whole accent dilemma in her head. So when he spoke, she diverted her eyes back to his face and furrowed her brows for a second. It took her a minute to process what he had said,
”Oh. Yeah. I uh, do competitive cheer and I play for the US national U-15 team. Though I guess played might be a better word because I think I’m going to drop it….”
She trailed off looking back in front of her and then back to him,
”Uh, I’m here for Fashion Design. I kind of want a formal training on it. It’s cool I’m good enough for Nike, but I want to be good enough to have my designs featured at the Met Gala.”
There was a moment where she eyed him,
“So uh, don’t take this weirdly. I’m half-polynesian, and your accent kind of sounds like my Maori braddah. Would you happen to also be from the Oceania region? Like Australia or New Zealand?”
She rose a brow this time trying to embrace for a harsh answer if she had done a fox pass. False Pase? Faux Pas. Right, French. Difficult language.
Heavy dark circles were underneath her eyes, stained leftover eyeliner from the night before on her lids, sparkles were seen on every inch of her face. Livanna Moore looked… drained. And drained Liv, was not Liv at all. The tiny girl sat while a makeup artist found his way around her many imperfections and flaws that she simply didn’t have the energy to hide this morning.
She didn’t have the right to be sad.
Genevieve Johannes moved on.
Liv stated multiple times that she was ‘done’ with her. Done caring, done trying. As much as she wants to believe that, they both know it wasn’t the truth.
It didn’t matter if she was lying to herself, or filled to the brim with bitterness from the past few weeks. She, herself, was moving on.
Livanna Moore distanced herself from Damien Slater, the boy she recently found herself with from time to time doing anything but talking.
Partying, sex, drugs.
He was fun.
But they both didn’t want anything real from one another.
He was another Nate.
Maybe just more or less or a friend.
If she wanted to be brutal to herself, she’d ask if they even thought of her as a friend in the first place. She knew the answer to that. She just didn’t want to believe that either.
Anywho, the reasoning beyond shoving her special buddy to the side was for someone much more interesting. Sweet, and kind.
Liv had to stop comparing people to Gen because, in her mind, they'd never live up to her.
But that wasn’t fair.
It wasn’t nice.
And it certainly wasn’t right.
Kayla was absolutely gorgeous, and the date she planned was the most thoughtful thing anyone’s ever done for her in a really, really long time.
Maybe Liv wasn’t ready for a relationship.
But maybe she wanted to try.
The makeup artist seemed happy with their work, and he lifted the outfit from the rack, handing it over to Liv.
It was only now when Liv started to take notice of her reflection, and a frown appeared onto her face.
“... I thought we decided I wasn’t going to wear this.”
The makeup artist seemed confused, and he glanced over at Nick for confirmation.
Nick, her manager who was busy momentarily shaking someone’s hand and mumbling something about business probably before taking in the scene at hand.
As he came into view, Liv’s shoulders hunched and she sunked further into her chair.
“Livvy! You look beautiful.” He took the pink outfit from the younger boy’s hands and held it against himself to show it off.
“You’d look even more gorgeous in this, you know.”
“But... I told you I didn’t wanna do all this, it doesn’t match the song either…”
“About that…” Nick glanced over at the makeup artist and he took that as a sign to give them some privacy.
“We’re just going to go with one of your old songs, today. The… uh, the boot boys one.” Despite him being younger than most managers Liv knows, he always tried to seem more mature.
It never worked.
She wanted to do a cover.
She didn’t get to do a cover.
Livanna worked so hard just to write this stupid song that she doesn’t even like just to sing something old?
“Why can’t we do the one I wrote? You said it was good enough… and it wasn’t like the other ones, I tried to match the fun vibe and—“
Nick placed a hand on her thigh and his thumb caressed over her skin in soft circles in an attempt to calm her. Liv stiffened, crossing her arms and tearing her gaze away from him.
“You can see where I’m coming from, can’t you? It’s a fan favorite and we really need some sort of traction after the incident that you caused, remember?”
His voice went softer at the end of his sentence, but he was getting upset.
She could tell.
Nick took a deep breath through his nose, bending down to her level.
Of course, he was talking about the night she got arrested. It was nothing more than a really big rumor, but there wasn’t any proof of anything. They let Liv go and that was that. There was a small fine but… that didn’t really matter when it came to the media.
A hand was placed under her chin and with slight force, he turned her head to face him.
“Liv. Make this easy for me, please.”
His voice was stern.
Livanna met his eyes, her gaze shooting back to the pink outfit and to the floor.
She didn’t say much of anything, instead Liv just mustered up the smallest of nods.
“Alright! That’s my girl. You’re on in thirty.” Nick got up and rushed away, to… whatever needed his attention.
They didn’t have their own private dressing room or anything big. There wasn’t really a need for it. That’s what Nick said, anyway.
But he was right.
She didn’t need anything overly special. It was just a school event. The record label always gave them enough for stuff like that but if it wasn’t needed, it wasn’t needed.
A set of footsteps was heard behind her and for a second Liv thought it was Nick again.
“I’m getting dressed—“ The girl turned around in her chair halfway only to be faced with someone much prettier.
“Oh. You don’t have to leave, I’m not really getting dressed.”
Liv blinked, shaking her head.
“Sorry, I mean— Hi. You look pretty. You always look pretty, but… sorry, I’m totally not paying attention here and you kinda sometimes make my brain turn into mush more than it usually is, so.”