* JANUARY *SAMHELL @ CARPORT
Just about four months after we first spotted Walker lurking around Tenderfoot Junction’s debut, Ross took the stage with pop-punk trio Samhell in what was heralded as a “special guest star” role, taking over lead guitar from Van Vleet on a couple tunes - Reminiscent of Your Eyes Five Days From Now, Behind That Summer, This Is My Small Heart – and layering in rhythm guitar tracks that honestly seemed to add something pretty phenomenal to Try Too Hard To and Downtime Is For Losers. What vocals he leant were mellow enough to emphasize Van Vleet, cozying up to share a mic with Walker - it’s always hard to tell with Ross, but I think I spotted a glimmer, a gleam, if you will, in his eyes. I’m gonna take a wild guess here and say Ross was having fun.
All in all, the music was solid, Samhell fare, something you can jump around and shake your rump to. Despite having sprained the ligaments in his right wrist a week prior, Butcher played the hell out of his drums one-handed. The arrangements were a little different to compensate, but no less awesome - Butcher remains one of the best drummers on the scene, and the short-shorts and bare chest certainly don’t hurt.
Of course, the shocker of the evening came when Walker gave the out-of-the-fucking-blue announcement that he’s leaving Samhell [wtf, jwalk? – bden]. We don’t know what he’s thinking, honestly, since Samhell’s one of the greats in a tri-county area full of marginally-known bands, but we salute you, Jon Walker, and wish you well - my money’s on Tenderfoot Junction magically becoming a duo, but there’s been no word, rumors or otherwise.
And if there are any hard feelings between Van Vleet, Butcher and Walker, they made sure not to show it.
SAMHELL @ CARPORT: JANUARY 9TH 10:00 PM
+ Reminiscent of Your Eyes Five Days From Now
+ Try Too Hard To
+ Sometimes I’ll Say Yes
+ Locked Into Wide Open Spaces
+ Behind That Summer
+ This Is My Small Heart
+ A Little Bit Taller
+ Downtime Is For Losers
+ Apply More Pressure
+ Say Goodbye (The Ice Cream Sandwich Song)
too hip to be square
- rand @ emc
Kevin actually has no idea what Spencer and Brendon are doing. Or, really, Kevin’s pretty clear on what Spencer’s doing – Spencer isn’t exactly the open book Brendon normally is, but he’s pretty much got hearteyes for Brendon; it isn’t hard to guess his intentions. It’s Brendon Kevin’s clueless about.
It snows early in the month, and Kevin’s a big fan of snow.
Brendon is too, for approximately the first twenty-four hours, but then he starts whining about being too cold, and snuggles up on anything with a pulse. Currently, Kevin has Brendon practically in his lap. Spencer is sending him dirty looks across the basement.
“Maybe you should go warm yourself with Spencer, Bren,” Kevin says.
Brendon tugs on Kevin’s arm until he obligingly drapes it across his back, and Brendon squirms closer into his side. “Why?”
It’s impossible that Brendon hasn’t noticed how Spencer feels about him. Brendon’s sort of flaky, but he’s never been this completely oblivious. He pokes at Brendon’s stomach. “No, really, I think he’s trying to kill me with his brain.”
Brendon pulls back, glances quickly over at Spencer, then shrugs – tightly. He purses his lips and tenses up, and Kevin thinks it’s the weirdest reaction ever, considering the fact that Kevin knows Brendon thinks Spencer’s awesome; he tells Kevin that all the time.
“You think he’s awesome,” Kevin says, and he’s grinning, but Brendon just tenses up even further and shifts away from Kevin and stares at his hands.
“Whatever,” Brendon says.
Bill, who’s been blatantly listening in, leans over the back of the couch and flicks Brendon on the side of the neck. “Wee Brendon here is still under the delusion that he’s straight, Jonas, and not completely in love with a boy.”
Kevin doesn’t say anything, and Brendon doesn’t say anything, and then Bill flounces off with a huff, and Brendon doesn’t say anything some more.
“So,” Kevin says finally, drawing out the word.
“We’re friends,” Brendon says. “He’s just really cool, and we’re friends.”
Kevin nods. He’s not sure if Brendon really believes that or not, and he’s not sure which of those would bring Brendon the most grief. All joking protests aside, there’s no way Brendon thinks he’s actually straight anymore, not after—not after hooking up with Lucas last week, on top of the hundred and one boys he’s already kissed.
Kevin’s got his own messed-up boy issues, though, so he’s not going to badger Brendon about his.
Kevin’s really getting the hang of performing live. He wasn’t expecting to, but he loves the stage, he loves the attention, he loves getting to play awesome music that he helped create – and he loves that people actually love it, too. That they have fans. Fans who know all the words to their songs, that sing along and want to hug him and tell him how awesome he is.
The half-mask he has to wear itches, particularly after shows when he’s a complete and sweaty mess, but it’s worth it.
There’s a hand low on his back, but Kevin doesn’t jump until he turns around. Because then he sees Carden. Carden, who’s standing really close and who’s looking at him with narrowed eyes, but doesn’t seem to realize who he really is. Which makes Kevin feel slightly disappointed and also super lame for feeling slightly disappointed.
Kevin takes a little sidestep and dislodges Carden’s hand. “Um.” Would he recognize his voice? “Hi.”
A not entirely uncomfortable silence draws out between them, and then Carden says, “You’re pretty good.”
Kevin knows he’s pretty good, but the compliment still makes his insides flutter, and he doesn’t realize Carden’s leaning in towards him until he slides a hand up his arm, their hips bumping together.
“What are you—?” He cuts off when Carden’s fingers skim over his cheek, sliding under his mask and rub a little, back and forth. It makes Kevin freezes up.
“This has gotta be uncomfortable,” Carden says, smirking.
Kevin licks his lips. “It’s fine.” His skin is tingling and Carden has calluses and Kevin has a boyfriend.
A boyfriend who is not there.
And Kevin’s a really horrible person, because he lets Carden slip in a little closer, and if Bill hadn’t chosen that moment to curl up next to him and push a slick, cool glass of soda into his hands, he doesn’t know what would have happened. He isn’t exactly sure what Carden had wanted, so.
Bill says, “Oh, this can’t be good,” and Carden holds up his hands, palms out, still smirking.
Carden says, “Sorry,” and Bill says, “You so are not,” but his voice is smiling.
It’s almost as though Carden knows who Bill is. They’re friends; Kevin thinks they hang out a lot. But Kevin really hopes Bill hasn’t come out and told Carden who they are. He doesn’t ask, though, because he kind of doesn’t want to know for sure.
During school hours, Bill has given up his sleek, bohemian chic, his emo black, for button-downs and carpenter pants. He sticks his pockets full of paint brushes and pens and wears a white cap with a feather in it, and Kevin has no idea why.
He’s got paint all over him when he wanders into Kevin’s house after school, so Kevin figures he forgot to wear his smock again.
“I’m working on my amazing and fantastic lunchroom mural, Kevin,” Bill says, “it’s all jungle cats and giant insects and sharks.”
Kevin says, “Didn’t Mr. Timberlake say you had to use our mascot?”
“Pfft.” Bill waves a hand. “Sheep are boring.”
Kevin has to agree. Sheep are adorable and fluffy, but they’re kind of boring as far as mascots go – he’s not sure how it’s possible that their football team is so awesome, since they have to put up with all the Fighting Sheep cheers.
“Now, tell me,” Bill says, hitching himself up on a stool at the kitchen island, “while we’re alone—”
“We’re not alone,” Kevin says. He glances pointedly at Bonus.
Bonus is quietly eating a Fruit Rollup – well, he’s kind of eating it; he’s sticking the cut-out pieces all over his face – sitting on the counter by the sink. He bangs his heels on the cabinet below him and grins at them.
“Frankie doesn’t count, do you, Frankie?” Bill asks.
“I’m not a real person yet,” Bonus says obediently, nodding, and it’s something Bill tells him all the time; luckily Bonus hasn’t repeated that to their dad yet.
“Anyway,” Bill says, threading his fingers together in front of him. “Anyway, fill me in, how’s our wonderful Mr. Efron?”
“Fine,” Kevin says. It’s not like Kevin doesn’t want to talk about this in front of Bonus, it’s just that he doesn’t want to talk about this at all.
Bill bobs his head. “Uh huh, I see. You’re going to have to be more specific, though, or I’ll be forced to embarrass you in public by bringing this up with Zac.”
“Spill, Jonas,” Bill says. He leans forward, grinning. “You, my friend, have an unsatisfied air about you.”
“I really—this is really inappropriate, Bill,” Kevin says.
“Of course it is. Of course.” Bill eyes him speculatively. “You should really say something to him, though.”
“Bill.” Kevin rubs a hand over his forehead. He knows he should talk to Zac about it, but he’s sixteen – it’s not a big deal, they’re not going to get married or anything, they’re just having fun. It’s no grand love affair, but he wasn’t expecting it to be.
“Between you and Brendon.” Bill shakes his head, feather flopping over his left ear. “I truly don’t know how I ended up with such wretchedly stubborn and delusional friends.”
“Who’s delusional?” Miranda says, walking into the kitchen and dropping her school bag by Bill’s feet.
“Kevin. And Brendon. And Patrick too, come to think of it.” Bill presses a finger to his lips, expression thoughtful. “You and me, Rand, we’re the best of us.”
“Well, yeah,” Miranda says. She’s grinning at Kevin, though, chin hooked over Bill’s shoulder.
Kevin rolls his eyes.
“So are we going to work on our lit papers? Because ZFF’s on tonight, and we still have to write up a post on ASL, and Wentz actually talked to Patrick today, so we don’t want to miss that fallout,” Miranda says. “I think there was special touching, Patrick was bright red all through math. It was kind of amazing.”
“This is what I love about you,” Bill says. “We can tease Patrick together. It’ll be like a real date, we can even hold hands.”
Miranda says, “Exactly what I always wanted,” and Kevin’s not sure if she’s joking or not.
*AMERICAN SWIMMING LESSONS @ THE CELL
One of our very favorites, the duo American Swimming Lessons finally took the stage Thursday night after a yearlong hiatus. We never realized how much we actually missed Gomez and Ritter’s special brand of folksy-pop until they brushed off their guitar and bass, their keyboard, their shakers, and wowed the crowd with a new number they called Next Time You Need To Run. I still don’t exactly get how they do it – how they manage to balance all their instruments with only four, supposedly-human hands – but all that just adds to the amazing.
Mixed in with their shiny new songs, definitely worth the almost-forever wait – breakup rumors started last spring and held on tight all through the summer - were some old favorites: Sometimes People Have Issues, Re-Quest, I Lit A Fire Fire Fire.
Selena Gomez was as cheeky (and gorgeous) as ever, and Tyson Ritter looked like he needed a couple more hours sleep, but you can’t deny their chemistry. Let’s hope they never sleep together; we all remember the fallout after the Cyrus fiasco [oh, that’s just gross – k2; we know you hate miley, rand, stop spreading nasty but hilarious incest rumors – billiam; I want to rip out her whiny little larynx, but other than that, we’re totally cool - rand].
ASL wrapped up the night with a quick and dirty a cappella round they taught the crowd, splitting the room down the middle – and you can’t shake the feeling, there’ll be too much time to say no, say yes – the words sweet and eerie. An odd, but not entirely low note to end on.
AMERICAN SWIMMING LESSONS @ THE CELL: JANUARY 21ST 10:00 PM
+ Next Time You Need To Run
+ Sometimes People Have Issues
+ At The Sound
+ Whatever That Says About Me
+ I Lit A Fire Fire Fire
+ Old World Stories
+ Then Last Year Ended
+ Get Tired
+ For You (Or Not You)
+ Can’t Shake The Feeling
- rand @ emc
“The problem with ZFF,” Bill says, staring at the stage with what Kevin thinks is fascinated horror, “is that they’re like Menudo, only with a markedly less melodious sound.”
“I don’t think they kicked Crawford out for being too old,” Patrick says. He doesn’t seem completely convinced of his words, though. “Or Wheeler, either.”
“Or Lyn-Z,” Miranda says. She chews absently on her stirrer straw, then twirls it around in the air, flicking sticky drops of rum and Coke over the bar. “Hey, wasn’t Gerard in this once?”
“I think Gerard was a founding member, back when they were actually, you know, good,” Bill says.
“They’re not that bad. They’re just kinda, um, loud?” Brendon sticks a finger in his ear and winces when Musso hits a high, incomprehensible note.
He’s not a bad singer – though his older brother’s better, and Kevin’s pretty sure Mason had been in this band once upon a time, too - it’s just that everything’s really, really loud, and the kid they replaced Crawford with kind of has no idea what she’s doing.
“I don’t remember them being this terrible before,” Miranda says.
“Crawford,” Patrick says.
“Yeah.” Kevin nods; Crawford made up for a lot of the mediocre music ZFF has been churning out over the years. “And I don’t think Osment and the drummer are actually playing the same song.”
Miranda cocks her head and narrows her eyes. “You may be right about that.”
“I need to be much drunker for this,” Bill says. He downs his drink and rattles the ice in his glass. “Much, much drunker. Who’s with me?”
Ryland Blackinton’s evil magic aside, Kevin really, honestly doesn’t drink that much. “I want something sweet,” he says. If he has to sit through another hour of this, he needs something that’ll muffle all the sound to his brain.
The problem with ZFF, Kevin thinks, is that they’re one of the oldest names around. They’ve got a tried and true fan base, and instead of being put off by the rotating members, most of them tend to think it’s cool – or maybe just reliable. Other bands split up, dissolve, disband, but ZFF just keeps on chugging along – the tides turn, the earth spins, animals die, trends fade, but ZFF is always there, whether you want it to be or not.
So the crowd’s not huge, but it’s respectably-sized and raucous, and it takes five minutes for Bill to flag down the bartender.
Kevin ends up sharing a couple somethings that are fizzy and fruity with Brendon, and spends the rest of the night leaning into Bill. He thinks, this is my life, and there are moments when he’s sort of in love with it.
On Saturday, Kevin crawls out of bed sometime after noon, and then he lays sprawled on the floor, still exhausted, thinking that he’d probably feel more rested if he’d woken up at eight instead of sleeping in. There’s a muted thump in his head, not quite a headache, something that’ll probably disappear after he chugs a big glass of water.
Eventually, he pulls himself up and drags his body into the bathroom – the house is quiet, he thinks everyone is out until he stumbles across Nick in the living room. Nick just pauses his video game and arches an eyebrow at him.
“I’m going over to Bill’s,” Kevin says.
Nick’s eyebrow goes higher. “In that?”
Kevin shrugs and scratches the strip of belly exposed by his slightly shrunken sleep shirt and downward slide of his pajama bottoms, the elastic at the waist stretched from too many washings. Bill’s seen him in worse than his pajamas, and Bill’s house most likely has Bill’s dad, and Bill’s dad makes really good pancakes. Plus, Bill’s dad loves him. He thinks Kevin’s a good influence.
It isn’t until Kevin’s halfway down Bill’s basement steps that he remembers something about Bill working on a history project that afternoon, and it isn’t until he hits the bottom that he remembers who Bill’s history project partner is. Wonderful.
Kevin isn’t all that great at pretending, but he tries really hard to act like he isn’t wearing a tumbling kitten motif on his lower half. He crosses his arms over his LIFE AFTER NINJA t-shirt and says, “Um. Hi.”
Bill smirks. “Jonas.”
Carden gives him a bland look from where he’s lounging – that’s the exact word for it, lounging, like a big careless cat or a deceptively sleepy bear or something – on the couch, a text book open on his lap. He says, “Nice pants.”
Kevin feels his cheeks flush. “Thanks,” he says, because he’s polite, even though he knows Carden’s making fun of him. He fidgets, not sure what to do, and it sucks, because this is his turf, this is where he’s comfortable, and Carden’s making him squirm, making him feel awkward and intrusive.
Annoyed with himself, Kevin huffs out a breath, ignores Bill’s amused eyebrow waggles, and drops down onto the couch. Next to Carden. And he’s totally fine about it. “Sorry,” he says. “I’m interrupting.”
“We can take a break,” Bill says.
“For lunch?” Kevin asks brightly. His stomach feels hollowed out and fluttery. Because he’s starving, and not because Carden’s shifted so his knee’s folded up, resting a hairsbreadth away from Kevin’s thigh.
Bill taps his pen on his chin. “Linner, maybe. Lupper?”
Kevin can sense Carden’s hard gaze on the side of his face, but he refuses to look away from Bill. “I don’t care what you call it if I can have some of your dad’s pancakes.”
“Well, I’ll just go see if he’s willing,” Bill says, and he winks at him and flounces over to the stairs before Kevin can yell, wait, stop! and, don’t leave me alone with Carden! Which is probably a good thing, if only because Kevin doesn’t actually make a fool out of himself by begging Bill to take him with him.
Kevin stares fixedly at the orange tabby on his knee. His fingers twitch a little where they’re resting over a red ball of yarn.
Carden continues to not say anything to him, working on a truly impressive scowl. Kevin can feel it heating the side of his face.
When Bill stomps back down the steps, Kevin gives him a strained grin and Bill darts his gaze back and forth between him and Carden. “I suppose I shouldn’t have even bothered,” Bill says, exasperated.
Kevin says, “What?” and Carden says, “Shut the fuck up,” and kicks at Bill’s ankles when he strolls past and collapses back onto his armchair.
“No, seriously, this is getting ridiculous,” Bill says, then flicks his fingers at Kevin and says, “Dad’s not home.”
“Right.” Kevin nods. “I’ll just, uh,” he gets to his feet, hitches his pj bottoms up from where they’ve slipped down over his hips, “get out of your way then.”
* FEBRUARY *
“Valentine’s Day is lame,” Brendon says.
Patrick says, “Amen,” and holds up a fist for Brendon to bump, but Miranda frowns and says, “You don’t mean that.”
“It is,” Brendon insists.
Miranda shakes her head. “Seriously, any holiday where you get candy? There’s no way you think that’s lame.”
“Love is lame,” Brendon says. He slumps down on the couch and crosses his arms over his chest. “And any holiday about love needs to take a shot to the gut and be buried six feet under. And then danced on. By a man-goat.”
Kevin sighs. Brendon’s been like this ever since Spencer started hanging out with Haley. Haley’s kind of really pretty and sweet, but Kevin doesn’t think it means anything – Haley’s in Spencer’s Spanish class, despite being in a grade below them, and they usually spend half the lunch period talking in badly accented Spanish and giggling.
“You’re depressing me, Urie,” Bill says from his sprawl on the floor. “Rand, darling, you should sacrifice yourself for my good cheer. Be my Valentine?”
Miranda chucks a pick at him, but then she grins and says, “Let’s go ice skating. I’ll buy you hot chocolate, and we’ll Eskimo kiss in front of the snack bar.”
“Fav-or-ite,” Bill sing-songs.
Patrick makes a growly sound, hunched over a guitar.
“Oh, you’re just grumpy because Pete’s wooing Ashlee this week. And speaking of wooing.” Bill shifts up onto his elbows and arches an eyebrow at Kevin. “Three rose requests came across my desk for you, Jonas.”
Kevin blinks. “Three?” Kevin never even gets one.
“I thought I’d warn you,” Bill says. “You’ll turn atomic in embarrassment anyway, but at least you’ll be somewhat prepared.”
For two dollars, anyone at Randolph High can buy any other student a rose, to be given out on Valentine’s Day – or what passes for Valentine’s Day when the actual day falls on a weekend. Kevin has no idea who at school would give him roses, not unless Zac got someone to buy them for him by proxy. But Zac really isn’t a buying flowers kind of guy. They really don’t even have any Valentine’s Day plans; Kevin’s just going to go watch Larry Says Hi play. He promised Joe he’d sneak him into Bootstrap. So, basically, Kevin’s spending the night with his brother. And probably, the way things are looking, Patrick and Brendon, too. It’s not a big deal.
“What do the notes say?” Kevin asks.
“I can’t tell you that,” Bill says, mock-aghast. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”
It’s raining and it’s cold, the end of Kevin’s nose is numb, and for some reason Kevin had thought it was an awesome day to take his bike to school. Of course, it had been crisp and refreshing out that morning. It’s the rain, basically, that ruined everything.
And now he has kittens.
Kevin has three kittens and he has no idea what to do with them, but he can’t really just leave them there. They’re tiny and gummy-eyed and soaking wet, and Kevin’s just trying to figure out how to stuff them all down his shirt and keep them there while biking home.
He’s sitting by the equipment shed off the side of the soccer field; he figures his jeans were already a lost cause, the wet grass isn’t going to hurt them. The kittens, two orange tabbies and a calico, are a squirming, mewling mass on his lap. He’s hunched over a little. There’s an overhang, but it’s not big enough to keep the water from dripping off onto his head. Kevin is fully expecting to get sick from this.
“There is something seriously wrong with you.”
Kevin jerks his head up. Carden is looming above him, half under the overhang. He’s got an army jacket on, rain beading up on the canvas. Carden’s fingers are pinching a cigarette, hand half curled over the tip to keep it dry.
Carden stares down at him. He shifts a little, gaze dropping to the kittens in Kevin’s lap, then he rolls his eyes. He flicks his cigarette out into the rain and grabs the handlebars of Kevin’s bike from where it’s leaning up against the side of the shed. “Come on,” he says, and then he starts off across the field without looking back.
“Uh.” Kevin scrambles to his feet, juggling the kittens. Two of them have fallen asleep, lumped together. The third paws at his sweatshirt, and its mouth opens in a soundless, pathetic meow. “Yeah, I know,” he whispers, then follows Carden up into the parking lot. He at least needs to get his bike back.
When he gets to Carden’s car, though – an old, beat-up Bronco – Carden’s already trying to stuff his bike in the backseat.
“It, uh—there’s a lever to make it fold up,” Kevin says.
Carden gives a noncommittal grunt, but he steps back and lets Kevin move forward – and Kevin drops the squirmy, awake kitten in Carden’s hands on his way past, and when he turns back around again, Carden’s sort of—grinning down at it, and Kevin’s heart hitches, then starts pounding. It’s almost painful, being this breathless, but Carden is grinning at a kitten, and Kevin’s pretty sure he’s never seen that look on Carden’s face before.
Kevin takes the kitten back and Carden gets his bike into the truck, and then Kevin’s sitting in Carden’s passenger seat and he has no idea what to say.
Carden isn’t helping. He just turns the heat up to high and taps his fingers in time with the radio.
He thinks it’s weird that Carden doesn’t ask for directions, but then he remembers that Carden knows he lives next to Bill, and then he panics, because he suddenly realizes there is no way his parents are going to let him keep three kittens. Darn it.
Carden slants him a glance. “I can hear you freaking out, Jonas,” he says.
Kevin breathes and thinks, okay, and thinks he can get Bill to take one, because Bill’s a pushover for tiny, fuzzy animals, and if he gives one to Bonus, his mom’ll totally give in, and then he ends up saying, “Do you want one?”
Carden doesn’t say anything.
He pulls up in front of Kevin’s house ten minutes later. He twists so he’s looking steadily at Kevin, one hand draped over the steering wheel.
Kevin says, “I’ll just, uh,” and pops the door open, leaving the kittens on the seat as he struggles to get his bike out of the back. He pushes it into the garage, then hustles back to the idling Bronco, and when he ducks back inside again, the two orange tabbies are blinking sleepily at him, leaning into each other. He can see just the tips of the calico’s ears in between Carden’s legs.
Kevin bites his lower lip. “Um.” He scoops up the two remaining kittens. “Thanks? For the ride.”
The continued silent stare makes a weird mixture of terror and want pool low in his belly, and Kevin hastily scrambles back out onto the sidewalk and shuts the door.
Bill calls his kitten Steve.
“Steve is clearly the smartest kitty to ever be a kitty,” Bill says. He kisses the top of Steve’s head and then snuggles him into the corner of the couch before picking up his laptop. “Now,” he says. “Puppies And Kittens, yay or nay?”
Miranda sticks her tongue out and waggles a thumbs-down.
“I don’t know, I kind of thought they were amazing,” Brendon says.
Patrick opens his mouth, but Bill cuts him off with, “We all know what you think, Stump, which is why you’re not allowed to write this review.”
“I liked them,” Kevin says. Kevin usually really enjoys Puppies And Kittens. They’re pop-y and fun, no matter what Miranda says.
Miranda says, “No, for real, it’s like I dropped acid and ended up at a Glenn Miller concert,” and Patrick turns fuchsia, mouth pinched. The skin under his eyebrows is a contrasting bright white.
Kevin’s never actually sure if Miranda hates Puppies And Kittens that much, or if she just enjoys seeing Patrick lose his temper. He accidentally punched Bill out once. Bill had gone down like a broken doll - they all probably shouldn’t have found it as funny as they had, but Bill’d barely been unconscious, and the stunned look on Patrick’s face had been priceless.
“You know what I enjoy?” Bill says. He’s got his hands resting nonchalantly one over the other on his stomach, but his eyes are sharply teasing, zeroed in on Miranda. “I greatly enjoy Miss Maja’s legs. They’re the main appeal of PAK, don’t you agree, Kev?”
Miranda’s making unhappy faces at Bill.
Kevin wisely says, “No comment.” He’s staying out of this one. He really doesn’t get why everyone always insists on sticking him in the middle of their fights and arguments. It’s really unfair.
Bill leans forward, bent over his laptop, and starts typing - exaggeratedly, with two fingers – and narrates, “While my sweet, delicious Rand calls them lame—”
Miranda throws an empty can of Coke at Bill’s head.
*PUPPIES AND KITTENS @ BROWNIES 10TH AND MARKET
While my sweet, delicious Rand calls them lame and pretentious, the self-proclaimed ‘music collective’ [music collective my ass, they’re like if Chicago ever decided to become a shitty Who cover band - rand] known as Puppies And Kittens played to a packed house last night - they had to turn late-comers away, and crowds were lingering in the parking lot, listening in through the open doors.
Boasting an impressive brass section, a classically trained pianist, and front woman Maja Ivarsson - best known for her work in the late, great hardcore band, Greyskull - Puppies And Kittens has pizzazz, flare, and, okay, so the British Invasion influence is readily noticeable - Chad & Jeremy, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Who. It’s garage rock, early punk, only with a trumpet, trombone and sax. It probably shouldn’t work. According to Rand, it doesn’t.
Trick can talk your face off about the beautiful melding of progressive rock and 60’s punk, about how they’re innovative geniuses, and that Claustrophobia is one of the best songs of any kind out there today - I suspect he just has a stunning crush on guitarist Cassadee Pope [I don’t even know why we’re friends - trick].
You can’t deny they know how to entertain, though. Keep up those high kicks, Maja. Keep ‘em up.
PUPPIES AND KITTENS @ BROWNIES 10TH AND MARKET: FEBRUARY 5TH 9:30PM
+ Looking Glass
+ Red Zone
+ Glad To Be
+ Can’t Change A Dollar
+ Snapped Bones
+ You Call This
+ Aching Underneath
billiam @ emc
Disaster strikes in the form of student teacher Gabe Saporta.
Or, okay, not actual disaster, since Saporta just stares at them a little weirdly and grins wide, creepily-knowing grins. And it’s Mr. Timberlake’s sci-fi lit class, so it’s not like anyone pays attention. He just makes them watch B horror movies while he locks himself in the Randolph High Rag room with Mr. Samberg and that really weird French teacher, Hader.
“I think he’ll keep his mouth shut about it,” Miranda says in a hush. They’ve got their desks pushed together in the back of the room. The lights are off, they’re watching Rocket Attack, USA, and Saporta’s a dark outline, white teeth gleaming from the black and white screen, sneakers propped up on Mr. Timberlake’s desk.
It makes Kevin nervous, but he thinks Miranda’s right. Saporta’s kind of crazy and sadistic, but he’s respectful. In his own weird way, anyway.
That isn’t to say Kevin’s all that surprised when Saporta pulls him aside after class and says, “Someday, I will ask you for a great favor. And you will grant me this favor, young Jonas, for being so very awesome in this moment, right now.”
Kevin nods. “Uh huh, okay.”
Kevin usually doesn’t mind Valentine’s Day, but that’s because he’s never part of the madness that is the Student Council rose fundraiser. Mainly, it’s just Bill skipping through the halls with baskets of flowers all day, humming My Funny Valentine. That’s something Kevin has always enjoyed watching.
Not this year.
Apparently, for an extra five dollars, you get serenaded.
By the time Bill and his Student Council cronies catch up with him, Kevin’s in Mr. Timberlake’s sci-fi lit class. Kevin figures this is karmic retribution for something he’s done in another life. Like maybe he ate babies or assembled a robot army to take over the world. Something horrible enough to deserve Bill, Wentz and Siska singing Air Supply to him while Saporta claps his hands with glee in the background. Bill’s the only one who can carry a tune, and Kevin’s bright red by the time they’re done, he’s hiding half under his desk.
And then the roses come, and then they’re moving on, thank god, because apparently someone paid them to sing Too Close to Keltie, so. Some of the weighty embarrassment is shifting off Kevin there, and moving towards the front of the room. Wentz even does some grinding. The teachers should probably stop them, but Samberg, Timberlake and Hader are peeking around the doorjamb of the Rag room and giggling.
Miranda has one rose. “From Bill,” she says, cheeks pink.
Two of Kevin’s are from SA, and one is completely blank. “Who’s SA?” he says.
Miranda gives him a bland look. “Secret Admirer,” she says. “Duh.”
There’s applause as Wentz, Bill and Siska finish up, giving out the last of their flowers. Bill ruffles Kevin’s hair as he sweeps past him again and blows a kiss at Miranda.
Miranda’s face gets even redder, and Kevin eyes her curiously. “What’s going on with you two?” he asks.
“Nothing,” she says. She’s smiling, though. A dreamy kind of smile, and Kevin is mildly horrified. They’d made a pact. A pact about Bill, and how Bill’s the sort of guy you love, but not love - and Miranda had been the one to point out how having a crush on Bill was fruitless and dumb, and they’d pinky sworn never to get into that mess again. Granted, it helps that Miranda’s a girl. Kevin figures that was one of the bigger stumbling blocks for him back in freshman year.
“Really?” Kevin says.
Miranda tucks the stem of her rose into her copy of Death Rat. “Really, what?” Her innocent tone is a little too innocent. She knows exactly what.
Kevin stares at her.
She makes faces back at him until he cracks up, because Miranda is so ridiculous sometimes. He laughs and drops his head into his hands and then Miranda tips her forehead onto his shoulder and sighs.
He slumps down more in his seat so he can whisper, “You’re spending Valentine’s Day with him.”
“Bill’s a bad idea.” Bill is one of his best friends, but he’s a definite bad idea.
“I know,” she says. “He named his kitten Steve. He gave me a fake mustache.” She waves a hand around. “He made out with Lovato at the ASL show, then told me I looked like a sexy version of Courtney Cox.”
Kevin doesn’t really know what any of that means, in the grand scheme of Bill and Miranda. He nods, though, and says, “Just be careful.”
Patrick is a tense ball of sullenness. He didn’t even bother with contacts – he’s got clunky back frames on and the same trucker hat he wore to school. Patrick is always really conscious of his NINJA persona - of keeping the nighttime version of himself separate from Patrick Stump, High School Student - so Kevin’s kind of at a loss.
Joe’s bopping around excitedly next to them, but he freezes when Kevin feels a pair of familiar arms wrap around his waist.
“Uh,” Joe says.
“Hey there, handsome friend,” Zac says. He digs his chin into Kevin’s shoulder, then waves to Joe and Patrick. “Handsome friend’s handsome friends.”
Kevin bites his lip. He sort of forgot about this, and how Joe doesn’t exactly know about his whole dating Zac of Larry Says Hi thing. “Zac,” he says. “This is my brother, Joe.”
“Family!” Zac says. He lets go of Kevin and holds a fist out for Joe to bump. “All right, dude.”
Joe looks a little bemused, but he says, “Hey.”
“I’m glad you guys came,” Zac says, slinging an arm across Kevin’s shoulders. He tugs him in close and presses a kiss to his cheek. “I gotta go help set up, but we’ll hang after, okay?”
“Yeah,” Kevin says, and ducks his head a little to avoid Joe’s stare as Zac bounces away.
“You and Efron,” Joe says after a long, thoughtful pause.
“Yep.” Kevin nods.
Patrick rolls his eyes and says, “Can we get drunk already?” which is kind of very un-Patrick-like. Patrick drinks, but he’s never as single-minded as Bill is about it.
“So are you, like, having a bad day?” Joe says before Kevin can stop him, because, oh my god, you don’t just come out and say stuff like that to Patrick.
Patrick scowls at Joe. “No.”
Joe screws his face up and leans towards Kevin and stage-whispers, “Seriously, Patrick’s so having a bad day.”
“And you’ll be having my foot up your ass if you don’t shut up,” Patrick says, but then he just huffs out an irritated breath and says, “I’m going to find Brendon,” and stalks away.
Kevin is pretty sure Patrick’s bad mood has to do with Wentz, and the fact that Patrick didn’t get any roses at school. He could be wrong, it’s not like Patrick’s ever welcomed Wentz’s advances before, but he doesn’t think so.
Joe looks at him with a funny smile on his face.
“Nothing,” he says, shrugging. “It’s just that—it’s like you’re secretly awesome, right? Zac Efron?”
Kevin has always thought that Joe thought he was a gigantic loser dork. Joe’s the cool and popular one and Nick’s the level-headed, self-confident one and Bonus rounds them out by being super badass awesome, even when he colors all his fingers with magic markers or glues his socks to the basement wall. Kevin never thought Joe would admire him – he’d figured the accidental hero-worship would fade once Joe knew he was K2 of NINJA.
It’s nice. He’s the big brother – it’s nice to actually feel like one for once.
*LARRY SAYS HI @ BOOTSTRAP TEN
While we’re inclined to like Larry Says Hi simply because of the hot ass that is lead singer Zac Efron, there’s no better band to spend the holiday of love with. Sappy to the core, the power-pop they usually churn out is good enough to warm even Trick’s bitter soul [fuck. you. – trick].
Full of pep and verve, Larry Says Hi bucked convention and spent the hour and a half they were on stage this past Valentine’s Day taking requests from the crowd, never skipping a number, even if it meant making up half the lyrics. Hudgens stepped forward to take on Love Stinks, Grabeel and Efron managed to mangle Let’s Get It On – much to Trick’s horror [there’s no excuse for not knowing that one – trick] - and even Tisdale bent a mic over her kit to try her hand at Puddle of Mudd’s Control. One word for that: masterful.
Of course, Grabeel clung to Bleu like a limpet for half the set – which this fella is not bitter about at all, folks, no sir. I even got my hands down K2 Junior’s pants [seriously, bden, :( – k2]. Love was totally in the air.
LARRY SAYS HI @ BOOTSTRAP TEN: FEBRUARY 14TH 10:00 PM
+ Love Is A Battlefield (pat benatar)
+ Love Will Tear Us Apart (joy division)
+ Love Stinks (the j. geils band)
+ I Don’t Want To Be In Love (good charlotte)
+ Let’s Get It On (marvin gaye)
+ I Don’t Wanna Think About You (simple plan)
+ Control (puddle of mudd)
+ Don’t You Want Me (the human league)
+ Supermassive Black Hole (muse)
+ You Oughta Know (alanis morissette)
+ Escape (The Pina Colada Song) (rupert holmes)
- bden @ emc
* MARCH *
Jesse Lacey has very obviously lost his mind. He’s completely unhinged. There’s no other explanation for it.
“Um. What?” Kevin is not entirely sure he heard him correctly.
“Yes or no, Jonas, do you want to go to the prom with me?” Lacey is frowning, one hand on his hip, fingers jittering, the other curled into the strap of his messenger bag.
It’s like one big mental disconnect.
“I.” Kevin hugs his books to his chest defensively. “I don’t think so,” he says.
Lacey narrows his eyes and clenches his jaw. “Right,” he says, and then he shoves Kevin backwards.
Kevin stumbles over a half-deflated volleyball, bangs up against a rack of basketballs before losing his footing over a battered catcher’s mitt and dropping down on the floor of the athletic supply closet. Lacey gives him a tight, evil smile before slamming the door shut. Kevin has a really horrible feeling – mainly from the, “Go to hell, Jonas,” Lacey shouts through the thick wood - that it locks automatically.
He struggles to his feet, kicks his books aside and isn’t surprised when the door won’t open. Great.
His cell has one tiny bar, but he manages to send off a text to Bill. It says, trapped in ball closet, send help pls
Bill doesn’t even ask. He just texts back, hold on, bb, and Kevin settles back down on the floor to wait.
He figures it’ll be a while, since Bill’s still working industriously on his lunchroom mural – he’s adding dinosaurs now, velociraptors with huge claws and crazy eyes, and Mr. Timberlake keeps signing off on all his revisions, so Kevin’s pretty sure the vodka rumors about him and Samberg and Hader are true; it’d also explain those Laser Cat videos going around YouTube – so he jerks a little when the door rattles only five minutes later. It could be Lacey, coming back to yell at him some more.
It isn’t Lacey, but it isn’t Bill, either.
Carden leans a shoulder up against the doorjamb and says, “Huh.”
Kevin tries for a smile and slowly gathers up his books. “Um.” Carden has never been mean to him – the exact opposite, in fact, even if he always acts like it’s physically paining him to help Kevin out – but Kevin’s extremely conscious of his crush, here in this small, hot, stuffy room, so he thinks it’s best if he uses caution in all his movements. He doesn’t want to end up stumbling into Carden or something. He doesn’t know what would happen then, but it probably wouldn’t be good.
“I thought Bill was joking,” Carden says.
Kevin very carefully gets to his feet and dusts off his jeans. “Nope.”
Carden arches an eyebrow. “Want to tell me what happened?”
That surprises Kevin, trips him up a little. He blinks. “Not really?”
“Wrong answer,” Carden says. He says it lightly, but he’s also blocking Kevin’s way out of the closet, and Kevin doesn’t think he’s going to move until he gets what he wants.
Kevin swallows hard and curls a hand over his shirt collar, absently scratching the hollow of his throat. He says, “It’s nothing. Lacey, uh, just doesn’t like hearing no, I guess.”
Something scary flickers in Carden’s eyes and he says tensely, “What did he want you to do?”
Kevin feels like maybe they aren’t on the same page here. The I-will-fuck-someone-up tone of his voice is pretty thrilling, though.
“Prom,” Kevin says.
“Prom,” Carden echoes incredulously. “He. He asked you to the prom? Lacey?”
“That’s fucked up,” Carden says.
Kevin doesn’t necessarily disagree, but he can’t help being a little insulted. So he got asked to the prom – it’s not unheard of. He’s not completely unappealing, he doesn’t think; he’s just sort of unnoticeable. That doesn’t mean someone asking him to prom is, like, ridiculous or anything.
“Yeah,” Kevin says stiffly. He clutches his books and stands in front of Carden, waiting for him to move.
Carden crosses his arms, eyes narrowed, and says, “What?”
“No, I’m not,” Kevin counters automatically, even though, yeah, he’s upset. Obviously.
“You are.” A sneaky smile blooms across Carden’s face. “You’re totally pissed.” Carden seems especially gleeful about that.
Kevin says, “I’m not pissed.” He almost stamps his foot. It’s a close call. “Can I leave now?”
Carden steps aside, sweeping a hand. “Sure thing, kid,” he says, still blatantly amused, and it’s weird, seeing an actual animated expression on his face, something that isn’t bored or irritated.
“Thanks,” Kevin says. He can hear Carden chuckling behind him as he stalks off down the hall.
“I think I’m going to ask Audrey to prom,” Brendon says, pushing sweaty hair off his forehead. They’ve just finished practicing Hey Sunshine.
Kevin presses his lips together and carefully doesn’t look at Miranda. He can see her making faces out of the corner of his eye.
Bill huffs out a breath, unfolds himself from where he’s been perched on Kevin’s amp, and grabs hold of Brendon’s arms. “Listen to me,” he says firmly, bending down so their noses touch. “Girls completely frighten you. Girls are pretty and soft, so this baffles me about you, but you’re utterly and totally uncomfortable around any girl except for Miranda. You are gay.” Bill shakes him a little, and Brendon’s eyes go wide. “You are incredibly, hugely gay, and you’re in love with Spencer. Just go with it, Urie.”
“I’m.” Brendon open and closes his mouth, then says, “What?”
Brendon shakes his head. “No, I’m—”
“Gay,” Bill insists. “Not even bi, my friend. You are so, so gay, and if you ask Audrey to prom I will slap you.”
“Slap! I’ll take my open palm to the baby-soft skin of your face, Urie, carefully heed my warnings.”
Miranda snorts a laugh into her hand, and Kevin still refuses to look at her. He can feel Patrick glaring at them all from behind his kit.
“Well, I’m not going to ask Spencer,” Brendon says petulantly.
“Spencer’s going to ask you,” Bill says, and Kevin doesn’t know whether he has insider information or if he’s going to make Spencer ask Brendon – he doesn’t think it matters. “And when Spencer asks you, you are going to say yes.”
“You know how much I love talking about the prom,” Patrick says, tipping the brim of his hat back with one of his sticks. “But if you guys want to see The Upstanding tonight with all your limbs intact, you might want to shut the fuck up.”
Bill says mildly, “You seem to be getting angrier lately, Patrick. I think you need to get laid.”
“I will end you,” Patrick says through his teeth.
“Patrick,” Bill says, “sweetheart—”
Kevin lunges forward and claps a hand over Bill’s mouth. There’s Patrick-baiting, and then there’s having a death wish. “Let’s just, uh, finish practice, okay guys?”
Brendon says, “Yes, please.”
Bill’s eyes are dancing at Kevin over his palm. When Kevin lets him go, he says, “I know what I’m doing, Jonas,” grinning, and Kevin says, “I’m sure you do.”
Bill’s probably the only one of any of them that actually does.
*THE UPSTANDING @ CARPORT
We here at EMC have always been big fans of Jenny Lewis - she’s unassuming, she’s beyond talented, she’s adorable - but the musical freak-show that is The Upstanding has us completely baffled.
While she’s on lead guitar as well as behind the mic, the vocal stylings of Miss Lewis were—we hesitate to say complimented, but there’s certainly something unique in the duet that is Lewis and McCracken. McCracken’s fresh off a stint as front man for the aptly named Thrasher; we don’t exactly know what he’s doing here.
Joining them on stage last night was everyone’s favorite ex-Cyrus member, Trace, and rounding out the unlikely group was baby-faced Wilson (who has a myspace dedicated to surprisingly awesome experimental drum solos).
It all came together in one amazing and bizarre show that we’re still not quite sure whether we want to see again or not. McCracken harmonized on tunes that could only be described as gentle. Lullaby For No One’s Daughter was exactly what it sounds like - wistful, mellow-bodied, full of soul. Even the fast-paced Lost Your Temper had round edges, and What I Do To Kill Time was eerily beautiful - it was like a head trip, seeing this play out on stage.
All that we’ve ever loved about McCracken - and even Trace, with his spider-like limbs and disturbing fixation on underage sex - was obscured by an indie rock haze with folksy undertones. Weird.
The Upstanding has one more date at CarPort before the end of March. Come see the softer side of Bert McCracken.
THE UPSTANDING @ CARPORT: MARCH 13TH 9:30PM
+ Pretty Thief
+ Lullaby For No One’s Daughter
+ Sara Ann’s Coming Home
+ Catch Me Up
+ Lost Your Temper
+ What I Do To Kill Time
+ Past The Garden of Eden
+ Those Bells Weren’t Ringing
+ Last Time
- billiam @ emc
Kevin doesn’t really talk to Zac a whole lot. They make plans to see each other, they hang out, but their relationship is almost a non-relationship. Kevin knows it’s not serious, so it doesn’t really bother him.
He’s kind of confused, though, when Zac calls him up and says, “I talked to Bill. No hard feelings, okay?”
“Okay,” Kevin says - it’s a reflex; he actually has no idea what’s going on.
“Good. That’s good.” Zac sounds marginally upset; the usual smile in his voice isn’t there, Kevin can tell.
He doesn’t really want to ask, “What are you talking about?” so instead he says, “Okay,” again, and it’s not until Zac hangs up on him that he realize that they—they’re broken up. And that, somehow, this mysterious break-up involves Bill.
Kevin hits speed dial six.
Bill answers his phone, “Go for Beckett,” and Kevin says, “Did you break up with Zac for me?”
“Well, someone had to,” Bill says, “and you certainly weren’t going to do it.”
Kevin doesn’t get angry very easily or often, and especially not at Bill. Bill always has his back. There’s a tightening in Kevin’s chest, though, and he thinks he should maybe find it wrong that he’s more upset that Bill broke up with Zac for him than the fact that he’s broken up with Zac at all.
“Bill, you can’t. You can’t just do that,” Kevin says. Zac’s a great guy, and now he’s probably never going to talk to him again. At least, maybe if Kevin could’ve done it himself they could still be friends.
“I did you a favor,” Bill says, but for once he doesn’t sound sure.
“It’s—” It’s not okay, but Kevin doesn’t know how else to deal with this. It’s not like he’s never going to forgive Bill or something. “It’s fine,” he ends up saying.
Bill’s quiet. Finally, he says, “It’s not fine, Kevin, and I’m sorry.”
Kevin lets out a noisy breath. “Yeah.”
“I didn’t even mean to do it,” Bill says, and, yeah, Kevin can see that happening accidentally. Bill doesn’t always filter his mouth. He embraces his mistakes wholeheartedly, though; there’s no point in getting upset with what can’t be changed, he always says. Bill clears his throat. “It’s for the best, Jonas, you’ll see.”
“The Cab broke up,” Bill says, frowning at his computer screen. “Or, well, Crawford left, and then Singer apparently had a big blow out with Colligan, and Colligan’s a douche, so of course Johnson and Marshall sided with DeLeon.”
“They should just get a hold of Greenwald, name themselves The Alexes, and call it a day,” Miranda says absently.
“Do you know this for sure, or are you basing this off their twitters?” Patrick asks.
“I know this for sure, because I’m amazing,” Bill says. He shifts on the couch and swings an arm over Kevin’s shoulders.
Kevin leans into him automatically, and Bill flashes him a smile. For Bill, the smile’s practically tentative; he’s been tip-toeing around Kevin for the past couple days, but he doesn’t really need to. It’s pretty impossible for Kevin to hold any sort of grudge.
“Anyway, Wentz just emailed us,” Bill says.
“Uh oh.” Miranda leans forward and snatches the laptop off Bill’s knees. “What’s he want?”
“Patrick,” Brendon says, then ducks out of the way, giggling, when Patrick chucks a drumstick at him.
“He wants NINJA to play the senior prom,” Bill says.
“Fuck no,” Patrick says.
“Um.” Kevin thinks playing the senior prom would probably be an even worse idea than playing their usual haunts – at least there’s a limited amount of kids from school who see them in bars, just those with fake IDs or secret ins, but the entire senior class would be staring them down at the prom. If they did do this, though, there’s a good chance Bill won’t bug Kevin about attending his own junior prom. Even if he’d still been dating Zac, that’d be totally out of the question.
“Oh, come on, it’ll be fun,” Bill says. He pokes Kevin in the stomach. “One last hurrah, before I head off to college.”
That’s kind of a sore point. Bill’s the only senior in NINJA. Kevin says, “We’ll have the entire summer together,” but he doesn’t put much heart into it. It always depresses him to think of playing without Bill, and then it depresses him some more to think maybe NINJA’ll just stop being NINJA entirely.
Patrick tugs on his hat and won’t meet anyone’s eyes - Kevin thinks he’s probably thinking the same thing as him – and finally he says, “Tell him we’ll do it.”
Bill eyes him warily. “You’re sure?”
“Yes,” Patrick says, and then his mouth curls up at the corners. “Hell yes; we’re NINJA. And if you go off to college and forget about us, you motherfucker, I’ll hunt you down and kill you.”
“Always threatening death, dear Patrick,” Bill says brightly.
“It’s his way of saying he cares,” Miranda says. She purses her lips, staring down at the laptop, and then her eyebrows shoot up and she grins over the screen at them. “So if we’re really playing prom, guys, we totally need new costumes.”
Just about the only times Spencer has ever really talked to Kevin was when they were in woodshop together. It’s not that they don’t get along, but Kevin thinks they’re both a little too conscious of the days Spencer spent in the company of Lacey, and how mostly he didn’t do anything to stop—whatever the hell Lacey thought he was doing with Kevin. After the whole prom thing, Kevin’s not as sure as he used to be about Lacey’s complete and total hatred of him.
Kevin’s working on a sweet little bluebird house, nice and simple. He’s making it for his mom. He’s not actually in woodshop anymore - his counselor said he couldn’t take the same class for two semesters – but Mr. Samberg still lets him use all the supplies after school, because Mr. Samberg admires his dedication to the craft.
“Nice,” Spencer says. Spencer isn’t in woodshop anymore, either, but they all know where to find Kevin when the bell rings.
Kevin shoots him a thumbs-up before turning on the sander. He could probably do it by hand, but the electric sander is pretty awesome. It only takes a few minutes, and then he pushes up his goggles and finds Spencer still standing there, hip up against his worktable. “What’s up?” he asks.
Spencer rubs the back of his neck, a strange look on his face. “So I, uh, might have kissed Brendon.”
Kevin waits for something more. When Spencer just shifts awkwardly on his feet, Kevin says, “And, um, what?”
“Nothing, just. He said he wasn’t gay?”
“Oh. Oh,” Kevin shakes his head, “Bill’s going to freak out,” he says, and then bites his lip to keep from giggling, because it’s not funny. Completely not funny.
“Brendon has some issues,” Kevin says, but, despite everything, he doesn’t think Brendon’s issues are so much about Brendon not being gay, but about Bill not being right. Especially considering how easily and often ‘Bden’ hooks up with random guys. Brendon’s pretty happy-go-lucky, but he really hates being told what to do. That’s the main reason why he doesn’t get along all that great with his parents.
“Yeah, I kind of figured that out already,” Spencer says. The tops of his cheeks are red. Kevin can’t tell if he’s angry or embarrassed.
Kevin’s not all that great at heart-to-hearts. He doesn’t really know what to say to people who aren’t Miranda or Bill. And Kevin doesn’t actually know what Brendon’s thoughts are about Spencer, but he can make an educated guess. Still. Brendon can be stubborn and contrary – it’s just that his proximity to Patrick hides it well. “Look, um, this might not be great advice, but you should probably not push him about this.”
Spencer gives him a resigned nod. “All right.”
“Not the, uh, kissing,” Kevin says, feeling his face heat. “You can do that all you want, just don’t argue about—”
“Semantics,” Spencer says, eyes smiling like he finally gets it.
Kevin swipes his thumb along the recently-smoothed eaves of his birdhouse. “Right,” he says. “And you might want to avoid talking about prom.”
“How do you feel about crashing a house party?” Bill asks, leaning up against the wall next to Kevin.
They’re squeezed into the hallway behind the stage at Bootstrap; Pocket Thief is playing, Kevin can feel the vibrations in his teeth. He adjusts his mask with nervous fingers and says, “Uh, whose house party?”
“Pete’s,” Bill says, grinning winningly.
Patrick looks up from where he’s sitting on the floor, fidgeting with his drumsticks and trying not to throw up; he’s pale and sweaty. “No way.”
“You’re going to have to face him sooner or later, Trick,” Bill says.
“Wait, wait,” Brendon says – he’s got his mask pushed up into his messy hair; he’s been trying to grab the exposed pipes above their heads for the past half hour, and he’s got his arms stretched out, poised in a half-crouch - “you mean, like, as ourselves?”
Bill adjusts his bandana so the NINJA runs along the inside of his thigh. “Yes, as ourselves. We’re not playing, Brendon, you’ll just be—welcome, unexpected guests.”
Kevin’s not so sure about the welcome part. Especially since this will very obviously be a senior house party. If he has to go, he’d kind of rather go as NINJA. “Are you sure we can’t wear our masks?”
“First of all,” Bill says, wagging a finger at him, “That’s lame. And secondly,” he goes on, “how many people do you think we’re actually still fooling?”
Kevin thinks that’s a stupid question – if everyone really knew who they were, they wouldn’t have half as many followers. Kevin’s still invisible at school.
He also thinks Bill’s up to something. He’s grinning far too brightly at them; it’s exactly how he looks when he’s just slipped Kevin the Old Maid.
Miranda says, “I’m in,” and shrugs. “Wentz has been throwing these things for years, I’m curious.”
Patrick has a pinched expression on his face, but he nods.
Brendon does jazz hands before jumping for the pipes again – the universal Brendon-signal for okay, yes.
Bill looks at Kevin expectantly. “House party?”
Kevin shifts on his feet. “Yeah, okay,” he says. “When?”
“Spring break, the ultimate booze-fest. Pete’s parents won’t even be in town.”
“Great,” Kevin says. It sounds truly fantastic. He hopes Joe doesn’t beg him to bring him along.
When Pocket Thief stumbles offstage five minutes later, Saporta bursts through the back door and says, “Students of the Cobra and young Mr. Beckett,” arms flung wide. He’s sweat-soaked and ten feet tall and he crushes Kevin to his chest before reaching next to him for Bill.
“It’s a fucking amazing crowd out there,” Saporta says. “Go forth and rock the fuck out.”
Kevin’s fingers are tingling. His arms are sore, there’s an ache in his thighs, and his chest’s tight, like he can’t breathe too deeply, like his heart’s three sizes too big. Adrenalin, he thinks, a giddy thrill pumping through his veins.
Before shows, he’s usually just as freaked as Patrick, nauseous, shaky with nerves, but afterwards—afterwards, he feels like he was born just for this. It’s amazing, that high, the light-headedness, the glow, and he doesn’t even notice Carden until he’s right in front of him.
“Jesus,” Carden says. He grabs hold of Kevin’s arms and pushes him back – the wall by the bathrooms is probably disgusting, but all Kevin notices is the edge in Carden’s eyes as he leans in, says, “Christ, you drive me fucking crazy.”
Kevin has a split-second to think, wait, what? before Carden’s digging his fingers into Kevin’s biceps and slicking his mouth open with his tongue, teeth scraping his lower lip. He breathes out through his nose – he’d gasp if Carden was giving him any sort of leeway here, but Carden just pushes closer, and Kevin’s mind goes completely offline.
Kevin has absolutely no idea what he’s doing, but when Carden breaks off with an obscene groan, Kevin realizes he’s twisted further in, a hand up the back of Carden’s shirt, hips touching, and Carden’s grinning at him, sharp, like Kevin’s tasty dessert after a skimpy meal.
And then Kevin panics, grasping at his face to see if his mask’s moved, if Carden has any idea, and Kevin’s usually okay with people liking him because he’s K2, but he thinks maybe if Carden figured it all out now – if he looked at Kevin with any sort of shock or disgust after nearly sucking all the breath out of his body, Kevin doesn’t think he’d survive that, heart intact.
Carden’s still got him trapped, though, and every breath Kevin takes presses their chests together. Carden mouths at Kevin’s jaw, hand smoothing up along Kevin’s arm to curve over his shoulder, under his t-shirt.
Kevin says, “Um, what are you—”
“Do you know,” Carden says softly, “how fucking sexy you are up there?”
This is amazing, Kevin thinks, and, this is horrible, Kevin thinks, and it’s embarrassingly similar to some of his more risqué daydreams about Carden. Only in those, Carden actually knows who he is, and he doesn’t care. Which will never happen, because Carden thinks he’s an idiot who gets knocked out by sinks and locked in closets and stuck in the rain.
And then he thinks, so what? and sneaks his hand up farther, so his whole arm’s hot along Carden’s spine, and he tugs on the ends of Carden’s hair until he moves up to kiss him again.
Attention Randolph High seniors: if you pay us, we will come. Senior Prom ’10.
- billiam @ emc