Original Drama >> General
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Rian Ross- Eighteen years old, singer/ guitarist
Emily Hooks-Eighteen years old, singer/ guitarist
Pete Smith-Nineteen years old, singer/ bassist
Jon Urie-Nineteen years old, keyboard
Spencer Walker-Sixteen years old, drums
“Let's all scream and shout
We're just kids with big dreams and broken hearts
But, oh, I swear one day we'll make it out
That I'll stand by your side”
-“Miles to Go”, by Rian Ross
The dim light from the bar barely lit the dark alley, in which I was standing with Pete, waiting for
the rest of the guys to bring out the equipment. It had been a long, hard day, and it was too late
to be doing stuff like this. I was finally ready to relax, unwind…
“We were amazing tonight!' I heard Jon exclaim from the shadows, carrying his overused
keyboard in our direction.
“Finally,” I sighed, glancing at Pete while catching the keys that had just been thrown
I began unlocking our battered old pick-up while Spencer followed Jon, carrying a drum that looked
much too big for his tiny body.
“What took you guys so long?” Pete asked incredulously, helping to load the instruments
in the back. The two of us had been waiting out here for twenty minutes, not a very fun thing to do
at the end of October in Chicago.
Emily, who had just walked into the alley to join us, answered excitedly, “You know that guy
I nodded. We had played a couple shows with his band.
“Well,” she went on, “His band just got signed to this new label, and they are
hosting a Chicago area Battle of the Bands. He's gonna judge, and says that we should try
Jon smiled and added, “And he said that the winner gets signed!”
“Are you serious?!” I asked excitedly, but also disbelievingly. It was hard to be
convinced of someone actually liking us enough to sign us.
“He is!” Spencer replied, joining the conversation, “He said that the song was
written exceedingly well, and he hasn't heard such brilliant vocal harmonies in a long time.
Plus,” he continued, now looking proud, “He told me that he hasn't seen a drummer as
talented as me, ever. Not even his own.”
This was true. No matter how young he is, his drumming skills are amazing. I sighed again, this
time in relief. Getting real recognition was definitely a good thing that hasn't happened very often
lately. I've always known we were good; it was just hard to get any attention in a city this big. We
just happened to get extremely lucky tonight.
Jon and Pete proceeded to talk animatedly about how to prepare for the Battle of the Bands, which
would take place in two weeks-on November 15th. I quietly continued to load the truck,
wrapped in thought.
All five of us share a tiny, two bedroom apartment four blocks away from Wrigley Field. Pete and
Jon work full time at the grocery store down the street, both of them being nineteen and out of high
school. Lucky them. Emily and I are both eighteen, juggling part time jobs at the smoothie shop on
Broadway with finishing our senior year. The four of us were living there by our own will, but our
Spencer is sixteen and in his junior year. A job is out of the question, because he is already on
the verge of flunking. I mean, he's a brilliant kid, but he just can't do stuff like that. The fact
that we go to a Chicago public school doesn't help, either. The teachers don't have much time to
worry about teaching, considering they are paying too much attention to the mini gang wars that
might break out at any moment. Kicked out by his violent, drug- abusing father, he was forced to
move in with his band mates.
Together, we are Delayed Reaction, and nothing in any of our lives matter more than our music and
each other. Sure, living two and three people to a room gets really cramped, and we bicker back and
forth constantly. But we are a family, closer to one another than we are to any of our true,
flesh-and-blood family members.
So as we all piled into the truck, finally ready to retire for the night, I couldn't help but be
thankful for this chance. It would be amazing if we could win this, to be able to afford a better
home; maybe even separate ones. Even with four of us working, it was still extremely hard for us to
get by. Most of the money went to our instruments and recording space.
Squished between Jon and Emily, I decide to join the conversation.
“What do you think we should play?” I asked
“I'm thinking `Only Regrets' or `Lying Games',” Emily replied.
“I don't know,” I said doubtfully, “maybe we should write something new.”
“Why?” Jon asked, confused.
“Well, I mean, our stuff's good and all, but I don't know if what we already have is good
enough to beat out every band in northern Illinois.” The guys and Emily just looked at me
So I just kept quiet for the rest of the ride, listening to them talk. We were right by Lake
Michigan, and I began watching the people running along the beach, exercising at one in the morning.
The boats were rocking gently in the wind, lights reflecting off the black water. It was times like
these, just driving past the skyline, that I truly felt the magic of this place, the reason why we
were doing all of this.
When we finally arrived in the parking garage, the attendant hurried out of his little office with
a cart, well prepared for our arrival. I mean, it's about time for him to realize that we would need
one every time we all left together. We played about four shows a night, not the best thing for
people who have to wake up at six the next morning for school.
After putting our stuff in the cart, we trudged through the hallway to the elevator. As usual,
Spencer and Pete raced to press the silver “12” button on the control pad. Also like
always, Spence won. We rode up, cramped again, making faces into the camera. I'm sure the security
guards need some entertainment every once in awhile.
Once we got to our hallway, Jon and I raced to our apartment, trying to unlock the door first. Jon
won, and I sighed as I put the instruments on the couch in the living room, which had a beautiful
view of the city and the lake. We all started getting ready for sleep, it being Monday a night.
Emily and I made our way into the smaller bedroom. I collapsed onto my twin sized bed across the
room from hers, planning on falling asleep in my regular clothes. I took my iPod off my nightstand
and listened to some of our earlier demos.
She's putting on that make-up
Like her shattered dreams
I must've fallen asleep before I could finish even that first song, because the next thing I knew,
my alarm was going off. The light through my window was dim through the curtains and as I stretched,
I glanced at my clock - 6:30. Slowly I stood, still not completely awake, and went through the
motions of getting ready.
At 7:15, with my red hair straightened and black hoodie on, I went to the boys' room to wake up
Spencer. When I saw him, though, I didn't want to; he looked so at peace while he was sleeping. I
sat at the edge of his bed, running my fingers through his light brown, shoulder length hair. He
“Wake up, Spence,” I said softly, leaning in to kiss his forehead.
Before you get any ideas, let me just explain my relationship with Spencer. He's almost three years
younger than me, and I love him, but like my little brother. It's the same with all of us in this
band, towards anybody.
He opened his eyes, startled, although I'm the one to wake him up every morning; Pete and Jon don't
have to wake up for another hour.
“Oh, hey,” he said, relaxing, his brilliant blue eyes looking up at me sleepily.
I patted his arm and looked at him for another moment before leaving the room. He worried me,
because he seemed so fragile. I was always scared that it was only a matter of time before he would
break. Not only had he been kicked out at fifteen, but also beaten for all of those long years by
his cruel father. He's so sweet, and has done nothing wrong. People are so cruel…
So now, he's always struggling at school, most likely due to the fact that he never had any help as
a kid. It seems like the only thing he finds peace in is our music.
Once we were all ready and had eaten our vegetarian breakfasts, we made our way down to the truck;
Pete and Jon could walk to work. Emily got in the driver's seat, and Spencer and I took the back.
The drive was relatively quiet, except for when I had to help Spencer study for his science test.
When we finally pulled in and I saw who was waiting for us in the parking lot, I sighed. We stepped
out of the truck in our normal formation- Emily on the left, slightly ahead of Spencer, and me on
the right, slightly behind him. It was our defensive position.
As the tall, burly figure of Patrick approached us, I knew that the torture was starting early
today. The familiar feeling of dread quickly seeped into my veins as Patrick smiled and began to
say, “Well, look who decided to show up today!”
Automatically, Emily and I stepped in front of a scared looking Spencer, prepared to fight if we
“Go away, Patrick,” I snarled furiously.
“Shut up, scene girl,” he replied coolly, “Its time to make this little girl into
a man.” He was pointing to Spencer.
“No!” Emily shouted, jumping at Patrick. He was too strong, though, and he threw her
off. Not before I could get my chance at him.
I kicked his shin and then his knee, causing him to collapse. It gave us just enough time to run
into the school building.
“I'm so, so sorry,” Spencer said to us, shaking.
“Don't worry, we're fine,” Emily consoled, pulling her sleeve down over the scrape she
had just received.
The boy looked mad, though.
“I can't ever stand up for myself! No wonder they beat me up. I'm such a coward,” he
went on to say, pulling his books from his locker.
I rolled my eyes, “Don't say that. He's such a closed-minded loser. Just because you can't
play sports and you aren't an idiot…” I was the angry one, now.
“I am stupid! I'm gonna flunk, Rian. They don't like me because I'm a loser. I can't do
Emily burst in, “You aren't stupid, Spencer, you have a brilliant mind! Can't you remember
what William said to you last night? There are lots of girls that would like a guy like you, why
can't you see that??”
“Oh yeah, like who?” he asked coolly.
Flustered, she stuttered out, “I- I don't know any juniors! But I definitely know that there
are lots of people that could like you, Spencer, or that already maybe do...” Her cheeks were
flushed, and she seemed glad to not have to speak anymore. Luckily for her, Spencer was turned
I gave her a questioning look as we left him to get to our hallway. It almost gives me physical
pain, to have to leave him behind like that. Anything could happen. Thinking about next year, when
he would be here alone, was even worse…
She sighed, still blushing slightly, and said, “I don't know, Rian, but… I think I
might…I… I like Spencer.” She rushed to get the last words out, looking at me
“…Oh…” was all I could manage to say, not returning her glance. I never
would have guessed…
“Yeah, but of course I'm not gonna do anything about it, I swear!” she added hurriedly,
“Because I know that could mess everything up.”
Still pondering, I simply answered with a nod as I made my way to my own locker. Emily likes
Spencer? How strange… I thought we'd all been on the same page, that we all felt family-like
feelings toward each other. I guess not…
As I got to my first hour class, which also happened to be my least favorite, I started to think
again. Only not about the boring math problems.
Emily and I had met the summer before eighth grade at a summer camp in the suburbs. We were
thirteen, the oldest kids there, but we were a year too young to be counselors in training(CITs) .
The first time we talked, it was about each other's t-shirts - she had Green Day, and I had Guns N
Roses. It seemed like we were immediately best friends, mostly due to the fact that we had almost
everything in common.
The end of summer was hard, though, because she lived on the south side of Chicago, in a different
district than me. It seemed like even through the distance, though, I was still closer to her than
any of the people I knew at my school. After school was out, we both decided to volunteer at the
YMCA camp we had gone to before. We were finally able to be CITs, and the counselors here were only
one year older than us. The first one I was assigned to was Mr. Jon Urie. Our job was to watch a
group of screaming seven year olds run around the field by an old church. Let me just say, it was
the beginning of the best time of my life. I had a lot in common with him as well, and he was very
skilled musically - he could play six instruments. All we did all day was talk, and we never ran out
of things to say. Whenever I would have problems, his deep brown eyes would penetrate mine,
understanding everything I said.
When we got reassigned, I was almost heartbroken. Almost. Emily and I, who I had still seen and
talked to every day, both got assigned to Pete Smith. If the boy could do one thing, it was make us
laugh. The stories he would tell would keep us entertained and asking questions for hours. Plus, he
was extremely smart and almost as insightful as Jon. It's sad to admit, but both Emily and I had
huge crushes on the guy.
Then, near the end of summer, the four of us got assigned to a group of twelve year olds. In it was
Spencer Walker. At that time, he seemed even frailer. I was always scared to touch him, because he
seemed so fragile. Looking into his eyes could cause people physical pain. But at the end of the
summer, anyone who saw him could see a little more light in his eyes than before. The four of us had
taken care of him, and watched out for him because nobody else would.
When that fateful summer ended, nothing could keep the five of us apart. All of us, except Spencer,
all attended the same high school. On the weekends, we would take Spencer over to one of our houses,
so he could escape.
I don't remember when exactly it happened, but somehow we had all just started randomly playing
music together, nothing really special. We soon began to have real practices, and we finally named
By this time, Spencer was a freshman, Emily and I were sophomores, and the other two were juniors.
We didn't become really serious, playing gigs and all, until their senior year. When they graduated
and moved into their own place, I followed, tired of living with parents who did nothing but
constantly scream and shout at me and each other. Emily came soon after, with reasons identical to
mine, around the time Spencer got kicked out. That was kind of a relief to all of us, actually; we
wouldn't have to worry about not seeing him the next day after one of his dad's drunken rages.
So now here we are, struggling to get by, but happy as we do so. If we win this, it would honestly
mean the world to us. We obviously have nothing to worry about leaving behind here, other than each
other, and that wouldn't happen.
As the bell rang and I walked to my next class, I passed Emily.
“Hey,” I said, grabbing her arm to stop her, “It's fine, you know, that you like
She looked at me with relief. “Thanks, Rian.”
I smiled back. “No problem.”
As usual, the day dragged on slowly until the final
bell rang. I walked out to the truck where the other two were already waiting.
“Hey,” Spencer greeted me, looking a bit sad.
“Hi,” I replied, smiling. He seemed to lighten up a bit.
We piled in, me taking the driver's seat, and headed home. It was only 3:30, so the other guys
would still be at work for another hour. Once we walked through the door, each of us automatically
grabbed an instrument. As far as I knew, there was no show tonight, so all we had to do was
practice. The other two were playing one of our newer songs, “This Place”, but I was in
the mood to write something new. Acoustic guitar in hand, I began playing something softer than
usual, prettier. I hummed along, but I didn't have any lyrics. Writing down the notes, I began to
think of some…
When the other two walked in, I was still concentrating on the new song. I wasn't sure where it was
coming from, but I knew that it would take awhile to finish. Writing was a long process for me.
Being a perfectionist, it took me at least a week just to make revisions. But it was what I found
peace in, what I enjoyed doing. If I wasn't a musician, I would've focused on being an author.
“Aloha,” Pete said as he jumped onto the couch, right next to me.
“Hey,” I replied, not looking up.
“Watcha doin'?” he asked childishly.
“Writing a song,” I replied in the same sing- song voice.
He looked at my tattered black notebook for a minute, reading my jumbled lyrics.
“They look good,” he finally said, serious.
After a few minutes he left my side, going over to join the other guys. From what it sounded like,
we would be playing `Contridictions'.
“Rian, come on and play with us!” Emily said from the other end of the room, holding
out my guitar. I sighed, setting my pen down beside me. I had written the lyrics to this song awhile
ago, and although they weren't very happy, the music itself was very up beat.
We opening riffs, and my frustrations immediately melted away.
Every single time you've said those three words…
Even if you actually cared
That was my opening part, and then Emily took over until the chorus.
I'm so sorry that finding out love isn't real
Is turning into such a big deal
Does this mean nothing at all?
Pete joined in at this part, and then I had a guitar solo. I loved this, just playing all together.
The feeling still doesn't get old, and I doubt it ever will. There's just something about feeling
the heavy bass in your chest, hearing everyone play all together, that made me feel all floaty
inside. It feels like I can just fly away and leave everything bad behind.
After the last note, all of us were smiling. There was no doubt that music had the same effect on
all of us. So for the rest of the night, we kept playing the same song. Never having realized how
many flaws were in the guitar parts alone, Emily and I had to repeatedly change them as we played.
After dinner and a couple breaks, it was time for us to turn in, and we were still nowhere near
The next day went by in the same fashion, except there wasn't a fight. I worked all during math and
science on fixing the lyrics to the song, which I thought were very, very bad, once I got to
thinking about them. We practiced again, and Pete had to rewrite the bass parts while Jon rearranged
everything he had written on the keyboard. By the end of the week, we were all completely burnt out.
It was the night that we all accidentally fell asleep in the living room from exhaustion that I
realized how completely scared I was. Not only a perfectionist, but a pessimist, too. We only had
six more days until the Battle of the Bands, and I couldn't do anything but worry. While everyone
else was asleep, I made every single tweak possible to the music, testing out whether or not to
speed it up, or slow it down. By the 12th of November, it was barely even the same song
The contest was going to be on Sunday, and it would take place at some school downtown. We all
skipped school and work on Friday to practice, and did nothing else for the rest of the weekend.
Every day of those practices kinda blended together, except for Saturday. Saturday definitely stood
The day started out pretty normal. I was already in the living room practicing, while everyone else
was still sleeping. The Battle of the Bands was in just one day, and I couldn't concentrate on
anything else. I didn't hear him coming until he was right next to me, blue eyes staring intently
into mine. Spencer.
“Hey,” I said quietly, not looking away from my work.
“Hey, um, could I talk to you for a minute? I mean if you aren't too busy…”
“Oh, yeah, that's fine,” I replied, setting my worn out acoustic guitar on the floor,
He looked down at his hands, suddenly preoccupied with them. “Rian, I've known
you…what? Five years?”
I nodded my head, not sure where he was going with this.
“Well, there's really not a way to say this that's not awkward, but… Rian, I…
Rian, I really, really like you,” he looked up, hopeful. I just looked back, completely
shocked. I couldn't even register what I had just heard. There was no way, no way on this
“Rian?” he asked, confused, after a few moments of my unresponsiveness.
“Um…um… Spencer, I'm so sorry, I just… don't think I feel the same way
about you,” I finally stuttered out, not completely sure if I meant it…
“Oh… well… that kinda figures,” he muttered, somewhat angrily, while
“No, wait!” I said, pulling him back down by his arm. He looked at me questioningly,
but took a seat anyway.
I took a deep breath, not sure at all of what I was going to say. “Spencer, I'm sorry. It's
just that, well, I do love you, but like a brother. And with the whole Battle of the Bands thing, I
haven't had any time to think about anything. And I just… I can't like you…”
This was hard to say. Harder than I had ever imagined.
He sighed again, all traces of hopefulness gone. I felt so bad; I wanted to do anything in my power
to make him feel better. Without thinking, I leaned in to hug him. He was so warm, so gentle…
I started to pull away, but he wouldn't let me. The next thing I knew, his lips were on mine.
For those few seconds that seemed to stretch forever, I felt… whole. Like I'd found
something I didn't know I had been looking for. Still locked in his embrace, I finally pulled away,
smiling. At this sight, he smiled, too. I bit my lip hesitantly, thinking of something to say, as I
looked up to see who had joined us…
With a horrified expression, Emily was standing in the doorway.
“How… how could you?” she whispered before turning and running back into our
“Crap,” I muttered, staring after her, letting go of Spencer completely.
“What's going on?” Spencer asked with a confused expression.
“Um,” I began, not sure how to say anything without making this situation worse,
“Emily likes you…”
“Oh…” he replied, not needing any more
We sat in awkward silence for a few moments, both of us trying to figure out what we could possibly
do to fix this. I stood up soon, heading to my room. I wasn't sure what to say, though.
“Emily?” I asked when I stepped in.
“Go away!” she replied from under her blanket. I could hear a few sobs, too.
“Em, please… just let me explain.”
“Explain what?!” she spat
furiously as she sat up, looking at me with puffy, red eyes.
“I didn't mean to do that, honestly. It wasn't my fault! He kissed me, and…”
“Oh, yeah, you definitely seemed to have a problem with that,” she replied
I sighed as I took a seat on the edge of my bed, no doubt in my mind that this would take awhile.
I began to explain slowly, “Ok, so when he said he liked me,” I could see her cringe
slightly, “I tried to tell him that I didn't feel that way, and that he's like my brother, ya
know? Then he looked so… sad. I couldn't help but feel bad, so I hugged him and… he
kinda kissed me. I completely forgot everything when that happened, I swear!”
She finally looked up and I said, “Emily, we've been best friends for four years. I wouldn't
ever do something to purposely hurt you.”
Twiddling her fingers, she took a few moments to reply, “Well… I guess I understand,
but… it still really hurts. I can't believe that something like this happened. I thought that
you didn't like any of the guys!”
“I didn't until about ten minutes ago,” I
confessed. It was useless to try and hide my newfound feelings for Spencer.
“Thanks for being honest, at least,” she replied, “I guess it doesn't really
matter that much. All we should be worrying about right now is the band, and I have no intent to
break us up just because of this. Just… please… don't be kissing him and stuff when
I cut her off with, “Oh, don't worry about that! I honestly
don't think me and him are going anywhere soon. And…” I added, “I'm sure when we
get signed, you'll meet plenty of guys you like more than Spencer.”
She sighed, seeming a little bit happier now.
“Oddly, this really isn't bothering me. As long as Spencer is happy, I think I'll be
fine,” she said laying back, staring at the ceiling.
“Yeah… thank you so much,” I said, completely relieved. That was MUCH easier
than I thought it would be.
“You're welcome. It's really no big deal.” She shrugged nonchalantly.
So we went back into the living room to join the others; Jon and Pete had just woken up and were
talking to Spencer in hushed voices.
“Hey, guys,” I said obliviously. I had a pretty good idea of what they were talking
“Oh, um, hey!” Pete said just a little too loudly.
“Sup,” Emily acknowledged, sitting on the couch next to me with her beautiful les Paul
already on her lap. Spencer still looked confused.
So, for the rest of the day, we had a huge practice session. Spencer, Emily, and I said nothing
about what had happened this morning, so it wasn't really all that awkward. Honestly, the song was
really getting on my nerves. We would be able to play it perfectly, if anything.
Finally, around midnight, we decided it would be a good idea to turn in earlier than usual. We
would all have to wake up at seven to get ready and be there by nine. But of course, I woke up early
and couldn't get back to sleep, due to nerves. I was surprised to see that the three guys were
already awake and showered, cleaning up and fixing their instruments. I joined them, switching my
guitar strings and polishing its bright red paint. Finally, running out of things to do in there, I
decided to start getting ready. After taking a shower, I straightened my hair, which was now bright
red with black extensions underneath. I chose a pair of black skinny jeans, a red t-shirt, and a
black vest. I applied my eyeliner carefully, and then put on my worn out Converses. At about that
time Emily woke up and started getting ready hurriedly, realizing that it was almost eight.
Once she was done, we all looked ready to go. We were all wearing almost the exact same pants; Jon
was wearing a green and white striped button down, Pete had on a purple hoodie, Spencer's shirt was
red, black and white, and Emily was wearing a shirt like mine, only blue instead of red. I have to
say, at that moment, we really did look like we could be rock stars. Hopefully, we would be soon.
So then, deciding to head over to the school early, we began to bring our instruments down to the
parking garage. For some reason, the mood seemed solemn, which felt very wrong.
As we got closer and closer, I began to feel extremely nervous, which is really strange, because I
NEVER get nervous about performing anymore. When I looked at Emily's face for reassurance, I found
that her expression mirrored mine. Not good.
When we pulled into the parking lot, we found that there was a HUGE line of people standing outside
in the freezing cold, holding their instruments. Our competition. I'd known that there would be
quite a few bands playing today, but this was way more than I was expecting. The fact that we were
early didn't help my nerves much, either. Even worse, once we got out of the truck, even the guys
seemed fearful. What was going on with us?
So we pulled our stuff out of the bed of the truck, preparing to hold it all while standing in line
for at least an hour. I ended up carrying my guitar in its bag on my back, my amp, and a bass drum.
Fun. The line wasn't so bad, though, and we got to see who we would be up against. Directly in front
of us were six mime-looking people, and in front of them were people dressed completely in black,
including black sunglasses and lipstick. The worst part was the huge, scary-looking guy who was
wearing lipstick as well.
Soon, we could actually see the frantic looking woman at the table in front of the line, attempting
to get all of the bands signed in. I felt kinda bad for her, what with the somewhat menacing guys
I'd seen in the line in front of us. Like lipstick dude. Finally, we were up.
“And what's your name?” she asked warily.
“Delayed Reaction,” Jon said proudly.
She sighed with relief. “Good, finally a band that's already signed up.”
We all looked at her, confused. I couldn't remember signing up for anything.
Seeing our faces, she added, “You must be the one's Will put down, then.”
As we walked in, I felt strangely optimistic. William Beckett had signed us up. Out of all of the
bands he had seen, he remembered ours. That's definitely a good sign.
She gave us a little map of the building and showed us the room our band had to go into and wait.
We pushed through the crowded hallway to get to room 26B. When we opened the door, we found that we
weren't alone. Inside were two guys and two girls, who were all dressed kinda like us. The classroom
was completely plain white with old-looking linoleum floors and really dim lights.
“Hey,” one of the girls said when we walked in.
“Hi,” Pete replied, sighing as he finally put the heavy equipment down.
One of the guys, who had extremely light blonde hair, said, “Hi, I'm Andy. This is Emily,
Abby, and Chris.” He pointed to each of them.
“Our band's called Deep Waters,” the other guy, Chris, added.
Jon stood back up and said, “I'm Jon, this is Spencer, Pete, Rian, and we have an Emily, too.
Our band's called Delayed Reaction.” Like before, he seemed really proud when he said our
Their Emily smiled at this, and then they went back to tuning up their instruments. We did the
same, and I asked casually, “So, do you have any idea when you're
“Yeah,” the girl named Abby answered, “Both of us are supposed
to go down at two, which is in,” she checked her watch, “Three hours.”
I nodded my head and went back to my work. The other band seemed nice, but I didn't want to get
distracted. Instead, I focused on doing vocal warm ups and scales on my guitar, to get my fingers
loose. My nerves melted away as the music flooded throughout the room. Soon, though, I became
distracted, because the other band was so… good. I mean, extremely good. They had no
keyboard, and one of their guitarists was playing on an acoustic guitar. It sounded so natural, so
beautiful. Only the girls sang, and their harmonies were amazing.
I looked over and saw that Spencer was watching, agape. He saw my glance and returned it, looking
Sooner than I thought possible, it was 1:30. Emily and I both went to the bathroom to touch up our
makeup while the guys stayed behind to re-tune the guitars.
“Okay, that other band… they really scare me,” Emily said as soon as we were out
of that cramped room.
I just nodded, not sure if I could even speak. My face in the mirror was unusually pale, even for
me, and I could actually see the fear in my eyes. What's going on with me?? We're going to win,
we're going to win…
I said that out loud, and Emily nodded. I attempted to smile into the mirror, but it looked more
like a grimace. I took my overused eyeliner out of my pocket and traced my eyes shakily. It came out
looking alright, though. Luckily, my hair was still fine, because I didn't know if I would have the
patience to do anything with it. The both of us got done at about the same time, and we silently
When we got back to the room, it was time to start heading down. We all stood in a circle, trying
to find a little bit of composure in all of the nerves and fear.
Still looking down, I said, “Okay, I don't have a doubt in my mind that we will win this. I
mean William Beckett, the head judge, really likes us. But, if we don't make it… it's not
over. Right?” I looked up at the last part. Everyone nodded, still closing their eyes. Pete
didn't seem very with it, though.
Without speaking, we formed a group hug, me in between Spencer and Jon. It felt so nice, to be with
them. I hoped, hoped so bad, that we wouldn't have to give this up…
The lady who had been at the front table suddenly came in, causing us all to jump a little.
“Okay guys, it's your turn. Please bring everything you need with you, we will be going to the
gym. Deep Waters will be playing first.”
So we gathered our instruments, following her down the long hallway that was not nearly as crowded
as before. In the huge gym were at least one hundred people other than the judges sitting in folding
chairs in front of the stage. This gave me some comfort, because it was always easier to play for a
crowd than for just a few people. So as the other band began setting up, we started on our
paperwork. They were all basic questions: names, addresses, ages, music style, how long we'd been
together. By the time we were done with that, it was time for us to perform. I'd been trying as hard
as possible to block out the sound from the stage as the other band played.
The curtain was closed as we hurriedly set up in our usual positions: Spencer in the back, Jon on
the far left, me next to him, then Emily, then Pete. We all gave each other one last hopeful,
nervous glance as the curtains reopened, revealing the audience. I was instantly calmed by the sight
of this crowd; it was just like any other show.
“One, two, three four!” Spencer shouted as he hit his drumsticks together. I started
singing my part, my voice coming out more perfectly than ever. When Emily took over, she sounded
just as great. Pete's screaming part came out stronger than ever, and by the chorus I hadn't messed
Now you're leaving me behind
I should've seen it coming…
Please just hold me close
And lie just one last time…
Say, “Everything's all right”
At that part, mine and Emily's harmony sounded perfect, and Pete joined in at just the right time.
The crowd was pumped and singing along, although I'm sure most of them had never heard this before.
Definitely a good sign. Jon was getting as into the show as usual, doing the normal handstands and
flips over his keyboard. Spencer was drumming like mad, but not having to struggle at all to keep up
with the fast paced beat. I screamed out the last note at exactly the same time as the other two,
the static from the amps coming in at exactly the right distortion.
With one last note from Jon, we were done. I honestly couldn't feel anything but my heart beat as
the crowd went absolutely wild, although they sounded very far away. Glancing over to Emily, I saw
that she seemed similarly dazed. The curtains closed, and we picked up our instruments even faster
than we'd set them up. We were met by an ambush as we exited the stage, and I couldn't help but
smile. Never had a crowd been so enthusiastic.
Front table lady led us back to the classroom, where we'd have to wait in until 6 o'clock. We
weren't allowed to see any of the other bands perform; I guess they were scared that we would ambush
Jon was the first to speak, saying, “We were amazing out there! The crowd LOVED us, there's
no way that we didn't win.”
Spencer replied excitedly, “I know! We've never played a show that well. I don't think any of
us messed up once!”
After a few more minutes of conversation, Pete and Emily decided to find a vending machine and buy
us whatever they could find. Jon turned on his iPod, tuning everything else out; it was just Spencer
and me. It took him a minute to register that we could finally talk about what was going on between
us without the rest of the band listening. He scooted closer to where I was, which was on the floor
in the corner.
“Hey,” he said quietly, sitting down.
“Hi,” I replied, honestly not sure of what else to say.
“Um,” he began, “About yesterday morning…”
Cutting him off before I was even sure of what was coming out of my mouth, I said, “It was
Taken aback, he stuttered out, “Wha… what?”
Eyes closed, I took a deep breath and continued, “It took until you kissed me for me to
realize that I… well, I like you, too. A lot.”
“Oh,” he said, stunned. He seemed pretty happy as well.
“Yeah…” I trailed off, not knowing what else to say.
We sat in silence for the next few minutes, contemplating what should happen next.
Spencer began, “Rian, I think-”
“We finally found it!” Pete exclaimed, bursting through the door with a small feast in
I sighed, knowing that we'd have to wait until much later to finish this conversation. Spencer was
biting his lip, looking as if it was very hard to hold in what he had to say. Maybe it was.
Until the time that we could finish working out what was happening between us, I decided to just
chill out and have fun. That's definitely something I hadn't done for awhile. Emily and Jon had
brought back six mini bags of chips, a few packages of pop tarts, and way too many candy bars. We
threw it all in a pile and sat in a circle, talking and laughing like we had when times had been
simple, when our futures didn't depend on our music. It was amazing how little we knew about each
others current lives, although we all live together. We spent at least an hour talking about work
and school. Followed by that was poker, which we played with an old deck of cards found at the
bottom of my purse and Doritos.
Before any of us knew it, the clock read 5:30, and it was time to head back down to the gym. I felt
happier, bubblier than I had in such a long time. It felt like summer camp again. The faces of all
of my band mates told me that they all felt the same way. This day was perfect, and I didn't even
know the outcome yet. It seemed as if nothing could go wrong…
The gym was packed, allowing us a space that normally only held three people. We squeezed, although
Emily ended up practically sitting on both Jon and Pete's legs. I could practically feel all of the
excitement radiating from all of us in the room, anticipating the information that we would be
Suddenly, the curtain opened. I screamed along with everyone else as out onto the stage came
William Beckett, the reason our band was here. After the deafening roar quieted, he began,
“Hey, everybody, thank you so much for coming out to the first Decaydance Chicago-area Battle
of the Bands!”
Another deafening applause began, and William just smiled, waiting it out.
He continued, “Each and every one of you are very talented human beings. I'm sorry that we
can only sign one band, even though all of you are more than worthy of being signed. Before I
announce the top three bands, I would just like to congratulate you all, and remind you that this is
in no way the end. You should all continue your musical careers, and I will most definitely buy all
of your records.”
With this, he was handed a plain white envelope, which he seemed to be opening remarkably slow.
“Okay,” he began, “In third place, we have a band straight from St. Louis! It's
The band we had shared a room with stood up, elated, and walked to the stage. Both of the girls
hugged William as the guys were handed their $500 check. I think I even saw their Emily cry, out of
happiness. They were MUCH more pleased with that outcome than I would've been.
“Okay, second is,” He cringed, “This is honestly my favorite band I've seen all
day. I know they're going somewhere, but sadly, I'm not the only judge. Here you have them, Delayed
The second he said our name I couldn't… feel. It was like all of my senses were completely
knocked out, and I was watching a silent movie. A horror movie. Pete's eyes were frozen open, and
Spencer couldn't seem to bring his jaw back up. I couldn't even bear to look at Emily, because I
knew that her face would look similar to mine - tear stained.
I stood, as if in a trance, and walked out the door. I saw William's face. It was confused; he
must've been wondering why we didn't go up on stage and take the check, which would be worth $1000
this time. The rest of them followed, none of us looking back. We ran the rest of the way to the
room where our instruments were, and I could tell that more of us than just Emily and I were crying.
I snatched up as many instruments as I could see, not paying attention to anything; I honestly
Once we got out to the parking lot, I heard Pete curse loudly. I turned around in time to see him
hurl his $6000, 1965 vintage Fender Precision bass onto the blacktop. His prized possession,
Concerned, I threw all of the instruments into the back, just as he opened the door and took the
“Pete, I don't think you should drive,” Jon said calmly. Or maybe just apathetically.
“Don't tell me what I can and can't do!” he shouted, eyes gleaming with some sort of
His expression softened, but not by much. It was still bad enough to make me cringe.
Not sure of what else to do, I opened the door to the passenger seat. I wanted to be scared
but… I just couldn't. Everyone else took their seats as well, looking just as upset as I
The car jerked out of the parking space, slamming my head into the back of my seat. There weren't
any lights, so I was sure that Pete couldn't see anything he was doing.
I remember turning out of the parking lot, too fast for him to check whether or not any cars were
coming from the other directions. I also remember it suddenly getting very bright, and hearing
Emily's painful scream…
Now… now it's just… darkness. I can't see anything, and it's like I'm drowning. What's
The sound is getting really annoying. It's really hard to think with it, or even put two thoughts
together. My eyes must be glued closed, and my mouth sewn shut. It feels like there's cotton stuffed
in my ears, and I can only pick up the dull beeping and a far away voice saying
“… five days…” and “…might pull the plug”
“… can't take it. Not with Pete…”
Pete. Pete. There was a new noise now, but I couldn't stop thinking about the name that had
just spoken. Where was he, anyway? Was he drowning, too? I couldn't place any of the voices around
me, so that made me wonder where the rest of my band was. I hope they're safe, and that they can
actually feel their legs, unlike me. Then I heard a sob. No, a sob and a moan. What's going on? Am I
I desperately wanted to find out, didn't want to be consumed in this coldness any longer. With what
seemed like a great exertion, I forced my eyelids open, although they were still partially closed.
The first thing I saw was a blonde, blue eyed angel, crying. Why? The room I was laying in
was completely white, and standing by the wall was a dark haired angel, turned away from the painful
scene. The only one who seemed to notice my struggle was sitting right next to me, looking stunned.
Emily. Why were they all here with me, suffering too? I know I didn't do anything to deserve this,
but I would definitely take their place to save them from this. This… pain.
“Rian…” Emily whispered, not moving.
The blonde one, Spencer, lifted his tear stained face up to look at mine, which must not have been
a very pretty sight. I saw him mouth a few words, which I couldn't understand in my delirious state.
The dark haired man, Jon, came closer, mouth wide open in shock.
“Oh my god,” I could hear him whisper.
I was suddenly crushed with three bodies lying on top of me. I didn't mind, though; it felt good.
“Rian… Rian…” I heard Spencer mutter, not finding anything else to say.
Although this made me feel a little bit more alive again, something was missing. I searched my
groggy mind and forced out, “Pete?” It came out as a whisper.
Three things happened simultaneously. Jon straightened up, drawing in a sharp intake of breath and
looking as though he had been punched in the stomach. Spencer took my hand in his, stroking it with
his own. The one I took most notice of, though, was Emily's shaking head, and the tears that were
suddenly streaming down her face.
It tool me a moment to register what had just happened, and another few to understand what they all
meant. It suddenly dawned on me. Pete is dead.
I could feel moisture on my dry cheeks, my half closed lids fighting to hold them back. The
water must've woken me, and I could suddenly feel everything. The sharp IVs in both of my wrists,
the tubes hooked up to my nose, and the pressure on my arm from the band measuring my blood
pressure. Most of all, though, I could feel the sudden stinging in my chest. No, the burning.
Pete, my best friend, Pete, the one man who could make me laugh, even when it seemed as if my world
was ending… Pete, who is now… gone.
“He's… dead?” I whispered.
Emily nodded her head sadly, not meeting my gaze. Spencer rested his head on my shoulder, not
wanting to show any more tears.
This is the end. I remember thinking. This is the end, and we can't go back.
But even through the darkness, the sadness… light will come again, sometime. It just took
until after the funeral, where we all saw our parents for the first time in a year. It took until
after Jon gave up on us and took off for college, to “help him make sense of this messed up
It took until after the day that Emily, Spencer, and I had to sell everything, which
meant our apartment, our truck, and most of our instruments.
It took until the day when, deciding to leave our new, one-room apartment to get some air, I wrote
a song on a napkin in the coffee shop, where I only had enough money to order water.
That was the day Spencer came home from his new job to find Emily and I playing music for the first
time in months on our secondhand acoustic guitars. Spencer joined in on his drums, not rusty at all.
It took until we rushed to book a spot at our favorite club, the one that William had discovered us
at, in fact.
Finally, with the newfound rush of adrenaline in my veins, and a rare smile on all of our faces, we
began to play for the small crowd.
This is it, I thought as we began playing the slow, soft, sweet music. It was much different
than before, seeing as there were no electric guitars, and we didn't have a keyboard. It felt
more… real. Only Emily and I sang, switching off until the chorus, where we sang
together, completely in harmony.
What's the weather like where you are, my dear?
Oh, just the same as right here
These little things make you seem so close
Although the distance is great
I can still hear your voice whisper my name
See that smile grace your face
Your warm touch still burns on my skin
Oh, things would've been perfect, we were so close…
But then you had to go away, and
I know we both wanted you to stay
Fate must've been against us
As soon as I leaned to trust
You were pulled back into your own world
With nothing but your memories to keep me alive
Remember that time, that fateful day
You said that you loved me, just not the same way
So I put on a smile, never gave up hope
These feelings continued to grow…
Oh, things would've been perfect, we were so close
Just slow down, love (things could've been perfect)
Don't leave so soon, love (we were so close)
Everything could've happened differently
And now I miss you terribly!
I love you, I miss you, you've hurt me so much
I miss you, I still want to kiss you
But things will never be the same
Oh, things will never be the same…
At the end, I almost cried. Even though it was me who wrote it, when the music and vocals got
faster, more powerful, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by what I was singing. The song is
something you'd have to really hear to understand what was so special about it. What surprised me
the most, though, was the crowd. At first, they did absolutely nothing. I started getting very
worried, scared that we were horrible. But then… then they broke out into the absolute
loudest applause I had ever heard at any of our shows. Mind you, there were about a hundred less
people here than there were at the Battle of the Bands. I smiled the biggest, most real smile I had
since those few last hours with Pete in the classroom, before we found out we hadn't won. Before our
lives had changed so drastically. Emily looked just as surprised and relieved, and Spencer walked
right up to me and gave me the biggest, most loving hug I had ever received from him. He kissed the
cheek that the audience couldn't see, and went up to my microphone.
“Thank you so much,” he said to the crowd that automatically quieted.
“It means so much to all of us that you liked that song. Our band is Forever Summer.”
He stopped for a moment to let the crowd clap again, “And that song is dedicated to Pete
We walked off the stage, leaving the crowd in a frenzy. Silently, we had a group embrace, hugging
each other with all our might. We didn't stop until I felt a tap on my back. A familiar, slightly
smiling face was in front of me.
“Hey,” William said, holding out his hand to me. I shook it, as did the other two.
“I'm so, so sorry about your loss,” he said, all traces of humor gone.
“Thanks,” Emily whispered quietly. We still weren't healed.
He shuffled his feet for a moment, then looked back at us. “Well, I actually came back here
to tell you something really important, that I think will just about make your year.” He was
“What is it?” I asked eagerly. Anything to get my mind off of… Pete.
“The head of the record label just gave me the power to sign any band of my choice. I chose
Your face shines so bright
Could this just be a dream?
If what we had was happiness
That is really all we need
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